Tag Archives: Bell Shakespeare



Kate Mulvany IS Shakespeare’s Richard III. No need to read any further. Get your hands on a ticket now as they will become collectors’ items and in 5, 10, 20 years’ time when people speak of Mulvany’s performance, and they will, you will want to say you were there. Bell Shakespeare and Kate Mulvany bring RICHARD III spine- tinglingly alive at the Sydney Opera House.

Why Shakespeare’s Richard III? Since his carpark exhumation from the remains of Leicester’s Greyfriars Church in August 2012, the legacy reconstruction of the last king of the House of York, last of the Plantagenet dynasty is part of the zeitgeist. That man is not Shakespeare’s man. When he wrote it, Will was an early-career, jobbing actor and writer: politically and financially bound to sponsors. Sponsors like the Stanley Family who appear to great credit in a play designed to flatter one reputation by destruction of another.

In this 400 year old text, the Duke, Protector, King thereafter who must be brought to life is physically ‘misshapen’ and emotionally driven to ‘stand upon the hazard of the die’. Mulvany and Director Peter Evans have interrogated this, the second longest of the canon, and found in it the caustic humour and the slimy charm that allows real insight into the mind of this villain. Without the blood and gore implied and with delicious licence to secretly enjoy the malicious machinations of the unreconstructed Richard. Continue reading BELL SHAKESPEARE PRESENTS ‘RICHARD III @ THE PLAYHOUSE



It is always interesting to reflect on what one takes away from a book, a play, a film, for that matter, any work of art. Actually, it is more than interesting…it is the main thing…to find those elements that touch a chord, hit a nerve.

I have seen more than my fair share of Othello’s over the years.

It is such  a powerful play. It feels like it takes forever to get over it. I still can’t get my head around  how actors can perform this play night after night…for this current troupe since their opening performance in Orange at the beginning of July, and that’s not even taking into account their extensive rehearsal period.

Et tu, Iago. Forgive me for mixing Shakespeare plays but this is what i most took away from this latest revival. Like Brutus in Julius Caesar, Iago was the Moor’s best mate, his comrade, and just like Brutus, he brings his best mate all the way down…

The Bard clearly didn’t have much belief in human loyalty, especially when the loyalty is tested by ego, by jealousy, by pride…

An absence of loyalty…and the other big notion that stands out is the presence  of human evil. Iago is such a horrible, evil, calculating character.

A strong cast bring this haunting Shakespeare play sharply to life. The leads are great – Ray Chong Nee is excellent as Othello as is Yalin Ozucelik, and Elizabeth Nabben as Desdemona.

They are well supported by James Lugton as Brabantio/Lodovico, Michael Wahr as Cassio, Edmund Lemoke- Hogan as Roderigo, Joanna Downing as Emilia, Alice Keohavong as Bianca, and Huw Mckinnon as Duke/Monatano.

Recommended, Bell Shakespeare’s production of OTHELLO is playing the Playhouse at the Sydney Opera House until Sunday December 4.

Featured image- Ray Chong Nee as Othello, Elizabeth Nabben as Desdemona and  Huw McKinnon as the Duke.


Below are some photos taken on opening night in the foyer after the performance.

As You Like It @ The Playhouse

Inset Pic- Abi Tucker. Featured Pic- John Bell, Gareth Davies, Kelly Peterniti and Zahra Newman in AS YOU LIKE IT. Pics by Rush
Inset Pic- Abi Tucker. Featured Pic- John Bell, Gareth Davies, Kelly Peterniti and Zahra Newman in AS YOU LIKE IT. Pics by Rush

Bell Shakespeare has opened its 2015 season and its 25th anniversary year with AS YOU LIKE IT. As John Bell is retiring from the company he so successfully started in 1990, this production will be the last one co-directed with Bell and ongoing Artistic Director Peter Evans.

Bell and Evans open their program notes with, “Above the new Globe Theatre in 1599 stood the words, ‘Totus mundus agit histrionem’, which can be translated as ‘All the world’s a stage’, the monologue so beautifully delivered in the play by Bell’s restless and melancholic character, Jaques.

This motto seems to be reflected throughout the play, including the adaptable and minimalist set design by Michael Hankin, which, including 5,500 hanging flowers, could be set anywhere, anytime. Kate Aubrey’s radical costume design incorporates the 30s, 50s and 60s decades, further enhancing the timelessness of the world stage. Continue reading As You Like It @ The Playhouse

2014 Sydney Arts Guide Stage & Screen Awards

Bell Shakespeare's WINTERS TALE  2014 winner - Best stage production
Bell Shakespeare’s WINTERS TALE  2014 winner – Best stage production


Sydney Arts Guide is a key part of stage and film culture, and exists to celebrate the art of performance, in theatres and cinemas.

2014 was a year of amazing diversity, and our twenty accredited specialist reviewers, were all spoiled for choice in the quality of the live theatre performances to be experienced in the City of Sydney, and the suburbs of Sydney.

As the old adage goes, “live theatre is not dead theatre, as there is a different performance to be experienced every night”. Our team of professional reviewers, have each nominated their personal preferences for both theatre and cinema. A small number of movies were nominated out of the hundreds of cinema films that were seen during the last twelve months.

At the end of another outstanding year for the arts in Sydney, on Wednesday 31st December 2014, Sydney Arts Guide announced its 2014 awards in these Stage and Screen categories:-

Continue reading 2014 Sydney Arts Guide Stage & Screen Awards

Bell Shakespeare’s HENRY V

Second Pic
Teenagers, trapped in a bunker in London during the 1941 Blitz, decide to tackle some classic Shakespeare. Pics by Michele Mossop

“We few, we happy few, we band of brothers.” The very familiar rousing speech is a powerful and emotive call to the troops. Shakespeare’s HENRY V sees the English forces taking the battle to the French.

In the current Bell Shakespeare production there are no overt references to current struggles in the Middle East or recent actions in Iraq or Afghanistan but one doubts if there any motivational speeches as rousing as the St Crispin’s Day speech or : “Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more,” the famous speech from the siege of Harfleur.

Director Damien Ryan’s restaging of HENRY V is inspired by a true story. In 1941, for 57 consecutive nights during the London Blitz, a group of boys trapped in a bunker rehearsed a new play each week and would then perform it for others in the shelter.

This world is captured with a wonderful set by Anna Gardiner that looks like wartime England and is quickly and almost continuously adapted by the actors into different manifestations. By moving chairs and bookcases they create a church, a royal court, a ship, a tavern and a battle scene.

Sian James-Holland’s lighting and Steve Francis’ sound assist in defining the different locations as well as adding the sounds, lights and atmosphere of London caught in wartime.

The rehearsals and productions of the earlier related plays Richard II and Henry IV are quickly dealt with and Henry V becomes the main focus of the evening.

One of the highlights of the performance is the beautiful singing of the talented young cast. Sublime harmonies create different atmospheres relating to events on stage. Gregorian chants, rousing patriotic songs and songs with a French flavour all add to the production. Inspirational drumming is used extensively to evoke the battle scenes.

The play within a play structure results in all actors performing numerous roles. They also switch from playing members of the English court to members of the French court.

The young and enthusiastic cast capture the intensity, humour and emotion of Shakespeare’s play however could be improved with better voice projection and delivery.

Keith Agius’ performance is more subdued than the younger members of the cast but his measured delivery is excellent.

The cast included Michael Sheasby, Matthew Backer, Drew Livingston, Damien Strouthos, Gabriel Fancourt, Eloise Winestock, Williams Danielle King, Darcy Brown and Ildiko Susany.

In a pleasing reversal of the original historical performances there are females playing male roles.

This is a bright and entertaining production and is well worth seeing.

Bell Shakespeare’s HENRY 5 is playing at the Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Centre in High Street Penrith until Saturday18th October.

The production  then moves moves on to the Playhouse Theatre at the Sydney Opera House where it opens on Thursday 23rd October and is playing until until Sunday 16th November.


Pic Michele Mossop
Otis Pavlovic as Prince Mamillius and Myles Pollard as Leontes in THE WINTER’S TALE. Pic Michele Mossop

This can be called one of Shakespeare’s ‘problem plays’ as it is full of both intense psychological drama yet also is lyrical, rustic and has a romantic happy ending. In some ways it is almost in effect two separate plays, with massive shifts in mood and tone. There is lots of doubling of roles by the excellent cast and fine ensemble work.

It is all seen through the imagination of young Prince Mamillius (Otis Pavlovic or Rory Potter) who controls and manipulates everything. Mamillius acts as lynchpin, questioner and observer throughout. The ’nursery’ /fairytale set as designed by Stephen Curtis was light and airy with bunk bed with ladder, a cradle ,small child size stools, a wonderful mobile…

Continue reading THE WINTER’S TALE