THE GIFT OF THE GAB

18 May

GIFT OF THE GAB
BY SIMON DAVID EDEN
AT THE WHITE BEAR THEATRE, KENNINGTON
The play starts off with the three salesman, looking like the three wise monkeys, selling their wares to the audience showing off their Gift of the Gab.
In 1979, Three salesmen Gabe, Arthur and Stan, regularly meet at the little Italian Café run by Ric, a crazy hot headed Italian played by Ivanhoe Norona. Ric is unduly protective of his pretty daughter Concetta (Madalina Bellariu} who works in the café and is lusted after by all the clientele.
The three salesman meet day after day discussing their business; their work methods;Gabe’s extra special shoes; Cliff Richard and other major events of the day. Gabe gives advice to his young nephew Winkle (Lewis Bruniges) in order to train him to enter the profession. However Winkle and his friend Toe Rag (Harold Addo) have other jobs in mind. They do not want to spend their days knocking on house doors and trying to talk people into letting them into their houses in order to sell Insurance.
Gabe, played by Ross Boatman is really in love with Concetta and brings her presents in secret. Michael Roberts plays the older Arthur who knows much more than the others but has the sense to keep his mouth shut unless the conversation ranges around the subject of Cliff Richard. There are some really funny moments during the conversation between the three men. Stanley, played by Charlie Allen is a regular dandy and is always meticulously dressed. His main enjoyment is sending up Gabe’s pompous teaching of his young nephew and finds great joy later on in making fun of Arthur’s passion for Cliff Richard. Stan teases him by telling him Cliff is Gay and Indian. Arthur finds these remarks insulting. (Two politically incorrect remarks in one ) However Arthur’s interpretation of “Living Doll” is very funny and he believes it proves that Cliff is both British and Heterosexual.
However the main thrust of this story is a lost valuable manuscript, of Seven Pillars of Wisdom by T.E. Lawrence “who?” “You remember – Peter O’Toole? Lawrence of Arabia?” They are all keen to lay hands on this book and make their fortune.
The problem is that, like a lot of new writers, the author is writing for television instead of theatre. The very short scenes would be simply done on TV but theatre involves constant changes of scenery and lighting, so it is difficult to remain involved in the plot.
The idea is funny but needs a bit of rearranging. The scenes are just too short and the plot takes a long time to get going. in fact we do have to wait until Act two before anything actually happens.
However the salesmanship of the three guys rings horribly true and it seems as if Mr Eden has had experience in that field – either that or been so plagued by the venders that he has learnt their spiel by heart.
The play is definitely amusing and has expert dialogue and characterisation. It should go further if Mr Eden could rearrange it a little – or send it straight to a TV company.
Believable period set design by Sim E Sigh, costumes by Devon Opp and lighting is by Chuma Emembolu.
The play is directed by the author.

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