Tag Archives: Griffin Theatre Company

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.

Steve Rogers takes out the inaugural Lysicrates Prize

Inset pic- Photo 6861 Premier Mike Baird announces Steve Rogers as the winner of the first Lysicrates Prize in front of the Choragic Monument of Lysicrates at the Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney. Featured pic- In front of the Choragic Monument of Lysicrates at the Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney after Premier Mike Baird’s announcement:-Lee Lewis, Artistic Director Griffin Theatre Company, Finance Minister Dominic Perrottet, Environment Minister Rob Stokes, Patricia Azarias, Kim Ellis, Executive Director, Botanic Gardens and Centennial Parklands, John Azarias

On Friday, 30th January 2015,  Steve Rodgers was awarded the inaugural Lysicrates Prize, receiving a full $12,500 Griffin Theatre Company commission, as voted by audience at Verbrugghen Hall, Sydney Conservatorium of Music.  The Lysicrates Prize was founded by Patricia and John Azarias, in conjunction with Griffin Theatre Company and the Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney. Mike Baird – Premier NSW, Luke Foley – NSW Opposition Leader, and Industry Leaders were amongst the audience.

Steve Rodgers was amongst three finalists who were shortlisted to submit the first act of a new play. The two runners-up Justin Fleming and Lally Katz each received a $1,000 cash prize. This innovative new Australian playwriting competition was inspired by the imminent restoration of an historic monument in Sydney’s Royal Botanic Garden: The Choragic Monument of Lysicrates.

Continue reading Steve Rogers takes out the inaugural Lysicrates Prize

MASQUERADE @ the Drama Theatre

“Fifty is my first, Nothing is my second, Five just makes my third, My fourth a vowel is reckoned.”

Bring your children to Sydney Opera House to see this world  premiere production delivered in a manner that is well beyond the world of the armchair treasure hunt, with its beautiful illustrations, provided by the book.

Local playwright Kate Mulvany has lovingly adapted British author Kit Williams’ children’s book, first published in January, 1987.

Jack Hare takes us all on a fast-paced 120 minute journey, departing from his mistress, The Moon and then setting out on a mission to deliver both her message of love (a deep and meaningful riddle) and her jeweled gift, to her male paramour, The Sun. Continue reading MASQUERADE @ the Drama Theatre

Emerald City

Ben Winspear and Kelly Paterniti in EMERALD CITY. Pic Brett Boardman
Ben Winspear and Kelly Paterniti in EMERALD CITY. Pic Brett Boardman

Given that the definitive play about Sydney’s shallowness was first performed in 1987, audiences may well question the contemporary relevance of David Williamson’s EMERALD CITY.

And also ask how this intimate Griffin Theatre Company production works on the small screen as it were, seeing as this play is about the lengths to which people will go to bag a harbour view made its sparkling debut oh so appropriately all those years ago at the Sydney Opera House.

EMERALD CITY pits Melbourne against Sydney and values against cash in the shape of fortysomething Colin Rogers (Mitchell Butel) and his publisher wife Kate (Lucy Bell) who make the move from Melbourne to Sydney, the city that gives good hedonism and where vicious cocktail parties are a necessary evil. Continue reading Emerald City

Roald Dahl’s THE WITCHES

the-witches-2_674
Guy Edmunds delivers a brilliant comic performance in WITCHES. Pics Brett Boardman

Roald Dahl’s THE WITCHES is the much loved childrens’ classic book, which tells a twisted yet endearing fairy tale, all about defeating a coven of evil witches.

Dahl’s story was originally adapted for the stage by David Woods and has since been reimagined by Lucas Jervies.

The current Stables production showcases a clever one man tour-de-force performance by Guy Edmonds (A Moody Christmas) as the master storyteller.

Continue reading Roald Dahl’s THE WITCHES

Ugly Mugs

Steve Le Marquand and Peta Brady in Peta Brady's new play UGLY MUGS. Pic Brett Boardman
Steve Le Marquand and Peta Brady in Peta Brady’s new play UGLY MUGS. Pic Brett Boardman

One of the most telling factors in the success of a play is how well, how vividly, a playwright draws/paints her world and its characters.

In this regard, Melbourne playwright Peta Brady scores a bullseye with her new play, UGLY MUGS. There isn’t a false note to be had through the play’s rapid-fire seventy minutes.

The world of UGLY MUGS is the world of the street…of people living on the edge…of directionless, restless young people. It is a world that Brady intimately knows, having worked for the past 15 years as a drug and safety outreach worker in the seedy St Kilda area. Her love for her ”street people’ shines through and makes this a special night in the theatre.

The action takes place over just one day and night. We follow two storylines. In the main line, a murdered prostitute comes alive on the mortuary slab and tells her ‘story’ to the Doctor performing her autopsy. In the second, a bizarre encounter between two teenagers ends up with the boy, simply named Son, being held in a juvenile prison cell.

In a popular technique, the two narratives, at one time, intersect and then the play drives on to its disturbing conclusion. I, however, embraced Brady’s self-effacing, gritty and frank characters much more than the, at times, tricky narratives.

Brady herself gives a winning portrayal as the feisty main character, simply named Working Girl. The girl’s quick witted, sharp as a tack, and a great raconteur, telling some classic stories about some of her more off-beat clients.

Brady also doubles up playing Mum, the working class battler who visits Son in jail. Mum’s character is marked by her forever sprouting homilies and trivia that appear inane but have profoundity.

Very experienced thespian Steve Le Marquand impressed playing multiple roles, playing the part of Mug (Mug is slang for the client of a prostitute. The Ugly Mug of the title refers to a client who is violent) as well as the mild mannered mortuary Doctor.

Harry Borland, in his stage debut, and Sara West impress as the two restless teenagers flirting with each other and testing one another out. It’s their frankness and sharpness that appeals. When his Mum tries to tell him that maybe she was leading him with the clothes that she was wearing, Son retorts sharply, ‘Clothes don’t ask for a fight.’

Marion Potts’ production, which originally played at her home theatre, the Malthouse, served the play well though at times the style felt a little too sharp and minimalistic… At least a bit of a set would have been nice. The fast paced, colloquial dialogue was, at times, tricky to follow.

There is a quote said by the Doctor during the play:-‘Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass/ It is about learning to dance in the rain’. The characters in UGLY MUGS are true rain-dancers. For these people, the storm never passes.

A Griffin Theatre Company and Malthouse Theatre Company world premiere production, Peta Brady’s UGLY MUGS opened at the SBW Stables Theatre, 10 Nimrod Street, Kings Cross on Wednesday 23rd July and plays until Saturday 23rd August, 2014.