Review by Danny Gaisin
Jimmy Buffett wrote about ‘Changes in attitude; changes in Latitude’; but he was referring to a geographical coordinate rather than a social position. In Eric Chappell’s play – THEFT; two couples who consider each other as best friends, have differing financial positions. Been there, experienced that! The plot describes a weekend at John & Barbara Miles’ country estate. Upon returning to the mansion the quartet realized the place has been burgled and ransacked. All four are unaware that the thief is still concealed inside. When they discover the miscreant, he becomes the catalyst that exposes each of the foursome’s innermost secrets and attitudes within the group.
Under the direction of John Addison, Theft is staged for comedy but his message also displays human affectations of petty jealousies; old itches; prevarications and historical revisionism. Brian Munroe and Leslie Nyman are the aforementioned John & Barbara and their response to an invasion is visceral. From the opening scene the duo telegraph a subsurface tension and animus, yet it’s their twentieth anniversary. He’s ambitious, self-satisfied and arrogant, she’s avaricious, possessive and snobby. Both depictions are skillfully projected and interpreted. They also manage to interact their dialogue…especially the unsubtle zinger responses.
The other couple; Trevor & Jenny Farrington are the more interesting of the group. They may be lower but are still middle class and thus are more identifiable. As humble scribes, we too have not been able to pick up as many restaurant bills as some of our friends (but they know & understand our differing financial levels). Both Darrell Baker and Sandra Ingram are physically and style-wise suited to their characters. By underplaying their role interpretations, they are easily identifiable by their audiences…because they are US (WE?)! Baker shows all of his warts and Ingram’s ability to utilize facial expressions make them credible and believable
The axiomatic character is Ray Hunt’s “Spriggs”; the robber. Addison has Hunt play him as an inveterate knave. Habitually mendacious, but with an inability to recall his fabrications, every ‘aka’ is funnier than his previous pseudonym. Spoiler alert; his police I.D. Is the wallet he stole from Trevor’s automobile. Hunt feigns illness; psychological anxiety; bullet wounds; this reprobate soon enlists the irrational support of the audience. He is sort of an amalgamation of Austin Powers’ “Dr. Evil”; both Boris & Natasha of “Rocky & Bullwinkle”; Snidely Whiplash and especially “Darth Vader” given the myriad hims that visited us on Halloween! Hunt’s dialogues with each of the other four characters are diverse studies in relationships and revelations. His is a challenging role and judging by the applause he received at curtain; fully accomplished the ambitious demands of the role.
We felt a strong sense of the thespians all enjoying their performance. Even with the few opening night dialogue slips, the cover-ups were smooth by either the speaker or another cast member. They were having fun, and thus – so was the audience.
THEFT is on stage at Trinity United Church in Grimsby until Nov. 17th.