Woy Woy Little Theatre’s first play of the season is a funny but poignant comedy-drama penned by English playwright, Jimmy Chinn, and directed by Denise Main. Chinn also wrote for radio and television, most notably Emmerdale Farm and Coronation Street. This play, Straight & Narrow, was his first West End production, opening at the Wyndham Theatre in 1992 and starring Nicholas Lyndhurst.* The action revolves around domestic tensions arising at a family dinner. Bob and partner, Jeff, have relationship problems, and they’re not the only ones. Bob’s outspoken sister, Lois, and her husband, Bill, are expecting their fifth child at any moment while his other sister, Nona, is upset about the infidelity of her husband, Arthur. Lois insists Bob and Jeff should confront the issues, even if that means airing their differences in front of the whole family, and the situation is complicated by the presence of Bob’s mother, Vera, who is determinedly unaware that her son is gay.
An interesting dramatic device plays fast and loose with the fourth wall. Bob is both a character in, and narrator of the action, negotiating the audience through transitions between the present situation and a series of flashbacks that reveal the circumstances that led to it. Although a little confusing at first, I found it intriguing and entertaining once I was used to it, and it allowed Bob (played by Gerard Dunning) to quickly engage the audience’s sympathies with humour and charm.
It’s a story of genuine human dilemmas, with real and recognisable characters portrayed authentically by a cast of experienced and talented actors. The key roles of Bob and Lois are carried warmly and effectively by Gerard Dunning and Helen Herridge, stars of the award winning play “The Craft” from last year’s Central Coast Theatrefest, while the redoubtable Vera is played by well known local actress, Joan Dalgleish. And it’s good to see Woy Woy continuing to introduce fresh blood. None of the cast are strangers to the stage but there are a couple of faces that are new to the Peninsula: Will Burke and Christine Cherry have made promising debuts as Jeff and Nona respectively. Relative newcomer John Lusty (Arthur) consolidates his position as a member of the WWLT team, while another recent addition, Trevor Doyle, gives an enjoyable performance as the easygoing but forthright Bill.
The play continues until March 9th. Tickets are available from the WWLT website. Visit http://www.woywoylt.com.au for details of Woy Woy’s new simplified booking system.
* Biographical information courtesy of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jimmy_Chinn