This was my first official foray into the new Eternity Playhouse and what a terrific restoration/renovation it is. I hear it’s a nightmare fight for space back stage but from an audience’s perspective, it’s a great space.
OK…so if I’m procrastinating talking about the actual play, take that as a sign that I didn’t love it. I also didn’t hate it if that’s any consolation. The truth is that ‘The Young Tycoons’ has plenty of great lines and strong performers but as material, CJ Johnson’s play, or ‘ruthless comedy’ as it’s dubbed, is thin in structure and complexity of characters. It’s a pleasant parody of the Packer and Murdoch empires and their business and family dynamics.
‘The Young Tycoons’ may have been suffering from second night blues and the audience were down in numbers and energy from the opening night and the actors seemed to be a bit off their game. When I looked around and saw people texting or having their own personal conversations, the play was not doing its job or you've got the worst audience you could hope for. Lots of stumbles over lines, the occasional dry and technical hitch didn’t help add substance in a play that relies on pace, comic timing and hitting each gag as if it was accompanied by the boom tish of percussion. No doubt director Michael Pigott, who is revisiting his direction of this play for the third time, must have recognised that it was not the strongest of nights.
Structurally the play feels more filmic that theatre. The constant entrances and exits to play short vignettes does slow down the pace of the show and must put enormous pressure on its cast in the small backstage space to sweat out hitting each mark and swiftly make adjustments to the set like pro’s. And bless them, they really did. But it takes its toll because it feels like we are watching an elongated sketch show, episodic, tagging each scene with its pre-requisite joke.
There are genuinely funny moments and special mentions to performers Andrew Cutcliffe (Trevor Warburton), James Lugton (Dave Grolsch), Terry Serio (Donald Mayes) and Briallen Clarke (Kylie Strauss), although it is a well-assembled and good ensemble, who I think were having a rough night.
‘The Young Tycoons’ is infinitely watchable and I think the cast are thoroughly enjoying it. It was a pleasant way to spend an evening and I only wish I’d seen it on a night when everyone was on their best game. It’s just that the show is potentially thinner than this review and if they are having an off night, there’s nowhere to hide.
Check it out and hope for the best.