The Flamborough Review – November 8, 2008
For a small, amateur theatre troupe, the temptation to mount a “play within a play” production poking fun at a small, amateur theatre troupe must be irresistible, especially when the wit is sharp and the comedy ventures into slapstick.
Waterdown’s Village Theatre has given in to this temptation, and opened its 2008-09 season last weekend with David Ayckbourn’s A Chorus of Disapproval.
The action centres on Guy Jones (played by Ian MacPherson), a recently widowed, middle-aged gent who screws up his courage to audition for the Pendon Amateur Light Opera Society. After a shaky beginning with the director, a mad Welshman impressively called Dafydd ap Llewellyn (Peter Lloyd), he passes muster with ease, and becomes a hot commodity: a new man in the group.
As Guy works to master his single line of dialogue for The Beggar’sOpera (another play-within-a-play) he soon learns that there is much more than rehearsing going on in the playhouse –and at the neighbourhood pub.
With Dafydd obsessively engrossed in the production, an affair soon blossoms between Guy and the director’s wife, Hannah – who also happens to have a role in The Beggar’s Opera. Add a liaison with swinging couple Fay and Ian, and the setting is ripe for double entendres, ribald humor and physical comedy that the VT cast tackles with relish.
And then there is that little land deal that keeps coming up. As Guy progresses through various relationships with the women in the company, and from bit part player to leading man, his practically invisible career position with a multinational conglomerate garners an unwarranted amount of attention.
The blooming thespian soon begins to realize he’s not really sure who’s playing whom.
Written in the mid-1980s, A Chorus of Disapproval sets out to expose any number of societal sins, including greed, corruption, infidelity and hypocrisy, in the rarified setting of a small town arts community.
And while some of the British references to place and class don’t quite make the leap across the pond, the VT production offers plenty for local theatre-goers.
MacPherson’s understated stage presence and impressive comedic timing as Guy are the perfect foil for Lloyd’s sharp-tongued, charming bully, Dafydd. The large cast includes VT veterans and newcomers, including scene-stealer Tamara Kamermans as no-nonsense stage director Bridget Bains and Timothy Havesi, whose shuffling and bumbling Ted Washbrook is a vulnerable target for the slings and arrows of his harder-edged colleagues.
A Chorus of Disapproval will especially appeal to those who take their humour dry. And while at times, the humour is decidedly pointed at those who have toiled behind the scenes, the audience is always welcome to share the inside joke.
Village Theatre’s A Chorus of Disapproval continues this weekend and next, with shows slated for 8 p. m. on November 27, 28 and 29, and December 4, 5 and 6. Advance tickets are available for $18 by contacting Village Theatre at 905-690-7889. Admission at the Memorial Hall door is $20.