Crossfyre Players production proves that the arts really are alive in Ipswich. An entertaining play-within-a-play-within-a-play-within-a-…., But get those tickets now, as the opening night sold out.
Crossfyre Players’ latest production is a whodunnit that draws audiences into the behind-the-scenes drama of theatrical life; a funny perceptive new script, with some lovely cameo performances. Caught in the Act is a show of two halves (no interval), where the audience is ‘behind-the-scenes.’ The first part begins with a directorial briefing, where the audience gets to experience the audition process, and is involved in selecting the actors (look out for Glen Smith’s touching audition piece). The second part is backstage for a production of Ira Levin’s Deathtrap—watching closely as the actors and production team are grilled by ‘The FBI,’ following the murder of the Producer.
As one of the cast comments, this is ‘very meta’: a play within a play within a play… But it is also an enjoyable evening of occasionally- interactive theatrical comedy. The first part provides an insight into the highs and lows of auctioning—complete with the use of applause as the barometer selecting two actors (I think many in the audience found it difficult to choose). The second part is a compelling investigation about the demise of ‘The Producer’ (Glen Smith). Linda Shapcott (‘FBI’) drives the investigation, ‘interrogating Pauline Moore (‘Director’), Chris Sullivan (‘Lead Actor’), Geoffrey Andrews (“Stage Manager’) and John Nixon (‘Young Actor’).
The show was well-cast. Shapcott relished the ‘FBI’ role, while Andrews brought just the right amount of pathos to the central character of the Stage Manager. Sullivan played the slightly irritating lead actor with relish—and was a great counterpoint to the talented ‘Young Actor’ (entertainingly played by Nixon). Smith made a very welcome return to the stage, and clearly enjoyed being ‘back on the boards’ (I hope that the ‘Garfield’ piece makes it to another show sometime).
Suzanne Matulich (Director) has put together a winning piece, and one that I am sure other companies would love to perform (Caught in the Act might easily transfer to different spaces, and work for a larger cast). The creatives selected a perfect Anywhere Festival setting for the premiere (the ‘Stage Manager’ notes that the script calls for a “rehearsal studio in a run-down building”). Arts Alive Creative School is a working arts space that is well-suited to doubling as a backstage area, with just enough space to allow Phil Holmes to manage the sound and lighting.
The show only runs for two more performances, and I hear that it is almost sold out already. Get a ticket if you can, so you can say that you saw the play during its world premiere run!
Verdict: An entertaining play-within-a-play-within-a-play-within-a-….
Audience tip: World Premiere season at Arts Alive Creative Arts School, 5 Jacaranda Street, East Ipswich. 7-14 May 2021 (7:30pm)—only two shows remaining (8th and 14th May). 65 minutes. 15+. Tickets $20 (including a complimentary glass of wine on arrival).
The reviewer attended the Friday 7th May 2021 world premiere performance.