Backstage comedy is entertaining but could use more originality
THE ASHES OF FORGOTTEN RAIN by Norman Hussey (Missed Metaphor Productions/Fringe). At the Robert Gill Theatre. July 9 at 10:15 pm, July 11 at 5pm, July 13 at 7:30 pm, July 14 at noon. See listing. Rating: NNN
Norman Hussey’s backstage comedy The Ashes of Forgotten Rain would be much more engaging if it relied less heavily on the clichés of backstage dramas of stage and film.
We have the harried stage manager (Christine Cortes) and louche leading man (Cam Parkes) of a play like Noises Off. As in the film All About Eve, Hussey gives us the conflict between the older stage diva Gloria (Jennifer Fahy) and her younger rival Sadie (Laura Mannion), and he even includes an unscrupulous theatre critic (Katie Scharf) who conspires with actors for her review.
Yet Hussey’s play has one unusually clever feature. When Sadie gives the critic a synopsis of the play they are performing, we realize that the structure of that play mimics the structure of the backstage comedy we are watching. The synopsis even predicts how the backstage play will end.
If Hussey had crafted his characters and dialogue with the same originality he lends the play’s structure, he would give the play’s humour the boost of freshness it needs. As a director, if Hussey had found a cast with the same polished acting as Fahy, the whole production would shine more brightly.