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Wanganui Chronicle Review: Are You Being Served?

Director Glenn Cameron, Repertory Theatre, Wanganui. Friday March 23rd, Reviewer Lin Ferguson

“Are you free?”, “Yes I’m free!” is the catchphrase of this old British comedy, which still manages to send its audience into fits of ribald laughter. The innuendo (about every second line), drove a large section of the audience into choking hysterics. Even though it’s well-dated stuff, this farce set in Grace Brothers Department Store will always be a hit.

The characters are well known and well loved, and director Glenn Cameron has driven this piece with a sure hand. Fortunately, for the most part, the actors gave the play a pacey delivery, not making that dreadful mistake of pausing to let a one-liner get a laugh before going on to their next line. This production has been cast well, and these actors possibly studied their characters for homework by watching DVDs of the popular 1970s and 1980s television series.

It was an enormous delight for the very receptive opening night audience to revel in each and every loved character. The set (John McGowan and Glenn Cameron) was a fine replica, recreating faithfully the glass-fronted counters of clothes. Wardrobe (Kerry Mountstephen) had the cast wearing exactly the right apparel with panache and flair.

It was very much an ensemble piece, delivering everything Friday’s audience was keen to hear, see and chortle at. There were standouts: Captain Peacock (Graham Dack) was a restrained, quietly confident portrayal, remaining dignified throughout. Mr Lucas (Dylan Peterson) was every inch the brash, couldn’t-give-a-toss cockney boy full of cheek, give everything a go…orright then, yeah? But playing the camp, effeminate Mr Humphries, Ivan Siemonek was exceptional for an actor of just 17. His innate sense of timing, and smooth delivery combined with his easy movement, meant this young actor owned the stage. It was a virtuoso performance. He had the audience in the palm of his limp-wristed hand. Bravo.

Are You Being Served? is a production that delivers the goods. You’re assured of a good laugh and a jolly night out. So don’t miss out. It’s an oldie but a goodie.

Wanganui Chronicle, Monday March 26th 2012