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DIRECTOR: Debbie Robertson
CAST: Tarryn Saunders, Chris Fisher
VENUE: Upstairs at the Alexander Bar
Encore! gives us all the drama happening on the other side of the curtain, just before a performance of Sweeney Todd.
The short play is breezy and light and has its funny moments, for all that it hints (lightly) at the very serious issue of ageing.
Diva Lucille Tait-Bernard is supposed to be getting ready for a performance as Mrs Lovett but her world view implodes when a reporter intimates that she is about to be fired.
She starts to throw her toys out the cot, showing herself to be a manipulative, highly strung actress of the “me me me” kind.
In quick order she summons her assistant, director and husband/ manager to her presence to threaten, cajole and plead for her existence.
While Tarryn Saunders remains on stage the whole time, Chris Fisher moves on and off to tackle the various male roles. He goes from jittery newbie Huisgenoot reporter to haughty husband, to camp stage director, with ease (and the help of lots of hair product).
Saunders goes for a more stagey, overly dramatic manner, staying in high gear all the time. While the character certainly proves to be of the exhausting kind – as shown by the way the men around her respond – the actress playing her never gives us anything but histrionics.
Granted, the Lucille character has been doing this for 19 years and lives to be centre stage, but the audience never gets under her skin; she stays a character, almost to the point of caricature.
There is a simple naïveté to the script, which is pleasant enough if all you are looking for is some entertainment in the moment.
It bodes well for director/writer Debbie Robertson, whose dialogue is fun. Not every play has to contain serious, heavy messages.
This fluffy, frothy kind of amusement has its place, on stage, too.