REVIEW – Bedside Manners, TSV Little Theatre

Bedside Manners is currently continuing as planned with COVID-19 health measures in place. IMAGE: Gary Harvey

Would you like to stay in Green or Blue? Bit of a warning Blue is VERY Blue.

I had the pleasure of watching the opening night of Townsville Little Theatre’s, Bedside Manners written by Derek Benfield, last night. The director Alan Cooke has brought to life a play full of hilarity, wit and a whole lot of laughs. We follow Ferris, played by Stephen Smith, as he tries to look after his sister’s hotel while she’s on vacation. Little did he know that he would become submerged in lies, confusion, and a whole lot of running. He was not prepared to be trying to prevent the meetings of husbands, wives and lovers in potentially not-so-savoury situations.

As the curtains opened, I was pleasantly greeted with a lively set perfectly representing the colourful farce to come. Two brightly coloured hotel rooms, Green and Blue, were broken up by hallway that doubled as a lobby set the scene for the play. The symmetrical set is soon reflective of the hectic plot comprising interwoven love affairs.The opening scene introduced us to the male characters in a fun montage of them getting ready to greet their girlfriends.

Matthew Palmer brings to life Roger – otherwise known as ‘Mr Smith’ –  with his great facial expressions and an ability to peacock on stage. The overconfident Roger slowly becomes increasingly frazzled as the play goes on having to juggle a suspicious wife, a flirty girlfriend and a greedy manager. If you got to see Palmer’s excellent job as Richard Hannay in The 39 Steps, you will know the energy that he can bring to the stage.

Jeremy Naughton as the naïve Geoff – also known as ‘Mr Smith’ – gave a great performance of physical comedy. From the opening scene you could see the brilliant physicality of Jeremy’s performance. He created a character unsure of what he was doing and was well in over his head. From opening curtains to the bows at the end, Geoff had to roll with punches and accept that he might lose some trousers along the way.

The tip-hungry stand-in manager, Ferris, was wonderfully played by Stephen Smith. He brought a brilliant sense of comedy and quickly became a standout. From his impressive wit to his dry sarcasm, Ferris never missed a moment to make fun of his patrons’ unfortunate predicaments. His laughing throughout his night of running around and doing his best to ensure that lovers don’t meet made my cheeks hurt with laughter.

Kate Archer played the seductive Sally, the mistress of Roger. She took to the stage by storm and knew what she wanted from the beginning. Kate created a fierce and strong character that was tired of the disruptions that her ‘Mr Smith’ was causing. Sally decided to indulge herself with some Gin while waiting for her lover and by the end of it was slurring words and stumbling on stage, which was superbly played by Kate.

To finish off the cast was Sarah Mathiesen playing Helen, a worrywart with a sweet spot for chocolate. She wore sunglasses for most of the play, but you could still see the expression on her face when she realised the situation that she had gotten herself into. Sarah’s hilarious reactions to the insanity happening around and to her, made the audience eager to see what sticky situation she would get into next.

The cast did a wonderful job of creating a world that was hilarious and exciting. However, there were places where the pacing dropped, and the fast-paced action halted for a moment. With a play this fast it would be hard to keep the energy up the entire time. The actors took some time to warm up to the speed of the play but soon became comfortable on stage and produced a fun-filled farce. With an incredible set, even if it did look like the doors were going to fall off their hinges, great sound and lighting and outstanding cast you don’t want to miss this one.

Townsville Little Theatre’s scheduled season of Bedside Manners runs until 21 March 2020. However, daily updates as to whether shows will proceed, in light of the evolving COVID-19 situation, are being made on the Company’s Facebook page.

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