Tag Archives: Sport For Jove

FALLEN : A FASCINATING HISTORICAL DRAMA @ THE SEYMOUR CENTRE

 

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.

The setting is London in the 1840s. The location is Urania Cottage in London. The cottage was founded by legendary author Charles Dickens with wealthy banking heiress Angela Burdett-Coutts. It was established as a reformatory for fallen women as an alternative to the workhouses and prison.                                 Continue reading FALLEN : A FASCINATING HISTORICAL DRAMA @ THE SEYMOUR CENTRE

SPORT FOR JOVE PRESENTS ‘THE THREE SISTERS’ @ REGINALD THEATRE SEYMOUR CENTRE

Sport For Jove (3)

Production photography by Marnya Rothe.

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

SPORT FOR JOVE PRESENTS TAMING OF THE SHREW @ THE YORK THEATRE, SEYMOUR CENTRE

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Sport for Jove’s wonderful version of Shakespeare’s THE TAMING OF THE SHREW is a delicious version of this quite challenging play that had the audience in stitches at times. It has been adapted and transposed by director Damien Ryan to Italy in the 1920’s in the silent film industry with sly digs at the Australian film industry of the time. It is full of exuberant energy and performed with enormous zest.

Damien Ryan’s direction leads to a thought provoking production which questions how the play can be read from a feminist perspective and is delicately aware and nuanced in its approaches to gender politics but doesn’t really provide answers as such , leaving the audience undecided .

Anna Gardiner’s set is rather sparse but with multiple small props and a ladder that is rolled in, out or reversed allowing for many fluid scene changes and retaining the feel of a film production  lot .With Sian James-Holland’s evocative lighting, and the use of projected, early cinema style film, the production is a visual feast.

The casting is superb with fine ensemble performances and wonderful work from the leads.

Seemingly the complete opposite to Katharine, Lizzie Schebesta shines as beautiful starlet Bianca who eventually reveals her hidden claws. On the surface, softer and far more the gracious , ideal woman she is as powerful as her sister. Schebesta impresses with her comic timing and graceful agility.

Danielle King as Katherina is brilliantly spitfire and spiky, at times almost feral, and , especially at first, rude and uncouth and delighting to annoy. She breaks convention and seeks to speak her mind and be independent in order to preserve her personal integrity but the dominant patriarchal society insists she does otherwise.

Angela Bauer is enchanting as the alluring Vincentia, prima donna movie star .

Baptista Minola here bossily, solidly played by Robert Alexander is a movie director with two eligible daughters: movie starlet Bianca (Lizzie Schebesta) and the fiery, explosive aviatrix Katharina (Danielle King). Baptista seems more concerned about his daughter’s financial security than their general well being.

The queue for Bianca’s hand includes matinee idols Gremio (Barry French) and Hortensio (Terry Karabelas) and, by proxy, a student, Lucentio (Christopher Stalley), who has his sister Tania (Eloise Winestock) impersonate him while he is in disguise as Bianca’s German governess.

Dashing Terry Karabelas as the vainglorious Hortensio is in fine form and revels in channeling his inner Errol Flynn.

Tall, blonde Christopher Stalley and Eloise Winestock have enormous fun as the scheming cross dressing siblings, Lucentio , (desperately in love with Bianca ) and Tania . Lucentio when in disguise as Bianca’s German governess Fraulein Gretchen is in the awkward situation of being the only character on stage who isn’t able to speak German!

James Lugton plays Petruchio, a dashing naval  officer who seeks to ensure his financial future by marrying Katherina. His cruel taming methods almost amount to torture but he is a generally reasonable man who has to use unreasonable methods to get what he wants. The horrendous honeymoon is played aboard Petruchio’s ship, which suffers much rolling!, and then on land.

I enjoyed the neat visual twist that Katharina wears elegant black at her wedding, and it is Petruchio who has the spectacular entrance with a train. In  a nice touch Petruchio enters shirtless, trailing a parachute.

The highly controversial speech by Katharina that ends the play, and that theoretically shows her vanquished spirit, is here presented with a troubled, questioning tone and laughs are orchestrated with the concluding projected film.

Petruchio’s servants here become his crew and sing a wonderful sea shanty and there is much fun with the rolling of the ship . Michael Cullen as Grumio , Petruchio’s valet and George Kemp as Biondello, in particular, show off their great comic timing and slapstick skills.

This Sport For Jove  production is full of exuberant, boisterous energy with plenty of slapstick and silent film melodrama thrown into the mix.

The jokes hurtle along and Ryan and the cast do a magnificent job of maintaining the blistering pace in this bold production.

Running time allow 3 hours 15 minutes including one interval.

Sport for Jove’s production of TAMING OF THE SHREW is playing the York Theatre, the  Seymour Centre until May 28.

http://www.seymourcentre.com/events/event/the-taming-of-the-shrew/

2 DOUBLE PASSES TO EDWARD II @ THE SEYMOUR CENTRE

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From  1 to 17 October, Seymour Centre and Sport For Jove Theatre Company will present a contemporary take on Christopher Marlowe’s 1593 tragic masterpiece, EDWARD II.

Shortly after his coronation, King Edward II obtains his lover Gaveston from exile, lavishing him with titles and riches. Their all-consuming lust alienates the King’s wife, makes enemies of his nobles, eclipses the law, and threatens to destroy the nation.

As one of the earliest English history plays, Edward II is a classic tale of land, law and desire, and of a King who treated the nation as his playground. The play is a political story with many relevant plot lines to today’s political spectrum, including its exploration of power and control. Continue reading 2 DOUBLE PASSES TO EDWARD II @ THE SEYMOUR CENTRE

Sport For Jove presents The Merchant of Venice @ The Seymour Centre

Merchant of Venice- insetUnder the excellent direction of Richard Cottrell Sport For Jove have brought us a most impressive, tense version of one of Shakespeare’s troubling plays, THE MERCHANT OF VENICE. Although classified as one of Shakespeare’s comedies, with a mostly happy ending, there is plenty of sinister drama happening behind the scenes.

This production, with the play a little abridged, is slickly and briskly delivered.

Cottrell’s version sets the events just before the Second World War. Mostly the men are in expensively cut elegant suits, the women dressed in lovely flowing dresses.

Anna Gardiner’s set design places the characters in a very posh, gold and white art deco world featuring revolving doors and sliding panels.

This Shakespeare play examines issues of hate, greed , resentment, racial intolerance and seeking revenge for long held grudges, but also shows the other side- the need for compassion and mercy.

At the centre of Shakespeare’s THE MERCHANT OF VENICE is its troubling anti-Semitic portrayal of the main character, Shylock, the Jewish moneylender. Nowadays productions have to consider adjusting their versions to be acceptable to contemporary views while still remaining faithful to Shakespeare’s original. As the production is set in pre-WWII, we are encouraged to see Shakespeare’s aspersions in a context relating to the rise of Nazism.

John Turnbull as Shylock is fascinating– he is cold, implacable and chilling in the courtroom scene. Full of vigour he is sinister and dangerous.Yet we also see good sides to his character and can, to some degree, sympathise with his lust for revenge without mercy. It is a stylish , mesmerising performance at once precise and, at the same, time powerful.

Portia, played by the beautiful Lizzie Schebetsa, is elegantly portrayed . Portia is shown as thoughtful and extremely clever revealing an intelligence and strength that continues throughout the play. Her famous ’Quality of Mercy’ speech was very impressive .

As Portia’s true love Bassanio, the very handsome Christopher Stalley was resolute, bold and determined- a delight to watch.

As the second pair of lovers, Gratiano (Bassanio‘s friend ) Damien Strouthos as Gratiano (Bassanio’s friend) and Erica Lovell as Nerissa (Portia’s lady-in-waiting/companion/confidant) provided charming, necessary comic relief when needed.

James Lugton was quiet and understated in his delicately nuanced and measured performance as Antonio, the eponymous merchant of the title who stands to lose everything.

There was fine ensemble work from the supporting cast. Special mentions…Michael Cullen who showed excellent comic timing playing Lancelot Gobbo, Bassanio’s servant and one of Shakespeare’s clowns. Lucy Heffernan as Jessica, Shylock’s daughter, was sweetly determined and enchanting. Jason Kos was stalwart as her suitor Lorenzo. Aaron Tsindos revels in his over the top portrayal of the arrogant Prince of Morocco, almost stealing the show.

Richard Cottrell provides audiences with an interesting, enigmatic ending.

Summing up, this was a very challenging, thought provoking and exciting production of this dark Shakespeare comedy.

Running time 2 & ½ hours including one interval.

Sport for Jove’s production of THE MERCHANT OF VENICE is playing the York theatre at the Seymour Centre until Saturday 30th May.

For more about this production visit http://www.sportforjove.com.au.

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

A Midsummer Night’s Dream @ Bella Vista Farm

Images from Sport for Jove's revival of Midsummer's Dream. Pics by Seiya Taguchi
Images from Sport for Jove’s revival of Midsummer’s Dream. Pics by Seiya Taguchi

A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM is playing as part of the season of Sydney Hills Shakespeare in the Park and Leura Shakespeare Festival and a festival it most definitely is. Families and lovers and friends and cronies, all together under a moonless sky to enjoy the group experience of enjoying a favourite 400 year old play.

A military Athens is initially in store for audiences as the guards in their grey shirts and pants usher people in and then stand on guard before the show starts.

Opening on the open raised stage near the small period home on Bella Vista Farm, we meet Theseus (Christopher Tomkinson) and Hippolyta (Francesca Savige). Never tick off an Amazon … she is cross and not shy about expressing it. Conquering Theseus has a very unwilling bride on his hands. Continue reading A Midsummer Night’s Dream @ Bella Vista Farm

The Crucible @ Bella Vista Farm

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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

TWELFTH NIGHT

Sport for Jove's TWELFTH NIGHT. Pics Seiya Taguchi
By the beachside with Sport for Jove’s memorable revival of TWELFTH NIGHT. Pics Seiya Taguchi

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.

For more information about this production visit – http://www.sportforjove.com.au/theatre-company-plays/twelfth-night-or-what-you-will

ALL’S WELL THAT ENDS WELL

ALL'S WELL THAT ENDS WELL. Pic Seiya Taguchi
ALL’S WELL THAT ENDS WELL. Pic Seiya Taguchi

Celebrating its 5th anniversary and Shakespeare’s 450th, this year Sport For Jove brings us a most fabulous production of this lesser known, rarely performed complex and difficult ‘problem play’ by Shakespeare .

The play has a quite improbable, rather dark, implausible plot ( one can imagine it straight out of a TV soap – a desperately ill king healed , unrequited love leading to a forced marriage , a very intelligent woman foolishly chasing – going to extremes even – a man who has nothing but disdain and humiliation for her, a ‘bed trick’ ( recorded on a mobile )and eventually a reconciliation all in times of war. It is both a tragedy and a comedy Under the gripping direction of Damien Ryan and with its very strong, superb cast the audience can focus on the situations drama and story especially of Helena and Bertram and their emotional development. It has been updated with the use of mobile phones etc .Shakespeare’s language is clearly delivered and feels fresh and new.

Continue reading ALL’S WELL THAT ENDS WELL