The Reluctant Shopper | Long Run TheatreLeft – Kimberley Balaga, Brendan Kelly and Rob De Fries

An enthusiastic audience welcomed Bruce Hoogendoorn’s latest play to the Courtyard Theatre tonight. A simple but effective comedy, The Reluctant Shopper kept its audience engaged and the laughs rolling freely.

Faced with the grim news that consumers aren’t spending, the local business council has Barry blackmail one of the city’s more wealthy citizens, Sam, to spend his ill-gotten but sizable nest egg in their members’ businesses. In the course of this task, Barry manages to set Sam up with shopaholic Lisa, and the two find they have complementary interests: Lisa likes spending money, and Sam has a lot of money. Together they spend enough to turn around the fortunes of the council’s failing businesses.

In this play, Hoogendoorn has taken a rather foolish economic ploy and played it out for comic effect. The concept, while it may not stand up to the scrutiny of an economist, is the stuff of comic genius, and it is just silly enough to hold the attention for the hour the play’s one act runs. One of the more interesting moments is something like a filmic montage that works surprisingly well on stage.

The characters, however, warrant a little more depth. Barry in particular begins as a mere caricature of a businessman, but develops a moral compass on the journey, losing his comic intensity. This could work, but a paucity of motivation leaves the character seeming somewhat vapid when he stops being a caricature. The other characters in the play are decidedly flat and lack any subtext to give the audience something to work for.

The cast nonetheless is quite strong. Brendan Kelly, in the role of Sam, delivers most of the comic punch against Rob de Fries’ straight man, Barry. Kimberley B is cast brilliantly to match Kelly in the role of Lisa, and her timing is impeccable. Elaine Noon is likewise well-cast in three roles, each of which she distinguishes well.

In all, The Reluctant Shopper is an amusing diversion, and well worth a visit for a warm laugh this winter.

Long Run Theatre presents
The Reluctant Shopper
by Bruce Hoogendoorn

Director Bruce Hoogendoorn

Venue: The Courtyard Theatre, Canberra Theatre Centre
Dates: 19 – 29 June, 2013
Tickets: $25 – $15.00
Bookings: www.canberraticketing.com.au

Most read reviews

Driftwood The Musical | Umbrella Productions

Driftwood the Musical is a moving, enthralling story of a family surviving the ravages of war. It so timely, that it’s both poetical and painful.

Blackheath Chamber Music Festival 2022

This year's line-up, a cross section of some of the finest chamber ensembles in the country, would have graced any of Australia’s more well established festivals, and it is a massive endorsement of Festival Director Catherine Harker’s entrepreneurial skill that she was able to secure these wonderful musicians for a festival that too few people have yet heard of.

The Girl from the North Country

Set in Duluth Minnesota in 1934, The Girl from the North Country is a snapshot of troubled people enduring troubled times, gripped as they are by the Great Depression.

Cathedral | State Theatre Company of SA

It's a brave actor that takes on a single hander. The challenge of remembering lines, and holding audience's attention alone on stage for an hour and a half is a gargantuan one. But the actor is not alone.

Pieces of Shit | Bronte Charlotte and Leigh Scully

Charlotte and Scully delivered a thoughtful, funny, and moving new play that balanced toilet humour with hard-hitting, timely content.

Most read news

& Juliet, to premiere at Melbourne’s Regent Theatre in 2023

The greatest remixed love story ever told and West End award-winning anthemic pop musical, & JULIET, will make its Australian premiere at the Regent Theatre from February 2023 in a new production exclusive to Melbourne.

Entries for $10,000 Playwright’s Award Close Soon

In November 2021, Newcastle’s premier theatre production house, The Very Popular Theatre Company, launch its inaugural $10,000 playwright’s award, which is open to applicants across Australia.