Theatre

MICRO THEATRE FESTIVAL NEWCASTLE 22- 26 AUGUST

The Micro Theatre Festival is an independent festival of short plays (5-20 minutes each) performed in intimate spaces such as cafés and small art galleries in Newcastle – where the venue is the stage. In 2017, 16 short plays will be performed across 4 venues during 22 – 26 August.

Micro Theatre supports both small business and Newcastle’s arts and theatre communities by managing this original festival centred in the flourishing culture of small cafés and galleries.

Tickets on sale at www.microtheatre.com.au

Venues are:
The Press – 462 Hunter Street, Newcastle
Curve Gallery – 61 Hunter Street, Newcastle
Vinyl Café – 4 Perkins Street, Newcastle
Studio21 Artspace – 21 Bennett Street, Newcastle

Micro Theatre creates entertaining and innovative theatre in alternative places. Check it out.

DATES
22 – 26 August 2017

For more about Micro Theatre Festival, visit https://www.microtheatre.com.au/
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SPORT FOR JOVE PRESENTS ‘ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST @ THE REGINALD THEATRE

The main allure in seeing Sport for Jove’s production of Ken Kesey’s ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST, as adapted for the stage by Dale Wasserman, is seeing a fine group of actors showcase their acting talents playing Kesey’s colourful, quirky characters.

Anthony Gooley is compelling in the role made famous by Jack Nicholson. McMurphy is a small time crim, who chooses to spend his allotted time in a psychiatric hospital rather than a prison. He can’t believe what he finds when he enters the institution – the patients are ‘vegetables’, sitting around, doped to the eyeballs.

McMurphy makes it his mission to shake the guys up. In particular, he wants them to stand up to the psych nurse from hell, Nurse Ratched. He, of-course, leads by example, constantly baiting  her. McMurphy and Nurse Ratched make for classic antagonists.

Di Smith’s  Nurse Ratched, whilst displaying her character’s benevolence and condescending nature, lacked the very creepy quality that Louise Fletcher’s screen performance emblazoned her with. Matilda Brodie plays Ratched’s bland, vapid  assistant, Nurse Flinn.

Johann Walraven plays the weak, easily manipulated Dr Spivey who, at first, McMurphy wins over with his vibrancy, though the good terms don’t last. Continue reading SPORT FOR JOVE PRESENTS ‘ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST @ THE REGINALD THEATRE

DIGNITY OF RISK : A SHOPFRONT AND ATYP CO-PRODUCTION @ ATYP STUDIO 1

“In a world where you can be anything by yourself’ Etta Turner.

“I contradict myself. Very well then, I contradict myself. I am large. I contain multitudes.” Walt Whitman.

I loved this show. It was just so, so brave 

The performance saw a troupe of young performers take to the stage for a one hour performance. Now here’s the thing…They didn’t come on stage as a character, wearing some kind of mask, something that young people find relatively easy to do.

They fronted up as themselves, and over the next sixty minutes, shared themselves – their thoughts, their feelings – like open books before us.

Appropriately, the show started off slowly. We were in darkness when the performers started talking to us – describing their physical appearance to us – height, eyes, weight and so on.

Slowly but surely the stage lights came up to show the performers, first behind a thin ‘curtain’ and then this came away to fully reveal them. Continue reading DIGNITY OF RISK : A SHOPFRONT AND ATYP CO-PRODUCTION @ ATYP STUDIO 1

TERRENCE RATTIGAN’S ‘AFTER THE DANCE’ @ THE NEW THEATRE NEWTOWN

This is the first time that this neglected rather early Rattigan play has been seen in Sydney. While it now perhaps seems rather dated and ‘of its time’ under Giles Gartrell-Mills’ excellent direction this play while at first, seemingly very artificial, superficial and slow to take off, develops and becomes quite intense and multi-layered.

Rattigan’s play, AFTER THE DANCE written in 1939, examines the life of the young people who survived World War One and lived life to the full in the hedonistic 1920s, only to find themselves now middle-aged, disillusioned and facing another World War .It is a study of a  lost generation. The script is brilliantly written and the play well plotted and structured. At times the play seems a bit like a brittle Coward comedy – the audience laughed heartily at certain points at the sparking , witty dialogue –  but there remains  an underlying passion and morality. Rattigan is able to let the audience see  the hidden sadness of these doomed fantasists. Continue reading TERRENCE RATTIGAN’S ‘AFTER THE DANCE’ @ THE NEW THEATRE NEWTOWN

TENNESSE WILLIAMS ‘THE ROSE TATTOO’ @ THE GUILD THEATRE ROCKDALE

Tennessee Williams plays are always immersive  experiences as indeed THE ROSE TATTOO is.

This Williams play takes us deeply into the world of a tightly knit Sicilian community situated along the coast of Mexico, between New Orleans and Mobile.

We follow Serafina Delle Rose’s story. At the play’s start she is in a good place, a busy local dressmaker, pregnant, and a devoted wife to truck driver husband Rosario. Then the ‘slings and arrows of misfortune’ take a large slice of her when her husband dies in a truck accident. From the shock of ir all she loses her baby and basically goes into a shut down mode.

This ‘mode’ has repercussions for her 15 year old daughter Rosa who has a thing for sailor boy Jack. Panicking Serafina tries to keep her daughter at home  as much as possible. Continue reading TENNESSE WILLIAMS ‘THE ROSE TATTOO’ @ THE GUILD THEATRE ROCKDALE

SUDS GOES A WANDERING WITH ‘IN TWO CIRCLES’

So their ceiling fell in. But that is not going to stop the oldest theatre company in Australia from getting a show on! Would a destroyed venue have stopped alumni like Kip or Kit or, wayback, Clive and Germaine? Not likely.

Sydney University Dramatic Society (SUDS), has been creating performance for nearly 130 years. So, during their displacement from the Cellar Theatre, they have taken root in the Common Room plus they have branched out into the wilds of Annandale. IN TWO CIRCLES is SUDS’ immersive theatre experience and it begins at the Annandale pub.

We meet Prof Gerald who is obviously under pressure and who has a theory about a time and place shift. In his halting and nervous way he explains that there has been a series of disappeared persons over 100 years in the Herald obituary sections. The latest is someone he knows.

Esse appears to be one of the disappeared. Gerald has sent a call to arms on Reddit and here we are. The ten of us will join with his colleague Michael to make a dozen warriors. We bond as we travel though lanes and backstreets and later when I find myself confronted with a scary run-in with ‘The Patron’ I can grab a young man’s shirt and request his assistance. Enjoyed that may be a bit too much. Moving on.

Through the portal, armed with a recent picture of Esse we go. We enter … The Vale!!! (It’s more ‘Welcome to Night Vale’ than Littlefinger territory.)

Immersive theatre is all the rage, from escape rooms to takeovers of historic buildings. And each, the good ones anyway, has a distinct story, genre, cast of characters and raison d’etre. IN TWO CIRCLES is detailed, well created, immaculately conceptualised and there must be an English Major there somewhere because it is beautifully plotted and, in a few places, scripted. Not to mention the terrific improvisational talent of the performers.

The space has detail enough to keep participants wandering and questing without either real world intrusion or any claustrophobia. The intent of the props and sets are conducive to detective work, whether you are a brooding thinker looking for signs or an action seeker searching for events.

The fairly modern costuming does the trick to support the artist’s character but the real delight is in the makeup. Apart from highly visible audience members, such as an elder citizen with grey hair and a notebook, it would be hard to recognise those from whom information might be elicited. That’s where the makeup empowers a participant. It clues one in to the internal struggle and therefore what can be believed. It’s really clever!

Obviously an audience requires some kind of herding toward a conclusion, a solution, an experiential climax. In this production, some simple, effective lighting and audio goes a long way toward that but shepherding inevitably falls to the cast. The immersion is about 50 minutes and not one of those actors dropped character or showed any sign of fatigue, even after a 4 show day. Each character has some kind of arc, can answer backstory questions and yet travel the mystery forward.

There is something for everyone in IN TWO CIRCLES. SUDS have taken their adverse architectural situation by the orbs and held a contorted mirror up to an alternate reality. Great concept, great fun it continues until 12th August.

SEASON 2018 LAUNCH : ENSEMBLE THEATRE

Featured photo –  Ensemble Patrons Georgie Parker and Todd McKenney.

All photos by Ben Apfelbaum (c).

At a swish function held  at the theatre, the Ensemble announced its 2018 season. The foyer was overflowing with both subscribers and theatre identities.

Artistic Director Mark Kilmurry unveiled details of  the season and the theatre’s 60th birthday celebrations, with an opening song by Queenie Van De Zandt accompanied by Max Lambert from her cabaret BLUE – THE SONGS OF JONI MITCHELL.

Guests then enjoyed a Spanish themed after launch party in the downstairs Bailey restaurant with George Washingmachine’s  trio playing in the background.

The 2018 Season includes four world premieres from Australian writers, a novel adaptation of a French play, four comedy classics, and two gripping international dramas from master playwrights.

Mark Kilmurry is directing five of the plays and there will be five guest directors; John Bell, Mitchell Butel, Susanna Dowling, Nadia Tass and Janine Watson.  Theatre legend Reg Livermore will be performing his new one man show, The Widow Unplugged.

Other highlight 60th birthday events include a season of Pop Up Cabarets, featuring Mitchell Butel, Todd McKenney and Queenie Van De Zandt and a series of  ‘Mornings with Sandra’- 11am matinee sessions featuring Australia’s longest serving Artistic Director , recounting some of the theatre’s history and highlights with Ensemble founding members , Lorraine Bayley and Reg Livermore together with acclaimed playwright David Williamson.

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BROOKE ROBINSON’S ‘TELESCOPE’ @ THE OLD FITZ

TELESCOPE is bent over laughing entertainment. Part of Red Line Productions THE NEW FITZ, a season of ten Australian writers, this show is wonderfully, obliquely … silly. In fact, histrionic, hilarious, high spirited, it is an exercise in advanced silliness. With a whole heap of my viewing-year-so-far bests!

Beginning with best use of an antennae to open a show. Daniel is on the lookout for aliens when we meet him as we enter the theatre. He and his transistor and his aerial are perched on a table centre stage. There is great deal of leaping and arm raising and getting of mixed signals. (Terrific audio cues btw) until his parents arrive.

Mum and Dad get my best in show for most disengaged parents! Only slightly interested in anyone else’s agenda, this absurdly dysfunctional family is completed by the arrival of Lenny. An expert non-listener, she is driven to try and save the family home from the Government’s greedy claws as it buys up the Sydney suburb. Their little home and those around it are the perfect place for a radio telescope and there are big ass bucks to made by selling up and heading out. Continue reading BROOKE ROBINSON’S ‘TELESCOPE’ @ THE OLD FITZ

You’ll Never Guess Where I Hid The Cheese @ the Factory Theatre

Do you have a family??? Then this is the show for you! (It’s a family show, not a show about families).

Bobbi & Wanda are your guides in the hunt for the cheese they hid. Did you know you can catch a bear with cheese? You can learn this, and other important facts at You’ll Never Guess Where I Hid The Cheese.

The “out-of-the-ordinary” (The Plus Ones) Debbie Zukerman, and “superb” (Adelaide Theatre Guide) Alicia Gonzalez have made a new family show. It’s so new, it’s like a tamagotchi in the summer of ’96. SCIENCE. There may be some in the show.

“Choo Choo Troupe is … a force for good” – Sydney Arts Guide

DATES FOR THE DIARY-
Sat Sept 2, 5:45 & Sun Sept 3, 4:45 at the Factory Theatre.

For more about You’ll Never Guess Where I Hid The Cheese, visit http://fringecomedy.com.au/single-event?show_id=103
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JANE BODIE’S ‘FOURPLAY’ @ THE BLOOD MOON THEATRE

There really are not enough small spaces around Sydney where emerging theatre companies can get a show up with their own resources and backing. Blood Moon Theatre is one that really supports independent theatre by its price structure and having some lighting and sound infrastructure. Phable Productions/ Marcia Lemm chose this theatre for their short season of FOURPLAY (2000) by Australian playwright Jane Bodie.

The opening of FOURPLAY, as written, sees the four characters listing the names of past lovers and relationships before the word ‘you’. This production wisely shortened that to the one word for each of the characters before moving on. We meet Alice (Marcia Lemm) and Tom (Jack Berry) rehearsing lines for a different play. He is an actor and she is an ex-actress, now a care-worker. They are evidently in a relationship but appear combative. Next we see Tom rehearsing with Natasha (Chantelle Von Appen) and there appears to be a different kind of tension. As the issues in Tom and Alice’s relationship worsen, Alice meets Jack (Evan Piefke). Jack is also a care-worker for the same client and their paths cross at the beginning and end of shifts. Jack appears very odd and Alice takes some time to choose to engage with him.

There are some very interesting notes in the Bodie’s script about which characters will engage with whom. About focus and perspective and eye contact and choices about naturalism in production with scope for non-naturalistic interpretations. This production chose a naturalistic physical setting with the theatre in an usual configuration. Sofa and tables on the floor as well as using the small stage, with the use of practical lamps and an overhead bulb to indicate place. It must have cost them a lot of seats but served the production well. Continue reading JANE BODIE’S ‘FOURPLAY’ @ THE BLOOD MOON THEATRE

THEATRE ON CHESTER PRESENTS ‘THE THIRTY NINE STEPS’

THE 39 STEPS at the Theatre on Chester, Epping is a crackerjack production with a cracking good performance at its centre. It’s hilarious, cleverly conceived, fast paced and, I do believe, the most fun I have ever had in the suburbs on a Friday night.

Richard Hannay is jaded, filled with ennui and world weary after his travels. With a wink to the audience, he decides to take in a night at the theatre … it’s an “antidote to boredom” right? He will meet a mysterious veiled woman and being bored will no longer be his problem as he finds himself accused of her murder. He is suddenly on a train to the Scottish Highlands following the clues which the aforementioned, now deceased Annabella Schmidt has intimated!

THE 39 STEPS is an Olivier, Drama Desk and Tony award winner. It is a rollicking show, which takes the Hitchcock classic film and puts it on stage with only four cast members. Owing a great deal to BULLSHOT CRUMMOND, the riotous production is alive with Hitchcockian allusions, some wonderful sight gags and jokes ranging from groaners to rapid fire puns. Continue reading THEATRE ON CHESTER PRESENTS ‘THE THIRTY NINE STEPS’

MISS SAIGON @ PARRAMATTA RIVERSIDE THEATRE

One of the best shows on in Sydney at the moment Packemin’s production of MISS SAIGON is both lyrical and chilling, explosively powerful and softly haunting .

Written by Claude-Michel Schönberg and Alain Boublil, the team who brought us Les Miserables (and yes you can hear similarities in the score, which at times is quite operatic) this is an updated version of Madame Butterfly set during the Vietnam War featuring a rather operatic dose of lyrical romance, passion biting wit, politics and corruption. The show ran on Broadway, and in London, for over a decade and has had major productions world wide.

Set in 1975, during the last days of the American occupation of Vietnam, MISS SAIGON tells the dramatic, moving story of a young Vietnamese girl, Kim (Vivien Emsworth) and an American GI, Chris (Haydan Hawkins) whose lives briefly, magically intersect ; a moment that changes their lives forever, especially when they are catastrophically torn apart by war.

Under Neil Gooding and Ylaria Rodgers’s superlative direction with a very strong cast it is at times bright, bold and colourful, tightly choreographed and sometimes very visually dramatic. Technically, the production crew were excellent The set design (Neil Shotter) with its fluid scene changes from neon lights of the garish bar to bamboo textured slats, or wire fences for example, is excellent.

The Morning of the Dragon scene, with its HUGE cast (yes including a dragon and martial arts allusions) of the menacing masked army invading the stage with their guns and the red lighting is both thrilling and chilling. Continue reading MISS SAIGON @ PARRAMATTA RIVERSIDE THEATRE

DIANE SAMUELS’ ‘KINDERTRANSPORT’ @ THE ETERNITY PLAYHOUSE

Production photography by Phillip Erbacher.

‘To really get to know a person you have got to get inside a person’s skin and walk around a while.’ Atticus Finch in Harper Lee’s ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’.

This famous quote holds as true as ever.  We need to step outside of ourselves and into the ‘shoes’ of another human being to truly understand and accept them.

This is what British playwright Diane Samuels does with her play which explores what it was like to be a Kindertransport survivor. These were the Jewish children who the British Government rescued from the clutches of Nazism. Between the end of 1938 and the end of 1939 the British Government issued 10,000 permits  to get children out, minus their parents, and provide them with safe passage to England, where they were taken in by foster parents who were ‘charged with’ trying to bring order and stability back into their lives.

The play follows the journey of Eva from the time she leaves Germany for England to her own middle-age as a long established British resident with an inquisitive grown-up daughter who is demanding to know more about her long ago past., Samuels’ play also includes a non-naturalistic, symbolic level with the use of extracts from an an eerie children’s story, ‘The Rat Catcher’.

I found the  play authentic, and well served by Sandra Eldridge’s fine production. Sarah Greenwood as young Eva and Camilla Ah Kin as the adult Eva took us deeply into her world. Continue reading DIANE SAMUELS’ ‘KINDERTRANSPORT’ @ THE ETERNITY PLAYHOUSE

DRY LAND @ KINGS CROSS THEATRE

Production photos by Marnya Rothe.

There has been and after Opening Night tonight, there will continue to be , a great deal of public and media discussion about the violence of one scene of Ruby Rae Spiegel’s DRY LAND playing at Kings Cross Theatre. I am not the person who will add much to the specifics of that because, frankly, I didn’t watch. I cowered away from it, tried not to listen and just waited for it to end. And that is the very reason why artistic debate about a topic such as medication abortion requires skillful and respectful hands. Realism is vital. This story is not clinical it must not be whitewashed or sterilised.

Outhouse Theatre Company and Mad March Hare Theatre Company are those hands.

DRY LAND introduces us to Ester and Amy. Amy is forceful and solid. And pregnant. Ester greatly hero worships her and seems slightly overawed by being asked to be the co-conspirator in her attempts to induce a miscarriage … by being punched in the stomach. The girls are swimmers. The place is the white tiled dressing sheds.

Amy’s best friend is actually Reba and Amy is not above using vague Reba allusions in manipulating Ester’s participation. Ester’s evident guilessness belies a darkness that will show itself to a stranger, Victor when their parents arrange for her to stay at his dorm. She is at his college for a disenfranchising tryout for a swim scholarship. Amy seems little interested in a real friendship with Ester however the physical intervention unsuccessful, there must be collusion to purchase the medications.

This is a polished, professional production that wears its heart on its sleeve. Sarah Rae Anne Meacham gives us an Ester who grows and changes throughout the play as she wrestles with demons that have tortured her in the past. It’s a subtle performance with undercurrents that smack head on into the undertow of Patricia Pemberton’s Amy. Dominant, changeable and until the end unknowable, Pemberton pulls off the difficult trick of appearing one thing while being described as another. And she does this without conflict or loss of believability.

The two women have a rapport that elevates the audience’s involvement in their circumstances. It is also important to mention that their control over the challenging physicality of the abortion scene is vital for the credibility of the play’s intention.

They have fine support in Charles Upton who is really terrific as Victor, a young man out of his depth with college life and family complications. And he is so funny. That’s what is so enriching about Ruby Rae Spiegel’s script; it has such elevating, comic, character based moments despite the gravity of its themes. Michelle Ny as Reba personifies one of those themes. She is travelling through adolescence with a flighty, gossipy, self-obsession that rings wonderfully true. One can see why Amy kept Reba out of her plans.

Also in fine support are the production and creative crew. The set ( Isabel Hudson) is simple, white tiles and two long dark wood benches. But in those scene changes when the lights (Liam O’Keefe) morph from glaring fluorescent to underwater aquas and bluey-greens and the underwater echo and spill of the audio track ( Ben Pierpoint) blurs the senses … then … those benches look like the black line on the bottom of a pool. The senses are water- dulled and the audience has time to think and breathe before the scene which will take our breath from us.

It is very important that you take the trigger warnings in all of the publicity about this show seriously. It is graphic, inescapable. I thought I would be fine. A life in the theatre has inured me to stage blood, I recently worked on the Sydney season of 1984 without incident. But I couldn’t watch and knew beforehand that would probably be so. What I didn’t know is that the scene afterwards, where the bloody mess is cleaned with custodial indifference would set me off. Trouble controlling my nausea then for reasons that require investigation.

Without irony I would suggest that DRY LAND is about choice and this Australian premiere production is an artistic contributor to the debate about medicinal abortion because it is not sterile, logical or singly experienced. Surely, if men and women of childbearing age are to speak of such things then understanding the visceral, bloody, realities can only inform choices.

DRY LAND plays at the Kings Cross Theatre until 19 August.

 

BONDI FEAST : THE CHOO CHOO TROUPE PRESENTS LOST LOST CABARET @ THE BONDI PAV

The Lost Lost Cabaret

The Choo Choo Troupe is obviously a force for good.  They describe themselves on their website as “ a collective of Sydney & Melbourne based performers who are tied together by an innate desire to act like idiots.”  And the reality is, you can’t be an idiot on your own… that’s just weird.  There is safety in numbers.

THE LOST LOST CABARET was the final event of the BONDI FEAST and it is apparently the little sister to London’s The Lost Cabaret, and misguided brother to Melbourne’s The Lost Lost Lost Cabaret.  According to their blurb ….  Throughout 2016, The Lost Lost Cabaret was a regular show at Glebe’s now defunct Mr. Falcon’s.  And now it has returned!  For one night only!  At Bondi Feast!  

Last night the six artists who were performing were squeezed into the Mini Theatre with its miniscule stage and very few seats..  It’s a chance to see these performers up close and personal  and the use of small venues is just one of the attractions of BONDI FEAST programming.  You also get to put Sold Out your next gig.  On this occasion, you can put Sold Out REaaaaly REaaaaly Early!

One of the other advantages is that you have a supportive space to try out your material, since another reality is that you simply don’t know if your gear works until you stand up.  “I must have you warmed up by now,” says one artist when a clap-desirous pun just lies there.  There was a fair amount of trying out and there were some lie-there gags.  All terrific learning material for sure in a Choo Choo safe environment.

The 2 MCs for the evening, Bobbie and Wanda (Debbie Zukerman and Alicia Gonzalez) arrived with some physical comedy which was supported by preparation and personality.  But the problems that all would have with the intimacy of the venue, only having the one gig with little preparation time in the space, and the tyranny of props and costumes that won’t behave,  also arrived with these characters.  They had fun mining the comic possibilities of that well-trod stand-up fare: the embarrassment of incompetence.

They were ably supported by Steve on the Keys!  His work was top notch, he was engaged, responsive, creative and supportive. The other 3 members of last night’s troupe were an elderly citizen who reads faxed hands … probably to supplement her pension, a Lorca inspired sad sack in a really stunning  costume and a doctor armed with a stethoscope to read what is in random audience members heads and play it out imaginatively on set.  

There was a bit where members of the public were let loose with surgical tongs, some gross-out stuff, some female-centric gags, even a lesbian sub-plot!  The audience laughed and volunteered and congratulated them afterwards and the Choo Choo Troupe rose again to inspire new idiots in the nicest possible way.    

 

JAMI BRANDLI’S ‘TECHNICOLOUR LIFE’ @ THE DEPOT THEATRE, MARRICKVILLE

 

Production photos – Katy Green Loughrey

The award winning US play TECHNICOLOR LIFE by Jami Brandli, is now having its Australian premiere as part of The Depot Theatre’s 2017 Season.

Grandmother, mother and two daughters, explore divorce, adolescence, war-wounded, cancer, remission, euthanasia, and  much more. Billie (Tasha O’Brien) a young and love-struck Iraq War soldier, loses her left hand and is sent home, with PTSD, damaged and angry.

Billie’s fourteen year old sister, Maxine (Nyssa Hamilton) is the  narrator of this story, and she attempts to help her now alcoholic wounded sister, by enlisting her new imaginary friends – Lorelei Lee and Dorothy Shaw from the movie “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes”.

The unravelling of intergenerational female relationships are brilliantly explored. The right to die movement, friendly fire, women in the military on the front line in Iraq, hiding sexual assault on military women. Continue reading JAMI BRANDLI’S ‘TECHNICOLOUR LIFE’ @ THE DEPOT THEATRE, MARRICKVILLE

GRIFFIN THEATRE COMPANY PRESENTS MICHELE LEE’S ‘RICE’ @ THE STABLES THEATRE

Featured pic – Hsiao-Ling Tang as Yvette in Michele Lee’s ‘Rice’. Production pics by Brett Boardman.

Michele Lee’s new play RICE tells a very old story. Two people may hold very different positions in society, come from disparate backgrounds,be vastly different in age, and yet there can be this alchemy between them which sees them make a connection, create an understanding, form a bond.

In one of my favourite plays, American playwright Lewis John Carlino’s Sarah and The Sax a plump, elderly Jewish woman Sarah Nodelman is sitting on a park bench in Central Park, New York doing some crocheting. Her bags of shopping sit idly beside her. She is taking a breather before she makes the final part of her trek home.

An Afro-American guy playing a saxophone is walking by. Sarah engages him in conversation – well by conversation I mean she talks to him and he replies by playing bluesy notes on his saxophone. He takes a seat beside her. They come from entirely different worlds, and yet by the end of their meeting they have connected, this huge chasm between them has been closed.

Lee’s play is built around two very well drawn, strong women. Nisha is a young, very driven Chief Executive Officer of Golden Fields, one of Australia’s leading food production companies. She is second generation Indian. Yvette, first generation Chinese, in her early sixties, is the office cleaner who comes in after hours and with whom Nisha interacts because she is always working back, burning the candle at both ends.

At first, their interactions are glib, superficial, even brusque. However, over the course of the play, they get to know other’s stories very well, the struggles, the wins, the losses, and by journey’s end, they have developed a deep affection and regard for each other.

RICE was engrossing theatre. Lee Lewis’ production was taut, there was good work by her creative team, and most of all the performances by the two actresses, Kristy Best as Nisha and Hsiao-Ling Tang as Yvette, were extraordinary. As well as playing their main character they each played a range of ‘supporting’ characters with great skill and nuance. It was an enormous privilege to see their performances.

A Griffin Theatre Company and Queensland Theatre co-production, Michele Lee’s RICE is playing  the SBW Stables Theatre, 10 Nimrod Street, Kings Cross until the 26th August.

www.stablestheatre.com.au

 

BONDI FEAST : CLARA CUPCAKES : THE WORST @ THE LITTLE THEATRE, BONDI PAVILION

CLARA CUPCAKES: THE WORST is a wonderful production. When we first meet our player/character, we do wonder though, will the wonder she sees around her keep us engaged for the length of our time together. Wonder on, till truth make all things plain. Yep, this is a Shakespearean clown snuggled away in a tiny theatre at the tail end of the Bondi Feast.

Clara Cupcakes invented a game in 2001. The year of Enron and the ipod. A bad game. THE WORST. This Dire Straits-ish, blocky, animated quest was essentially unplayable. Until now.

On the small stage is an octopus. She is purple and she is excitable. She is the inheritor of Puck and Bottom and a bit of Dogberry with the distinct whiff of Gypsy Rose Lee and Ethel Merman. Not to mention Siri beatboxing… just ask her … “I could do this all day!” And she is our hero. She will play the game and interact with the graphics in an attempt to re-enter the undersea castle from which she has been rudely ejected like the last cartridge of a Nintendo 64. Continue reading BONDI FEAST : CLARA CUPCAKES : THE WORST @ THE LITTLE THEATRE, BONDI PAVILION

VELVET : A DIVINE DISCOTHEQUE CIRCUS @ ROSLYN PACKER THEATRE

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

BONDI FEAST : the ethics of paediatric haircut for long hair

It was a bit hairy there for a few minutes. I thought a scuffle was going to break out for sure. Love a tough audience but I reckon there was going to be some biffo after the show. Ires were raised and conciliation was not on the agenda when such a divisive topic was let off the chain at the Bondi Feast.

As for me, I’m a barber’s daughter from the dark days when kids did what their parents wanted, where infant autonomy did not exist and no-one had the temerity to juxtapose consent and abuse. So I am seriously torn.

Well … not seriously. None of this is serious. It’s a fun, new Australian work called the ethics of paediatric haircut for long hair. Seriously!

The debate occurs between a scholarly, academic, clinically precise doctor in surgical scrubs and a scrubber hairdresser who specialises in cutting kids hair. The audience launches in and the debate is hijacked by the choir of some medical product from ProsiPharm, trying to further their own agenda.

The show is the brainchild of Isobel Yeap (the doc) and Antoinette Barbouttis and Yeap plays the doctor giving the lecture with Elysia Boyd as Paloma Orange, her antagonist. I especially liked the Doctor character who is, initially, logical and precise and authoritative. As the show progresses her warmth and passion engage the audience and she has a lovely little monologue which really drea me in.

The Paloma Orange character however was abrasive, vicious, snide, simplistic, sneering and arrogant – well delivered.

This was a short, wry, irony- heavy morsel. Nothing serious for sure … despite the interjections of some elements of the audience. Tasty!

the ethics of paediatric haircut for long hair plays again at the Bondi Pavilion Friday at 9:30pm.

 

COMING SOON : DEATHTRAP : A THRILLER IN TWO ACTS @ KING STREET THEATRE

Playwright Sidney Bruhl knows all about murder having written a few successful murder mysteries on Broadway. However, his murderous muse has deserted him and his last play flopped. Desperate for another success, he contemplates murder for real.

He receives a script from a former student, Clifford Anderson, and is instantly consumed with jealousy as he realises it is the perfect thriller and would be a sure-fire hit on Broadway. He must have it. He invites Clifford over on the pretence of giving it the Bruhl polish. The trap is set.

One of Broadway’s great success stories, DEATHTRAP, by Ira Levin (Rosemary’s Baby and The Stepford Wives) opened in New York to rave reviews and became the longest running mystery-thriller in Broadway history with 1,793 performances.

Written in 1978, Deathtrap won the Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America and was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Play.

In 1982 it was adapted into a film starring Christopher Reeve, Michael Caine, and Dyan Cannon.

DATES FOR THE DIARY  

DEATHTRAP will play the King Street Theatre, corner of King and Bray streets Newtown between the 13th and the 16th September. The show is performing nightly at 7.30pm. Ticket prices are $30 and $20 concession.

For more about Deathtrap, visit http://www.kingstreettheatre.com.au/deathtrap/
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Bluebeard; or, the Marriage Mistakes of a Nameless Bride @ Bondi Pav

BLUEBEARD; OR, THE MARRIAGE MISTAKES OF A NAMELESS BRIDE is playing as part of the Bondi Feast. The Feast, which is held at the Bondi Pavilion, has numerous venues and I have been to pretty much all of them these past 2 weeks. Until tonight. Curiosity drew me.

This production takes place in the male change room of the venerable 1920s building. The audience sit on the benches with the drama happening in front of them and around them and hidden in the next cubicle. Part radio play, part immersion, part spectator experience: the show begins with a ritual.

The solitude of a shower. Then the donning of clothes and of the self which is shown to the world. The actors look at us as if in a mirror and check that the prsona is all tidy, correct and at its best before taking it away from the intimacy of dressing.

Melissa Hume and Curly Fernandez are the actors and the characters remain nameless but we are seeing Bluebeard and the Bride. Our guide is Gideon Payten-Griffiths, a troubadour of sorts who provides music to guide emotions, to preface events and to warn of danger. Continue reading Bluebeard; or, the Marriage Mistakes of a Nameless Bride @ Bondi Pav

CARLY FISHER AND DIRECTING ‘THE ADDAMS FAMILY THE MUSICAL’

Featured image – Director Carly Fisher. Pic by Ben Apfelbaum.

For its main production for 2017 New South Wales Theatrical Society (NUTS), now a proud 33 years old, is presenting THE ADDAMS FAMILY THE MUSICAL, a stage adaptation of the much loved television series which itself was a derivative of the original comic series.

I  had a chat with Carly Fisher who is very excited to be directing this production, her second production for NUTS after  directing their Arts Revue in 2015.

Carly describes herself as a theatre fanatic/tragic. She has been involved with theatre and performance from a very tender/young age – she started going to the Brent Street Studio when she was seven years old. Interestingly, she is the only one in her family who has chosen a career in the performing arts. Continue reading CARLY FISHER AND DIRECTING ‘THE ADDAMS FAMILY THE MUSICAL’

“It Shoulda Been You” Australian Premiere returns to The Riverside Theatre

The Australian Premiere of “It Shoulda Been You” is returning by popular demand to The Riverside Theatre Parramatta for 4 shows only!

2-4 November 2017

Broadway’s hilarious wild musical farce with blushing brides, nervous grooms, overbearing mums, unexpected guests and plenty of crazy twists and turns that will make you laugh until you cry.

A brand new show, fresh from Broadway nominated for six Outer Critics Circle Awards, 3 Drama League Awards and 3 Drama Desk Awards. The original production was directed by David Hyde Pearce and starred Tyne Daly, Harriet Harris and Chip Zien.

DATES
Thursday 2 November, & Friday 3 November at 7.30pm and Saturday 4 November at 2pm & 7.30pm at the Riverside Parramatta.

For more about “It Shoulda Been You” Australian Premiere returns to The Riverside Theatre, visit https://riversideparramatta.com.au/show/it-shoulda-been-you/
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SUTHERLAND THEATRE COMPANY PRESENTS ‘A GOOD MAN’ @ THE SUTHERLAND MEMORIAL SCHOOL OF THE ARTS

Benjamin Franklin once wrote that nothing in life is certain except death and taxes. With death comes a funeral, and The Sutherland Theatre Company’s upcoming production of the entertaining play A GOOD MAN shows what can happen when an everyday funeral goes horribly, hilariously wrong.

Written by American playwright Frederick Stroppel, A GOOD MAN opens on a hot summer day at The Good Shepherd Funeral Parlour, where funeral director Martin Lamb (played by Tony Girdler) is presiding over the wake of the late Walter Porteus. His dream of the perfect wake is undermined by his son Jimmy (Nathan Steel), whose interests are more romantic than funereal, and by the scheming Porteus family members who are already clashing over the will.

To further complicate the situation, the air-conditioning breaks down and the wrong body turns up in the casket, then a mysterious mourner turns up and a valuable piece of jewellery disappears. When the air-conditioning repairman pulls a gun and decides to hold them all hostage, things start to get really interesting.

Director Colleen Boyle has a wealth of experience directing comedies, and was attracted to the wonderful brand of black humour which is prominent in this show.

“The cast have perfectly captured the mood and are creating a zany, manic atmosphere at every rehearsal. We are lucky to have many experienced actors who are well versed in this style of play and know how to handle a farce. It’s also exciting to work with the younger performers, who are learning from the old pros and bringing a fresh angle to the production.”

Boyle can’t wait for audiences to see this amusing production.

“Old and young will love this play and will enjoy the chance to relax, laugh and forget their worries. And you can’t help feeling good about yourself when you see the absolutely appalling ways in which these crazy characters behave. Sit back and enjoy the hilarity!”

A GOOD MAN  features a cast of experienced local performers including Nathan Steel, Tony Girdler, Christiane Brawley, Brian May, Sean Bermingham, Pauline Gardner, Laura Bailey Sarah Loxley, and David Delaney.

The show will play the Sutherland Memorial School of Arts from July 28 till August 6.

Tickets can be booked online via Try Booking- http://bit.ly/stcagoodman or by calling 9150 7574.

DATES
Dates: Friday 28 July @ 8pm, Saturday 29 July @ 2pm, Sunday 30 July @ 2pm, Thursday 3 August @ 8pm, Friday 4 August @ 8pm, Saturday 5 August @ 8pm, Sunday 6 August @ 2pm

For more about A Good Man, visit http://www.thesutherlandtheatrecompany.com.au/page2.htm
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