1) Review by Frank Wilkie, 5th October, 2010
FRESH AND MEATY
Death by Sausage, Lind Lane Theatre
Noosa theatre lovers may enjoy a drive to Nambour’sLind Lanevenue for the Sunshine Coast Theatre Alliance’s latest offering- the premiere of an irreverent comedy written and directed by local playwright Dr Genevieve Yates.
A background as a Cooroy GP, medical educator, musician and actor no doubt helped spawn this original play, peppered with spicy, intricately woven dialogue.
Yates and drama teacher Nicole Dohler play sisters Linda and Rachel, two women plagued by relationships in free-fall, a judgemental mother (Lisa Salter) and a scheming pants-man called Jamie (Doug Balmano).
Inspired by a lecture in forensic pathology that revealed more people inQueenslandwere killed by sausages than by sharks, Yates created Death by Sausage originally as a one-act play. Act One is the minimalist, no set, one-act production created for the festival circuit which attracted an adjudicator’s award at the 2010 Beenleigh Festival. Act Two delivers a full set plus greater character development and interplay and a skilfully nuanced performance by Balmano.
The writing which featured fast-paced, clever, well-researched and funny dialogue with plentiful references to modern pop culture was the strong suit of thisLind Laneproduction and demanded emotional range, depth and stamina from the three female actors.
This work delivers non-stop cerebral engagement for adult and late teen audiences interested in theatre and new work by local writers.
Yates has worked in front of and behind the camera in film and TV (she was the governess on the ABC’s series Outback House in 2005), and has performed on stage in several local plays and musical productions including Les Miserables, Blood Brothers and Annie. She was last seen on theLind Lanestage earlier this year as part of the band for Tell Me On A Sunday. She also plays piano, sings, and performs with the Queensland Medical Orchestra and the Australian Doctors’ Orchestra.
Her debut as a playwright and director was in May 2010 when one her plays, Adam and Eve, had a two week performance run in Buderim. Death By Sausage runs until October 10.
Lind LaneTheatre: ph 5441 1814. http://www.livetheatre.com.au
Frank Wilkie is a local journalist, playwright and actor.
Sunshine Coast Theatre Alliance
Death by Sausage by Genevieve Yates
Nambour Lind lane Theatre (Qld). Mitchell Street Theatre. October 1 – 10, 2010.
Sometimes Community Theatre is much maligned and we easily get caught up in the negatives, the politics, the “he-said, she-said” syndromes, the off-stage dramas etc. Sometimes we just forget to acknowledge the truly great things it achieves. On Wednesday night I saw a great thing and witnessed Community Theatre in its full positive glory. As much as this review is about Genevieve Yates’ play Death by Sausage, it is also a review about the fantastic opportunity that community theatre can give to a local writer – producing a full length production of an unpublished and unperformed work.
The play was originally a one-act play that dipped its toes in the waters of regional festival circuit. It liked the sensation and was soon expanded to a full-length comedy. It ran a seven show season to near capacity audiences on the unarguably most professional venue in the region – Nambour Lind Lane Theatre. It is through actions such as this that theatres nursery beds of the future are sown.
The plot is relatively simple and is set within that horn of plenty for comedy – family politics. Two daughters and their mother all spectacularly fail each other in the ever-expanding nest of family intrigue. Three distinct characters who are all ideologically opposed run through the gambit of sex, success, expectations, preferences, differences and age gaps. As I said – a short, simple and easy plot. The cast – Lisa Salter (the mother), Nicloe Dohler and Genevieve Yates (the daughters) – have all been associated with the project since the inception and had a definite comfortablity with each other.
This play is now well and truly road tested. It strengths are now self evident as are its failings. Yes the audience likes it. Yes it is funny. Yes it is over written and yes the plot is a tad predictable. It’s future now lies firmly with Ms Yates. I hope she will repay the opportunity given and the faith shown by Nambour Lind Lane Theatre by now taking this play to the next level.
Death By Sausage An original play by Genevieve Yates at Lind LaneTheatre October 2010
Beware the killer sausages, a stark global warning to all about the very real dangers of choking on sausages. Genevieve Yates, a young doctor practising inQueenslandhas managed to turn two pieces of information received during her medical training into a well-written play with an unexpected turn of events.
On the first night of the run the almost full house at Lind lane Theatre in Nambour was fully engaged by the intriguing plot borne out of medical facts.
By singing ‘Staying Alive’ by the Bee Gees while performing CPR, the tempo of the song will aid your ability to give compressions at the correct rate for resuscitation. As for sausages, more people choke on these every year in Queensland than are killed by sharks. Just one quick Google and I found that choking on sausages is indeed a very real global problem.
Genevieve who directed and played a lead role as Linda in this, her own play is to be admired for including the Bee Gee resuscitation in such a realistic manner. Audience members stared in disbelief as she tried to revive her mother played by Linda Salter who is unconscious after choking on a hot dog. Singing the song much too slowly has catastrophic results!
This is Genevieve’s second play performed this year on the Sunshine Coast. Although not advertised as a farce this one is in stark contrast to a heart rending true story of the passing of a friend.
The play, just over an hour long, has pacy naturalistic dialogue, with the overall style of the play being farcical…and for a first attempt at this style she has done well.
Doug Balmano ably played a believable domestic villain up to no good parading as an eloquent gentleman. The only male in the production it was a relief to find that he was not required to chase any of the females into bedrooms, escape from windows half naked or hide in wardrobes. Theatre has thankfully moved on and farce is now regarded as the quaint outcome of the removal of theatre censorship.
Surface realism being the main ingredient of farce is however evident in this play as are some moments of unnaturalistic characterisation, particularly of the mother. Played by Lisa Salter her character, Berkovian in style, was played well and was adequately grating and aggressive in sharp contrast to the calmness of other three characters. Nicole Dohler playing the sister of Linda gave us a harmless soul played with touchingly real depth and believability when necessary.
The actors should ignore the fourth wall focusing deliverance of lines to each other rather than at the audience but overall the four performers seemed accomplished and were a success in their roles. The play was everything that Genevieve had wanted it to be from bare stage setting to contemporary living room to no sense of shock when mother finally dies. Playing with some of the conventions of popular farce this play is thankfully less offensive than most. Thanks to the household media modern audiences have now seen and heard it all before and some still wish to choose whether to see obscenities or hear expletives. There is no joy now in shock for shocks sake. Lovers of bedroom japes and nudity will be disappointed as this is a play with a story that in this day and age could and does happen.
Audiences may be surprised at the lack of eye watering humour but overall this a clever play borne from, and intelligently crafted, from two medical facts.
Unlike fast paced farce, this play, although including reference to homosexuality does not seek to shock, an obvious sign of the times where acceptance of differences is the new key in our society.
A clever gentler farce, just long enough to entertain, with a message that many will remember at their next sausage sizzle.
Don’t expect a romp, this play is Ortonesque, has contemporary issues, and contains witty, intelligent dialogue and a clever solution at its end. If this is a shorter example of a modern farce Genevieve would do well to produce one of full-length with all its annoying necessary ingredients I am sure it would satisfy the appetites of farce lovers everywhere.
Set Design: Nicole Dohler
Stage Manager: Kathi Morse