It’s an hour until curtain on the eve of the theatre company’s revival of Hamlet but nothing appears to be going to plan – a series of crises and humorous twists drive the cast to near desperation, as everything appears to be unravelling before the show starts: missing cast members, in-fighting, and a worrying lack of scripts… Actors is an original work by Annie Keegan, with Eva Wyse also directing.
Although performed with an initial slight hesitancy, Actors progressed in confidence as the play went on, the cast growing more relaxed on stage. The comedic timing for the majority of the play was excellent – we were treated to a series of increasingly funny one-liners, the humour located in the spot-on delivery. There was good tension on stage between all the characters, and a great dynamic in the scenes with fewer characters, where the interplay of dislike was very comically explored. Prevalent sarcasm and a liberal scattering of expletives provided an informal atmosphere: the play invites you to relax and laugh. Actors also plays host to the most vitriolic delivery of the ‘break a leg’ sentiment heard in recent memory.
The cast carried off various degrees of dutiful surliness and resentment very well, and lines grumpily delivered in gaudy ill-fitting tunics were especially funny. The costumes added another layer of humour, with oversized items and jarring colours adding to the farcical aspect of the play – and in the case of Oscar Hassett’s luminous pink fishnet tights: providing a dazzling, and truly unforgettable sight.
William Brady was especially hilarious playing the well written hopelessly self-deluded director, at times channelling an almost Graham-Norton-in-Father-Ted flair and intentional obliviousness to the increasingly desperate pleas of his panicking company. His pompous delivery of lines proclaiming his fellow thespians as ‘lost sheep wandering round the moors of theatre’ whilst simultaneously trying to recapture the faded ‘glory’ of the old days of the theatre company were very funny, and made good use of the classic deluded director character trope.
Although at times the plot felt a little like it was serving as more of a crutch to base the jokes upon by relying too heavily on cliché, the sarcasm and deadpan delivery of the lines made up for it, and never detracted too much from the overall spectacle. Although the final message is a little unoriginal, the play is nevertheless an entertaining and very funny spectacle. A great exploration of the egotism and fading dreams of amateur drama societies, that never takes itself too seriously. A very good debut, with great promise.