Nathan Witte, Charlotte Herst, Roland Brand, & Maria J. Cruz.

United Players of Vancouver

The Soldiers' Fortune by Thomas Otway

Dates and Venue 5-28 June 2009 @ 8pm |Jericho Arts Centre 1675 Discovery, Vancouver

Reviewer Ed Farolan

I think that trying to produce a play that was intended for a 17th century audience isn't viable in these times. The humour is different. The bawdiness is passe, and a play of this length could bore a modern audience. However, I must commend the United Players of Vancouver for attempting to produce a play of this calibre. The mandate of the company is to produce unknown period plays, and although from an educational point of view this is highly commendable, from the entertainment angle it's difficult to do.

I noticed during opening night that there was only one person at the back row where I was sitting who was laughing all throughout. I was wondering whether he was the director or maybe a friend of the actors. But the rest of the audience were politely sitting and perhaps in some sort of a mood that borders on amusement and boredom.

The actors were fairly good with their lines. Their projection and clarity in speech were quite first-rate, particularly Stephen Street (Sir Davy Dunce) and James Gill (Sir Jolly Jumble). Maria Cruz (Sylvia) was also fine with her delivery, but I wasn't too happy with Nathan Witte (Beaugard) who spoke his lines too fast to understand. He needs to slow down in the delivery of his speeches.

I remember reviewing Michael Fera's long-running Tony 'n Tina's Wedding which was a tremendous success. He uses some of his techniques in that show by getting the actors to mingle with the audience. At one point, one of the pregnant actors was selling oranges before the audience was led inside the theatre, and actually got money selling her goods. I even asked her, "Are you really pregnant?" to which she replied in character, "Yes sir". Of course she wasn't pregnant, as I noticed some kind of soft cushion in her tummy.

There was also some kind of inconsistency in the music. Modern songs were being played. I think one should stick to the period, and I felt that Restoration music should have been used instead.

Congratulations to the company in this last production. Artistic director Andree Karas was appealing for subscriptions for the next season, before the play started, and hopefully, the company gets enough money to get it going. Community theatre relies heavily on community support, so for those who live in the West End, it's only $40 for five plays.

© 2009 Ed Farolan