Review: Up and Coming

Metro Theatre opens its 47th season (and astounding 443rd production) with Eric Chappell’s Up and Coming.  But despite Director Paul Kloegman’s declaration that this particular piece offers the audience something more with “some very strong political statements”, in the end it is, and probably for the best, simply another bedroom farce that just so happens to have British politics as the backdrop.

Up and ComingWith the requisite use of doors and characters hiding in bathrooms, bedrooms and closets, Up and Coming sees Deputy Prime Minister Pip Conway (Jason Dedrick) not only being pursued by Vicky (Lori Tychkowsky), who Pip had a quick dalliance with in the past, but also by his secretary Lorna Fiske (Heather Evens).  Of course, Pip is married and it is these indiscretions that will ultimately be used against him as he has his eye on the top spot in the British government.  Or is it?  For in true farce style, Chappell layers on the improbable with the more improbable to the final scene where perhaps things won’t turn out so badly for Pip after all.

Dedrick does a fine job here and is well paired with Tychkowsky who does a spectacular job with the various accents she is given and is just the right amount of sexy and intelligent.  And while director Kloegman does a good job as Pip’s nemesis, the one-eyed Lionel Berryman, it was Mike Busswood as Pip’s bodyguard Higgs that was definitely the highlight of the evening.  Busswood’s combination of hulking frame, soft demeanor, and near perfect comedic timing, was a great match to his character who has seen it all and still remains fiercely loyal.

Unfortunately, both Don Mackay as the Prime Minster and Paul Fisher as MP George Reynolds seemed to struggle a bit here with a few lost lines and, particularly in Fisher’s case, a habit for establishing a stance and delivering his dialogue.  I would also have preferred to have seen Mackay’s Prime Minister with a little more backbone especially as he reveals and realizes he knows what is really going on around him.

The production team here, especially those involved with the set construction including Head Carpenter Dwayne Campbell, Scenic Painter Kristine Kavelec and Set Decorator Paralee Cook, have all done a fantastic job.  It was great to see such an elaborate, realistic set in a community theatre environment.  My only small quibble on the production side was in the choice of scene change music which included a rather bizarre mixed bag including the James Bond theme song, The Godfather and even Beethoven’s 1812 overture.  With the risk of sounding anti-royal, I hesitate only for a moment to also mention the opening piece which had some of us a little confused from the start.

I will be the first to admit that bedroom farces can be a bit of an acquired taste and not necessarily one that I am drawn to.  But overall Metro Theatre has once again created a piece that is, despite the protestations of having some more to say, is simply fun.

Up and Coming continues at the Metro Theatre through September 29th.  Visit http://www.metrotheatre.com/ for tickets and information.

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