Last night Big Friendly and I sat in the hottest theatre in the world, which was also totally full, for the opening performance of Tamarin McGinley’s self-proclaimed ‘new comedy’ Off The Rail. And, aside from the unbelievable heat and the passing comment by my agent who sat next to me that we were all breathing in each other’s exhaled breaths, it was a pretty good show indeed.
Off The Rail is the story of a hard-arsed, businessy, corporate cherrie who is obsessed with shopping and acquiring, but who doesn’t believe in love. Of course, ‘love’ is what happens to her; right there, at the mall. The rest of the story follows her downward spiral into obsession and stalker-dom in a mostly hilarious way.
Tamarin created the show herself and she plays the lead Jane. This she does exceptionally well. She is versatile and clever, physical and good with the shifts in writing style which change in a flash from a high prose to informal conversation. She has a fresh new energy, loads of confidence, and her delivery really sparkles. She is also brilliantly supported by two show stealing performances by Jason Potgieter and Dylan Esbach, who play the completely wayward security guards, set movers and sound effect creators. I loved them. No mention is made of the ‘mystery chick’ in the programme, which is weird.
Which brings me to my next point, and the beginning of a bit of criticism. I scoured the programme for a mention of a director but found none and I assume that Tamarin and the others pretty much put the thing together themselves; which is great but. The show could be much tighter and it would pack more punch with an outside controller. Some sections are just too long, some are over explained, some (especially the physical slapstick routines) are just too repetitive. A director really helps with that kind of stuff, pulling and pushing, trimming and pruning, to give the piece tighter structure and flow.
The set, huge square blocks of floor, then wall, then barrier, looked good and was very successfully handled by the guys. I did have moments of, is this entirely necessary? when they were lifting the boxes again for the next scene and sometimes they did seem a bit cumbersome. I nit pick.
In a nutshell, the show is a jolly good romp. I laughed out loud a couple of times. The opening night audience (a bit of a typical drama school supporting their friends very loudly and alienating us old people crowd) were on their feet in a huge wave at the end. Watch this cherrie and her side kicks. They are going places.