Waiting for Gateaux

Fortune Theatre, Dunedin

22/06/2006 - 15/07/2006

Production Details

By Ed Waugh and Trevor Wood
Directed by James Kyle Wilson

Set by Peter King
Costume by Maryanne Wright-Smyth

Mo-tivators is the worst health and fitness club in the country. Run by Maureen a ‘big-boned’ fifty-something widow from a small hall in the middle of nowhere it only attracts clientele who have nothing better to do. It’s really just an excuse to meet friends, chat and eat cake but sadly the deluded Maureen doesn’t quite see it like that.

Jackie comes to get away from her philandering husband and she’s started to bring her young sister Whitney along to keep her out of trouble – she didn’t really mean to steal that car, it was just a bit of fun. Donald comes because he secretly loves Maureen – he’s lost 12 stone so far – if he doesn’t ask her out soon there’ll be nothing left of him!

Things seem to be on the up when Sophie, a researcher for a reality TV programme, comes to check out the club but when a snowstorm arrives it brings with it revelations which will change their lives forever in this comedy about friendship, frostbite and French fries.

Julie Edwards
Richard Huber
Stephanie Christian
Sara Georgie

Theatre ,

1hr 15mins, incl. interval

Largely fun

Review by Terry MacTavish 16th Jul 2006

If an excess of sugary cream and chocolate cake is your idea of heaven, this offering should satisfy. Expect nothing of substance, and Waiting for Gateaux provides a pleasantly undemanding (if slightly dated) evening out.

The setting is a decidedly low-gloss health club where a small group of misfits alternate brief but perky routines with gorging on unhealthy takeaways and chocolate. The very slender plotline deals with the machinations of the ‘skinny bitch’ who infiltrates the club. Her plan is to evict the fatties from their unappetising premises, and her weapon of choice is a crunchie bar.  

Peter King’s set, a depressingly accurate fluorescent-lit hall ironically decorated with posters of impossibly sculpted body-builders, is enlivened by some wonderfully garish costuming by Maryanne Wright-Smyth.

Director James Kyle Wilson keeps up the pace, helped by a bouncy musical soundtrack, and if the characters are somewhat ludicrously larger than life in every way, he has a team of experienced actors who are well able to encourage the audience to suspend their disbelief. 

Fortune veteran Julie Edwards, as Maureen, the mumsy leader of the club, is endearingly if maddeningly cheerful and a stunning sight in brilliant Lycra. Her dancing is so vigorous that the kilos really should be dropping off, and she delivers with equal gusto the occasional tart remark – the ‘surprise’ in her Vegetarian Surprise recipe turns out to be chopped liver.

She is ably supported by Richard Huber as her sweet but timid wooer, Donald, a former slimmer-of-the-year who is now able to change (and even pee) behind the huge cut-out of his former self that dominates the set.

The third staple member of the club, unhappily-married Jackie, is also played with scary energy by Stephanie Christian, making one particularly memorable entrance in an eye-popping orange party-dress having just caught her husband in flagrante.

But the most appealing interpretation is that of Sara Georgie as Raven, Jackie’s black-clad Goth sister. Losing her scowl only to pout, she has perfected a way of walking without moving her upper body – except when leading the tatty group in a surprisingly lovely tai chi exercise. Georgie makes Raven such a powerful presence that it’s not hard to believe she could easily take out the opposition, sleek businesswoman Sophie, played crisply by Jean Copland.

The play, apparently a hit in provincial Britain, has been fairly easily transposed to New Zealand, helped by a plot-driven snowstorm with accompanying power-cut which traps the friends (and enemy) in the hall – very Dunedin winter! Presumably this unashamedly flimsy fare has been chosen for the Fortune’s programme because the season coincides with the city’s popular Winter Chocolate Festival.

It certainly appealed to the large audience (no pun intended) who, regaled with local double-chocolate ice-cream and complimentary Cadbury’s, were chuckling happily as they anticipated seeing someone drink a bottle of urine. No doubt they themselves were finishing the evening tucking into the special dessert that a local cafe was offering in conjunction with the production – ‘Chocoholics Anonymous’.


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