Almost Nearly Paradise
by Brenda Gottsche

Cast & Crew
Roz Riley - Director.

Mel Kathryn Rose, Tara Jay,
Maree Cole, Steven Menteith,
Tadhg Scanlon, Grace Naoum.

Chantal Roberts - SM,
Lindsay Walton - sound,
Jon Tidswell - lighting.

8th to 23rd July 2016

Almost Nearly Paradise by Brenda Gottsche Review
at the Star of the Sea Theatre, 17th July 2016 matinee, general admission.
A prim ultra-conservatively dressed young woman plants 3 separate recording devices around her lounge room. Interesting.
Next enter three other women who have all come to the very first meeting of a Book Club.
But they aren’t really friends. They have little in common. So why on earth are they all gathered at this out-of-the-way house on an undisclosed island in Pittwater?
After a successful season at Balmain, Brenda Gottsche’s Almost Nearly Paradise is back. It’s a brand new production with ramped up humour, great throw away lines, and an energetic exploration of juicy topics like happiness, marriage and money. Not to mention a moral dilemma or three.

Ann, played with stark detachment by Maree Cole, is host for the evening. She wants to switch from journalism to novel writing. Hopefully her illicit recordings will give her some gossip… Barrister Ellie Jordan is her first guest. Ellie, a measured, likeable, nuanced Tara Jay, has a liaison with a billionaire lined up on his prized yacht. But is that what she wants?
Jenny, a full-on exuberant Melissa Kathryn Rose dominates the room, espousing her thoughts about happiness, money and sex with humour and way too much candour! And there’s Tiffany, the loyal Bunnings employee. Grace Naoum is a delight as the vacuous warm-hearted Tiff and her rap performances are classics!

The man’s world is presided over by the booze-fuelled Ian Thompson (Steven Menteith showing us his slimy side). Ian is Ellie’s potential paramour, billionaire, and 48th richest man in Australia no less. The object of his attention is the enigmatic Sammie, played by Tadgh Scanlon with a quiet reserve that makes us wonder what makes him tick. Sammie happens to be married to Jenny in the Book Club but has made quite an impression on Ann and Tiff. And Ian it seems…

The split stage with mirrored wharves and a patch of ocean blue is a great device for jumping between the two different worlds. And there you have it: an island on a stormy night, a briefcase containing $300,000 and big decisions to be made can only lead to Intrigue with a capital ‘I’! Wendy Lewis, playwright, Theatre Blog
Review from Weekend Notes (theatre)
Event: 08/07/2016 - 23/07/2016
Paradise is a book club away
Almost Nearly Paradise, performed by the Factory Space Theatre Company, is a hilarious play that shows what happens when a group of women get together and create a book club. Naturally, there is plenty of wine, plenty of deep and meaningful conversations, and little focus on the book. The four leading ladies are humorous and lively, whose true natures are revealed when Australia's 48th richest man shows up and twists the plot.
Set in the Star of the Sea Theatre in Manly, Almost Nearly Paradise is a great way to spend an afternoon with your girlfriends. The performances are at 7:30pm on Fridays and Saturdays, and 3pm on Sundays. Tickets are $35, and are well worth it for a fun time with your besties
REVIEW from Sydney Arts Guide
This Factory Space Theatre Company production of Australian playwright Brenda Gottsche’s new play ALMOST NEARLY PARADISE was was expertly directed by long time director Roz Riley.
The night sees us take a journey with unexpected witty twists and turns. Much laughter is generated by the quick, wicked and entertaining dialogue with the highlight being some quite delicious one-liners. My favourite line was, when one character says of another character, ‘he is unattached to the truth’.
The play starts off being about the inaugural meeting of a newly established book club with four ladies gathered to discuss their first book.
Unexpected events occur as the first meeting starts with a raging storm with gale force winds taking place outside. The setting is a mythical island paradise on beautiful Pittwater.
Too much alcohol is consumed, hip hop rap ensues, and everyone has secrets worth spreading, and soon the night becomes a nightmare with dangerous revelations revealed by each woman.
Moreover, Ian Tompson, Australia’s 48th richest man, smashes his way into their ordinary suburban lives, late in the evening, with a large cash offer to the group that may just be too hard to refuse… Will they keep money that has no strings attached? The auditorium and stage have been converted to provide an intimate theatre space, with an excellent well-chosen cast, and believable performances from all.

Almost Nearly Paradise   photographed by John Reeves and Steven Menteith