REVIEW: Mike & Virginia (Comedy Festival)

When Mike met Virginia [by Sharu Delilkan]

Mike & Virginia
Mike & Virginia

Everyone knows When Harry Met Sally so when the show opens using the movie as an example of a romantic comedy (or a romcom) it sets the stage perfectly for what’s to come.

Mike & Virginia is written by veteran screenwriters Kathryn Burnett & Nick Ward, who are making their debut into the world of theatre.

Memorable lines include ‘I’m as dry as a vulture’s arsehole’ and ‘being a best friend is about accepting her lumps and all’.

Mike and Virginia want to fall in love and they are supposed to at the end but in my mind they never quite get there – it’s difficult to appreciate what lovably laid-back Mike (Will Hall) sees in constantly uptight Virginia (Lisa Chappell), who rarely seems to soften or let her guard down.

The show has all the elements – great script, amazing backdrop scenery but the diluted chemistry between the lead characters left me needing more.

The slick background changes were fabulous but unfortunately they tended to highlight the constant scene changes, giving the show a more staccato rather than fluid pace.

Michele A’Court (Sally) is fabulous as Virginia’s ever-supportive friend and Stephen Papps (Harry) provides equally brilliant punctuation to the story as Harry, his down-home wisdom and simplistic take on life reminiscent of a Scrubs-janitor-like character.  His ability to use his gangly figure to emphasise and extenuate what he’s trying to get across to the audience is definitely and asset, endearing him to the audience from the get go.

At times A’Court’s character Sally reminded me of Fairy Britta in Go Girls, just a slightly more mature version since she refers to herself as a ‘40-year-old Fairy Queen who’s having sex with a 30-year old Pixie’.

Erin Wallace (Melissa), who only graduated from secondary school in 2009, performs the poetic interludes with great gusto and her tongue-in-cheek routine never fails to prompt claps for the audience everytime she takes a bow with a flourish.

Mike & Virginia has great potential but needs tightening up with less of the constant scene-changing format, to keep the story moving.

This well-written piece will definitely be given its due with a bit more pace and focus.

BrainStorm in association with STAMP at THE EDGE present Mike & Virginia and plays at The Herald Theatre, Aotea Centre from April 30 – May 7, part of NZ International Comedy Festival 2011.   More information at The Edge.

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