‘Aussie humour, seasoned voices and just a bit of glitter’ -A Review of ‘Random Acts’ by Kucom Theatre.

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Kucom theatre is Mackay’s longest running theatre group, but  I am embarrassed to say that I only saw one of their shows for the first time last night.
I have excuses- all of them pitiful. I have tried to go to a Kucom show on 4 prior occasions, and every time I have been thwarted by my schedule or because the tickets were sold out. So I made an extra special effort to write this on every calendar and set multiple reminders in my phone so I wouldn’t miss my chance again and I’m pleased to say that I finally got go to catch ‘Random Acts’ last night, featuring two plays from the Australian Playwright, Hugh O’Brien. The showcased included two one-act plays, ‘The Traveller’s Table’ and  ‘Husband Murders Support Group.’
I’ve never been a big fan of ‘straight’ plays because I’m definitely a Musical Theatre Girl, but I must say that I really enjoyed myself last night. For starters, I love Paxton’s Warehouse as a venue. It’s one of those places that’s so drenched with history that it becomes a support character all by itself, giving every suitable show staged there an extra dollop of atmosphere. Random Acts were both incredibly ‘Aussie’ shows, and so they could not have picked a better venue. Oh it has its issues- partial flooding  in the summer and in the winter, a breeze that will blow your hair right off your arms… and because we went in the Australian Autumn it managed to have both flooding and the stiff breezes last night, not to mention rain thundering down on the ol’ tin roof but let me just say that anyone that takes exception to that sort of suff has no sense of adventure. I love how comfortable and spooky it is in there, and it is a major credit to the actors that I was still able to hear every word over the rain, and that they did not even blink when it started to come down.

Both shows were fantastic litttle stories with highly original premises with that undeniably Australian ‘Shabby Chic’ feel that comes from mixing our causal language, with a complex plot and a hint of rustic romance, and as a novelist, I liked the fact that there were no scene changes or distracting costumes to take away from the dialogue which was witty, authentic and well articulated. It seemed to me as though there were a lot of very seasoned actors onstage, and a few newer ones, and what really surprised me was the fact that they blended together seamlessly, because as the first show, The Travellers’ Table, progressed, it was evident that the cast were feeding off one another’s energy every time a new player entered the stage. There were no more than four actors in both plays, and yet the energy level was kept high and consistent from the first line to the very last, and the second show exploded to life from the very first moment, depite the fact that the rain made itself an ensemble member off the bat.

Between that, and the rude departure of two people that had taken their mobile phones out as dates for the evening and had to leave early in order to recharge, I’d have expected that tiny cast of three to feel overwhelmed and yet they did not miss a beat. There were years of experience on that stage, not just evident in the actresses’ performances, but obvious via the direction. There wasn’t a superfluous step taken or overplayed action exaggerated, so it all came off as very natural despite the fact that the plot was highly unrealistic. Kudos to any group of Thespians that can so gracefully walk that razor-thin line between comedy and tragedy while selling the audience on both, and  hat’s off to the writer for such original characters and concepts. I was besotted with a character when I learned that in order to get closer to her car-obsessed husband, she’d started learning how to become a mechanic. That tugged on my heartstrings, and got me on her side in a heartbeat, despite the fact that she’d just killed him.

All of the actors did a wonderful job, but the stand-outs to me were the women I bought the tickets to see, Bronwyn Grannall and Kristyn Everett. I’ve had the fortune of working, watching and directing both actresses dozens of times in the past now, and I will endeavour to see everything that they ever do. Both women are utterly graceful, one hundred percent authentic and a pure delight to watch, and they keep the bar for community theatre set to Meryl Streep for all of us following in their wake. Perhaps not Meryl Streep- more like Helen Mirren, and Jane Lynch, respectively. Either way, they can quite literally embody any character.

There was a lot more to Random Acts than two plays, too, and the halftime performance by the Shamoodah belly dancers was lovely, and a great way to ‘mix’-up’ the evening. I’ve never seen a belly dance performance with wings before, and like the dancers themselves (who were in the plays as well) they added that little bit of sparkle and glamour to the evening that set it right off. I also have to say that I’m impressed with how much trouble the support crew of the show went to to give the audience and an incredibly comfortable experience. There was food and drinks available before, during and after every act- everything from juice to coffee to booze, and two kinds of raffle tickets sold on the door. All that was asked for, for the show’s colour program was a gold coin donation, and I ended up walking out of there not only with one of the many raffle door prizes, but a voucher for a free belly dancing lesson which I plan to utilise immediately. Considering that the ticket prices are half that of what I’ve paid for any other show I’ve seen this year, I’m pretty thrilled with the fact that I’ve won twice what I paid for entry in prizes!

I will absolutely be going to see a Kucom performance again, and urge my friends in Towsville to go catch ‘Random Acts’ when they’re performed by the same performance troupe at the Townsville One-Act play festival in two weeks. Go see Kucom’s page for more information!

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