Waiting For Gotterson - which opens the night - is a clever mini play inspired by that other rather famous play about waiting. It’s penned by actor turned writer Sam Atwell who premiered it a couple of months ago as part of the debut Short & Sweet One Act festival. The twist here on Beckett’s original idea is that the two characters are actors who are waiting for a famous director, Gotterson, to arrive. But the waiting takes a strange turn when one mistakes the other for Gotterson.
It’s a strong and competent script, although there is some ambiguity in the set up, but once it gets into the groove it hits some nice comic notes. Unfortunately, it’s let down a bit by the stage direction which feels stilted and ‘staged’. The characters seem rooted to the spot at awkward angles for much of the proceedings which proves distracting to the drama at times. There is also moments in the script, particularly the ‘scene’ that the two actors perform that would benefit from a more vigorous exploration of dramatic beats. It’s as if opportunities are missed to really make the most of this fresh and fun material.
Producer/actor Nicola Furst who plays Julia provides a lovely dose of neurotic physical comedy which tickles the audience’s funny bone, but sadly Max Brown’s Trevor feels like he needs more fleshing out to give him more ‘zing’.
Second on the bill is Malcolm Frawley, the Newtown Theatre manager’s Nothing Like Old Times. This comedy about a school reunion gone wrong is immensely entertaining and full of engaging characters. From the brilliantly bitchy ‘princess’, Maddie (Alix Armstrong) to Nicola Furst’s rip-snorting turn as the desperately horny Debbie, there’s a lot to enjoy here.
The blokes turn in some nice performances too, most notably Toby Levins as Leon, the mechanic with the mysterious past; and Nick Logan as the deadpan loser Josh. In fact one audience member was so taken by Logan’s beautiful comic timing that she couldn’t help but blurt out, ‘he’s so cute’. Indeed…
There is only one downside to Nothing Like Old Times and that’s the moments of boredom that the characters are forced to weather at particular points in the script. Sometimes these occasions come dangerously close to being boring in themselves. This is largely because playing bored without being boring is an extraordinary skill, and not one that is easy for any actor to master. But the lovingly selected ’90s pop songs (Iain Triffit) keep things on an upbeat track and give this piece a wonderful sense of nostalgia.
Waiting for Gotterson + Nothing Like Old Times
Venue: Newtown Theatre | Cnr King & Bray St Newtown
Dates: 16-27 Sept
Times: Tues - Sat 8pm
Tickets: $25 / $20 conc
Bookings: 1300 306 776 or www.mca-tix.com