Review: Saved by shopping!

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l. Barry (Rob de Fries) and r. Sam (Brendan Kelly)NOW here’s a clever idea for a play that pleases from start to finish. Bruce Hoogendoorn’s snappy new comedy proposes that the economy would be in better shape if rich tax avoiders were identified and quietly blackmailed into going out and shopping, even if they don’t want to.

Brendan Kelly (at right) gets right under the skin of a self-centred, dishonest young man who deserves to be blackmailed.

The beautiful Kimberley Balaga plays a deliciously funny girlfriend who may, or may not, be sincere. Rob de Fries’ (at left) sense of timing and physical comedy provides many of the big laughs in this production.

The character of the shop assistant, played as well as possible by Elaine Noon, was not as real as the other characters in the show. No matter how sorely tested, surely a shop assistant would not be so openly angry and aggressive with a customer?

The author, Bruce Hoogendoorn, has also directed for the first time. His staging is straightforward and generally well-paced. A more experienced director would have ensured the scene changes were smoother and cleaned up occasional jarring details.

Wayne Shepherd’s clever set design provides an appropriate eyeful of in-your-face advertising. He also wrote the appealing incidental music for the show. Kelly McGannon’s lighting design complemented the set and the action very well and Miriam Miley-Read designed the perfect costumes.

Bruce Hoogendoorn, a local writer who goes from strength to strength, shows with “The Reluctant Shopper” that he can write clever comedy as well as good drama.


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