Meet Carol and Daryl Pitts, aka Stephanie Marion Wood and Brendy Ford. They are a pair of wellness gurus who ply their craft each Wednesday afternoon at the Shady Pines Nursing Home for the elderly and infirm. The senior citizens are in for a real treat as Carol and Daryl – lovers of life and each other – espouse five pillars of wellness, namely physical, mental, social, spiritual and emotional. They intend to demonstrate each, only after a promising start, notwithstanding a bit of niggle, things go awry.
The Pitts is a cheeky satire about the world of nursing home performers and the trials and tribulations they encounter whilst performing to the blue rinse set. Unveiled through interchanges between the pair, on stage with them for much of the production is one of the home’s beloved residents, Ethel, who – for all intents and purposes – seems to be about to cark it. In fact, early on in the piece, Daryl checks her pulse for a sign of life.
Wood and Ford each have their strengths. She has a super voice (she knows how to hold a tune) and can dance. A tall man, with a goofy grin, he is incredibly flexible and dexterous, and can also move effortlessly to the music, which is a mainstay. In fact, the camp dancing is just one thing to look forward to when you enter the Athenaeum Theatre. There’s also plenty of audience involvement, including – at one point – hauling a hapless patron on stage as a companion for Ethel.
Wood and Ford are talented and funny. They are particularly good at working the room. In fact, everyone who buys a ticket is out to play along with the mayhem that is about to unfold. The 75-minute performance includes a series of popular musical mashups (from Olivia Newton John to Kylie Minogue). The assembled clap and holler, as well they should.
A4 photos of Carol and Daryl sit alongside each other on a shiny black baby grand piano. As she enters the room sporting sunnies and a shimmering black cape, she is quick to push her framed visage forward and his back. The staging involves a few plants, a tea trolley, a television tray table and an armchair with a thin pink blanket, which is Ethel’s domain. Oh … I almost forgot, games of Twister, Cluedo and Othello are also evident.
The comedy cabaret that is The Pitts has been brilliantly choreographed by Ford, who also wrote it, while Wood edited it and provides musical direction. The pair, along with two other performers – Leigh Jay Booth and Stacey Kelly (one as Ethel and the other a member of the nursing home staff) – always appear in sync and perform some impressive routines. It is a show that has cult following written all over it. Wood and Ford are dynamite, their bickering, byplay and bite comedic gold.
Keep a keen eye out for their next gig, for The Pitts deserves to travel far and wide. For updates, follow them at @the.pitts.official on Instagram.
Other reviews you might enjoy:
- Melbourne Cabaret Festival – theatre preview
- Mr Burns, A Post-Electric Play (Lightning Jar Theatre) – theatre review
- The Dumb Waiter (Chapel off Chapel) – theatre review
Alex First is a Melbourne based journalist and communications specialist. He contributes to The Blurb on film and theatre.