Friday, April 26, 2024

Love of literature creates laughs for book club’s quirky members

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Among the cast of The Book Club Play are, from left, Senica Calder, AJ Johnson, Julia Kellett and Rama Buisson. Photo supplied Michael Bui

It’s a book club with a difference, and that’s an understatement.

Howick Little Theatre’s production of the comedy The Book Club Play offers up laughs galore.

It tells the story of a book club whose quirky members try to navigate their personal lives and friendship dynamics while debating the merits of a range of classic literature and some modern-day best-sellers.

The play’s written by Karen Zacarías, directed by Deb Lind, and staged at the theatre until May 27.

It’s set in a living room of a house in an unnamed city in the United States.

The home is occupied by young couple Ana and Robert Smith, played by Julia Kellett and Rama Buisson.

Kellett is a charismatic newcomer to Howick Little Theatre and she delivers an attention-grabbing performance.

Ana is an earnest and a genuine booklover, while her husband is more interested in the food and drinks being served each time the club meets.

They’re joined by fellow members Lily Jackson, Jen McClintock, William Nothnagel and the newest addition, Alex.

Lily, played by Senica Calder, is strong and opinionated, while Jen, played by Erin Parkinson, has a messy back story she isn’t proud of.

The immaculately dressed William, played by AJ Johnson, possesses boundless energy and enthusiasm for the club.

He’s a fan of highbrow literature and has a conniption when one member suggests they read author Dan Brown’s bestseller The Da Vinci Code.

Alex, played by Mark Snoad, is a provocative, button-pushing professor of comparative literature who doesn’t take long to capture Lily’s attention.

Actor Jazmyn Astill has a unique role, playing a group of characters including a literary agent, a prison inmate, and a retired librarian, all of whom take to the stage alone to deliver a witty monologue.

One character not seen but often mentioned is cutting-edge Danish director Lars Knudsen, who’s installed a camera in the Smiths’ home to film the club’s meetings as part of a serious documentary he’s making about the American phenomenon of book clubs.

The club members start out overly aware of the camera’s presence and ensure they’re on their best behaviour, but eventually drop their guard, resulting in some touching and hilarious moments.

Much of the play’s humour stems from the camera inadvertently capturing many a scene the club’s members would have preferred to keep private.

It’s a tender moment between two characters that delivers one of the play’s funniest moments, as one of them almost performs acrobatics in throwing themselves to the floor in order to look innocent when others walk into the room.

This is a play for people who love a good book as well as anyone intrigued by the dynamics of different personalities and complex human relationships, while serving up belly laughs as the pages are turned.

  • The Book Club Play
    Directed by Deb Lind
    Howick Little Theatre, 1 Sir Lloyd Drive, Pakuranga
    Season: Until May 27, with shows at 8pm and a 2pm matinee on May 14
    www.hlt.org.nz

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