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The Inspection

THE INSPECTION, by Richie Black, at the Old 505 Theatre, Eliza St, Newtown, 25 January – 28 January.

I saw this production without invitation and completely accidentally. I got my theatre’s mixed up and went to the wrong place. I couldn’t get to where I had promised, so, I stayed and watched this fledgling work instead. Maybe, this is my FIRST acknowledged symptom of an encroaching senility?!!!!

Anyway, what was most pleasing about this accidental night in the theatre was the fact that THE INSPECTION, produced by Julian Ramundi, was a restricted showing of a new work. It had been Written, Directed, Designed and Acted by a young troupe of fairly recent graduates from various drama schools. It was an hour fifty minute farce concerning the plight of a rentee coping with a leasee’s inspection.

Now, I believe Comedy is the hardest of the genres to write, direct and act. That one would dare to create a no interval comedy for 110 odd minutes was a sure sign of inexperience and optimism. Mostly, for me, this was a kind of ‘agony’ to watch but it was alleviated by my very honest admiration of the whole enterprise. I was excited by the effort and dedication. More power to them, I say (check out my THE TESTAMENT OF MARY lament).

I may, of course, have been more of hindrance to the players as I was seated in the front row and did not laugh much at all. Others, fortunately, did.

The writing, by Mr Black, is sporadically clever but unwieldy in its sprawl – hard to keep it constantly resuscitated. The Direction, by Jessica Dick, is promising if still lacking in precision and sureness of where to edit, and the lack of a development of a sense of forward action – and for a farce a necessary MANIC  forward action is recommended – so we don’t have time to engage with disbelief.

The acting had flashes of adequate comic instinct from all: Amy Hack, Nicholas Hasemann, Tom Nauta, but with a special mention of the gift and resilience and instincts of Julia Christensen, as Kate, the rentee – she never left the stage and I just loved watching her pull as many tricks as she knew out of her ‘bag’ to try to keep the whole thing afloat, I thought she was marvellous and a martyr for her ART. And to Kiki Skountzos as Diane, the Strata-boss nightmare, who in a late entry to the proceedings had a vision of the character and playing style that was needed and was supported with a logical psychological clarity and an hilarious sense of the ‘physical who’, both, with costume and make-up detail and stylistic ‘movement’ elaborations.

The Design, by Ara Nuri Steel, for a necessarily naturalistic environment was hampered by the productions meagre budget, but had a knowing sense of what was needed.

So, it was an ‘agony’ in the viewing, the doing, but I am glad I saw it. A re-iteration of this play with lessons learnt with this production’s staging, and some more draft developments and I may well be glad to say I saw it at its first outing.

 I hope.

Thanks 505 for the support to these young, hungry artists.