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The Decorator, The Space

Donald Churchill

Directed by Franko Figueiredo
★★★
Pros: Ingenious farce set-up, vibrant comedic performances and a fun sixties setting.
Cons: The actors’ accents can difficult to understand, making it easy to miss jokes.
Our Verdict: The difficulty in understanding the dialogue is a problem that can’t be overlooked. It is a shame that this issue obscured the fine comedic performances, but The Decorator is still a goofy, fun evening out.
Courtesy of The Space
The Decorator is classic English farce with a Brazilian twist. The plot, courtesy of English playwright Donald Churchill, is undeniably English but StoneCrabs Theatre have set the play in Rio de Janeiro in the swinging sixties, and indeed the play is starring three Brazilian actors. The result is a zany and sexy comedy.
The play has an ingenious set-up. Marcia, a glamorous middleclass housewife, is cheating on her husband. Jane, the wife of Marcia’s lover, arrives at Marcia’s apartment to announce that Marcia has been caught and that she, Jane, is going to reveal all to Marcia’s husband. Marcia, guilty as sin, begins to panic. Walter, a decorator currently around to paint the apartment, hears all and suggests that Marcia create a fake husband for Jane to spill the beans to instead, thus keeping Marcia’s real husband in the dark. We soon learn that Walter is not just a decorator but an out-of-work actor and he is therefore nominated to play the role of Marcia’s wronged husband. The playwright’s masterstroke is that Walter sees the opportunity as the role of a lifetime. He hams up his performance, taking inspiration from Shakespeare’s Othello. In a particularly delightful moment, Walter insists that Jane keep quiet so that he can finish his prepared speech.
The play features fine comedic turns from all three cast members: Tereza Araujo as the stylish and hysterical Marcia, Marcio Mello as the dopey Walter, and Maria Alencar as Jane, the revenge-seeking wife turned sex kitten. All the performances are full of verve and joy.
My sole complaint about this production is that it was a struggle to understand the rapid-fire dialogue, due to the actors’ accents. I can’t imagine how difficult it is to perform a play in a foreign language, but unfortunately the incomprehensibility of the lines meant that I missed some jokes. Rapid pace is essential for a farce, but it did exacerbate the problem.
Still there is plenty to appreciate visually. The groovy sixties vibe adds to the play’s colourful silliness. The actors are gifted physical comedians and give countless priceless expressions, as well as a few hysterical dance numbers.
I also highly recommend the adjoining Hubbub cafe/bar, which serves very tasty food in a welcoming atmosphere. Dinner at the Hubbub followed by the wackiness of The Decorator is just the ticket for a fun evening out.
Please feel free to leave your thoughts and opinions in the comments section below!

The Decorator runs at the Space until 29th June 2013.
Box office: 020 7515 7799 or book online at https://space.org.uk/event-booking/?event=thedecorator.

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