Tag Archives: Red Line Productions

PAPER DOLL: required theatre-going.

Lucy Goleby in PAPER DOLL.
Image: Kate Williams Photography

The atmosphere of menace that pervades PAPER DOLL playing at the Old Fitz Theatre is entirely repellent … and engrossing.  This is 40 minutes of required viewing. This is 38 minutes of very uncomfortable viewing… I can’t speak to all of it.  There were a couple of minutes that I just couldn’t watch.

Required viewing because it is one of those rare events when stars align.  Extraordinary cast, writing of the highest calibre (Katy Warner) , an intimate space and direction which contains and controls a theme that we see way too much of.

He arrives wet from standing in the rain, he may have forgotten how to get a cab.  Like her, we want him to dry off and be more comfortable.  He seems like a nice bloke in fact, a bit lost perhaps.  He doesn’t have anywhere else to go and she says that she couldn’t let him be homeless.  She has a kind heart.

Why then is she so skittish? Why so discomforted? And why such strong body language to keep him at a distance?

PAPER DOLL brings lots of questions to mind.  It has a simmering mystery at the beginning, a femaleness of bewilderment and fear in the middle and concludes with interrogations of visceral import.

Martin Ashley-Jones is the man in this two-hander and Lucy Goleby is the woman.  They are a stellar pairing.

Ashley-Jones is at once empathetic and repugnant.  He pulls our sympathies to him as he, bedraggled and obviously highly emotional, initially seems vulnerable and contrite. Convivial too.  He might be fun to have a beer with.  Ashley-Jones often delivers the dialogue with a fractured, staccato feel that makes him flawed and unsure in spite of himself.  Yet he also endows the man with that assertive maleness of the instinctive manipulator.  He wheedles, he gets hurt and sad and he prods with shared history.  He’s big, too, with the pointed finger as he walks unthreatingly towards her.

Lucy Goleby moves around the small stage with the edgy, flight-redolent fear all women know.  She is polite, she is a nice girl.  A good girl.  The shame and guilt seem all hers as memory teases action with the balled up ghost of a past that she knows she has not come to terms with.   Goleby seethes with the rage of all women and we wait for it to explode.  It comes close, upstage in the shadows, at one stage but Goleby brings the woman’s struggle to surmount her conditioning to the fore and we are denied the release of anger.  Her subtle characterisation has the human failings of every person there.

Anger is easy.  Predator is easy. Victim is easy.  This is not an easy play.

There are so many compelling aspects to the direction of this piece. (Lucy Clements) The use of gaze is very powerful, he looks at her as she skitters away from him. She often peeps rather than meeting his male gaze but when she consistently eyes him towards the end of the piece… wow.  Every beat has been interrogated and found whole.  The tension of the work is so well created.  It’s creepy.  Despite being well lit in the centre, there are glooms to seek solace in.  The audio track is heart-breakingly good.  It punctuates the high drama moments and underlies the instability outside the room for the whole show.

And the theme.  That was my pervasive question.  Why do we need to see this on stage again?  There was a time a few years ago when every show seemed to address it somehow.  Isn’t the consciousness raising done?  This was the discussion I had with my female friend as we waited for our mate to order his sweet potato fries after the show.  When he came back … it was on!!

“I trust him” was our friend’s opening salvo.  Shit hit the fan then and voices were raised.  He’s no fool and when we saw BLACKBIRD together I also spent a lot of time with my face buried in his shoulder.   Yet he still required some serious education, and we were just the women to give it to him.   He wanted to put a costume of his own choosing on the woman, he wanted princess and wolf, he wanted quantifiable reasoning and pure outcomes and, sure, there is a place for theatre that can give him that.

But PAPER DOLL is next level thinking, this is advanced citizenship.  This is required theatre-going.


PAPER DOLL continues as part of Red Line Production’s NEW FITZ WRITERS PROGRAM 2017 until November 18.

For more information and tickets :




TELESCOPE is bent over laughing entertainment. Part of Red Line Productions THE NEW FITZ, a season of ten Australian writers, this show is wonderfully, obliquely … silly. In fact, histrionic, hilarious, high spirited, it is an exercise in advanced silliness. With a whole heap of my viewing-year-so-far bests!

Beginning with best use of an antennae to open a show. Daniel is on the lookout for aliens when we meet him as we enter the theatre. He and his transistor and his aerial are perched on a table centre stage. There is great deal of leaping and arm raising and getting of mixed signals. (Terrific audio cues btw) until his parents arrive.

Mum and Dad get my best in show for most disengaged parents! Only slightly interested in anyone else’s agenda, this absurdly dysfunctional family is completed by the arrival of Lenny. An expert non-listener, she is driven to try and save the family home from the Government’s greedy claws as it buys up the Sydney suburb. Their little home and those around it are the perfect place for a radio telescope and there are big ass bucks to made by selling up and heading out. Continue reading BROOKE ROBINSON’S ‘TELESCOPE’ @ THE OLD FITZ


Ben Gerrard gives a stellar performance in a very exacting role. Production photography by Rupert Reid
Ben Gerrard gives a stellar performance in a very exacting role. Production photography by Rupert Reid

Theatre doesn’t get much better than this. The old Fitz theatre is currently home to a revival of American playwright Doug Wright’s play I AM MY OWN WIFE, first performed Off Broadway in 2003, and then went on to take the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in the following year.

With painstaking research Wright’s play brings vividly to the stage a remarkable character by the name of Charlotte von Mahlsdorf (1926-2000).

Charlotte was a flamboyant gay transsexual who lived her  colourful life out on the streets of Berlin. She wrote a best selling autobiography, and became a figure of great folklore in the great German  city.

In bringing his play together, Wright conducted several lengthy interviews with Charlotte from 1992 to 1994.  The playwright also took into account newspaper accounts of her life, Charlotte’s interactions with key people in her life, and he also sighted the controversial Stasi file held by the East German Secret Police. Continue reading DOUG WRIGHT’S ‘I AM MY OWN WIFE’ @ THE OLD FITZ THEATRE


Rosie Lockhart and Ben Pendergast give memorable performances in DEAD CENTRE/SEA WALL
Rosie Lockhart and Ben Pendergast give memorable performances in DEAD CENTRE/SEA WALL

There’s something special about the kind of theatre where the characters invite the audience into their worlds…where they share some of their life experiences which have gone some way in to shaping the kind of people that they are today. Particularly when it comes together as well, and as skilfully,  as it does with DEAD CENTRE/SEA WALL, companion monologue pieces written by two talented Australian playwrights.

Director Julian Meyrick has chosen a fitting way to present these two works. The approach is informal. There is no set to speak of. Both actors stay close to the centre of the tiny stage and spend time making eye contact with each of the theatregoers. They give assured performances in this campfire like style of presentation. Continue reading DEAD CENTRE/SEA WALL @ OLD FITZ

Blonde Poison @ The Old Fitz

Belinda Giblin plays Stella Goldschlag in Gail Louw's BLONDE POISON currently playing the Old Fitzroy theatre. Production photography by Marnya Rothe.
Belinda Giblin plays Stella Goldschlag in Gail Louw’s BLONDE POISON currently playing the Old Fitzroy theatre. Production photography by Marnya Rothe.

The real life subject of South African born playwright Gail Louw’s play very confronting play is a notorious figure from the Second World War,  Berlin Jewess Stella Goldschlag (1922-1994).

Goldschlag was nicknamed Blonde Poison for good reason. She was a beautiful, young blonde haired woman who school colleagues had compared to Marilyn Monroe. After being captured and interred by the Nazis, Goldschlag became a catcher- the German name for it was Greifer- for them by revealing the location of many of her Jewish compatriots in hiding to the Gestapo, sealing their fate.

In return for her efforts, the Nazis guaranteed her own safety and that of her parents. Goldschlag did survive the war, her parents were not so lucky- the Nazis broke their promise to her and they were deported to a concentration camp where they perished. She went into hiding at the end of the war but was found and arrested by the Soviets in October 1945 and sentenced to ten years’ camp detention. Continue reading Blonde Poison @ The Old Fitz

Brendan Cowell’s MEN @ The Old Fitz

Production photography by Marnya Rothe
Production photography by Marnya Rothe

MEN, playing at the Old Fitz, is about trust. Trust has nothing to do with the story actually but it’s what might keep you in your seat. Germaine Greer said that women don’t really know how much men hate them but many woman trust that Germaine is wrong… that our brothers and husbands and nephews, men of our acquaintance, men we share a bus with and so on don’t see us like that.

I trust playwright Brendan Cowell.  He is an internationally recognized writer of TV and theatre who has won awards and nominations for his work.  He crafts work of considerable intellectual reach to challenge an audience and to drag them through a world of his creation.  The gynophobia hits early in this show and my decision to stay was all about trusting that the wordsmith was taking me to a place of redemption where I could forgive the misogynist arseholes who populate the stage.   Continue reading Brendan Cowell’s MEN @ The Old Fitz

Misterman @ The Old Fitzroy Theatre

Kate Gaul seems to be the go to gal when it comes to staging Irish playwright Enda Walsh’s plays in Sydney.

Following on fromThe New Electric Ballroom at The Stables and Penelope at Tap Gallery, Gaul mounts MISTERMAN at The Old Fitzroy and scores a hat trick.

Funny bleak in the way so much Irish theatre and literature is, MISTERMAN has a not so oblique antecedence from Krapp’s Last Tape with its solitary protagonist and its use of  reel to reel  recorders. Continue reading Misterman @ The Old Fitzroy Theatre

Dolores @ The Old Fitz

Kate Box and Janine Watson play troubled sisters Dolores and Sandra in Edward Allan Baker’s drama DOLORES. Production pics by Rupert Reid

The name Dolores means sorrows. It derives from the Spanish moniker for Virgin Mary of Sorrows.

The titular Dolores of Edward Allan Baker’s DOLORES is no virgin, but she certainly is a sorry so and so, a perpetual sucker to a string of abusive men, the latest of which has bloodied her face and blackened her eye and forced her to seek refuge at her sister Sandra’s place.

Growing up in a blue-collar family, both women are dependent on men and both are vulnerable. Dolores is the family fuck-up with a life strewn with abortions and reckless unrequited romances. Continue reading Dolores @ The Old Fitz

Masterclass @ The Old Fitz

Charlie Garber and Gareth Davies in MASTERCLASS. Pic Chris McKeen Newscorp
Charlie Garber and Gareth Davies in MASTERCLASS. Pic Chris McKeen Newscorp

The new custodians of The Old Fitz theatre, Red Line Productions, have invited a fringe favourite, MASTERCLASS, to kick off their inaugural season.

Written and performed by Gareth Davies and Charlie Garber, this entertaining existentialist two hander is an acerbic and absurd examination of celebrity and the deification of thespians.

Peppered with all the pretentions that can pitfall performers, MASTERCLASS tends to pratfall in its pricking, loading up the ludicrous to lethal levels.

The theatrical expressions of “knocking them dead” and “killing the audience” takes on a literalness when it is stated that Gareth’s acting eminence arose from a performance that had showgoers shuffling off their mortal coil. Continue reading Masterclass @ The Old Fitz

Bad @ The Old Fitz

Late night Clowning at the Old Fitzroy
Late night clowning at the Old Fitzroy

Take in your piss and let them take the piss. The Old Fitz under the new regime Red Line Productions have ushered in a late show program to follow their main stage offering, beginning with BAD, a delightful piece of clown drollery.

BAD is so good it’s funny.

The lights go down in the bible black, Spartan no-back seating of the space, and the public address welcomes us to this production starring Cate Blanchett and Geoffrey Rush.

In darkness visible, time passes, and the regrettable announcement that Geoffrey Rush will not be appearing this evening is made. From centre stage, a light, and a diminutive red nosed character in red shorts and silver cape, tights and boots introduces herself as Cate Blanchett. Her accent is kooky Francaise and the rest of her vocabulary is fluent gibberish. Continue reading Bad @ The Old Fitz