‘Some of My Best Friends are Women’ was gregarious.
There is nothing quite as unique as a book club. What appears on the surface as a fun socialite event to discuss a piece of literature often turns into a cesspool of gossip, alcohol and secrets that will test friendships, for better or for worse. This is highlighted in Javeenbah Theatre Company’s latest production, ‘Some of My Best Friends are Women’.
Set in Lynn’s home, the once-thriving book club has become stale as the group attempt to get through yet another novel. With a conglomerate of personal dramas, ailments and issues, most members have not completed the prescribed reading. As they all continue to tip back the alcohol, tension festers between the women, causing members to abandon the group. This leads to Steve and Chris, two men who have a friendship with Amanda and Dorothy, stumbling into the mayhem which bands the women together for the good of the book club, and each other.
The set design by Jim Dickson and Darren Campbell was remarkable. The stunning living room and hallway captivated the audience from the moment they walked in. Colin Crew’s sound and lighting drove the pace of the production pleasantly, accompanied by good use of songs penned by Carole King to help set the mood. Another nice touch can be credited to the costuming: each character had a beautiful array of costumes that enhanced the characters’ personalities.
Dickson’s direction was effective in working on the relationship between the characters. From the moment the play began, you could tell these women had a strong, loving connection to each other. His use of blocking choices in the giant space was well-considered and his added gags were a nice comedic touch.
The performers handled their individual European accents spectacularly. Gillian Crow did a pleasurable performance as Lynn; her dry humour leaving the audience chuckling from start to finish.
Julie Burnett’s Amanda complimented the craziness happening around her, with great comedic timing and gave voice to what the audience was thinking. Marie Dickson’s Dorothy was exceptional. From the moment she started cleaning until the moment she drunkenly blundered out of the house, Dickson’s warm busybody persona brought strength to this production. Emma Oakey as Jill was delightful, embodying overly ambitious goodie-two shoes perfectly. And Sophie Lawson’s Helen was superb. Her portrayal of a dolled-up gold-digger who is more interested in everyone’s secrets than reading showed a side that made you sympathise with her character. A subtle touch was added when Jill says she’s never been pregnant and her face collapses. The scene in which Jill and Helen compete for Steve was also a true comedic highlight of the show.
Lachlan Sutherland’s Steve may have had a short run, but it was memorable. He played a confused, innocent man wonderfully and his subtle quirks added life to the scene. The same applies to Peter Gray’s Chris, an innocent soul who came to pick up Dorothy but got hilariously accused in a case of mistaken identity. Gray’s solid comedic timing, facial expressions and pacing brought the show to another level.
This production is reminiscent of ‘Steel Magnolias’; though it does have plenty of humour, it also brushes on serious topics, which were handled respectfully.
Like many comedies, this show does a solid job of exploring ordinary life in a farcical manner. Though some of the dialogue in the script was varied in emotion, the cast and crew made it amusing and worth putting down a book to go and see.
‘Some of My Best Friends are Women’ performs until the 13th of February at Javeenbah Theatre Company Inc. For more information, visit Javeenbah Theatre Company’s website.