Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Messiah

Tasmanian Theatre Company
Backspace Theatre, Hobart

By Kylie Elizabeth Eastley

The Messiah is a great parody of every megalomaniac in the theatre world who has ever wanted to re-enact Ben Hur on their local stage, with a props list including a Hessian toga, a ball of twine and a bottle of Clag glue.

Desmond Olivier Dingle, played by Iain Lang, proudly bursts forth as the artistic director of the National Theatre of Tranmere (NTT) to share his personal spiritual journey. In his 70’s-inspired beige suit, and rouge covered cheeks, (I suspect they do their own makeup) Lang beautifully portrays this character, invoking our cringes, dislike and even a little bit of pity at times.

Lang plays the straight man and is joined by Guy Hooper as Raymond Box, the inept but enthusiast second string of the NTT. Together they ambitiously recreate the Christmas story with the two actors playing the entire cast including Mary, Joseph, God, Herod…you get the picture.

To raise the calibre of the production Dingle employs Mrs Le Mottee, played by Noreen Le Mottee, to sing highlights from The Messiah by Handel. Her random interjections along with the chaos of Dingle and Box as they flip between enacting the play and disagreeing on acting ability create a hilarious ride for the audience.

Hooper is fantastic as he mispronounces words and physically does just about everything you can do on a small stage including a version of the military tattoo. There were many highlights, but the depiction of Michelangelo’s fresco Creation of Adam by the two actor’s sticks in my mind, as does the mime sequence by Hooper in the second half of the show. Perhaps there could have been some tightening up in the second half during the shepherd scene as this did drag and didn’t seem to be vital for the narrative.

Credit should be given to designer, John Bowling who provided clever tinker toy props that added to the sense of amateur. I particularly like the excerpt from The Secret Diaries of Desmond Olivier Dingle included in the program.

The Messiah is great fun, not just for the audience but for the players. This production must have been a relief to undertake in light of the turbulent year for the Tasmanian Theatre Company. Audiences should get to this show and immerse themselves in the world of Dingle and Box as it is something extraordinary.

The Messiah continues its season every Thursday & Saturday 8.15pm till the end of November with a family matinee on Saturday 21st at 2.15pm.

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