A Commercial Farce
Starring: Peter Houghton, Tim Potter
Written by Peter Houghton
Directed by Aidan Fennessy
HotHouse Butter Factory, Wodonga, 3 May 2011
I was invited to the opening night of the play A Commercial Farce, which was finishing off its three-month season with a week of performances at the HotHouse Butter Factory Theatre in Wodonga.
As I approached the Butter Factory all I could think about is that I was pretty keen on getting a good seat.
To my surprise seven minutes after the doors opened the front row seats were still vacant. As I settled myself down in the centre of the front row the first thing that sprang to mind was the incredibly chaotic and awesome set. Craftily designed by Malthouse Theatre's own set designer, Anna Cordingley, the set was simple, with a necessary spice of added panic.
The set had two levels. On the ground was a lounge couch and a table containing sponsor wine and many random household objects. A collapsing wardrobe and flight of stairs led to the second storey, which had four flapping doors, painted with wacky door designs, that led to a bedroom, a bathroom and a hall.
Set in the 21st century, the play opens with dramatic music and a spotlight on three objects: a rake, a banana peel and a shotgun, all of which play big roles in the performance.
Middle-aged director Bill (Houghton) has invested all his life savings into a play of A Commercial Farce, which is to open the following night. It's Bill's 20th wedding anniversary, and he's fighting with his distressed wife on his mobile, who is threatening divorce.
Instead of stopping to fix his personal life, he schedules one last desperate rehearsal with Jules (Potter), a young television star from the TV show Murder Squad. Jules is what some would call a typical arrogant male actor. The word "awesome!" seems to be one of the few words in his limited vocabulary.
Jules was only a name to sell the tickets and, as Bill realises throughout the rehearsal, he simply knows nothing of theatre acting, least of all what a commercial farce is. As tension builds both Bill and Jules crack into the sponsors' wine and begin to discuss the ups and downs of their personal lives, going into great detail about Bill's mid life crisis.
Jules brings up the fact that in his role in the play he has to resuscitate Helen, the "peanut woman" as he has dubbed her. They both return to the rehearsal, Jules following Bill's direction until a phone call from Bill's wife on Jules's phone. There are injuries, banana gags, infidelity, lies, handshakes and much more.
A Commercial Farce is a play that will leave you exhausted just from the mere act of laughing. As the audience will come to understand, in this comedy there is nothing more funny than the exploitation of another person's pain.
The script for A Commercial Farce was written in 2009 by lead male actor Peter Houghton himself. Houghton's script is sheer genius as it combines the oldest comedy gags with modern day issues. Peter has had numerous years in the industry, both in acting for theatre and television as well as directing and script writing. He is well known for his work on The Script.
Supporting Actor Tim Potter is a VCA graduate and has been performing with Malthouse Theatre for a few years. His clever gestures of pretend guns shooting and childish ways bring the character Jules to life.
With its quick humour and high energy acting A Commercial Farce is a side-splitting experience for all.
A definite 4 out of 5!
Articles Written by Amber
Reviews written by Amber
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