What is most satisfying about a production at the Blue Room Theatre is that the performances are low-key and brimming with energy; they’re the hidden gems of the drama community. Eggshell Stomp Productions proudly presents the energetic double-bill The Same Paige / Janey Does Stand-Up, which proved to be uproariously hilarious and quirky.
Paige finds herself in an absurd women’s writers group, where the members feel the need to compulsively complement one another and write on their wombs. Janey struggles to accept she will have to engage in stand-up comedy for financial reasons, while her daughter believes her father is Osama Bin Laden after contacting him on an Ouija board. There are subtle messages about acceptance and learning to laugh at yourself, however the abrupt conclusions make it clear the primary purpose of these two short comedies is light entertainment.
The same pool of performers portray both sets of wacky characters, demonstrating their diverse skills both physically and verbally. Rose McKenna’s accents as Janey, the proper English actress, and Zara, the intense American writer were highly impressive. Summer Williams’ portrayal of agent Marilyn was hugely dynamic; however her riotous facial expressions were particularly standout as Paige, leaving the audience sniggering behind their hands.
With energy too large for the small drama space to contain, the exaggerated performances and bizarre dialogue, notably Melanie Bennett as Gladys and Jackson Wimhurst as Freddie, dominated the stage. More ordinary characters, such as Paige, played off well amidst the loud and boundlessly vibrant, peculiar ones. Kathy Shields was notably impressive as the hippie named Star and Janey’s daughter Amber, her performance subtle and charming.
The acting space was dark and cramped, giving the tiny theatre the atmosphere of a private joke. The small space was well-used, predominantly in the second short comedy where Chris Donnelly’s lighting design saw spotlights on half the stage; tableaus shrouded in darkness filled the remainder of the space. An electrical screen, commandeered at the multimedia desk by Violette Ayad, served as the majority of the set and props.
Summer Williams’ costume designs were elaborate and character specific. Some were appropriately archetypal to enhance the absurdity of the characters. Kym Bidstrup, who portrayed both the gender-confused Bruce and comedy writer Terry, while he was highly amusing in his bright green shirt in the second comedy, it was the way the vigour in his voice crept up on the audience that made his performance so comical.
With just snippets of music and minimal props, The Same Paige / Janey Does Stand-Up was doubtlessly driven by the boundless enthusiasm of the performers. The audience laughed aloud throughout both performances, openly enjoying the idiosyncratic humour. Although the first comedy was perfect as a short, the second had enough meat to flesh itself into a standalone performance. Nonetheless, it’s always a pleasure to enjoy an offbeat, light-hearted piece of theatre.