Evan Robert (as Guy Jones), left, Jim Goodman (Dafydd ap Llewellyn) and Kelly Vanderswan (Hannah Llewellyn) act out a scene from Langham Court Theatre’s A Chorus of Disapproval, running through June 23. Photo courtesy Langham Court Theatre

REVIEW: Langham’s latest offering features energetic, authentic acting

Great individual performances in A Chorus of Disapproval, but script a tad overindulgent

By Sheila Martindale

Monday Magazine contributor

There are some brilliant individual performances in Langham Court’s A Chorus of Disapproval.

The two lead guys – Evan Guy Roberts and Jaymes D.Goodman – are great actors and wonderful foils for each other. Goodman is larger than life, loud and overbearing, while Roberts is permanently baffled, reserved, and has a hard time getting a word in edgewise; but he nonetheless does a marvelous job in a key role. It is a pleasure to watch their tandem performance.

The two women in their lives are talented and equally entertaining – Kelly Vanderswan as a frustrated and emotionally ignored wife, and Kristin Pickup as half of a trendy swinging couple, always looking for a good time. When the two women interact, the sparks fly!

Lili Michaels-Martin puts in a very edgy and pleasing performance as Bridget – this is a young talent to watch for in the future. Pippa Catling is delightful as the elderly and absent-minded pianist; Pam Miller and David Conway both stand out in their own way. Really, one cannot find a weak link in the entire cast.

Unfortunately, in this production, the parts add up to a whole lot more than the overall play itself.

Much as I like Alan Ayckbourn’s writing, I find this piece a teeny bit tiresome and navel-gazing. Plays about theatre companies are a bit like novels about writers – they often end up being self-indulgent. And this one meanders about and doesn’t seem to really get to the point. So, at two hours and 40 minutes, it is about 40 minutes too long. The play-within-a-play concept can also be a tad difficult to follow, as we sort out which bits belong where and to whom.

However, the costumes, designed by Pearl Arden, are great. And the stage management is clever as we move seamlessly from venue to venue. The singing is pretty good too – there are some excellent voices in this cast.

A Chorus of Disapproval is set in Northern England, and Conway’s broad accent is effective. I think he also does the introductory voice-over (turn your phones off, unwrap your candies etc.)

If for nothing else, go and see this play for the pleasure of experiencing Goodman bellow with frustration, in a very good imitation of the Welsh accent.

The play runs until June 23 at the Langham Court Theatre. For tickets call 250-484-2142 or email boxoffice@langhamtheatre.ca. It might also be a good opportunity to subscribe for next season, which begins Sept. 26 with the unforgettable Blythe Spirit by Noel Coward.

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