THEATRE – The Matchmaker – Independent Theatre Co. – Goodwood Institute – 5K

By Peter Maddern

In making the observation that “there comes a moment in everybody’s life when he must decide whether he’ll live among human beings or not – a fool among fools or a fool alone” Dolly Levi (Bronwyn Ruciak) encapsulates the essence of the wonderful farce that is The Matchmaker. Should Horace Vandergelder (David Roach), rich but lonely, controlling yet yearning for a fling remain the dead weight he is in the lives of all around him in Yonkers or be the source of spreading the loot (“like manure”) for the benefit of all? None are more oppressed than his two clerks, 25 year old Cornelius Hackl (Will Cox) and his sidekick the late teenager Barnaby Tucker (Kylie Hall) for whom the kiss of a woman is nothing but a dream as they work seven days a week in the servitude of a man they despise.

Fortunately, Dolly has other ideas and no desire to remain without the means to live life to its fullest and her tide of scheming raises the levels of opportunity for all others in her aura, including Horace’s preferred wife to be, the milliner Irene Malloy (Georgia Penglis) and Horace’s sweet niece Ermengarde (Emma Bleby), frustrated in her desires by Horace for the “worthless’’ artist Ambrose Kemper (Stephen Schofield.)

This is the finest production I have witnessed by Rob Croser’s Independent Theatre team. It sparkles with wit and warmth right from the opening. Bronwyn Ruciak’s Dolly is her finest performance, a fulsome force of female nature, equally adept at scorn and scheme, her upbeat exuberance is nicely matched by her garb, an outfit to make even a theatrical rival in Lady Bracknell think twice about leaving home.

Will Cox brilliantly buzzes almost incessantly as his Cornelius throws what little he has in pursuit of an adventure, dragging along his friend Barnaby who, in Kyle Hall, Croser has yet again unearthed a terrific young talent. Their moments of unbridled effervescence when the prospects of their “pudding” adventure start to emerge make the most excitable puppy look struck down by Mogadon. Indeed, one could go on singing the praises of the cast who to use cricket parlance “bats down to eleven.”

With Roach as the grumpy fish out of water, director Rob Croser gets his team to make every funny line sparkle and the various asides to the audience intimate, revealing; the wall collapsed in favour of what seems like a brief fire side chat.

Even with months ahead of us, it is hard to see how The Matchmaker isn’t Adelaide’s best production of the year. A comic delight resplendent with touch and a message as relevant in even these freewheeling days as those past.

Kryztoff Rating   5K

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