My Fair Lawyer is the least of Laumberg’s plays, thus far, in the ‘lawyer’ series. Kicking off at the Tap Gallery Theatre last Thursday, May 3, and running all the way up ‘til Sunday, June 3, his latest offering lacks the snappy (Mel) Brooksian timing I believe is his goal.
While there’s more than a smattering of sparkling one-liners, too many are laboured and teetering on cliché. The references to the musical whose name the play parodies are scant and practically pointless. The blame is spread here. The writing isn’t as sharp, honed, or polished; the Cotter should’ve taken his cast firmly in hand (he still can, with the preponderance of the season to come); the actors, in the case of Mark McCann & Gil Balfas, particularly, aren’t the right tools for the job, since McCann suffered (and, consequently, so did I) a terrible comedic lag and Balfas was tripping all over himself too many times to ignore, or forgive, suspension of distraction becoming almost impossible. These foibles are too frustrating not to comment on and, while not entirely spoiling my appreciation of TL’s topical asides, such as that alluding to Marc Einfeld’s unfortunate circumstances, certainly compromised my enjoyment.
I hasten to add, this isn’t to slander the credentials or abilities of McCann, or Balfas. They’re just, for mine, the wrong actors, in the wrong play, at the wrong time. McCann, occasionally, thrills with his craft: ‘I’m not afraid of anything!’, he boasts to his would-be bastard daughter; recoiling, in very mid-sentence. Moments like these are the hallmarks of very honed performance.
Again, the production’s flaws must, I’m sorry to say, be sheeted home to the underpinning creative team of Laumberg & Cotter, who’ve simply engaged the wrong actors. Indeed, if not for staples Tricia Youlden & Clare Pickering, this outing would’ve been all at sea. Perhaps the sell-out success of ‘Unsolicited Male’, ‘Lawyer! Lawyer!’ and ‘Lawyers in Love’ has led to a little complacency; or, perhaps this genre has been wrung dry.
(Then again, one has to be lenient, inasmuch as few productions, in a city that undervalues theatre as much as Sydney, have the luxury of even adequate rehearsal and actors are most often doing other things to sustain their existence, at the same time, so a singleminded, stress-free focus is both extraordinarily difficult and encumbered.)
Truth be told, Big Splash seems to have sprung a slow leak with this one. Which isn’t to say Cotter and Laumberg don’t have a big future in light, refreshing, sassy comedy-drama; au contraire! For one thing, the latter’s plotting is still deft & watertight. This is a momentary lapse; a slight jar to the funny-bone, an uncomfortable tingle. I know they can do better, because I’ve seen it, previously.
I’m sure they’ll return with a vengeance (and, maybe, a vendetta against your reviewer!). Meanwhile, there are far worse ways to spend $27! In short: recommended, with reservations.
Big Splash Productions present
MY FAIR LAWYER
by Tony Laumberg
Venue: The TAP Gallery, 278, Palmer Street, Darlinghurst
Dates: 3 May to 3 June 2007
Times: Wed to Fri 7.00 pm, Sat 7.30 pm, Sun 4.00 pm.
Preview: Thursday 3 May,
Opening Night: Friday 4 May
Tickets: $27.00/$20.00 conc (preview $17.00) (plus any agency booking fee)
Bookings: MCA on 1300 306 776 or www.mca-tix.com
For more information: www.bigsplash.com.au