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   Dec 12

ReviewWhose Wives Are They Anyway?

THEATRE REVIEWWhose Wives Are They Anyway?DAPA TheatreDAPA Theatre, Hamilton. Ends February 25English-born actor-playwright Michael Parker, now resident in the United States, has notably written farcical comedies that appeal to American audiences. This play, for example, has two company vice-presidents having a golfing weekend while their wives shop in New York. They find themselves in trouble when they encounter the unsmiling female head of the firm that has taken over their company and demands to meet their wives that night. Amusing chaos ensues, with one of the men dressing, with a blonde wig, as an attractive woman, and a hotel receptionist bribed to be the other wife. And the chaos grows when the real wives turn up.
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Director David Murray and a good acting team make this an enjoyable show, though the first night performance showed a need for sharper delivery of some lines. But the actors’ movements raised laughs, especially scenes that had three people in a bed, at least one virtually hidden, and the head and legs of different occupants visible. And they responded well to the demands placed on them by movements around the set, which includes the hotel reception area, an adjoining lounge room, stairs, hallways, room doors and two adjoining bedrooms.

Oliver Pink and Conagh Punch keep swiftly on the move as the two golfers, with Pink’s David astutely manipulating his younger colleague John’s behaviour and that man showing in return how he has risen to a senior position at a young age. Maddy Lardner keeps the laughs coming as the increasingly inebriated receptionist, repeatedly pouring herself glasses of champagne to try to relax her nervousness. Carol Hong is a suitably unsmiling hotel manager, Rob Williams is an amusing hypochondriac handyman, who is adept at using problems, such as a breakdown in the hotel’s phone system, to suit his own purposes. Jennifer Dixon’s attractive but stern and sharply worded company head would have anyone running for cover. And Natalie Burg and Beth Traynor are delightful as the shopped-out wives looking for relaxation as they arrive with bags of purchases from noted New York stores.

The staging’s main weakness is the characters’ handling of phone calls from people wanting to place bets on racehorses. The actors’ delivery of the puzzled responses when they answer these calls , including their repetition of the horse names and other words used by the callers, needs to be stronger, so that watchers laugh rather than look puzzled.

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