The Farndale Avenue Housing Estate Townswomen’s Guild Dramatic Society’s Production of “Macbeth”

(Brisbane Arts Theatre)

October-December 2004

A Masked Ball

Chase Me Up Farndale Avenue S’il Vous Plait

Far Away

The Farndale Avenue Housing Estate Townswomen’s Guild Dramatic Society’s Production of “Macbeth”

The Fifth Elephant


Hello Dolly

The Idiot

Lend Me A Tenor


Reservoir Dogs

Ring Round the Moon


This review will be shorter than most as much of the explaining of the Farndale series of comedies and “coarse theatre” has been taken care of in my recent review of Centenary Theatre Group’s production of Chase Me Up Farndale Avenue S’il Vous Plait (see below). So please read that review as a more detailed introduction to this one. In a nutshell, the “Farndales” derive their comedy by depicting a group of amateur actors presenting plays badly … very badly.

Brisbane Arts Theatre has selected the first in the series by David McGillivray and Walter Zerlin Jnr, in which we are treated to a very bad production of “that Scottish play”. Produced by the Farndale ladies as part of the fictional Drama Festival Area Final of 1982, the play ends up bearing little resemblance to a Shakespearean classic at all. The only tragedy we are witnesses to is the dreadful performances by the Farndale ladies, complete with laryngitis, crutches, sets placed back-to-front, props falling from the heavens at just the wrong moment, and various other catastrophes.

And I have to say that all this hopelessly bad theatre is done very well indeed by Brisbane Arts. Under the masterful direction of Kurt A. Lerps, this production is spot on in terms of timing and pace, with the entire cast and crew working together extremely well throughout. Inevitable mishaps and full-blown disasters occur and are dealt with in such a way that the audience is completely drawn into the story and feel a part of the goings-on. A simple, effective set designed by Graham McKenzie, fantastic costuming co-ordinated by Renate Bowden and wonderful lighting and sound designed by Phillip Carney all come together effortlessly to make this production the success that it is.

Congratulations must go to the entire cast for doing bad theatre so well. Plays such as this require a strong, cohesive ensemble and each and every actor seemed completely as ease with other cast members, bouncing off one another and enjoying the experience. Of particular note is the performance of Julie Bray as Mrs Reece. We all have a Mrs Reece in our theatre group and this character is handled extremely well with just the right balance of matriarch and handbag-driven drama queen. Paul Careless delivers a fine-tuned and amusing portrayal of Henry, the stage manager who ends up playing Lady Macbeth, and Katherine Kiorgaard is a pleasure to watch, especially as Banquo’s ghost on wheels! Ian Rennie’s performance is also enjoyable throughout, playing the hapless festival adjudicator who reveals his feminine side as the play proceeds.

As I said in my review of Centenary’s “Farndale”, these aren’t the best scripts I’ve ever read or seen performed, but I have to say that Brisbane Arts Theatre has done the best one could hope for and provides comedy-loving audiences with a very amusing and satisfying night of theatre.

— Andrea Carne
(Performance seen: Thu 9th December 2004)