Henry Lawson Theatre Inc: Caravan - Review by Jeffrey Victorino
Have you ever watched that American TV show about friends living in apartments across the hall from each other in New York City? There are 6 main characters and the laughs would be side splitting and continuous as they navigate through their friendship and their lives. But think about this. Instead of America, it would be set in Australia and instead of an apartment, it would be set in a caravan.
Caravan by the Henry Lawson Theatre Inc and directed by Jason Darlington is a literal laugh out loud Australian comedy that depicts true Australianisms. From the caravan park setting in rural NSW to the portrayal of 6 very Australian personalities to the very Australian culture depicted (wine drinking, fearing the local wildlife, and true "larrikinism" and mate ship)- this story is all put together by the humour that is as Australian as it gets.
The story is the focused around 6 people who have organised a 2 week holiday in a caravan - Penny (Melissa Bedwell), a peace making housewife who has unsatisfied needs with a big secret. Her husband Parkes (Matthew Doherty), an easily triggered man whose pride and joy is his caravan. Their married friend Monica (Dianne Darlington), the sarcastic bored suburban housewife. Rodney (Daniel Boole), Monica’s husband who is highly emotional and that shares Penny’s secret. And finally there is Pierce (Jeffrey Brocktoff), the bachelor of the group who has an affinity for younger women and brings his latest “girlfriend” Gwendolyn (Amber-Mai Feeley) to the friends holiday.
The simplicity of the plot and setting of this play allows for audiences to get involved and get drawn into the characters stories and personalities where audiences are sure to connect to and relate to characters as they are depictions of your every day Australians. As the true hero and focus of this play that lead to all the laughs are the characters stories and situations that unfold as they get confined within the caravan due to continuous torrential rain (something I know we can all relate to right now) allow for on going laughs throughout the whole show.
Audiences were in literal hysterics - from the physical comedy of characters constantly banging their heads on the door, the wiz bang one liners (especially from Monica), the depiction of uninhibited needy passionate lustful needs of a woman displayed by Penny, and the whining and whinging expressed by all characters stuck indoors for 2 weeks.
I think part of the humour of the show and a testament to chemistry of the actors were some of the mishaps that happened during the performance. Actors naming other characters incorrectly, losing and then finding a coin for a coin toss and over reactions were all addressed by other characters even if off script - throwing in sporadic one liners to address the mishaps. It actually made the show funnier as some one liners were unexpected and some character interaction reactions hilarious.
I realise this review is all about the actors and their performances. But when it is obvious that acting was outstanding, enjoyable and the sole focus, it is hard to take away from them their awesome work. But in saying that, I know that there was all other integral parts that made this show the experience that it was. The set was perfectly put together, the lighting was bright and the audio was clear. The audience really did get into the short singalong of Summer Holiday by Cliff Richard, which was very fitting.
The performances by all actors really had audiences enjoy the experience that was Caravan where people walked away with sore faces from smiling and laughing. I really do not think you would walk away from this show without having some full bellied laughs throughout. Caravan was a joy and a literal laugh. Go and see it!
I would rate this show and all its character a 4.5 out of 5 buckets of water.
Photos courtesy of Rebecca Fletcher