THEATRE – Noble Cause & Boiled Cabbage by Tony Moore – HST – 3K

By Peter Maddern

Tony Moore has penned two interesting short one act plays and then pinned them together in one show at the Holden Street Theatres.

The first, Noble Cause, probes the currently vexed issues of whether freedom of speech gives the power to say anything and does dedication to a noble cause allow any action to further that cause. This debate plays itself out when a certain Mr Smith (Stephane Avril), a government agent worried about issues of security, arrives unannounced in the office of left leaning history professor Bruce Linden (Brian Godfrey) to discuss his new book now in the hands of its proposed publishers.

While Moore is at pains in his program notes to say the play attempts to take neither side, it is Smith who is possessed of the better and more cogent arguments, a task that Avril delivers with sharp edged precision and confidence. Still, such an impression may come from a somewhat one dimensional and under prepared performance by Brain Godfrey who seemed simply out of his depth in the verbal fisticuffs he is embroiled in. Whatever, given most modern theatre’s current trend of using the stage as a stump for a rousing polemic, Moore’s take on this debate was nothing other than refreshing.

The second work, Boiled Cabbage, is an absurdist piece that traces the rapid evolution of women’s roles (if not rights) in English society arising from the passage of the Second World War. From subjugated and suffocated under Victorian norms of behaviour, Boiled Cabbage allows us to see how circumstances permitted the blooming of female life through, first, a need to undertake factory work, to nursing, mixed families and then tertiary education, all within the space of a decade or so.

Shannon Gray is excellent as Janet, the bright as a button teenage girl who throws herself into the fray of opportunity and revels in each and every advance the War and immediate aftermath opened up, reporting back home every so often on how life is changing.

Boiled Cabbage also deals with the evolution of language, away from clichés about race in particular, advances eventually embraced by the dutiful ever positive Mum (Joanna Webb) and soldier son John (Jabez Retallick) while Dad (Brian Godfrey) remains a relic of the way things were and as he would like them to be.

The script here is not as assured as for Noble Cause (not that comedy is ever an easy undertaking) but the basis of an engaging farce exists with all the cast up and about with the exception again of Godfrey who labours along, providing little sparkle to compliment his fellow players, his evolution from history professor seeming no more than adopting some sort of working class English accent.

All up, Moore’s work deserves attention; it is bright, challenging and entertaining, presenting some different views from the norm, which, with some better casting, may produce rich rewards for its audience in iterations ahead.

Kryztoff Rating  3K

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