Left – Sven Ironside and Amy Fortnum
I must admit that the blurb left me cold. It had been a difficult day dealing with bureaucracy on the telephone. To read the following; “This show follows the story of Felix MacArthur, a directionless young man who conceals his identity in order to work for his long lost brother, celebrity pen salesman, Marcus MacArthur, in a desperate bid to save his dying mother” made me fear the worst. Way too much going on. I was not in the mood for hysteria and slapstick humour.
What a pleasant surprise!
This show was an interesting, amusing, and charming production which never flagged for a second.
The book and lyrics were sharp and witty. The musical accompaniment was excellent, cleverly underscoring the action in many scenes, in an almost filmic style, as well as accompanying the big musical numbers. Having not read the programme before the show, I assumed the show was authored by an experienced professional writer, possibly from America. I can now shed these rather derogatory Antipodal views with pleasure.
The opening is an introduction by the past Human Resources expert, Alexandra, to set the scene of the demise of MacArthur’s Markers. She is seated at a bar and creates much semi-drunken “business” throughout the show. A terrific performance by Madeline Crofts who is also very good singer.
Much of the songs in the show are more spoken to music than songs per se. However they like those of Sondheim contribute enormously to the development of the plot.
There are more plot twists and turns than a reviewer could hope to cover but suffice it to say that the themes of honesty, loyal friendship and familial support in relationships are explored thoroughly and very satisfactorily.
And it was fun! The male lead, Ben Thomas (Felix MacArthur), had some wonderfully dorky, naïve moments as he began his career as a “creative” in the pen business. Meanwhile his mother (Olivia Everett) amusingly milked her “cancer treatment” for all it was worth. A perky product developer, Erica (Amy Fortnum), provides the love interest for the inexperienced Felix MacArthur. She is pert and appealing onstage. Felix’s older brother, Marcus MacArthur, who has been raised by his father, the founder of the pen company, unknowingly employs his own brother. Chaos ensues as the scheming mother tries to gain control of the business, only to be thwarted by some clever contractual skulduggery on the part of the “functioning alcoholic” Human Resources manager, Alexandra.
Great performances all round with excellent character development and some wonderfully funny interplay between the differing cast members. James Cohen shone as the inheritor of his dominant father’s pen company, combining a mild hesitancy with sudden assertive essays. Sven Ironside was terrific as the numbers man of the company. An interesting sideline into contemporary attitudes (still!) to gay men in the workforce.
A heartening glimpse into the future of Australian musical theatre.
Ludicrous Displays present
How We Ruined MacArthur's Markers
book and lyrics by Cal Silberstein and Thomas Owen | music by Jackson Griggs
Director Thomas Owen
Venue: Subiaco Arts Centre Studio
Dates: June 24 – 27, 2015