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Gossip can be good, in hands of TRU students
It’s always good when the first one up at the plate knocks a home run out of the field — and that’s what Robin Nichol and her team have done with Gossip.
Of course, it helps to have chosen a script by George F. Walker, who has more than two-dozen plays to his name and has also written for The Newsroom, Due South and This is Wonderland.
The man has a gift for dialogue and comedy.
Gossip, which continues at the Black Box Theatre at Thompson Rivers University this week, has a small cast — just nine student actors — and most take on more than one role at some point during the play.
It’s the story of Tyrone Power, a reporter who longs for the big political scoop, but has been assigned by his boss to find out who killed a socialite at an art-exhibit opening.
The comedy is exaggerated and the actors are up to the task, especially Brooke Ballam who, as the reporter, is the only one never required to go over the top.
He’s a stereotype, but never becomes a caricature and knows the value of a rolled eye in a scene.
The boss, Baxter (Kory Cudmore) reminded me of bosses I’ve had in my career.
I just wish some of them had been as funny as he is.
Andrew Cooper, as one of the suspects in the murder, has a role that requires significant flamboyance and over-the-top acting, a task that some might not be able to meet — but he is absolutely perfect in his over-the-top zaniness.
It was particularly fascinating watching the interaction between Ballam’s character and that of Chanelle Renee, another suspect and the sister of the dead socialite.
There were a lot of words in that interchange and the two of them never missed their mark.
They played it straight and that made it all the more humorous.
The same could be said for the rest of the cast — lawyers/brothers/suspects Norman (Warren Copode) and Sam Lewis (Nich Gulycz), particularly in the bedroom scene with budding actress Anna (Meagan Petrie).
It wouldn’t do the play justice to try to describe it here, other than to say the need for timing was essential and impeccably done.
Jessica Buchanan, as Power’s love interest, Margaret, has a challenging role because she’s conflicted in love — to put it mildly — and has some significant mental-health issues.
That she can create this character and still be funny is a testament to her talent.
Then, there’s Josh Sunderman, an actor I have seen in plays for years and who is well into fine-tuning his own brand of physical comedy.
He, too, can bring laughter to his audience with a simple look.
The set is stripped down and adaptable, scene changes were fairly seamless and the lighting is dead on.
The sound is so good you can hear Ballam and Buchanan perfectly — even when they’re behind the large walls that are the basis of the set.
It all works to create a perfect film noir package of good acting, great script and constant humour.
Gossip continues at the theatre from Thursday, Oct. 17, through to Saturday, Oct. 19.
Tickets are $12 and are available at the Kamloops Live box office, 1025 Lorne St., 250-374-5483 or at the theatre box office before each performance.
Next up is An Enemy of the People by Henrik Ibsen and directed by Wesley Eccleston.