‘The Opposite Sex’ was nostalgic.
Nestled in beautiful Redcliffe, there is a small but bustling theatre, known as ‘Mousetrap’. Their latest production, ‘The Opposite Sex’, is the first of their jam-packed season and offers a bite-sized treat for its devoted audience fan-base. An intimate theatre, Mousetrap truly brings a friendly atmosphere to their productions.
Written by David Tristram, ‘The Opposite Sex’ is an old school styled, comedy play, set in what appears to be 1980s England. Though perhaps a bit old fashioned in its messages and humour, the audience, full of Mousetrap regulars, spent the evening laughing up a storm.
The play follows Mark, Vicky, Judith and Eric – two couples with one common secret. Very reminiscent of a British farce of that era, the couples don’t get along with their designated spouses, but they do find intrigue in what the other side has. While the group hosts a very typical dinner party, the proceedings that follow are anything but typical.
With lots of confusion, secrets, and humour, this sometimes awkwardly written play offers an easy and enjoyable evening of theatre. The packed audience was vocal in their enjoyment over the humourous scenes and spent the majority of the evening chuckling and singing along. In fact, the energy of the audience was infectious and anyone could see just how much they were generally enjoying their Friday evening.
Director Craig Longoria opted for a hyper-realistic set, constructing a classic British living room, complete with hallway entrances and a sliding window to the kitchen. This allowed the actor’s plenty of stage space to move around. In saying that, it did seem sometimes the actors got stuck upstage towards the back or sat on the couch for some of the lengthier discussions. The hallways in the set did, however, give the illusion of space and that the house continued on past the stage, which lessened the sometimes-awkward blocking.
Though the actors were sometimes restricted in movement, there were many moments of physical comedy that broke up these stagnant stretches. Some particularly great moments were where characters quarrelled in full brawls. The production definitely didn’t shy away from slap-stick style comedy, incorporating it in many key moments.
The sound design of the production by Gordon Heath was skilled in its incorporation of SFX and music. In combination with the actors, it allowed some big moments – for instance, a fall downstairs sound effect made it seem real in the production. The actor’s then commitment to the injuries of such events further sold the idea. The production also incorporated scene change music from the 80s in the form of Tom Burrell, Karen Matthews and Nikol Trenberth performing Addicted to Love, and looking exactly like the Robert Palmer music video.
The cast did an admirable job, given the awkwardly written script. Despite opening night jitters, the production seemed polished and the actors jumped at their cues, barely missing a beat.
John Da Cruz as Mark was a standout, capturing the “yuppie” British toff very well in his physicality, voice and presence. Donning a predominantly consistent British accent, Da Cruz had the perfect tonality for the character; the sort of nasal posh sounding voice one would expect. Though his physicality and characterisation occasionally ventured into over-acting, which wasn’t out of style in this comedy, he kept the energy and pace of the piece on track.
As his poor wife Vicky, Caitilin Jones did an admirable job, with words aplenty and a knack for comedic timing. Jones carried the role and supported the action well. Melanie Pryde as Judith also did favourably in her job as the vapid Avon salesperson. Both Jones and Pryde could perhaps experiment with light and shade in their voices and delivery of dialogue, but nonetheless, they suited the characters.
Lastly, Ciaran Kowald in the role of Eric thrived when conveying a communist who loves stirring the pot. It being Kowald’s first time on stage, he didn’t have some of the acting nuances the other cast members had, however, he still did an admirable job taking on such a large role for his debut.
All in all, ‘The Opposite Sex’ does a good job in capturing comedy and bringing the typical British farce to stage, which people came to love in the 1980s. Full of marriage mishaps and relationship rouses, this bitter-sweet comedy at Mousetrap Theatre has plenty of laughs in store. Expectant audiences will have one thing in common, and when they find out what it is, all hell will break loose!
‘The Opposite Sex’ performs at Mousetrap Theatre Company until Sunday, 15 March 2020. To book tickets or find out more, visit their website.