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Theatre Review (Singapore): Jeffrey Bernard is Unwell by Keith Waterhouse

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The Stage Club’s production of Keith Waterhouse’s play Jeffrey Bernard is Unwell played at the DBS Arts Centre, from February 27 – March 2, 2013.

The play is about Jeffrey Bernard (Nick Cheadle), a journalist who prefers to drink his life away at the bar. It examines vignettes of his life as told through a series of flashbacks.

Manned by amateurs, Stage Club’s version of this play did not disappoint. First off, the acting was simply superb. Notwithstanding the amateur status of the cast, the level of acting was nothing short of breathtaking.

Cheadle brought out a fully fleshed-out portrayal. With a myriad of expressions and tonal variety in his delivery of dialogue, Cheadle easily charmed the audience throughout.

Bob Scheer who played various roles, was fascinating to watch as he performed diverse characters including a drunk and a wimp. Each of his characters was portrayed convincingly and with subtle layers.

Jane Grafton, Edward John Rahtz and Heron Holloway all did a commendable job in various roles. At times, Grafton sounded really soft during her monologue scenes, which makes me wonder if she was miked properly or at all. However, that was a minor flaw, as all the actors performed remarkably well and were riveting on stage.

The set was also mesmerizing, consisting of a room, dining area and bar which turned into different areas according to the various stories presented.

Director Nicholas Kenny did a splendid job in bringing in the supporting characters to add weight and visual value to Jeffrey Bernard’s flashbacks. The secondary characters’ movements onto and off the stage were seamless and effective in bringing the vignettes to fruition.

As i left the performance, I was reminded by the Stage Club’s front of house that all involved were amateurs. I had to actually check my programme to make sure, because the performances and staging of this play actually made me think it had been done by professionals who had been doing this for a long time. Hence, I dare say that if passion and talent have a stronger place in theatre than experience, Stage Club’s Jeffrey Bernard is Unwell certainly proved it.

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About Sharmila Melissa Yogalingam

Ex-professor, Ex-phd student, current freelance critic, writer and filmmaker.