Venture Theatre Company
Trinity Uniting Hall
Until 08 Apr 2017

Review by Linda Edwards

Venture Theatre’s first production for the year is “Sorry Charlie”, a play by emerging American playwright Troy Shearer, winner of a duo of playwriting awards for his earlier plays “Mourning Calls” and “Dyin’ Free”. The play is Jess Ramsay’s first solo effort in the director’s chair but she is no stranger to the theatre, having worked as an actor, stage manager, and co-director, as well as taking on a host of other roles for Venture over the past 13 years.

“Sorry Charlie” is a perfect vehicle for a solo directorial debut as it is funny, fast-paced and just over an hour long. Ramsay is mentored by the more experienced director, Jaye Toetu and by the seasoned cast and crew, and does a great job with the material.

The play begins with Charlie (Kyle Hopgood) and Debra (Lucy Marshallsay) breaking into the home of Mr Butterfly, Charlie’s boss’s boss’s boss, to search for a large diamond they know to be there. The complications common to farces come thick and fast, beginning with the unexpected arrival of the Petersens (Luke Wagner and Kristy Mundy), who turn out to be on the same quest.

Hopgood is consistently good as Charlie, and Marshallsay obviously delights in her role as the impersonator of “Madame” Butterfly. Wagner is hilarious as the usually compliant and well-behaved, hen-pecked Petersen, especially when he finds a bottle of brandy to get stuck into.

Mitchell Lowe is believable in his role as the late arrival on the scene, Mr Dunlop, who is at first mistaken for Butterfly (which is not surprising as in this sort of play practically everyone is mistaken for someone else). His wife is played by Elizabeth De Caux, who is funny in her too-brief appearance as Mrs Dunlop.

The play has a couple of drawbacks, apart from being too short: one is the annoying habit of having characters tell each other things they already know so that the audience will know, and another is that it is rather predictable. Despite these misgivings, it is a very funny play with plenty of laughs coming in physical comedy and in the dialogue, and the audience obviously enjoyed the night.

Venture also deserves praise for finding a new playwright and fresh new material to try out, and for nurturing and encouraging new directors.

Luke Wagner is a reviewer for Adelaide Theatre Guide.