Drake the Amazing + La Dispute; Darlinghurst Theatre Co

'It is my duty to entertain you'
‘It is my duty to entertain you’ Andrew Johnston solemnly announces, the velvet red curtains framing the stage as he looks forlornly at the audience.  Playing the role of Astor, Johnston opens the first short play featured within a double bill by playwright Andy Hyman.

Drake the Amazing, the dramatic journey of a dramatic monologuist is an engaging, witty and fun enactment of a travelling vaudeville theatre in 1917.  The black and white backdrop sets the scene for the stereotypical comedic characters of the early 1900s.

Spiced with romantic tension, pathos and sharply delivered dialogue, Drake the Amazing is pure fun and entertainment that leaves the audience smiling.  Kate Skinner stands out as the spicy Claudette, the driver of Alden Drake’s quest to challenge the audience and get the girl.  The banter between Drake (Scott Sheridan) and Astor is joyful to watch, and the half-deaf Neilson (Nicholas Papademetriou) has the audience laughing out loud.
Actress Kate Skinner (centre) and friends
La Dispute, the second half of the double bill, has a quirkier, more absurd take on reality.  Raising complex questions about the inherent inclination of the sexes towards fidelity – or lack thereof – it plays out the results of a strange human experiment that provides compelling entertainment. Despite being reasonably well executed and fast-paced, the play was a strange choice to follow the humorous theatrics of Drake the Amazing.

Billed as uproarious comedy, it was amusing and interesting but didn’t go far enough in either direction to be thought provoking or hilarious.  The assumptions of the gender based stereotypes based on the experiment were slightly jarring and lacked depth – with women proving to be bitchy and men ‘matey’.  The script didn’t do justice to the cast full of talented actors, who didn’t seem to be stretched as those in the first bill.

Small and local, the Darlinghurst Theatre Co. has staged over 120 shows since 2001 and prides itself on encouraging people to discover the power of live theatre and its possibilities.  Despite missing some elements in La Dispute, the double bill delivers enjoyable and intimate entertainment that succeeds in taking the audience on a fun journey of discovery.

Sal Giblin and Scott Thomas...'loved both shows'

Drake the Amazing + La Dispute is showing at Darlinghurst Theatre Company until 14 August 2011.

Darlinghurst Theatre Company
19 Greenknowe Avenue
Potts Point 2011
Tickets were provided to Lifeafterfive by OurDeal, who featured an offer for two tickets for $39.

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