Recipe for comedy

By Tahnee Hopman, Pix by Sanka Vidanagama

Leo Coonghe and Jack Silva are the unfortunate victims of a tough industry. “Once more into the breach, my friends”, they declare, as they embark on yet another impassioned speech, riding their noble steeds (two broomsticks) to and fro on the stage, enthusiastically enacting King Henry V’s words of encouragement at the historic siege of Harfleur.

And yet, their much practiced act has less than the desired effect. But “now is the winter of our discontent made glorious summer,” says Jack. And little does he know that he is right.

As luck would have it, Florence Wewalpanawa is engaged in a search for her long lost nephews Max and Steve, to whom she has bequeathed a large share of wealth in her will. When Leo and Jack pounce on the opportunity, they are surprised with the news that Max and Steve are in fact Maxine and Stephanie. Unfazed, they rise to the occasion.

What follows is the comedy of ‘Leading Ladies’, written by playwright Ken Ludwig. Presented by Silent Hands, the play will take the stage of the Lionel Wendt on June 10, 11 and 12 at 7 30 pm.

Directed by Neidra Williams and Jehan Bastians; assisted by Gehan Blok and Miranga Ariyaratne, ‘Leading Ladies’ has been given a local twist. “We felt that it would work better with the audience this way,” explains Jehan. “The play has been performed before in an Amish setting; and it is definitely a comedy which would do well in such a setting but it is not one which is easy to replicate- in set and in the acting- where accents and mannerisms are concerned.”

Following the success of ‘Yes, Honourable Minister’, ‘Tom, Dick and Harry’, ‘Boeing Boeing’, and ‘Move Over Mrs. Markham’ among others the Silent Hands group has never stopped believing in the power of comedy. “When we started the group in 1999,” recalls Neidra, “we felt that comedy was an interesting area to venture into. At the time, not much comedy was being performed, and there was a large void there. And although the audience has matured greatly since then- and enjoy various genres of theatre- they still like to simply relax and watch a comedy.”

“Though it may be hard to imagine,” says Jehan, amusedly indicating the loud, boisterous antics at a rehearsal, “there is method to the madness. We look for a cast with people who can relate to each other; who gel together. All our productions are like that- we become the best of friends; a large, crazy family unit. And as for direction, every prop, every movement is given a great deal of thought to make sure everything flows well.”

“There is a recipe to everything we do,” adds Neidra, “and we find that it is effective”. As for the goings on at practices, the neighbours have not complained…yet.

Ludwig’s comedy of identity theft features Neidra Williams, Gehan Blok, Miranga Ariyaratne, Bimsara Premaratne, Dmitri Gunatilake, Chinthaka Fernando, Kanishka Herat, Ivan Saverus, Trionne de Jong and Naresh Anthony, and the production is handled by Miranga Ariyaratne and Naresh Anthony.

Sponsors of the show include The Sunday Times, The Daily Mirror, Coco Veranda, the Bloom Room and Strategic Partnership Solutions. Tickets priced at Rs. 800 and 500 will be available from May 30 at the Lionel Wendt.

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