Printable CopyTAKING STEPS
St Jude's Players
St Jude's Hall (Grundy Hall)
Until 28 Apr 2018

Review by Paige Mulholland

“Taking Steps” is a show that takes a while to warm up, and certainly one that was written for a particular sense of humour – this show abounds with comedy-of-errors, farcical humour and not much else. But if farce is your favourite, you’ll find plenty to like.

The show follows the story of free-spirited Lizzie (Anita Zamberlan Canala), who is attempting to leave her life – and husband Roland (Jack Robins) – behind and return to her career as a (very average) dancer. Her brother Mark (Mason Willis) grudgingly agrees to help Lizzie flee and, afterwards, to return and comfort the jilted Roland, bringing his newly-returned runaway bride, Kitty (Jessica McGaffin), along for the ride. Before Lizzie can leave, however, Roland’s solicitor, Tristram (Adrian Heness) and landlord, Leslie (Tony Busch), arrive to finalise the purchase of Ronald and Lizzie’s house – the setting for this show and, supposedly, a former brothel, haunted by the ghost of a deceased prostitute. And, as you would expect, chaos ensues and misunderstandings abound, making for an amusing, but rarely laugh-out-loud funny, series of events.

With a runtime of over two and a half hours (including a short interval), the show is very long, particularly for a comedy. The first half seems to lumber along very slowly, and, although pacing improves somewhat in the second half, some scenes are still unnecessarily slow. Particularly with the 8pm start time, the audience are flagging by the time the show starts to reach a resolution. This wasn’t helped by the poor sightlines and sound quality, particularly for those sitting towards the back.

Aside from the inconsistent accents (a lesson for all directors: if your cast can’t pull off an accent consistently, scrap it altogether – it’s less confusing for everyone), the ensemble were strong and excellently rehearsed. There were no weak performers – each cast member was confident, stayed in character consistently and dealt particularly well with the challenges of the set, climbing up and down imaginary staircases and keeping track of which imaginary floor they were on with apparent ease.

Other highlights of the show included the adaptable, detailed set and the lighting. It’s rare that the audience notice lighting at all, but seeing the lighting change as curtains jerked open, perfectly synchronised, was impressive.

St Jude’s Players have a strong community following, and this show was obviously chosen with consideration for their core demographic – many audience members, clearly St Jude’s regulars, obviously had a wonderful time following Lizzie, Mark, Kitty, Roland, Tristram and Leslie along on their misadventures. It’s a long one, and it’s not for everyone, but there is certainly a niche who will find “Taking Steps” to be just their cup of farcical tea.