Printable CopyMY FRIEND MISS FLINT
Therry Dramatic Society
The Arts Theatre
Until 18 Feb 2017

Review by Anthony Vawser

Some plays appear to have all the ingredients necessary for a smashing success, and this latest Therry production is one of them. Director Barry Hill is a deservedly-treasured gem of the Adelaide theatre community, and a cast that includes Peter Davies, Shelley Hampton, and Norm Caddick (all back together again after "Einstein and the Polar Bear" for St Jude's Players) will be of keen interest for any theatregoer in the know.

Unfortunately, this particular script (by Donald Churchill and Peter Yeldham), while consistently pleasant, initially intriguing, and sometimes quite clever (especially in its climactic plot twists), fails to really soar through the stratosphere in the way that you hope it will. The ultimate premise of "My Friend Miss Flint" – that of the con artist themselves being conned – is still a good one, but it has been dealt with rather better in shows besides this one.

While it is refreshing to encounter a comedy of mistaken identities and deception that is played for gentle understatement rather than frantic farce – a particular relief, no doubt, for the cast on their sweltering first night – one is still left sensing that the true depths of dramatic and comic possibility inherent in this material have been left largely untouched.

That said, a cast of this calibre is an asset to any show, and these performers provide excellent value throughout. Davies is typically engaging in his shambolic-but-likeable role, while Hampton projects a strong and appealing presence from her very first moment on stage – and Norm Caddick is still in possession of top-notch comic timing!

Supporting roles are also capably and colourfully delivered. Ellen Ferguson manages to convey the distinctive attributes and hidden dimensions of her character without the need for overstatement, while Heath Trebilcock deserves acknowledgment for the high level of credibility he brings to his role as a tax inspector. Sue Wylie is a delightfully bright spark in the second act, her performance dialling up the levels of both comedy and suspense.

Costume selection is astutely judged to provide character-appropriate levels of colour and texture, while set design is attractive and creative (even if not all the seams have been hidden). Sound cues are skilfully designed and deployed, while the selected props generally look (and work) just fine – though an alleged Picasso painting looked not the least bit plausible from where this reviewer was sitting.

“My Friend Miss Flint”, though not the most dynamite script to ever grace the Therry stage, has been wisely cast and presented with enough good-natured charm that it may well win you over even so.