Ding dong to charm with comedy
FRENCH playwright Marc Camoletti wrote a number of scripts about the triumvirate of Bernard, Robert, but they're not exactly sequels; the events of one had little bearing on the others.
His method is reminiscent of commedia dell'arte, in which a collection of broadly drawn stock characters is thrown together in different combinations and scenarios with no expectation of continuity.
Thus, in its third Camoletti production, the Toowoomba Repertory Theatre's premiere of Ding Dong (translation by Tudor Gates; directed by Co directors Mark Phythian and Peter Devey shows its audience familiar faces, but brand-new farce.
Mischief makers Bernard and Robert (Mark Phythian and Mark Scholefield, respectively, reprising their involvement in a previous seasons production of Boeing-Boeing by the same author), old friends when last we left them, meet here for the first time.
The former has lured the latter under false pretences to his distinctly upscale Paris home - all modern and trendy royal blue elements over grey - to reveal he knows all about the affair with Bernard's wife, Jacqueline (also reprised from Boeing Boeing, Tegan DeClark).
Because the adultery is a deep enough injury that reparations are in order, Robert is presented with two options: violent death, or allowing Bernard to seduce his own wife and vengefully complete the switcheroo.
They arrange a dinner party to begin the seduction, but Robert brings a flirty imposter (Shara Gampe) to pose as his spouse, setting off a series of he-knows-that-I-know-that-you-know manoeuvres that are only intensified when actual wife Juliette (Beth Geoghegan) shows up at the door.
The long-suffering French maid; Marie-Louise (Helen Holmes) desperately tries to keep the mania in order and fails miserably, with hilarious results.
With every action in service of a singular goal, the many moving parts of this lightning-fast comedy are well served by an undercurrent of simplicity, its two-act structure akin to pulling back on a slingshot and then letting go.
Ding Dong is now playing at the Toowoomba Repertory Theatre until November 30th.
Tickets are available from http://www.toowoombarep.com.au/