Printable CopyLIFE AND BETH
Tea Tree Players
Tea Tree Players Theatre
Until 23 Feb 2019

Review by Doug Phillips

It’s now ten hours since this performance ended, and I think I’ve finally worked out what wasn’t quite right about it.

It certainly wasn’t the cast. This is a talented group of actors with great comedic delivery and timing, particularly Lisa Wilton in the title role of the recently widowed Beth. It felt like she had the best lines in the show, but I think it was more her execution that shone. Lisa was able to deliver lines of just one or two words, combined with the right facial expression and delayed punchline delivery, with great comedic expertise.

Benjamin Forster also gave a great comedic performance. Despite his excessive make-up, Benjamin gave us the hilarious Martin who, with all the best intentions in the world, seemed to be astoundingly inept at everything from home maintenance to relationships.

Fiona Stopp’s Aunt Connie was great fun too. Who doesn’t love an alcoholic Aunty who can’t hold her liquor? The character of Connie could have easily been a boring side plot, but Fiona ensured that Aunt Connie was unmissable, unforgettable, and merry.

I very much liked Robert Donnarumma as the “on the hunt” Reverend David. Robert’s interpretation of the character was well thought out and fine-tuned. Jean Collins and Peter Collins also gave good solid performances with great timing.

So no, it wasn’t the cast that wasn’t quite right, and their performances would suggest that there was nothing wrong with the direction either. Sure, there was the occasional fluffed line, but that could easily be put down to first-night jitters.

The set was brilliant and lit perfectly. There were no sound issues. In fact, all back-stage departments nailed it.

It wasn’t even the imaginary cat.

The next day it’s dawned on me. It was the play itself.

The play itself felt like it wasn’t ready for public consumption yet. I know nothing about when it was written and how many times it’s been performed, but to me it felt like it needed more beta testing.

With some more workshopping, a reasonably funny script could have been made utterly hilarious. The subject matter and plot are primed for it.

With that in mind, great acknowledgement should be given to all involved with this production. With a less-than-perfect play in their hands, they’ve produced a night of much fun and laughs that nearly everyone is going to love.