Community theatre group, Modicum Theatre Perth are clearly having a ball putting on A Butler Did It! – a funny farce with all the twists and turns of an Edwardian bawdy who-dunnit. The play is fun – there’s a rich family, an old and draughty house, money, dead Aunts, murder, intrigue, and everything in between! Following the death of their Aunt Francesca (Alanna van Mierlo) her three estranged nephews and remaining family are reunited at her old mansion to ‘drink to her health.’ Throw in a few unexpected dead bodies, a slow-moving butler (Aaron O’Neil) and a ditzy maid (Tarryn McGrath) and you’ve got a rather entertaining night out.
And entertain they do! The set is impressive on a shoe-string budget – from full walls and cupboards built in, to (what I’m guessing are) a few nifty little pick-ups from Gumtree – a beautiful old rug, elaborate couch, bookshelf etc. I think a splash of paint or some wallpaper on the panels would be nice, but looking at the crafted drinks cart, it is clear that great attention to detail has been paid. Director Steph Ferguson has staged this well, including a great way of depicting the interrogation scenes – a blue backlit phone and trestle table not only indicate being in the spotlight, but also provide the audience with a bit of a timeline for context.
Characterisation is crucial to A Butler Did It! and each of the cast members does a very good job of sticking to their characters. As this is community theatre, you do witness the odd smirk, or uncontrolled laughter, but that is to be expected. Overall, the three brothers are all solid – Sean Wcislo has clearly perfected his sneer, Jordan Holloway is empathetic as the brother who finds the whole thing a bit too funny, and Steven Correia as Colin is a delight to watch. He has a great stage presence and is able to say so much with his hilarious and empathetic facial expressions.
Throughout this entire farce runs the theme of an interrogation. Here, we see the inspectors – Ryan Partridge and Sarah Lewis take great pleasure in hamming up their cockney accents in their representation of ‘The Bill.’ Yet it is Aaron O’Neil as Jasper King Junior – the Butler’s Butler – who is the real stand out. Not only is the character itself hilarious, O’Neil’s glacial movement is compelling – even the audience holds its collective breath as he crosses the room. O’Neil’s intonation is brilliant – there is a tendency for young people to really affect an elderly man’s voice, but he gets the balance right.
A Butler Did It! is a great fun night out. The hilarious moments when conspiracies are exposed, bodies are being moved stealthily, and a few twists you probably won’t see coming are brought to life by a very enthusiastic group of young people. It is clear they enjoy acting, so go and enjoy seeing live theatre and lend your support.
Review | Laura Money
WHEN: 23 – 30 June 2018 | 7:00pm
WHERE: The Kitchen Building | Heathcote Cultural Precinct | APPLECROSS
INFO: Tickets $16 – $20 | Coarse Language | Suitable 15+ | Licensed premises – people under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian