By Ryan Oakley
(ed. note: This is a repost of the original article because WordPress apparently ate the original.)
Before I attended the East Side Players’ adaptation of Waiting in the Wings my editor told me that community theatre doesn’t get enough reviews. After ten minutes of watching the play, I could understood why: It’s very hard.
The cast, who were mainly older ladies, looked like they were having fun. There was no pretention, no high-flown stupidity disguised as vile philosophy and no monologues from some rich beatnik in a turtleneck. It just seemed like decent people having a genuinely good time.
This completely dulled my spite. And I need my spite. Without it, I’m simply one of you.
Thank God that the play was good. Insulting it would have felt like kicking my dear Nan.
"Waiting in the Wings" is a Noel Coward play about a charity home for retired actresses over the age of sixty. They chat, act catty, act friendly and have quarrels. Throughout it all, they deal with the loss of fame, beauty and independence. In short, old age.
In spite of that, it’s a light play with cheerful songs. "Waiting in the Wings" is the spiritual ancestor of The Golden Girls. And I love The Golden Girls. Indeed, my theatre date and I left the play singing the theme song to that wonderful show. I have the voice of an angel.
A sick angel who can’t sing.
The adaptation was refreshingly free of gimmicks. These days one never knows what they’re going to get. It would hardly surprise me to see this play set in Guantanamo Bay with the dear old darlings dressed in orange and the nice employees as fascists. Everyone is so eager to set their stamp upon adaptations that they often forget the best way to do that is to simply perform something well. The Eastside Players perform this extremely well.
In a cast that was roundly able and a pleasure to watch, the standout performance was Kay Montgomery’s crowd pleasing interpretation of Deidre O’Malley. She played the cranky old Irishwoman with vigour and spite. Always ready with an brutal insult or depressing observation, she was exactly the sort of old lady that I hope to one day become.
(She was also quite popular with my theatre date, Megahan, who when she’s not calling me names on the Internet, doesn’t seem to have cantankerous bone in her body.)
The actors brought a lot of experience and talent to this production.There was nothing show-offy about any of them. Shunning juvenile affectation, each one of them is utterly believable and well-realized.
Not only fun to watch because of their characters, they were also fun to watch playing these characters. Indeed, I wonder how these actresses were able to penetrate the minds of much older characters with such stunning accuracy.
Through the first act I felt that I was watching a PBS program that was meant for someone else. By the second act, the quality of the play had won me over. This is a competent adaptation. If that seems tepid praise, one should remember that competence is the virtue I value above all others. It is painfully rare. Try getting help at Zellers sometime.
If you’re a Noel Coward fan and want to see his play without the "creativity" of the people adapting it wrecking it, this is the production for you. It’s simply well done.
If I had of worn a hat to the theatre that night, it would go off to The Eastside Players.
Since this is a repost, the details are not available, but the play was produced in May of 2009.