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Ballarat National Theatre

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Four Australian Comedies
Written & Directed by Peter Nethercote

 

Production Dates

July 3rd to 10th 2010

Synopsis

The starting point for the writing of these four plays was the set. I envisaged a space with three doors upstage. So for each play the question was: "What do these doors lead to?"

For the first one I wrote, the answer was: "Three bedrooms in a spacious flat." And from that came the story of two ill-matched women looking for a third flatmate.

In the second play written, behind the doors I imagined three guest rooms in a "Bed and Breakfast". Such a setting seemed to demand the sort of farce in which doors open and close very quickly, while the characters, caught in compromising situations, have to invent hasty explanations. The English and the French do these superbly. But this one, in tone and outcome, is very Australian!

More than a year later, I decided to write two more plays for the same set, to make up a full evening's entertainment. What was beyond the doors this time? My first thought was the living quarters of three residents in an old people's home - where, typically, there are always many more women than men.

But I had several more ideas of what those doors might lead to. And in the fourth play I managed to use them all. For this final play I also created eighteen characters, so that every one of the actors who had been seen in the first three plays could show his or her versatility in another role or two.

The next problem was to think of a title for each play, and something snappy which could encompass all four. Eventually the word "Quarters" - with its double meaning - came to me.

Many of the roles in these four plays were written with specific actors in mind. I am happy to say that those actors are playing those roles.

 

Cast

Janette Baxter
Brendan Clarke
Miranda Donald
Letecia Frost
Jane Gaylor
Elizabeth Hardiman
Marg Jarvis
Martin McGettigan
Reg Mowart
Loryl Oglethorpe
Eva Torkkola
Haydn Vincent

Crew

Director Peter Nethercote
Stage Manager Sally Read

Gallery

Quarters 1
Quarters2

Review

Reveiw - QUARTERS

Reviewer: Gail Sjogren

Quarters is Four-square Aussie Fun or Four “Quarters” equals a Whole Lot of Laughs

How lucky we are in Ballarat to have our very own Ballarat playwright in Peter Nethercote, and equally lucky to have so many talented and versatile actors. All this ability becomes very clear in this production of four one-act comedies written and now directed by Peter himself. The clever title, ‘Quarters’, not only refers to the four ‘quarters’ of the program but also the common theme for each play which is based around particular ‘quarters’ or living arrangements.

A simple three door set serves many purposes with minimal rearrangement and allows for much coming and going, and the close encounters and near misses which are so much a part of any comedy. As Peter explains in his program notes, asking himself “What do these doors lead to?” became the starting point for each play. Twelve actors take thirty-three different roles, displaying their versatility and obviously enjoying themselves. The audience will recognise many well-known names and faces.

In the first play, Tablemates, two elderly ladies (Margaret Jarvis and Loryl Oglethorpe) compete for the attention of one of the few male residents of their retirement home (Haydn Vincent) ,watched by the young carer played by newcomer to BNT Eva Torkkola. Bedmates then takes us to a bed-and breakfast establishment owned by an amusingly inquisitive and disapproving Bea (Jane Gaylor) where two couples (married but not to each other, as one says) and played by Reg Mowat , Elizabeth Hardiman, Janette Baxter and Martin McGettigan, become involved in a French-style farce as they are discovered by their daughters (Letecia Frost and Eva Torkkola). It is a delightful romp with unexpected twists and clever turns and the actors make the most of everyone opportunity.

After interval Flatmates sees the reappearance of Jane and Janette as two rather mis-matched flatmates in search of a third to share. Elizabeth is the vivacious but unexpected applicant who turns their lives upside down and Letecia an even more surprising candidate. The final ‘quarter’, Playmates, takes place in a disused Victorian building being inspected by the bossy president of a local theatre company (Miranda Donald), the treasurer (Brendon Clarke) and their fey secretary (Eva) From behind the doors appear the ghosts of former residents, providing opportunities for the whole cast to appear and reappear in many different guises.

With so many outstanding performances it would be unfair to single out any one actor. Suffice it to say that it is well worth braving the cold to enjoy a great night’s entertainment, or for those who prefer not to venture out on a wintry night there are two matinees. Come along, celebrate Ballarat’s theatrical wealth, ignore the wintry chill and you will be rewarded with a good laugh in a warm and welcoming theatre