Last night GoosePig and I fronted up to Theatre 3 to see the opening night of Canberra Rep’s latest outing, Alan Ayckbourn’s Improbable Fiction.
The theatre was filled to capacity, the set was jaw-droppingly good, and then the bad news.
One of the lead characters, Brevis, had been replaced at short notice for health reasons.
An already tricky play robbed of impetus while last minute replacement Andrew Kay struggled stoically through having to read his lines.
The performance wasn’t helped by asking six Canberra actors to try and pull off the same English regional accent.
The play could easily have been transplanted to the likes of Bowral or Moss Vale without losing anything.
But instead the accents alone took us on a journey from France to Wales with occasional diversions to Pakistan.
And then there was the first act where GoosePig was blessed by sleep while your correspondent slogged manfully on.
The whole of the first part was devoted to an unlikeable meeting of a mostly unlikeable writers’ group.
Sure it set the characters up, but they were pretty crude stereotypes.
The butch lesbian, the fragile beaten wife, the nerd with poor social skills, the eager to please larger lady, the ageing technical writer caring for his dying mother, the beautiful young woman improbably impressed by writers, the ill-tempered misogynist curmudgeon.
There, done, pieces on the board. Didn’t need an hour did it?
It seems it did.
The second act was a mashup of three short mystery stories aping the styles of the bad writers introduced in the first act.
The humour is therefore largely derived from laughing at the poor writing. A joke that wore thin for this reviewer as the play dragged on into the third hour.
If you’re a fan of mystery stories (your correspondent is not) then it could well be your cup of tea.
As it was the second act was where my own eyes got heavy.
It did however, give the actors lots of scope to chew up the scenery and stride the boards.
Having said that, as Andrew Kay gets up to speed with the crucial role of Brevis I can imagine the work really picking up some oomph.
So maybe wait a little later in the run before giving it a go.
Improbable Fiction is running at Theatre 3 until 8 December 2012.
You can book online.
[Photo by Cliff Spong]