Reviewed by Pam Watts
Writer, Brenton Whittle, and director, Sue Wylie, have created a delightful production of Well, Shut My Mouth for The Adelaide Repertory Theatre Society that definitely offers an engaging evening’s entertainment. This production premiered to a very receptive audience that filled the theatre with laughter and applauded vigorously. Andrew Horwood, playing Clarry Hobbs, although dying in the opening moments of the story, manages to conduct the direction of the play from his uniquely creative position of primarily horizontal. Cleverly directed by Sue Wylie, we see Clarry observing the aftermath of his death through his family. The old fashioned Dad’s humour runs strongly throughout this play, making the performance a most enjoyable experience for the audience.
This well-rehearsed cast interpret, with clarity and understanding, the lovable characters in this script. All embracing, and expressing their characters response to the death in the family, they reflect on life’s journey through memories and personal perspectives. Clarry is not the only Larkin in this family as relatives arrive to the styled wake, orchestrated by son, Craig Hobbs, cleverly played by David Salter. Clarry’s widow, Mary, was played by Julie Quick, who gave us the counter balance to Clarry with her warm and patient personality.
All of the characters were uniquely different, providing the hotchpotch we recognise in most of our families, as they turn to memories and relationships in order to grasp the finality of Clarry’s departure. This provides the understanding of life’s journey that Brenton Whittle had prioritised in this script. Far from being a dark or tragic story, however, this is a night for laughs and smiles as the quick-witted dialogue is delivered with precise timing. All performers are to be congratulated on the success of this play as they all shared this seamless performance. I do have to mention one character who said so much with so few words, Sebastien Skubala, who played Billy Barks. This performance could easily be overacted but Skubala held his steady portrayal of a young teenager coming to terms with death with a very poignant and sympathetic portrayal.
The set design, designed by Sue Wylie, was creative and appropriate using a centre stage position to focus our attention. Scenic elements transitioned easily from scene to scene, complemented by Richard Parkhill’s lighting design. Ray Trowbridge created the sound design and this production, supported by a large crew, brought the whole production to fruition. I applaud the whole production team