Adelaide Fringe 2011
A letter dropped by accident opens a closet full of skeletons and the doors to the past. Family secrets, scandals, and drama portrayed in a series of short sketches unravel the mystery to who exactly Douglas is and whether he is just Douglas. A series of seemingly unrelated incidents in a small town lead to an unexpected and extraordinary culmination.
Australian playwright Cerise de Gelder creates a family drama and narrates a story through a series of sketches—each funnier and more thought-provoking than the last. The play starts with a letter addressed to Douglas—just Douglas—is dropped at a bus stop where identical twins, Billy and Willy Well, and Molly Dukes face the dilemma of opening the letter and finding out who Douglas is and what the letter is about. From there the audience is taken to the past where the Dukes, Manning, Baker, and Well family dramas and connections are revealed.
The clues interwoven in the dialogue leave the audience craving more until the climax ending, which reveals a microcosm of family secrets, drama and connections. The fast-paced, witty banter was perfectly executed by every eccentric character; the intimate atmosphere drew the audience into the drama and the actors responded appropriately to the reactions of the viewers. Just Douglas was family drama at its best and at its extreme. The basic set and props work economically in juxtaposition to the complex drama that unfolds, and the multifaceted characters who bare their souls to the audience and each other.
I was intrigued by the idea of short sketches merging to create a convoluted web of drama and Just Douglas delivered the perfect balance of narration and explication through the twelve short scenes. From the unique characters to the classic comedy banter between Mr Well, Dr Sick, Dr Tired, and Nurse Bedpan, Just Douglas was just brilliant. This was a well-executed piece of theatre with extraordinary performances and an exceptional script. Expect the unexpected, and be prepared to be confused and intrigued at the same time— Luckily Ned, the bartender, is always on hand to explain the elaborate plot from start to end.