Adelaide Theatre Guide Review
Director Kym Clayton made a great decision when he decided to choose the edition of this script that was rewritten for British audiences - it works so well. Couple this script with Clayton's stellar cast and you have something special.
Farce only really works when the characters remain believable no matter how improbable the situation becomes. With skillful writing Neil Simon has given them the tools and these actors bring us the best of their craft.
Peter Davies, well known for his work with many companies around Adelaide, plays Ken the first of Vivienne and Charlie's guests to arrive. The 10th Anniversary dinner has been well planned but we never see the hosts, what has happened? Fearing that Charlie may have attempted suicide Ken (Peter Davies) starts the web that will grow into a morass and trap them all.
Davies carefully stays on the right side of believable whilst finding himself in the most outrageous situations. As his wife Chris, Anita Canala, panics and tries to help they are joined by Len, Andrew Clark, and his wife Claire, Linda Lawson. Having just had an accident Len is already agitated and soon becomes more so. Canala and Lawson play two of the best female drunks I have seen, never overdoing it and demonstrating the slow decline.
As the plot thickens the friends are join by Ernest and Cookie, David Lockwood and Lindy Le Cornu. Lockwood seems to play the voice of reason, lost in the chaos. Le Cornu is her usual well-rounded character but with highly amusing back problems. The final guests, Glenn and Cassie (John Koch and Leanne Robinson), complete the mayhem.
Andy Winwood and Ashleigh Merriel, as the two police officers, complete the cast that work together as a fine ensemble. Even though it is an ensemble cast there is a standout, Andrew Clark, who develops his character with care and it culminates in an incredible monologue which is outrageously fantastic but he delivers with conviction.
Kudos should go to the set building team for a well-designed set, which worked to aid the flow of the production, and to Ronda Shepley for the lovely costumes. Don't miss this one, another Galleon success!
Reviewed by Fran Edwards
Broadway World Review
In 1988, at a bad time in his life, Neil Simon felt the urge to work and to write something different, and so he decided to write a farce. There are two versions, the American one, and this, the British one, Rumours, spelt with the letter 'u'. Galleon Theatre Group is presenting this South Australian premiere as their final production for 2015, under the direction of Kym Clayton.
Charley and Vivienne, who never actually appear during the play, have reached their tenth wedding anniversary, and have invited four other couples to join them for a celebratory dinner party. The first couple to arrive, Ken and Chris, are already there when the play begins, and are in an agitated state as they have heard a gunshot. The two kitchen staff are nowhere to be found, the hostess is missing, and the host, a prominent government official, is in his room, bleeding from a gunshot wound to the earlobe. They patch him up and give him some sleeping tablets so that he will rest until feeling well enough to join the party and explain what has happened.
Wishing to protect their friend from any unfavourable publicity, they do not yet call the police, deciding to wait until he can tell them what happened. Then, one by one, the other three couples arrive. Len and Claire have been sideswiped by another car, whilst driving their own brand new vehicle, and Len has whiplash. Ernest and Cookie, and shortly after, Glenn and Cassie arrive. Over the course of the first act, elaborate and implausible lies build up, one on another, as an effort is made to keep the events secret from the later arrivals. Eventually, of course, all eight of them are apprised of the situation although, with a copious amount of alcohol having been consumed by a few of them, there is still a lot of confusion.
In the second act, the police arrive and panic ensues, but they are only there about the car accident that Len and Claire had been involved in on the way there. It transpires that the other car was stolen and they simply need a little information. By the time that this has been explained to the group, the officers are suspicious that there is more going on than they are aware of. More lies, subterfuge and panic takes over until, at last, the police are satisfied and leave.
Like any good farce, there are doors, two up on the landing, two on the ground level leading to other parts of the house, and the front door leading outside. Congratulations to the set construction team for ensuring that it barely vibrated under all of the slamming doors. I can't imagine how many French legs and sandbags, and how much bracing was behind the scenes.
Clayton has not left anything to chance, as a quick glance at the at the cast list shows. He has wisely assembled a group of very experienced performers. The first couple to arrive, Ken and Chris Bevans, who are both lawyers, are played by Peter Davies and Anita Canala. Davies combines, in his portrayal of Ken, a frequently peaking level of panic, with the realisation that he must takes charge, and the need maintain secrecy. He hovers carefully on that line between character and caricature, which is where farce generally sits, particularly when the gun accidentally goes off again and leaves him totally deaf, a setup for a lot of laughs. Canala's Chris just wants to be somewhere else, anywhere, and turns to the bottle as things get worse. Canala is amazingly credible as a drunk, and builds up the level of inebriation nicely over time.
Len and Claire Cummings are played by Andrew Clark and Linda Lawson. Clark plays Len with his head locked to one side for a large part of the play, the result of the whiplash for the car crash, which cannot be comfortable, and Len is also the one who seems to be the most put-upon when crises occur. His final machine gun fire speech to the police deserves every bit if the applause that it generates. Claire handles the situation as badly as Chris, and soon keeps her company on the slide into drunkenness. Lawson is no slouch at playing a drunk, either. She and Canala make a very good pairing.
Ernest and Cookie Cusack tend to be able to keep their equilibrium, perhaps because they are called upon to do what is familiar to them. Cookie has her own television cooking programme, so the two busy themselves in the kitchen, preparing the meal from the ingredients left untouched by the missing servants. David Lockwood and Lindy le Cornu balance the relationship of their characters well, giving a convincing performance as a couple who have been together for years and are comfortable, complementing one another in their marriage.
Glenn and Cassie Cooper are the final couple, and they are as volatile as the Cusacks are stable. John Koch and Leanne Robinson play the Coopers, he suspecting her of having an affair, and her suspecting him of being a serial womaniser. They tend to be more interested in their own arguments and sniping than in the fact that Charie might have been trying to commit suicide. Koch and Robinson keep up their verbal sparring until it spills over into physical violence, some of it taken out on the undamaged part of Len's car, in which she locks herself. Koch's Glenn hovers between denial, accusing, and blustering, while Robinson's Cassie is bipolar, or perhaps even worse, flipping from fury to an emotional wreck in an instant.
It is no wonder that Officer Conklin, Andy Winwood, and his junior, Officer Casey, Ashleigh Merriel, are suspicious that all is not right.
Although they all give great characterisations, the individual performances are only a part of a farce. It can only work with a very strong ensemble, all working together as one, and maintaining an often frantic pace. Clayton has ensured that this is the case, as the laughter throughout and the final applause attested. If you need a laugh to take your mind off of the worst aspects of the oncoming silly season, this could be just what you are looking for. Remember, too, that you can take your own supper to Galleon performances in the Domain Theatre, with drinks available for purchase at the bar (no BYO drinks due to licencing regulations) at the Marion Cultural Centre, so there is an added incentive for you.
Reviewed by Barry Lenny
GLAM Adelaide Review
What would you do if you showed up for your best friends 10th Wedding Anniversary dinner at their house only to find that the hostess has mysteriously disappeared, the planned meal is still frozen and defrosting on the kitchen table, and the host is discovered upstairs in his bedroom with a gun in his hand and a bullet hole in his ear?
The solution to these predicaments is the basis of Neil Simon's uproariously funny farce, Rumours (the British version, hence the correct spelling). The play is not a farce in the usual mould of scantily clad ladies, double entendres and vicars dropping in unannounced (and divesting themselves of their vestments). Instead it is a hilarious romp involving attempted solutions, confusions, rumours, bad backs, blood noses and bashed-up BMWs.
This reviewer has to admit to a very soft spot for this play, having directed the Adelaide premiere of it for Burnside Players many years ago. Under the always smart and reliable direction of Kym Clayton, Galleon's current production brought back many fond memories and many, many gales of laughter from me.
To have a successful production of this play, it must be fast - which this version is, most of the time - and have a wonderful ensemble cast - which this one has all of the time.
Peter Davies (Ken) is 'deaf'ingly delightful; Anita Canala (Chris) is delightfully drunk, along with her somewhat clueless cohort, Linda Lawson (Claire); as Len, Andrew Clark is at his bombastic best.
The always lovely Lindy LeCornu is charmingly calamitous as Cookie (who cooks), and fits well with David Lockwood as her husband Ernest, perfectly playing a psychoanalyst. The couples are rounded off nicely by John Koch as pompous politician, Glenn and Leanne Robinson as his wife, Cassie, not so calmly clutching her crystal; and so that the denouement of the play may occur, Andy Winwood and Ashleigh Merriel play puzzled police officers fairly convincingly.
For a riotous night out, listen to all the gossip and rumours of how great this production of Rumours is - they are absolutely TRUE!!
Reviewed by Brian Godfrey
Stage Whispers Review
American playwright Neil Simon wrote his first farce, Rumors, when his marriage was breaking up in the 1980's. It is interesting therefore that the farce he created involved a group of married couples and the theme revolved around a wedding anniversary.
Simon's subsequent British version of his comedy, Rumours (note the different spelling), is the one Galleon Theatre Group is now premiering in Adelaide. The popular local theatre company has developed a very fine production indeed, filled with dry humour, wit and well-drawn characters.
Four sophisticated married couples arrive in cocktail attire at the upmarket home of prominent government official Charley and his wife Vivian. They expect to help the two celebrate their tenth wedding anniversary. Instead, Vivian is nowhere to be seen and Charley is in a bad way somewhere upstairs, having shot himself through an ear. There's blood, the servants are not on duty and no food has been cooked for dinner. As they try to protect the reputation of yet-to-appear Charley and also leave their own careers unscathed, the eight party guests find themselves in a hilarious whirlwind of unlikely events, increasing drunkenness and no end of concocted explanations.
It is a delight to watch the story unfold on Galleon's perfect set, a room that oozes the comfort and sophisticated lifestyles that couples such as these exist within. When things begin to unravel and powerful people lose the capacity to control outcomes, everything seems even funnier in such a realistically upper-class setting. It is also good to see a farce in which the set walls don't wobble when the action moves vigorously in and out of doors.
Supported by a mostly highly experienced cast, Director Kym Clayton keeps the action at hectic pace, particularly in the first act.
Anita Canala is outstanding as Chris Bevans. She has wonderful comic timing. Canala gives one of the best performances of someone growing more and more amusingly inebriated that I've ever seen on stage. There is subtly in her performance as well as hysterically funny moments. Peter Davies is very good as Chris's husband Ken and particularly funny when Ken temporarily loses his hearing.
Giving Anita Canala a run for her money in terms of stealing scenes is Andrew Clark as Len Cummings. His final monologue of desperately imagined explanations is terrific. It gained spontaneous applause on opening night. Linda Lawson is delightful as Len's wife, Claire Cummings.
David Lockwood is wonderful as the therapist Ernest Cusack, while Lindy LeCornu is absolutely hilarious as his wife Cookie.
John Koch is terrific as Glenn Cooper and Leanne Robinson is suitably venomous as Cassie, his wife.
Andy Winwood does a very good cameo as Officer Conklin. Ashleigh Merriel has good stage presence as Officer Casey, but needs to increase her volume.
Costumes and hairstyles are excellent. Lighting is very well done, including realistic headlight effects as cars arrive at the house. Sound design is also strong.
Galleon Theatre Group invariably puts on high quality comedies, but the company's production of Rumours is a quite a standout and definitely not to be missed.
Reviewed by Lesley Reed
Theatre Association of SA (TASA) Review
The Marion Cultural Centre houses the Domain Theatre which is a gem and home to the Galleon Theatre Group. Their current offering, Rumours, written by Neil Simon is a delight. Director Kym Clayton has chosen the version re-written for a British audience as opposed to the American version. Under his skilful direction the characters have achieved the perfect balance which prevents farce becoming improbable and ridiculous.
The characters have some delicious dialogue with which to work and they make the most of it. Anita Canala delivers an immaculate performance as Chris, the wife of Ken, who gradually becomes more inebriated as the plot unfolds. She has some wonderful lines but it is her unfaltering physicality which impresses. Linda Lawson as Claire faultlessly delivers some of the best and slickest one-liners as she also masters the gradual deterioration into inebriation. Andrew Clark as Len, Claire's husband, delivers the hilarious monologue which in essence summarises the plot. This is a highlight of the show and a sheer delight. The whole cast work wonderfully as an ensemble and make the most of Simon's dialogue.
Set design and construction is immaculate and a credit to the hard-working team. Costume coordinator Ronda Shepley has sourced elegant costumes befitting an anniversary party which brings the group together, even though we never actually meet the husband and wife whose anniversary is being celebrated.
Congratulations should go to everyone involved in this production. The season runs until 28 November.
Reviewed by Janice Bailey