Mosman Daily
24 April 2003


Unsolicited Male (Sydney)
Samara Fitzpatrick - 6th April 2003

The pressure to live your life according to other people’s expectations is felt by everyone. In Unsolicited Male, those expectations (and the people who hold them) come head to head in one tense and awkward evening for William.
In Tony Laumberg’s play William is a lawyer hoping to snare a position in London, and he and his wife Helen are eager to impress his boss who’s coming to dinner.
  It’s Helen who’s the most intent on William getting the appointment and she lets it be known that she’s not prepared to let anything ruin the evening and the opportunity at hand. But, William’s dad Morris would much rather see him taking over the family shoe business not to mention William’s own dream to be a screen writer. The tension between these opinions is the basis for both the drama and comedy in Unsolicited Male.
 Morris turns up on William and Helen’s doorstep just before the guests arrive and proceeds to embarrass everyone with his frank language and colourful behaviour. This drives Helen mad as she sees her future life in London disappear with the subtlety of one of Morris’s bellowing farts.
 The only plausible outcome to the situation created in Unsolicited Male is for William to become master of his own destiny and ultimately that’s how the proceedings end. A resolution to the conflicting interests isn’t the focus of the play.
 The play’s central aim is to provide humour from a tense setting- and it succeeds in doing this thanks to an extraordinary performance from Bruce Menzies as Morris. Morris creates havoc but like a typical, no fuss bloke doesn’t succumb to the hysteria he arouses in others. It’s a real showy role with plenty of bold one liners that wouldn’t arise in normal conversation but Menzies delivers them perfectly. The punch lines don’t come across as forced because Morris is himself a brilliant performer. He’s doing his best to act the crazy old man to scare off William’s boss.

 Tricia Youlden as Margaret, William’s boss’s drunk wife, is also outstanding. The sing-song meter of her voice and stare of her eyes tell you how many drinks she’s had.

Playwright Tony Laumberg’s own life seems to have been the inspiration for the material. Laumberg, like William, is a solicitor. They both seem to also share a desire to write rather than litigate. While the play hints at bigger themes it really concerns itself with finding comedy in the situation and in its characterisations.
 William has lived his life under the influence of other people’s expectations. The epiphany that leads him to follow his own dream strikes suddenly (and conveniently) at the end of the play. It doesn’t appear to be something he struggles with, it just all of a sudden dawns on him. This doesn’t quite ring true, but Unsolicited Male can not be faulted for this reason as it doesn’t attempt to seriously explore this issue.
 Apart from a misconceived song and dance device used to open and close the play, Unsolicited Male delivers what it promises. It’s a screwball comedy with plenty of jokes that hit the mark.

The good: amazingly animated performances from Bruce Menzies and Tricia Youlden.
The bad: less than inspiring lighting and sound design
The vibe: a laid back, entertaining night at the theatre

* director: Richard Cotter
* genre: Comedy
* location: Edge Theatre Newtown (cnr King and Bray St)
* season ends: Sun 27th April
* cast_1: John Marsh, Bruce Menzies, Bronwen Gault
* cast_2: mark McCann, Tricia Youlden, Joan Rodd, Guro Brand