The smooth jazz played preshow does somewhat lull one into a place. But that is not anything like the place you will be for the next 65 minutes. TONSILS AND TWEEZERS is an obstacle course of a show. What you will experience is a disorienting, fast paced, time shifting offering with the sadness of a secret at its core. Wonderful tech and design combine with acting which expands beyond the scene-shifting to make TONSILS AND TWEEZERS an open-hearted story of a human emotion common to us all. Continue reading TONSILS & TWEEZERS: SHAPE SHIFTING COHESION OF DESIGN AND PERFORMANCE
Despite the evident time of year, A CHRISTMAS CAROL is a play cleverly out of joint. First impressions provide an audience with context. There are Christmas pines upside down, rope lit with electric white. Yet, darkly at the head of the stage, the gloomy mirror dims their reflection.
This A CHRISTMAS CAROL is modern yet classic, contemporaneous yet true to its literary historical roots. In addition, it has a wide appeal. Both for those who revel in the season and those, like me, who try and avoid it. It’s seriously comic is places and serious in others. Thematically it enriches the watcher and touches the heart and I can enjoy that whatever the milieu and whenever the time of year. Continue reading DICKENS’ A CHRISTMAS CAROL: A RESPECTFUL MODERN TAKE
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.
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.
“The play puts five women on stage and what is fascinating to me is that these characters cover three generations”, says Anna McGrath. McGrath takes a break from the rehearsal room to talk to the Guide about directing AMERICAN BEAUTY SHOP, a play by three-time Kilroy Honourable Mention playwright, Dana Lynn Formby.
Aged 81-17, the women populate a beauty shop which has moved to Sue’s basement. The credit squeeze and the arrival of a supermarket giant have forced the ‘Sugar Shack’ out of its long-time Main Street premises in the dusty, western town of Cortez, Colorado. Sue has big dreams and aspirations for the basement. And for her daughter, Judy who might just have a shot at getting out.
McGrath sees the play as giving differing perspectives of the American Dream. “Each of the characters has their own point of view on what that dream might be and that’s relatable to audiences everywhere. There’s an interesting dichotomy in the play. One of the characters is all about striving and escaping the hardship of how she has experienced childhood and that is contrasted with another character who is very much proud of where she comes from and doesn’t understand what she sees as disregarding your heritage.” Continue reading AMERICAN BEAUTY SHOP : A CHAT WITH DIRECTOR ANNA MCGRATH
Production photography by Zaina Ahmed.
There are two ‘good wives’ standing centre stage and back to back as the show opens. Each is speaking in support of their husband … good men who are sending their countries to war for the best of reasons if we believe the wives. These are the first ladies of agoge and of discourse. Lampito speaks for Archidamus of Sparta. The virtues of Pericles of the city state of Athens are extoled by Lysistrata. BEFORE LYSISTRATA is an intelligent, driven and timely treatise on what happens when women step from the shade thrown by great men.
Aristophanes’ was living through the Peloponnesian War when his comic play LYSISTRATA (about 411 BCE) took revolutionary, yet disguised, gender relations to the masses. His titular heroine is responsible for creating a no sex strike by the women of the warring nations. A ploy to force the warriors to peace. This Montague Basement production is an original story which looks at how Lysistrata might have been brought to the point of such a politically volatile solution to a very long war. Continue reading BEFORE LYSISTRATA : A THOUGHT PROVOKING PRODUCTION BY MONTAGUE BASEMENT
Between is exactly how I would describe Mophead Theatre’s world premiere production of Melita Rowston’s BETWEEN THE STREETLIGHT AND THE MOON. The play is not quite sure of its identity and the cast are caught in the blurry light between natural beauty and mechanical glare. There is some fine work to be seen in the production, work which explores the complex ideas and does its best to elevate the overstatement.
Australian Academic Zadie works at King’s College, London. She is being pressured by the publish or perish mentality as she struggles to complete her PHD. She proposes that there is a letter somewhere that proves that Édouard Manet, despite his denials, was lover to his oft subject, and artist in her own right, Berthe Morisot. She is also supervising her effervescent French student, Dominique, and dealing with a younger, almost lover, Barry, who has come to London to display in a prestigious art competition. When she travels to Paris at the behest friend and Head of Department, Janet, she has random encounters with artistic provocateur Jeff. Continue reading BETWEEN THE STREETLIGHT AND THE MOON @ KINGS CROSS THEATRE
You hear something rumbling and thundering in nearby alleyway. It’s getting closer, it seems to be… trumpeting. You could have sworn it was a person just a moment ago. It charges past you, large, raucous, grey. You jump out of the way, and watch it fade it into the distance. If it weren’t such a silly idea, you would have said it looked not unlike a Rhinoceros. No-one else seems to think so. But then again, everyone else is also a rhinoceros. What would they know?
Ready for a wild night out? Join the award-winning Jetpack Theatre Collective for a breathtaking night of Eugène Ionesco’s absurdist masterpiece.
With Jade Alex, Madeline Baghurst, Robert Boddington, Rebecca Day, Emilia Higgs, Johnathan Lo, Madeline Parker, Kay Pengelly, Alexander Richmond, Julia Robertson, Cheng Tang and Luke Tisher
Written by Eugène Ionesco
Directed by Jim Fishwick
Produced by Aaron Cornelius
Sound design by Bryce Halliday
Set design by Kirsty McGuire
Dramaturgy by Clemence Williams
$25 General Admission
$40 Rich Person
$15 Stampede! (Group tickets)
$15 Early Bird (Book by July 1)
7.30pm, 26-31 July 2016 at Kings Cross theatre, 244-248 William Street, Kings Cross.