‘Dinner’ is served

‘Dinner’ is served

In the brief moment after the house lights dim and the murmur of the crowd quietens, just as the curtain is about to be raised on the Mount Gambier Theatre Group production of Dinner, first-time director Luke Pellen will take a deep breath.

This moment is the culmination of nearly 18-months of meticulous planning, rehearsals and the collective effort of a dedicated cast and crew.

There is little more he can do now, except trust in the magic they have created together.

It is a moment Mr Pellen knows well, having been a familiar figure on Mount Gambier’s theatre scene for 25 years.

However, this time he will be experiencing it from the other side of the curtain as he takes his seat for this Friday night’s opening.

“As we get closer, the irony is I become more and more redundant. You have the stage manager, who essentially runs the show (on the night) and I will just have to sit back and enjoy, or panic, or whatever,” he said.

“You set everything up best you can, but then right at the end, you’re not needed.

“But what that means, is after 25 years of acting I get to sit back and watch a show I’m involved with “

And what a deliciously dark and delightful show it promises to be.

Dinner is a 2002 play by British dramatist Moira Buffini in which a celebratory dinner for a writer’s success turns into a night of dark secrets and psychological warfare as an unexpected guest disrupts the carefully orchestrated evening.

“I found it a fascinating script – it’s kind of my style. It’s a dark comedy and little bit surreal. The interesting productions are the ones that skirt the edges,” Mr Pellen said.

“There are some certain mature themes and coarse language, so it is quit an adult play.

“But it is really a classic setting and the characters are really interesting.”

Bringing the script to life is an energetic ensemble of seven local performers who have sunk their teeth into the challenging, character-driven production.

“It’s been a good bonding of cast and crew as we have done a lot of analysis of the characters, subtext, and themes.

“Bernard Kierns from Millicent, he is one of our more senior performers, along with Jenny Simon who has not done theatre for 20 years, but she is really great.

“Alysha Waters, Sam Halleday and Bryce Cowland, are all 20 or younger – so it is quite a young cast – but I have worked with them before.

“Then there is Chelsea Williams and Alex Wass. I had not worked with them but I really liked them in their auditions and rehearsals, they have really grabbed me.

“So it’s quite a nice mixed bag and they’re all doing really well.”

As the final preparations are made and the cast prepares to take their places, Mr Pellen is encouraging everyone to join him and enjoy the show.

“The bigger the audience the more energy there is for the actor to absorb, and the more energy there is bouncing through the theatre,” he said.

“Dinner” will be served up to audiences across three performances starting Friday night, followed by Saturday shows on April 13 and 20.

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