The Darling Buds of May

Adelaide Theatre Guide (reviewer Tony Busch)


Hayley Horton has assembled a wonderful cast for this incarnation of English county life in the late 50s.

Tim Williams makes a great Pop Larkin and works hard to keep the energy and pace of the piece on track. Tracey Walker is his ideal companion as Ma Larkin, channeling touches of Prunella Scales.

Ron Densley is a wonderful Charley, moving from straight-laced propriety to almost wanton abandon as he experiences life on the other side. Abby Hampton is Mariette, the catalyst for his conversion, in a nicely drawn characterization which would benefit from a little more blithe spirit.

There’s also great work from Steve Marvanek, Julia Whittle, Miriam Keane, Robert Drusetta and Lani Gerbi.

Norm Caddick is a delightful Brigadier and Megan Dansie is a hoot as Edith Pilchester, a regular English Frau Schmidt.

The children are played by Issy Darwent, Jakob Maddocks, Georgie Raftopoulos, Serenna Williams and Isla Zorkovic – all of whom deserve praise for their complete involvement in every scene they appear in.

The set by Jamie Richards works beautifully but one wonders why there was a door when so many characters used the wall to enter and leave the house.
 

This a perfect conclusion to Therry’s 2014 season and a wonderful night for any Darling Bud lover.

TASA Review (Encore Magazine):

Reviewed by David Smith

November 2014

Director Hayley Horton has brought the required light touch and a genuine, gentle humour to this heart-warming production.

Tim Williams and Tracey Walker as Pop and Ma Larkin established their endearing characters early, and skilfully built on them thereafter. They dealt with their rural family, friends and neighbours in genial, eccentric style, and clearly showing their indifference to the rules and mores of the outside world. They were best seen in Pop’s cavalier attitude to the country’s tax regime and Ma’s amused tolerance of his dalliances. Ron Densley played Charley with aplomb, deftly emerging from the constraints of being a stuffy tax collector, while Abby Hampton was charming and natural playing opposite him as Mariette.

The supporting cast added to the strong sense of ensemble. Megan Dansie was entertaining as the somewhat batty Edith, Norman Caddick impressed as the Brigadier, while Julia Whittle as Lady Bluff-Gore and Miriam Keane as the fiery Angela were convincing, affirming as they did, the truism about the value of capable performers in minor roles.

Jamie Richards’ set looked remarkable. One half of the stage was a cut-away interior of the Larkins’ house, and the other was dominated by an extraordinary tree with a trunk of assorted planks and corrugated iron, and a canopy of bicycle rims, large padlocks and keys. The interior was naturalistic and the exterior highly symbolic. That contrast, however, was not really exploited by the action.

In all, this was an engaging revelation of the Larkins’ world and certainly true to its origins.

 

BWW Reviews:

THE DARLING BUDS OF MAY - Delights With Its Gentle Humour

​Reviewed by Barry Lenny


Herbert Ernest Bates, better known as H.E. Bates, wrote the first of five books about the Larkin family in 1958, taking its title, The Darling Buds of May, from Shakespeare's eighteenth sonnet. The Therry Dramatic Society is bringing to life the eccentric characters in this gently comical book in their production of the play of the same title.

Sidney Charles "Pop" Larkin and Florence Daisy "Ma" Larkin, along with their son and five daughters, live an idyllic life in the Kent countryside where he wheels and deals as a scrap metal merchant, and pursues any other sources of income, such strawberry and hop picking which become a family activity There is just one small catch and that is that Pop has never paid any income tax, a point which has not gone unnoticed by Inland Revenue. Having sent him numerous tax return forms to complete and, having had no reply, they have sent Mr. Cedric Charlton to ensure that, this time, Pop fills in the form.

Pop and Ma, with help from their beautiful seventeen year old daughter, Mariette, set about distracting Mr. Charlton, whom they re-Christen Charley, in an effort to make him forget about the form. Pop does it with the aid of his Spanish galleon shaped cocktail cabinet from which he produces a wide range of powerful alcoholic concoctions, Ma does it with copious quantities of home cooked meals, and Mariette, well, let's just say that she introduces him to the bluebell woods.

As in the book, Ma and Pop are the main characters, closely followed by Charley and Mariette. The other five children are there, but have little to say or do, and numerous other characters come and go but, again, make quite brief appearances to add to the colour and humour of life at the home of the Larkins.

Tim Williams and Tracey Walker play Pop and Ma Larkin, filling their performances with the joie de vivre that one would expect for these two characters. They successfully convince us that every moment of their day and every event, big or small, is a source of pleasure and celebration for them and their entire family. Williams and Walker build great warmth between them, displaying that easy affection shared between Pop and Ma born of years of love between them. These two strong characterisations are the foundation for the whole production. When Pop says, "Home looks nice. Allus does though, don't it? Perfick!", Williams convinces that he means it, and is speaking for the whole family.

Ron Densley plays Mr. Charlton, the rough wind that threatens to shake these darling buds, and his first appearance shows us a determined, efficient, prim and proper, and somewhat officious young man. He has not met anybody like the Larkin family and has no defence whatsoever against the overwhelming goodwill with which they bombard him. Densley beautifully conveys Charley's demise, or growth, depending on your point of view, as he adapts to the Larkin lifestyle and leaves his past life behind.
 

A big influence on Charley's remarkable transition is Mariette, who immediately takes a liking to the naive young man and, unsurprisingly, he falls head over heels for her. Abby Hampton gives us a Mariette who is all sweetness and light, bright as a button, and highly flirtatious. Hampton gives her character a high degree of physicality, flouncing across the stage, full of energy, and gives every reason for us to understand why Charley throws in his job to stay with the Larkins.

There are good, strong performances in the numerous smaller roles, too, which makes this such a tight production. Director, Hayley Horton, has done a great job with casting, and has gone on to capture the spirit of the book, and the times.

The Brigadier, who Pop refers to as the General, is played by Norman Caddick, and his vast experience shows in his fully developed characterisation in what is actually a minor role. He is every bit the retired army man, right down to that military bearing, convincing us that he really is living on a small pension that doesn't quite cover his needs, yet too proud to beg for help. There are lessons to be learned by newcomers in his superb performance.

Megan Dansie barely gets onto the stage before she has the audience in stitches, as Edith Pichester, the frustrated, plain, middle aged, spinster neighbour. She and Williams really bounce off of each other in their playful flirting, generating some good belly laughs.

Miriam Keane plays the well-bred socialite, Angela Snow, who very quickly catches on to the fact that Pop is a live wire and becomes a willing co-conspirator in some of his fun schemes. Keane brings that sense of playfulness to the role that, although we understand from her speech and style that she is of the upper classes, she is far from stiff and aloof.

Steve Marvanek and Julia Whittle play Sir George and Lady Bluff-Gore, he a crusty old member of a family traceable back though many generation, and she a woman who is fed up with that whole thing and longing for the freedom that they would have, if she could only persuade him to sell the ancestral home to Pop. Again, their characterisations and interactions draw plenty of laughs.

Charley's boss, the Tax Inspector is played by Robert Drusetta, presenting an annoyed and incredulous man who cannot understand Charley leaving the tax office for a life with the larkins, and Lani Gerbi plays the over-sexed Pauline Jackson, who gets into a fight with Mariette after she makes a play for Charley, following a day of strawberry picking

The Larkin children are: Montgomery, Jakob Maddocks, Primrose, Issy Darwent, the twins, Zinnia, Serenna Williams, and Petunia, Georgina Raftopoulos, and the youngest, Victoria, Isla Zorkovic. They a delightful group as the Larkin's excitable, and always hungry young family, all five working well to add more life to every scene in which they appear.

Reading the books today one might think that they are falsely nostalgic, and filled with excessively exaggerated characters and situations. H. E. Bates wrote the first book in the series in 1958. My parents moved us from South West London to Kent in 1959, and the countryside really was that idyllic, especially for an inquisitive teenager with an old but reliable bicycle. I was even at high school with people who could very well have been the Larkin's children. People like that really existed and, in fact, he wrote the books having seen a family in an old truck, stop to buy ice creams and crisps, and they then became the basis for his Larkin family.

If you have never met the Larkins, then you are in for a treat and, if you have read the books, or you saw the television series from twenty years ago, you will need no telling to encourage you to see this very enjoyable production.

 

Stage Whispers

Reviewer:  Kerry Cooper

Although author Herbert Ernest Bates wrote The Darling Buds of May in 1958, it has lost none of its charm. The Therry Dramatic Society, with Hayley Horton at the helm, have produced a delightful tale that follows the comings and goings of the loveable Larkin family, set against a backdrop of rural Kent in the 1950s. The show’s title refers to the opening buds that point to the summer season ahead and to the freshness and exuberance of youth as it turns toward adult maturity. 

Forget pomp and pretension, Pop Larkin, played superbly by Tim Williams, is rebellious in nature, providing for his family with various dalliances, but he has been remiss in paying income tax. When he and his brood return home from an expedition to buy fish and chips, they are met with an undernourished and timid tax collector named Mr Charlton (Charley); Ron Densley has succeeded in creating a multi-faceted character, his transformation, ever so subtle, is a joy to watch. Tracey Walker breathes life into Ma Larkin; a strong willed woman who is prepared to look the other way for the sake of her idyllic farm life, she is a wonderful foil for her boisterous husband and the chemistry is evident. Mariette, the eldest of six children, played by Abby Hampton, has just the right amount of naughtiness to grab the attention of the play’s civil servant and the rest of ensemble of children work well together to create the impression of a happy home life.

Support roles were cast well, with Megan Dansie as Edith Pilchester and Norman Caddick as The Brigadier bringing authenticity and humour to their time on the stage.

Set designer Jamie Richards must be commended for his creativity; it provided nostalgia and charm. The tree featured in the backyard was truly a work of art. Costumes were of the period, but what transported you back in time were the catchy tunes from the 1950s that epitomised the rebuilding of a country after the war.

No real surprises here. What you have is a simple script that provides a slice of family life that is full of innocence and appeal.

 

Summer of the Seventeenth Doll

'Therry’s production of the Australian classic “Summer of the Seventeenth Doll” opens with the National Anthem. The old one. You know, “God Save the Queen”. (You probably know more of the words to that one than the current anthem…) This was a delightful and canny device: quite a few of the opening night audience dutifully stood as the crackly recording was played. It served to show that this is a story from another time, from an Australia that is almost unrecognisable. The language, the attitudes and the behaviour were all from a nation we know only in memory. This point was underscored by the excerpts from an old 1948 black and white newsreel of “The Cane Cutters”.

“Summer of the Seventeenth Doll” is a snapshot of post-war Australia. It is an examination of the changing mores of a nation just beginning to think for itself. The two cane cutters, Roo and Barney, travel down every year to Melbourne for the “lay off”, five months of carousing with their girls Olive and Nancy. But this seventeenth summer is different: Nancy has tired of the charade and has got married, leaving Olive to shoe-horn her bemused and conservative friend Pearl into Nancy’s place. Questions of morality, loyalty and the real lives that bubble away under the veneer of conservative society drive the narrative.

But this production does not feel worn or dated. Ray Lawler’s brilliant and desperately sad script touches so accurately on timeless truths. Denial, longing and desperation accompany us in every age. The greatest success of Jude Hines’ direction is that there is always a raw honesty in what we are seeing on stage. It is an emotionally precise production. Hines establishes a strong atmosphere of moral and personal complexity; the protagonists cling fiercely to the past, wilfully blind to the inevitable disintegration of their relationships. There is an impressive sense of quiet doom.' Read the full review Adelaide Theatre Guide.

 

'Ray Lawler’s Summer Of The Seventeenth Doll is one of those established classics of Australian theatre that has become so iconic, each successive revival runs the risk of coming across as a stuffy museum piece – so much are the plot and characters products of the time in which it was written, and its once confrontingly original dramatic idioms are now very familiar to modern audiences. But the Therry Dramatic Society’s production is not a fussily “worthy” prestige-piece, rather it is a bold, energetic and daringly ferocious assault on the senses that injects fresh passion into the material and offers an intelligent perspective on days gone by. Certain scenes unfold with a sharp, bitingly humourous sense of irony that can only happen when a modern company offers their reflections on an older story. Even those theatregoers who think they already know this material inside-out are likely to see it in a new light after experiencing this deeply layered and thought provoking new production.' Read the full review Stage Whispers

'This reviewer has a huge admission to make – until seeing this production of Ray Lawler’s Summer of the Seventeenth Doll, I absolutely hated the play, and would go to almost any lengths to avoid Northern cane cutters and stereotypical Aussie accents.

To me, the play was as boring as dishwater and horribly out-dated. Therry’s wonderful production, under Jude Hines’ well-paced direction, has made a believer of this jaded critic.

Hines very obviously has a great love, understanding and immense respect for Lawler’s Australian classic. She has injected warmth and humour into the tale whilst still maintaining the tragic descent of its protagonists. Hines has overcome the out-datedness brilliantly by ingeniously transporting the audience back to 1950s Australia. Read full review' GlamAdelaide

 

TASA Encore

Review by Richard Lane

August 2014

What was different about the seventeenth summer of the “layoff” for  Barney, Roo, Olive and  Nancy that changed their  previous follies forever?  Nancy had married and was replaced with the  straight –laced, indignant Pearl.  The fun, the revels and the celebration of the previous sixteen summers have gone. As tension get to breaking point, they come to realise  that what they had is over. Their futures looks bleak.

Jude Hines’ production of Ray Lawler’s updated and iconic play, intelligently traced the downfall to its shocking conclusion and the relationships of the two larrikin sugar-cane cutters with their two city barmaids. Hines demanded  and elicited,  ensemble playing in this actor’s piece, and also strong consistent characters for the most part .

Act 1 was a little slow on opening night but that will surely settle in. Act11 brought the building tension  to its denouement with Roo’s shocking proposal  of marriage to Olive,   and the shattering of their fantasy world.

The four main actors, Allison Scharber (Olive), Maxine Grubel (Pearl), Rodney Hutton (Roo) and Glen Christie (Barny who was a marvellous drunk) held the production tightly together. Penni Hamilton-Smith threatened to steal the show  as the ascerbic yet comic Emma but Eleanor Kay, as the next- door Bubba, needed  a little more effervescence. As the ganger cane-cutter Johnnie Dowd, Jonathan Johnston was a suitable offset for Roo but one wondered how  well he would have managed the cane cutter.

Nick Spottiswoode’s set was redolent of 1950’s Carlton but should have been shabbier to  show the reality of the place underneath the kewpie dolls and the tinsel after they were torn down by Olive.

 

She Loves Me

The Barefoot Review, David Gryboski 

Barefoot Review

 

TASA Review by Richard Lane

Famous for Fiddler On The Roof, Sheldon Harnick (lyrics) and Jerry Bock (music) collaborated with Joe Masteroff to bring us She Loves Me, a 1963 musical based on a play by Hungarian playwright Miklos Laszlo.

Georg Nowak (James Reed) and Amalia Balash (Lauren Potter) employees of Mr Maraczek’s Parfumerie, are always arguing. However, they are both unaware that each is the secret-pen pal of the other, corresponding through a lonely hearts’ club. We know from the outset that love will find its way, which of course it does.

She Loves Me is not crammed with big spectacular chorus numbers, instead being a little more old fashioned and intimate, with most numbers being solos.

This version by Therry Dramatic Society, in the capable hands of Director Patsy Thomas, Musical Director Martin Cheney and Chorographer Madeline Edwards, is engaging, colourful and slick.

Ms Thomas has gathered a clever and talented cast who act, sing and dance with skill.   The pace is for the most part fine, but due to its long credentials, it is felt some of the numbers could perhaps been gingered up with a little quicker tempo.

Mr Cheney’s orchestra worked hard and well but with occasional discordance.

Madeline Edward’s choreography was innovative and Gilian Cordell’s costumes were true to the 1930’s period.

As the two romantic leads, James and Lauren sang well, although James’s speaking diction was not always clear. John Green (Mr Maraczek) with his powerful baritone voice and Sarah Nagy (Ilona Ritter) were admirable in their roles, as was Buddy Dawson as Kodaly. Mention must be made of the cameo role played superbly by Andrew Crayford as the bumbling Jacques Tati, head waiter, and Mitchell Smith, an engaging and cheeky Arpad Laszlo.  

 Norman Caddick’s  and Patsy Thomas’s set designs were stylish and  were changed quickly. 

 

DEATHTRAP

"The original 70s production of Ira Levin’s “Deathtrap” holds the record for being the longest running non-musical comedy-thriller in Broadway history (around four years), and to judge from Therry’s solid production, it’s not hard to see why.


With such a small cast, it is crucial that the actors have excellent chemistry and this is certainly the case with Therry’s production. Randell and Wylie play off each other well, with some subtle hints of jaded affection lurking beneath the petty, largely argumentative surface of their dialogue. Edwards brings just the right measure of fanboyish enthusiasm and youthful arrogance to his relations with both characters, keeping the audience guessing as to who is manipulating who in this scenario.

LeCornu and Taylor play the comic relief with delectable, juicy hammery, effortlessly stealing scenes with their exaggerated accents and deliberately larger-than-life mannerisms.

Director, Ian Rigney, wisely makes no attempt to contemporise the play, accommodating the dated aspects of the script by framing the production as a period piece. Vincent Eustace’s set design and the costumes, which Rigney conceived with Heather Beasley, are nicely evocative of the tackier aspects of the 70s, but without crossing the line into outright caricature. The production is also to be praised for Denise Lovick’s tasteful, atmospheric lighting design.

 

This “Deathtrap” may not be a groundbreaking or innovative production, but when a piece of theatre is pulled off with as much panache as this, it doesn’t really need to be. The level of applause from the audience come the final curtain call was rapturous, and really, that says everything. For anyone who appreciates a good thriller, Therry’s “Deathtrap” is definitely worth seeing."

 

Review by Benjamin Orchard

Read the full review at Adelaide Theatre Guide.

 

CORPSE

Therry Dramatic Society. Arts Theatre. 9 Nov 2013

"Therry knows its audience a lot better than I do and Corpse! was the ticket for its membership and this was a thoroughly enjoyable night out at the theatre.


Corpse! is a very funny farce-black comedy, maybe thriller, with more than a touch of the sinister and macabre, and plenty of twists to keep you intrigued.  


Norman Caddick is a highly experienced director, and shines working on this sort of comedy.  He runs a tight ship with set design (Nick Spottiswoode), lighting (Denise Lovick), and sound (Hugh Hunkin) all deserving of praise.  You could imagine that the creative juices were running hot during rehearsals with the goal of getting the most of every scene.

Adam Tuominen does a star turn in playing both twins with comic distinction.  It's amazing how dextrous he was in the physical business.  Peter Davies was marvellous as the gormless assassin, and Sue Wylie's portrayal of the landlady was imaginative and full of nuance.


You should be dying to see this show.  Corpse! is a lively undertaking."


David Grybowski, The Barefoot Review

 

And Then I Wrote

November 2010

"Another polished Therry Production with a set that looks good and is designed to work well"

Fran Edward, Encore Magazine

Breaker Morant

November 2011

 

"A well-presented, entertaining production of an important part of Australian history"

Jamie Wright, Adelaide Theatre Guide

 

"Another well-rounded production and a credit to everyone involved"

Barry Lenny, Glam Adelaide

Crazy for You

June 2011

 

"Top notch production values. Brilliant performances"

Aaron McDonald, Adelaide Theatre Guide

 

"At the risk of sounding excessive, everything is done well"

Nicole Russo, Barefoot Review

 

"There are not enough superlatives to describe Therry's latest production Crazy for You"

Wenday Milden, Encore Magazine

 

Review

Barry Lenny Glam Adelaide


The Mousetrap

September 2011

"This production of “The Mousetrap” is a well-crafted mixture ..."

Richard Flynn,  Adelaide Theatre Guide

 

Mousetrap Review

David Grybowski, Barefoot Review

Mousetrap Review

Barry Lenny, Glam Adelaide

 

The Cemetery Club

November 2011

"This gentle comedy is full of Jewish humour, and is all about death – but definitely not morbid".

Fran Edwards, Adelaide Theatre Guide

"Don’t let the title put you off". 

David Grybowski, Barefoot Review

Cemetery Club Review

Barry Lenny, Glam Adelaide

 

Death by Chocolate

March 2012

Review

Barry Lenny, Glam Adelaide

 

The Wizard of Oz

June 2012

 

"Therry's annual musical will still leave you humming the tunes well after the curtain lowers. It's simply fun"

Rod Lewis, Glam Adelaide

 

Moon Over Buffalo

Sept 2012

 

"Moon Over Buffalo" takes a while to get its wings, but when it does, it soars".

Aaron MacDonald, Adelaide Theatre Guide

"It was a cold, wet and windy night, on public transport, that this reviewer had to brave to attend the opening of Therry’s latest offering Moon Over Buffalo – result: one very frozen reviewer. But it only took a minute after the play began to warm up with laughter. This is a hysterical cracker production of a very funny play".

“There are hiatuses in the action, but these seem to be scripted to give the audience a break from laughing so loud”.

“This ‘Moon’ shines very bright over the Arts Theatre at the moment”.

Brian Godfrey,  Theatre People