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Atlantic Crossing

With its generic title “Atlantic Crossing” and billed as 'Glimpses of life from the UK to the USA', Cathouse Players made a welcome return to Kyneton, their home town. Three small cameo pieces were followed by four award-winning short plays, providing satisfying, well-balanced and entertaining theatre.

Alan Stone - The VicarNot My Cup of TeaPenguin BluesA Little Something for the Ducks

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List of Sketches and Plays

The Vicar Alan Stone
Resting Place Alan Stone
Pat Agyeman
The Nanny Pat Agyeman
Not My Cup of tea Helen Gramberg
Di Addington
Gail McGregor
Penguin Blues Margaret Healy
David Cubley
New York Minute Fiona Agyeman
Frank Sartore
A Little Something for the Ducks Maggie Browne
Andrew LeClercq
Director Bette Sartore
Stage Manager/Backstage Brian Fitches
Rob McGregor
Lighting & Sound Doug Owen
Set Design & Construction Brian Fitches
Rob McGregor
Frank Sartore
Front of House/Tickets Katie Fitches

VDL Critique for Atlantic Crossing

"There is a subtlety in the title of this four-part production in that all four one act plays are by American writers while the two very short cameo works at the beginning of the performance had us in the United Kingdom. We were then taken across the Atlantic to the USA for the four diverse plays that were an offering of death, murder, ghosts and mistrust ending with some comic relief.

 Cathouse Players, having overcome several hurdles in recent times , were now back in Kyneton after leaving Chewton and are now working towards getting back into the Bluestone Theatre ... However for Atlantic Crossing they had to create a “theatre” in the local Freemasonic Hall by building a stage, erecting lighting and sound including control boards and working in a very tight space and limited change rooms.

All plays were directed by Bette Sartore and the result was commendable with some stand-out individual performances.

Not My Cup of Tea, written by Albert Groff, was billed as a comedy with all the cast being murdered but did not come over as such and was at times tedious. Two spinster sisters tried to murder their elderly mother as they felt they were bound to stay in the family home but if they disposed of their mother they would reap the benefits of her money and be released from their ties. Clumsily they set up several ways to kill her, poisoned cookies, a shotgun without bullets and the use of a rolling pin – but nothing worked. Daughters Emmie, played by Di Addington and Jessica, played by Helen Gramberg, were not always comfortable in their roles while Mother, played by Gail (Murfi) McGregor, was convincing, endearing and also very concerned as to what would happen to her spinster daughters when she died. We found she has no money and she suggested to her daughters to talk over the future over a cup of tea. Their tea contained poison and as they died their mother ate one of their cookies not knowing it was poisonous.

The mood changed with Penguin Blues by Ethan Phillips with voice-over actor, Gordon, played by David Cubley, meeting a nun, Sister Angelina, played by Margaret Healy, in a rehabilitation clinic for alcoholism. Gordon has been sadistically abused by a nun in his school days while Angelina was in denial about her alcoholism. They poured out their lives to each in a stirring emotional performance. David was exceptionally strong and convincing with wonderful presence that encapsulated a person beset with the many problems of an alcoholic.

Play three after interval, New York Minute by Michael Palermo, bought the ghost of husband Harry played by Frank Sartore into his home days after his funeral to make amends with his grieving wife Melissa played by Fiona Agyeman. While at first not being seen he became ‘visible’ to Melissa and they repaired their friendship and discovered a new way of living before he returned to the other side. Both Frank and Fiona gave a faultless performance well played and directed.

The last offering still in America, A Little Something for the Ducks by Jean Lennox Todd, gave some relief from murder and death, with some comic situations delivered by seventy-nine-year-old widower Samuel, played by Andrew Le Clercq. He is at the local city park pond feeding the ducks despite the signage “Don’t Feed the Ducks.” As a lonely man with little ambition or friends he is joined at the pond by sixty-eight-year-old widow Irma, played by Maggie Browne, and immediately she tells him that he is a criminal by disobeying the signage. She has no interest in feeding the ducks and yet despite that they develop a friendship that eventually has Samuel going back to Irma’s place for meals while she agreeing to feed the ducks when he is absent or maybe dies. Andrew played the widower with great aplomb and masterful delivery of an old man while Maggie was just as eloquent in her portrayal, delivering some comical lines to match those of Andrew. A heart-warming piece of theatre.

Without a curtain the scene changes were all well-choreographed and we were kept attentive by Alan Stone as a Vicar delivering some innuendo messages to his flock, while Brian Fitches and Robert McGregor effected very smooth set changes behind him. All the sets were detailed and included a range of well-chosen stage props. There were many well-executed and timely sound effects provided by Doug Owen, with costumes by Bette Sartore complemented the many characters. Some well-composed backing music that helped set the mood was provided by Galliano Sommavilla. A small and dedicated technical team worked well to bring us an entertaining production that were supported by Katie Fitches and her band of FOH assistants.

A welcome return to Kyneton for Cathouse Players with the challenge now to re-engage the community to follow their 2015 season."

By Greame McCoubrie - Theatrecraft Dec 2014

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