All posts by Lauren Ulmer

Lauren graduated from UNSW in 2015 with a Bachelor of Arts with a double degree of English Honours and Theatre Performance. She's always had a passion for creative arts, whether it be working behind the scenes on costume and make-up or writing, to performing and singing on stage. Despite being a 20-something who enjoys putting glitter on her face, books, street art, travel photography, fashion, podcasts, and watching other people play video games on YouTube, she is yet to figure everything out.

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.

Sharpen your knives for ‘Dinner’ @ Sydney Theatre Company

Production images by Brett Boardman

What setting is best to poke fun at other’s misfortunes? Why, a three course dinner party, of course!

Moira Buffini’s contemporary play, Dinner, is wickedly comedic as it is tragic. Centring around host Paige Janssen, the night is to celebrate her husband’s successful new pop-philosophy book being published, entitled Beyond Belief. Guests include an artist, a scientist, a journalist, a politician who cannot attend, and one uninvited stranger. The party is lead by Paige through a series of strange meals, with conversations turning uncomfortably personal. There seems to be no pleasant way this night can end.

The eccentric hostess Paige is played wonderfully by Caroline Brazier. Drawing in the audience for the evening and leading us through all corners of her house and mind, the unravelling cannot be rewound. Husband and author Lars, Sean O’Shea, exudes opulence and status but is not the star of his own party, outshone by his brash wife. Guests Wynne, Hal, and Siân (artist, scientist, and journalist) compliment their hosts, each personality a mirror to society and a comment on the modern western world. Rebecca Massey is the flighty yet morally firm Wynne. Brandon Burke is the cool rockstar scientist Hal, flippant on most matters. Attending the party with his journalist wife Siân, Claire Lovering, their cold affection towards one another echoes the tone of the night. Aleks Mikić bursts in as the uninvited stranger Mike. Symbolising the class division within the English setting, his mere presence is enough to disturb the perfectly planned party. Silent but deadly, Bruce Spence attends to the guests every need imaginable as the waiter.

Resident Director of Sydney Theatre Company, Imara Savage has cleverly added her own touches to Buffini’s smart script via sound bites, subtle fourth-wall breaks, and surprise on-stage cameos. Each addition is flooded with commentary on the fictional and current world. This is extended with the help of the set, created by designer Elizabeth Gadsby. Pristine ivory covers every surface of the dining room. This stark white opulence is contained within the glass box of the stage. The characters are stifled despite their wealth.

The German word schadenfreude (laughing at other people’s misfortunes) has been aptly used by the Sydney Theatre Company to describe this play. Not only is the audience laughing at the characters, but perhaps the state of the world and it’s absurd nuances.

Satirical comedy Dinner will linger long after blood has been spilled and cleaned up.

The play runs for 1 hour and 40 minutes, no interval.

Dinner is on from the 16th September – 28th October. Wed – Sat 8pm; Mon & Tue 6.30pm; Wed 1pm; Sat 2pm

Diving For Pearls @ Griffin Theatre Company

Production photography by Brett Boardman

“Never in my life has the right thing happened at the right time.”

Katherine Thomson’s iconic Australian play is revived by director Darren Yap at the Griffin Theatre Company for their 2017 season. Set in Wollongong, Diving for Pearls inspects the economic rationalism of the late ‘80s and the effect political decisions of the era had on opportunity and income for the working class, still impacting some today.

Ursula Yovich is brilliant as Barbara, a woman going through a rough patch who despite this, is eager to learn and immerse herself in the new job market while approaching 40. Steve Rodgers is the gentle Den, a steel work labourer adjusting to the new demands of the times. Together they compliment each other’s opposing personalities and form a wonderful (and at times comic) dynamic on stage. The range of passion Barbara and Den exude for one another reaches an ugly dramatic climax in Act 2, contrasting their affection during the first Act. Ebony Vagulans is another stand-out as Barbara’s intellectually disabled daughter Verge, who moves in to live with Barbara and Den, much to their surprise. Michelle Doake is the hilariously uptight Marj, sister of Barbara with an accent attempting to allude to higher status, particularly compared to the working class status of the other characters. Jack Finsterer is the serious Ron, Den’s brother-in-law and industrial consultant.

Griffin is well known for having a small stage, and the use of space was innovative. Set and costume designer James Browne had wonderful attention to detail, leaving no part of the stage unused. From small model houses lining the industrial pipes and dresser, to the grassy knoll that could then be flipped-up into the underground industrial areas of the town was a great transition from the natural to man-made modern world.

While having the ability to find humour in the often dark parts of the story, director Darren Yap reflects, “In the end, the hard thing this play says to me is: if you don’t change you will be changed.” Certainly Diving For Pearls is a comment on the ever-evolving world we live in, from the changing job market to the increasing over-reliance on technology. Our work is to adapt. Yapp believes we should “remember and cherish the past, but don’t live in it. We have to move forward. As I get older, I find that a harsh reality.” And perhaps this is the harsh reality of all the characters within Diving For Pearls. Life goes on for better or worse.

Diving For Pearls is on at Griffin Theatre Company from the 15th September – 28th October at 7pm Monday – Friday with additional 2pm shows on Saturdays and Tuesday 24th October.

MY DAD WROTE A PORNO : 2 SELL OUT SHOWS @ THE SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE

From the team who brought you the comedy podcast with currently over 70 million downloads, comes their live show.

My Dad Wrote a Porno is a free online podcast with British hosts Jamie Morton, James Cooper, and Alice Levine. Each week, Jamie reads a chapter from a series of erotic fiction novels entitled Belinda Blinked, while Alice and James react and add in commentary. Belinda Blinked is written by Morton’s Northern Irish father who goes by the pen name Rocky Flintstone. The books centre around Belinda Blumenthal, a sales member of Steeles Pots and Pans. The show has featured episodes with celebrity guests who are fans of the character’s antics within the books. The podcast has just finished the third book in the series.

The live show has just finished its New Zealand and Australia tour but has previously toured around the UK and Ireland and will soon travel to LA and New York. The Sydney Opera House had 2 sold out nights in the Concert Hall. Continue reading MY DAD WROTE A PORNO : 2 SELL OUT SHOWS @ THE SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE

THE ADDAMS FAMILY THE MUSICAL : A NUTS PRESENTATION

Featured image – photo by James Coates.

They’re creepy and they’re kooky,
Mysterious and spooky,
They’re altogether ooky,
The Addams Family.

Prepare to snap your fingers to the 2017 main production for New South Wales Theatrical Society (NUTS), as they present THE ADDAMS FAMILY THE MUSICAL, an adaptation of the cult television show originally inspired by the cartoon series by Charles Samuel Addams.

Under the direction of Carly Fisher, musical direction by Hamish Stening, and the choreography by Chanel Cheung, the show comes to life (or death) with the vibrant (or dark) cast of characters. Wednesday announces her love for a sweet boy from Ohio called Lucas, bringing the families of both together but how will everyone cope? What secrets will be revealed with full disclosure? And will love prevail for all?

Gomez, performed by Aidan Kane has a devilish charm and compliments Lisa Gluckman’s sultry Morticia. The pair establish themselves as equal heads of the house, doting after children Wednesday played by Lali Gill, and the mischievous Pugsley by Sasha Cole. Comedic timing by cheeky Grandma Chiara Middleton and towering Lurch Jasper Bruce round out the family and add warmth to scenes. The delightfully playful Uncle Fester is performed by Dave Collins, always ready to make the audience laugh and cheer at any moment (particularly with his timely comment regarding marriage equality in 2017).

The Beineke family is a stark contrast to the brazen Addams. Lucas, performed by Nyasha ‘Nash’ Nyakuengama radiates warmth, complimenting Wednesday’s dark mood. Sinead Cristaudo as Alice Beinke transforms from the meek mannered to the wild via the song ‘Waiting.’ Ryan Fogwell as Mal Beinke is the stiff husband and father who hasn’t had a spring in his step for years… until now!

The Addams Ancestors wonderfully integrate into the songs and story, helping the characters to solve problems along the way via dance numbers. As each is dressed from a different era, the ancestors reveal the Addams extensive and rich past.

The music and lyrics by Andrew Lippa, are catchy and fun, brought to life by the 12 piece orchestra under Stening’s direction. ‘When You’re an Addams’, ‘One Normal Night’, and ‘Tango de Amor’ are standouts.

Collin’s punchy rendition of ‘The Moon and Me’ is sweetly staged, surrounded by glowing stars and a large white beach-ball moon on a stick. Similarly, Gluckman’s ‘Just Around the Corner’ is charismatic and funny, including a dance with the grim reaper. Gill’s ‘Pulled’ is powerful and wonderfully sets the tone of the evening with the families. Kane hits all the right notes during the show but stands out in ‘Happy/Sad’ where we see a softer side of Gomez with Wednesday. Perhaps the most surprising singing cameo comes from Bruce’s Lurch in ‘Move Towards the Darkness,’ delighting the audience with his rich voice.

Performed on campus in the Science Building, the foyer is decorated in Addams Family style, with cobwebs and headstones – perfect for setting the mood.

THE ADDAMS FAMILY THE MUSICAL is a fun night out, sure to make you laugh, cheer, dance, and click your fingers in your seat.

The running time is 2 hrs and 30 mins including one interval.