Sunday, 27 July 2014

Lovers: Losers - The Irish Theatre Players (27 July 2014)

Firstly, I must apologise to the cast and crew of the second play under the Lovers banner, Winners. I had felt unwell during the first play and a dash outside for some fresh air during intermission – bypassing what I’m sure was a lovely supper – didn’t improve the situation. Discretion became the better part of theatrical valour as I headed home. It turns out I am a Loser…

Which is a, um, nice segue to the first play presented at the Irish Club in Subiaco…

Andy (Rory Buckley) is cursed by his mother-in-law, the widow Mrs Wilson (Clare Wilson), who has been firmly ensconced in the upstairs bedroom since her husband died three (or was it four?) years ago. She has the infuriating habit of ringing a bell whenever Andy and his wife Hanna (Katie Toner) are too quiet for her liking. This sits none too well with Hanna who resents being at her mother’s beck and call. It also means the married couple need to find creative ways to spend some quality time together which involves the loud recitation of poetry whilst engaging in less literary activity. Not that the pious widow and her equally religious friend, Cissy (Siobhan Wright) would condone such things. Andy takes great delight in the news then that Saint Philomena, Mrs Wilson’s idol (in more ways than one), has been disgraced leading to a drunken and humorous confrontation. But in the end this frustrating arrangement survives making everyone a loser of sorts.

The set is basic with a couch depicting the downstairs lounge room and a bed (hidden by half the stage curtain when not required) representing the upstairs bedroom. Buckley directly addresses the audience as Andy tells his tale of woe and while he gives an amiable enough performance I found his Irish accent very thick. I suspect I also missed some of the subtlety in the humour with references I was unsure of. Wright and Wilson are very much supporting players but are suitably chaste and aghast as required. Toner injects some real zeal as Hanna, a role I believe is written to be much older. Having seen her in So Much To Tell You it’s clear she is very good at playing feisty which is what is required here as well. While talented, I would be very interested to see her in a ‘quieter’ role next outing with more subtlety and less bluster.

It was a full matinee audience and with many Irish accents in evidence I’m sure the play resonated more strongly with the locals. The only downside with the numbers was that the seating arrangements were pretty tight and a tad uncomfortable getting to and from. There were appreciative chuckles throughout the play but it was neither a true comedy nor drama, rather a wry exploration of a couple’s misfortune which seemed to have no end in sight. But then that appeared to be the point.

Written by acclaimed Irish dramatist Brian Friel and directed by Bobby Greaney, Lovers (Losers) starred Rory Buckley, Katie Toner, Clare Wilson and Siobhan Wright.

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