This latest offering as part of the NT Live series, filmed at the Young Vic, is a very strong and powerful production, bleak and emotionally shattering.

Simon Stone, the Australian director, has taken Federico García Lorca’s 1934 tragedy and morphed it from 1930’s rural Spain to contemporary London, turning its story of the agonies of childlessness into a challenging, extremely contemporary play.

In the original, Lorca’s heroine is a farmer’s wife driven crazy by her failure to conceive, in a repressive society where child¬bearing is regarded as her main raison d’etre.

Here in this version (with mobile phones and computers, and lots of strong language) Stone’s protagonist (simply called Her, as played by Billie Piper) is a successful journalist who has always refused to be defined by the ticking clock of her reproductive system. However, on the day she and her partner, John (Brendan Cowell) move into their new home, she reveals her wish to have a baby. We then follow them through five harrowing years of barrenness, Her’s baby wish becoming a catastrophic obsession.

The play takes place in a glass cube with reflective mirrors. Mostly the stage floor is white, but at some points it has grass included. Minimalist various props (chairs, drinks tables, trees etc) are carried on/off by the cast and crew.

Lizzie Clachan’s design has the effect of making her life a goldfish bowl and the production strongly hints that Her’s blog has made her private life fair game for the more troll-like members of the online universe.

There is a strange rather surreal scene towards the conclusion, where Her, now high on drugs at a festival and drenched by light misty rain, paws at the soil as if trying to invoke some sort of Pagan goddess.

Billie Piper (yes Rose Tyler from Doctor Who) eponymous’ character is Her, an affluent journalist who habitually writes about her obsession with starting a family in a blog which is simultaneously articulate, self centred , and embarrassingly hurtful to those she loves.

She and John, talk over each other, get drunk, bicker, goad each other, and enjoy their increasingly privileged life together as sophisticated left-leaning ‘smug marrieds’ in London – until She decides she wants a baby. Adoption, however is not an option.

Billie Piper as Her is luminous and amazing in a searing, towering, powerhouse performance that leaves you shattered at the end. She performs with a disturbing, passionate apparently spontaneous truth as we watch her spiral into darkness.

Excellent Australian actor Brendan Cowell is on a knife edge balancing between the understanding and sensitive and the selfish in John’s participation and agreement with Her wish to have a child until looming financial ruin and her worrying mental health force him to declare an end to the IVF treatments.

We follow John’s journey from a cosmopolitan guy scared of commitment to emotionally pummelled and stressed one. He desperately attempts to meet Her needs, to try and save Her, but this becomes impossible.

The scenes with her ex that unexpectedly returns (Victor, as wonderfully played by John Macmillan) are tender, wistfully heartbreaking imaginings of what might have been, oppressively disturbing to consider given the current situation.

Stone has his cast interrupting each other, with very quick speeches at times, or not completing sentences and often speaking quietly, sometimes even murmuring in hushed tones which sometimes meant that the dialogue was at times almost inaudible.

This was contrasted with the snap of blackouts, the use of Brechtian like surtitles to indicate the time frame, and the audience being deafened by the score during scene changes (women’s voices blasting out choral chants for example). Strobe lighting is also used .

There are fine performances throughout by the very strong ensemble. Stone accentuates the multi layers of Her’s sense of being an unnecessary victim. Her rather detached, abrasive mother (Maureen Beattie) doesn’t pressure her and her and her post¬natally depressed sister (Charlotte Randle) is a torment to her because of the irony that producing babies has apparently been no problem for these seemingly unmaternal women.

This is a confronting play and Stone directs it dynamically with a great sense of urgency. We are asked to question the stereotypical conventional ideas of what being a woman is and whether being a mother is the be all and end all of everything. YERMA (which, by the way, means barren in Spanish) is both inexorable and scrupulous in its roughly 90 minutes ranging from witty and vibrant social comment to cataclysmic extremes.

Running time allow 2 hours (there is a short film and interview beforehand and the ads) the actual performance is 90 minutes no interval.

YERMA screens as part of the NT Live series in selected cinemas from October 14 2017




SHOW QUEEN is Sydney’s favourite, most fabulous cabaret and musical theatre variety night.

Each month we feature a hand-picked lineup of Australia’s best and brightest musical stars and cabaret performers – direct from current and upcoming musicals in Sydney and around the country.

The event is hosted by and stars Trevor Ashley with musical direction by Bev Kennedy who is at the helm of a three piece band.

The Show Queen cast includes-

Daniel Belle (My Fair Lady)
Jennifer Peers (The Sound of Music)
Mark Trevorrow (Cabaret Royalty / Bob Downe)
Erin Cornell (Cats)
Ali Calder (Wicked)
Luigi Lucente (Jersey Boys)

Tickets: Reserved Seating (limited); General Admission (seats available on a first come, first in basis) when doors open.

Sunday 22 October – Door from 7pm at Gingers at the Oxford Hotel, 174 Oxford Street, Darlinghurst.

For more about Show Queen, visit https://www.showqueen.com.au/
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Jetpack Presents: Ghosts of Glebe

That house. On the corner. It’s so damn scary. That street. Near the church. You get a chill every time you cross it. That ghost. In the park. Who is she? Or, you suppose, was she? Why won’t she let you have a turn on the swings? Join us at Ghosts of Glebe as our professional guides lead you on a spooky tour of thrills, chills and friendly spectres that surround one of Sydney’s oldest suburbs. Who knows what you might discover about the spirit world… or yourself?

Inspired by local history and architecture, this interactive show is a fictional walking tour performed on the streets of Glebe, blending performance and reality for a delightfully eerie night out.

6.30 & 8pm, Tuesdays-Saturdays, 31st October-11th November

For more about Jetpack Presents: Ghosts of Glebe, visit http://ghostsofglebe.eventbrite.com.au
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Daniel Muggleton ‘Let’s Never Hang Out’ @ Oxford Arts Factory

After sold out shows in Australia and around the world, hometown comedian Daniel Muggleton returns to Sydney for a debut comedy special at the Oxford Arts Factory on Wednesday, 25 October.

It’s been a massive year for the comedian so far with the release his debut album Let Me Finish which reached Top 50 in the worldwide comedy album charts. 2017 also saw Daniel tour the US, performing all over New York City, including New York Comedy Club and the famous Comedy at the Knitting Factory, as well as The Laugh Factory in Chicago.

All this plus a return to The Edinburgh Fringe, a feature on The Feed (SBS2), an appearance on The Checkout (ABC), and hosting the Jokes To Bang Tour with Neel Kolhatkar, Rohan Ganju, Aaron Chen and Jen Carnovale, where they performed to 1000 people across two weeks in rural NSW.

There’s no slowing down with ‘Let’s Never Hang Out’, a brand new hour of blunt and honest storytelling on relationships, kid’s names, dreams – wet and dry, old people and the McDonald’s Family Feast.

Let’s Never Hang Out shows a more mature side of the comedian who has graduated from sleeping on a single mattress on the floor in a share house in Redfern to a queen size bed on four pieces of wood. It’s a more self-reflective piece on well, race, age, gender and porn, among others. It will be filmed live at Oxford Arts Factory on Wednesday, 25 October.

Daniel’s come a long way since he started doing stand-up in New York in 2012 because, as he says, his girlfriend was ignoring him and he didn’t have anything better to do. His debut album Let Me Finish was recorded at The Comedy Store and released by Comedy Dynamics, the largest independent comedy producer in the world – making Daniel the first Australian comedian to be produced by the Grammy-award winning label.

A few years back he, together with Samuel Kettler he started Australia’s first sign-up on the night open mic night in Sydney called Mug and Kettle Comedy.

He has performed at festivals all over Australia and abroad and was selected as a FRESH Artist to Watch at Sydney Comedy Festival in 2014 and 2015. In 2015 and 2016 he made appearances at Pigsty in July music festival and hosted Burgapalooza in 2016 and 2017. He was also an off-stage writer for A Rational Fear (FBi) and award-winning web-series SYD2030.

Catch Daniel live at Oxford Arts Factory on Wednesday, 25 October at 7:00pm and 9:30pm

”Very, very funny” Sydney Arts Guide

Oct 25, 6:30PM & 9:00PM

For more about Daniel Muggleton ‘Let’s Never Hang Out’ @ Oxford Arts Factory, visit https://www.danielmuggleton.com
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Rehearsals have commenced in Sydney for the Australian run of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s new production of THE WIZARD OF OZ, brought to Australia by John Frost and  Suzanne Jones. The production will feature some new songs composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber with lyrics by Tim Rice. 

The principal cast members are Anthony Warlow as The Wizard and Professor Marvel, Lucy Durack as Glenda The Good Witch, Jemma Rix as the Wicked Witch Of the West, rising star Samantha Dodemaide in the coveted role of Dorothy, her first leading role in a musical, Eli Cooper as the Scarecrow, Alex Rathgeber as the Tin Man and John Xintavelonis will play the Lion.

THE WIZARD OF OZ, directed by Jeremy Sams, will commence its Australian tour with a season at the Lyric Theatre, Queensland Performing Arts Centre which will start from the the 4th November. The show will then move to Sydney’s Capitol Theatre from the 30th December. After its Sydney season  the Emerald City and its Wizard will move across to Adelaide from he 3rd April, 2018.

http://www.wizardofozthe musical.com

Featured image. Lucy Durack. All photos by Ben Apfelbaum.



Set in the heart of Double Bay, Frances Keevil Gallery demonstrates, through its selection of artists, the variety, vitality and relevance of contemporary art.

Founded by art consultant and curator Frances Keevil and film and creative industries executive Lynn Westacott, the Gallery represents both established and emerging career artists, holding regular solo and mixed artist’ exhibitions and keeping a permanent stock room on rotational display.

A special empathy for figurative works – the painterly and sculptural – underlies a gallery ethos aimed at encouraging a deeper appreciation of the arts within the community.

The current exhibition showing at the Gallery is Sue Meyer’s ‘Off The Beaten Track’ which is on display till Sunday 29th October. There is also an exhibition online of recent sculptures by artist Lolek.


Images by Ben Apfelbaum.




Two of the main protagonists in this third installment of the Marble Comics are Thor himself and the Hulk. Their earthly counterparts Chris Hemsworth and Mark Ruffalo strode the Red Carpet at the Entertainment Quarter last Sunday.

It was a very glitzy Sydney premiere with gold painted models and statues of Thor and the Hulk. Also in attendance was the New Zealand Director Taika Waititi and producers Brad Winderbaum and Chelsea Winstanley. Among the local celebrities who made an appearance was ex Home and Away star Johnny Ruffo, fresh from a life saving operation for brain cancer, who attended along with his girlfriend, Tahnee Sims.

A major difference in this film is that, at his insistence, Chris Hemsworth refused to wear the long blonde hair wig. Also with the inclusion of Taika Waititi, the film has more comedic touches. Filmed on the Gold Coast, Chris Hemsworth declared that he wished he could film more of his films in Australia.

THOR RAGNAROK opens in cinemas on the 26th October.

Featured image – Taika Waititi and Chelsea Winstanley. All images By Ben Apfelbaum.


This is an astonishing, vibrantly alive animated feature about Vincent van Gogh. It is fictional but uses real characters and incidents documented in Van Gogh’s letters.

This film represents the first entirely oil-painted animation feature film in history and has taken almost a decade to make. As written & directed by Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman, more than 100 talented artists, mainly from Poland and Greece, hand-painted every single frame, in oils, in the unmistakable style of the film’s celebrated subject, Vincent van Gogh.

At 12 frames per second and with a running time of just over 90 minutes, that’s 65,000 frames in all.

The film lives through van Gogh’s passion and art. A lot of the film is in thrilling colour but the flashbacks are portrayed in black and white which, while clearly augmented by an animator’s brush, are also obviously based on live-action footage. Some of the sequences are almost visual poetry, full of remarkable beauty. There are also striking sequences using shadows and/or reflections.

Ninety four of his paintings are featured in a form very close to the original, and a further thirty one paintings featured either substantially or partially. The detail is amazing – for example there is a cat walking across the bottom of the screen at one point then vanishing.

Sound effects include church bells, the clip clop of horses , startled crows cawing and rising from a field, the clink of a tea cup and so on.

Ochres, golds, cornflower blues, purples and reds resonate in the style of the artist’s most famous works.

Robert Gulaczyk as Vincent van Gogh leads a cast that includes Douglas Booth as Armand Roulin, Chris O’Dowd as Postman Roulin, Helen McCrory as Dr Gachet’s housekeeper and John Sessions as Pere Tanguy, van Gogh’s supplier of art materials. Jerome Flynn as Dr Gachet and the Poldark stars Eleanor Tomlinson and Aidan Turner are also featured.

The story is set in 1891, a year after van Gogh’s death, when Postman Roulin sends his son Armand to Paris to deliver a letter to the artist’s brother Theo. Armand finds that Theo has also died and continues his journey by tracking down various people who have sat for the artist or had other contact with him.

The film then becomes a detective story unearthing and examining the various conflicting accounts given by residents of Auvers-sur-Oise, the village where he suffered his tragic end, that Armand talks to.

In the Paris scenes there are no can cans in Montemarte (although we do see the gatherings with Toulouse-Lautrec, Bernard), no cheerful prostitutes, and there no hint of the rumours that van Gogh perhaps had an affair with the daughter of his physician, Dr Gachet.

Yes,  we see Vincent delivering the parcel of his cut off ear to his favourite whore.

The film also analyses the theory that Van Gogh was perhaps murdered by René Secrétan, a local 16 year-old who enjoyed ridiculing the rather reclusive artist.

Armand’s enquiries end up centring around the still-fascinating questions of where van Gogh’s gun came from, why he shot himself in the stomach and what happened to all his painting equipment.

Van Gogh’s paintings as an expression of his tortured soul changed people’s understanding  of what art could be. This film brings the great artist’s work richly to life. Try and stay right to the end for the ‘sketchbook’ at the end with the credits, to Don Mclean’s haunting, moving Vincent. 

Running time – roughly 90 minutes no interval

LOVING VINCENT screens at selected arthouse cinemas from November 2 2017.


The Lost Pages – The Debut Novel by Melbourne writer Marija Peričić

The year is 1908 in the city of Prague. You’ve written your first book. Everyone wants to be near you, touch you, and hear what you the learned writer has to say. Maybe you do have something worthwhile to impart, your literary opinion is in demand and many would-be authors vie for your attention. Your confidence grows as your fame increases, until a handsome, brilliant stranger befriends you, rivalling your talent and self-assurance. That’s when doubt begins to creep in.

Winner of The Australian/Vogel’s Literary Award 2017, the debut novel of Melbourne author Marija Peričić is an intriguing interpretation of the relationship of Max Brod and Franz Kafka. THE LOST PAGES  traces the strange and often fractious relationship between mentor (Max Brod) and protégé (Franz Kafka), where love, rivalry, jealousy and paranoia spiral into madness. Continue reading The Lost Pages – The Debut Novel by Melbourne writer Marija Peričić


As an adult chaperoning a small human to a kid’s comedy show, you don’t have high hopes of enjoying yourself. At best, you can hope to receive some second-hand joy watching the ecstatic faces of the children you broughtknowing you have just become their coolest guardian. Alternatively, you can hope the show will encourage you to peg huge boogers at its presenterswhich is precisely how THE LISTIES ‘ICKYPEDIA’ had me spending my Friday night; and yes, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

In THE LISTIES ‘ICKYPEDIA’, Richard Higgins and Matthew Kelly (both former adult comedians- turned children) bring their eponymous comedy book to the stagean unfactual encyclopedia of hilarious, entirely made-up (and almost-always-poo-related) compound words. From being ‘fartled’ to accidentally entering ‘nose-go zone’, these new words and their expertly formed definitions finally address some of the Macquarie Dictionary’s shortcomings. Continue reading THE LISTIES ‘ICKYPEDIA’ @ THE MERRIGONG THEATRE


All art is dangerous and to be an artist can cost you your sanity and your life. Is art meant to serve society, or is it a vehicle to serve the arrogance of the artist? Or, can it be either or both?!

This intense, explosive production by Sport For Jove,  luminously directed by Damien Ryan, is disturbing and powerful yet also at times lyrical and poetic.

In some ways the plays feels like a cross between a play by Tom Stoppard and Vaclav Havel , sharp and witty , wordy with piercing use of language.

First published in 1981 , in thirteen scenes over two acts , NO END OF BLAME roams over six decades of the 20th Century , from 1918 to the mid 1970’s , across various locations in Europe, and the play pits a passionate, provocative pair of artists, one a painter, Igor, the other a cartoonist, Bela ,against the forces of censorship and insidious state control that corrupt and stifle the human right to freedom of thought and freedom of speech. Continue reading SPORT FOR JOVE PRESENTS ‘NO END OF BLAME’ @ THE SEYMOUR CENTRE


This is a glitzy, bright bold and colourful production slickly staged by the Willoughby Theatre Company (WTC).

The show is a bleak, cynical, world weary look at life murder and corruption in Chicago of the 1920’s and includes audience favourites like All That Jazz and Razzle Dazzle.

The story is a satire on corruption in the administration of criminal justice and the concept of the “celebrity criminal”.

Set in Prohibition-era Chicago, the musical is based on a 1926 play of the same name by crime reporter Maurine Dallas Watkins.

Each number is based on a traditional vaudeville act or performer, making explicit the show’s comparison between “justice”, “show-business”, and contemporary society.

The iconic show has won six Tonys and is one of the longest running shows both on Broadway and in London.

There have been two major productions in Sydney, the landmark Sydney Theatre Company production with Geraldine Turner and Nancey Hayes in 1981, the production in 1999 at the Capitol with  Caroline O’Connor and Chelsea Gibb.

What is interesting is the slight changes – the ‘standard’ Fosse choreography is not used, although there are allusions to it,  and the WTC seek to out Barnum Barnum and razzle -dazzle us with HUGE production numbers.

There is no fan dance with chorus girls for Billy Flynn’s All care About Is Love– yet the girls appear in other sections of the show, and the sharp, spiky Cell Block Tango has another team of ladies up top on the scaffolding. And why were there three extra Billys and Roxies for We Both Reached For the Gun?! 

Rather than have various cast members introduce the assorted numbers in Brechtian style,in this production we have a dapper MC nattily played by Luke Davis.

Andrew Castle lovingly directs with great timing and pacing from the fine ensemble who perform with panache. The orchestra under the baton of Alex Ash was sensational , bringing the infectious score vibrantly to life.

The 1920’s costumes were incredibly detailed and textured – oh ! the beading and lace for some of them!

Janina Hamerlok’s choreography was snazzy and oh so showbizzy, also including tap and the Charleston.

Dangerous, angry Velma Kelly , a deadly viper who is dethroned in prison by her rival ,was given an impressive performance by Kristina McNamara. 

Her big introductory number – All That Jazz – boisterously set the scene .We see how she sets out to look after number one but is also  scared and fragile. She shimmies, she dances up a dazzling storm to try and get Roxie on her side( I Simply Cannot Do It Alone) .

Roxie Hart, superficially sweet and pretty is coldly calculating, as played by fiery, petite Erin Carlton who portrays her as a spoilt and self absorbed wannabe who tries trading up in boyfriends and pinches Velma’s plans for her trial . Her baby is also a scam.

Roxie transforms her prison cell into a command centre for her commando raids on Chicago’s court system , with help from Flynn. We do also see her vulnerability underneath. The Nowadays duet was glamorous and eye catching,

Sleek, suave, cynical, corrupt hot shot lawyer Billy Flynn was marvellously played by Gavin Brightwell who croons his way through All He Cares About Is Love – oh yeah? The money , rather.

Matron Mama Morton was given a dazzling performance by Courtney Powell who cynically reveals her corruption. She sings up a storm and her When You’re Goo to Mama brings the house down

Quiet, shy Amos, Roxie’s husband, who is rather simple and naive , (Mr Cellophan ), was terrifically played by Scott Dias in a very sympathetic performance.

Vibrant naïve Mary Sunshine (There’s A Little Bit of Good in Everyone), who hides a deep secret,  was given a splendid performance by Jared Pallesen .

CHICAGO is about life as a battlefield and the weapons we use in our attempts to survive the wars. It is witty and intelligent its famous songs about betrayal, selfishness and press manipulation, could be equally at home either on the Broadway or Australian stage or in any of the recent Presidential or Prime Ministerial campaigns, giving us plenty to think about.

Razzle dazzle them ….

Running time – just over 2 & ½ hours.

Willoughby Theatre Company’s CHICAGO is playing the  Concourse  at Chatswood until the 22nd October.

Book by Fred Ebb & Bob Fosse
Music by John Kander
Lyrics by Fredd Ebb
Based on the play Chicago by Maurine Dallas Watkins
Script adaptation by David Thompson



Above, left to right: Tristan Entwistle plays Papageno,  Joshua Oxley in the role of Tamino with the Three Ladies Sitong Liu, Viktoria Bolonina and Jia Yao Sun. Featured image: the Three Spirits move  about the Egyptian-themed set. Photo credit – Christopher Hayles 

The latest fully staged production to showcase the talents of opera students at Sydney Conservatorium of Music is a slick revival of THE MAGIC FLUTE, Mozart’s final opera, as once performed and toured by Opera Australia. In an entertaining and colourful depiction of the singspiel’s  varied characters and concerns, the cast energetically recreate Michael Gow’s version, set in a Raiders of the Lost Ark-like Egyptian pyramid or tomb vault labyrinth. Continue reading CON OPERA : THE MAGIC FLUTE @ SYDNEY CONSERVATORIUM OF MUSIC


This is a neat piece of small scale theatre, written and directed by Hot Room Theatre Group Artistic Director Steve Hopley.

One of Hopley’s main goals as Director is for his Group to create new work, and get actors, who aren’t regularly performing, up on the stage.

The show riffs off a simple idea that makes one think why hadn’t anyone thought of it before. The concept – to draw parallels between the classic property game ‘Monopoly’, and the real life property ‘game’ of buying and selling real estate in Sydney. Continue reading MONOPOLY : A NEW PLAY BY STEVEN HOPLEY


We are a species with a great ability to improvise. One of our more modest and  frequent outlets for our creativity is in the way we express ourselves  with/through our nests, our homes. 

Movie rooms, music rooms, game rooms, the list goes on… One friend set up a fully fledged cafe in his house. Everything was set up…the latest coffee machine, fresh pastries in glass cabinets, journals such as the New Yorker on the coffee table,  plush sofa seating.

Great ideas…These, however, are nothing near the scale of what Hollywood legend Barbra Streisand established in her home. Are you ready for it?! A  shopping mall in the basement of her LA mansion. Continue reading BUYER AND CELLAR @ THE ENSEMBLE THEATRE


MIRACLE CITY was first produced in Sydney in 1996 and after brief, bright flame of 4 weeks flickered out as the creative forces behind it moved on. Written by the late Nick Enright with music from Max Lambert (who is Musical Director for this production), the original director was Gale Edwards. Did I see Edwards and original cast member Genevieve Lemon in the crowd tonight? This production was  spoken of in legendary terms yet it was interesting to note there were plenty of excitable tweets coming from opening night audience members repeating the precept that MIRACLE CITY was previously ‘undiscovered’.

Offering this production up for fresh discovery is Darren Yap, directing again after a sell-out season at Hayes Theatre in October 2014. He worked as Enright’s assistant in 1997 when a modified version was produced for WAAPA.

Credibility galore so far. Add to this line-up, a stellar cast, high production values, uniform excellence in the voices and you have a show which is sure to please.

It is the 1990s at the height of the Televangelist craze that will come crashing down as scandals and swindles come to light. MIRACLE CITY plays out in real time as the Truswells, a family of faith, prepare and present their live-to-air “Ministry of Miracles”. Father Ricky, Mother Lora Lee, 16 year old daughter Loretta and younger son Ricky-Bob are excited that prestigious pastor Millard Sizemore is their guest on today’s show. Continue reading MIRACLE CITY @ THE STUDIO, SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE


We were privileged to see the Comedie Francaise in a revival of the much loved French classic by Edmund Rostand CYRANO DE BERGERAC. (yes in French, with English subtitles).

Rostand’s play tells of the soldier-poet Cyrano de Bergerac, who is a brave and resolute man, full of passion and wit, who is accomplished both with words and swords, but is afraid of rejection by the woman he loves.

Cyrano is in love with the beautiful intellectual Roxanne but dares not to woo her because of his over size nose. However he helps Christian – who is handsome but not majorly intellectual – to woo Roxanne with passionate letters. Only on Cyrano’s deathbed does Roxanne discover that she has been the love of his life. Continue reading COMMEDIE FRANCAISE PRESENTS ‘CYRANO DE BERGERAC

Puntila / Matti @ Kings Cross Theatre

Production photos by Rupert Reid.

“It is easier to rob by setting up a bank than by holding up a clerk.” – Bertolt Brecht

This quote by German Modernist playwright Brecht is the opening description on MK Alpha’s page for Puntila/Matti, and perhaps the most apt and appropriate way to explain this show.

Set the audience up for an enjoyable, mindless night out in Sydney’s Kings Cross theatrical hub only to be immediately knocked down and disappointed. This show is not intended to be watched nor enjoyed like a regular performance.

Fourth-walls are broken, audience members personally called out, asked to perform on stage with the actors, coerced into very uncomfortable situations, and left unsure as to whether they are correctly following along. It’s a surprise if no one walks out during the show.

Puntila/Matti is an adaptation by Doppelgangster of Brecht’s play Mr Puntila and his Man Matti. Presented by MK-Alpha and Kings Cross Theatre, Puntila/Matti has been conceptualised by Tobias Manderson-Galvin, directing and performing alongside Grace Lauer and Antoniette Barbouttis.

The trio each have their own moments to bond with the audience but it is perhaps Manderson-Galvin that is trying to make the audience feel the least comfortable. Sitting next to, interrogating, and even kissing members of the audience, leaves an uneasy feeling throughout the entire show.

In Brecht’s eyes, this show would probably pass as using his famous styles and techniques common to his work. But would he enjoy it? For a play that was originally written in 1940 and first performed in 1948 probably not. However, this show is being performed in 2017 and is subverting the modern viewer. This is not a play designed to be enjoyed by all. It is experimental and aggressive, whilst maintaining a certain wit and comedic approach that will not be palatable to everyone.

Whether intentional or not, the fact that Puntila/Matti is being performed in Kings Cross is incredibly clever. An area once infamous for crime, drugs, and scandal, is slowly gentrifying. The environment is shifting from a once bustling nightlife hub to an expensive, high-rise area. The intersection between rich and poor is becoming more apparent in the suburb, particularly on the main strip. Puntila is an aristocratic land-owner and Matti is his servant. Theatre is more commonly enjoyed by those who can afford it, with Puntila/Matti attempting to shake all of us out of this bubble.

This is anti-theatre with a devilish comedic twist.

Puntila/Matti is on at The Kings Cross Theatre (inside The Kings Cross Hotel) from 25th September – 14th October on Monday – Saturday at 7:30pm. The show is approx 90 minutes with no interval.

Please note: Strong Language, Nudity, Loud Noises, Smoke. Over 18 is advised.


As our world gets more complex, and more and more technically savvy, the line between reality and fantasy is becoming increasingly blurred. One inevitably begins to ponder where all these technological advances are going to leave us? Will life, as we know it, still be manageable? Have we human beings  become far too smart for our own good?! It is this area, and these questions, which Sydney playwright Julian Larnach explores in his new play.

The play is a two-hander, Anni Finsterer plays an unnamed middle  aged mum and Elizabeth Nabben is her (also unnamed) adult daughter.  Nabben also plays a number of other, incidental characters.

Very early on in the play we cotton on that the  two have a very fractured, tense relationship.

At the heart of the tension between them is the daughter’s great antipathy towards her mother’s corporate career based in cutting edge technology. She sees her mother as being cold and dispassionate. Tension mounts up between them, culminating in the daughter storms out of the family home and simply vanishes.

She might have all the smarts in the world, but mum doesn’t know how to deal with her baby’s disappearance. She is used to being able to work out, and control everything. At the point of full on despair she comes up with a strategy. She will try and create a clone of her daughter. That way she will never have to miss her daughter again!

Larnach’s narrative has plenty of twists and turns over its two hour journey. Sometimes the shifts, especially in time sequences, are a little confusing, still it was a provocative night in the theatre, leaving one with plenty to think about.

The performances by Anni Finsterer and  Elizabeth Nibben were excellent. Luke Rogers direction worked well, as did the work of his creative team, with highlights being an edgy soundscape by James Brown and a compact, very good looking set by Georgina Hopkins.

Julian Larnach’s IN REAL LIFE is in its last few days at the Eternity Playhouse. The season ends this Sunday, 15th October.



Rembrandt and the Dutch Golden Age: masterpieces from the Rijksmuseum

Experience the first major exhibition in Sydney of the great Dutch painters of the 17th century, Rembrandt and the Dutch Golden Age: masterpieces from the Rijksmuseum at the Art Gallery of NSW.

Drawn from the Rijksmuseum, the renowned national collection of the Netherlands, the exhibition comprises 78 exceptional works of art. Immerse yourself in intense portraits, dramatic seascapes, tranquil scenes of domestic life and careful studies of fruit and flowers.

Highlights include a rare painting by Vermeer and a room dedicated to Rembrandt – one of the greatest minds in the history of art.

The exhibition forms part of the Sydney International Art Series 2017-2018, bringing the world’s most outstanding exhibitions exclusively to the Art Gallery or NSW and MCA, every summer.

Purchase a Sydney International Art Pass to see both exhibitions and save 20%: http://www.artpass.com.au

For more information and tickets,  visit http://www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au/exhibitions/rembrandt/

From November 11.

For more about Rembrandt and the Dutch Golden Age: masterpieces from the Rijksmuseum, visit
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Crash Test Drama, a unique theatre event located in inner Sydney, is going to hold its last audition showcase for the year on October 31 at 107 Theatres, 107 Redfern Street, Redfern.

The event provides a fantastic space for  directors, playwrights, actors, and actresses to  network and work in.

Pete Malicki, the coordinator of Crash Test Drama, has constructed a friendly and warm atmosphere for all comers and made Crash Test Drama a fun and fruitful event for theatre people to take part in. Continue reading CRASH TEST DRAMA : NOW IN ITS TENTH YEAR


Concert Program

Neilsen : Wind Quintet, Op 43

Hindemith  Kleine Kammermusik for Wind Quintet, Op. 24, No. 2

Françaix Quartet for Winds

Beethoven Quintet in E flat major for Piano and Winds, Op. 16

Neilsen : Wind Quintet, Op.43
Impressions of this long and interesting work varied, like the performance itself, crisp with good harmonic density allowing the musicians to flourish with much individual expression and solo performance. Repeatedly the variation in mood evoked visual pictures of the natural albeit at times dense environment which challenged and contrasted with the reality of observing a pleasure craft sailing past the panoramic window of the room. Utzon would have been pleased!
Kleine Kammermusic for WIND quintet. Paul Hindermith Opus 24 1922

Something different, unexpected, well named and very playful indeed which contrasted with the mid afternoon haze and softness of the harbour view. This was a new experience for the audience and me, hearing it for the first time.

This piece was a forceful statement from the beginning, allowing full testing of virtuosity, personal expression and enjoyment by the musicians which frequently became clearly visible to all to enjoy. So we too enjoyed, absorbed the mood of the performers and interpreted  the work and journey accordingly.

My preference for experiencing this work more than once with its  constant  but very interesting interplay of the dissonant and deliciously warm melody variations would be in a dark room allowing a swirl of images to form and assault our imagination beyond one’s usual expectations.

The power, emotion and momentum produced at times seemed more than what could be expect from a quintet, and with the easily perceptible Stravinsky like harmonic and rhythmic punctuations made it exciting listening, some of which felt reminiscent of Petrushka.

Consequently, the frequent confrontation within the work with so much sudden dissonance  may be disturbing to some and invigorating to others, like life itself, unpredictable, but this work one can enjoy more than once.  

Quartet for Winds, Jean Francaix 1933

No horn! No wild images to blow your mind, just light, enthusiastic, joyful sound with traces of lively exuberance. Genius it seems manifests in infinite ways contriving some very complex multi instrument compositions like Wagner has and at the other end of the scale we, today experienced the opposite in a quartet with verve sparkle and wit with such ease.

Although composed recently. mid last century, the work defies the trend towards atonal and dissonant compositions allowing the simple combination of sound to be easily digested and identifying a clear positive statement with just four wind instruments, one could call elation without the extreme.

Such is genius, often overlooked, but here within the bare bones of the Utzon room Francaix’s work was a sheer delight,  made possible on this occasion only by the talent and sensitivity  of the four really fine artists involved.

Quintet in E-flat major for Piano and Winds. Op. 16, 1796. Ludwig Van Beethoven

Suddenly, like warm air flooding a cold room, from the very first phrase, that familiar Beethoven sound embraced the space filled predominantly with a white haired audience. Immediately, the reaction was palpable. Is this because since his death we made him so popular and as such his works are familiar or is there an enduring special quality about the way he tells the story – unlike any other composer?

In this early work, like in many of his later compositions, Beethoven touches the nerve quickly and directly – no ambiguous wavering and innuendo for him, boldly, with the minimum foreplay he is into one’s head in the simplest, most economic way creating themes and enormous variety emotions, frequently at an amazing rate. And it hangs together amazingly well producing delight which I called the ‘Beethoven sound’, already there, untapped at 27, that everybody now recognises.

This work, probably re-written for our benefit seems in parts as intended to enhance the role of the piano and as such have the wind quartet provide spatial continuity and a background.

Whatever the original intention for the Viennese audience, this performance in Sydney required extreme skill to provide a performance of considerable virtuosity and Omega’s lovely pianist Maria Raspopova did deliver and so did the 4 members of the wind group, splendidly.  

Repeat listening is recommended for deeper understanding of the work and its possible relationship to the later, more mature and intricate piano trio, also in E-flat major created 12 years later on with Beethoven’s return to composing chamber music.

Review by Michael Bures ASTC RAIA


Traffic Jam Galleries : TJG Team Selection

Something for everyone with the current most exciting Traffic Jam Galleries exhibition which has just opened – a show curated from works selected by TJG team members Bianca, Jess, Rebecca and Somerset.

Running from the 5th – 26th of October, the exhibition features new works from artists including Andrew Grassi Kelaher, Claire Kirkup, Danielle McManus, Rebecca Pierce and Nigel Sense. I will concentrate mainly on the new works.

Andrew Grassi Kelaher’s works are rather surrealist, very striking, extremely controlled manicured landscapes with clouds and precisely placed trees, sheep, rocks and winding rolling roads.

Will Maguire ‘s spiky and Hugh McLachlan’s reflective, almost melting wonderful sculptures are included as are Carol Foster and Elizabeth Green’s marvellous paintings.

J Valenzula Didi is represented by three abstract, rigidly precisely placed paintings in a triptych work entitled Urban Symphony. It felt like there  were Geoffrey Smart references involved. The use of shadow and geometric line was wonderfully employed, and there was a hint of 3 dimensions in some of the two dimensional paintings.

Ember Fairbairn’s One More Flood was full of lines, dots and misty texture.

Rebecca Peirce’s explosive, colourful, thickly painted flower paintings leaped off the wall. A large, sensitive and passionate, possibly wistful  ‘Somerset Designated Driver’ portrait‘ was new as well as the bright, colourful Low Lying Cloud Over The Glass Mountains and a couple of works from her Simple Life series revealed her extensive range of styles and subjects.

Danielle McManus is represented by her latest adorable but enigmatic work Follow the White Rabbit– a young person in a white rabbit suit in a huge field of red poppies.

Nigel Sense’s ouevre is represented by some of his striking bold flower paintings , perhaps with a Margaret Preston influence?– there is a very strong use of line and colour and outline.

Mia Oatley is represented by two swirling seascapes, and a sleek intense portrait looming diagonally across the canvas ( Forest Woman) .

Both Jenny Green’s exciting sculptures and Elizabeth Green’ s seemingly delicate yet intense works are included.

Dean Reilly’s The Professional Polymath is a striking dreamlike Surrealist portrait of a suite wearing a head of flowers.

Edgar Schilter and Julie Hutchings both have a single work featured in this group show as does Katherine Wood.

The delicate, embroidered Nature Studies of Meredith Woolnough captivate and entrance. combining science and art.

The current TJG Team Selection exhibition runs at Traffic Jam Galleries until the 26th October 2017


The Natural Conservatorium for Wise Women @ Old 505

Lean and slippered. The stained figure before us is no hothouse creation. He is of the earth. His modesty is protected by his natural fibre woollen longjohns but he is white faced and stripped of insignia and identifiers. Perceptually naked as the ball root of the plant he holds.

That little tree. In his eye … a son. An object to be threatened into growth when it takes its natural place in a hole of the creature’s digging.

Clockfire Theatre Company will take this being on a journey to a place where the earthen tear he has dug, with his father and his father’s father and back beyond, is no longer owned by him. And in that place, he will beg.

THE NATURAL CONSERVATORIUM FOR WISE WOMEN is a work of power about power: the taking of it, the nature of reclaiming it and the powerlessness of those from whom it is wrenched or cajoled. Continue reading The Natural Conservatorium for Wise Women @ Old 505

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