A Play Sweeter than Cake: A review by Alice P. Liddell
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Rob Ricards and the 356 Company strike again with another play! This one entitled ‘Five Lives and a Cake,’ performed last weekend at the Ministry for Gozo. It was the premiere production written by the director. A beautifully directed comedy, with an all-female cast who portrayed a family brought together by a birthday of the unseen husband and father.
This is the fourth play the 356 Company performed in the Ministry were they transform the halls to suit their purpose. The founders of the 356 company, Rob Ricards and Sue Scantlebury, are both professional actors who aim to keep the standard of any show high and they succeeded once more. This time the stage was elevated and was set as a kitchen with a wooden kitchen counter on the left and a table with four chairs and a stool on the right. The audience was seated in a semi-circle, with a passage through the middle, the seats at the back were put on a platform to optimise the view of the stage. The play was split into two acts, the first act was a series of monologues tied together with a song. The second act was the action filled play were all five characters came together. Having the monologues in the first act allowed the audience to get to know and understand each character individually. This was to the advantage of the second act as all the different personalities combined. In the end one of the spectators said, “My mascara is running from laughing too much!”
As the lights went out the actors walked through the audience, onto the stage and behind a big black curtain to the backstage. Gabriella Azzorpardi was our minstrel for the night who only performed in the first act. A spotlight shone on her as she sang and faded away as the actors walked on stage. Clara Sciberras who starred as Amy, spoke first, showing us the true character of a 13 year old. Throughout the cheeky monologue we understand her personality and although she might be cute she is cunning. Cassie Grech, who played Clare, was next and she portrayed an 18 year old in today’s world. It was a warning to adults to let teenagers live, the teens are there for rebellion and she left us wondering whether she was a rebel herself. These two youngest stars are the new recruits of the 356 Company.
Sharona Refalo, who was Marcia, showed us what it is like to be a powerful woman in her thirties, and what she’d do to keep that power. Marion Sayers, starring as Betty, gives us an image of a menopausal woman from hot flashes to feeling cold whilst allowing laughter in between. Sue Scantlebury is the eldest and is the grandmother, named Doris, a woman in her 70’s or 80’s who is oblivious to things around her and seems to forget the time of day let alone if she has been to the bathroom. “Monologues like that are very hard to deliver and I think they did it very well,” someone commented in the intermission.
In the second act we see them all together in the kitchen, bringing about petty fights and plenty of sibling rivalry and negotiation where pride and pictures are concerned. Marion’s despair about her own mother, Sue, and her daughters is hilarious as she starts losing her temper.
She acts as a colonel making them stand next to each other as she tells them what to do and how to do it. It was a hilarious work of art as the actors performed to a tee with the sweetest ending as we all left with a piece of cake. “Absolutely fabulous, well done, very well done.”