A BUNCH OF AMATEURS
Metro Theatre, November 8 - 23
My Two Cents
A Bunch Of Amateurs is one of those “backstage” British comedies that Metro Theatre usually does well, but seems to miss the mark this time around. The premise - the Stratford Players of Stratford, St. John, Suffolk, England, need to raise some money or their theatre will be shut down. So, they hire a big-name Hollywood actor to perform the title role in King Lear. How did they bag him? He thought he was going to be playing at Stratford-upon-Avon. Misunderstandings and hijinks ensue.
Everyone in the cast has some nice moments. Lisa Gach holds the show together (and the show within the show) as Dorothy Nettle, director of the local production of King Lear. Roger Monk is a delight every time he’s on stage; it’s clear he’s comfortable with the material and is well-suited to this type of comedy. And I think everyone who’s worked in amateur theatre will recognize someone like Nigel Newbury (played with expert hamminess by Peter Robbins). I like Samuel Barnes - he has the charm and smarm of a typical Hollywood star - but in my opinion he appears too young to play Jefferson Steel (and for that matter King Lear). There’s also a lack of chemistry between the performers that need it the most, and as such the stakes don’t feel high enough.
Unfortunately, the pacing isn’t as tight as it could have been - there’s not enough urgency or energy. There are simply too many scene changes that take too long. Some of the “musical interludes” are fun, but they’re inconsistent. Les Erskine’s set is beautiful and appropriately cluttered, but the lighting is a bit uneven. There are some fun sight gags, and Jefferson’s escaping-the-paparazzi sequence was inspired.
At its heart, A Bunch Of Amateurs is about doing community theatre for the love of it. It’s hard to be critical of that sentiment, especially towards a company that’s been providing opportunities for amateurs and offering affordable entertainment for nearly 60 years. A Bunch Of Amateurs is unpretentious and inoffensive, but I had hoped for more.