Light-hearted BGT and New World double bill gently mocks marriage
By Erik Abbott
The institution of marriage is ripe for a bit of gentle mockery in the double bill of plays presented by BGT and the New World Theatre Club at the Forum Campus Geesseknäppchen in the Hollerich neighbourhood of Luxembourg. The two directors, Tony Kingston and Bjørn Clasen, take on double duties, playing onstage roles in each other’s shows.
First up is BGT’s production of the Irish playwright Falkland L. Cary’s Husbands Supplied, a 1930s comedy about a marriage agency and the five women who come in one day seeking to be matched with a husband.
Seventy-five-year-old comedy updated
Director Kingston sets the play in the present, which colours the humour in shades that are no doubt different than seventy-five years ago. Although the premise that five twenty-first-century women would be so desperate to find a man as the women in the play—including the company’s owner, Mrs May (in a nice turn by June Lowery)—seems a tad far-fetched, the resulting cultural disconnect adds a comic layer that yesteryear’s audiences may have missed.
The women are all written as stereotypes: the wealthy socialite with a long list of demands (Jessica Whitely), the mystical dreamer wanting a husband with a soul (Jacqueline Milne), the elderly eccentric (Elizabeth Adams), the rough and ready Scot (Helena O’Hare), and the quiet wallflower who is vague about what she seeks (Lindsay Wegleitner)—and who is at the centre of the final twist.
O’Hare particularly stands out and Adams was an audience favourite. I was also taken with Laura Schreiner’s performance as Miss Jones, Mrs May’s secretary who, like the others, becomes embroiled in the battle to marry the one and only man (Clasen).
Infidelity and confusion
If Husbands Supplied playfully tweaks the idea of marriage as the ultimate life goal (while never challenging it), Archie Wilson’s contemporary sex farce Fifty! pranks infidelity, as the apparently stodgy David (Andrew Stewart) feigns a lack of interest in his own fiftieth birthday to plan a tryst with his mistress Charlotte (Mayalani Moes). Unbeknownst to him, his wife Fran (O’Hare) and daughter Jessica (Gina Millington) have planned a surprise party with the help of neighbours George and Debbie (Kingston and Lowery). The surprise goes both ways, however, as David brings Charlotte home to what he expects will be an empty house.
Chaos ensues as David’s weak lies about Charlotte unravel, an escaped convict (Carl Springer) hides in the cupboard, the true nature of Jessica’s seedy boyfriend (Artemios Vogiatzis) is discovered, and police officers (Florin Farcas and Milne), a pizza delivery girl (Borbala Labancz) and a stripper (Karolina Zych) parade in and out.
Farce and fun
Stewart delivers a solid central performance as David, ably supported by O’Hare and Millington, and Kingston is quite funny as the lecherous and fairly clueless George, who blithely assumes every new woman at the party is a stripper.
Both casts generally meet the challenges of farce, and are warmly appreciated by the audience—a reception that will likely only heighten the comic urgency. Kingston and Clasen’s stagings are straightforward, propelling the action of the plays to their inevitable conclusions.
The humour may feel somewhat dated (and sexist) in places, but the light-hearted teasing at its core makes for an overall enjoyable evening.
When and Where
Husbands Supplied and Fifty! continue October 15, 16 & 17 at 20.00
At the Forum Campus Geesseknäppchen, 40 boulevard Pierre Dupong, 1430 Luxembourg
Tickets: firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 35 63 39
Visit the websites: www.bgt.lu and www.nwtc.lu