Tag Archives: Sydney Festival 2017


Production photography by Heidrun Lohr.

CHAMPIONS is a stonkingly good dance work … with the common touch.

It’s a large scale work with 11 dancers filling a field of dreams inside the vast space and it begins like any large scale sporting event with the team captain interview.  Sports presenter, Mel McLaughlin, well known to viewers as one of the anchors of Seven’s Olympic coverage, is on the screen wall which dominates the upstage area of the arena.  She is interviewing Carlee Mellow and we get a team update on the selections for today’s match.

Pre-game, a suitably comic and silly swan mascot has entertained the large and vocal crowd to a pounding pizzicato on the soundtrack and the audience is ready for the action.  At interval she reappears in a circular lake of light … I loved that! There are cheers and claps as the players wander on with their yoga mats to warm up.  In the same way that everyone’s a sports fan during the Olympics, this work begins with expert coverage to inform and guide us.  Mellow and McLaughlin go through each dancer stats, temperament and what they bring to the line-up while a manufactured playing, smiling, concentrating image of each woman fills the screen. Continue reading FORM DANCE PROJECTS PRESENTS ‘CHAMPIONS’ @ CARRIAGEWORKS


Ockham’s Razor is a London based performance company who are back for the Sydney Festival. Patrons who saw them in 2014 will have some idea what to expect, though this is a very different show. The philosophical concept Ockham’s Razor is often minimalised to … the simplest answer is probably true. But more interestingly it originally translated as something like … to solve a problem don’t allow too many options. This influential and internationally recognised company have most certainly taken that advice to heart. Continue reading TIPPING POINT @ THE SPAGHETTI CIRCUS BIG TOP PARRAMATTA


The old timers, especially flyers, often talk about it. So do the trap catchers, slack and tight walkers even modern aerialists on silks and rings and Chinese poles. They will tell you about the people with terminal illnesses who seek them out after a show. Who thank them for confronting the unknown beyond, for staring mortality down. iD, from Canada’s Cirque Éloize as part of the Sydney Festival, is vibrant and exciting, thrilling and skilful. It’s fantastically entertaining fun but the finale is that rare moment when the physical gives way to the spiritual. When human beings are suspended for just that second of time between corporeal and divine. Continue reading CANADA’S CIRQUE ELOIZE PRESENTS ‘iD’ @ RIVERSIDE THEATRES PARRAMATTA



HAKAWATI is an Arabic word which translates to “teller of tales”. Stay with me now as, oddly, I quote Dolly Parton from Facebook in 2010 “My weaknesses have always been food and men – in that order”. Go Dolly!

Moving on. We all have our weaknesses and I also have food at the head of my own list. But next in line for me is stories… old, new, sad, uplifting, about my world, about other lives … I don’t have a preference. How intrigued was I then to hear about HAKAWATI, playing in Parramatta as part of the Sydney Festival!

Created and directed by Wayne Harrison this is an experience which is intimate and alive: the food is delicious and the storytelling expert. Continue reading HAKAWATI @ EL PHONECIAN RESTAURANT PARRAMATTA


Very early on in THE SEASON, daughter Lou thinks out loud that she might take herself diving to get a fresh fish dinner. It makes sense; 3 generations of Duncans are gathered on this small island in the Bass Strait for the annual Muttonbird harvest. But the whole family around the rickety table is suddenly still then turn slowly to look at her. There’s a pause until unexpectedly, the Duncans, and us, burst into gales of laughter at Lou’s expense. We the audience don’t know Lou, we just met her but we have been enveloped by this family and we think whatever is going on is hilarious too.

In a nutshell, or more appropriately a nest, that is the brilliance of THE SEASON. We love these people. And we love them from the beginning.

After the seven cast appear from the shadows upstage reaching towards the spirit of the birds which come each year to these traditional lands, we meet Ben and Stella Duncan. Long married but still lovers, their hopes for this season are tinged with some undefined worry but it won’t stop them from enjoying every moment of having the family together for the birding season. Continue reading THE SEASON @ THE DRAMA THEATRE, SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE


They describe part of their act as “boylesque” but these are not boys. BRIEFS: THE SECOND COMING are men, seven beautiful men with a substantial variety of maleness on display. Briefs aside and cleverly skirting the edge of what is legal (yet enough to please a sold-out crowd last night at the Magic Mirrors Speigletent in the Meriton Festival Village) there is nudity abounding.

Self-described in the Festival program as the “love child of RuPaul’s Drag Race and an Aussie version of Cirque du Soleil”, the extravaganza, opens with a fan dance. Pump up the jam on steroids! Opulent, clever, slick and decidedly sexy, in true burlesque style the ensemble of seven eventually rip down to their briefs. To the considerable approval of the hooting, cheering audience. Continue reading BRIEFS : THE SECOND COMING @ THE MERITON FESTIVAL VILLAGE


“It if don’t fit … don’t force it or you’re gonna make your momma mad.” The 1939 ditty by Barrel House Annie reinterpreted by the gorgeous, grandiose, garish, gifted diva provocateur. All hail YANA ALANA.

When casting around for companions to come with me, way too many said no, mostly after viewing the video on the Festival website. Quoting one of my friend’s text exactly “I pity you having to sit through that dear Judith”. Boy is he wrong. Couldn’t be wronger. So I am out to spread the word, to proselytise in the name of Yana.

Do not miss this show! YANA ALANA COVERED is cabaret at its brassy, brilliant best. Some kind of bastard child from Meow Meow and Bette Midler in her heyday. Continue reading YANA ALANA COVERED @ THE MERITON FESTIVAL VILLAGE