Lyrical and powerful this play is a fascinating insight into a little known piece of British/Australian history.
Seanna van Helton’s FALLEN is a stage adaptation of historian Jenny Hartley’s’ novel, THE HOUSE OF FALLEN WOMEN (2009). Penny Harpham directs this current production which has been co-produced by Sport for Jove and Melbourne’s’ She Said Theatre.
Nothing is as it seems in THE TROUBLE WITH HARRY. From the obscuring haze of thick smoke as we enter the theatre to the delicately constructed dance of death that concludes the work, people and events are viewed through a glass darkly. A mirror, a lens, a dirty window pane perhaps. There is an obstinate obfuscation in Lachlan Philpott’s text and Director Kate Gaul has successfully pulled the story from the page without exposing it to the full light. Like the magnesium flashpowder of the antique photographer’s T which will give light to a sepia photograph, there are puffs of understanding dispersed in a stillness of wondering.
THE TROUBLE WITH HARRY is a highly theatrical interpretation of a true story. Harry Crawford was arrested in July 1920 for the October 1917 murder of his wife, Annie. Her charred remains had been found near the Lane Cove River at Chatswood where she and Harry had been picnicking. When taken to the police station, Harry asked to be taken to the female cells and it was revealed that he was in fact Eugenia Falleni, assigned female at birth. Harry had been living as cisgender man since he had run away to sea as a very young person.
While long, this is a tremendous production, more faithful to Chekhov in spirit than recent revivals seen in Sydney. The play features a new translation by Karen Vickery that makes the play seem fresh and relevant. One picks up the plays’ similarities to other Chekhov works in particular The Cherry Orchard.
Director Kevin Jackson and his wonderful cast have caught the Russian melancholy and ennui perfectly. The production is magnificently performed. There is a huge cast -fourteen of the cast in credited roles and six others as servants/military /singers.- all of whom give fine, inspired performances.
With wonderful designs by Georgia Hopkins the first act sees a cluttered, crowded set of tables overflowing with books, well used worn chairs, rugs, a piano, a niche with an icon all evoking provincial Russia circa 1900. When we move into the second half, and the characters become increasingly unhappy with their lives, the stage space as defined by the rugs is halved; indicating that the action takes place in the smaller, upstairs parlour, and also reflectively surrounding the actors with empty, black space (and ominous fire-lit warmth ). For the final scenes, the carpets are rolled up and the furniture hidden under dust sheets, replaced with white wicker garden furniture, and lush green pot plants, which signify indicate the new beginnings planned. Emma Vine’s costumes are superb as is Martin Kinnane’s lighting design. Continue reading SPORT FOR JOVE PRESENTS ‘THE THREE SISTERS’ @ REGINALD THEATRE SEYMOUR CENTRE→
What is Art? Inspiration and the creative process, artistic copyright, integrity and forgery are central to this work.
This new play by Thomas de Angelis is given a terrific performance by a great cast. The production has been bought to us by BONTOM, the team that brought us Jack Killed Jack (2012) and The Worst Kept Secrets(2014).
Charles Davis’ single, multi functional, rather elegantly minimalist set has neutral colours and clean,crisp lines fluidly representing places ranging from a dingy studio in Marrickville to a posh house in Rose Bay. Effective use is also made of the upstairs balcony at times during the play. Continue reading UNFINISHED WORKS @ REGINALD THEATRE SEYMOUR CENTRE→
Those Great Divas- Judy Garland,Barbra Streisand,Liza Minnelli and Bette Midler – will be landing in Sydney in time for this years’ Mardi Gras festival.
They are come to us via the talents of Velma Vegas & The Vaguettes who will be performing their cabaret show in the smooth,swanky surrounds of the Seymour Centre’s Sound Lounge.
Taking in the early burlesque and bathhouse influences of Liza and Bette, and the classic torch song and show tune stylings of Barbra and Judy, it looks like it will be a great night of cabaret. The evening will also feature rarely seen video footage of the divas in action as well as excerpts from interviews.
Through his performance singer Jackie Vance- stage name- Velma Vegas will wax lyrical about his beloved stars, chatting through the show, revealing truths about the stars that some may not know…
Joining Vance on stage will be Dan Holland on piano, Stan Valacos onbass, and Tim Bradley on drums.
The SCREAMERS production of JUDY!BARBRA!LIZA!BETTE! These Are Names We Shan’t Forget! at the Sound Lounge will plays at the Sound Lounge on the 12th, 19th and 26th February at 8pm.
The ambit of this play felt too wide and overly ambitious …
The scenario finds an old man dying and various relatives gather at his bed side to ostensibly pay their respects. In reality they have come to ensure that they wont be forgotten when his estate is distributed.
When MAN OF LA MANCHA opened on Broadway 50 years ago, it was in an era where Martin Luther King was espousing I Had A Dream and the Kennedy’s were quoting George Bernard Shaw You see things and you say “Why?” I dream things that never were, and I say “Why not.”
No wonder then the linchpin lyric of this endearing and enduring show is The Impossible Dream, the musical mantra of Don Quixote, the knight errant tiller of windmills, who sees life as it should be, noble and elevated, not as it is, vulgar and base.
Independent music theatre company, Squabbalogic’s fiftieth anniversary staging of MAN OF LA MANCHA has an impossible dream realised – the securing of Tony Sheldon, lauded local Broadway star now domiciled in the United States, to play the poet paladin. Continue reading Man Of La Mancha @ The Reginald→
Sex. Lies. Art. How far would you go to achieve your dreams?
A blistering contemporary tale of love, twisted morals , deception and intrigue, Keith Bunin’s (The World Over,The Busy World Is Hushed) THE CREDAUX CANVAS originally premiered in 2001. This excellent revival, directed by Ross McGregor, blazes intimately forth from the Reginald at the Seymour Centre.
The play is in four scenes, somewhat cinematic in style, and features a biting, witty script. The work brings to mind other plays about the art world, Yasmina Reza’s Art and David Williamsons Up For Grabs?
Two people cooking a dessert accompanied by twelve drummers is a left field, intriguing premise for a concert. From it, Roysten Abel has fashioned a warm, winning night’s entertainment.
THE KITCHEN is a wordless drama featuring a couple, Mandakini Goswami and Dilip Shankar, cooking payasam, a milk dessert used in feasts and celebrations. Their dessert preparation is accompanied by a spectacular display of drumming by twelve drummers playing copper mizhavu drums.
The couple’s cooking is essentially a slow dance, beautifully choreographed and almost ceremonial in its execution. They gracefully add the ingredients with care and deliberation into two large pots and the subtle aromas drift through the theatre, adding to the sensory experience. There is an interesting interplay between the couple. An apparent conflict is resolved as the payasam is cooking, providing dramatic symmetry. Continue reading The Kitchen @ The York→
I’m not much of a crier at public events. Occasionally when something has its basis in how I experience the world I will find myself teary. But seriously, what on earth could I have in common with Ab Solomons, a Jewish shoemaker from London’s East End in the 1920s and why was I sniffling? And why were so many of us leaving with balled up tissues in our pockets?!
From 1926 to 1982, Ab drew a little cartoon on his weekly pay-packet for his wife, Celie. Kept in old shoeboxes … naturally… there are 3000 of these drawings. Danny Braverman discovered his great-uncle’s art works and brings them to the life in his one man show WOT? NO FISH!! The beautifully rendered images chronicle the hatched, matched and dispatched of a long life but there is more here.
We see the area where the family lived from the boom times after WW1, through WW2, peace time and the changing times of the 1970s. The themes of the drawings touch on racism, ignorance, divorce, even sex.
Danny Braverman is a self-confessed schlump. This, he assures us, as he hands out fried Gefilte fish, is different to a schmoe or a schmuck. His grand-uncle was also a schlump and so we enter Ab’s world.
The storyteller uses a table camera to project the small wages packets onto the big screen. When we first see them, the big surprise is the quality of the drawing. Initially in pen and ink, the characters are recognizable, the topic relatable and the detail inclusive.
Sometimes Braverman will bring our attention to one of these details and sometimes he will interpret an image or provide the family background. At times he allows us to linger on the artistry or he will foreshadow what we are about to see. Towards the end, he shows us the date on the back of the envelope first. Ab and Celie are failing.
The final drawing is brought forth with such love and care that we miss his family already. This is a life interpreted by someone who knows and we are guided by a wonderfully written presentation, well delivered.
He is funny and charming and spontaneous and his performance is a masterclass in Yiddish storytelling.
Good storytelling leads the listener to the truth in any matter and well-crafted art leads the viewer to the same destination.
In WOT? NO FISH!! we experience both, and Danny and Ab bring emotions to the surface. I doubt you will get tickets to this Sydney Festival event now but there is a display of the pay-packets in the Seymour Centre upper foyer. Take tissues.
WOT? NO FISH!! is playing the Reginald Theatre at the Seymour Centre until January 18th as part of the Sydney Festival.
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:-
British playwright R.C. Sherriff’s drama JOURNEY’S END presents a detailed and harrowing account of the hell that is war fought in the trenches.
A classic of its genre, Sherriff’s play was wrought out of his experiences as an officer in the trenches during the First World War. The play was first performed on the 9th December 1928 at London’s Apollo Theatre, in a production by the Incorporated Stage Society, and starred a very young Laurence Olivier.
The setting is Saint-Quentin, Aisne, France, at a British Army infantry officers’ dugout located just 75 yards from enemy trenches during four days, between the 18th March and the 21st March, 1918, poised very close to the end of the War. It focuses on the interactions between five officers and the Colonel, and depicts the camaraderie between the officers with poignancy. Continue reading Journey’s End→
January is a lazy languid time in Sydney, so it’s slightly unfair that the art lover’s idylls should be rudely interrupted – but in the best possible way – by the massive feast of cultural events that is the Sydney Festival.
Like a refreshing summer shower, some of the festival’s most appetising events are fleeting, lasting for only one or two nights; others, like a lingering heatwave, bask the greater Sydney region in their glow for weeks.
This year’s 179 events spread from the CBD to the Blue Mountains, 85 of them are free and there are almost 500 performances in total. Eight of them have exclamation marks in their title (one even has two!!) so expect some very exciting shows!
As always with the Sydney Festival, it’s best to get in early: by the time you hear about them they have may have vanished or sold out.
Voices for Change plays one night only for charity. Some of Australia’s best musical talent comes together in Voices for Change, for one night only on Monday 29th September at The Sound Lounge, Seymour Centre.
Leading musical theatre performers & singer/songwriters will be joined by emerging artists for an intimate night of fantastic music, with all proceeds going to charity the AusCam Freedom Project. Continue reading Voices for Change Concert→
Another excellent Sport for Jove production , performed in rep with ALL’S WELL THAT ENDS WELL, this TWELFTH NIGHT has the atmosphere of a typical 1960’s Aussie summer right on Christmas time …. there is the feel of a joyous beach party ( think the recent wonderful production of Opera Australia’s ‘The Turk In Italy’) and water/maritime themes and analogies running through the show.
There is also an ominous side, though, with shipwrecks and the presence of border guards/police demanding passports for example. Another theme is mirrors (a fun sight gag is when Sebastian and Viola as Cesario both put on a white hat as if either side of a mirror and don’t see each other. It is uncanny how alike they look) And a special mention as well for the design elements all of which are well executed
Music also is a crucial part of the production with hits from the Beach Boys , Four Seasons and Roy Orbison amongst others incorporated into the performance. The play itself, was originally conceived as a Twelfth Night Christmas period jaunty entertainment and included several musical interludes which the director Damien Ryan has incorporated with relish.
The complicated plot is somewhat as follows : a tremendous storm and shipwreck sees twins Sebastian and Viola separated with each thinking the other is dead. Viola decides to dress as a man, Cesario , and quickly becomes accepted as part of the Duke of Illyria , Orsino’s , entourage. Orsino is desperately in love with the snappish, elegant Countess Olivia who doesn’t return his love.. Instead , she falls in love with Viola as Cesario , when ‘he’ is sent as unwilling messenger , and meanwhile Viola is in love with Orsino…But eventually hidden secrets are revealed and all put to rights.Sebastian, having met Olivia and she mistaking him for Cesario, sleeps and marries him, is eventually reunited with his sister Viola who is revealed to be a woman and the attraction between her and Orsino is disclosed .
Ryan is blessed with an exceptional Malvolio and Viola/Cesario in particular but the whole ensemble is terrific.
As Viola/Cesario Abigail Austin is sensational. She is elfin and petite , quite a believable debonair young boy/man. No wonder the Lady Olivia is fascinated and the Duke likes him! A mysterious androgyny clings to both Viola and Cesario. Ryan possibly wanted to heighten the hidden ambiguity, which was so powerful in Shakespeare’s day, when all the players necessarily were men. – meaning a man would be playing a woman, impersonating a man. Confused? Having created her new identity as Cesario , (s)he is lively and spirited yet hides a great loss and a maddening, not to be revealed love. ( Until all is magically made right at the end ,at least for her… ).
Robin Goldsworthy, our Malvolio, is splendid. He is played as a pompous , fussy , obsessive military character ( parking tickets on the ice cream van for example) yet underneath he has a huge hidden heart and he is presented very sympathetically. Goldsworthy has fantastic comic timing . His mean treatment by, and the ghastly‘prank played by Sir Toby , Maria and the others, I did not find funny but rather horribly cruel. Others in the audience however found it hilarious. Goldsworthy gives Malvolio a range of elements that delights and overtake us. We are enchanted and mesmerised . His energy ,conviction and range are magnificent .
Anthony Gooley plays the cigar smoking , melancholy Duke Orsino with flamboyance and a touch of arrogance .He can ‘play’ quite dangerous if necessary .
Tall Tyran Parke is terrific as the wise clown Feste, blessed with a sparking wit and a great voice. His finale ‘The Wind and the Rain’ is extremely moving. A jocular gag was Feste’s teasing of Cesario when, suspecting he is a she, begins to sing The Four Seasons song, ‘Walk like a man, talk like a man’ .
While yes she is in mourning for her brother, Lady Olivia ( Megan Drury) is shown as a modern woman being aware of her present and future options . Drury finds a delicate balance between glamour and absurdity with an assertive confidence in her presence that effectively prevents Olivia’s femininity from ever being seen as weak.
James Lugton as the rather dim , sozzled Sir Toby Belch and his partner in crime Sir Andrew Aguecheek, played by Mike Pigott should also be mentioned .Their foolish antics cause much laughter .
Shakespeare’s TWELFTH NIGHT is a story of love and confused identity set against the backdrop of the 1960’s. With its beautifully detailed ensemble work, the production is very funny as well as being, at times, deeply moving . A delight.
If music be the food of love play on …
With a running time of 2 hours and 45 minutes, including one interval, TWELFTH NIGHT plays in rep with ALL’S WELL THAT ENDS WELL at the Seymour Centre until Saturday Apr 12.
Devised and performed by Kym Vercoe, SEVEN KILOMETRES NORTH-EAST, commences as a quirky and insightful exploration of her love of travel and her numerous trips to the beautiful and troubled country of Bosnia. Tales of exotic characters, places and encounters are embellished with the aromas and rituals of smoking and drinking coffee and slivovitz.
One of the major highlights of the 2014 Sydney Festival CHI UDAKA is an explosively energetic blending of colour, rhythm, dance and music. Inspired by the forces of nature, ,’Chi ‘ is Earth ( the Taikoz musicians) and ‘Udaka ‘ is water , ( the dancers ) the traditional elements of fluidity, solidness and separation that shape and form the world in constant movement.
A world premiere, the show fuses several worlds – Western classical music ( cello by wonderful John Napier) , Japanese music ( Shakuhachi and shinobue by maestro Riley Lee) , the rhythm and power of extraordinary Taikoz and the Indian world of the Lingalayam dancers with singer Aruna Partiban. Directors Anandavalli and Ian Clenworth sought to develop a sense of surprise and exploration through dialogue between the at first seemingly mismatched groups, with glimpses of parallels, symbiosis and apparently discordant clashes that actually work magnificently .
Just when you thought almost every genre of novel from literary periods various had been adapted to film or the musical theatre stage, along comes CARRIE: THE MUSICAL. This Australian premiere presents the event which from its first version in 1988 has taken the challenge of bringing well-known themes from Stephen King’s first novel and the popular 1976 film version to the musical stage.
A solid team of creatives first helped this story resonate and levitate above the high school gym, home and prom decorations. So too, the Squabbalogic and Critical Stages production teams present this piece as a relevant entertainment which is accessible and satisfying.
Lovers of Stephen King’s damaged and broodingly dark characters will not be disappointed with Hilary Cole’s stage presence and vocal delivery as Carrie White. Her scenes with religious-zealot mother, Margaret (the always impressive Margi de Ferranti) are very rewarding.
A well-cast and drilled ensemble of stock student and teacher characters provide a charged and familiar US high school feel. Dialect work is mostly consistent in each character and scene to the required American region and the interesting score is comfortably sung. Shondelle Pratt’s choreography is economical but clever and refreshing in its expression of youth. As with all delivery and design in this version of the musical, cliché and the potential for elements being hysterically overdone are thankfully avoided.
This edgy and effective musical deserves the support of Sydney audiences. Its version does not contain weak moments or less than genuine performances, with many of the stars emerging from local performing arts schools.
For generations exposed first hand to the Stephen King franchise or not, this musical offers a sufficiently spellbinding list of musical numbers supported by a great contemporary band and slick special effects. When choosing your theatre outfit, please remember-white splatters…
CARRIE: THE MUSICAL is playing the Reginald Theatre, Seymour Centre until Saturday November 30.
Delighted, intrigued, mesmerised, astounded. These were the gamut of emotions I shared with the opening night audience at HAPPY AS LARRY last night at the Seymour Centre. It started fifteen minutes late due to a technical hitch, but it was certainly worth the wait.
There were stunning performances from every one of this stellar cast of near consummate dancers. (I saw a news item on the ABC featuring contemporary dance from the Sydney Dance Company this morning which only served to highlight the extreme talent of all concerned with this show!) . Their acrobatic and isolation skills met every challenge of perhaps the most innovative choreography this reviewer has seen and wove an almost hypnotic trance over the audience from start to finish.
Of special note were the routines from Timothy Ohl and Sophia Ndaba, the set and general design from Adam Gardnir and the composition from composers Nick Wales and Bree Van Reyk.
My only reservations were that the volume of the music reached ear piercing levels near the end and was indeed a bit predictable by that stage. Also, although I definitely saw the Boss and the Mediator characters, I felt the others were a little hard to discern and in retrospect I would have nominated determined rather than happy as the overarching feel of the show.
Nevertheless this show is a spectacular must see.
Shaun Parker & Company production HAPPY AS LARRY opened at the Seymour Centre on September 10 and plays until September 14, 2103.
THE HANSARD MONOLOGUES, a verbatim play by Katie Pollock and Paul Daley from an original concept by Peter Fray, provides us with a look at the state of Australian politics by the most direct route possible, chosen extracts from the recently completed 43rd Parliament.
The surprising thing, for me at-least, was that our politicians did not fare too badly from such close analysis. The play even ends on an optimistic note quoting Anthony Albanese wishing everyone well till the first sitting of the new Parliament.
Essentially, THE HANSARD MONOLOGUES works as a highlights and lowlights reel/record of the last Parliament with a lot of time allocated to the major issues that dominated the term including the plight of Asylum Seekers and the continuing Australian involvement in the war in Afghanistan.
Each issue was dealt with with independently and then the play would move. A lot of ground was covered over the night. One of the play’s highlights was that we not only heard from the major political figures such as Gillard and Abbott but also from much less well known MP’s who made significant contributions to the relevant debate.
Just three actors, and great actors they were too, David Roberts, Camilla Ah Kin and Tony Llewellyn Jones, said the words of a wide range of pollies, each using a lectern. A large multi-media screen behind verified the name of the politician they were playing. This screen was also used for other dramatic purposes including the posting, one by one, of the names of the Aussie soldiers who have died in Afghanistan.
With the effect of adding emphasis, occasionally through the play, use was made of snippets of radio recordings of Parliament where one actually got to hear the authentic speaker.
At the play’s beginning, the actors endeavoured to play the pollies neutrally however this did not last for very long and by play’s end the trio were having a lot of fun with their characters.
THE HANSARD MONOLOGUES was an interesting and different night in the theatre. Peter Fray advised that he intended to produce further handard monologue pieces for future parliaments. Such nights can only add to the weight of political debate coming up to the next election.
A co-production of the Seymour Centre, the Merrigong Theatre Company and the Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre, the HANSARD MONOLOGUES played in Sydney at thbe York theatre, Seymour Centre on July 23 and ran until July 27, 2013.