I’ve been spoiled for theatre recently having seen three shows within two weeks, all of which I thoroughly enjoyed. This week it was the turn of Wyong Drama Group’s Two Weeks with the Queen, a humorous and heart-warming play adapted from the novel by Morris Gleitzman by award winning Australian playwright, Mary Morris. It tells the story of Colin, a young boy who is sent to England when his brother is diagnosed with cancer, and his efforts to find a cure. Hindered by his well meaning but opinionated aunt and uncle, and with the reluctant aid of his neurotic cousin, he sets out to persuade the Queen to help him find the world’s best doctor. In the process he has many adventures, meets new people, and learns some valuable lessons.
It is appropriate that WDG are concluding their diamond jubilee celebrations with a production that looks toward the future. In recent years the XtrAct Drama Academy has been nurturing the talents of young people in the community and it is now reaping the benefits with an injection of fresh blood into their productions. This play has provided an opportunity for a number of young actors to take the stage, supported by some of WDG’s finest veteran performers.
Talented new director, nineteen year old Joshua Maxwell, has risen to the challenge of staging a play set in two countries and multiple locations with a production that is innovative, stylish and energetic. He takes a minimalist approach to set and staging with a clever arrangement of revolving flats that quickly and suggestively moves the action through a variety of different locations. Simple props, lighting and sound effects, and a careful attention to costuming all help to set the scene, and there are a number of effective directorial touches throughout. One stand-out scene, set in the London Underground, will have you believing in a cast of hundreds.
In fact, there are only fifteen actors in the cast, with most playing multiple roles. The primary focus is Colin, played by Scott Russell, who holds the action and knits the cast together, and fully involves the audience in the impulsive, incorrigible and big-hearted charm of his character. He has a great flare for comedy and is also convincing and moving in the emotional moments. Declan Green and Kalani Hirst alternate in the role of Alistair, Colin’s equivocating side-kick, and each brings something completely individual and memorable to their character. Another stand out is WDG stalwart Marc Calwell, who gives a nuanced performance, full of humour and gentle poignancy, as Ted. But all the cast give strong performances, even in minor and cameo roles, and everyone involved has helped to make this a very funny and ultimately genuinely moving play.
Two Weeks with the Queen runs for this weekend and next weekend only so book your tickets quickly to avoid missing out. Wyong Drama Group are now taking online bookings at http://wyongdramagroup.com.au or call 4353 4353.