All Sorts

Henry Lawson Theatre, Werrington. 8th, 5th and 22nd July, 2023

Reviewed : 8 July, 2023

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All Sorts is as colourful and varied as the name suggests. It’s a collection of seven short pieces, some written by members of the company, all with a different take on some aspect of life – and some with a bit of a twist.

Programs like this give community theatres the opportunity to involve all those members who keep the company alive. The people who’ve supported the company over the years – on stage, backstage, operating lights, building sets, painting sets, sorting costumes – and waiting patiently for the right role … any role! … to come along.

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Over 30 of those members are involved in this production, as well as three school students who are “learning the ropes”. Some have directed. Some are on stage. Some are working backstage. Others are operating lights or welcoming patrons front-of-house. It’s a busy scene. But that’s community theatre!

Eighteen are performing in the little vignettes that make up All Sorts – little snippets about life, and love … and cats!

In The Dancing Lesson by Connie Schindewolf, Krystyna Patynowska sits immobile as a dementia patient. When her daughter (Suzie Schwebel) hands her mementos from the past, Abbrielle Hooker and Jack Maidment act out the memories that are locked forever in her mother’s mind. There are sweet moments in this piece, including a loving ending.

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Rebecca Fletcher, Clarinda Edwards, Holky Bramble and Rhonda Hancock take on four feline characters created by Rhonda Hancock, who seems to know just what cats really think as they twist raunchily around scratch poles, search for a new home, miss their kittens as they are taken away – or hiss and spit as they wickedly spew furballs on to a new rug!

In H.P. Lovecraft’s The Unnamable, adapted and directed by Mitch Rist, Nicole Madden and Adar Eyre play a writer and a critic who meet in a graveyard to dissect a piece of writing about a strange being who can’t be described, even after they have been attacked by it.

The eeriness of that piece is offset by Storytime, written by Sally Davies, and directed by Daniel Conway. Here Rhonda Hancock returns as a story teller – and Corina Thompson appears as the very cheeky Hungry Caterpillar – complete with odd socks and a penchant for underpants!

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In Act 2, Nicole Smith directs Rebecca Fletcher and Ian Fletcher in Prick, written by Gina Cohen. Set at a funeral, this piece has several surprises – including a very satisfying twist! Saying any more at all would spoil both!

In One Night Stan by Adam Szudrich, directed by Clarinda Edwards, three women of different ages agree online to a date with a guy called ‘Stan”. Holky Bramble, Emma Tait and Heloise Tolar have a great time with these characters in a performance that requires excellent timing and comedic characterisation.

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Similar fun occurs in the final piece, We Do Weddings, written by Nicole Smith and directed by Rosie Crossing, where Smith, Tayah Gulyas, Angela Pezzano, Nicole Madden and Amber Mai-Feeley are ‘up in the clouds’ in an absurdist heaven, complete with furry halos!

The company is having lots of fun with this production. It’s what community theatre does every now and again to give everyone a chance to stretch their skills in different roles and genres. And to show their audiences the many different people who make up their local theatre company.

Also published in Stage Whispers magazine