‘Once upon a time’ … Stephen Sondheim’s treasured music theatre favourite INTO THE WOODS (Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, Book by James Lapine, originally directed on Broadway by James Lapine) delivers its take on precisely all that happens after ‘Happily Ever After’ and yes indeed ‘the truth hurts’.
A modern politically corrected twist is applied to well-known classic fairy-tales, with a terrific cast of great voices who each evoke exactly the right mood during their performances. The original fairy tale of a childless baker and his wife who had been cursed by a witch, has been combined with the Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk, Little Red Riding Hood and Rapunzel fairy tales. Continue reading NUTS PRESENTS INTO THE WOODS @ LEND LEASE THEATRE DARLING HARBOUR→
THE UNKOWN SOLDIER is a beautiful play contributing to this year’s mixture of emotions and learning related to the Great War. Its essential beauty lies in an intricate, tight weaving of relevancies between present day Australia and a French battlefield in 1916. It articulates stories from past and present with an honest juxtaposition of physical and emotional conflicts.
The play is written by Sandra Eldridge, one of Monkey Baa’s Creative Directors. She also gives a commanding performance as Aunt Angela, whose mountains escape is invaded by the defensive, emotionally injured thirteen year old Charlie. In the flashback scenes she quickly changes to Grace, a WW1 nurse in search of her son.
Eldridge is joined on stage by Felix Johnson, who plays her teenage nephew and also an optimistic 1916 teenage soldier in flashback sequences. The chemistry between the anti-war Aunt Angela and Charlie with a father just home from conflict is fiery, without apparent peaceful resolution. Together they discover a dusty port which becomes a portal to war affected lives of times past. It is also a foil for their own family’s post-war struggles.
Over cuppas of varying success, the volatile pair gradually discover unknown details about the Great War. The play has noise, graphic description, and evocative stage effects when the space becomes a tense battlefield in a few split seconds. Letter reading also quickly ignites into full action rather than remaining static.
Also carefully handled at an offstage distance is the topic of Charlie’s father coping with his return from the war in Afghanistan. An introduction to his post-traumatic stress disorder is clearly offered here. Felix Johnson’s portrayal of a teenager with a broken father is heartbreaking and real.
Johnson’s young soldier Albert has a wide-eyed early twentieth-century persona. The battle scenes show chilling, sharp instances of full-bodied fear. His flips back to a definitive modern teenager show impressive range.
Both actors are directed to use the stage well through the continual shifts between their changed worlds and quartet of characters. The play’s momentum is not delayed by the constant shifts in character and time. Sandra Eldridge shines as Aunt Angela. Her deft progression to the more conventional nurse in WW1 includes comprehensive movements in accent, pose and vulnerability.
The design of props and stage set is highly evocative and successful. Anna Gardiner’s set split between a modern home and battle-torn Europe works well for the various exits and entries. The layering of letter texts on surfaces textures highlights the emotional communications within the layers of the entire play.
THE UNKNOWN SOLDIER never preaches about sacrifice, nor does it glorify war as a solution. There are thought-provoking comments on those you leave behind when in battle and what you are defending. It shows us the results of people fighting for their country whilst being loved by their family.
This touching 2015 event has a nice salute to Anzac Day services, with more than the one famous stanza from Lawrence Binyon’s poem, ‘For the Fallen’ being recited by Aunt Angela and Charlie.
THE UNKNOWN SOLDIER is a beautifully executed sharing of war and family experiences both past and present. It is a worthwhile anniversary addition to the theatrical canon in this topic area. The play runs in Sydney at the Lend Lease Darling Quarter Theatre from 18-22 May before touring regional centres.
Shows which emphasise ideas of family, of having fun and the natural talent of performers are much needed in our present climate. In Monkey Baa Theatre Company’s KERMOND COMEDY CAPERS, father and son team Warren Kermond and Wayne Scott Kermond used their experience to introduce the young crowd to the magic of cabaret, vaudeville, slapstick, classic song and dance routines, and a sequence of hilarious gags.
This worthwhile concept is a celebration of old-school entertainment styles. It contrasted with what the children may witness on TV, especially on over-produced reality show talent quests. Great unison and solo tap-dancing, elements of clowning, careful timing and constant audience participation ensured the audience members of any age group were totally engaged. Continue reading Kermond Comedy Capers→
Petting zoos be blowed! Sydney kids will be more the ants’ pants after this encounter with sheep, dogs and shearers, courtesy of Monkey Baa (Baa, Baa..) This theatre event is high on production value, performance skill and chockers with creative success.
The rural Aussie tale of a shearer turned animal salon owner comes from the book by Jackie French and Bruce Whatley. It entertains in its slick new format as a new local musical jam-packed with current references. Much laughter and applause are fleeced from both the target age group and beyond.