Plaza opens the door for actors to really shine
For every West End theatre star with an Olivier award or a knighthood, there must be a dozen actors of equal talent who never get the big-time break.
Six such talents get the chance to show their substance at the Palace Dixon Studio this week. If talent alone determined the issue, every one of them should be in the Madame Tussaud's theatre section.
Sanderling is one of that growing number of collegiate-style theatre companies, which gives brilliant actors the big parts they deserve but may not always get on the commercial circuits. Plaza Suite, by Neil Simon, offers the perfect vehicle for such an agenda.
It is a gift to actors with a flair for comic timing and characterisation. Plaza Suite is made up of three seperate one-act plays, all set in the same hotel suite, No 719, in New York's landmark Plaza Hotel.
In Visitor from Mamaroneck, a neglected housewife (Joanne Seymour) tries to breathe some romance back into her marriage by luring her overworked businessman husband (Lloyd Morris) back to the suite where they spent their honeymoon.
In Visitor from Hollywood,a three-times married Hollywood producer (Manos Koutsis) sets out to seduce his high school sweetheart (Hayley Evenett), now a respectable small town mom.
Finally, in Visitor from Forest Hills, a bride locks herself in the bathroom, where she is besieged by her desperate New Jersey parents (Lloyd Morris and Victoria Long).
The mood and the comic style of each one-acter is different, though the stories are linked by a common underlying theme which adds a hint of melancholy- the fading and withering away of once passionate marriages.
Gold medals (male and female) probably have to go to Lloyd Morris and Victoria Long, as the parents driven to the edge of violent dementia by their daughter's behaviour.
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Hayley Evenett builds a superbly layered performance in a short space of time as the small town hockey mom, whose composure is pared away, along with her clothes, by seducer Manos Koutsis. He in his turn is painfully funny as a silky slimeball.
The bar for truly rich and touching performances is set from the start by Joanne Seymour and Lloyd Morris in the reboot honeymoon playlet. Between them they contrive to break your heart.
It is just as well that this, the saddest of the three plays, comes at the start, with plenty of comic relief to follow.
For although categorised as light comedy, Plaza Suite is quite an emotional roller-coaster. The strongest response of all at the end of this particular production is admiration for Sanderling's cast. Acting wise these guys are A-listers.
September 14th 2012
September 14th 2012