Tag Archives: Neil Simon

BAREFOOT IN THE PARK @ ENSEMBLE THEATRE KIRRIBILLI

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Production photography by Clare Hawley.

When the invitation came through asking me if I wanted to spend a couple of hours in this play’s world, I emailed back my acceptance straight away- Of-course I would relish the opportunity to experience the world of ‘Barefoot’ again, especially when the production was ‘in the hands’ of a Company as capable as the Ensemble is.

I went on opening and had a great time. Mark Kilmurry’s production served the play well. It felt so good to be in the company of these colourful characters again, deftly played by a strong cast.
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THE GOOD DOCTOR @ THE ENSEMBLE THEATRE

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Chloe-Bayliss-and-Nathan-Wilson-in-THE-GOOD-DOCTOR-production photos-by-Clare-Hawley.

A night filled with quirky characters and situations generating plenty of humour is in store for you if make your way across to see the current Ensemble show.

With THE GOOD DOCTOR, Neil Simon mines the work of Anton Chekhov and comes up with  a collection  of appealing vignettes, tinged with absurdism.

The pieces are excellent ‘vehicles’ for actors, representing good opportunities for the cast of five to show their range and flair. And with the  assist of  Bates’ astute direction, that’s just what they do.

In A Defenceless CreatureKate Raison was on fire as an uptight ‘madwoman’ harassing a conservative, frazzled banker for some money for her ailing husband. As  the gruff banker who soon loses his patience, David Lynch’s stolid manner was a great counterpoint to Raison’s bluster.

In Surgery, Nathan Wilson was wonderfully manic as an earnest dentist using some very old, large, menacing instruments and doing more damage than good to his patient.

In The Seduction, Adriano Cappelletta (who has temporarily stepped in to the main role as the narrator/Chekhov figure as well as a number of other roles at close to the last moment whilst Glenn Hazeldine recovers from a car accident)  was  suitably charismatic and creepy as a compulsive seducer of married woman,  with Chloe Bayliss equally convincing as his latest demure, coy victim.

In the more reflective Too Late For Happiness, David Lynch and Kate Raison poignantly play out a hopeful meeting between a lonely older man and woman.

The least convincing piece was The Audition  in which Chloe Bayliss plays an actress who has walked  four days from Odessa to Moscow to audition for a new play by her favourite playwright (Chekhov) and is more than a little starstruck.  The audition sees her recite passages from The Three Sisters. This piece felt a little out of place and heavy, and came across a bit flat.

The current production represents a milestone for the Company. It is the last production that Bates is directing whilst in the position of Artistic Director (for a few years now jointly with Mark Kilmurry, who takes over solo in 2016), a position she has served for thirty years. During her time, Bates has set the set bar high; theatre patrons have had the expectation  when they go to the Ensemble that they will see entertaining and often thought provoking plays that will be given worthy productions. Hopefully the high standard will continue as Kilmurry takes over full reigns.

Recommended, Sandra  Bates’ production of Neil  Simon’s THE GOOD DOCTOR opened at the Ensemble Theatre, Kirribilli on Wednesday 2nd December and is playing until Sunday 17th January. The production then travels to Belrose’s Glen Street theatre where it will play for one week between the 19th to the 24th January 2016.

 

THEY’RE PLAYING OUR SONG

“It was lovely” exclaimed one of the 200 grey brigade as she left the Theatre Royal on Friday night. THEY’RE PLAYING OUR SONG was more than lovely, it was very entertaining.

The plot is simple enough, loosely based on the real-life relationship of Hamlisch and Bayer-Sager (before she married Bert Bacharach). Wisecracking reclusive (“You know you are unpopular when insurance salesmen stop sending you calendars”) composer (Vernon Gersch), meets insecure, flaky, effervescent lyricist (Sonia Walsk). After a short courting period (“Falling” and “Playing Our Song”), they decide to collaborate (“collaboration went out of fashion after World War II”) and move in together.

Their relationship undergoes some conflicts (“I work when I want to, not when you want me too”) between work and love so that, as Vernon says, “I don’t know whether I’m working with the girl I live with, or living with the girl I work with” but by the final curtain Sonia has matured into a self-confident lady, Vernon begs forgiveness, and they live apart, but happily ever after.

The quick repartee between the two characters was a bit like seeing THE ODD COUPLE (another Neil Simon comedy gem), set to music. Add the lyrics of one of the most prolific popular lyricists of the last 30 years in Carol Bayer-Sager, combine it with the catchy music of Marvin Hamlisch, and you have a night which will send you away humming.

THEY’RE PLAYING OUR SONG was first shown in Australia at the old Theatre Royal 33 years ago when John Waters played Vernon, and the then singing and dancing ex Bandstand star Jacki Weaver played Sonia Walsk. In this revival, directed by Terrence O’Connell, Danielle Barnes loses nothing in comparison with the legendary Weaver. Her dancing would adorn any Broadway production and her voice was impressive. Scott Irwin played Vernon and while he was outshone by Barnes his performance was also very enjoyable.

The biggest negative is that the musical only runs in Sydney until Tuesday 7th May 2013. If you are doing something on Monday or Tuesday night that can be postponed grab the phone now and ring the Theatre Royal. You will be very hard to please if you don’t come out of the theatre saying that it was “lovely”.

THEY’RE PLAYING OUR SONG

“It was lovely” exclaimed one of the 200 grey brigade as she left the Theatre Royal on Friday night. THEY’RE PLAYING OUR SONG was more than lovely, it was very entertaining.

The plot is simple enough, loosely based on the real-life relationship of Hamlisch and Bayer-Sager (before she married Bert Bacharach). Wisecracking reclusive (“You know you are unpopular when insurance salesmen stop sending you calendars”) composer (Vernon Gersch), meets insecure, flaky, effervescent lyricist (Sonia Walsk). After a short courting period (“Falling” and “Playing Our Song”), they decide to collaborate (“collaboration went out of fashion after World War II”) and move in together.

Continue reading THEY’RE PLAYING OUR SONG