Ladies Down Under

Date 6th April 2022
Society Manifest Theatre Group
Venue The Manifest Theatre Manningtree
Type of Production Play
Director Alison Baker

Report

Author: Hazel Hole

This play is the sequel to Ladies Day which the society performed in 2019. By a stroke of genius or maybe luck virtually all the actors in this sequel took the same parts in the first play.

The stage was almost a blank, with props moved in and out by the actors to denote scene changes eg surf boards for Surfers' Paradise, plane seats for the scene on the plane, rocks for the campsite etc. There was one main entrance and exit from the stage with a set of steps at the side of the stage into the auditorium providing another route on and off stage. Clever use was made of a screen at the back of the stage beaming flight information, destination details and generally enhancing the audience's understanding of the fast moving plot. The surround of the stage was colourfully decorated with slabs and cans of Fosters Beer and welcoming destination posters.

The cast of six were all very talented and it was interesting to see how the roles had developed since the earlier play.

The four ladies, all of whom had been in the first play, were retired fish packers and workers who had won a fortune at the races in the first play. They were played by Jo Simons ( Pearl), Lea Friend ( Shelley), Alison Baker (Jan) and Angie Smith ( Linda). All four actors were excellent in their roles, maintained their “Hull” accents throughout and were word perfect. Pearl is mainly the organiser of the trip to Australia but has issues of her own. Jan is worried that her boyfriend Joe is no longer interested in her, Shelley is an extravagant and feisty flirt and Linda is very self conscious and lacking in confidence. Inevitably there were disagreements between them which only served to emphasise their individuality and allowed the actors enormous scope in their interpretations. All of them were energetic, used the stage and props well and had some wonderful movements and facial expressions.

The individual characterisations were gradually built up until the audience really felt that these four characters were actually on stage. Very well done.

The remaining two actors, Rob Sadler and Tom Montgomery each played many different parts, no mean feat ! I especially enjoyed both playing flight attendants and also drag queens. Rob was dressed in gold leggings and top and Tom in a slinky red dress. Both were outrageously exaggerated, completely over the top and hilarious. Rob was Jan's missing boyfriend Joe who seemed to be working his way round Australia on a diet of Fosters ! Well done Rob and Tom for being able to switch between these very different parts, all with quick costume changes, so seamlessly.

Stage Managers, Jonathan Abbott and Jude Hussey were central to the fast moving plot ensuring that the props kept up with the action ! Costumes, Karen Baker and Jacqui Terry were all very appropriate to the characters and lighting and sound design and operation enhanced the settings.

Director Alison Baker did a superb job to pull this play together and it was a resounding success.

Congratulations to Alison and everyone involved. This was a sparkling and hilarious production which the audience loved, as did I.