Saturday, July 8, 2023




Written and produced by Shaylie Maskell. Directed by Shaylie Maxell and Elliot Cleaves. Green Oak Theatre. Belconnen Theatre. July 6 – 9 2023

Reviewed by Peter Wilkins


Marlies Wray, Jesica King, Grace O'Mahoney and Daniel Tonon in HEIST

The emergence of a new theatre company in Canberra is a sign that the interest in theatre is thriving. Green Oak Theatre is mounting its third production since it began in 2020 with The Thornwaite Inheritance: the Musical and then followed this with If I could Save Her in 2021. Heist is the first post pandemic play written by company founder Shaylie Maskell with music provided by Caleb Wells. Heist, inspired by a play written while in high school, is Pink Panther meets Get Smart  comedy. Maxell, who also directs the production with Elliot Cleaves revisits the era of crime spoof action movies. The notorious Capella Gang kidnap billionaire Santo Sylvestri (Daniel Tonin). Incompetent D.I. Koffman (Sam Whiter) is on the trail, but it is butt of their bullying Constable Davey (David Hatherley) who ultimately cracks the case after a lot of slapstick, madness and mayhem, Maskell and Cleaves keep the action moving and the cast throw themselves into the zaniness with vigour and vim.

Mylee Pynt and Robbie Cohen in Heist

Green Oak is a company of emerging young actors, offering performance experience to interested cast and creatives. It also offers Maskell the opportunity to develop her skills in playwrighting and Heist is tightly structured and well plotted. It holds the interest and has enough twists and turns to keep an audience guessing. It is too long, running almost two hours without an interval. There is enough business to keep the comedy alive and the interest in the characters that are played with conviction by the performers but it becomes repetitive and could easily lose twenty minutes. The actors throw themselves into their parts sometimes too loudly and too boisterously. Even in a farcical comedy subtlety can prove an effective device to keep an audience guessing and a character more interesting. This comes with experience.

Sam Whiter,Alex Malegan,Hester Macdonald,Luke Lampard
,Hayden McPherson,David Hatherley in Heist

I am conscious while watching that I am watching a company of actors who may continue to develop as performers. There is obviously talent amongst the cast with interesting performances also from Luke Lampard as the camp TV Director and his assistant Marjorie (Chazelle Cromhout). Marshalling fifteen largely inexperienced performers around the stage can be a challenge on the Belconnen Theatre stage.

Heist has been a fun production for the company and audience alike, played with enthusiasm and gusto. In future it would be interesting to see Maskell’s playwrighting become more sophisticated and with  fewer characters and for Green Oak Theatre to stage well established playwrights with an experienced director. I look forward to seeing Green Oak grow and branch out.