Wednesday, 25 August 1999

Big Midnight, Aug 25 1999

 by Lunchtime Theatre
 at The Old Ballroom, Trades Hall until September 10, 1999
Reviewer: Kate Herbert

Lunch time is not the time for either heavy food or entertainment. For ten years, Lunchtime Theatre (formerly Soup Kitchen) has been providing light, short and breezy shows during the city lunch hour and accompanying them with a mug of pumpkin soup and Potts yummy bread; sounds better than the office canteen, eh?

Big Midnight is more of a consommé than a chunky soup show. A jaded Cinderella, still wearing her ball gown, arrives at the terminal for Pumpkin Airlines'. She awaits the Romantic Millennium Midnight flight that will take her away from her failed marriage.

Along comes a clumsy looking geek in a bad suit and glasses. He is Prince Charming in disguise, come to regain the love of his former bride. The two engage in "adolescent jokes and clumsy courting" in the boarding lounge, watched and criticised by the lonely embittered airhostess.

The show is a musical with the comic-romantic script devised by the three cast Amanda Armstrong, Carmen Mascia, Robert Stephens with director, Greg Dyson designer, Betty France and Charlie Laidlaw.

The music, composed by Stephens, is the highlight. Simple songs are played on accordion by Stephens and sung by the cast. Titles include "I'm in disguise", sung by Prince Charming, "Tonight I'll Dance with You" and a song by Cinderella, "They used to call me Cinderella, Now they call me Sin."

The style of the production is sweet and naive. It has no pretensions, which makes it a little thin in content but it remains charming and entertaining.

The gags are often laboured or obvious and the dialogue could do with a bit of pepping up. This is often a problem with devised text. There can be less substance and the lack of a single writer's vision can dilute the content.

Perhaps this particular problem will be addressed in the later season that has three writers. Beginning the second Lunchtime Theatre season on September 14, is Rooming, three very short plays about hotel rooms written by Tee O'Neill, Yossefa-Even-Shoshan and Michaela Ronzoni.

By Kate Herbert

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