BARBER SHOP CHRONICLES. Stunning, vibrant, dazzling, electric, sublime and sensational barely begin to describe this wonderful experience of drama and music. Continue reading BARBER SHOP CHRONICLES: UNIVERSAL MASCULINITY
BARBER SHOP CHRONICLES. Stunning, vibrant, dazzling, electric, sublime and sensational barely begin to describe this wonderful experience of drama and music. Continue reading BARBER SHOP CHRONICLES: UNIVERSAL MASCULINITY
WORLD WITHOUT US
“Greetings to the inhabitants of the universe from the third planet Earth of the star Sun.
Greetings to you, whoever you are; we have good will towards you and bring peace across space.
Friends of space, how are you all? Have you eaten yet? Come visit us if you have time.
Greetings to all peoples of the universe. God give you peace always.“
Amelia Roper has written a sharp and funny play about the Global Financial Crisis and four people caught in the midst of a financial maelstrom. Exploring themes of feminism, the evils of capitalism, ego, privilege and relationships it is a substantial play with rich dialogue and crisp repartee.
Amy and Henry are having their fun day Sunday in their local New England park, reading the paper, eating ice-creams and discussing how people are losing houses in Florida, Detroit and New England.
Henry finds this sad. Amy is amused by the surprised looks of the photos in the paper of the people who have lost their houses. Amy works in the financial industry and has little sympathy for people who failed to manage their finances. She has a cruel and clinical view of the world.
There are nasty aspects to the characters in this play, reflecting the ethos that lead America and the world to its economic woes. Fortunately, this nastiness is cleverly balanced by the humorous exchanges and observations of the characters.
Amy and Henry see acquaintances Sara and Max strolling through the park and unsuccessfully try to avoid them. Sara and Max would similarly like to avoid Amy and Henry but feel obliged to join the picnic and talk about the weather and the possibilities of seeing cute dogs in the park.
The exchanges of the two couples simultaneously reveal a lot about these people and a lot about the economy and the workings of the banks in America leading up to the Global Financial Crisis. These exchanges are varied and complex. There is a lot of meanness, one-upmanship, patronising and conspiratorial glances but there is also empathy and hope.
Nell Ranney has directed a very engaging and intimate work. This is helped by Isabel Hudson’s set design. The park is represented by a small grassy mound covered in a gorgeous large rug. The park and the rug are in some ways the fifth and sixth characters of the play. The mound is in the middle of the theatre space with tiered seating on either side. The fact that you are inside a pub, the Kings Cross Hotel, is an added bonus.
The actors all gave robust and convincing performances. I enjoyed Nikki Britton’s performance as the brilliant and dispassionate Sara. Dorje Swallow as the chauvinistic but clueless Max, Tom Anson Mesker as hesitant and empathetic Max and Matilda Ridgway as the vibrant and privileged Amy.
A lot of work has gone into Ben Pierpoint’s sound design which ably assists the production and provides a pleasant backdrop. The simple and effective lighting is by Christopher Page.
Recommended. Rocket Productions’ SHE RODE HORSES LIKE THE STOCK EXCHANGE opened at the Kings Cross Theatre on the 25th October and is playing until 11th November.
Featured image – Aerial artist Stephen Williams.
It’s big. It’s bright. It’s loud. Dancing, drums, disco music and acrobatics are delivered passionately, precisely and with lots of fun.
Musical director, Joe Accaria, opens the show as drummer and DJ from an elevated position above the stage. The music and lights are pumping as a young man enters the stage and is slightly overwhelmed by the feverish nightclub scene.
Tom Oliver plays the young man at the centre of the simple narrative. Initially overwhelmed, as he is exposed to wild scenes of abandon, glamour, singing and dancing he gradually moves towards his disco enlightenment. Continue reading VELVET : A DIVINE DISCOTHEQUE CIRCUS @ ROSLYN PACKER THEATRE
BLACK BIRDS is a gutsy, entertaining performance piece about race, skin colour and hair, devised and performed by Emele Ugavule and Ayeesha Ash. The work blends music, movement, spoken word and stories from real life.
Ugavule and Ash share their stories of how they were ostracised & bullied as children and feared, shunned, mistreated and misunderstood as they moved into adulthood. Some of the worst treatment they experienced was from people who thought they were being liberal and inclusive but were, in fact, still focusing on these women’s difference and were not interacting with them as individuals. Continue reading BLACK BIRDS : PERFORMANCE ART WITH PLENTY TO SAY
“Love is the only fire for which there is no insurance.” Edith Piaf
The fans were struggling to move the hot and humid air around The Basement, Sydney’s iconic music venue, and the atmosphere did not cool down for Nikki Nouveau’s sultry performance.
Nikki is a Sydney born Melbourne based singer and cabaret entertainer, who has had a long term fascination with Piaf, and subsequently travelled to Paris many times.
The show’s introductory number was an evocative instrumental piece by Andrew Scott on his piano accordion, conjuring up the feelings of an old French café. Continue reading NIKKI NOUVEAU CHANNELS THE GREAT EDITH PIAF @ THE BASEMENT
The opening song, Mic Conway’s version of Nostalgia’s Not What It Used To Be, set the tone for some reminiscing about the characters and content of the innovative satirical show, The Gillies Report.
The nature of politics has changed considerably since the eighties when the The Gillies Report was in its heyday. Max Gillies reminisces about these changes and explores the characters he lampooned with a series of slides, stories and famous speeches he made in character as some of politicians of the seventies and eighties.
Gillies opened with a serious discussion of how a just society is based on mutual respect, power must be restrained and how lucky we are being Australian. He mentioned how a certain modern world leader is in territory beyond satire and deserves to be re-incarnated as himself.
He then went through some very funny slides of himself as various political characters, talked a little about the background and then performed speeches he had made as these characters when they were active in politics.
Gillies started with Billy McMahon and his notorious telephone calls, followed by his portrayal of Bob Hawke, a highlight of the evening. Other politicians portrayed and satirised included Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan, Queen Elizabeth and Graham Richardson, discussing the wunderkind Paul Keating.
At the intermission the audience were invited to write questions on a card for Gillies to consider. Gillies noted a recent phenomenon where the word Trump has been written on the cards and he posited that the world is so bemused and befuddled by the new American President to the extent that it is hard to think of appropriate questions.
He then continued by talking about how he studied the mannerisms and traits of politicians before he went to create their persona and then go on to impersonate them. His journeys to find the core attributes to focus on with Don Chipp and Malcolm Fraser made for captivating anecdotes.
He also thanked his writers from over the years, Don Watson, Patrick Cook and Guy Rundle and acknowledged the significant contributions of make-up artists, prosthetic fabricators and special effects artists.
Gillies had some engrossing responses to questions about how the various politicians responded to his performances.
Gillies closed the show with a sketch of a doddering John Howard in his dressing gown, settling in for the night and talking about Jeanette, his childhood and the jokes of the Methodists.
ONCE WERE LEADERS : AN EVENING WITH MAX GILLIES is playing the Glen Street Theatre, Belrose until Sunday 26th February.
What is the best thing about Christmas? If you are in a psychiatric clinic for Christmas you are better equipped to discuss what you dislike about Christmas.
Director Theresa von Eltz’s first feature film, 4 Kings, features four teenagers in a Hamburg clinic. Lara (Jella Haase) is the babbling extrovert. The other three are at differing levels of sullen and withdrawn. Alex (Paula Beer) is innately good but burdened by her mother’s problems. Timo (Jannis Niewöhner ) embodies rage and barely contained violence. Acutely shy Fedja (Moritz Leu) has been victimised by the school bullies. The unconventional psychiatrist, Dr Wolf (Clemens Schick) brings the four together to help them to live with each other and to then hopefully engage more successfully with the wider world. Continue reading 4 KINGS
If God is everywhere is he in hell? A young Lou Andreas-Salomé calls this out from a church pew, thus starting her unconventional journey into writing, philosophy and psychoanalysis.
The story is told in flashbacks as an ageing Lou reveals her life to a young man who is writing her memoir. Her eyesight may be fading but her mind is sharp and she selectively reveals the details to her memoirist.
Her beloved father gives the young Lou a postcard of a bookshop before he dies. With her burgeoning interest in philosophy she visits the bookshop featured in the postcard and the proprietor wisely suggests she starts her study of philosophy by reading the Greeks. Old postcards are used at the start of the flashbacks to introduce the scene and each one is a marvellous piece of cinematography. Continue reading IN LOVE WITH LOU – A PHILOSOPHER’S LIFE
A two of us against the world attitude pervades the world of Pig and Runt, the seventeen year old inseparable couple in Enda Walsh’s play Disco Pigs.
The play starts with their mothers in simultaneous labour and exaggerated detail about hospital trolleys racing through wards, pushing, screaming and heads emerging. Through this chaos the infants eventually lock eyes on each other and so starts their journey through life together, closer than brother and sister. They grow up in the rough part of Cork, Ireland, sharing birthdays, nicknames, a secret language and outlook. Continue reading DISCO PIGS @ PACT THEATRE ERSKINEVILLE
The revue starts with Bob Hawke greeting the audience with, “If any silly old bugger has their phone on turn it off. Where do I send the bill?” The audience sees an ancient Roman backdrop and the cast dressed in togas launch into a Wharf Revue version of ‘Anything Goes”. It has the usual sharp lines we expect from the talented team. With reference to recent political events and Shakespeare’s ancient Rome we hear about the disillusionment trigger and how a knife in the back is quicker.
Toga clad Ericus Abetzus leads the hard right conservative conspirators and a discussion about how to deal with the mighty Emperor of Wentworth. The clever lines come thick and fast. We hear how Jesus delivered a TED talk on the mount and Dutton dressed as lamb gets a mention.
Written and created by Jonathan Biggins, Drew Forsythe and Phillip Scott, The Wharf Revue delves into the richly rewarding world of Federal politics to take the daft things our leaders have said and emphasise their ridiculousness and to twist the seemingly reasonable into fertile humorous material. They also throw in corny puns, clever puns, bawdy humour and some excellent musical numbers to entertain and amuse the crowd. Continue reading THE WHARF REVUE 2016 ‘BACK TO BITE YOU’ @ THE RIVERSIDE PARRAMATTA
A grotesque and entertaining French cabaret is the latest production at The Depot Theatre. Chrissie Shaw’s Bijou is a faded character from early twentieth century Paris. She was a sought after beauty, a collector of jewelry, a singer, a dancer, a great hostess and a seedy operator when times were hard.
Her dramatic entrance in a glorious costume tells the audience we are in the presence of a great performer, although slightly tarnished by years of alcohol assisted depravity. She has wandered into a bar and cajoles the piano player into playing songs to her liking, and plays up to the audience to extract coins and drinks from them. Continue reading BIJOU – A CABARET OF SECRETS AND SEDUCTION @ DEPOT THEATRE MARRICKVILLE
Cristina has decided upon a self imposed exile, to live in a cupboard incommunicado. She feels that modern life is shallow and inauthentic.
Cristina, excellently played by Emily McGowan, is going to stay in her cupboard and examine her life, her family, her friends and the impact of significant events in her upbringing. Cristina has taken a different approach than Socrates suggested. As Socrates supposedly said at his trial, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” He would rather die than live in exile unable to debate and engage with his students and fellow citizens.
Cristina is going to examine her life on her terms and only engage with the world outside her cupboard when she so decides. Continue reading CRISTINA IN THE CUPBOARD @ DEPOT THEATRE MARRICKVILLE
At this Sunday afternoon concert at The Joan Mike Nock was warming up as the crowd wandered in. He was warmly applauded when he finished and thanked the crowd for their appreciation of his pre-show tuning up. In gratitude he played one of his favourite songs that the rest of the quartet happened to dislike, Rodgers and Hart’s My Funny Valentine. His piano playing was skilful, spectacular and engrossing.
The rest of the quartet entered the stage when he finished and Hetty introduced the band, made up of Mike Nock, Lloyd Swanton and Andrew Dickeson. Hetty also enthused about Henri Marcs, the local café she had visited, prior to the performance, and enthused about its excellent coffee.
The audience was then treated to a smooth version of Sweet Lorraine, made famous by Nat King Cole. Hetty’s introduction of the songs gave a brief history of the songs and often included a tangentially humorous tale relating to the song. These interesting asides added to the concert as Hetty has a very warm and friendly personality.
The arrangements and skill of the musicians were absolutely first rate. Hetty’s voice is strong and sweet. Her range and technical expertise was very impressive.
I rate her as one of the best jazz vocalists I have heard for a while and the people of Penrith were honoured to have her in their midst. The second song, the great jazz standard Stardust, was connected to Sweet Lorraine by way of the song having the same lyricist, Mitchell Parish (more helpful history from Hetty!).
The quartet’s rendition of Antônio Carlos Jobim’s No More Blues had a very Latin, vibrant jazz feel. Hetty went on to say that Antônio Carlos Jobim was also the writer of the classic ballad, The Girl from Ipanema.
This was followed by a song made famous by Peggy Lee: Why Don’t You Do Right? For this number, Hetty was only accompanied by Lloyd Swanton’s double bass and Andrew Dickeson’s on drums. This sparse arrangement was reminiscent of Peggy Lee’s Fever.
Hetty categorises her various songs in groups such as animal songs, food songs and story songs. Something Cool falls under the category of being a story song. This was recorded by one of Hetty’s favourite singers, June Christy, and was performed with an almost sublime and very spare arrangement. As it was throughout the concert, Lloyd Swanton’s double bass was a joy.
Contrasting this sparse performance, the following number was the up tempo Just You, Just Me. Drummer Andrew Dickeson put aside his brushes for this number and pulled out his sticks and showed excellent versatility and performed with skill and energy. This sons was followed by No Moon At All, a song recorded by another Hetty Kate favourite, Julie London.
Finishing the show was a fast paced, almost scat, version of Love Me or Leave Me, which displayed another aspect of Hetty’s fine voice, and challenged the band to further display their already very impressive skills. I was hugely impressed by Mike Nock’s performance, as part of this very entertaining afternoon.
Talk only in euphemisms. That was one of the instructions in one of many funny scenarios created by James Hartley in his new show. Presented at the glorious Exchange Hotel, Balmain, the bright cast entertained and amused the crowd in scenarios involving swallowing an alien, a scientist testing levels of annoyance, and the many possibilities that arise as the result of a volatile love affair.
This production comprised a series of improvised skits in which a brief scenario is presented and some or all of the actors have to respond and present material. The scenarios presented were cheerfully disconcerting and the responses by the actors from the show’s troupe, The Upper Crass Players, were dramatic, sharp and witty. Continue reading PACKED LUNCH @ THE EXCHANGE HOTEL
It would be absurd to walk into a lounge room you mistook for a toilet and find yourself trapped in a very funny play. It would be a bit like being born and then trying to work out where you are, who you are and if these are your absurd lines or if they have been written by an insecure, egotistical playwright.
The anonymous HE, well played by David Jeffrey, walks into a comfortable middle class lounge room, mistaking it for a toilet, sees the audience and is embarrassed. He attempts to go back out of the room but the door will not open. He unsuccessfully tries the doors on the other two walls which only leaves the invisible fourth wall. After some deliberately predictable miming the fourth wall does turn out to be impenetrable. Continue reading PLAYTHING @ DEPOT THEATRE MARRICKVILLE
The Embassy of Disappearance
Part of the 20th Biennale of Sydney, The Embassy of Disappearance is being presented at Carriageworks. It includes works by artists exploring themes of absence and memory, including disappearing languages, histories, currencies and landscapes. The Embassy of Disappearance is a safe haven to contemplate these ideas of absence and memory. Opening night featured art and performances by Mike Parr, Neha Choksi and Alice Cummings.
Mike Parr’s performance was spectacular. In an outside area a square was covered in many linked charcoal drawings. A flammable liquid was poured over them and they were set alight, resulting in a large intense fire. This was a strong and ironic statement about global warming. Sydney Trains added to the irony when one of their trains went by with a “Hey Tosser, Put it in the Bin” advertisement. Continue reading THE EMBASSY OF DISAPPEARANCE @ CARRIAGEWORKS
“It’s a travesty, mate.” This is Keith’s assessment of the refurbishment of The Gleneagles Hotel, Dulwich Hill that takes place in local playwright Richie Black’s promising new play The Local. “Schnitzel parma is now $23 and sweet potato wedges are offered instead of chips. ” The obnoxious Keith (Steve Maresca) is complaining to his brother and cricket captain Ben (Jamie Collette).
The rooftop bar, yummy cocktails and VIP area infuriate the volatile Keith. Jamie Collett’s Ben, in a more nuanced performance, is more accepting of the gentrification of their local pub and the influx of the private school crowd.
Keith and Ben are in the pub after a game of cricket and Richie Black’s text is littered with wise and humorous cricket references and metaphors. There are also many amusing references to celebrities and Sydney landmarks such as Richard Wilkins, Ivan Milat and The Ivy. Continue reading RICHIE BLACK’S THE LOCAL @ EXCHANGE HOTEL BALMAIN
We make important choices with our lives, and they may occur on a grey and nondescript day. At the time we don’t realise they how important these choices are and the impact they will have on our lives. Mary Gilmore and Henry Lawson made various choices in their lives, choices that placed their lifelong platonic love affair in jeopardy.
ALL MY LOVE is the story of the nascent relationship between Mary Gilmore and Henry Lawson and is based on the letters they wrote to each other before and after their marriages to William Gilmore and Bertha McNamara. Continue reading ALL MY LOVE @ GLEN STREET THEATRE
TEACUP IN A STORM is an original production by The Q, a theatre program that operates out of The Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Centre in Penrith. It tells the stories of carers, drawn from a series of interviews with these carers from the local community. It is an engrossing piece of theatre. The stories are well presented and engaging.
The two excellent performers, Therese Cook and Marie Chanel, cover numerous roles ranging from carers, to those in need of care and to those in bureaucracy. There is no plot or classical dramatic structure. We are treated to a series of vignettes from the lives of ordinary people, who respond in a various ways to the situations they are in.
There is a mother of an autistic child who says that on a good day her child is wonderful and a delight to be with, but at other times you just do the best you can. She spends a lot of time explaining to this to other people and trying to educate them about the condition.
Another character talks about how her childhood was ruined by “her ugly sister Ruth” and her inexplicable tantrums and screaming, and how she spent as much time away from the family when she was young and then finally left home as soon as she was old enough. As other family members passed away she was left to reluctantly deal with Ruth, which again ruined the relatively normal life she had built for herself.
All these carers have immense difficulty dealing with bureaucrats. They are told that the person they need to deal with is not available or another department will deal with their situation or there is another hurdle to overcome before moving to the next stage of the process.
There are some warm and inspiring characters talking about their foster children or their partner with dementia. Love and affection are recurring themes, as is the drinking cups of tea.
The production is very impressive in the way it has woven fairy tales and a recurring use of buckets into the drama. A lot of the drama is constructed by very clever use of sound, light and the different components of the fixed set. In this regard, there is excellent work by designer Jonathon Hindmarsh, sound designer Danielle O’Keefe and lighting designer Liam O’Keefe.
Creators Nick Atkins, Noëlle Janaczewska, Therese Cook and Marie Chanel are to be congratulated for taking what could be a good and worthy and hand wringing topic and turning it into an excellent piece of theatre with a strong message. It deserves a wider audience.
This production played at the Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Centre between the 25th and the 27th February.
Jonathon Biggins has written and directed a very funny fictional play about an organising Committee set up for the upcoming Australia Day celebrations in the made-up beachside town of Coriole in rural Australia.
The Committee sees itself as a very significant organisation and takes its responsibilities for organising choirs, dance groups, the march, the citizenship ceremony and the visiting dignitary for Australia Day with the utmost earnestness.
Also of concern for the members is the Mayor’s push for pre-selection at the next election, and the presence of a newly arrived Green’s representative on Council who has some new fangled big city ideas about broadening the appeal of the celebrations to embrace multiculturalism and voluminous minority groups. Continue reading AUSTRALIA DAY @ GLEN STREET THEATRE
BROOKLYN is a charming film which balances a motley and very entertaining collection of characters with a lovely, sentimental story. Nick Hornby has come up with a strong screenplay from Colm Toibin’s memorable novel. Director John Crowley delightfully recreates the worlds of Brooklyn and Ireland in the 1950’s.
Saoirse Ronan plays the main character Eilis Lacey, a young lady who leaves Ireland for a job and a new life in Brooklyn. She meets and falls in love with Tony Fiorello (Emory Cohen), a young man from an Italian background. Her connections in Ireland still have a gravitational pull and this dilemma provides difficulties for her which she has to resolve. Ronan’s character’s journey is a rich one, starting out as meek and fragile and coming out confident and strong.
Tom Wait’s and Kathleen Brennan’s music and lyrics performed by a glorious band and sung by the talented actors of the Thalia Theatre, Hamburg is what I took most away from this exciting Sydney Festival production. Much of the music had a delightful Kurt Weill aesthetic, whilst other songs were just as pleasing but were in more traditional Tom Wait Americana territory.
Georg Buchner’s 1836 play, WOYZECK, has a surprisingly modern resonance with its themes of workplace alienation, despair, jealously and marginalised members of society not functioning in our world of economic rationalism and political expediency.
Franz Woyzeck (Felix Knopp) is a lowly soldier stationed in a provincial German town. Woyzeck earns extra money for his family by performing menial jobs for the Captain (Philipp Hochmair) and agreeing to take part in medical experiments conducted by the Doctor (Tilo Werner). Continue reading WOYZECK @ CARRIAGEWORKS
The Wharf Revue 2015 is back to its sharp, biting satirical best, and for added entertainment they have included literary humour, opera, musicals, pop, jazz and the crude and the vulgar.
Jonathan Biggins, Amanda Bishop, Drew Forsythe and Phillip Scott all perform wonderfully as a diverse range of characters. The show seamlessly jumps between live and video segments keeping up a constant flow of entertainment. The music and musical performances round out a thoroughly enjoyable production.
In The Last Days of the Howard Bunker they are Liberal characters in the last days of The Third Reich singing about when the night looks darkest before the Tampa dawn and the thankless blue collar scum. Continue reading The Wharf Revue 2015 @ Wharf 1 Sydney Theatre Company
UNindian is an uplifting Australian made Bollywood film directed by Anupam Sharma, written by Thushy Sathi, lensed by Martin McGrath and and marks the feature film debut of Aussie fast bowling legend Brett Lee.
The film finds Lee a little out of his element as an actor, but nevertheless he makes a fair impression of a likable and laid-back if somewhat stereotypical Aussie male.
This entertaining film has toned down the features that are characteristic of Bollywood extravaganzas and in doing so has introduced some thoughtful insights on lives caught between two cultures. Continue reading UNindian