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COMIC VARIETY IN COUPLES

Print Version

Duets
by Peter Quilter
Directed by Lyndee-Jane Rutherford

at Fortune Theatre, Dunedin
From 20 Feb 2009 to 14 Mar 2009

Reviewed by Barbara Frame, 23 Feb 2009
originally published in Otago Daily Times

Toby hasn't ever got round to getting married, but this is his sister Angela's third wedding. Guests are waiting, along with an ocean's worth of shrimps and a cake ''the size of a caravan''. But Angela, overweight and overwrought, goes into a meltdown propelled by Nescafe, a vividly pink bra, a thunderstorm and a broken mirror — and Toby, at the end of his wits, turns to his bottle of Scotch.

The Wedding is the final (and my favourite) of the five short comedies that comprise Peter Quilter's Duets.

In the others, a lonely-hearts-column meeting almost founders because of immobilising anxiety, Janet decides her future lies with flamboyantly gay Barrie, middle-aged actors trailing broken promises and crème brulee consider their profession's brittle rewards and their own possible retirement, and a divorcing couple on a last fling in Torremolinos contemplate separate futures.

Although the couples are all very different, they are linked by themes of romantic attachment and the search for happiness, trepidation at crucial moments, and alcohol.

The first two pieces seemed weighted by excess dialogue (such as a mini history lesson on Queen Victoria's attitude to lesbianism) and on Friday night things took a little while to warm up, but by the interval everything was bubbling. Actors Susan Curnow and Jeff Kingsford-Brown do an admirable job.

They are on stage for a total of more than two hours, playing characters who demand different styles, ages and accents, and carrying out quick on-stage clothing changes.

Directed by Lyndee-Jane Rutherford, Duets will play at the Fortune until March 14, before touring in regional Otago and Southland.
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