Thursday, February 16, 2017

ALWAYS...PATSY CLINE



Directed by Denny Lawrence
Created and originally directed by Ted Swindley
Christine Harris & HIT Productions
Q Theatre, Queanbeyan
Playing in the Bicentennial Hall, Queanbeyan to 18 February

Review by Len Power 15 February 2017

Patsy Cline, the American country singer, had a tragically short career, dying in a plane crash in 1963.  Her hit songs including ‘Crazy’, ‘I Fall to Pieces’, ‘Sweet Dreams’ and ‘Walking After Midnight’ still resonate with music lovers around the world.

According to the publicity, ‘Always…Patsy Cline’ is based on a true story about Cline’s friendship with a fan from Houston named Louise Seger, who befriended the star in a Texas honky-tonk in 1961, and continued a correspondence with Cline until her death.  In this show, there is very little insight into Patsy Cline, the person, and there’s far too much about the fan.

Patsy Cline is played by Courtney Conway who has very few lines of dialogue but sings the Cline songs to perfection.  It’s worth seeing the show just for her performance of the songs.

Mandi Lodge, playing the fan, Louise Seger, gives an over the top and irritating performance with a hint of desperation about it.  To be fair, the script by Ted Swindley doesn’t give her much to work with in the first place and maybe Lodge is over-compensating as a result.  Her character is a clichéd loud-mouth of a blowsy Texan woman who loves the sound of her own voice.  The poor script also gives her the job of jollying the audience along with the usual pub show stuff like dragging an audience member up to dance, repeating an unfunny visual joke where she prances around to supposedly demonstrate driving in the car she calls ‘Sexy Dude’ and, of course, there’s the obligatory ‘Are you enjoying the show?  What?  I can’t hear you?’

The set design by Jacob Battista looks fine for the Patsy Cline bandstand but the other half showing the fan’s home is pretty dull.  I know it’s supposed to be an ordinary home but surely more imagination could have gone into the design.  The lighting was designed by Clare Springett.  I don’t know if she set the lights for this performance but there were too many shadows on faces.  The sound was a bit unclear in the first half but was fine in the second half of the show.  If costume co-ordinator, Sophie Woodward, was responsible for Courtney Conway’s costumes, she did a fine job.

Director, Denny Lawrence, who has done fine work in the past with ‘Love Letters’ and ‘Educating Rita’ at the Q, has done a disappointing job here but the script is at the heart of the problem.  Anyway, the music was good.

The Q Theatre is presenting the show in Queanbeyan’s Bicentennial Hall with the audience seated at tables cabaret style which worked fine and is worth exploring for future suitable shows.

Len Power’s reviews are also broadcast on Artsound FM 92.7’s ‘Artcetera’ program from 9am on Saturdays and on other selected Artsound programs.

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