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Golden Jam Presents Late Night Double Bill @ Old Fitz

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Mutual mastication of Steven Berkoff’s limber lines by four performers make a meal of LUNCH, part of a two course late night fare accompanied by Andrew Bovell’s LIKE WHISKEY ON THE BREATH OF A DRUNK YOU LOVE at The Old Fitzroy.

The prologue that lead to Andrew Bovell’s Speaking in Tongues and the subsequent celebrated film, Lantana, LIKE WHISKEY ON THE BREATH OF A DRUNK YOU LOVE is the evening’s appetizer and intertwines two scenes of betrayal and seduction.

Two couples, unbeknownst to each other, both alike in infidelity, each others partner out on the tear looking for rhythmic couplings, one partner finding the others, and vice versa, creates the interlocution that precedes intercourse. The doubt, the guilt, the frisson of the forbidden, the vice like grip of vice, explored in pungent, pacey jigsaw puzzle dialogue.

From Bovell to bovver boy Berkoff, the second course is a lithe and limber lewd show with all the pyrotechnic theatrical poetics the East End Bard has built his reputation on.

Lunch and lust are near neighbours in the lexicon, both are about appetite and hunger, and Berkoff playfully merges them into a ribald romp. There’s even a bit of audience participation but nothing to knot your knickers in anticipation.

Presented by new Indie outfit, Golden Jam, and directed by Sean O’Riordan, this double bill boasts a talented line up including recent Australian College of Theatre and Television (ACTT) graduates Natalie Freeman and Nicola James alongside Edric Hong and Yannick Lawry.

LIKE WHISKEY ON THE BREATH OF A DRUNK YOU LOVE and LUNCH sadly played the Old Fitz for too short a time, playing between the 21st and 25th July.

13 minutes

13 MINUTES

freedom fighter or terrorist

The morality of murder and torture are front and centre in 13 MINUTES, the story of Georg Elser, a man who could have changed world history and saved millions of human lives. With 13 minutes more, the bomb he had personally assembled would have torn apart Adolph Hitler and his henchmen.

This, however, was not to be, and on 8 November 1939, Hitler left the scene of the attempted assassination 13 minutes earlier than expected leaving Elser to fail catastrophically, killing innocent people like waitresses and musicians instead of the Fuhrer. Continue reading

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TRAINWRECK

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TRAINWRECK lives up to its name in lots of ways, its major crash coming from its bloated length where it derails into the siding of sentimentality, a destination that it was on track to bypass.

Amy Schumer plays Amy, a journalist for a soft porn smut rag whose root rat father instilled an ingrained detestation towards monogamy. Unbridled in her promiscuity and as commitment phobic as the next bloke, Amy is the son her father never had. Except she doesn’t like sports.

Continue reading

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Opera Australia Presents Verdi’s Don Carlos @ Joan Sutherland Auditorium Sydney Opera House

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Inset pic- Milijana Nikolic as Princess Eboli and Latonia Moore as Elizabeth La Valois. Featured pic- Daniel Sumagi as the Grand Inquisitor and Ferruccio Furlanetto as Phillip 11 in Opera Australia’s DON CARLOS. Production pics by Jamie Williams.

This production of Don Carlos is the 1884 four-act version and is an extremely impressive revival of the magnificent 1999 Elijah Moshinsky staging. It is the biggest production by Opera Australia since the recent Ring Cycle in Melbourne and at one point features over two hundred people on stage.

Musically it is glorious with outstanding singing and superb playing by the orchestra under the impassioned baton of maestro Andrea Licata which acknowledges and respects each note of this complex, difficult and long score (listen out for the Flamenco influences) and simultaneously allows the work to ‘breathe’ and become intensely dramatic. Continue reading

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The Complete Works Of Shakespeare Abridged @ Genesian Theatre

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Jamie Collette, Jessica Gray and Barry Nielsen deliver high energy, comic performances. Production photography by Craig O’Regan.

The Genesian Theatre Company regularly include a Shakespeare play within their yearly program and their productions are always very respectful and keep true to the often sombre tones of the Bard’s great works.

With their current production the Company has decided on a different approach, declaring its time to have some fun with the Bard. They do so by way  of a revival of the Reduced Shakespeare Company’s production of  THE COMPLETE WORKS OF  WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE ABRIDGED, written by Adam Long, Daniel Singer and Jess Winfield. Continue reading

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Australian Chamber Orchestra presents A French Celebration @ City Recital Hall

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Mezzo soprano Susan Graham was one of the concert’s shining lights

Under the umbrella title  A FRENCH CELEBRATION the Australian Chamber Orchestra (ACO) in their latest marvelous concert brings to us a delicate, nuanced feast of super music by mostly French composers Franck, Respighi and Ravel with international guest artists- mezzo soprano Susan Graham, Karen Gomyo on violin, and Christian Ihle Hadland on piano.

The first half of the concert consisted of two Ravel works, beginning with the ravishing Piano trio in A minor, featuring the glorious talents of Norwegian pianist Christian Ihle Hadland. His playing in the first movement was shimmering passionate and intense, soulful and crystal like.

The second movement had a jumpy spiky opening, perhaps a possible jazz influence, with rumbles on the piano. It then become languid and passionate and developed into a flurried conversation between the piano and string trio. The third movement had a breathy, dreamlike opening- Hadland swaying, intensely caught up in the music- then a glorious cello solo, eventually joined by the violin and piano.

The piano makes a melancholy statement, eventually all four musician restate the melody and the music became sadder and more delicate, deep piano rumbles bringing the movement to a close. The final fast, flowing  movement begins with birdlike ripples dominated by the piano. There is a tumultuous whirling trio that takes us to the thrilling, exhilarating ending.

The second Ravel work (Trois Poemes de Stephan Mallarme) featured mezzo soprano Susan Graham. Graham was tall, statuesque in grey and silver, and she gave a glorious, refined performance. She was warm and luminous and in fabulous voice with creamy legato. Listening closely to this piece one picked up hints of Ravel’s “Daphnis and Chloe’ and ‘Scherahazade’.

‘Soupir’(Sigh) was delicate and lyrical. ‘Placet futile‘ (Futile petition) was spiky, delicate and passionate. The orchestra breathed and played as one. Graham was simply magnificent.

‘Surgi de la croupe et du bond (Surging up from the rounded flank and leap) began with swirling, surging strings. The piece was dreamy, lush and languid, Graham’s voice soaring effortlessly.

After interval was the Respighi ‘’Il Tramonto’ (The Sunset, an Italian translation of Shelley’s poem),  again featuring Graham, who was radiant and powerful, with splendid rich tones in the telling of this sad story. It was far darker and more operatic than the Ravel, with tremulous violins bringing it to a conclusion.

The Franck Piano Quintet in F Minor with Hadland positively beaming from the shiny black piano began with a superb solo by Hadland full of elegant, refined playing- fiery, spiky and intense then calming to a dialogue between piano and the four companions.

The second movement was far more lyrical and delicate- fragile, languid and dreamy. Cascading ripples on the piano were answered by sharp, decisive strings. Hadland dropped jewelled music into the air in an intense , hypnotic performance.

The third, final movement was very fast and intense– a dynamic discussion between piano and strings with frenzied violin playing and swirling tumultuous confrontations. There was notably intense concentration by all the players In a magnificent performance that brought this glorious concert to an end and thrilled applause. Bravo!

Running time 2 hours (approx.) including interval.

The Australian Chamber Orchestra’s concert A FRENCH CELEBRATION played the City Recital Hall between the 14th and 18th July.

The ACO is next taking this concert to the Melbourne Melbourne Recital Centre on the 20th July, the Adelaide Town Hall on Tuesday 21st  July and Perth Concert Hall on Wednesday  22nd July.

For more about Australian Chamber Orchestra – A French Celebration, visit https://www.aco.com.au/whats_on/event_detail/french

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THE CHERRY ORCHARD @ The Depot Theatre MARRICKVILLE

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Admirers of the great Russian playwright, on seeing Julia Baz’s  very impressive production of Anton Chekhov’s masterpiece THE CHERRY ORCHARD, will appreciate the discerning casting, costumes, and mood enhancing lighting.

Best of all is the clean fresh look of the production, that cleverly takes full advantage of the L-shaped seating layout.

This poignant, classic tragedy is about torment and suffering in a time of change. All the performances are crisp, sharp and coherent. Within the narrative threads there are elements of farce and comedy. Continue reading

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Hannah Rothschild: The Improbability Of Love

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Featured pic- The author Hannah Rothschild

THE IMPROBABILITY OF LOVE is a big, bold, rich canvas of a novel, a cross genre goliath about art and the art world, about food and culinary art, and about love and the improbability of love.

It’s also a thriller, a mystery, an historical romance and a satire, transcending mass market and literary fiction whilst straddling both.

The novel takes its title from a painting attributed to Watteau, the most significant piece of art to be auctioned this century, the value of which is set by desire: who wants to own it and how badly. Continue reading

Stinger: Carlos Perez Naval

Wildlife Photographer of the Year Exhibition @ Australian Museum

Photograph by Michael 'Nick' Nichols
Award winning picture, THE LAST GREAT PICTURE by Michael ‘Nick’ Nichols

The World Wildlife Photographer of the Year Exhibition at the Australian Museum is the perfect place for any lover of our small blue planet to spend a wintry afternoon. These are remarkable and inspiring images of detail and depth; of animals and environments; of intricacy and power. Undersea creatures, disappearing landscapes and birds in profusion captured in places and poses we would never see without a photographer’s skill.

I went with a big group and we initially clustered around the large entry image, WATCHFUL CHEETAH: the eye of a mother wary for her cub peering through blades of grass. It was a then 8 year old, Leon Petrinos (Greece) who captured this animal forever.

Soon however, we wandered separately drawn by a colour or a shape or a touch on the elbow by a friend.

A vibrant little girl in a sparkly jacket was on the move too. Ignoring her mother’s “Scarlet, Scarlet” she was pulled all over the exhibition by the same forces. Scarlet was too little to read the detail about the images, she was just compelled by what called from inside the 100 black frames on the black walls. Beautifully presented, the gold of the wooden floors reflecting the narrow light focused on the works, the gallery has a jungle leaf motif and pan-pipe ethereal on the soundscape. And there is room to step back in awe or lean close to appreciate the detail.

At the end of the space is a projection of previous year’s winners but the projections do not have quite the same impact.

This competition was launched in 1965 by Britain’s first colour nature magazine ‘Animals’. Now in its 50th year, it is a collection to linger over.

The two winning images STINGER by 8 year old Carlos Perez Naval (Spain) and THE LAST GREAT PICTURE by Michael ‘Nick’ Nicholas (USA) could not be more different. The first an orange, sunlit detailed capture of a translucent scorpion. The latter: a pride of lions at rest. With a black and white feel created by using infrared, the big cats are lolling on rocks in the bottom half of the frame while the heavens are filled with rays and clouds dwarfing them. Both of these photographs are presented in both large and smaller formats.

The aim of touring the exhibition is to foreground biodiversity and sustainability and no one in my party came away untouched. I had a long chat with a woman I did not know about the plight of an animal I have never heard of. We were strangers brought together by ignorance, eager to learn from Simone Sbaraglia’s (Italy) COMMUNAL WARMTH. His photo of geladas is just extraordinary.

Each of us seemed to have our consciousness raised by something different. Some were enthralled by the detail of the fungi and others, the resilience of the invertebrates. Some repelled by the snakes or spiders, others entranced by the beauty of a Honduran mangrove. One bird lover couldn’t pull away from the colours.

For me, it was all about the mammals. I feel them somehow. Of course I was thrilled by the electricity of the volcanic lightning of APOCALYPSE by Francisco Negroni (Chile) but it was INTIMACY another photograph by Nichols, which made me peer into the faces of those Serengeti lions looking for something shared in this great big world.

That image is so close up because it was taken by a robot. New technology is well represented but not overwhelming in this exhibition. The three time lapse collected images are mesmerising and HOLLYWOOD COUGAR, (Steve Winter USA) a stalking big cat treading lightly below the iconic sign, is the result of 14 months of camera traps.

My favourite? Can an image which makes you cry unashamedly be called a highlight? If it alerts you to both the human condition and the state of the wild creatures on our planet then …yes, maybe it is. THE PRICE THEY PAY ( Bruno D’Amica Italy) depicts a 3 month old Fennec Fox illegally dug out of a nest in the Sahara Desert being sold by a teenager. The eyes of this blameless creature look out at you from the centre of the photograph and his sweet little face is framed in the V of the tattered, dirty, fragile footwear of the Tunisian boy who is just trying to survive. Nothing good is happening here and it broke my heart.

And I am sure I am not the only one to be shocked but also elated and awed by the infinite variety of our little blue planet. Scarlet and I are just two of the many millions of people who will see the photographs in this exhibition that has ‘satellites’ around the world and are also featured on the official website and being part of this collective/ global experience, in itself, makes it worth participating in.

The exhibition continues until October 5 at the Australian Museum and as they power through their renovations there are some great deals to be had on their website at http://australianmuseum.net.au/

For more about Wildlife Photographer of the Year Exhibition @ Australian Museum, visit http://australianmuseum.net.au/

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DYLAN THOMAS: RETURN JOURNEY @ ILLAWARRA PERFORMING ARTS CENTRE

Inset pic- A picture of the brilliant Welsh poet as a young man. Featured pic- Bob Kingdom gives a captivating performance the great poet.
Inset pic- A picture of the brilliant Welsh poet as a young man. Featured pic- Bob Kingdom gives a captivating performance as the great poet.

DYLAN THOMAS: RETURN JOURNEY delves into the melodious, silky lyricism of the 20th century poet, under the accomplished direction of world-renowned Oscar-winner, Sir Anthony Hopkins. Developed as one of the flagship events celebrating the 2014 Centenary of Dylan Thomas’ life, the veracious show is at the start of its Australian leg of a huge world tour.

A lectern and chair complete the set. Bob Kingdom emerges to the mostly naked stage, clad in an ill-fitting suit, bowtie and his best boaties: the attire of Thomas’ last lecture tour. This is more of an encounter, than a performance; a lecture more than a show. The whole time, I couldn’t help but think, thank god I didn’t bring my mother along. DYLAN THOMAS: RETURN JOURNEY is wordy, wistful and subtly witted, but by god is it arduous. Continue reading

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Someone Like U Presents Charlotte Josephine’s Bitch Boxer as part of the Bondi Feast

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Charlotte Josephine’s one woman show delivers quite a punch.

BITCH BOXER begins before the audience is really aware that it has started. The house lights are on when 21 year old female boxer, Chloe wanders onto the acting space to start her workout. Skipping in a gentle, school yard fashion she sees but does not react to us (the audience) as we focus on taking our seats.

As her skipping speeds up in a well-established cardio routine, the rope noise is as loud as the pre-show music and the house lights fade. By then the athlete is ringed by light and moving in a blur. In the same way as this character slowly enters our consciousness, performer Jordan Cowan gradually, with craft and charisma, lands the pugilist protagonist squarely in our midsection. Continue reading

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Canterbury Tales @ The New Theatre

Canterbury Tales- insetSome wags might think THE CANTERBURY TALES is the arse end of a Bulldog, but a production bearing that name currently being presented at New Theatre is rather a bowdlerised version of Chaucer’s capering collection of bawdy social commentary.

In the original text, the tales were presented as part of a story telling contest, but in this eclectic version, created by Constantine Costi, James Vaughan and Michael Costi, the tales become acts in a talent quest. Continue reading

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The Book Of Kevin @ Gleebooks

Jonas Holt as Tony Abbott browses the eclectic selection of books at Sydney's book haven, Gleebooks.
Inset pic- Jonas Holt as Tony Abbott browses the eclectic selection of books at Sydney’s book haven, Gleebooks. Featured pic- Jonas Holt as Tony Abbott and Nathan Lentern as Kevin Rudd.

It is sometime in the future and to the alarm anathema and angst of the Labour Party Kevin Rudd has decided to return the scene of the crime. At a launch of his book he announces “I’m Kevin and I’m Here to Help”.

It is an extraordinary and an almost oxymoronic proposition and it forms the basis of a one hour political satire. Rudd is played by Nathan Lentern and he does it almost perfectly: Rudd’s sanctimonious expression, and a voice almost querulous as he relives the self  righteous pain of his political assassination. But now he’s moving on. He’s here to help and the audience last night howled with laughter and glee at his predicament at the prospect of his return.

The show is buttressed by an appearance of Bob Carr (again by Nathan Lentern) who advises that his memoirs of a Foreign Minister are better, and his book cheaper that the one written by one “K Rudd”.

Then Mr Abbott himself (Jonas Holt) makes an appearance as he swaggers and struts ape like to the stage, his stature almost bursting his suit. He blinks and lizard like licks his lips as he looks at the audience and characteristically gropes for his words .

The show is admirably held together by an MC (Timothy Hugh Govers).

This is a hilarious performance, and if you are a political aficionado of any shade of pink or blue or grey you will enjoy it.  At the end one is forced to reflect on what a wonderful democracy it is that we live in, that these things can be said and laughed at whichever side of politics you are on.

THE BOOK OF KEVIN played for one night only at Glebebooks, 49 Glebe Point Road, Glebe. There are three further performances between the 22nd and 24th July at the Rocks Markets Merchant House, 43-45 George Street, The Rocks as part of this years’ Rocks Pop Up season. Tickets only $15 and $12 concession.

KEATING! The Musical We Had To Have

KEATING! The Musical We Had To Have @ Bryan Brown Theatre Bankstown

Andy Leonard as Keating, Doron Chester as Bob Hawke. Photos: Grant Leslie Perfect Images
Andy Leonard as Keating, Doron Chester as Bob Hawke. Photos: Grant Leslie Perfect Images
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A glittering cast shot of this sassy revival revival of Casey Bennetto’s wonderful political satire

Birdie Productions bring the world of politics with a punch back to the charisma-starved electorate with its revival of Casey Bennetto’s KEATING! THE MUSICAL (2005). This revival is titled: KEATING! THE MUSICAL WE HAD TO HAVE.

The five piece band on stage led by Philip Eames give good support to the singers and action through pop music styles various from decades past. In the absence of true sets or props, there is something of a mixed-gig feel as each character adds to the show. This production is tight through the changes on stage, and the necessary pace is preserved. Continue reading

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The Marais Project Presents MARAIS AND THE OPERATIC MUSE @ Sydney Conservatorium

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Classical music lovers have the opportunity to partake in an afternoon of fine French baroque music with The Marais Project’s upcoming concert succinctly titled, “Marais and the operatic muse”

The Marais Project turns their attention to Marais’ long-neglected operas which were much acclaimed at the Court of Louis XIV.  On the menu will be excerpts from Marais’ best known opera, Sémélé and a cantata by another favourite composer, Michel Pignolet de Montéclair.  

Regular Marais Project soprano and French music specialist, Belinda Montgomery, will be joined by up and coming baritone Alexander Knight for an afternoon of the kind of musical rarities The Marais Project is renowned for.

Date and time – 3.00 pm Sunday 16th August

Venue – Recital Hall West, Sydney Conservatorium, Macquarie St, Sydney. Continue reading

Edmond

Two Peas Theatre Company presents David Mamet’s EDMOND @ Old 505 Theatre

Oleg Pupovac as Edmond and Naomi Livingstone as Glenna
Oleg Pupovac as Edmond and Naomi Livingstone as Glenna in Two Peas Theatre Company’s production of EDMOND

On their Facebook page, Two Peas, the production company behind EDMOND playing at Old 505 theatre, have called the Sydney independent theatre “you inconsistent thing you” and bemoan their current low ticket sales for the season. And they are right. You can build it but they still might not come. I am going to try encouraging you to go to this production, mainly because of what they have built.

The title character, Edmond has an unplanned encounter with a fortune teller who sees him as being in the wrong place. For some reason a series of inner workings begin to move inside him. He leaves his wife, ranges around the city in search of sex at the cheapest price, and assaults or kills almost everyone he meets. He is both driven and apathetic, and purposeful yet blown by circumstances. Edmond thinks that he is free because the middle aged businessman he was just up and left. Continue reading

Ant Man 3

ANT-MAN

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Making his big screen debut, pun intended, comes a very different superhero in the Marvel Universe: ANT-MAN.

Co-created by Stan Lee who also co-created Spider-Man, The Hulk, Iron Man, Thor and many others, Ant-Man first appeared in Marvel Comics over 50 years ago in 1962. This, however, is the first cinematic adaption of the character. The Ant-Man film has been in development since the mid 1980s.

ANT-MAN is the 12th installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This latest installment has been directed by Peyton Reed, whose is best known for his comedy films such as Bring It On, The Break Up and Yes Man. Continue reading

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Factory Space Theatre Company presents CAMILLE @ Star of the Sea MANLY

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The Factory Space Theatre Company’s new production at their home venue in Manly, the Star of The Sea theatre, is Pam Gems’ new adaptation  of Alexandre Dumas’ play CAMILLE ( ‘La Dame Au Camelias’) directed by Artistic Director Roz Riley.

This adaptation  of CAMILLE is re-imagined for the modern stage. Set in the 1840s this unforgettable classic bourgeois drama of the famous courtesan CAMILLE has comedic twists and enticing turns of plot, and an excellent music soundtrack. Beautiful Marguerite Gautier at the age of fifteen, her Marquis employer seduced her and becoming pregnant, she decides on the courtesan life as CAMILLE.

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THE ODD COUPLE @ King Street Theatre NEWTOWN

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American playwright Neil Simon’s THE ODD COUPLE premiered on Broadway on the 10th March 1965 and ran for some 966 performances.

Neil Simon based the character of Felix on his older brother, Danny Simon, showing that a real person can sometimes be stranger than fiction.

The scenario sees the irresponsible lifestyle of “divorced, slovenly but casual”, sports-writer Oscar Madison take in “newly separated” television news-writer Felix Ungar.  Felix is continually depressed and intrusively obsessed with his ex. The real problem that causes the most tension is Felix’s over-the-top obsessive compulsive disorder, as he is so driven to constantly keep Oscar’s eight room apartment so clean, with constant house-keeping that makes it look like no-one lives there.            Continue reading

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Ghost Stories @ The Drama Theatre Sydney Opera House

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Get ready for some thrills and chills with Prince Moo’s production of GHOST STORIES. Production photography by Liam O’Keefe.

GHOST STORIES  is a spooky play  written by Andy Nyman and Jeremy Dyson which has come direct from the West End. A note from the director Peter J. Snee states that, “Our biggest fear is that horror is lurking somewhere out there…it is lurking inside you right now, simply waiting for the opportunity to break free when you are least expecting it and are at your most vulnerable.”

The audience is greeted by the eerie, haunting and unsettling sounds of howling winds emanating from the theatre to the foyer which sets the tone and mood of the  intriguing performance. Continue reading

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Women He’s Undressed

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Inset pic- The poster to Gillian Armstrong’s new doco Featured pic- Orry-Kelly played by Darren Gilshenan with cocktail party guests. Pic Anne Howard

Director Gillian Armstrong claims that she had never heard of Orry-Kelly when Damien Parer pitched a documentary proposal at her.

It is hard to believe that any Australian cinefile would not have knowledge, at least of the existence of the man who designed the costumes for Casablanca, Some Like It Hot and hundreds of other Hollywood movies, but taken as truth, at least the completed film, WOMEN HE’S UNDRESSED will introduce this brilliant Australian export to a wider audience.

With writer Katherine Thompson, Armstrong has fashioned a biopic facsimile, a hybrid pastiche of factual footage and stylised recreation. Continue reading

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The Odd Couple @ King Street Theatre

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This classic comedy opens as a group of the guys assembled for cards in the apartment of divorced Oscar Madison. And if the mess is any indication, it’s no wonder that his wife left him. Late to arrive is Felix Unger who has just been separated from his wife. Fastidious, depressed and none too tense, Felix seems suicidal, but as the action unfolds Oscar becomes the one with murder on his mind when the clean-freak and the slob ultimately decide to room together with hilarious results as The Odd Couple is born.

Popularized by the 1968 Movie starring Walter Matthau & Jack Lemon, and brought to the small screen in several incarnations, most recently in Network TEN’s “The Odd Couple” starring Matthew Perry & Thomas Lennon. Neil Simon’s original play stands above them all as a clear example of comedy brilliance.

Directed by: Mark Power

Produced by:    Providential Productions & EMU Productions

Play dates: 14 July – 1 August, 2015 (No shows Sunday or Mondays)

Times: All shows 7:30pm King Street Theatre, Level One/644 King Street, Newtown. (Entry on Bray Street).

The ticket giveaway offered for this production has been won.

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THE TYPISTS @ Exchange Hotel BALMAIN

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THE TYPISTS reminded me of the ultimate absurdist comedy, Samuel Beckett’s WAITING FOR GODOT.

A sparkling two character piece in one act, THE TYPISTS tells of the perils of one business day in an office.

This fresh version has two perfectly cast female roles, played by Goldele Rayment (Sylvia) and Jena Prince (Paula), working in dead-end-jobs who are paid to work endlessly repeating the same task, and achieving nothing. Continue reading

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Ladies In Lavender @ The Ensemble Theatre

Benjamin Hoetjes as Andrea and Sharon Flanagan as Ursula in Shaun McKenna's LADIES IN LAVENDER.  Production photography by Clare Hawley
Inset pic- Benjamin Hoetjes as Andrea and Sharon Flanagan as Ursula. Featured pic- Penny Cook as Janet, Benjamin Hoetjes as Andrea and Sharon Flanagan as Ursula in LADIES IN LAVENDER. Production photography by Clare Hawley
In LADIES IN LAVENDER, set in a remote village in Cornwall in the mid 1930s, Ursula and Janet Widdington play two very lonely ageing unmarried sisters, who find a new purpose in life when they come across a young man, a refugee, washed ashore on their local beach, and in a very bad way.They nurse him back to health and he ends up making a full recovery.
They find out that he is Andrea Marowski, is a talented Polish violinist.Ursula, in particular, plays an important part in his mending and develops strong feelings for him. They want him to stay. Will they be able to persuade him to stay, at least for the time being, or will Andrea decided to move on with his life, in the hope that he can establish the music career that he has always dreamed about?!

Director Nicoli Buffini steers this gentle, conventional, well crafted play well and with the help of her talented cast brings out all of the play’s delicate nuances.

LADIES IN LAVENDER plays out like a sad, lilting ballad- wistful and full of longing,

Designer Anna Gardiner sets the scene deftly for the actors with a well realised set, featuring the sisters living room with the spare bedroom on top and to the right a clever village backdrop setting aided by Nicholas Higgins’ lighting. Daryl Wallis soundscape complemented the action well.

All the performances are finely etched. As Janet, Penny Cook plays the more reserved, responsible of the two sisters, whilst Sharon Flanagan’s Ursula wears a heart on her sleeve.

Benjamin Hoetjes impresses as Andrea, the young man who lands on their shore and brings some sunshine into their lives. Hoetjes shows a deft skill with the violin.

Gael Ballantyne provides a lot of the light/comic touches as the sisters’ sharp as a tack, all eyes and ears maid, Dorcas.

Daniel Mitchell’s performance is well pitched as the caring local Doctor Mead who carries a lonely heart.

Lisa Gormley is a delight as the attractive, assertive local artist, befriended by Dr Mead, who has a strong impact on how things turn out.

This was a good night at the theatre. Shaun McKenna’s LADIES IN LAVENDER, adapted from Charles Dance’s screenplay and originally based on a William Locke short story, opened at the Ensemble Theatre, 78 McDougall Street, Kirribilli on Wednesday 8th July and is playing until Saturday 15th August. Performance times Tuesdays 7.30pm, Wednesdays to Fridays 8.15pm, Saturdays 4.30pm and 8.15pm and Sundays 5pm. As well there are some Tuesday and Thursday performances at  11am. Running time 2 hours including interval.

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