Mousetrap Theatre Company - Lend Me a Tenor

‘Lend Me a Tenor’ // Mousetrap Theatre Company

‘Lend Me a Tenor’ was divertente.

Hitting many high notes in the suburb of Redcliffe, Mousetrap Theatre Company’s latest production was chaotically funny and a worthwhile revival. Presenting the very mechanically driven script, ‘Lend Me a Tenor’, the group have delivered a quick-paced farce full of humour and slapstick action.  

The perfect subject for a comedy, ‘Lend Me a Tenor’ is a recipe for laughs. The show comprises of a number of standard gags – including mistaken identities, room swapping, out-there characters, awkward misunderstandings, alcohol consumption and hilarious gaffes.

Set in 1934, a famous international opera singer, Tito Merelli, has been commissioned to perform as part of the Cleveland Grand Opera Company. Everyone is eager to meet the Italian superstar, and the powers-at-be want the event to run as smoothly as possible. But like all good comedy, nothing goes according to plan.

Director, June Tretheway, has done well to choreograph a play of opening/closing doors and disordered comedy. Actors are constantly changing places, entering and exiting spaces, and hiding in rooms at a rapid pace. It was clear that much dedication and thoughtfulness had gone into mapping and blocking the happenings of a complex play.

The action played out in a split-stage configuration – representing two opposing rooms of an elegant hotel suite. With the middle wall missing, players took turns on each side of the divide, allowing an audience to peek at the goings-on behind closed doors. This insight was particularly rewarding when mayhem ensued. Entering via a door downstage, actors did their best to not break this illusion – even though they could physically see what was happening in the next room.  At times, clumsy footing meant they stepped on where a wall would be, which unfortunately pulled focus from the magic they were creating.

Regardless, set designers, Gordon Heath, Ian Warnett and Graham Smith, have successfully brought detail to the space. Another intriguing element within the stage was the way a cityscape view changed in lighting stages; to represent the day, like morning, afternoon or evening.  It was a simple touch that helped pinpoint time within the production and kudos should be given to Lighting Designer, David Scheiwe.

Oliver Catton played legendary singer Tito Merelli, and his dry delivery translated exceptionally well for audiences. A standout of the piece, Catton handled his accent, comic timing and characterisation perfectly. Sandra Ivanovic acted alongside Catton as his fed-up and frustrated wife, Maria. Once again, her accent never strayed, and we felt her annoyance over her illustrious deviating husband. Their heckles towards each other and grasp on the Italian language was a delight to watch.

Angela Shadwell was also entertaining as the effervescent Maggie, and her facial expressions really sold her performance. John Da Cruz as the lead character, Max, steadily navigated the storyline with his flamboyant and humorous portrayal. His Porky Pig-like stutter highlighted his character’s insecurities and was endearing at times.

Rounding out the cast, Craig Longoria was melodramatic as gruff general manager Henry Saunders; Shannon Bownds was flirtatious as lusty co-star Diana; Sandy Adsett played an overbearing Opera Chairwoman, Julia; and John Sayles was the nosey Bellhop in the middle of the action.

While the languid first act of ‘Lend Me a Tenor’ sets the scene, the second slowly unravelled big reveals and shocks, which left the audience in hysterics. The show can be lengthy at times, but the evident pay-offs are rewarding with pantomime action and jokes that will see any audience through. Mousetrap Theatre Company have presented an easy night of entertainment and great music.

‘Lend Me a Tenor’ performs until Sunday, 10 March 2019.  Tickets are available at

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