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Detour Theatre's final show of the year is a feel-good comedy with plenty of laughs, and particular appeal to anyone who's part of a group of old friends.
Paul Elliott's Exit Laughing focuses on a single night in the lives of three middle-aged women, who regularly meet for weekly bridge evenings.
When their fourth player Mary dies, the group ends up ‘borrowing' her ashes from the funeral home for one final, memorable night.
Millie (Sue Sorrell) is the one who swipes the urn containing Mary's remains, and brings it to Connie's (Jane McKenna) house. There, along with Leona (Delwyn Weatherley), they ponder what to with Mary (once the shock subsides), before settling down for one last game of cards.
Thrown into the mix is Connie's daughter Rachel Ann (Bella Hernandez), an uptight young woman who's been stood up by university classmate Bobby (Francis Collier), and is understandably despondent – until he turns up to the evening unexpectedly.
Detour stalwart Jane provides the play's grounded centre, providing a voice of reason when her daughter is cursing all men, or her friends are freaking out over one thing or another, all delivered in a pleasing naturalistic style. As Leona, Delwyn brings a thick Kiwi ‘aksent' to the role of the mild alcoholic – that wine-loving friend everyone has.
The standout performance is from Sue, who plays simple-minded Millie with perfect comic timing. Some of the night's biggest laughs come from her innocent, but way off the mark, observations. It takes a lot to keep a straight face while playing such a character, but Sue does a great job of keeping up the illusion.
Two newcomers to Detour Theatre, Bella and Francis, play their respective roles very convincingly; Bella with vivid facial expressions, and Francis with underlying sensitivity – although it would be a bit of a spoiler to go into too much detail.
Suffice to say, there's a great pool of actors in Tauranga, and Detour Theatre's one of the best places to find new talent.
Director Kim Williamson's set, as always, is immaculately presented. This time we even have a window to peek into Connie's kitchen, and stairs leading to a second storey, creating a sense of space in what is traditionally a cosy theatre-viewing experience.
The scene with the police officer is a highlight, and a credit to both director and the actors involved – though, as above, it would be a bit of a spoiler to say more.
If you like your jokes bold and laugh-out-loud funny, and your plays to be full of surprises, Exit Laughing might be the pre-Christmas celebration you're looking for.
You'll certainly ‘exit laughing' after the show.
It’s the day of Mary’s funeral and, when her pals Connie (Jane McKenna), Millie (Sue Sorrell) and Leona (Delwyn Weatherly) gather for the weekly bridge-playing session that she loved so much, things are sure to go off with a bang.
Well-intentioned but naive Millie shocks the others by revealing that she has “borrowed” Mary’s ashes after breaking into the funeral parlour, so their old friend can take her usual place at the card table for one last evening.
Connie warns Millie that she doesn’t think Mary is “going to be up to par tonight” and the bridge game gives a whole new meaning to someone playing the dummy.
It might all have all gone well, except the ashes have to be back in the funeral parlour by the next morning because Mary’s unpleasant relatives want them buried, against her own wishes.
There’s hardly time to impress upon Millie the trouble they could all be in when a policeman (Francis Collier) comes knocking at Connie’s door.
Except this cop has a big surprise in store for the worried friends, and an even bigger shock for Connie’s college student daughter Rachel (Bella Hernandez).
That’s when the evening really turns wild and we realise that Mary has actually planned the whole thing from beyond the grave.
It was clear that Detour Theatre’s latest production Exit Laughing lives up to its title when Wednesday’s opening night audience left the theatre still chortling after enjoying a hilarious performance.
The talented cast, under director Kim Williamson, make the most of American playwright Paul Elliott’s very funny script, conjuring up a delicious cocktail of laughter and some surprisingly tender moments.
Exit Laughing is set to delight audiences at the Historic Village’s cosy Detour Theatre until December 2.
Reviewed by Paul Chapman
Published Bay of Plenty Times, November 18, 2017
The Kitchen Witches
Take two feuding chefs who hate the sight of each other, place together in a studio kitchen for a live TV show, allow old rivalries to simmer until boiling, and what do you have? It can only be a recipe for mayhem.
You don't need to be a fan of the ubiquitous cooking shows on television to find Detour's latest madcap comedy an absolute hoot.
Bickering starts when one B-celebrity chef even complains that her dressing room is further from the set than the other's.
The four-strong cast -- Kim Williamson and Lisa Thorne playing arch-rivals Dolly Biddle and Isobel Lomax, Quentin Pidduck as frustrated floor manager and Dolly's son Stephen, along with Alex Gilmour in the role of camera-hugging Robb -- keep the laughs coming thick and fast.
Director Devon Williamson has skilfully adapted Canadian playwright Caroline Smith's script, throwing in plenty of references to local landmarks like Greerton, Bellevue and even the traffic on Turret Rd at rush hour.
Cracking one-liners such as when Dolly urges Stephen to relax and declares "That boy is like a wigwam and a tepee - two tents" (too tense - geddit?) and Isobel snarls at Dolly "You've got more bull than the Mad Butcher" had the audience chortling right through Thursday's opening night performance.
There's a twist in the plot when it turns out that Isobel has a surprise to spring as the arguing turns to the affair she had with Dolly's late husband Larry and the matter of whose son Stephen actually is.
Billed as "a delicious comedy", The Kitchen Witches won a prestigious Canadian theatre award and has been staged around the world in a variety of languages.
Even the audience get their own role, doubling as the TV studio audience with cues for "applause" at appropriate moments.
Detour's manic production is set to cook up a storm that will send you home chuckling.
It runs until September 22.
Reviewed by Paul Chapman
Published Bay of Plenty Times, September 11, 2017
Murder on the Nile
As the paddle steamer Lotus sets sail on a cruise along the Nile, its motley collection of passengers are looking forward to seeing the stirring sights of Egypt.
But they have a lot more than pyramids to occupy their minds when wealthy celebrity heiress Kay Ridgeway-Mostyn (Rianne Bidois) is found murdered in her cabin.
Nor will hers be the only shocking death on the fateful trip.
Detour’s latest production comes straight from the pen of that queen of crime Agatha Christie and it is as gripping a whodunit as any of her other classic thrillers.
The first-rate cast have made the drama their own and clearly relish their parts in a show that had Wednesday’s opening night on the edge of their seats until the last line of dialogue.
Clergyman Canon Ambrose Pennefather (Chris Traill making a welcome return to Detour’s stage) finds himself trying to solve the dastardly crimes – although even he may have a motive for murder.
There are, of course, plenty of other suspects.
There’s Simon Mostyn (Jaden Mcleod) for starters. Penniless until his recent marriage to Kay, could he have bumped his new wife off for her money?
How about Jacqueline de Severac (Alex Gilmour), Simon’s jilted ex-fiancee, who has been jealously stalking the couple on their honeymoon and joins the cruise at the last minute?
“It’s the kind of evening when things snap,” she declares ominously as the tension builds.
Or William Smith (Ryan Wood), the outspoken socialist, who resents the wealthy in general for exploiting the workers; the mysterious foreigner Dr Bessner (Sam Harris); and Louise (Sophia Meichtry), Kay’s maid, who could have her own reasons for wanting her employer dead.
Could it even be the irascible Helen ffoliot-ffoulkes (Dianna Corrigan) or her oh-so-innocent niece Christina Grant (Sarah Coleman)?
Director Kim Williamson has turned in a slick production which oozes with atmosphere, right down to the pesky trinket sellers (Daniel McKenna and Jordan Proctor Burkett) adding to the exotic flavour.
Murder on the Nile will keep audiences guessing until July 1 and offers the perfect night out to dispel the winter gloom.
Reviewed by Paul Chapman
Published Bay of Plenty Times, June 15, 2017
The Wedding of the Century
Welcome to the Rest in Peace Rest Home, the place “they are dying to get in and dying to get out”.
Sister Dorothy (Susi Jansen), a 99-year-old nun, gets a shock when her prayers are disturbed by the sudden appearance of a “satanic” figure in her room -- visiting Goth girl Jessica (played by bright young actor Georgia Thorne).
Jessica, who has arrived to pursue a school project, cheerfully assures Dorothy that she will not make it to her 100th birthday next week.
But Sister Dorothy has a shock of her own in store for Jessica, as well as wacky chums Nelly (Kim Williamson) and the forgetful Phyllis (Jane McKenna), along with snobby rest home owner Maxine (Michelle Parnell).
Not only does she intend to make it to her birthday, the nun declares that her one wish is to get married on the big day. Everyone is puzzled by who she has in mind for a bridegroom but Dorothy insists she has faith that it will all end well.
In one of many very funny exchanges that had Wednesday’s opening night audience roaring with laughter, Nelly warns her: “Joan of Arc had faith and look what happened to her.”
While Phyllis throws in for good measure: “So did Lance Armstrong and look what happened to him. Had a testicle amputated.”
Even the formidable Mother Superior Pat (Lisa Thorne) is unable to dissuade the errant nun.
Dorothy knows exactly who she has in mind to marry and it all goes back to her long-cherished memories of Aditya (Amit Kamble), the handsome young chai wallah she met in India in 1938. All of which means the madcap antics of this sparkling comedy end in a surprising and utterly romantic twist.
The Wedding of the Century is Detour writer-director Devon Williamson at his wittiest and funniest, and the audience rewarded him and the talented cast with thunderous applause at the end of the show.
Laughs come thick and fast and, be warned, your sides may ache. You have until April 8 to catch this home-grown gem.
Reviewed by Paul Chapman
Published Bay of Plenty Times, March 27, 2017
The Wedding of the Century
Nuns, nuptials and nincompoops
When the crowd erupted into raucous laughter early on in the piece, I knew Detour Theatre were onto a winner with their latest show.
Indeed, Detour's Wedding of the Century is such a delightful and joyful show I found myself walking out of the theatre and into the night with rosy red cheeks and a spritely spring in my step.
Written and directed by Devon Williamson, the show follows the rambunctious residents of the Rest in Peace Rest Home and Funeral Parlour which is turned upside down after 99-year-old resident nun Sister Dorothy announces she wants to get married on her 100th birthday.
Helping organise the nun's upcoming nuptials are rest home's ‘Laurel and Hardy', Nelly and Phyllis, plus gothically gleeful 15-year-old Jessica. All the while, highly strung rest home manager Maxine attempts to maintain order, but fails miserably and hilariously.
Wedding of the Century is a side-splittingly funny production. Once again Devon's offered up a show packed to the rafters with his trademark wit and ridiculousness, snappy one liners, sharp wordplay and verbal repartees, and beautifully soft scenes that gives a moment for pause and warm the heart – the story of the Kabuliwala being one of them for me.
Susi Jansen delivers a fine performance as Sister Dorothy, her treatment of the character is sensitive, respectful and engaging, and left me wanting to know more about Dorothy and her life up to that point. Susi provides a wonderful sense of calm, sweetness and dignity in the show, and this works brilliantly to highlight the noise and hilarity which unfolds all around her.
In contrast, Georgia Thorne who plays Jessica injects the annoying vibrancy of youth which helps keeps the show cracking on at a good pace. Referred to in the show as the ‘Grim Reaper' and ‘The Spawn of Satan' - Georgia is anything but. In what is her second show with Detour, she delivers a great performance as the cheerfully bleak teenager with a heart of gold.
I'm showing my bias here, but my favourite character was Octogenarian and resident newshound/editor of the rest home's newspaper Nelly, played by Kim Williamson. Vivacious and full of life, Kim is bang on with her comedic timing, proved she's rather handy with a mop, and left members of the audience rolling in the aisles with laughter.
Nelly's partner in crime is friend and ‘advertising manager' Phyllis played by Jane McKenna. Phyllis's a character whose mind is like a steel trap that's rusted over and is now a colander. Some of the biggest laughs were reserved for Jane who show a great talent for comedy, and there were several ‘nincompoop' scenes where I wanted to bundle her up in my arms and hug until she turned blue.
Then there's Maxine, the rest home's long suffering and stressed out manager played by Michelle Parnell who does a fine job presenting a sassy and determined, but ultimately vulnerable character. Energetic, confident and bustling with life, Michele develops and evolves the character well throughout the show, which adds a very nice dimension to the overall story.
Split into two acts, it's the arrival of several characters in the second half which kicks the show up four gears and really drives it home – the mysterious Adita, the Chai Wallah (Amit Kamble), the “fabulous” wedding planners Raphael and Kushla (Micah Nielson and Tamanna Khurana), plus the no-nonsense bible wielding nun Mother Pat (Lisa Thorne).
Wedding of the Century is a hilarious romp around the rest home, and if the cackles of laughter from the audience throughout the show, or the raucous applause and whistling during the final bow is anything to go by, I expect the Detour cast and crew will enjoy a very successful season.
Detour Theatre presents Wedding of the Century at Detour Theatre in the Historic Village on 17th Ave, Tauranga, until April 8. For more information and tickets, visit www.detour.co.nz
Reviewed by David Tauranga, Sunlive, 25 March, 2017
Nana's Naughty Knickers
It's likely there have never been so many undergarments on stage at Detour Theatre.
Their final show of the year is a laugh-out-loud comedy about growing old ungracefully, as a New York nana tries to keep her illegal lingerie business under wraps.
The play follows Bridget Charles (Mikayla Williamson), a straight-laced young woman staying with her grandmother in New York for the summer, before college starts.
However, it turns out Nana Sylvia (Geraldine Broderick) has a secret: she's been making and selling “saucy slips” for seniors from her apartment – an illegally-operated business that could see her evicted, if the landlord ever finds out.
Throw in a mix-up with her next “big order” and watch the chaos unfold.
The small cast all capture their respective roles well, from Micah Neilson's ‘aw shucks' police officer Tom O'Grady, to Devon Williamson's maniacal, money-grubbing landlord Gil Schmidt. Michelle Parnell and newcomer Amit Kamble have their moments – and audience laughs – as Clair Schmidt and the UPS Man, respectively.
Maggie Kelly is a real standout as Vera Walters, Sylvia's hard-of-hearing friend who hits on Tom and, once the secret's out, embraces the lingerie business with gusto. Maggie's perfect comedic timing gives the play some of its most side-splitting moments.
Another notable is Alex Gilmour, who plays Heather van Pree, a fishnet-stockinged rep from the similarly named (but very, very different) ‘Saucy Lips' company. Her arrival in the apartment is another hilarious upset, and she plays the colourful role pitch perfectly (complete with Fran Drescher-esque laugh).
Set in the New York, the play calls for American accents, and the cast generally manage the tough requirement well. From a set design perspective, the little nooks and crannies which hide Sylvia's scandalous lingerie are wonderfully incorporated – you don't even know they're there, until a picture frame swings open to reveal a saucy brassiere, or an entire wall pops out to showcase a range of negligees. It's a true testimony to director Kim Williamson's commitment to putting on an authentic, entertaining show.
If you haven't seen it yet, then do.
Detour Theatre presents ‘Nana's Naughty Knickers' which is on stage until Saturday, December 3. For more information and tickets visit: www.detour.co.nz
Sunlive | Sunday 27 Nov, 2016
Nana's Naughty Knickers
Copy of the review that was written for the Bay of Plenty Times on opening night:
Detour Theatre Company’s latest production Nana’s Naughty Knickers, got off to a great start at their theatre in the Historic Village Wednesday evening.
It’s a fun show with plenty of laugh out loud moments and genuinely warm humour.
Without giving away too much, the plot revolves around Sylvia, not your typical Nana of old, but a resourceful seller of lingerie secretly delivered to her New York apartment before finding its way to her mainly senior citizen clients! All this business of course, takes place out of sight of both the tax department and Sylvia’s scheming and avaricious landlord.
The talented Geraldine Broderick as Nana Sylvia and Maggie Kelly as her sidekick Vera, bounce off each other with plenty of wisecracks. Vera’s punchlines are delivered with perfect timing and she enjoys some of the show’s best jokes.
Mikayla Williamson is convincing as the more law-abiding grand-daughter, Bridget, who is more than a little shocked at her Nana’s business affairs and who becomes a bit unhinged as events get out of control.
Devon Williamson has a great role as the brash unsympathetic New York landlord which he plays to maximum effect.
Adding to all this is the blossoming relationship between Bridget and the local policeman Tom, nicely played by Micah Neilson.
Alex Gilmour, Michelle Parnell and Amit Kamble complete a first-class cast who all deliver their characters strongly and with spark.
Director, Kim Williamson, is to be congratulated for producing an entertaining show that certainly appealed to a full house audience on opening night. In a mammoth effort Kim also single-handedly sourced the costumes and props, rigged and operated the lights, and built and decorated the set. It’s a set that really works well coupled with some clever visual machinations, but to appreciate those you’ll need to see this entertaining comedy yourselves.
Romeo and Juliet
It’s the world’s best-known love story and after 400-odd years it has lost none of its power.
At the opening night of Detour’s production of the classic tragedy Romeo and Juliet on Wednesday, there were times when you could have heard a pin drop, so intently was the audience hanging on every move, every word.
David Holt was superb and talented Katikati College student Tyler Clarke was stunning in the lead roles of the star-crossed lovers.
They were ably supported by a strong cast, most notably Ethan Morse as the mercurial Mercutio – who dies invoking “a plague on both your houses” – Glen Morris, suitably grave as that unlikely linchpin of the plot Friar Lawrence, David Guy as Juliet’s anguished father Lord Capulet, and Chris Parnell as the trouble-making Tybalt.
Maggie Kelly was in a class of her own as the earthy and ribald Nurse, brilliantly playing a character who brought delightful moments of hilarity to a well-rounded production.
This is the eighth in Detour’s splendid programme of annual Shakespeare seasons. I left after the show convinced it was the best yet.
Romeo and Juliet contains some of Shakespeare’s most wonderfully poetic lines – “what light through yonder window breaks?”, “that which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet,” and Mercutio’s magical “Queen Mab” speech – and in editing the script to a more manageable size, talented director Devon Williamson has made sure he kept in and emphasised all the best ones.
The actors spoke their lines with a passion and conviction that belied the fact we were watching amateur theatre, and the thoughtful staging was enhanced by atmospheric lighting effects and sumptuous costumes.
This production of Romeo and Juliet, the lovers whose poignant deaths end their families’ bitter feud, is nothing less than spellbinding. Don’t miss it.
The season runs until September 17.
Paul Chapman / Bay of Plenty Times
Romeo and Juliet
For never was a story of more woe than this of Juliet and her Romeo.'
While the tragic outcome remains the same, Detour Theatre's latest production Romeo and Juliet, which is on stage until September 17, gives us new faces and talents that are a joy to watch and deserving of an audience.
The cast of ‘Romeo and Juliet' on stage at Detour Theatre until September 17. Photo: Ambient Photography.
Director Devon Williamson has assembled a lovely little troupe for the classic Shakespearean tale of star-crossed lovers, with skill and ability mixed right through the cast.
It gets off to a great start with Glen Morris (Friar Lawrence) strolling through the crowd delivering the prologue and introducing us to the world of Verona which opens up over the next two hours.
Along the way we're treated to performances which give the show a strong spine from a number of seasoned Tauranga actors including Maggie Kelly (Nurse), Chris Parnell (Tybalt), Tamanna Khurana (Princess), Ryan Wood (Benvolio), and David and Penny Guy (Lord and Lady Capulet).
While I found watching David Holt's performance fascinating, seeing him evolve from naïve young man in love with ‘love', to a reawakened soul that discovers how deep true love runs and the lengths you'll go, both sublime and tragic, just to embrace it.
For me, the new faces to Detour steal the show. Katikati College student Ethan Morse (Mercutio, Sampson, Guard) deserves special mention, I loved his portrayal of Mercuito and even more so after learning he only picked up the role less than three weeks ago.
Fellow Katikati student Tyler Clark is also an amazing find. She gives a very considered and kind performance as Juliet, and presented a maturity that belies her young age. It was extremely impressive to watch.
Detour Theatre proudly presents Romeo and Juliet which is on stage until September 17
David Tauranga / Sunlive.co.nz
A Murder is Announced
Whodunnit makes for edgy show
There it is in black and white in the local paper. “A murder is announced and will take place on Friday, October 13 at Little Paddocks at 6.30pm.”
Predictably, the residents of the grand old house in the very English village of Chipping Cleghorn are somewhat alarmed. Is the ad serious or a sick joke? If so, whose?
Equally predictably, curious neighbours, including that formidable busybody Miss Marple (Linda Lawson), gather at the appointed time to see what will happen.
So it is that quite a few potential suspects – and victims – are assembled in one place when the clock chimes the half-hour, the lights suddenly go out and all hell breaks loose.
To reveal what happens next would spoil the surprise. Suffice to say the twists and turns that follow fully justify author Agatha Christie’s reputation as the queen of suspense.
Pivotal to the production is Inspector Craddock (Geoff Herd), who gets landed with the daunting job of sorting things out.
Herd, a veteran at Detour, is at his acting best, playing Craddock with an enjoyable Columbo-like panache. I was almost expecting him say “there’s just one more thing” as he baled up each of the unlikely bunch of suspects for questioning.
We learn that almost no one is who they seem and money may be the powerful motive for someone wanting Letititia Blacklock (Melissa Osgood) dead.
Then there’s the matter of sifting the red herrings from the real clues.
Is the vase of violets significant? Or the table lamp? What do we make of the sealed door? And who are the mysterious Pip and Emma?
The suspense was certainly enough to keep Wednesday’s opening night audience on the edge of their seats.
Detour’s latest production benefits from an accomplished cast – all 11 of them – and slick directing by Kim Williamson.
If you fancy an escapist evening of intrigue in which to forget the midwinter blues, A Murder is Announced runs until July 2.
Bay of Plenty Times, June 17, 2016
The Checkout Chicks (The Supermarket Sisterhood)
All is not well at Discount Co. The suburban supermarket has seen better days and, ominously, the long-time owner has just sold out to a bean-counting accountant who has fresh ideas on how to turn a profit.
It is all going to have a serious impact on the lives of the checkout chicks – doyenne Barbara (Kim Williamson), the neurotic Michelle (Susi Jansen), and Indian migrant Aisha (Tamanna Khurana).
When the new owner – who is only ever heard intoning instructions to staff in a dull monotone over the store intercom in the menacing style of Big Brother in Orwell’s 1984 – decides to install automatic self-service tills, the checkout chicks declare war in a desperate
bid to save their threatened jobs. Complicating the picture are the customers, among them former owner Jim Everson (David Guy), the love-struck Brian (Quentin Pidduck), boisterous twin terrors Susan (Allison Stewart) and Sharon (Jane McKenna), as well as Michelle’s boyfriend from the meat department, Rob (Chris Traill). Poor Barbara cannot imagine life outside Discount Co, having worked there for 35 years – “I am the original checkout chick,” she tells us – so when her cunning plan to engage “Sven” to undermine the new “robots” turns to disaster, she comes up with an even more drastic solution. But even she cannot foresee the twists that fate has in store.
Detour’s talented playwright and director Devon Williamson has taken a topical issue and turned it into an enjoyable comedy with poignant touches, which delighted a packed first night audience at Detour on Wednesday.
The Checkout Chicks is Williamson’s eleventh full-length comedy and this production, with the help of a strong cast who clearly relished their parts, will confirm his reputation as one of New Zealand’s funniest playwrights.
The show runs until April 16.
Bay of Plenty Times
Reviewed by Paul Chapman
The Checkout Chicks (The Supermarket Sisterhood)
I’ve found myself re-thinking using supermarket’s self-checkouts after seeing Detour Theatre’s latest comedy The Checkout Chicks.
This light hearted look at the stresses faced by the staff of small suburban supermarket Discount Co. is a hilarious show that also offers a poignant observation of life faced by the average Kiwi.
Written by Tauranga playwright Devon Williamson, it features his trademark wit, gift for the wonderfully absurd, and unorthodox wordplay that’ll leave your cheeks sore from excessive smiling.
Featuring a stellar cast of local actors, the show’s led from the front by checkout chicks Michelle (Susi Jansen), Barbara (Kim Williamson) and Aisha (Tamanna Khurana) who shine brightly throughout the show. I enjoyed watching their lovely chemistry onstage together, but all three can hold the stage on their own too.
They’re supported by butcher Rob (Chris Trail), former supermarket owner Mr Everson (David Guy), and love struck shopper Brian (Quentin Pidduck) who all provide an excellent foil for the checkout chicks and feature in a number of hysterical and poignant moments throughout the show.
Leading the madcap collection of supermarket regulars that includes Lisa Thorne, Maggie Kelly and Georgia Thorne are Susan (Allison Stewart) and Sharon (Jane McKenna) who are a real joy to watch when they threw themselves into their characters with absolute wild abandonment.
Well done to the cast and crew of Detour Theatre – I’d definitely shop at Discount Co. again.
The Weekend Sun
Reviewed by David Tauranga
Twas the Fight Before Christmas!
After watching Detour Theatre's final show of the year ‘'Twas the Fight before Christmas' I have been left feeling supremely grateful for my own whanau.
Penned by Tauranga playwright Devon Williamson, it's a comedic tale filled with clever dialogue and hilarious characters that had me giggling, sniggering and chortling out loud throughout.
It follows long-suffering mother Mary Harvey (played by director Kim Williamson) attempting to reclaim Christmas – and her own life – back from her fantastically wicked daughters Stella (Susi Jansen) and Mandy (Sarah Oemecke).
Throw into the mix suicidal French psychologist Jean Pierre (Chris Traill), paranoid frying-pan wearing neighbour Ivy (Lisa Thorne), and loveable walking doormat of a son-in-law Desmond (Chris Parnell) and you've got the perfect recipe for a hilarious disaster that will leaving you wanting more.
I loved the witty wordplay and ‘lost in translation' moments, the way the dialogue drew me in before landing an uppercut to my frontal lobe – magnifique! And amongst the laughs are these touchingly thoughtful moments which add contrast and shapes the story beautifully.
The sparkling diamond of this show for me is the cast. Everyone's comedic timing is spot on and all portrayed their characters wonderfully, tickling a different part of my brain in the most wondrous way.
And they all like they're having so much fun on stage – ‘laugh and the world laughs with you' as the saying goes.
The Weekend Sun
Reviewed by David Tauranga
Twas the Fight Before Christmas!
Mary Harvey (Kim Williamson) has a family-sized problem that leaves her dreading Christmas.
It is the first year she must cope alone with the homecoming of her disagreeable daughters – the domineering Stella (Susi Jansen) and self-absorbed Mandy (Sarah Oemcke) – since the death of husband Tony.
Complicating any chance of harmonious relations, Stella’s down-trodden husband Desmond is secretly in love with Mandy, while eccentric busybody Ivy (Lisa Thorne) can be guaranteed to sling her own spanner into any works.
When Mary nervously approaches her next-door neighbour, the mysterious French psychologist Jean Pierre (Chris Traill) for help in dealing with her wayward offspring, mayhem ensues.
Frying-pan wielding Ivy steps in with her own direct action and throws well-laid plans into disarray, leaving Mary to discover a steely inner resolve she didn’t know she had.
A talented cast bring their own colourful quirkiness to Detour’s Christmas comedy, penned by resident playwright Devon Williamson, with the laughs coming thick and fast.
Susi Jansen plays with panache the truly horrible Stella, whose only concern is her inheritance, while Chris Traill is delightfully convincing as the psychologist, whose indignant response to Mary’s protest “You are drunk!” is “I am French!”
Kim Williamson has slickly directed the show, in which she takes a leading role, and probably sums things up best in describing the Harvey family as “putting the fun in dysfunctional”.
Twas the Fight Before Christmas! runs until November 28 and is the perfect antidote to the stress of preparing for the looming family invasion that comes with the festive season.
Bay of Plenty Times
Reviewed by Paul Chapman
“Beware the green-eyed monster …”
Othello is the play in which Shakespeare gives us that abiding description of jealousy.
But he gives us so much more in this dramatic tale of the Moor of Venice.
Try adding love, passion, raw hatred, betrayal, psychological torture and murder into the mix and you find yourself in the midst of a powerful and deeply moving tragedy.
Pascal Tibbits is superb as the machiavellian Iago, probably the most consummately wicked of Shakespeare’s villains.
Evil oozes from every pore of the man who convinces the gullible Othello (David Tauranga) that his new wife, Desdemona (touchingly portrayed by Gin Mabey), is being unfaithful with Cassio (Chris Parnell).
And how inspired of director Devon Williamson to cast that fine Maori actor David Tauranga as the Moor.
Tauranga shows his true talent when Othello – “one who loved not wisely but too well” – descends into a murderous rage, at times shocking the audience with bursts of anger yet still conveying the man’s inner torment.
There are some strong support performances too, notably Shirin White as Desdemona’s maid Emilia, Sarah Bate as Brabantio, and Geoff Herd as the hapless fop Roderigo, the first victim of Iago’s scheming villainy.
Detour are keeping their laudable promise of bringing us an entertaining production of Shakespeare every year.
Othello is the seventh in the series and the standard is every bit as high as we have come to expect.
In many ways, Shakespeare’s tragedies are so much more difficult to stage than the comedies, but Williamson and the Detour crew have again pulled off a triumph.
Othello had Wednesday’s first night audience on tenterhooks as they followed the twists and turns of the unfolding drama.
Expect it to do the same right through until the end of its run on September 26.
Reviewed by Paul Chapman
It’s a big day in a small town way down in Louisiana.
We are in the hairdressing salon run by Truvy (Sarah Oemcke), where all the gossip that matters is peddled.
Today is the day Shelby (Mikayla Morgan) is getting married. It is also the first day at work for nervous trainee hairdresser Annelle (Mikayla Williamson).
Shelby’s mum M’Lynn – that’s short for Mary-Lynn – (Susi Jansen) joins her daughter in the salon for the obligatory wedding day hair-do.
But the first sign that all is not well in their perfect world comes when Shelby, who has diabetes, falls into a hypoglycaemic state while in the hairdresser’s chair.
Tragedy later unfolds after Shelby, who has been told by doctors she should not have a baby for the sake of her health, stubbornly goes right ahead and does so to fulfil her cherished dream.
There is plenty of humour too in this vibrant and poignant play, and the cast, rounded out by Geraldine Broderick as Clairee and Maggie Kelly as the trenchant Ouiser, clearly rejoice in delivering such delightful lines as “I’m not crazy, I’ve just been in a bad mood for 40 years” and “She’s so dumb she thinks Sherlock Holmes is a subdivision.”
Robert Harling’s Steel Magnolias – the title conveys female characters who are as delicate as magnolias yet as tough as steel – is best known for the 1989 smash hit big screen comedy-drama that starred Sally Field, Dolly Parton, Shirley MacLaine and Julia Roberts, among other top Hollywood names.
What is less well known is that it started life as a stage play, and it is this that director Kim Williamson has now brilliantly brought to Tauranga.
She has enlisted a talented cast who bring their colourful characters to life with passion and conviction.
Together they pull off the kind of captivating performance we have come to expect of this inspiring little theatre.
Just as Wednesday’s first-night full house audience roared with laughter at the witty one-liners, they were hushed when the tears began to flow.
Steel Magnolias is likely to be a sell-out show. It runs until July 4.
Reviewed by Paul Chapman
Open All Hours
“What they come in for is up to them. What they go out with is up to us.”
It’s the mantra of – who else? – that artful old Yorkshire shopkeeper Arkwright, whose bustling corner store is the setting for Open All Hours, one of Britain’s most popular ever television sitcoms.
Taking on Ronnie Barker’s formidable role as Arkwright in this stage adaptation, the excellent Stuart Gunn is ably supported by Gavin Kerr in David Jason’s character of Granville, the put-upon assistant.
The show is a welcome return to Detour by Gunn, who last had audiences guffawing when he played Basil in Fawlty Towers.
Arkwright is still lusting after Gladys Emmanuel (Lisa Thorne), the district nurse who lives just across the road, while seeing a succession of hapless customers (variously played by David Guy, Philippa Powell, Terry Ferguson, Sam Clark, Kim Williamson and Mikayla Williamson) as dupes to be fast-talked into buying items they didn’t know they wanted.
Forget Viagra, Arkwright’s scheming inventiveness comes to the fore when stocks of Jamaican Ginger Cake start to pile up and he convinces the neighbourhood that the stuff has magical properties as an aid to marital relations.
Granville’s complaint that the ginger cake has never been near Jamaica elicits Arkwright’s indignant response: “What’s that got to do with it? We sell Mars bars, don’t we?”
While Granville laments the fact that life and the opposite sex are passing him by, the miserly Arkwright’s attention is fixed on how much money is going into that aggressive cash till – which, as in the TV series, takes on a personality of its own.
Director Devon Williamson has put together a slick production, and the laughs came thick and fast among Wednesday’s full-house first night audience.
Detour has a record of successfully bringing classic British comedy to the stage in Tauranga and this show captures the delight of Roy Clarke’s popular series, which screened for no fewer than 26 BBC TV episodes between 1976-85.
Open All Hours runs at Detour until March 28.
Reviewed by Paul Chapman
The Vicar of Dibley 2
Laughs galore as favourite, funny TV vicar returns
It’s Christmas and Geraldine Granger, the Vicar of Dibley (Michelle McAnulty-Smith), has a dilemma.
She has been invited to Christmas lunch at three different houses and doesn’t want to disappoint anybody.
First, Jim “no, no, no, no – yes” Trott (Geoff Herd) and Frank Pickle (Brian MacKenzie) ask her over for “sex, drugs and rock ’n swiss roll”, then lord of the manor David Horton (Jon Edney) and his foppish son Hugo (Quentin Pidduck) serve up several large courses, and finally twittering verger Alice Tinker (Jen Edney) and her odd family fill the table with their own turkey and trimmings.
Just when the groaning vicar thinks she has forced down the last piece of Christmas pud, the hardly house-trained Owen Newitt (Liam Hagan) throws in a lunch invitation of his own.
All the familiar well-loved characters are on stage in three back-to-back episodes of one of television’s most popular comedies, slickly directed for this Detour production by Kim Williamson.
The cast excel in assuming the personalities of Dibley’s collection of delightful social misfits, but special praise must go to Michelle McAnulty-Smith and Jen Edney, who have polished their parts to perfection.
With Christmas over, pompous David Horton’s worst nightmare is about to come true when the vicar decides to play cupid with the budding but reluctant romance between Hugo and Alice.
After finally being cajoled into a kiss – something that Alice confesses make her “go all goosepimply like a great big pimply goose” – Hugo proposes marriage.
More romance is in the air when Owen launches a shock marriage proposal of his own – at Geraldine – with the unkind reminder that “you’re not getting any younger”.
A hilarious wedding ceremony brought to a close an opening night on Wednesday that had the audience roaring with laughter right from the first few minutes.
If you are feeling in need of a few good laughs, they are guaranteed to come thick and fast at The Vicar of Dibley 2, which is even funnier than last year’s original episodes at Detour.
The show runs until November 29 but be warned, once word gets around of what a great night out it is, tickets are likely to sell fast.
Bay of Plenty Times
Review by Paul Chapman
15 November, 2014
Dirty politics Shakespeare style
A struggle for the most powerful job in the land, scheming, plotting, mischief and double dealing.
Sound like the dirty politics furore in New Zealand’s 2014 general election?
No, it’s actually what goes on in Macbeth, Shakespeare’s thrilling tale of regicide, betrayal and witchcraft in the ancient kingdom of Scotland, and on a far more bloody scale.
Diabolical deeds are served up in ladle-fulls by the three witches (Lisa Thorne, Maggie Kelly and Kim Williamson) and their mistress Hecate (Frances Sutherland). These actors clearly relish their roles and somehow manage to be both sinister and delightfully comical at the same time.
The not-so-delicious ingredients such as eye of newt and tongue of dog that they throw into the pot as they chant “Double, double, toil and trouble, fire burn and cauldron bubble” would make even the most adventurous MasterChef contestant blanch.
It is the strangely forked-tongue predictions the weird sisters pronounce to Macbeth (Pascal Tibbits) and his companion Banquo (Chris Parnell) that stir up all the trouble.
When Macbeth learns from them that he will become king, he decides to give fate a helping hand by murdering the present incumbent, Duncan (Brian MacKenzie), urged on by his scheming wife Lady Macbeth (finely portrayed by Kate Akers).
Tibbits and Akers play well together as the doomed couple whose corrupted love becomes steeped in blood, and ends in madness and death by the sword.
A powerful performance by Tibbits, who has recently moved to Tauranga from Auckland, firmly establishes him as one of the finest actors treading the boards locally, and his stage presence is nothing less than commanding.
You could have heard a pin drop at times when he led Wednesday’s opening night audience through Macbeth’s most anguished confidences.
Finally, arch-rival Macduff (David Tauranga) proves he is a match for the blood-stained Macbeth. Making the switch from musical theatre, Tauranga demonstrates that he too is a formidable acting talent.
And veteran trouper Geoff Herd is in fine form, turning on the laughs as the drunken night porter.
Six years ago, Detour set out to present an annual Shakespeare play and this is their first staging of a tragedy after five successful comedies.
Director Devon Williamson’s offering is a thoughtful and highly enjoyable production.
Macbeth runs until September 20.
Bay of Plenty Times
Review by Paul Chapman
5 September, 2014
Hay Fever a winter warmer
An invitation to spend the weekend at the posh Bliss household in the English countryside is certain to turn into any guest’s nightmare.
When the four eccentric family members each invite a guest for the same weekend without informing the others, chaos can be guaranteed.
Hay Fever, set in the 1920s, is the kind of comic masterpiece that made Noel Coward one of the most celebrated playwrights of his generation.
The talented Geraldine Broderick is perfectly cast as matriarchal Judith, a melodramatic retired actress who has lured the gauche Sandy Tyrell (Dylan Frewin) to the house in the hope that he will fall in love with her.
“David has been a good husband to me but he’s wearing a bit thin now,” she laments.
But her aim is thwarted when Sandy turns his amorous attentions to her daughter Sorel (Mikayla Williamson).
Meanwhile, bow-tied husband David Bliss (Michael Morris) has invited the young and rather brainless flapper Jackie Coryton (Katherine Knight), with a view to a bit of hanky panky.
But instead it is Myra Arundel (Nadine Tibbits), a guest of son Simon Bliss (David Holt), who finds herself awed to be in the company of the great novelist.
Any charming that goes on cannot last long, however. The misnamed and self-centred Bliss family prove far too much for a sane person to cope with.
Stresses and strains come to a head when Saturday evening’s parlour games descend into squabbling.
Each of the guests soon regrets ever having accepted the invitation and they find common cause in planning a surreptitious way to escape the madness without causing offence to their unpredictable hosts.
Director Kim Williamson has skilfully put together a delightfully witty comedy, with all cast members, who also include Quentin Pidduck and Vivienne Holt, clearly relishing their parts.
Detour’s chuckle-filled winter warmer is set to brighten the season’s dark nights. It runs until July 5.
BOP Times, June 19, 2014
Reviewed by Paul Chapman
Over Paid, Over Sexed & Over Here!
It is 1942, wartime New Zealand, and the tension crackles.
But the “enemy” for the local lads is not the feared Japanese, who stand poised to invade as they sweep down through the Pacific.
It’s the newly arrived American troops, who have the local girls swooning, with their boxes of chocolates and polite manners.
Devon Williamson, Detour’s resident playwright, has chosen those heady days as the setting for his latest hilarious offering, which had Wednesday’s opening night audience hooting with laughter.
We are in the home of the three Mays sisters, Allison (Susi Jansen), Dorothy (Gin Mabey) and Rosey (Mikayla Williamson), and their dad Don (Brian MacKenzie), who run a dry-cleaning shop in a small coastal town near Wellington.
Relations with the Yankee “bedroom commandoes” start off badly for local yokel Jack (Dylan Frewin) when he takes potshots at their landing craft.
Things go from bad to worse when two of the Americans, Harry (Gavin Kerr) and Robert (David Holt), come into the shop and start a-courting the girls.
Fast talking blackmarket wheeler-dealer Mrs Ham (Kim Williamson) is not one to miss out on the prospect of a bit of fun with the boys and her jaw-dropping moonshine “Shell Shock” adds spice to events.
But despite all the glamour, it is between Dorothy and local lad George (Glen Morris) that true romance blossoms in the end.
The biggest laugh of the night came after Dad related his tale about a cow cocky in broadest Kiwi language. There, perhaps, the clash of cultures was seen in starkest relief and it ended in an explosion of humour.
Over Paid, Over Sexed & Over Here! Is a very funny, at times poignant, and always totally engaging tale that will also evoke a twinge of nostalgia among older members of the audience who grew up in this country.
All round, the acting is excellent, the direction slick, and Devon Williamson has established a reputation across New Zealand and Australia for quality comedies. This is quite possibly his best yet.
The show runs until April 12. Reviewed by Paul Chapman for Bay of Plenty Times, 26 March 2014.
Appointment With Death
Christie classic a gripping whodunnit
Mrs Boynton (Diana Corrigan) is a manipulative, domineering American matriarch and plenty of people have good cause to want her dead. She rules the lives of her three step-children, Raymond (Jayden McLeod), Lennox (Sam Dowdall), Ginerva (Katherine Knight), and daughter-in-law Nadine (Gin Mabey) with a rod of iron. "One of us has got to kill her," groans Lennox in despair. All four would dearly love to be free of her but are any of them capable of murder? Then there's Dr Sarah King (Sarah Oemcke), who has her own reasons for wanting the old battle-axe dead. Investigating Colonel Carbery (Geoff Herd) has a real puzzler to solve, with the assistance of the Frenchman Dr Gerard (Chris Parnell), but he is unlikely to guess the surprising answer. That queen of suspense Agatha Christie set this spellbinding whodunnit in the exotic King Solomon Hotel in Jerusalem and a travellers' camp in the ancient city of Petra. The mysterious American Jefferson Cope (Devon Williamson) and outright antagonism between bombastic Yorkshireman Alderman Higgs (Jamie Parkes) and the toffee-nosed Lady Westholme (Kate Akers) provide added intrigue. And light relief comes in the form of comical Arab guide and peddler of trinkets, Dragoman Aisaa (Michael Morris). Director Kim Williamson has conjured up a cracker with Detour's latest offering, as a follow-up to last year's successful production of The Mousetrap. A high quality cast all bring their own talents, meaning Appointment With Death is as thoroughly entertaining as it is gripping. The play runs until November 30. Reviewed by Paul Chapman, Bay of Plenty Times, November 15, 2013
The Taming of the Shrew
It's not often that an actor's entrance brings the house down but that is what happened when Gavin Kerr took to the stage on Wednesday's opening night of the latest Detour Theatre production. Kerr plays Petruchio, the dauntless adventurer whose mission is to tame the Shrew, and his absurd arrival on stage amid a ragged posse of horses and helpers had the audience hooting with laughter. Detour director Devon Williamson and his crew make a point of having fun with their annual productions of Shakespeare and you get the distinct impression that this year's battle-of-the-sexes comedy will be the most enjoyable yet. Baptista Minola (Susi Jansen) has two daughters, the pretty but demure Bianca (Rianne Bidois) and the firebrand Katharina (Kelly Moroney). Despite having a line of suitors, the deal is that Bianca may not be married until a husband can be found for Katharina, the Shrew of the title. Baptista, Bianca, and everyone else have virtually given up hope of finding anyone fearless and foolhardy enough to take on Katharina. Until, that is, the outlandish Petruchio decides he will woo her, having heard that a rich dowry comes with the scolding bride. The talented Kerr truly makes the part his own, delighting the audience with superb delivery and perfect timing. Moroney shows her own considerable skill in portraying the fearsome yet surprisingly tender-hearted Katharina. Between them they capture the exquisite final irony of the play, a love that evolves to be truer and deeper than that of any of the characters who surround them. Veteran crowd pleaser David Guy appears as Hortensio, one of Bianca's would-be lovers, while that fine local actor Liam Hagan puts in a late appearance as the abused stranger Vincentio. Once again, a gifted cast, imaginative directing, sumptuous costumes and tons of dedication have turned out an excellent show. The Taming of the Shrew runs until September 28. Reviewed by Paul Chapman, Bay of Plenty Times, 11 September, 2013
The Vicar of Dibley
DIBLEY'S VICARAGE HUMOUR JUST DIVINE
"You can’t covet your neighbour’s ass, no matter how alluring it is." So laments Jim "no, no, no, no – yes" Trott (Geoff Herd), while ruminating on the restraints imposed by Christianity. We are, of course, in the English village of Dibley, and the larger than life characters who people it are on stage at Detour to present an uproariously funny show. The part of Geraldine Granger, the boisterous vicar, could have been made for Michelle McAnulty-Smith, while Jen Edney brings her own considerable talent to the role of that dopey verger Alice Tinker. All the other old favourites are there: pedantic minute-taker Frank Pickle (Brian Mackenzie), the uncouth Owen Newitt (Liam Hagan), pompous lord of the manor David Horton (Jon Edney) and his foppish son Hugo (Jamie Parks), not forgetting that maker of lemon-curd-and-ham sandwiches, Letitia Cropley (Sally Hughes). Michael Morris completes the talented cast by taking a number of minor roles. Detour have established a deserved reputation for cheering up our winters with their well produced TV comedies, and The Vicar of Dibley maintains those same high standards. Director Kim Williamson skilfully manages some quick-fire scene changes with the aid of clever lighting effects and the cast have studiously perfected the mannerisms of their characters. Detour’s show seamlessly meshes together three episodes of the much-loved BBC series: The Arrival, when the villagers are shocked to discover their new vicar is a woman; The Window and the Weather, in which the church’s stained-glass window is smashed in a storm; and Dibley Live, when the villagers go on air. The laughs came thick and fast on Tuesday’s opening night and this production of The Vicar of Dibley is guaranteed to send you home chuckling. It somehow seems the ideal show to stage in a delightful theatre that was formerly a Baptist church. It’s certainly the right one to add a ray of sunshine to the shortest days of the year. In short, Detour’s production of The Vicar of Dibley is just divine. It runs until July 13. Reviewed by Paul Chapman, Bay of Plenty Times, 28th June 2013
My Inlaws are Outlaws!
Think you’ve got trouble with the inlaws? Try swapping places with Annie. Hers are out to kill her.
Susi Jansen is perfectly cast as the mild-mannered librarian who is taken home by her husband Dane (Glen Morris) to meet the gangster relatives she didn’t know she had. After facing up to formidable matriarch and mother-in-law Audrey (Allison Stewart), Annie is shocked to find herself confronting Natalya (Sandra Sailer), a sinister Russian assassin who has been hired by the family to bump her off. The two strike up an unlikely alliance when they realise that a second would-be murderer, in the shape of Italian mercenary Rosa Botticello (Jane McKenna), has in turn been engaged to get rid of Natalya. When Annie unintentionally polishes off Rosa by “frying” her pacemaker, her friendship with Natalya is confirmed. But Detour playwright and director Devon Williamson’s enjoyable comedy turns into pure farce as Irish killers Finn O’Reilly (played by Williamson himself) and his dim-witted son Donal (Glen Morris again) join the merry mayhem. Complaining that practically a whole United Nations of professional murderers appears to have been brought in to deal to her, the resourceful Annie surprisingly succeeds in outsmarting them all. Williamson has made a name for himself as a comedy writer – last year’s production of The Old People Are Revolting played to full houses at Detour – and his latest offering brought plenty of laughter on Thursday’s opening night. A strong cast, which also includes Philippa Powell, playing Dane’s none-too-bright sister Desiree, and the remarkable 84-year-old June Kontze as Grandma, are in fine form. My Inlaws are Outlaws! runs until April 20. Reviewed by Paul Chapman for Bay of Plenty Times, April 6, 2013
Blackadder Stage show superior to antics on screen.
Detour have a knack of picking winners and they have done it again with their production of one of television’s most popular comedies. In fact, and I may have to whisper this in the presence of Blackadder diehards, this show plays even better on the stage than it does on the screen. That skilful veteran of the Tauranga theatre scene David Guy takes on Rowan Atkinson’s demanding role of Edmund, Lord Blackadder, and makes it his own. Along with Matthew Roderick as his incredibly annoying and stupid sidekick Baldrick, and a talented cast of other characters, he has the audience hooting with laughter all through the evening. This is the second series, set during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I (Tracey McDonald). In the first episode, Blackadder falls in love with Kate (Jo Parkes) in her disguise as his manservant Bob, only to have her stolen away at the altar by the dastardly Flashheart (Jamie Parkes). Next Blackadder finds himself in strife in his role as Lord High Executioner when he manages to have the head of one of his victims chopped off too early so he and his cronies can have the rest of the week off. Even the suggestion of Nursie (Philippa Powell) of “ointment, that’s what you need when your head’s been cut off” is not enough to solve a devil of a problem. Finally, our hero must host a party of drunkards and a dinner for visiting Puritans in adjoining rooms of his house at the same time. The consequences are predictably disastrous. Director Kim Williamson has pulled off some neat scene changes with the help of clever lighting and a piece of revolving scenery, while putting together a very funny show. The consistently strong cast are all well up to the challenge and the gags flow thick and fast. Bringing Blackadder to the stage was a cunning plan, my lords, and Tauranga is lucky to be blessed with such theatrical talent. Blackadder runs until December 1. Reviewed by Paul Chapman for The Bay of Plenty Times.
A Midsummer Night's Dream
A Midsummer Night's Dream Guy's finest hour.
You can usually never shut Bottom (David Guy) up. So there is an exquisite moment in A Midsummer Night's Dream when for once he is lost for words. It comes as he tries to tell the audience about his astonishing dream: how he was magically transformed into a donkey and became the love god of Titania, the beautiful fairy queen. Throughout the rest of the play, he and his bumbling fellow tradesmen have us in hoots of laughter at their hamfisted efforts to put on an entertainment to mark the wedding of Duke Theseus (Brian MacKenzie). This very funny production of what is perhaps Shakespeare's most delightful comedy must surely be veteran local actor Guy's finest hour, as he wrings every ounce of humour out of Bottom's role. Powerful support comes from the rest of a talented cast. Among them, Matt Roderick proves he is not to be messed with as the fairy king Oberon, while Rachael Somerville clearly relishes her role as Titania. Kim Williamson brings her own slapstick humour to the mischievous sprite Puck, creating mayhem in the enchanted wood by clumsily miscasting spells. Principal victims of Puck's confusion are the young lovers Hermia (Lydia Verschaffelt) and Lysander (Quentin Pidduck), and Helena (Emma van de Molen) and Demetrius (Shane Murphy). Detour are to be commended for their annual Shakespeare season, which never fails to make the Bard's works easily enjoyable to modern audiences. Director Devon Williamson has pulled off another triumph. The set is a joy to behold, the costumes glorious, and the lighting skilfully adds to the atmosphere. A Midsummer Night's Dream, which runs until September 29, will bring a warmth to this chilly start to spring and is guaranteed to send you chuckling all the way home. Reviewed by Paul Chapman for The Bay of Plenty Times.
Fawlty Towers 2 - Show Review
Detour again on to a winner!
Question: What do you do for a follow-up when you staged the funniest show in town last year? Answer: Stage the funniest show in town this year. Delightful little Detour Theatre are punching above their weight yet again by putting on Fawlty Towers 2, three more back-to-back episodes of the unforgettable television series. The four principal actors from last year return, notably the talented and seemingly inexhaustible Stuart Gunn as Basil Fawlty. Stuart’s mastery of John Cleese’s manic Torquay hotel proprietor is consummate as he leads the other hapless characters in a hilarious charge around the stage. Fawlty Towers 2 features the Waldorf Salad episode in which, for once, Basil is put firmly in his place by an American guest who refuses to be intimidated; Gourmet Night, where Basil aspires to new heights of snobbery by seeking to attract the “right sort” of clientele; and Basil the Rat, when a hotel inspector visits, a pet rat escapes, and all hell breaks loose. Lisa Thorne is excellent as the formidable Sybil, Jo Parkes is perfectly cast as the long-suffering Polly, while Matthew Simmons was simply born to play uncontrollable Spanish waiter Manuel. Strong support comes from Brian MacKenzie in three key roles, Melanie Harris who takes two parts, and Jon Edney in the various guises of chefs Terry and Kurt, as well as from the rest of an able cast. Credit must go to director Kim Williamson for cleverly managing the scene changes that are so much more easily achieved on television through film editing and slick camera work. Last year’s show sold out and it’s a fair bet this year’s will too. Why? Because Fawlty Towers 2 may just be the best pick-me-up around this winter. It runs until June 30. Fawlty Towers 2, Detour Theatre Reviewed by Paul Chapman for The Bay of Plenty Times.
The Old People Are Revolting - Show Review
A BELTER YOU JUST CAN'T MISS
The sound of "Twinkle twinkle, little star" belting out from Detour Theatre last night was the entire audience singing the national anthem of the Independent Kingdom of the Sunshine Retirement Village. Singing came as a brief reprieve from the aching sides caused by guffaws of laughter. The Old People are Revolting, written and directed by Detour's own talented Devon Williamson, is a very funny show. It is also blessed with a strong cast who staged a polished performance to a first-night full house. When the city council decides to end its rates rebate for the elderly, the penpushers in town hall have no idea what anarchy they are about to unleash at the village. Led by bolshy former trade union firebrand Shirley (Allison Stewart) and the ebullient Howie (Ewan Mcleod), the residents hit on the idea of ceding from the rest of New Zealand under the United Nations Charter. Determined to start things off with a bang, they recruit retired farmer Doug (Marty Bubb) to build a home-made bomb so they can spectacularly blow up a council-owned jacaranda tree. Once the media gets involved in the shape of aspiring young newscaster Ashley Hardwick (Anna Robison), the story goes viral on the internet and the revolution becomes unstoppable. Special mention should go to 82-year-old June Kontze, who delightfully plays Elizabeth, the pensioner chosen to be queen of the new mini-state. Running until March 31, this is one show that well deserves to go on your "must see" list. Reviewed by Paul Chapman for The Bay of Plenty Times.
The Mousetrap - Show Review
Detour do it again with classic thriller.
How do Detour do it? After bringing the hilarious Fawlty Towers to Tauranga earlier this year, they are now staging one of the few permitted performances of The Mousetrap outside London's West End. When the play was first staged back in 1952, author Agatha Christie -- yes, the queen of suspense herself -- gave it eight months to run. It is still going after more than 24,000 West End performances. This classic whodunnit is strewn with red herrings, keeping the audience on the edge of their seats until the final minutes when the murderer is revealed. Thankfully, there is also a good dash of humour to leaven the ghastly goings-on. The action takes place when guests are snowed it at Monkswell Manor guest house, run by Giles Ralston (Quentin Pidduck) and his wife Molly (perfectly played by Lydia Bennett). And what a strange bunch the guests are. Liam Herlihy is splendid as the eccentric Christopher Wren, while Marty Bubb plays the mysterious Mr Paravicini, Vince Shaw is Major Metcalf, Glenda Beere storms across the stage as the obnoxious Mrs Boyle, and Philippa Abel is Miss Casewell. The investigating police Sergeant Trotter is convincingly played by Bernard Setz. Director Kim Williamson has pulled off another coup for Detour with this nail-biting thriller. Do see it. But whatever you do, don't give away the ending. The Mousetrap, Detour Theatre Reviewed by Paul Chapman for The Bay of Plenty Times. 17 November, 2011
"Fawlty Towers" - Show Review
Laughs flow as Basil, Manuel career madly along farce lane.
FAWLTY TOWERS! Chaos reigns at Fawlty Towers. Basil is at his imperious, sycophantic, panicking best. Hapless Spanish waiter Manuel is a picture of uncomprehending confusion. Sybil is a perfumed bulldozer, not to be trifled with. While Polly is the only sane person in a collection of crazy guests, skiving builders, conniving conmen and assorted nitwits. Together, they make up one of the most hilarious shows Tauranga has seen in a long time. Director Devon Williamson has put together a cracker of a production in Fawlty Towers! at Detour Theatre, which runs until June 11. The show consists of three complete episodes of the award-winning television series, as scripted by John Cleese and Connie Booth. Stuart Gunn sets a breathtaking pace with an impressive performance as Basil, while Matt Simmons was born to play Manuel. Lisa Thorne is perfect as Sybil and Jo Parkes turns in a highly convincing Polly. Special mention should go also to Liam Hagan and Dylan Topping among a talented cast in supporting roles. The laughs came fast and often from a delighted opening night audience. Tauranga is lucky to have such accomplished and dedicated actors and Fawlty Towers! could just be the funniest show you will see all year. -- Paul Chapman for Bay of Plenty Times. 26 May, 2011
"How to Train Your Husband" - Show Review
There’s many a detour when training your husband!
The team at Detour Theatre have dished up another comedic delight with ‘How to Train Your Husband’. From the pen of Devon Williamson, and under the direction of wife Kim, be prepared to giggle, squirm, and get involved in this multi generational, clever look at marriage. Ladies beware, some of the secrets are being let out!. Role playing grandparents, explosive implants, baked beans, and the recent Detour trademark man in a dress, are just a few of the issues of training the husbands in this play. So be prepared for anything, and expect the very much unexpected!. Brian MacKenzie as Denis shines as the aging husband trying desperately to please his eccentric wife, and the ‘twisted sisters’ Gwen (Allison Stewart) and Trudy (Jane McKenna) never failed to make me smile with their many antics. Craig Wilson as Dave Bigfoot with his fabulous smile and skimpy clothing got me chuckling every time. It was obvious that the entire cast enjoyed themselves, and had worked extremely hard to memorise massive monologues. A close to full house laughed, participated and even pinched each other, showing their enjoyment and support for the hard working cast and crew. It’s wonderful to see locals write and perform great plays for everyone to enjoy, and showcase the talent that Tauranga has to offer. - Elise Rohde (For Bay of Plenty Times)
"The Merchant of Venice" - Show Review
Bay of Plenty Times 2 September, 2010
"Shakespeare Play Encourages Good Laugh"
It is a wonderful thing to behold when players fall in love their material and Detour Theatre have clearly fallen in love with William Shakespeare. Their production of The Merchant of Venice is a sheer joy, which the audience quickly shared when the season opened last night. If you thought Shakespeare was boring and defined by stuffy incomprehensible language, be prepared to have your prejudices shattered. Primarily, director Devon Williamson and the company have not forgotten that Merchant is listed among the Bard's comedies. The most is made of every opportunity for a laugh, not least in the antics of the clown Launcelot Gobbo (a madcap Matt Simmons). Equally though, the powerful drama and intense pathos of the play are explored to their full potential. David Guy's Shylock, the money lending Jew who demands his pound of flesh only to be finally humiliated by his gloating enemies, is a tour de force. Brian MacKenzie is a natural Antonio, Shylock's victim and the "merchant" of the plays title. As for the heroine, Portia, Jess Stringer turns in the kind of peerless performance we have come to delight in. The first night audience applauded after every scene.It was not difficult to see why. - By Paul Chapman. Bay of Plenty Times.
"My Husband's Nuts" - Show Review Review
Bay Of Plenty Times (Tauranga) March, 2010
Not what you think! Having never attended a Detour Theatre play, I was excited to see ‘My Husband’s Nuts!’ written by Devon Williamson, and directed by wife Kim, the co directors of the company. Set in a rural South Island farm house, Jack, your stereotypical farmer, suffers a bump to the head, causing him to, as the name suggests, to go a tad nutty. The havoc this creates leads to many an unexpected event , and awkward moment. Jack, played by Liam Hagen stood out, having few lines throughout, yet keeping the audience engaged as his paranoia built from scene to scene. Terry, the lovable yet simple local security specialist, played by Matt Simmons was hilarious and a pleasure to watch. Kim Williamson, Anna Robinson and Susi Jansen held their parts well and really gave the impression that they were enjoying it, as were the audience, evident as they giggled and clapped. ‘My Husband’s Nuts!’ delivered some well received slapstick moments, and a clever storyline carried outstandingly by the cast. If you’re looking for a bit of comic relief and quality acting, go see ‘My Husband’s Nuts’, running till March 27th. - Elise Rohde
"Twelfth Night" Show Review!
Bay of Plenty Times Wednesday, 16 September
True love triumphs in merry night out. The sky is dark, thunder crackles and lightning dazzles the senses as a ship sinks, with almost everyone aboard drowned. Not a bad start to a comedy, is it? Twelfth Night tells the unlikely tale of a sister, Viola (Jess Stringer), and brother, Sebastian (Luke Wilson), who are parted in the maelstrom, each believing the other is dead. It's a merry tale of mistaken identities, the mutual contempt of drunken revelry and puritanical pomposity, and the eventual triumph of true love. Director Devon Williamson and the Detour company have produced an immensely enjoyable rendering of one of Shakespeare's most delightful plays. I knew I was in for a good evening when Jess Stringer delivered her opening lines. What a fine actress the company has found in that girl. The stage soon fell under the spell of that splendidly drunken tosspot Sir Toby Belch, wonderfully played by Stuart Gunn, and his foppish companion Sir Andrew Aguecheeck (Matthew Simmons). David Guy was consummate in the role of the highfaluting manservant Malvolio, who is gulled into dressing up in cross-gartered yellow stockings. And my initial doubts about the director's decision to cast the clown Feste as a woman were at once dispelled by Mandy Hall. She can hold a very fine tune and this production has made the most of the beguiling songs the Bard sprinkled into his play. Twelfth Night, which runs until September 25, is the opener of an annual Shakespeare production by Detour. If they are all going to be of this quality, bring it on, Devon - Paul Chapman
"Lost for Words" Show Review
Reviewer Louise Dean, Classic Hits 95 BOP FM
Written & Directed by Devon Williamson 19 May – 5 June, Detour Theatre at the Historic Village
Bob Marley and Robert Schumann, you couldn’t get two musicians more different. But the two collide head-on on the playlist of Classical Music FM, the radio station at the centre of Detour Theatre’s hilarious and warm-hearted comedy Lost for Words, written and directed by Devon Williamson. Radio Announcer Edwin Miles (Liam Hagan) is conservative, intellectual and dull, so dull in fact that his daily 6-hour long classical music radio show has absolutely no listeners, and, as his Station Manager points out, if any were to die there’d be negative listeners. It’s definitely not a data entry error, the ratings don’t lie, no one is listening. Determined not to be sent home to head office in Germany, Station Manager Janet (Kim Williamson) takes drastic action and employs a middle-aged white guy masquerading as a Jamaican named Bongo (Stuart Gunn), changing Classical Music FM to Radio Reggae. Understandably the change and the invasion by a man who is his very antithesis comes as a huge shock to the pompous Edwin who does everything he can to keep the status quo. But with change comes self discovery and friendship and Edwin realises Schumann “man” is not all that different to Bob. Lost for Words is cleverly written and the talented cast make easy work of delivering great comedy. Liam Hagan is brilliant as the uptight and self-important Edwin Miles. Hagan’s character may be a stark contrast to the laidback and happy-go-lucky Bongo, played wonderfully by Stuart Gunn, but the chemistry between the two actors is fantastic as they bounce off each other throughout. The ever fabulous Kim Williamson has some of the funniest lines and is frighteningly convincing as the leather wearing, whip carrying German Station Manager, and has the audience eating out of her hand. Hannah Brewer completes this extremely strong cast playing the mute “robot receptionist” Kate. Without uttering a sound Hannah shines as the timid misunderstood Kate. This locally written comedy will have you aching from laughter. Not to be missed.