Billy Liar will knock your socks off. The lies that flow out of Billy’s mouth will make your head spin. I had a blast watching this production with its array of colourful characters that will make you laugh, cry and possibly infuriate you. It didn’t take long to warm up the audience. There were plenty of laughs throughout the production as each character won us over with their polished Yorkshire accents and unique mannerisms.
Billy Liar, written by Keith Waterhouse and Willis Hall is set in small town, Stadhoughton, Yorkshire in 1963. It’s a brilliantly written play that captures the essence of each character so well. Billy Fisher and his grandmother, Florence, appear to live in their own private world where things make sense only to them. Florence randomly talks out loud to no one in particular. And Billy has created a more interesting life for himself by fabricating extravagant stories and engaging himself to two women at the same time with a third in the sidelines. Billy was well aware that life as an undertaker’s clerk was a dead-end job. It also had the unfortunate side effect of making his fickle fingers dip once too often into his boss’s cash register and petty cash tin. Life was after all expensive when you had two fiancées and only one ring to share around. The mounting debt was finally exposed and it was time to pay it back, forcing Billy to hatch a plan for an escape route out of his miserable existence. But, does he pull it off?
You’re in for a treat with director, Dawn China. She pays attention to every detail to ensure that the very highest standard is achieved on a community theatre budget. She even went as far as give cast members Yorkshire accent lessons. She’s to be commended on her casting of very talented actors and a dedicated crew. Together they created a memorable experience for the audience. The set is amazing with all the trimmings. The lighting and sound was spot on, especially the 60s songs that had us singing along, making the experience even more special. The costumes, hair, makeup and props were true to their era and each character was dressed to suit their personality with the exception of Liz who looked like a Chanel model rather than the free-spirited girl. I thought her character would have been better portrayed in a colourful hippie outfit, as she came across as more reserved than free-spirited.
I really enjoyed all the characters performances because they were so believable, right down to their Yorkshire accents and the natural way they delivered their dialogue. Virginia Leaver who played Grandma Florence was delightful and had her granny walk down pat, especially when climbing the stairs. Geoffrey, played by Peter Maden gave a strong performance. His outburst against Billy’s insolent behaviour towards his grandmother was particularly well played out. Barbara, Billy’s orange-crazed fiancée played by Sherree Halliwell, was a scream. I particularly enjoyed her endearing performance. Rita, played by Naomi Thompson was sassy and vivacious. Regardless of Billy’s infuriating behaviour, it was difficult to be mad at him. Adam Hellier was able to portray him in a way that showed his vulnerability as a young man nearing adulthood but holding onto his childish fantasies. He is not at all sure of himself and the prospect of leaving the nest and facing the world obviously overwhelms him, despite his fantasies to the contrary. The similarities with his grandmother who refused to see a doctor because he’s black; the hoarding of condensed milk, and all her other insecurities were parallel to Billy’s reluctance to leave the security of his familiar surroundings.
I thoroughly enjoyed Billy Liar, as did the audience by the wave of appreciation shown throughout the production. I encourage you to see it, especially with a group of friends, as you’ll have a blast. You get to meet the cast at the end of the show and soak in the great vibes.
Community theatre is intimate and special in its own way. I certainly appreciate the hard work and dedication that goes into every production. Treat yourself to a night out at the theatre. It will enrich your mind in its own unique way.
Javeenbah Theatre is a small intimate, air-conditioned theatre located in Nerang. It is beautifully set up with tables and chairs al fresco where you can meet friends prior to the show and enjoy drinks and nibbles at the fully licensed bar. There is also comfortable seating indoors. Opening night tickets include a light supper after the show. You also have the opportunity to socialise and meet the cast and crew after each performance. Javeenbah is an Aboriginal word meaning ‘The Meeting Place’.
I recommend you book in as early as possible, especially if you are planning to go as a group, as Javeenbah is a small theatre with limited seating.
Billy Liar was performed at Javeenbah Theatre, Nerang, QLD
Directed by: Dawn China
Assistant Director: Kaela Gray
Stage Manager: Bev Lloyd
Lighting & Sound: Colin Crow
Set Design: Barry Gibson & Dawn China
Florence played by Virginia Leaver
Alice played by Linda Furse
Geoffrey played by Peter Maden
Billy played by Adam Hellier
Arthur played by Tallen Hall
Barbara played by Sherree Halliwell
Rita played by Naomi Thompson
Liz played by Natalie Stephenson
Reviewed on 22 July 2017 by Jacquelin Melilli
Original review posted on WeekendNotes