What: The Jailhouse Frocks
Where: Aubyn Live Theatre, St Aubyn St, Hastings
When: July 22 to 31. Tickets at Eventfinda
Reviewer: Keith Russell
On a cold Hastings winter's night, the light emerging from Aubyn Lives Theatre worked its hypnotic spell as the magic of theatre transported the audience into the police station of a small American town.
Written by prolific New Zealand comedy playwright Devon Williamson, we are about to spend the night observing the effects of a bumbling officer who has to contend with three disparate, or should that be desperate, women.
This comedic farce is directed by Sarah Rogers who recognises the humour that comes from the confined situation and maintains excellent pacing along with a controlled rise in energy that keeps the witty one-liners entertaining until the end.
The first woman to be arrested is the eccentric "cat lady" played by Lisa Nickel, whose character was entertaining and very funny.
Her use of facial expressions along with hand gestures was hilarious as her situation compounded, from requiring sanctuary from the weather to a rousing rendition of the song Monster Mash.
Joining her is the drunk mayor's wife well played by Lizzie Robertshaw facing a charge of attacking her husband with a chainsaw. Anybody that can start a chainsaw deserves to be sent home with nothing more than a warning but that would have deprived us of the fascinating backstory she entertained us with.
The third character, a "gangster's moll" fleeing from her husband, was played by Sarah Graham who maintained excellent energy throughout the play.
The dim-witted officer is excellently played by Jonathon Jordan, who had a standout performance along with displaying a good singing voice.
His male support came from Rob Miller as the gangster husband seeking his wife. Suitably menacing, although his funny lines made him all the more sympathetic and maybe one was sorry he ended up "helping the police with their inquiries".
It is surprising for a New Zealand playwright to base the story in America, this immediately brings up the question of accents. Graham was good as a New Yorker and one can only sympathise with Robertshaw who also had to portray alcohol impairment, the rest did their best
Voice projection was good and all kept to their timing marks along with some entertaining song and dance numbers. Peter Wolstenholme created an intimate set with good lighting and sound by Glen Grenfell and Gordon Rogers, the only criticism being the clarity of the radio transmissions.
This is a comedy with good structure and characters. Once again Aubyn Live Theatre provides another evening of great entertainment and laughs