Open For Inspection

It takes you about 20 minutes to realise that Open For Inspection is not intended to be taken seriously. At least, I hope it’s not.

Darlinghurst Theatre Company
Darlinghust Theatre, Sydney

Thursday, January 20, 2011

It takes you about 20 minutes to realise that Open For Inspection is not intended to be taken seriously. At least, I hope it’s not.

A black musical comedy about the cut-throat world of real estate and the lengths agents go to sell homes, Open For Inspection is at times funny, almost always tacky and never all that great, though it is far from a two hour snore-fest .

The most interesting thing about Open For Inspection is the comment by writer Tim Bosanquet that this version is not the “final work”. Hence, we can only presume this is still a work in progress, and that many tweaks will be made to ensure Open For Inspection runs a little smoother, and indeed, it should be worked on, as it is not a lost cause.

By the time the end of act one had rolled around, I’d had enough. I wasn’t completely over it, but I could have gone home and been happy. It’s the time of show that is screaming for cuts, and more cuts, and more cuts after that, to bring it down to a sensible, tight show.

The worst thing about musical theatre on a small stage will always be that it doesn’t allow for any of the big, splashy numbers that the artform is known for. The issue exists in spades at the Darlinghurst, where every flaw, every word, and every action is easily scrutinised by a reasonably small audience.

Probably the highlight of Open For Inspection is not the songs, nor the plot, but the odd killer one-liner that provides a belly laugh and keeps you interested in the piece. For example, Debbie (Sophie Webb) says “it simply shits class” and the audience erupts as one – it is a great moment.

To that end, the show goes from hilariously funny one minute, to devastatingly tacky the next. Probably the worst, repeating problem is the ‘chorus of the mind’ that follows Bagley (Jame Pope) around. It’s just cringe-worthy!

But let’s focus on the positives.

Webb is sensational as Debbie – a real rising star, who deserves a much bigger stage. And yes, she’s easy on the eye as well and simply oozes sex appeal. It helps that Webb gets all the good lines, but still, she’s a highlight and the show’s best performance.

Andrew Cutliffe is strong as Brett Zarb, while Catherine McGraffin is hilarious at times as the receptionist  Monica. 

There’s the odd good song as well, with some snappy lyrics, and the storyline itself is enough to keep you interested throughout.

If Open For Inspection is going for cheap laughs and aim to take the mickey out of itself, real estate and musicals – which I suspect it is – then it succeeds.

It might not be on the top of the must-see list at the moment, but it’s worth seeing if you’re scratching your head, unsure of what to do over the next month or so.

It’s not a flop, but there’ll be much better on stage in 2011.

Until February 13. Bookings: (02) 8356 9987.

Anne-Marie Peard

Anne-Marie spent many years working with amazing artists at arts festivals all over Australia. She's been a freelance arts writer for the last 10 years and teaches journalism at Monash University.

Anne-Marie Peard

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