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Director: Liam Magner
Cast: Grant Jacobs
Venue: Galloway Theatre
INEXHAUSTIBLE stamina and a joyous approach to his off-beat material makes Grant Jacobs’ performance in Paperboy impressive, not to mention highly entertaining.
In addition to filling the eponymous lead, Jacobs takes on such diverse personae as Auntie Stella, a couple of gangsters, a luscious maiden named Tracy Summers, a female domestic and a grumpy wheelchair-bound father – all with unwavering conviction.
The story that draws this unlikely ensemble together is simple: Bobby Jones, a 22-year-old of remarkable naivety, brings professional commitment to his work as a paperboy while harbouring a secret desire to become an actor.
He also aspires to the sophistication of James Bond, whose moves he reproduces frequently and spontaneously. These dreams compensate for the barrenness of his existence as the unloved son of a single father.
One day his newspaper, flung through an open window, does serious damage to the ashes of the late and accident-prone Mrs Moodley, with distressing consequences… and the play follows Bobby’s efforts to remedy this situation.
His attempts at redress bring him into contact with various members of the small society of Alice Road, where the Moodley residence is situated, hence the array of colourful characters introduced into the action. At times we are only privy to one side of Bobby’s exchanges with them; at others Jacobs impersonates both speakers, always with comic effect.
Whether he portrays the voluble Stella or a sinister gangster, his mastery of accent, facial expression, body language, eye lines and rhythm creates a rounded and plausible personality. A gem is Nosipho, the domestic worker whose suspicions are roused by his attempts to infiltrate the Moodleys’ house.
Props are few, but ingeniously contrived, like the high chair that doubles as a bicycle and a wheel-chair, and the same is true of costume changes. The addition of a shawl and sunhat turns Jacobs into a middle-aged woman; a cap and windcheater make him into a loitering ne’er do well. His talent for mimicry does the rest.
Like all good comedies, Paperboy has the sort of ending that leaves one feeing warm and mellow – the ideal frame of mind in which to exit a theatre where the objective is to seek entertainment that is rewarding without being mindless.