High summer brings with it not only high humidity, but also a dearth of local live theatre. However, theatre lovers in the GHA can rejoice as Lights Up Theatre Productions are sweeping away the summer doldrums with their rollicking production of the British bedroom farce, Key for Two at the Burlington Performing Arts Centre (BPAC).
Penned in 1982 by John Chapman (Move Over Mrs. Markham) and Dave Freeman (The Benny Hill Show) the play revolves around the activities of divorcee Harriet, enjoying the good life in a luxury flat in Brighton. All paid for by two married gentlemen callers — each unknown to the other. The scheme faces collapse when her friend Anne, whose marriage is tottering, arrives at the flat hotly pursued by her husband, and when one of Harriet’s lovers turns up unexpectedly. The comedy builds to a rich complexity of mistaken identity, splendidly farcical situations and a climax of comic wizardry. Naughty? Certainly! Absurd? Definitely! But forget logic. Prepare for an evening of boisterous fun.
“What’s better than making people laugh?” asks director Dan Penrose. “British farce is broad, “no holds barred” comedy that appeals to the hidden “slightly rude” politically incorrect side I like to think is hidden away in us all — so right away you know you’re going to be playing to a large majority of theatre goers who like a good pun, a double entendre, a mugging actor or the nonsense of doors closing on one side of the stage as another opens a split second later on the other. Also, British farces, for the most part, rely heavily on a verbal base of comedy — jokes and puns. That gives you a solid foundation. You can then overlay a structure of physical humour and sight gags. It’s a lot of fun, it challenges your creativity in trying to wring every laugh out of every second.”
Producer, actress and Lights Up Theatre Productions co–founder, Ilene Elkaim agrees: “Very simply, it’s about the laughter. Ours while we rehearse and more importantly, the audiences. Which means they’ve left their strains and stresses at the front door. Also, the physicality. It requires impeccable timing and physicality to pull off a fast–paced comedy.”
But what of the unseen hard work and commitment required to create all this summer magic and laughter? Actress/producer Elkaim explains:
“The synergy amongst the entire team — onstage and backstage — is energizing and enjoyable for all. The process is a challenging one, but working with like–minded and dedicated people creates something truly magical. So many involved have stepped up well beyond their ‘duties’, particularly Dan Penrose and Dianne McEwan.”
“Also, Rainer Noack at Student Theatre has been a huge supporter of ours right from the start (we rent the rehearsal space at Student Theatre). And all the staff at BPAC are exceptional partners in all details. It may sound cliché, but it has taken a small and mighty village to make this entire show happen. So many people have been so generous with their time, commitment and efforts. It’s humbling.”
Director Penrose agrees: “A stage play is like a machine and everyone onstage and backstage is a part of the machine, no matter how big or small. If one part doesn’t work, the whole machine doesn’t work and so far, its really starting to click. Everyone’s been great to work with and I’m the lucky one. Oh, and I can’t say enough about the crew at Burlington Performing Arts Centre. They are helpful, professional and very skilled — more well–oiled parts of the machine. They quickly became part of the creative process.”
“Everyone has had a suggestion or two throughout rehearsals to make a scene a bit funnier. This has been a bit of an ordeal by fire for me after so long away from directing. My confidence level going in was a bit shaky, but I brought my best comedic thinking with me and worked hard. Just recently, one of the actors made a casual remark about what a funny play this is with all the “Dan–isms” in it. That was the affirmation I needed and was a very satisfying moment in this process.”
Key for Two will run at the Burlington Performing Arts Centre August 9, 10, 15–17 with matinee performances on August 17 and 18. Don’t miss your chance to laugh the summer doldrums away, because as Penrose says … “For people who want to check their troubles at the box–office and have a night of rollicking good fun, this play is just the ticket.” V