ST AUSTELL ARTS CENTRE
RUNNING TIME – 2 HOURS 15 MINUTES (INCLUDING INTERVAL)
23 MAY 2022
In 2018 I reviewed Carl Grose’s new play, ‘The Kneebone Cadillac’ – it blew my mind. ‘Superstition Mountain’, written in 2009 has a number of similarities in setting, characters and tone – but it too, is something that bit special – fair enough, it’s bonkers – but brilliant.
If theatre is about anything it is about telling a good story and entertaining those who come to watch; Carl Grose writes one hell of a good story and in this production he is served tremendously by the performers.
Grose pulls on his Cornish heritage to offer vivid insights into the underbelly of that beautiful county and in the Gunwallow brothers he has created a trio of misfits whom it is impossible not to love. On the death of their cowboy-loving Father, the threesome face multiple issues – mainly financial. The solution is to track down a secret hoard of gold referred to in an old yarn their Father told them about. But is it true? Does the gold exist? Off to Arizona they go!
Played out on a simple, yet versatile set populated by old vehicle parts – the family own a junk yard – the plot plays out as a comedy adventure with more twists and turns than the tail of a rattlesnake. As I say, this is a masterly piece of storytelling. The script is smart, inventive and littered with expletives – but never have I heard the F-word used in such a beautiful way – it is rarely a lazy-rendering, it means something and the actors deliver it in such a variety of styles that it can never be seen as offensive. Joyful.
As the eldest brother, Slim, Ben Kernow, is a bubbling cauldron of frustration and resentment. This is a magnetic performance of great power and energy. Darren Seed excels as the dim-witted Dwayne – a comic clown which is played to perfection. As the youngest brother, Mark, Jack Brownridge-Kelly effortlessly brings out the innocence of youth in the face of his tougher siblings – it is a beautifully crafted, sympathetic performance.
The three work supremely well together and one is never in doubt about their relationship with each other – they are very funny and touching in turn. This is trio of high-class performances.
Millie Brolly directs with assurance and a command of the material and with an eye on the momentum of the story – as the narrative flips back and forth in the second-half of the show, it builds like a feature film. Effective lighting and sound are used throughout which enhance all the work on stage.
Ha-Hum-Ah Theatre and the Minack Theatre have combined forces to tour this production across the South of England and the audience in St Austell greeted it with enthusiasm – what an utter treat to have such high-class entertainment in small local theatres.
This is an outstanding piece of theatre – do not dither if you get the chance to see this production.
CAST & CREATIVES
MARK GUNWALLOW – JACK BROWNRIDGE-KELLY
SLIM GUNWALLOW – BEN KERNOW
DWAYNE GUNWALLOW – DARREN SEED
WRITER – CARL GROSE
DIRECTOR – MILLIE BROLLY
DESIGNER – MARION HARRISON
LIGHTING DESIGN – SIMON HUTCHINGS
ASSISTANT DIRECTOR – JONNY DRY
A HA-HUM-AH THEATRE/MINACK THEATRE PRODUCTION