Friday, October 12, 2012

At the Q: Ladies Night (Jally Productions)

Ooh, this is a hard one - no pun intended.

And that was pretty much the standard for the evening. Ladies Night is famously the Kiwi play it's claimed was ripped off by The Full Monty, about a group of unemployed guys who decide they can make some quick cash by putting on a charity-case strip show (hey, it's not as if the ladies are very discriminating - after all, look who they've married, amirite, girls?). Though the authors lost their case on a technicality (they sued in the wrong jurisdiction), on watching this it was hard to drum up much sympathy for them. The play lacks the heart, character development and emotional resonance of Monty - we don't know why these guys are broke, we know next to nothing about their relationships, and personal growth seems to consist of one guy getting unexpectedly laid (and skiting like a lout about it) and another suddenly turning up in a frock. We're given no reason to like these guys or care about their futures: it's an unsatisfying text.

There's still fun to be had, largely from watching the lads make total fools of themselves, but this incarnation of the play by Jally Productions has a curiously amateur feel about it; while featuring a few notable veterans like Alli Pope and Ken James, it also features a bunch of slightly miscast hopefuls whose CVs seem to consist of no-brand local pantomimes. That's not to say they're bad (they're not), but they're clearly not professional, and they don't quite match their characters. And direction is also a little off, with some lengthy set changes and a few other odd decisions, such as giving a Sunshine Coast local radio host a smarmy American accent.  Not that most of the audience cared much, especially when the lads got their gear off (yes, all of it).

Me - I was disappointed.  Though possibly not as disappointed as the sweet young thing in ridiculously optimistic shoes who struck up a conversation with me at interval, confiding with shining eyes that she was meeting up with a member of the touring crew after the show. As I went in for the second act, I saw the gentleman in question leaning back with his feet up on the chairback in front, chatting up a blonde. La plus ca change...

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