1995

Arsenic and Old Lace

by Joseph Kesselring

Produced and Directed by R G Pedicini & Jean Brown

November 1995

Our first production under The Drill Hall Theatre Company name

Mortimer Brewster is living a happy life: he has a steady job at a prominent New York newspaper, he’s just become engaged, and he gets to visit his sweet spinster aunts to announce the engagement. Mortimer always knew that his family had a bit of a mad gene — his brother believes himself to be Teddy Roosevelt and his great-grandfather used to scalp Indians for pleasure — but his world is turned upside down when he realizes that his dear aunts have been poisoning lonely old men for years! When Mortimer’s maniacal brother, Jonathan. (who strangely now resembles Boris Karloff) returns on the night that the aunts were planning to bury the newest victim, Mortimer must rally to help his aunts and protect his fiancé — all while trying to keep his own sanity. as well.

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Blithe Spirit

by Noel Coward

September 1995

Blithe Spirit is set at the house of writer, Charles Condomine, and his wife, Ruth. One evening, Charles invites local eccentric medium, Madame Arcati, to hold a seance at his house. He asks along his friends, Dr. and Mrs. Bradman, intending to gather character inspiration from Madame Arcati for his latest book. Despite initially thinking the seance has been a failure, it soon becomes clear that Madame Arcati has unwittingly brought back Charles’ first wife, Elvira, to haunt him. Once in his house, Elvira is unable to leave and, as she cannot be seen or heard by Ruth, she causes all kinds of mischievous trouble between the married couple. When Elvira unwittingly causes Ruth’s death in her attempts to bring Charles over to be with her, Charles becomes haunted by both of his now-deceased wives. Frustrated by their odd situation, the threesome call on Madame Arcati once more to send Elvira and Ruth back to the other side. Intensely funny and character-driven, Blithe Spirit combines farce, emotion, and wit to great effect.

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1994

Androcles and the Lion

by James E Engelhardt

November 1994

Everyone knows this ancient tale of a runaway slave who stops to aid an injured lion, is recaptured, sent to the arena to be killed by the beasts, and is saved because of his random act of kindness. What you may not know, however, is that the tale is true! In the course of his research, author James Engelhardt found a translation of the ancient Roman tale that inspired both Aesop and George Bernard Shaw. It relates the eyewitness account of a man named Apion who actually saw the encounter between the slave, Androcles, and the grateful lion. “While the play scored high on the giggle meter, it also scores a high I.Q. because Engelhardt takes the high road to Rome, employing sophisticated language, complex characters (including three strong female roles), an endearing lion who doesn’t need to speak, intriguing conflicts and a bag full of surprises that end the play with an emotional domino effect.” (Chicago Tribune)

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La Mandragola

by Machiavelli

September 1994

Produced and Directed by Bill Alderman

Arguably one of Machiavelli’s finest works, Mandragola is a comedy that offers an in-depth look into the world of Machiavelli. The play’s action takes place in the span of 24 hrs. It is the story of Callimaco, a young Florentine who lived in Paris for 20 years. One day he overheard a fellow Florentine tell the Parisians about a woman of extraordinary beauty back in Tuscany. Compelled to see her for himself, Callimaco returned to his native land. Once he saw her beauty he was determined to have her. There are several problems to his plan however. The first is that the woman, Lucrezia, is married and the second that her virtue seems above reproach. Callimaco enlisted the help of Ligurio, a rascally marriage broker who had had dealings with Lucrezia and her husband, Nicia. Using his skills at arranging things, Ligurio devises plans to allow Callimaco to have his moment of bliss with Lucrezia.

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Crossfire

by Michael Azama

July 1994

Jennifer Compton was born in Wellington, New Zealand in 1949. In the early 1970s she emigrated to Sydney, Australia with her husband Matthew O’Sullivan. They now live in Carrum in Melbourne.

After attending the NIDA Playwrights Studio, her play No Man’s Land (later Crossfire) jointly won the Newcastle Playwriting Competition (with John Romeril’s A Floating World) in 1974. It was premiered at the Nimrod Theatre in Sydney in 1975 and in 1976 was published by Currency Press.

In Crossfire, Compton raises a number of sensitive questions about women’s imprisonment by, and liberation from, men.  Her play, in which the life of a family of 1910 threads through the life of a modern family in the 1970s, compares the experience of four women and concludes, with a young women’s perspective, that today’s personal freedom can be as stressful for some as social convention used to be.

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One for the Road

by Harold Pinter

March 1994

This is a chilling study of power and powerlessness. Set in an unnamed totalitarian state, this play presents a violent, disturbing portrait of political horror in which an interrogator torments a tortured prisoner and his imprisoned wife and child.

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1993

The Last Temptation

December 1993

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The Tenth Muse

by Bill Alderman

September 1993

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Keeping Mum

June 1993

3 one act plays from Baylab

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Popular Mechanicals

By Keith Robinson, William Shakespeare and Tony Taylor.

April 1993

In conjunction with ETC
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Undoubtedly a testament to Shakespeare’s capacity to create memorable characters in even minor roles, The Popular Mechanicals is, much like Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, a “parallel play” that extrapolates further adventures between the scenes of the Bard’s work. Taking Bottom the weaver and his fellow gormless tradies with dreams of amateur theatrical stardom, playwrights Keith Robinson and Tony Taylor imagine what they got up to between the scenes of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

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Come Back to the Five and Dime Jimmy Dean

by Ed Graczyk

March 1993

In conjunction with Byron Theatre Company

It’s September 30, 1975 in McCarthy, Texas. The Disciples of James Dean, the local James Dean fan club, was formed by a group of teens in the mid 1950s largely because Dean, among other major movie stars, was filming Giant (1956) in Marfa, sixty miles away. Long disbanded when the members dispersed, they nonetheless vowed to meet on this date at their old haunt, the Woolworth five-and-dime, to commemorate the twenty year anniversary of Dean’s tragic death. The three members who still live in McCarthy, who are arranging the get-together, are the only definite attendees, as they have not kept in touch with anyone else from the group. They are: unofficial member Juanita, a Christian fundamentalist who took over running the five-and-dime upon the death of her husband, Sidney; Sissy, known as the one with the big boobs who has for twenty years worked at the five-and-dime; and Mona, whose claims to fame are appearing as an extra in the movie and having a son, Jimmy Dean, whose biological father is his namesake. Jimmy, approaching twenty, is mentally slow. Sissy and Mona, along with the club’s only male member, Joe, used to pretend to be The McGuire Sisters, complete with Joe in drag. What ends up being the relatively small gathering includes a well-appointed woman who the others do not recognize at first glance. Largely because of her attendance, the gathering becomes not so much a tribute to Dean, but rather a reflection of their lives twenty years ago, and what has happened in their lives because of that time in the intervening twenty years to where they are as people today.

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1992

Harvey

by Mary Chase

December 1992

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Wanted One Body

by Charles Dyer

September 1992

In the best Hammer horror tradition, the action of this play takes place in a classic old dark house set amidst the rising flood waters and swirling mists on the edge of the lonely marshes. This is Greenacres, the home of the Barraclough family, to which come a pair of solicitors to read the will of the late, but not greatly lamented Mr Barraclough, only to learn that his body has mysteriously vanished along with the will! Wanted: One Body! is a classic murder mystery of disappearing bodies, sliding panels and howls in the night. A who-dunnit and a thriller, but with the accent on laughter, its evergreen popularity testifies to its warmth, wit and thrills, and the hilarious fun for audience and actors alike.

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The Summer of the Seventeenth Doll

by Ray Lawler

June 1992

Summer of the Seventeenth Doll is an Australian play first performed in 1955 and then first published in 1957. The play is set in an old house in Carlton, Melbourne, in early December of 1953. The play explores the long term relationship between two larrikin Queensland cane cutters – Roo and Barney – and the women they visit every year in the off season – Olive, Bubba and Pearl. In this final Summer all awaken to middle-age and realise that things have or must change.

The impact of The Doll cannot be over-stated. Its success both here and abroad was quickly recognised as a defining moment in Australian theatre history.

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Gaslight

by Patrick Hamilton

Directed by Peg Gloor

March 1991

This classic Victorian thriller was first produced in 1935. Jack Manningham is slowly, deliberately driving his wife, Bella, insane. He has almost succeeded when help arrives in the form of a former detective, Rough, who believes Manningham to be a thief and murderer. Aided by Bella, Rough proves Manningham’s true identity and finally Bella achieves a few moments of sweet revenge for the suffering inflicted on her.

The play is set in fog-bound London in 1880, at the upper middle class home of Jack Manningham and his wife Bella. It is late afternoon, a time that Hamilton notes as the time “before the feeble dawn of gaslight and tea.”

Bella is clearly on edge, and the stern reproaches of her overbearing husband (who flirts with the servants) make matters worse. What most perturbs Bella is Jack’s unexplained disappearances from the house: he will not tell her where he is going, and this increases her anxiety. It becomes clear that Jack is intent on convincing Bella that she is going insane, even to the point of assuring her she is imagining the gas light in the house is dimming.

The appearance of a police detective called Rough leads Bella to realise that Jack is responsible for her torment. Rough explains that the apartment above was once occupied by one Alice Barlow, a wealthy woman who was murdered for her jewels but that the murderer never found them.

Jack goes to the flat each night to search for the jewels, and lighting its gas lights causes the lights to dim in the rest of the building. His footsteps in the supposedly empty apartment persuade Bella that she is “hearing things.” Rough convinces Bella to assist him in exposing Jack as the murderer, which she does, but not before she takes revenge on Jack by pretending to help him escape. At the last minute she reminds him that, having gone insane, she is not accountable for her actions. The play closes with Jack being led away by the police.

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1991

Murder at the Music Hall

December 1991

Directed by Joanne Llewellyn, Shirley Gay and Des Mayblom

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The Odd Couple

by Neil Simon

Directed by Shirley Gay

September 1991

This classic comedy opens as a group of the guys assembled for cards in the apartment of divorced Oscar Madison. And if the mess is any indication, it’s no wonder that his wife left him. Late to arrive is Felix Unger who has just been separated from his wife. Fastidious, depressed and none too tense, Felix seems suicidal, but as the action unfolds Oscar becomes the one with murder on his mind when the clean-freak and the slob ultimately decide to room together with hilarious results as The Odd Couple is born. “His skill is not only great but constantly growing…There is scarcely a moment that is not hilarious.” – The New York Times

“Fresh, richly hilarious and remarkably original. Wildly, irresistibly, incredibly and continuously funny.” – New York Daily News

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The Maintenance Man

by Richard Harris

Directed by Jim Williams

June 1991

This comedy by the author of Stepping Out is a bitter sweet and perceptive look at the collapse of marriage and the development and decay of an affair. Bob is a do-it-yourself enthusiast kind of guy that longs to be needed. This is why even long after his divorce he continues to visit his former home, despite how much it irritates his new girlfriend, Diana, who doesn’t like the competition from his children or his Black and Decker.

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Our Town

by Thornton Wilder

Directed by Joanne Llewellyn

March 1991

A landmark in American drama, Thornton Wilder’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Our Town tells the story of a small town, Grover’s Corners, New Hampshire, in order to tell us the story of every town, the whole world over.

Narrated by the “Stage Manager”, we follow the Gibbs and Webb families, residents of Grover’s Corners, through twelve years of life changes — from the mundane in Act I, “Daily Life,” to the romantic in Act II, “Love and Marriage,” to the devastating in Act III, “Death and Eternity.” Through the young lovers Emily and George, their strong and loving parents, and the many other Grover’s Corners’ locals,

Wilder delivers universal truths about what it means to be human. “Oh, earth,” Emily Webb exclaims towards the play’s end, “you’re too wonderful for anyone to realize you.” With humor, wit, and exceptionally powerful storytelling, Our Town offers a unique opportunity for audience members to make precisely that realization.

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