Review by Danny Gaisin
Feb. 6th, ‘15
A number of years ago (i.e. before SAD was defined) my GP prescribed heading south during February to offset a diagnosed ‘February Blahs’. Fortunately, West End Studio Theatre has a remedy that’s cheaper and requires no security line-ups… it’s Warren Graves’ MUMBERLEY INHERITANCE and I guarantee the season’s inclemency will seem almost non-existent for every audience member who has an easy sense of humour. It’s that enjoyable and professionally presented.
To iterate the plot herein would be redundant- anyone who has seen episodes of ‘Perils of Pauline’ or ‘Dudley Do-Right’ cartoons will be totally familiar with the standardized scenario. The damsel in distress or DID; the usually somewhat bewildered hero; the doddering old dad or DOD; the good house keeper (GH); and the flawed servant (Igor) to the villain – (Snidely Whiplash) who always has the meatiest role and the best one-liners. MUMBERLEY stereotypes the Victorian melodrama to a ‘T’.
Director Yo Mustafa and producer John O’Hara must have been constantly chortling as this effort underwent rehearsals. The character’s names are role descriptions; the script requires hyperbolic overacting and the requisite prepping for improvisational responses to audience commentary must have made the entire process a hoot. Fortunately, the cast members are so accomplished and talented that each one can maintain a straight face throughout; even during the repetitive zingers and exaggerated asides, and audience dialogues.
Vince Carlin is the patriarchal Mumberley or (DOD) about to lose the estate. His daughter is Amanda McPherson (the DID) and she can overemphasize with the best of them. Whether it’s the female pre-faint pose, or the reticent body language, she’s super yet ridiculous at the same time. There are two heroes, the ‘Dudley’ to McPherson’s Daphney, gleamingly postured by Michael Sbrocchi, and the absent brother Bernard Pointet who has been away in Canada (Eh) for “Six Long Years” Hint: remember this lines if you’re planning to see the play! The trio of servants are portrayed by Jo Kemp, (GH); Amin Rahman (Igor-type) and Virginia McEwan who also has the hilarious responsibility of prepping the audience before the curtain opens. Pay attention, you’ll want to perform as she instructs!
Then there’s Mike Mitton who is the Snidely persona and he milks the role for all he can get. His interchanges over the footlights coupled with his requisite ‘curses, foiled again’ responses are hyperbolic duplicity worthy of a Brian Mulroney cabinet member. Only wished his handlebar moustache was real so that he could twirl it!
The set decor made this viewer imagine what a Polish whorehouse might look like, but the doorways and exits function well during the obligatory chase-scenes. The dialogue may be didactic and pedantically exaggerated, but it all works. We especially loved McPherson’s line about “what did I do to deserve this?” netting some offstage-wag shouting back ‘your overacting!’
The details; especially the props, and the appropriate modern background music all contribute to an awesome evening of comedy. But, as an audience member, it behooves us to ‘Boo/ hiss & cheer’ the pro and anti -gonists emoting on-stage.
The MUMBERLEY INHERITANCE is at the OCPA until Feb. 14th. Don’t miss It!