Thursday, 30 April 2015

Timeshare, 29 April 2015 ***1/2

By Lally Katz, Malthouse Theatre 
The Merlyn, Malthouse Theatre, until May 17, 2015
Reviewer: Kate Herbert 
Stars: ***1/2
 Full review also published in Herald Sun online. KH
 Timeshare -L-R Fayssal Bazzi, Brigid Gallacher, Marg Downey, Bert LaBonté, pic Jeff Busby
Time becomes elastic and tropical days merge into each other for the characters on an island resort in Lally Katz’ enjoyable, light comedy, Timeshare.

The production, with assured direction by Oliver Butler (The Debate Society, New York), staged on Dale Ferguson’s hyper-real sandy paradise set, is very funny with plenty of goofy gags, dysfunctional characters, absurd situations and silly but entertaining songs.

Its greatest strength is the versatile cast (Marg Downey, Brigid Gallacher, Bert LaBonté, Fayssal Bazzi), and all four balance the hilarious aspects of their characters with poignant moments.

Sandy (Downey) and her adult daughter, Kristy (Gallacher), spend a week on a noticeably shabby timeshare resort managed by Carl (LaBonté).

While they await the late arrival of her son, Gary (Bazzi), Sandy relaxes on a lounger by the empty infinity pool and Kristy books every one of the all-inclusive activities so she can spend time with sexy, resort worker, Juan Fernando (Bazzi).

On an island that straddles the dateline, time is confusing when one side of the resort is experiencing today while the other is still in yesterday, and this is perhaps most bewildering for Sandy.
In a sympathetic, gently funny and moving performance, Downey is wonderfully languorous and refined as the optimistic Sandy who is happy to lounge and observe her daughter’s quest for love and adventure.

Gallacher is a charming, low-status clown as the lonely, single, hapless Kristy and, as Maria, her sassy, funky dance routine and Turtle Ritual with Juan Fernando are hilarious.

Bazzi balances swagger and under-confidence as the exotic-accented Juan Fernando, cleverly blending physical and verbal comedy reminiscent of Manuel in Fawlty Towers.

LaBonté brings his impeccable comic timing, detailed characterisation to his portrayal of Carl, the anxious, cynical resort manager who harbours revenge fantasies and is compelled to sell timeshares to survive in his island paradise.

Katz’ lyrics are intentionally silly but, set to Jethro Woodward’s punchy music, they bring additional vitality to the show.

Gallagher sings an ode to Tinder, LaBonté’s Carl introduces the timeshare ideal with I Can Give You Time, then sings with Downey a sweetly frothy love duet, How Lucky I Found You.

LaBonté’s finale song, Fill The Pool, with his thrilling, soulful tones, is the high point of the show that leaves the audience wanting more of his warm, honey voice.
The strange merging of exotic location, scruffy facilities and shambolic management will be familiar with those who have holidayed on an island retreat, but Katz’ play tells a bitter-sweet tale that is more than just a fluffy comedy.

By Kate Herbert
 Timeshare -L-R , Bert LaBonté, Marg Downey pic Jeff Busby

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