Adelaide Theatre Guide Review
A new play is always a challenge, and this Australian premiere gave Galleon a few. Taking place over the course of a year in a variety of locations the setting would have been a test for the director and the designer. A test they passed with flying colours!
The director, Erik Strauts, has chosen his cast well and they do him credit. In the lead role of Daniel Tilney, Andrew Horwood is just right, taking us along on his journey of what amounts to self-discovery. Love and time have always been popular themes for playwrights to weave their magic around, but this play is fresh and does not present tired or hackneyed ideas. I think everyone in the theatre felt with Daniel as he stumbled through the hurdle life had prepared for him.
The women in Daniel's life are given substance by some of Adelaide's best: his ex-wife Linda, played by Bronwyn Ruciak; his long-time friend Julia, given all the right nuances by Shelley Hampton; and his new girlfriend Charlotte, by relative newcomer Rosie Williams - a welcome addition. Simone Lancione gives Dan's son a believable edge and Adam Dalby is uptight and distant as the businessman Tom Houghton, with John Koch in his element as Dan's best mate, Harold Scwabb. The cast is completed by Sharon Pitardi as Tom's neglected wife, Megan Langford as Dan's daughter and Laura Antonazzi as Harold's 'child' bride, all putting in good performances.
The simple adaptable set, designed by Julia Morris, worked very well and thanks to the good use of lights and the well-written script there is never a doubt about where the scene is.
Galleon can always be relied upon to bring polish to their shows; they have good people behind the scenes smoothing the way, but this is the whole package. 'Loves & Hours' is well directed, funny and poignant. Go see it.
Reviewed by Fran Edwards
Broadway World Review
Galleon Theatre Group presented the South Australian premiere of Stephen Metcalfe's Loves and Hours, under the seasoned direction of Erik Strauts.
With a long string of short scenes, a cast of ten with some role doubling, and the action taking place over numerous locations, Strauts set himself quite a challenge. By filling his cast with highly experienced and talented people, and enlisting Julia Morris to come up with a smart, minimalist set, cleverly lit by Luke Budgen and Warren McKenzie, he neatly avoids any nasty pitfalls. He also shows that he knows that the secret of comedy is to aim for realistic characters and situations from which the comedy arises naturally, rather than trying to push for laughs.
Dan Tilney is the best man at his friend Harold Schwabb's wedding to Andrea, a young woman half his age, causing Dan to begin his series of thoughts, comments, and observations, delivered directly to the audience. Dan's own marriage has collapsed, with his ex-wife, Linda, having announced that she is a lesbian. Their daughter, Rebecca, a doctor, is not impressed and is estranged from her mother. Their son, Dan Jr., is still at home with his father but due to go away to college, which will leave Dan alone. Although he insists that he is fine, those around him insist that he needs to get out more, and to find a woman to share his life.
Dan is to be audited by the Internal Revenue Service and fronts up to find that the auditor is Charlotte Walker, who happened to be one year behind his daughter at school and who sings with a band. To his surprise she is attracted to him and they become lovers, something of an irony as he had criticised Harold for his mid life crisis and marriage to Andrea. Things get even more complicated when Rebecca announces that she is in love with an older man, and then Dan Jr. is discovered to be having an affair with an older woman and, worse still, a married older woman, their neighbour Sara Houghton, who feels neglected by her husband, Tom, who seems to be always away from home. Dan has only one person to turn to, his lifelong friend, and Harold's sister, Julia Schwabb. Poor Dan, though, as this, too, complicates his life even further as it turns out that she has always been in love with him since they were at school, and he never realised.
Andrew Horwood is simply outstanding in the central role of Dan, initially still shell shocked at the end of his marriage, and insisting that he is happy being alone, a defence mechanism against being hurt again. Horwood takes us from this pint through a plethora of emotion reactions to the situations that keep assaulting him: amused, bemused, confused, a short period of happiness with Charlotte, and at a complete loss when he finds out about what his children have been up to. Horwood provides a rock solid hub around which the action revolves and engages in a whole range of different relationships with Dan's family and friends.
Bronwyn Ruciak brings a wealth of experience to the role of Linda, Dan's ex-wife, while Megan Langford plays their daughter, Rebecca, who has not forgiven Linda for breaking up the family and forming a relationship with another woman. Linda's relationship with Dan is cordial, even if he still does not quite understand what on earth happened, and Ruciak's characterisation is sympathetic to his distress and she deals gently with him. Conversely, she shows deep sadness at the loss of contact with Rebecca. There are some loovely moments when they are finally reconciled.
John Koch and Laura Antioniazzi play Harold and Andrea, his child bride, or trophy wife, depending on your point of view. Koch's Harold is desperately trying to recapture his lost youth through his young wife, but soon feels his age as he attempts to keep up with her lifestyle, attending clubs at night and, of course, her physical demands. Antioniazzi's Andrea is an energetic and vibrant 24 year old, and far too much for an out of condition 48 year old husband to cope with. The two have a great rapport and get plenty of laughs out of the rapidly deteriorating situation.
Adam Dalby does a fine job of the detached, almost disinterested husband, Tom, giving plenty for Sharon Pitardi to react to as his wife, Sarah, his indifference giving rise to her well displayed feeling of neglect and frustration at the lack of tender human contact. this, in turn, gives a convincing reason for her reaction to the advances of Dan Jnr., played sensitively by Simon Lancione. These two create a powerful eroticism between them, displaying a level of real feeling that grows from their initial encounter.
Rosie Williams gives us a lively and charismatic Charlotte, smart and witty as well as young and attractive, explaining Dan's initial attraction to her and the growth of their ongoing relationship, beyond simple lust into a warm closeness. Shelley Hampton, as Julia, is well balanced against Horwood, giving an easiness to their interactions that makes it very clear that their characters have a long history of friendship, and they show subtle changes as that friendship changes and develops into something far stronger.
There are conflicts and resolutions galore, exploring a whole range of relationships and attitudes, and a good number of poignant moments, which all makes this a rich comedy with depth and complexity rather than the superficial comedies that are so prevalent. Galleon have a history of quality productions and this is another feather in their cap.
Reviewed by Barry Lenny
GLAM Adelaide Review
This reviewer is in LOVE! - with Galleon Theatre Group's latest show, the Australian premiere of Loves and Hours. Stephen Metcalfe's hilarious, yet poignant, modern script and this entire production of it are picture perfect.
With no less than forty scenes covering such things as chapels, antique shops, the interior of a car, hospitals and airports (to name but a few) and a myriad of interesting characters, a professional company would balk at the prospect of putting this play on; let alone a community theatre group. But not Galleon, and certainly not director Erik Strauts.
With his uncanny knack of capturing the complexities of the human mind and our behaviours, this is the ideal fodder for Strauts. He knows exactly how to make us smile and face up to our own foibles. Strauts also knows how to cast and has assembled a top-class group of actors.
Rosie Williams as a young IRS auditor/singer in a rock band is delightful; ShelleyHampton absolutely sparkles; and Bronwyn Ruciak, playing two very different types of females, make 'bitchiness' and 'self-consciousness' an art-form.
As the quintessential Gen Y, stud muffin, toy boy, Simon Lancione impresses, as does Sharon Pitardi as his 'older' affair. John Koch is wonderfully funny as an ageing lothario trying to stay forever young; Adam Dalby displays insensitivity well; whilst Megan Langford and Laura Antoniazzi round the ensemble off nicely.
But it is Andrew Horwood as the protagonist sharing his mid-life crisis and journey of self-discovery with the audience who is the lynch pin and undoubted star of the show. He is absolutely spell-binding to watch and gives a masterful performance, working wonderfully with every other actor involved.
By dividing the stage into three raised sections and one floor space, using simple set furniture pieces and decorating with a lace motif, set designer Julia Morris has overcome the hurdle of the multitude of scene changes beautifully; with Luke Budgen and Warren McKenzie's well lit areas adding to the effect.
Galleon and all involved with this production should feel immensely proud. Loves and Hours is quite possibly the best amateur comedy production this reviewer has seen this year.
Reviewed by Brian Godfrey
In Daily Review
It isn't easy for any theatre company to keep the pace going in a comedy that involves rapid changes of character and situation, but Galleon Theatre Company's production of Stephen Metcalfe's Loves and Hours manages this expertly.
Set in California and spanning a period of years, this modern comedy of manners hinges on the sometimes hapless but always engaging Dan Tilney (played with a mixture of sensitivity and cheerful observation by the admirable Andrew Horwood) and the complex situations in which his family and friends find themselves.
Through Dan's eyes and his often laconic observations of the characters, we follow their lives and their impact on him and each other. What seems at first to be a comment on the frustrations and poor choices of men reaching middle age, and the comic superficiality of the privileged, soon finds a depth in which the audience is drawn to care about as well as laugh at the storyline as it develops.
Erik Strauts' production is a reflection of the hard work this experienced company has put in to set the pace and keep the audience connected. There are no weak links in the cast, with actors moving smoothly in and out of an open stage to present short scenes in different times and places.
The set is designed as minimalist, so as not to distract from the actors, and lighting is used instead of a curtain to move between scenes - not always easy to manage but both production crew and cast worked well together. The combination of youth and experience in the cast provides an opportunity for the audience to relate to many different aspects of the play, and on opening night the production was cheered enthusiastically by the packed house.
Marion Cultural Centre offers the opportunity for cabaret as well as row seating, so there is an informal, social aspect to the evening, which suits the theme of the production.
Reviewed by Nicky Titchener
Stage Whispers Review
Adelaide's Galleon Theatre Group has a happy knack of successfully producing comedies that are outside mainstream amateur theatre fare.
The company's productions are often quirky, darkly funny or decidedly tongue-in-cheek. Helped by Erik Strauts' excellent direction and a fine ensemble cast, Galleon's Australian premiere of Stephen Metcalfe's Loves & Hours is all of this and more.
Divorced empty nester Dan Tilney is completely at a loss as to finding another partner, but his friends insist he needs someone. There are complications though, all of which revolve around love, family, age, sex and sexuality. For Dan the path forward is less than certain as the relationships of friends, family and even his neighbours muddy the way.
Stephen Metcalfe's storyline for this play teeters very close to the edge of 'American sitcom' at times, but he is careful to ensure it is more than this. He pokes gentle fun at how we define love and gives the story its own definite opinions, resulting in a comedy that tests society's norms and has much more depth than a sitcom.
Andrew Horwood is excellent as Dan Tilney, imbuing the gentle man with a realistic willingness to laugh at his own middle-aged attempts to recapture his youth. This is a man in a so-called typical mid-life crisis, but in his portrayal of Dan's relationship with a girl young enough to be his daughter Horwood skillfully ensures the character never becomes a stereotype.
Shelley Hampton is another standout as Dan's lifelong friend, Julia Schwabb. Her performance subtly and poignantly portrays the repressed love Julia has for Dan, creating a stoic but at times humorous character.
John Koch is very funny as Julia's ex and Dan's friend, Harold Schwabb, who finally discovers he might not be quite up to the vigour of his very young new bride Andrea. Unfortunately, Koch's American accent is a bit hit and miss.
Rosie Williams is perfect as Dan's other love interest, the irrepressible and delightful young tax agent, Charlotte Walker. In a difficult role for a relatively inexperienced actor, there is no self-consciousness in Williams' acting and plenty of natural talent; a terrific performance.
Bronwyn Ruciak demonstrates a wealth of acting experience in her role as Dan's gay ex-wife. She has some hysterically funny moments as Linda, playing the character with a fine sense of comic timing. Ruciak also does a great job in a cameo as a different character, portraying Dan's reluctant and short-lived first date when he begins his journey to find a new love.
Simon Lancione is fantastic as Dan's son, Dan Tilney Jr and is matched by a very good performance by Sharon Pitardi as lonely neighbor and cougar, Sarah Houghton. In only his second stage acting experience Adam Dalby does a great job as Tom, Sarah's unappreciative husband.
Megan Langford and Laura Antoniazzi complete the excellent ensemble work with solid performances as Rebecca Tilney and Andrea Schwabb respectively.
Galleon is renowned for its box sets but for Loves & Hours the company has necessarily and very successfully moved away from this. Julia Morris has designed a stylish, modern and minimalist black and white set which is sparsely dressed with tables and matching cubes. The cubes become chairs and other props, allowing the clever design to work effortlessly in creating the many environments of the multiple vignettes in the play.
Sound design by Sean Smith is excellent and as the ever-changing vignettes move to various parts of the stage the lighting and spotlights are handled well by Luke Budgen and Warren McKenzie.
Loves & Hours is an episodic play and it takes a while to engage the audience, but this is entirely due to the writing, with the complicated historical relationships of the characters being explained up-front.
As the story progresses we're hooked, and we learn that this play has been well worth the scene-setting. It becomes yet another example of a well-chosen, finely performed and impressively staged Galleon gem.
Reviewed by Lesley Reed
Theatre Association of SA (TASA) Review
Ever on the lookout for fresh, challenging material, Galleon has found a gem with its Australian Premiere of Stephen Metcalfe's Loves and Hours.
This is a very American piece in style, content and structure and Erik Strauts' tight direction faithfully met its intentions. The many scenes - most of them brief vignettes - were well served by Julia Morris' striking, simple and serviceable set which allowed the necessary slick transitions.
The ensemble was strong and even. While the first Act performances were generally solid and often funny, everyone rose to the greater challenges of Act 2 when, true to its roots, the play grew darker. As the title hints, this is a play about multiple forms of love. Just when the audience thought there could be no further permutations of the tangled relationships, there came yet another twist.
Central to the action and the play's success was Andrew Horwood as Daniel. He had a mild, engaging presence and related well to the rest of the cast and also the audience whom he often addressed directly. Throughout, his timing was impeccable.
Shelley Hampton was subtle and most convincing as Julia, Sharon Pitardi was skilful and measured as Sarah and Megan Langford was entirely believable as Rebecca. Rosie Williams, Simon Lancione and Laura Antoniazzi were confident and successful as the younger characters Charlotte, Dan Jr and Andrea. They each had some extraordinary moments yet did not overplay them.
With this production Galleon set the challenge and met it squarely.
Reviewed by Dave Smith May 2014