Theatre / “Charley’s Aunt”, Tempo Theatre, at the Belconnen Community Theatre until November 2. Reviewed by ARNE SJOSTEDT.
IN the spirit of well-produced community theatre, Tempo Theatre’s production of “Charley’s Aunt” was a welcome romp through a classic farce. The play about two Oxford student’s attempt to win love by dressing their friend as a long lost Aunt broke all records for the longest running play after it premiered in 1892, and the popular comedy hasn’t lost any of its charm.
Well handled by its cast, in a strong outing as Jack Chesney, up and coming Ash Hamilton was the back bone of this production, supporting his fellow characters and the broader script with an appropriately unformed, Oxford posh boy’s glib. As Lord Babberley, it was impossible not to enjoy every moment that Bertram O’Brien was on stage. Gruesomely awkward as the dragged up proxy Aunt, O’Brien has a natural presence and puckish mischief which, when presented with a classic script to deliver, allowed him to lead the audience through this hilarious play’s best moments.
A very funny Hannah Miller, together with a faultless Matilda Saddington, glided from moment to moment as the love interests that first drive the romantic plot. And the later half of the play, with the arrival of the real Aunt Donna Lucia, played with affection and easy confidence by Andrea Charlton, probably gave the most well rehearsed and fluid performances of the evening.
The energy on opening night was appreciative and supportive, as the Tempo Theatre players entertained the audience through three acts and two intervals. And the energy didn’t dip or attention falter. Again, this is thanks to a wonderful script (written by Brandon Thomas), however, Tempo has certainly managed to pull together a strong enough production to deliver the play. With a polished period set that perfectly set the tone, this was a night where the sheer experience of engaged performers delivering on laughs is all the reason anyone should need to head out and pay them a visit.