Aussie Drama

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.

ACTS OF FAITH : A NEW PLAY BY MELVYN MORROW @ KING STREET THEATRE NEWTOWN

NSW

This is the world premiere of a witty, sparkling, delicious comedy from the pen of Melvyn Morrow..

Under Elaine Hudson’s excellent direction the play, full of incisive one liners, is fast paced with the actors swiftly moving between scenes. The two cast members perform with pizzazz and there is a good chemistry between them.

The set by Allan Walpole was in three parts, with a church like atmosphere overall, the two outer sides pulpit like, the main middle section with its lights proclaiming Last Orders Bar and Bistro. The arches for the two side areas act as windows and allowed for very atmospheric lighting. Scene changes (church to racecourse to restaurant and more) were often indicated by changing a prop on the bar – for example, flowers, or a silver teapot, an Islander statue, or a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Musically, the soundscape as devised by Glenn Amer, included convent bells, hymn music and some Gilbert and Sullivan.
Morrow’s play envisions two interesting characters – Arthur, a shonky property developer and Thelma, the last nun of her order – and places them in a situation which offers maximum potential for conflict.

Scenes are divided and feature ironic voice-overs like saying a rosary, for example the second mystery of light. There are many complicated twists, but to say more would spoil the fun.

Many people might wonder what on earth led such an intelligent and attractive woman choose to become a nun, who then ends up becoming the Superior of her order? And what happens when, over time, her order dies out and she’s left, as it were, holding the fort?! Arthur meanwhile has his major construction group. Can they do a deal?!

The performers, Taylor Owynns and Joseph Taylor, play their parts well with both characters struggling with their faith.

As Arthur, the Queensland property developer, Taylor comes across at first as a rather slimy Ocker and more than a bit off-putting, and as Sister Thelma, Owyns, in her traditional nun’s garb and has a very still, quiet, warm yet powerfully charismatic presence.

Both performers get to deliver strong monologues. Warning – in this show, appearances are deceptive, are they really who they say they are?

This play was fun, a delightful rom-com, which was also moving and thought provoking and one that the audience greatly enjoyed .

Running time 90 mins no interval.

Melvyn Morrow’s ACT OF FAITH is playing the King Street Theatre, corner King and Bray streets, Newtown until the 4th August, 2017.

 

FALLEN : A FASCINATING HISTORICAL DRAMA @ THE SEYMOUR CENTRE

 

Lyrical and powerful this play is a fascinating insight into a little known piece of British/Australian history.

Seanna van Helton’s FALLEN is a stage adaptation of historian Jenny Hartley’s’ novel, THE  HOUSE OF FALLEN WOMEN (2009). Penny Harpham directs this current production which has been co-produced by Sport for Jove and Melbourne’s’ She Said Theatre.

The setting is London in the 1840s. The location is Urania Cottage in London. The cottage was founded by legendary author Charles Dickens with wealthy banking heiress Angela Burdett-Coutts. It was established as a reformatory for fallen women as an alternative to the workhouses and prison.                                 Continue reading FALLEN : A FASCINATING HISTORICAL DRAMA @ THE SEYMOUR CENTRE

THE LADEN TABLE : A BIG ISSUE PLAY @ THE INTIMATE KINGS X THEATRE

Dinner is waiting. Come with an open heart and mind to the resplendent, heavily laden table. This production by bAKEHOUSE Theatre company is superb, beautifully crafted, written and acted by a largish, strong cast of twelve and is sensitively directed by Suzanne Millar.

Be warned, this production is quite intense and divisive and features explosive inter-generational and racist remarks and quarrels.

THE LADEN TABLE is set in Sydney, right now, and is extremely timely, making us question our own faiths, principles and beliefs. From ‘both sides’ we  hear a plea for understanding. Continue reading THE LADEN TABLE : A BIG ISSUE PLAY @ THE INTIMATE KINGS X THEATRE

OSCAR WILDE’S THE NIGHTINGALE AND THE ROSE

 

The Student with the Red Rose
The Student with the Red Rose

In 2010, acclaimed artist Del Kathryn Barton and renown filmmaker Brendan Fletcher had a casual conversation about working Barton’s series of Oscar Wilde inspired artworks into a short film.

Six years later, Oscar Wilde’s The Nightingale and the Rose, was born.

Currently showing at ACMI, the 14-minute adaption of Wilde’s tale of the same title is now open to the public.

The film took three years to produce with Barton and Fletcher working closely with award-winning post-production house, Method Studios. The team used a mix of handmade props and post-production animation techniques to meticulously craft the piece.

What they have created is an intense and beautiful rendition of Wilde’s original, featuring a chilling score by Sarah Blasko and the voices of some of Australia’s most celebrated actors including Geoffrey Rush and Mia Wasikowska. Continue reading OSCAR WILDE’S THE NIGHTINGALE AND THE ROSE

SPORT FOR JOVE PRESENTS MICHAEL GOW’S AWAY @ REGINALD THEATRE SEYMOUR CENTRE

Away-main

This year marks the thirtieth anniversary of the first production of this landmark Australian play. While Sport For Jove’s production, as co- directed by Damien Ryan and Samantha Young, has some terrific segments, it  a little uneven, mainly in the first half, where the acting, at times, seemed a little forced. 

The staging was excellent – Lucilla Smith’s set design was very impressive – lyrical and simple, featuring a stage partially raked and there was a very effective use of light drapes which were sometimes tied back.

Ben Brockman’s lighting was vibrantly atmospheric. The storm scene towards the end of the first act was very well done, and a little reminiscent of Philippe Genty in style.
Continue reading SPORT FOR JOVE PRESENTS MICHAEL GOW’S AWAY @ REGINALD THEATRE SEYMOUR CENTRE

UNFINISHED WORKS @ REGINALD THEATRE SEYMOUR CENTRE

Unfinished Works- second

What is Art? Inspiration and the creative process, artistic copyright, integrity and forgery are central to this work.

This new play by Thomas de Angelis is given a terrific performance by a great cast. The production has been bought to us by BONTOM, the team that brought us Jack Killed Jack (2012) and The Worst Kept Secrets(2014).

Charles Davis’ single, multi functional, rather elegantly minimalist set has neutral colours and clean,crisp lines fluidly representing places ranging from a dingy studio in Marrickville to a posh house in Rose Bay. Effective use is also made of the upstairs balcony at times during the play. Continue reading UNFINISHED WORKS @ REGINALD THEATRE SEYMOUR CENTRE

THE REMOVALISTS @ King Street Theatre

THE REMOVALISTS is one of David Williamson’s first and most influential plays, an iconic Australian play of the seventies dealing with domestic violence issues, that are still with us in 2015.

The Epicentre Theatre Company’s current revival features a  very well chosen cast that is well able to deal with the emotional and physical demands of the script.

We witness how people play word games with each other to win each situation, but each with their own subversive reasons, in this vivid exploration of the changing roles of women and men.

The play starts inside the Police Station with two policemen, in a crime ridden suburb of Melbourne. One officer has been in the Police Force for 23 years and is corrupt whilst the other is freshly-trained and nervous, on his first day on the job. They are called on a job to help two sisters, one of whom has been badly beaten by her partner. Continue reading THE REMOVALISTS @ King Street Theatre