It’s every cruiser’s nightmare – trapped for seven days at a table for six with two miserable couples working through their marital problems.
“Can I change my table?” is the immediate question they each ask.
“Oh no sir, we’re full” comes the reply from Kenneth Moraleda, who plays Charlie, the singing Filipino waiter aboard the Queen Mary II as she heads for New York via the spot where the Titanic sank.
Playwright David Williamson manages to make the journey hilarious with some fabulous one-liners and a cast of thorough professionals. There are also lots of touches cruisers will recognise.
Asked his name, for instance, our waiter says: “It’s Charlie. Well, it’s Jesus really, but the manager felt this would make guests uncomfortable.”
But the real stars are the three couples, locked together because they each forgot to tick the box that said they wanted open seating.
There’s the cad called Richard (Felix Williamson), a failing Oxford-educated novelist who, in the words of his long-suffering and heavy-drinking wife Fiona (Michelle Doake) “can’t keep his hands to himself”;
“Playwright David Williamson manages to make the journey hilarious with some fabulous one-liners and a cast of thorough professionals.”
There are the arch-typical loud Australians Darren and Imogen (Peter Phelps and Helen Dallimore) – he is a Bra Boy made good from selling surf ware. And yes, he wears shorts, a t-shirt and tatts to the first black tie dinner (Charlie banishes him to the ship’s burger bar).
Finally, two rather sad New Yorkers, Sol and Sally Wasserman (Henri Szeps and Kate Fitzpatrick).
Sol is a gum expert with a book script about Osama Bin Laden infiltrating the United States with militant dentists who fill their patients’ teeth with explosives ready for a terrorist attack.
“A kind of molar-caust”, as Richard puts it sarcastically.
It’s not hard to see where this story is navigating, but the journey is relatively smooth sailing from a seasoned writer who seems to be enjoying the ride.
When Richard beats his wife, there is a moment of real drama amid the stereotypes.
For the most part, however, it is tragicomedy well-acted and fun to watch.
Cruisers may well recognise many of the characters from journeys and passengers they have encountered in the past.
Well worth watching and great fun.
It plays until June 14 at Ensemble Theatre, Kirribilli and June 24-25 at The Concourse, Chatswood, Sydney.
But it is bound to turn up at a theatre near you – with cruising so popular, I sense the perfect vehicle for local companies everywhere!