Presented by Keith Theatre Group Inc.
Reviewed 13 October 2018
The Keith Theatre Group Inc. took on the comedic superhero genre for their annual production, this year entitled Man of Steel.
As the name implies the main target of the lampooning is Superman/Man of Steel (Mackenzie Beames), who arrives in Keith to help tackle the latest crime wave to hit the small town. The unfortunate realities of living in a new place are the general life expenses such as paying rent to his landlady Rita Mary Murphy (Veronica Mayfield) and cleaner Lil Rollis (Kheeli Harris), force the Man of Steel to assume the alter ego of Ken (all name puns intended) Clarke and get a job at the local newspaper The Border Chronicle.
All the while, the scheming but beyond slapstick witless gangsters Bugsy (Brian Stopp), Knuckles (Jasmine Rayson), Crusher (Connor Perry), and Killer (Clarry Martin) under the control of the mysterious Countess Olga (Tanya Allan) set about to remove the Man of Steel as the last obstacle in their goal for world domination. By kidnapping the love interest Linda Street (Amy Drabsch) the gang hopes to lure the hero into a trap of alien rock and a ten ton weight.
The plans come unstuck through the assistance of Murphy, Rollis, the Border Chronicle team Gerry Black Editor (Paul Bartlett), Bobby Benson (Remy Hogarth), Constance “Tansie” Stanton (Michelle Cotton), Clementine Rosenwick (Dayna Richman), Mary St. Clair (Lesleigh Edwards), Jemima Tunsler (Sarina Weyland), Edith Grundy (Ashleigh Edwards), and Helen Baker (Ellen Gillett), and the Man of Steel Fan Club made up of the newspaper team taking on a hysterical second role. To top off the play and the cast the police Detective Stanley (Josh Walter) and Officer Plodd/Narrator (Neville Talbot) swoop in to take the baddies and the credit without the effort of catching them.
The general plot is relatively generic of the satirical good versus the bubbly baddies but the individual acts and lines have been skilfully honed to play into the local knowledge while still maintaining plenty of punchlines to keep the wider audience engaged.
The cast looked casual and comfortable on stage, each adding their own personal flair to their characters. The work they presented seemed to play to individual strengths to give a great well rounded character ensemble, while through the script allowing each person to appear on stage a moment to directly address the crowd.
There was a lot of on stage charisma between the performers and in their approach to their production. There were some minor slip ups in the lines, props, and general positioning but the majority of these were twisted in unique flourishes that humorously added to the overall show. Even the assigned cast roles between genres and heights were fantastic for manipulating the play for comedic effect.
The production of the play was entirely immersive. Guests enter the local institute and are instantly and wonderfully transformed into a welcoming, themed space that covered all areas of the entrance, tables, bar, and crew.
The quality continues onto the stage with an exceptionally well presented set and costumes, particularly when taking into consideration the constraints of community shows. The set is nicely developed for smooth transitions between the scenes and for layering the production throughout all areas of the venue.
Some minor concerns in the vocal projections that come with using older buildings as venues did arise but will no doubt be cleared as the group continue to improve upon their audio visual stock.
The Keith Theatre Group’s Man of Steel is a highly entertaining local production set in a hospitable and completely transformed venue.
Reviewed by Alex Dunkin