There is something truly wholesome about good quality local community theatre, especially when you are unfamiliar with the play being performed. Once again, MATES Theatre Genesis treated their audiences to a high-quality night of theatre, with their latest comedy: Devon Williamson’s ‘My Husband’s Nuts’.
Set in a typical Australian country town, ‘My Husband’s Nuts’ follows the Fitzgerald family’s ups and downs after their patriarch Jack has an unfortunate accident, and subsequently believes that he is the protagonist of an old war story that he had once read.
Such a ludicrous premise allowed for a hilarious night of theatre from all five actors, and with all of the action set within the Fitzgerald’s home, James Auld’s Technical Design was simple, yet effective. Subtle nods to Country Australiana with decorative cornicing and moulding were pleasant and despite the small stage, it never felt cramped or congested. The set was enhanced by similarly simple lighting design that was clean and crisp.
Costuming by Judee Ford felt authentic and generally well -tylized, albeit a little safe, especially in vet Jo’s wardrobe. However, it was Ford’s amusing interpretations of the characters in the World War 2 book that showcased her skills of imagination, especially the General’s hat made of a variety of household items at the end of Act 2.
Direction by Mark Harrison, for the most part was well handled. There was a sense of due care with the interactions between actors and the use of space and set was clever and intelligent, which must all be credited to the director. Unfortunately, the production felt a little disjoined with some pacing issues caused by many avoidable blackouts.
The small cast of five was ably led by Andrew McArthur as Jack, whose performance was engaging throughout, despite the large amount of downtime during his many episodes of catatonia. His interactions with the literary characters in his mind were the perfect mix of exaggeration and realism and McArthur’s sense of comic timing was one of his best assets.
However, it was his wife Barbara, portrayed by Libby Harrison who stole the show with her beautiful ability to bring a sense of still and normality to an otherwise spiralling-out-of-control situation. Her muffin-baking for the local fairsubplot was equal parts sublime and ridiculous, but it was her commitment to her cause that grounded her character making her scenes gripping and enthralling.
New-to-the-area veterinarian Jo played by Diana Gogulski was one of the more realistic characters in Williamson’s comedy. Despite some opening night nerves Gogulski’s portrayal was generally well-grounded and gave a much-needed air of normalcy to the out-of-control plot.
In complete contrast, local trainee security guard Terry, portrayed by Stephen Corrigan was chaotic energy personified. Physical comedy can be tricky to perfect, and although it wasn’t always completely successful, the slapstick nature of Corrigan’s performance was hilarious from start to finish, if a little overbaked.
Rounding out the quintet was Carolyn Wagner, playing Jack and Barbara’s daughter Charli, fresh home from “the big city”. Bringing a breath of fresh air partway through act one, Wagner’s chemistry with Terry added a much-needed distraction from the main story arc, with their potty-humour providing some hearty belly-laughs. Unfortunately, it was the more serious parts of the play where we needed to see a little more conviction from the devoted daughter, but it may just have been opening night jitters.
Overall, MATES Theatre Genesis must be commended for producing a funny, over-the-top comedy, bringing a fresh sense of humour to the bayside of Brisbane.
For more information about Mates Theatre Genesis, visit their website – https://matestg.org.au.