When three very talented people get together, a germ of an idea can become something entertaining, witty, revealing and a very good addition to the Adelaide Fringe.
The Director, Adrian Barnes, hit on the idea when he was looking for an opportunity to work with Nick Mercer who had been a student of his and who, in reality, worked in a bottle shop in between acting jobs. He then turned to his partner, Pat H. Wilson, and who better? Pat continues a lifetime of theatre in just about every aspect you can think of – authorship one of them. This play Hamlet at the bottle-o is for Australian audiences and many a chuckle and downright belly-laugh come from the familiar situations we all recognise. It has another name. It’s The Wineshop Monologues. But what’s in a name? The show by any other name would be as sweet.
Nick in the play works in, yes, a bottle shop along with BJ, Bill, Graham the Gent, Leah, Henry, Sonia and occasionally the overall boss, Brenda Shoes. Nick Mercer plays all parts and they are many more than you’d imagine. We’re helped by big photos of the staff in front of the counter – good idea that – but the script and Nick draw good word pictures of them anyway. Nick the wine shop attendant is competent, knows his wines, runs the place efficiently, is good with people, has a great sense of humour and compassion and is a very likeable bloke. And he’s busy because the five acts cover frantic days when Aussies stock up on grog for Australia Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Christmas Eve and, the bonanza, New Year’s Eve. In between, Nick changes his t-shirt and each carries an appropriate message like “Auld Lang Wine” for the latter and on the counter various stuffed toys proclaim the Day.
One little moan. That is the worst rendering of one of Eric Satie’s Gymnopedie I have ever heard. It makes you shrivel a bit.
We get to know all the staff and the customers, such as Maria looking for her loyalty card while impatient customers wait behind her, Sonia the Serbian and Gladys who brings in brownies but there’s so much more to enjoy. Nick really wants to be an actor and, when he gets a moment, he learns his lines for various auditions and so we get him talking rather disrespectfully about Oedipus – “he loved his mother like no other, his daughter was his sister and his son was his brother.” Bif from “Death of a Salesman” gets a good work-out and LLL. (You might have guessed – Love’s Labour Lost.) He does a remarkable fast-paced patter piece like something from Gilbert and Sullivan’s “Iolanthe” and, of course, there’s the part he longs to play – Hamlet. Perhaps Nick Mercer does in reality. If so, he should be given the opportunity. He says “What a piece of work is man” when he’s pondering the play. Indeed, what a piece of work are two men and a woman who have put together such a lively, interesting, well written, directed and performed 50 minutes play by what they rightly call themselves – Creatives. Oh, and by the way, there are not many shows where you are offered a free glass of wine by its sponsors.
Tongue in Cheek Voices presents
Hamlet at the Bottle-o
by Pat H. Wilson
Director Adrian Barnes
Venue: Goodwood Institute Theatre | 166 Goodwood Road, Goodwood SA
Dates: 21 Feb – 3 March 2018