All posts by Joy Minter

After a twelve month working holiday that took her from Sydney to Perth, Joy moved to Australia from Canada. She first lived in Canberra, where she studied literature and sociology at ANU. After graduating she moved to Sydney and enrolled at Macquarie to complete an honours year in Australian literature and graduated in 2001. She worked in finance and the arts before establishing the arts and entertainment website thebuzzfromsydney, which reviews and promotes live performance and exhibition in Sydney. She has been a member of the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA) since July 2013. She loves the vibrant art scene in Sydney, and reporting on local theatre.

VINCENT RIVER @ THE FACTORY THEATRE

 

‘’Vincent River is dead, the victim of a homophobic hate crime’

With that nugget of information we head into the theatre. The outcome of this headline story is not buried at the back of the paper, but put right out there at the start so we already know the ending. So what now is there to see? As it turns out, a lot. A gruesome, funny, tragic lot.

This Philip Ridley play first appeared in 2000 and was described by Variety at the time as being ‘a minor addition to Britain’s new brutalist genre’ and likely to cause audiences to stifle yawns. That production must have been  pretty awful, or more likely the reviewer was having an off night, as this current incarnation under the direction of Andrew Langcake  is another story. Put it this way, no one in the audience was yawning.

Vincent’s mother Anita (Susan M Kennedy) and young stranger Davey (Russell Cronin) circle around each other with caution at first after the death of Vincent, but as more gin is swilled, confidences grow riskier and more bold. Davey is initially only a casual witness to the end of Vincent’s life but he is obviously tormented and Anita naturally wants to know why.

Susan M Kennedy as Anita is world-weary but she is curious enough (and still maternal enough) to let her defenses down and let a strange young man in. Kennedy executes the humour in an authentic and off-hand manner that catches you off guard. Russell Cronin as Davey is incredible. His revelations throughout the play are not particularly surprising, in the final scene, however,  he delivers with such gut-wrenching emotion that you can’t look away during his hypnotic confession. The very estuary British accents are fantastic, Nick Curnow acted as dialect consultant and the result is impressive.   

Between Langcakes’s direction and Kennedy and Cronin’s performances, Vincent River packs an emotionally laden sucker punch that will leave you reeling. The structure and pace of this production are close to perfection: to call this an amateur production would be misleading, I have seen much so-called professional theatre that hasn’t come close to the production value that Vincent River offers.        

Vincent River is presented by Throwing Shade Theatre Company and is on at the Factory Theatre (Marrickville) until 5 March, for more details and tickets see:

http://www.factorytheatre.com.au/events/2017/02/21/vincent-river

 

 

 

THE TESTAMENT OF MARY @ WHARF 1 SYDNEY THEATRE COMPANY

When the lights come up on The Testament of Mary the audience is confronted with a traditional Catholic scene, Mary surrounded by candles with lamb in arms. The steps leading to this very iconic image resemble an altar , which is stunning in an understated style, yet the foreground of the stage is roped off with velvet cord draping languidly between the bollards: it is the church as a museum piece, a quaint antiquity. Then the edifice crumbles as Mary swiftly jettisons the props that have become a part of her legacy, a legacy which playwright Colm Tóibín revises from the safe distance of the ‘collapsed’ Catholic. Continue reading THE TESTAMENT OF MARY @ WHARF 1 SYDNEY THEATRE COMPANY

WORKING CLASS BOY : THE EARLY LIFE OF JIMMY BARNES

Just finished reading WORKING CLASS BOY the first instalment of the story of James Dixon Swan, aka – Jimmy Barnes. As usual I am about six months behind the times, the book was published to much fanfare last year, ironically when Barnsey was doing publicity for the book at various venues in Sydney I was in Glasgow. In a pub, about ten minutes from Cowcaddens, the rough area that Barnes lived in until the age of five.  That’s just how life is sometimes, but back to the real story.

Barnes’ home life in both Glasgow and Elizabeth, SA (where he spent most of his youth) was shambolic, the family lived in poverty and violence was commonplace. The stories he tells make your hair stand on end, the two bottles of vodka a day that became a regular feature of his later life start making sense. His substance abuse was not the usual garden variety abuse of the ‘sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll crowd. Barnes was in need of more anesthetizing, to banish the memories of his troubled upbringing. Yet he tells it with such candour and humour that the reader is drawn in to the grey streets of Glasgow and South Australia willingly and we are happy to take the journey with him, and to some pretty dark places. Continue reading WORKING CLASS BOY : THE EARLY LIFE OF JIMMY BARNES

BRIAN WILSON’S STORY – IN HIS OWN WORDS

I AM BRIAN WILSON is a rather long and vague postscript to  Love and Mercy, the 2014 film that tracks the famous Beach Boy’s mental illness from its onset in the mid 60s to the 80s, whilst he was in the care of the famously negligent Dr Eugene Landy.

Wilson’s sometimes prolific drinking and drug-taking was replaced under Landy’s regime with a steady diet of prescription medication which led to chronic apathy borne out of surrendering his will to that of the controlling doctor. Wilson eventually escaped the treacherous relationship with Landy with the help of second wife Marilyn. The film Love and Mercy is really an ode to their love.

This memoir features long tedious passages about the minutiae of Wilson’s present day, a long with details of his inspirations that, undiluted and free of intoxicants, are trivial at best and extremely tedious at worst. Continue reading BRIAN WILSON’S STORY – IN HIS OWN WORDS

A RABBIT FOR KIM JONG-IL@ SBW STABLES THEATRE

Inset pic- Kit Brookman and Steve Rodgers. Featureed pic- Kaeng Chan and Kit Brookman in A RABBIT FOR KIM JONG-IL. Production photography by Brett Boardman
Inset pic- Kit Brookman and Steve Rodgers. Featureed pic- Kaeng Chan and Kit Brookman in A RABBIT FOR KIM JONG-IL. Production photography by Brett Boardman

Bizarrely, the Lee Lewis directed A RABBIT FOR KIM-JONG-IL was partly inspired by real life events, when a German rabbit breeder sold his over-sized rabbits to the North Korean government. What subsequently happened was a mystery, though in filling in the gaps in this fictional re-imagining, Kit Brookman has created a fantastic comedy.

The play opens when Johann Wertheim (Steve Rodgers) reluctantly accepts money from Chung (Kaeng Chan), acting on behalf of the North Korean government, in exchange for his prize rabbits. When Wertheim regrets his decision he inveigles his way into North Korea but his hosts are cagy about the promised breeding program and the rabbits’ fate looks grim. Add to this mix a double agent who tails Wertheim (Kate Box) and a karaoke loving North Korean Official (Mémé Thorne) and you have a very funny show.  Even Felix, the extraordinarily large rabbit gets a chance at karaoke, where he has a tone-deaf go. Continue reading A RABBIT FOR KIM JONG-IL@ SBW STABLES THEATRE

A FLOWER OF THE LIPS @ KING STREET THEATRE NEWTOWN

A FLOWER OF THE LIPS began in an informal manner with narrator Yiss Mill welcoming the audience, and shaking hands with people in the front row. Mill is the only bloke on stage, and he plays the author of the story about Bruno Aloi, his great grandfather. Bruno was a Calabrese whose work for the state as a prefect almost 100 years ago leads to his death. His tale of betrayal and murder is recounted by an all female cast.

The cast, with the exception of Marcella Franco (Bruno), all play multiple roles and the acting was fiery. Though the play’s stage directions direct that all adult males but one wear mustaches and hats, they wisely omitted this direction for the production. An all female cast in mustaches would have been far too cheesy looking to take the play seriously, and the best acting in the world would have struggled to overcome such accoutrements.    Continue reading A FLOWER OF THE LIPS @ KING STREET THEATRE NEWTOWN

It’s War @ The Factory Theatre

IT’S WAR is a very funny, if completely politically incorrect satire about two neighbouring couples whose friendship turns sour when one pair decide to do backyard extensions. Shane and his Vietnamese wife Ngoc Bich keep their plans under wraps until it is too late, and when Soula and Pandelis find out about the new verandah, they are furious.

IT’S WAR is about coping with neighbours from hell and shifting allegiances in a landscape that is constantly shifting. Initially both couples are united in friendship and their battles against Mona, a leopard-skin clad stirrer on the street who drops in to gossip and boss the others around.      Continue reading It’s War @ The Factory Theatre

(Extra) Ordinary (Un) Usual III – The Monologue Project @ The New Theatre

JM_inset

The third installment in this series debuted on Wednesday night at the New Theatre, with a host of new skits.

Created and produced by Pete Malicki, who finds his material in the everyday and the not so everyday, and weaves these elements of life into absurd, hilarious snapshots. Stories range from a demented office worker’s daily grind, to the sexually confused victim of a scam, these innocuous scenarios provide hugely funny results when given the Malicki treatment.

Continue reading (Extra) Ordinary (Un) Usual III – The Monologue Project @ The New Theatre

Lesbian Vampires Of Sodom @ The Kings Cross Hotel

Looking for another hit in the Mardi Gras line up? Lesbian Vampires of Sodom ticks all the boxes: it is hilarious and outrageously camp with great performances by the entire cast. When two very competitive female vampires cross paths, the fur looks set to fly. Starting in ancient Sodom, the jokes abound in the initial act where a young virgin is being prepared as a sacrifice for the Succubus. The play then fast forwards to the 1920s, where the vampires are both actresses who are vying for film roles (among other things). Mouth watering young lovelies are constantly a source of both lust and hunger for the vampires, though mostly hunger, with screamingly funny special effects. Their journey through time ends in Las Vegas, where Madeleine Astarte (Eliza Reilly) belts out a mean Cher number. Continue reading Lesbian Vampires Of Sodom @ The Kings Cross Hotel

Amy Poehler: Yes Please

Comedian Amy Poehler has written a frank account of her life to date, including various random essays, advice and email correspondence. She spills on working on Saturday Night Live with stars like Britney Spears, her marriage and subsequent separation from Canadian actor and fellow comedian Will Arnett, to her obsession with her phone (she does actually put her children first, at the phone’s peril).

I am still surprised when a pretty funny and let’s face it a professionally funny person writes their life story and it comes off kind of boring. It is ironic that publishers clamour to get the rights to celebrity and actor’s life stories, yet in reality they can be a little on the dull side. This is the second autobiography that I struggled to finish in recent times (John Cleese’s ‘So Anyway’ was another one). Continue reading Amy Poehler: Yes Please

Kill The Messenger @ Belvoir

Inset- Director Anthea Williams. Featured- Playwright and lead performer Nakkiah Lui
Inset- Director Anthea Williams. Featured- Playwright and lead performer Nakkiah Lui

KILL THE MESSENGER is a very raw, emotional look at dealing with loss, racism and how people can’t escape their history. Written by Nakkiah Lui, the play evolved over time: while writing the story of Paul, a young man who struggles with addiction, Lui’s grandmother died. Lui tells these stories as well as her own, and the three have the common denominator of racial oppression and stereotyping as the main theme.

Lui finds that grief is not simple, and the process of overcoming grief is long and difficult. It can feel like an avalanche of rocks that you have to pick your way out from under, while others wait for you to heal. Lui originally began writing this story only about Paul, a young man that she heard of through her mother, but when her grandmother died the play took on a new shape. Lui’s grandmother fell through a termite infested floor in her home, an accident that could have been avoided if the department of housing deemed Aboriginal housing worthy of maintenance. Continue reading Kill The Messenger @ Belvoir

Mother Clap’s Molly House @ The New

Pics by Bob Seary
Pics by Bob Seary

I had a quick bite before seeing MOTHER CLAP’S MOLLY HOUSE in Newtown last night, and the meal was, sadly, disappointing. The best I could say for it was that it was warm and filling. Unfortunately, on a scale of one to fabulous, MOTHER CLAP’S MOLLY HOUSE, a play with songs by Mark Ravenhill and music by Matthew Scott, didn’t even get to warm and filling. Much too long, uninspired writing and equally mundane musical numbers and choreography made this promising play a bit of a dud.

When Mrs Tull’s husband dies and she is left in charge of their dress hire shop, she overcomes her self-doubt to continue on with business as usual. Business is conducted with the local whores, but looks to go downhill almost immediately, until she finds her apprentice Martin and some other blokes playing dress-ups in the skirts. She quickly realises that she can still make a buck, setting up a male brothel, the Molly House of the title. Continue reading Mother Clap’s Molly House @ The New

Dream Home @ The Ensemble

Inset Pic- HaiHa Le and Guy Edmonds as Dana and Paul. Featured Pic- Libby Munro as Colette and Guy Edmonds as Paul. Pics by Clare Hawley

Presented by Ensemble, DREAM HOME is the latest offering from David Williamson. Someone I met at the show  compared Williamson’s comedies to seventies sitcoms: funny, if a little predictable and out of date. I have to admit, that was a perfect description, all the play needed was a laugh track.

The premise of a young couple buying their first apartment in Sydney is promising, but some of the antics that follow are what you would expect: neighbours from hell starting petty disputes over car spaces, and frisky neighbours who are looking for a little on the side. Paul (Guy Edmonds) and his pregnant wife Dana (HaiHa Le) are barely settled in their new home when the other residents of the apartment block come knocking, much to their annoyance. When one neighbour leaves, another quickly takes their place, with the couple never getting a moment to themselves.

Continue reading Dream Home @ The Ensemble

Yasukichi Murakami- Through A Distant Lens @ The Stables

Inset Pic-A Distant Lens
Inset Pic- Kuni Hashimoto and Arisa Yura. Featured pic- Kuni Hashimoto. Pics by Mayu Kanamori

YASUKICHI MURAKAMI- THROUGH A DISTANT LENS is a fascinating show about Japanese photographer, businessman and inventor Yasukichi Murakami, who moved to Western Australia in 1897. He soon re-located to Broome, where he worked variously as an import/exporter, hotel manager, pearl diver and some-time jockey. He went into business first with Takazò Nishioka, and after Nishioka’s death, Murakami married Nishioka’s widow, Eki.

Murakami eventually became a successful photographer based in Darwin, but when the war broke out he was interned in a camp in Tatura, Victoria, with the family he had with his second wife. He died there in 1944 of a heart condition.

His life subsequently became a source of inspiration for Mayu Kanamori and the ‘seed’ for this play.

Continue reading Yasukichi Murakami- Through A Distant Lens @ The Stables

Long Grass @ The Everest

Scenes from LONG GRASS. Pics by Jamie Williams
Scenes from LONG GRASS. Pics by Jamie Williams

LONG GRASS tells the story of living rough in Darwin, and mixes traditional Aboriginal mysticism with the harsher realities of indigenous life. The show touches on many issues facing the Aboriginal community there: unemployment, domestic and alcohol abuse, and it is hard to imagine the story being told would be anything but depressing, but the contrary was true: LONG GRASS was charming and captivating at every turn.

The term ‘long grass’ is applied to the Aboriginals who live on the fringe, homeless yet not without a community of their own. The influx of ‘New Australians’ to the top end receive housing, yet the Aboriginals camp out while the police and social services look the other way. Continue reading Long Grass @ The Everest

Endings @ Carriageworks

Endings- second

ENDINGS by Tamara Salwick, presented by Sydney Festival and Performance Space, is an electro-acoustic performance piece that is a meditation on cycles and endings that occur in peoples lives.

Saulwick was first struck by the idea when her three year old son watched her throw a dead fly outside with all of the questions from him following the fly’s demise. This caused Saulwick to contemplate the issues that people don’t really speak of surrounding death. Do we go on, in an afterlife, or is death really the end? Saulwick felt that the questions her son raised were motivated by a desire by humans to stay connected to one another, even after death. Continue reading Endings @ Carriageworks

Embodiment @ Yiribana

The Devil Made Him Do It. (c) Christian Bumburra Thompson
The Devil Made Him Do It. (c) Christian Bumburra Thompson

On in the project space in the Yiribana Gallery, EMBODIMENT offers an Indigenous imagining of white colonial history that includes artwork from Christian Bumbarra Thompson, Darren Siwes, Julie Gough, Tony Albert, r e a, and Vernon Ah Kee. Each artist presents different ideas of indigenous identity, challenging white Australian traditions.

On entering the space, there are four walls featuring mostly photography, but also a video performance piece by r e a called ‘Poles Apart’. This piece was inspired in part by the lives of the artist’s great aunt and grandmother, who were both members of the stolen generation. While the sole figure in this work has her journey end in a messy climax, great aunt Sophie actually made an escape from her forced servitude, and returned home. Continue reading Embodiment @ Yiribana

Molly Tells, Um, His Story

The very unique Ian Molly Meldrum
The very unique and much loved Ian Molly Meldrum

Considering Molly Meldrum’s meandering and stumbling interview style, it seems a minor miracle that he lasted on Countdown for so long (thirteen years, from 1974 to 1987). Journalist Jennifer Byrne famously described Meldrum as a ‘truly awful’ interviewer. Others described Countdown as ‘the ultimate squirm tv’ (Deborah Conway). Still, he has been recognised for his contributions to Australian music over the years, from his earliest days at Go-Set rock magazine in 1966.

Though Meldrum had Jeff Jenkins help on this project, the story is told in Meldrum’s voice. It is a very funny, anecdote laden book with all of Meldrum’s most famous interviews and celebrity stoushes, though he is very quick to kiss and make up. Meldrum’s take on Elton John’s 1984 Sydney wedding to Renate Blauel? Elton simply wanted to knock Michael Jackson from the headlines. (Jackson’s hair had accidentally been set on fire while filming a Pepsi ad two weeks earlier). In an ironic twist, when Jackson toured Sydney more than a decade later he married the pregnant Deborah Rowe here. Sydney seemed, for a while at least, to be the place for the famous and sexually confused to tie the knot.                              Continue reading Molly Tells, Um, His Story

John Cleese…So, Anyway

JC

Sometimes it is more telling what a person doesn’t tell you about themselves when writing about their lives, as opposed to what they will. Given that John Cleese’s So, Anyway… ends in 1969 after the formation of Monty Python (with a brief fast-forward to a 2013 reunion), he has omitted an awful lot of material in this 400-odd page book. Which suggests to me that he has either signed a two or three book deal with his publishers, or that he simply believes in the old adage that if you don’t have anything good to say about a person, then don’t say it. Though he does have some vitriol for those who he disagreed with, or otherwise felt hard done by. He refers to fellow Python Terry Jones as an ‘irrational… plump Celtic demi-dwarf’. A housemaster who didn’t appoint him as a prefect receives similar treatment, Cleese calls a ‘dour, grim little gnome’.                  Continue reading John Cleese…So, Anyway

Alan Streets @ KindofGallery

Inset pic- Tower Bridge in Rain- acrylic on canvas. September 2012. Featured pic- Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House- Acrylic on canvas. April 2013
Inset pic- Tower Bridge in Rain- acrylic on canvas. September 2012. Featured pic- Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House at sunset- Acrylic on canvas. April 2013

THE STREETS ARE TALKING exhibition opened at the KindofGallery in St Leonards on Thursday night to coincide with the TWT St Leonards – The TWT Creative Precinct Opening. There was quite a party atmosphere as exhibitions and music were taking place at various locations, all a part of a new arts initiative by Auswin TWT Developments which involves the conversion of several commercial buildings between Atchison Streets and Chandos Streets in St Leonards, to be used as creative space by the independent arts sector. The intention is to support creativity on the lower North Shore as well as the local businesses.

Continue reading Alan Streets @ KindofGallery

Harry Seidler @ Sydney Museum

Australia Square, one of Harry Seidler's most iconic creations
Australia Square in the heart of Sydney, one of Harry Seidler’s most iconic creations

On at the Museum of Sydney, HARRY SEIDLER: PAINTING TOWARDS ARCHITECTURE is a fascinating display, a homage really, to a great man whose vision influenced Sydney’s cityscape enormously. The exhibitions is comprised of paintings, sculpture, building models and photography, most of which is located in the museum’s Focus Gallery on level three.

The exhibition features much work that has never been seen before, and highlights Seidler’s collaborations with other visionaries including Frank Stella, Marcel Breuer, Josef Albers, Pier Luigi Nervi. Alexander Calder, Max Dupain and Lin Utzon. Photographer Max Dupain was one of Seidler’s longest standing friend and collaborators with their friendship lasting fifty years. Continue reading Harry Seidler @ Sydney Museum

David Nicholls: Us

English novelist and screenwriter David Nicholls. Pic Clara Molden
English novelist and screenwriter David Nicholls. Pic Clara Molden

Us tells the story of Douglas, a late middle-aged man whose son is about to leave home for college, and a wife who is planning to leave as well. Douglas, the main character in Us, is one of Nicholl’s good guys. His main problem, according to his family, is that he is on the staid side. He is a tad conservative, but he is an amusing and exceedingly tolerant husband and father. As Douglas contemplates life without his wife, he plans one last hurrah: a trip through Europe with his surly son and wife.

Nicholl’s adroit handling of the material makes this an engaging story which flashes back to Douglas and his wife’s courtship and the early years of their marriage. I felt for Douglas, his wife was incredibly patronising to him in spite of his best efforts to woo her. He bends over backward to prove to her that he is worthy, as he is painfully aware that he is a grey spot in the very colourful circles that she travels in. She is an artist, and her friends are artists and actors and otherwise creative types who disdain the stability that Douglas represents.   Continue reading David Nicholls: Us

MCA: Primavera 2014

Artwork by Paul Yore. Pic Joy Minter
Inset image- Artwork by Paul Yore. Pic Joy Minter. Featured image- Nupta Contagioso  by Madison Bycroft

The very popular annual PRIMAVERA is on again at the Museum of Contemporary Art, featuring thirteen young Australian artists. Primavera began in 1992, and many of its previous contributing artists have gone on to enjoy national and international careers. This year the exhibition is curated by Primavera alumni Mikala Dwyer who said of the experience:

“I am privileged to have travelled to parts of Australia I have never been to in the process of curating Primavera for the MCA, visiting and viewing the work of many brilliant young artists.

“When I think through the work of the artists I’ve selected for Primavera, all sorts of ideas, interests and associations pop up, including Surrealism, robotics, queer fertility, ritual, time, witchcraft, science, alchemy, dreaming and telepathy.” Continue reading MCA: Primavera 2014