Dir Dave Earl
Cast Max, Owen Bell;
Maggie, Joanna Dong; Saunders, Paul Collins; Tito, Daniel Cotterall; Maria, Elena De
Salvatore; Bellhop, Rami Abuna'meh; Diana, Alexia Kalteis; Julia, Andra McKay
Shenanigans abound in Ken Ludwig’s Tony Award-winning Lend Me a Tenor, the latest spring
production from Shanghai's
longest running amateur theatre group East West. A light hearted farce, the
action revolves around a famous womanising Italian tenor (reportedly based on
Placido Domingo) who passes out right before a sold-out show of Verdi’s Otello, leaving the company manager's
assistant to take his place. When the tenor later awakes and attempts to take
to the stage, mistaken identities, double entendres and slapstick comedy ensue.
While the set is sparse and cobbled together on a shoe
string (during one awkward moment with an uncooperative set door, we were
worried the entire stage may crumble before us), East West make creative use of
the small performance hall at Downstream Garage. Dividing the stage into the
neccessary two rooms of the hotel suite in such a way that only the audience
see the action in both at once, it lends itself well to much of the 'don't open
that door'-style suspense which farces thrive on.
In the lead role of Max, Owen Bell copes well in the
limelight as the stage hand turned stand-in opera star. He balances the shy
retiring nature of Max with his take on the rambunctious Tito Merelli with ease
and many a comical moment. He and Daniel Cotterall as the real Merelli balance
each other nicely during the final reveal scenes with their shared bewilderment
and exhaustion making for some of the play's funniest scenes.
Paul Collins also works well as the wry Saunders, general manager
of the Cleveland Grand Opera Company, full of dry one liners delivered with
appropriate deadpan. We also raised many a laugh for Andra Mckay who is particularly
enjoyable as the pixie-like chair of the opera guild Julia, pursuing the man she
presumes to be Tito.
There is the odd dodgy Italian accent and given the
operatic nature of the production, some unfortunate lip-syncing we could have
done without, plus a bit too much Benny Hill-style chasing each other around
coffee tables for our tastes, which doesn't quite work in the small space, but
these are small gripes overall and the cast keep the energy up throughout
making for a humorous, lively spring time production.
Lend Me a Tenor is
at Downstream Garage from Wednesday 17-Saturday 20 April. See full event
Entry is by donation
with profits going to Olivia's Place children's charity. Contact the box office on firstname.lastname@example.org for