Tag Archives: Matilda Ridgway

She Rode Horses Like The Stock Exchange @ Kings Cross Theatre


Amelia Roper has written a sharp and funny play about the Global Financial Crisis and four people caught in the midst of a financial maelstrom. Exploring themes of feminism, the evils of capitalism, ego, privilege and relationships it is a substantial play with rich dialogue and crisp repartee.

Amy and Henry are having their fun day Sunday in their local New England park, reading the paper, eating ice-creams and discussing how people are losing houses in Florida, Detroit and New England.

Henry finds this sad. Amy is amused by the surprised looks of the photos in the paper of the people who have lost their houses. Amy works in the financial industry and has little sympathy for people who failed to manage their finances. She has a cruel and clinical view of the world.

There are nasty aspects to the characters in this play, reflecting the ethos that lead America and the world to its economic woes. Fortunately, this nastiness is cleverly balanced by the humorous exchanges and observations of the characters.

Amy and Henry see acquaintances Sara and Max strolling through the park and unsuccessfully try to avoid them. Sara and Max would similarly like to avoid Amy and Henry but feel obliged to join the picnic and talk about the weather and the possibilities of seeing cute dogs in the park.

The exchanges of the two couples simultaneously reveal a lot about these people and a lot about the economy and the workings of the banks in America leading up to the Global Financial Crisis. These exchanges are varied and complex. There is a lot of meanness, one-upmanship, patronising and conspiratorial glances but there is also empathy and hope.

Nell Ranney has directed a very engaging and intimate work. This is helped by Isabel Hudson’s set design. The park is represented by a small grassy mound covered in a gorgeous large rug. The park and the rug are in some ways the fifth and sixth characters of the play. The mound is in the middle of the theatre space with tiered seating on either side. The fact that you are inside a pub, the Kings Cross Hotel, is an added bonus.

The actors all gave robust and convincing performances. I enjoyed Nikki Britton’s performance as the brilliant and dispassionate Sara. Dorje Swallow as the chauvinistic but clueless Max, Tom Anson Mesker as hesitant and empathetic Max and Matilda Ridgway as the vibrant  and privileged Amy.

A lot of work has gone into Ben Pierpoint’s sound design which ably assists the production and provides a pleasant backdrop. The simple and effective lighting is by Christopher Page.

Recommended. Rocket Productions’ SHE RODE HORSES LIKE THE STOCK EXCHANGE opened at the Kings Cross Theatre on the 25th October and is playing until 11th November.








Cock @ The Old Fitz

Inset- Michael Whalley and Matilda Ridgway. Featured- Matt Minto and Michael Whaley. Pics Tim Levy
Inset- Michael Whalley and Matilda Ridgway. Featured- Matt Minto and Michael Whaley. Pics Tim Levy

Torn between two lovers, cock shocked and cunt struck, John is at odds with his old boyfriend and new girlfriend and with himself in Redline’s robust, ribald and bollocking production of COCK by Mike Bartlett.

Played in the round on an unadorned white walled and floored set, the play wheels, weaves and winds through the windmill of John’s indecisive mind as he tries to weigh up which way he will go – back to his male lover with all its history or forward with his newfound fondness for vaginal sex and a future view of breeding fecundity.

His homosexual partner has somewhat infantilised John, speaking in familial terms, alluding to fraternity in their relationship, although the dynamic of the relationship leans more to the paternal, with the boyfriend patently patronising.

Continue reading Cock @ The Old Fitz

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

The Crucible @ Bella Vista Farm

Crucible-inset Image
Images from Sport for Jove’s revival of The Crucible. Pics by Seiya Taguchi

It was only as I started my car engine to begin the trip to the performance tonight that I realised I wasn’t carrying any tissues. On my wander back to the house, I wondered … would I really need them? THE CRUCIBLE always makes me cry and it is the Elizabeth Proctor character who is the agency of those tears but Sport for Jove’s production is at Bella Vista Farm. Perhaps the open, less intimate space of a barn wouldn’t really translate into the genuine emotion which Arthur Miller’s text brings out in me. In the event, it was lucky that I did go back. Tissues were required but the agency was unexpected.

In the 1692 Puritan community of Salem, Massachusetts, Betty Parris, one of the town’s young women, has been struck down with a strange illness which leaves her unable to speak or move. Her friend, Abigail, confesses that the girls have been dancing in the woods with the West Indian servant woman, Tituba. Dancing combined with nakedness and drinking blood seem to have brought this illness on and its symptoms appear to be spreading among the girls. There is talk of witchcraft in the town and the Reverend John Hale arrives with the Malleus Maleficarum to root out evil. Continue reading The Crucible @ Bella Vista Farm

Antony Skuse on PLATANOV

The cast in rehearsal for PLATANOV to play the ATYP Studio theatre in November
A talented young cast take on PLATANOV, the Russian master’s first full-length play

I recently had a chat with Anthony Skuse who is adapting and directing the upcoming production of Anton Chekhov’s PLATANOV (1878) which is moving into the ATYP Studio theatre in early November.

Skuse spoke of how the great Russian playwight wrote this work, his first full length piece, when he was only 21 years old. The piece was originally untitled and is also known as Fatherlessness and A Play Without A Title.

A sensitive young writer, he had the play locked in his desk drawer for many years, wary of showing it to anyone, in fear of rejection.

“The piece is a bit of a messy, sprawling work. If it was produced in its raw form it would run for about five hours. I have kept the play in its original setting and time period (Russia in 1881) but have cut the play back to a couple of hours and reduced the number of characters from twenty to fifteen, each part played by a different actor.

“PLATANOV is very much a work by a young writer. Chekhov puts everything into it. His love of theatre comes through very clearly. The themes espoused in the play are themes that Chekhov would explore throughout his career.”

The play follows a group of intense young people, led by the main character Platanov at a very touchy point in their lives. In their twenties, they are seeing the passion and idealism of youth become more and more tempered by the coldness and harshness of life experience. This has led them to feel disillusioned, even more to the point angry, that life isn’t turning out they want it to.

“I expect that audiences will have quite a strong and personal reaction to this production. I want it to be an intimate production. How I want people to experience the show is that it will be like they are seeing these young people’s lives, relationships and where things go wrong played out in front of them,

“Last year we workshopped the piece and one of the women who saw it said, “Oh my God, I feel like I am seeing my life before me.”

Skuse says that rehearsals are going really well, and that there has been a great atmosphere in the room working with some of the finest young acting talent in Sydney. The cast includes actors of the calibre of Charlie Garber, Geraldine Hakewill, Matilda Ridgway, Terry Karabelas and Sam Trotmen

Stage and screen actor Garber plays the title role, a character who sounds very intriguing. He is a laid back provincial school teacher who women are irresistibly drawn to even though he is not exactly single. Included amongst his female admirers are a widowed landowner, her younger stepdaughter, and an earnest chemistry student.

In an interesting aside, Skuse told me that he was happy to be able to put on the show now before the Sydney Theatre Company produce their own mainstream production of PLATANOV, in a new adaptation by STC Artistic Director Andrew Upton titled THE PRESENT, in August next year, starring Richard Roxburgh and Cate Blanchett.

Put this show in your diary. It looks like it will be worth seeing. A Cat Nip and Mophead production, Anthony Skuse’s adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s PLATANOV is playing at the ATYP Studio Theatre, previewing on the 5th and 6th November, opening on the 7th and then playing until the 22nd November. Performances are Tuesdays to Saturdays at 7pm and Sunday matinees at 5pm.

The Guide has two double passes to give away, if you can make either of the two preview nights. Be one of the first to email the editor on:-editor.sydneyartsguide@gmail.com.



Douglas Hansall as Torvald ties valiantly to hold onto his darling Nora, memorably played by Matilda Ridgway. Pic Seiya Taguchi
Douglas Hansall as Torvald ties valiantly to hold onto his darling Nora, memorably played by Matilda Ridgway. Pic Seiya Taguchi

In stark, and it has to be said refreshing contrast to the recent radical approach by other directors to classic works, Adam Cook plays his Doll’s House with a very straight bat. The play is performed in its time period and the plot-lines are strictly adhered to in his concise adaptation. His creative team, designer Hugh O’Connor, and lighting man Gavan Swift bring the play’s world vividly to life.

The hallmark of this production is how strongly the bold, cathartic nature of Nora’s journey is conveyed. Leading a uniformly strong cast, Matilda Ridgway as Nora takes the audience all the way with her to her chilling epiphany. It is then when Nora realises that she has spent her entire playing roles, being the dutiful child, the sweet wife, the doting mother and it is now time for her to throw off all her roles and find her own way in the world.

Iconclastic Nora exits stage left, leaving Torvald transfixed, and the other characters left to play out their roles, secure in their insecurities. Torvald (Douglas Henshall) will continue to be the straightlaced bank manager. Nils Krogstad (Anthony Gooley) will remain a shifty character, trying to get the best deal. Nora’s childhood friend Kristen Linde (Francesca Savige) will live in a compromised life with Krogstad so that she can keep the debtors from her door. Ever dutiful family friend Dr Rank (Barry French) has decided to face his final days alone, a proud man to the very end. The maid Helen (Annie Byron) will continue to be the good natured maid and carer to the two children.

Another strong showing by Sport for Jove, A DOLL’S HOUSE opened at the Reginald Theatre, Seymour Centre on Saturday July 18 and plays until Saturday August 2..


Matilda Ridgway (Catherine) and Adriano Cappelletta (Hal) in David Auburn's  Pulitzer Prize winning PROOF at the Ensemble Theatre
How many levels of proof are required?!- Matilda Ridgway (Catherine) and Adriano Cappelletta (Hal) in David Auburn’s engrossing play, PROOF. Pic Clare Hawley

David Auburn’s PROOF takes us into a young woman’s world as she reaches a significant milestone in her life, turning a quarter of a century. Joining Catherine (Matilda Ridgway) in her birthday celebrations is her estranged stocks analyst sister, Claire (Catherine McGraffin), who travels from New York, Catherine is based in Chicago, and a new beau, Hal (Adriano Cappelletta). Absent is her irascible, brilliant Mathematic professor father, Robert (Michael Ross), who recently passed away after a long battle with mental illness.

Continue reading PROOF


Party girls unravel in SWEET NOTHINGS:-  Maitilda Ridgway as Christine and Clementine Mills as Mizi
Party girls unravel in SWEET NOTHINGS:-
Maitilda Ridgway as Christine
and Clementine Mills as Mizi

Sydney theatre patrons have recently been given the opportunity to see two impressive works of world theatre, in their Australian premiere productions.

First in line, I saw Sandra Bates’s impressive production of American playwright Gina Gionfriddo’s cutting edge discourse on feminism, RAPTURE, BLISTER, BURN at Kirribilli’s Ensemble Theatre. Suffice to say, I gave it a rave review:- http://www.sydneyartsguide.com.au/rapture-blister-burn-ensemble-theatre/

Which is also what I am doing now writing this brief piece on British playwright David Harrower’s SWEET NOTHINGS.  Harrower’s play is a smart, contemporary adaptation of Austrian playwright Arthur Schnitzler’s 1895 play LIEBELEI (FLIRTATION). Schnitzler, the playwright who inspired the movies  EYES WIDE SHUT and THE BLUE ROOM, described his play, written when he was in his early thirties, as a, ‘touching tragicomedy’.

The play is on a similar theme to one of my all-time favourite films, Swiss fimmaker Claude Goretta’s THE LACEMAKER, and starring French actress, Isabella Huppert. Huppert, who shared a Sydney stage earlier this year with Cate Blanchett in a Jean Genet play, plays a young woman whose spirit is shaken when she  is abandoned by a careless lover.

SWEET NOTHINGS opens with two party boys, Fritz and Theodore, in a boisterous mood, getting ready for a big night out. Lothario Fritz has been having an affair with a married woman which is threatening to be exposed. Theodore is trying to distract Fritz from his adulterous affair by inviting two women over, party girl Mitzi and her friend, Christine.

The women arrive, everybody gets plastered, the party gets more and more decadent, and everyone starts kissing everyone… Then, there is a knock on the door, a Gentleman arrives…

John Kachoyan’s production serves Harrower’s play well and he wins good performances from the cast.

Ensemble Studios  graduate Matilda Ridgway gives a well measured, touching performance a Christine, a naïve, sweet natured young woman who falls for Fritz. Christine Mills impresses as the brash, outrageous, Mizi.

Graeme McRae and Owen Little shine as the dirty, rotten playboys, Fritz and Theodore. Alistair Wallace plays the Gentleman caller out for vengeance. We have to wait until Act 2 to see veteran star of stage and screen, Mark Lee, who impresses as Christine’s anxious father, Weiring, and Lucy Miller plays family friend, Katherina.

Kachoyan’s creative team enhance the production with a good work coming from Sophie Fletcher’s well detailed costume and set design, Marty Jamieson’s atmospheric score and Hartley Kemp’s sharp lighting design.

SWEET NOTHINGS is the final production of the year in the ATYP’s  Under the Wharf program. Recommended, SWEET NOTHINGS, a co-production by pantsguys productions and Geraldine Timmins, opened at ATYP Studio 1, Pier 4/5 Hickson Road, Walsh Bay, on Friday November 8 and runs until Saturday November 23, 2013.


Matthew Zeremes ( Martin) and Matilda Ridgeway (Kate). Pic Steve Lunam
Matthew Zeremes ( Martin) and Matilda Ridgeway (Kate). Pic Steve Lunam

American writer Theresa Rebeck’s 2011 play SEMINAR, the new production at the Ensemble Theatre, is well worth catching.

The  play features a very  lively clash,- Rebeck pits four  very keen, ambitious young writers in waiting against a brilliant but monster of a a writing coach. The writers,-Kate, Douglas, Izzy and Martin, each put down 5 thousand to take a 10 week writing course with the acerbic Leonard. Kate  is so keen that she offers  up the living room of her stylish New York as the venue for these seminars.

SEMINAR starts with our young writers starry eyed and full of enthusiasm, chatting away in Kate’s apartment as they wait for Leonard to arrive to deliver his first class.

Their enthusiasm soon takes a bit of a fall. Leonard’s first Seminar is a nightmare for young Kate. She shows her new  work to Leonard and he tears it to shreds. Rebeck has set up her play deftly. We, the audience, are thinking. How is this going to work out? Are we going to see blood on the floor, stemming from one of these writers?!

A highlight of SEMINAR is the way that it constantly changes direction….We are never quite sure how the play will ‘land’,- in a dark place or a place of light?!

Anna Crawford’s Australian premiere production  serves Rebeck’s play well. Crawford’s strong creative team is headed by designer Alisa Paterson who has come up with a memorable, finely detailed set, inspired by the  show’s original design.

A good cast bring Rebeck’s vibrant characters to life.

William Zappa delivers a master class in acting, as well as in writing, in his portrayal of Leonard.

Matilda Ridgway shines in the pick of the other roles. Her character, at first, comes across as a delicate, fawn like woman however as the play moves on, we see a much stronger person emerge.

Michelle Lim Davidson, who some will know as a regular presenter of Playschool, revels in playing the role of the racy, manipulative Izzy, Felix Gentle plays the priggish, highbrow Douglas, and Matthew Zeremes plays the introverted, tentative Martin.

Recommended, Anna Crawford’s production of Theresa Rebeck’s SEMINAR opened at the Ensemble Theatre, 78 McDougall Street, Kirribilli, on Wednesday August 21 and plays until Saturday September 14, 2013.