All posts by Diana Newman

Diana Newman is a playwright who has a Bachelor of Arts from the University of New South Wales with a double major in English and Theatre Studies, graduating in 1991. Diana has had three plays produced and she was shortlisted twice for NIDA’s playwright’s course. BITCHIN’ was workshopped at the Genesian Theatre in 1995 with the production being directed by Pamela Whalan. GAZUMPED was performed at Belvoir Street’s Open House program, directed by Ainslie Masterton in 1995. STANDUP was performed in 2000, directed by Rhonwen McCormack of Velvet Masque Productions at the Three Weeds Hotel, Rozelle.


SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE RIPPER MURDERS has been written by Brian Clemens and is deftly directed by Jesse Davis.

Numerous theories have been expounded about the identity of Jack the Ripper who committed heinous crimes against vulnerable women in White Chapel in the East East of London in the late 19th century. This play follows one line of thought leading to an astonishing denouement with political conspiracies and sinister suspects.

Act 1 finds Detective Sherlock Holmes talking to Sir Robert Anderson about “the brutal, barbaric Ripper murders. Sir Robert replies that it is “the work of a deranged mind’, Dr Watson, Sherlock’s assistant , describes it as ‘a riddle’.

Holmes has  a letter written in the blood of his latest victim and says that they have “stumbled on something”. Holmes then meets widow and clairvoyant Mrs Kate Mead at a function. She tells him what she is seeing in her mind. There’s a man who is coming to his office who has valuable information. He must leave the party. After prevaricating  Holmes takes her advise. He tells Mrs Mead ‘she has a talent’ to which she replies “it’s a curse’.

In Act 2 Holmes tells Dr Watson that he must find Annie Crooks who he describes as the ‘last missing link’.

A relationship develops between Holmes and Kate Mead. He tells her he ‘was foolish’ to which he replies he is ‘dedicated and cautious’.

Holmes tells Sir William that her instincts are uncanny and that ‘the Ripper is attacking the soft underbelly of the poor’. Also, ‘the bush is in the garden and not to be beaten around’. Further he remarks, ‘Justice is the eternal cleanser’.

Holmes finds Annie Crooks and asks her if she knows Mary Kelly. The pieces of the puzzle are put together. What is the connection? Place the Queen’s Doctor and the Prime Minister into the scenario and Holmes adds up all the clues.

A talented cast perform an assorted array of colourful characters.

Sherlock Holmes is played by John Willis-Richards who has to remember the bulk of the lines. He gives a confident, self assured performance demonstrating Sherlock’s powerful observations and analytical abilities. This Holmes is stylish, authoritative, and with just  the right amount of emotion.

Credit goes to Sherlock’s colleague and also biographer Dr John Watson who is played by Peter David Allison. There is a good rapport between Willis-Richards and Allison.

Special mention needs to be made of Zoe Crawford’s fine performance as Kate Mead, the clairvoyant, with whom Holmes has a flirtation.

Sandra Bass impressed in her performance as the amusing Mrs Hudson. Sherlock’s landlady.

James  Charles and David Stewart-Hunter played two distinguished gentlemen, Sir Robert Anderson and Sir William Gull who Holmes interacted with.

Mathew Carufel played the sinister John Netley.

A number of the cast did well doubling up and gave good performances in their roles. Peter Bertoni played the  Stranger who turns up at Sherlock’s door and Bradbury, Warren Paul  Glover played Saunders and Lord Salisbury, Douglas Spafford played a .Lamplighter, a Policeman and a Beggar, Celeste Loyzaga played Catherine Eddowes and Annie Crooks and Heaven-Cheyenne Campbell played Mary Kelly and a Young Woman.

The set design by Bronte Barnicoat was finely detailed. There were torn posters reading- Beware the Ripper and Ghastly Murder in the East End on the gas lit cobbled streets.

The main action took place in Sherlock’s living room. There were two chairs, a coat and hat rack, doors and red curtains on the window. There were brandy balloons and a decanter on the mantlepiece.

In Act 2  there were ropes hanging off a post on the side of the stage depicting the dockyards.

Costumes by Peter Henson were evocative of the Victorian era and were lavish. These included suits, capes, tuxedo jackets, waistcoat and top hat (worn by Sherlock) to the fetching salmon pink dress and hat worn by Kate Mead.

Lighting and sound design by Michael Schell with melodramatic music are effective in creating a pervading, sinister atmosphere which is palpable and provide for a heightened sense of foreboding.

It is elementary. Make your way to the Genesian Theatre for SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE RIPPER MURDERS. It is a ripping good yarn.

SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE RPPER MURDERS  is playing the Genesian Theatre, 420 Kent Street until the 15th June, 2019. Performances Fridays and Saturdays at 7.30pm and Sundays at 4.30pm.

All photos by Craig O’Regan (c)


If you’re sick of hibernating in the colder weather, then seeing THE HYPOCHONDRIAC by Moliere will remedy your malady and beat those Winter blues.

Hilary Bell has contemporised this farcical and satirical, classic play which was originally titled ‘The Imaginary Invalid’. Hers  is a fresh and fun approach, a riotous romp through the past and present day.  The production has been directed by Jo Turner.

The play premiered in 1673  and turned out to be Moliere’s final play. Moliere actually played the main role of Argan and ironically became very ill during a performance, collapsing with a tubercular seizure, and the curtain was rung down. He was taken home, never recovered and was dead within  a few days.

With his play, Moliere’s aim was to target the incompetence of the medical profession. Bell’s contemporisation  lampoons a pill popping society and the influence of the pharmaceutical industry who are in cohorts with doctors to over prescribe medications. Continue reading THE HYPOCHONDRIAC @ THE ETERNITY PLAYHOUSE


Emily O’Grady is the recipient of the Australian/Vogel’s literary award 2018 for her debut crime novel – THE YELLOW HOUSE -which will have readers on the edge of their seats, and demonstrates clear and telling insights into the human condition.

The plot revolves around a rough, dysfunctional family which includes ten year old Cub, her twin brother Wally, older brother Cassie and their parents. Living on an isolated property near an unused cattle farm and knackery, they are shunned by the local community due to crimes committed by the now deceased Granddad Les who resided in the yellow house next door.

Cub’s Aunt Helena and cousin Tilly move into the yellow house. Cub, the narrator, observer and detective, discover secrets and lies which were privy to everyone except her. Once these secrets are revealed, Cub has to face the family’s haunted past, demons and the skeletons in the closet. Continue reading THE YELLOW HOUSE : A RIVETING READ


Belinda  Davids, the captivating and incredibly focused South African singer from Port Elizabeth in Capetown, weaved a memorable spell with her show, THE GREATEST LOVE OF ALL – THE WHITNEY HOUSTON SHOW, produced and directed by John Van Grinsven Snr. Davids has been touring the show for six years. She is enchanting, entertaining and engaging and sounds just  like the late and great singer whose songs have embedded their way into our psyche.

I’m a huge fan of Whitney Houston and now I can say I’m a big fan of Davids. Davids connected with the audience and invited us into her heart and soul. She possessed authenticity in bucket loads. Time was suspended for two hours as we grew privy to her pain and suffering in the finale  I Will Always Love You where she was a vision in a long, white dress. There was also the joy in her rendition of the song, I Wanna Dance With Somebody. Memories were made from these magical and mesmerising moments.

Davids voice was clear and strong during many vocally demanding musical numbers.  She performed in front of a mostly older crowd, in their fifties and sixties, who watched Davids belt out Whitney up tempo tunes and also her soft, slow ballads. Continue reading THE GREATEST LOVE OF ALL – THE WHITNEY HOUSTON SHOW @ THE STATE THEATRE


Featured photo – Author Holly Wainwright.

If you like your novels sugar coated then read the MUMMY BLOGGERS by Holly Wainwright. Wainwright is the head of entertainment at Mamamia Women’s Network. She is a journalist, writer, editor, podcaster and working mother of two.

The premise of the Mummy Bloggers is simple enough. Three very different mothers devise and hatch plans and strategies in on-line warfare to vie for Blogger of the year at the Blog-aahs awards. There is plenty of drama and deception along the way.  Competition is fierce. It begs the question, at what lengths will some people go to be successful while betraying the public in the process? It highlights the fact that many ordinary people want their day in the spotlight and their fifteen minutes of fame.

The mothers are all deeply flawed individuals who want to measure up to society’s expectations of being high achievers and self-made celebrities. Continue reading THE MUMMY BLOGGERS BY HOLLY WAINWRIGHT


Featured photo – Tara Moss signing copies of her book at North Sydney’s Stanton Library. All photos by Ben Apfelbaum.

Model, crime author and public speaker Tara Moss’ empowering and enlightening book SPEAKING OUT, aimed at inspiring girls and women, delivers on many levels. And it begs the question, why aren’t there more books written on this subject?!

In Moss’s forward she says, “Having a voice is part of what makes us human…Language connects us. Our voices connect us. When we are silent or unheard our ideals and perspectives, our needs, our pain and our struggles remain unknown or unacknowledged and for this reason unchanged.”

Moss continues with this line of thought- she “examines the challenges facing women and girls – the external obstacles of silencing, dismissals, bullying and threats of violence, and the internal challenges of crises of confidence…”

Moss focuses on the inequality and the abuse women contend with and suffer from with particular mention and emphasis at the hands of the internet where, “technology is used to shame, bully and brutalise.” Continue reading SPEAKING OUT : TARA MOSS’ CALL FOR WOMEN TO EMPOWER THEMSELVES



It was more than a bit of a challenge when I was requested to write  a review of a book written by an eminent and esteemed critic, academic, best selling author and a person who is the Sydney Morning Herald chief book reviewer. The gentleman is Andrew Riemer, the book Between The Fish and The Mudcake.

In his book, Riemer reminiscences about well known literary figures; there are food references and destinations mentioned. It is part memoir, history lesson, political piece, travelogue and social commentary.

Between the Fish and the Mudcake begins by discussing Patrick White whom he meets at a dinner party in Sydney in 1966 and who undergoes Riemer’s astute character observations  and analysis of his personality. “We see him driven into precisely the taciturn hostility, thinly disguised beneath a veneer of politeness…” Continue reading ANDREW RIEMER : BETWEEN THE FISH AND THE MUDCAKE


For all of those hopeless romantics out there, you’ve got to feel the love and see THE BODYGUARD THE MUSICAL. It is based on the 1992 Warner Bros film, starring Whitney Houston and Kevin Costner with the book by Alexander Dinelaris. The musical is directed by Thea Sharrock and has arrived in Sydney from its smash hit run in London’s West End.

The journey follows the lives of superstar vocalist Rachel Marron and her new minder, former Secret Service  agent Frank Farmer.( played by the appealing Kip Gamblin) Throw defiant personalities into the mix, a threat from an unknown stalker (Brendan Irving) and a sensational soundtrack with  lyrics which weave a tale of love, loss and longing and you have a recipe for success.

Comparisons to Whitney Houston are inevitable but Paulini Curuenavuli (Rachel) is on fire in her role and commands attention just like the pyrotechnics in the opening scene. Paulini demonstrates an unsurpassed depth of feeling and passion in her singing and who can forget the heart wrenching  song – I Will Always Love You and her rendition is a highlight of the show which  brings a tear to one’s eyes. It is a real Paulini moment. She can sing with a gentle tone one minute, (All At Once and One Moment In Time) being tender and touching then be an absolute powerhouse  like in the song Queen of the Night. She is the Queen of the show. Her range is extensive. Continue reading THE BODYGUARD THE MUSICAL @ THE LYRIC


The statistics are alarming; a note from the editor of Bully For Them – Fiona Scott-Norman who also suffered torment at school that, ‘’one in four students is affected by bullying.’’

At school it really is a case of survival of the fittest Bullying can break one’s spirit and leave one scarred for life. It might take years for the damage to one’s self esteem to be reversed. Bullying can cause a severe case of loneliness and lead to depression. It can be hard to forgive them for the anguish that they’ve caused. Many people have difficult home lives but that doesn’t mean they become bullies.

A common thread of thought amongst the twenty two celebrities who talk about their harrowing experiences is that having a sense of humour helped them. Comedian Judith Lucy, Paralympian swimmer Sam Bramham and journalist Wendy Harmer in particular referred to this. Continue reading CELEBRITIES SHARE THEIR STORIES OF THE HORROR OF BULLYING


It was lights, cameras, action at the Hayes theatre for this very slick production of MACK AND MABEL, book by Michael Stewart and catchy music by Jerry Herman, directed by Trevor Ashley. Continue reading MACK AND MABEL @ THE HAYES THEATRE



Murder, mystery, suspense, romance plus acting to die for awaits you if you attend this current production, Agathie Christie’s 1945 stage adaptation based on her  1938 novel of the same name. directed by the Company’s current Artistic Director Barry Nielson.

Nielson’s production features a large impressive cast. The focus of the play is on Mrs Boynton, a pivotal role played to the hilt and with aplomb  by Leilani Loau. Dressed in top to toe black, her characters’ true colours are revealed as the narrative develops.

Mrs Boynton is the matriarch from hell who presides over her stepchildren with an iron fist. She is an expert in playing cat and mouse games. She enjoys how her family are dependant on her financially; she laughs maniacally, conveying her cruel, sadistic, cunning and manipulative nature. She  was a former wardress in prison and has a lust for power. Continue reading GENESIAN THEATRE COMPANY PRESENTS AGATHIE CHRISTIE THRILLER


Xanadu The Musical - main

For the hottest tickets in town you can’t go past seeing XANADU THE MUSICAL which is a satire of the 1980s film. The book to the musical has been written by Douglas Carter Beane with music by Jeff Lyne of Electric Light Orchestra fame, and John Farrar, Olivia Newton- John’s producer. This current revival has been produced by Matthew Henderson and Matthew Management, directed by  Nathan M. Wright and musical direction by Andrew Bevis.

The production draws on Greek mythology which is evident in the costumes and the set which comprises Corinthian columns, creating Mt Olympus. Continue reading XANADU THE MUSICAL @ THE HAYES


Nineteen Eighty Four

The role of the literary reviewer is to provide both positive and negative written feedback on the book in question. It entails subjectivity but I believe that the critic’s main aim is to vividly and accurately delve into the mind’s eye of the author with detailed descriptions of the text, the use of devices conveying rhythm of the language used and meaning, also how the book affects the reader emotionally and/or intellectually.

There is a saying that “everyone’s a critic”. When I read a book, it inevitably has an impact on me. The writers here have chosen works of literature that have engrossed them and left an indelible imprint on them.

The erudite reviewers are from varied backgrounds. Here are a few highlights from FORTY SEVEN BOOKS:-

Nineteen Eighty Four (1948) by George Orwell, review by Tanya Robb. “The political themes in the book are censorship, state controlled surveillance, suppression of dissenting opinion and the use of hate and fear mongering for political power…” Continue reading FRIENDS RECOMMEND 47 BOOKS



Author and mastermind of Real Food Projects, Kate Walsh.

If you’re in a pickle just thinking about what to cook for your next meal, there’s absolutely no knead to worry as Kate Walsh has all of your food dilemmas solved.

Walsh is a self –taught cook whose Real Food Projects was established in 2012 teaching the importance of supporting local producers through cooking seasonally. She has also created cooking schools.

Here’s some food for thought. There is a food revolution happening at the moment. Once eating patterns have been established, it can be difficult to alter them. Difficult –yes. Impossible –no with Walsh’s easy to digest, well laid out and user –friendly cookbook. Continue reading REAL FOOD PROJECTS – 30 SKILLS, 46 RECIPES FROM SCRATCH BY KATE WALSH


Leading American playwright Sarah Ruhl’s book, divided into four parts, sees her dealing with the life versus theatre conundrum whilst she successfully combines her two  roles of being a mother and active theatre practitioner.

Ruhl is a quick witted observer of the theatre and there simply aren’t enough adjectives to describe her short, sharp, intelligent and knowledgeable treatises.

Ruhl’s articulate discourse on what constitutes great theatre demonstrates her wonderful ability to argue the finer points. She has a diverse range of original ideas covering many topics. She certainly knows her craft and raises important issues within the book both on a personal and professional level. Continue reading PLAYWRIGHT TURNS ESSAYIST : SARAH RUHL


Professor Barbara Santich, founder of the Graduate program in Food Studies at the University  Of Adelaide.
Professor Barbara Santich, founder of the Graduate program in Food Studies at the University Of Adelaide.

If you have an appetite and a zest for life then read on…

The promo blurb to DINING ALONE describe the collection thus, “Dining Alone was written by creative writing students at the University of Adelaide from 2007 to 2013; young and old, aggressive and reflective, wistful and resolute, some content in their cloak of solitude while others envy the love and laughter at other tables. The stories are poignant and surprising, sometimes with a hint of mystery or political intrigue; some have bittersweet endings while others celebrate brave new beginnings.”

The collection  has been edited by Professor Barbara Santich.  The students stories are journeys with food as well as being journeys of self discovery which satisfy, soothe and feed the soul’s cravings as well. Continue reading DINING ALONE


The cast of NINE.
Inset pic- The cast of NINE. Featured pic- Doug Emery as Guido and Anna Colless as Carla. Production photography by Shakira Wilson

For a real treat go and see the slightly risque NINE presented by the Sydney University  Musical Theatre Ensemble.

Directed by Jonathan Rush and based on the book by Mario Fratti NINE deals with Federico Fellini’s semi-autobiographical film  8 ½. The musical with orchestral accompaniment “leaps between reality and fantasy, comedy and drama, past and present…”

The protagonist, anguished film director Guido Contini, is  played with panache by the talented Doug Emery, has difficulty distinguishing between his personal and creative life.

NINE,  set in 1960’s Venice, finds Guido nearing a meltdown over the prospect of turning forty and with no script for his next film.  NINE explores Guido’s fragility and his numerous romantic liaisons. Guido’s long suffering wife, actress Luisa Contini (Bridget Haberecht) suggests a visit to an exclusive spa in the hope of repairing their marriage. His lover, the sultry Carla Albanese (Anna Colless), interrupts their sojourn. Continue reading M.U.S.E PRESENTS NINE AT REGINALD THEATRE SEYMOUR CENTRE

Ghost Stories @ The Drama Theatre Sydney Opera House

Ghost Stories- inset
Get ready for some thrills and chills with Prince Moo’s production of GHOST STORIES. Production photography by Liam O’Keefe.

GHOST STORIES  is a spooky play  written by Andy Nyman and Jeremy Dyson which has come direct from the West End. A note from the director Peter J. Snee states that, “Our biggest fear is that horror is lurking somewhere out there…it is lurking inside you right now, simply waiting for the opportunity to break free when you are least expecting it and are at your most vulnerable.”

The audience is greeted by the eerie, haunting and unsettling sounds of howling winds emanating from the theatre to the foyer which sets the tone and mood of the  intriguing performance. Continue reading Ghost Stories @ The Drama Theatre Sydney Opera House

Sing A Long A Sound Of Music @ The State Theatre

Sound Of Music-inset

For die hard fans of the classic movie you can’t go past SING A LONG A SOUND OF MUSIC where audience members get to release their inner, favourite Von Trapp family singer.

SING A LONG A SOUND OF MUSIC promised an evening of wholesome, nostalgic entertainment where everyone from children to senior citizens were given the chance to celebrate the popular, iconic musical’s 50th anniversary. This it certainly delivered with style and panache,

I had an absolute ball with my eighty year old companion, singing in unison with hundreds of  devotees, who were helped with the film having surtitles.

The host was Katrina Retallick, dressed as Maria in a dirndl. She kept the theatre crowd buzzing with excitement through the night. Continue reading Sing A Long A Sound Of Music @ The State Theatre

Dirty Dancing @ The Lyric

Kurt Phelan (Johnny), Kirby Burgess (Baby) and Natasha Coote (Penny) in DIRTY DANCING. Pic Jeff Busby
Kurt Phelan (Johnny), Kirby Burgess (Baby) and Natasha Coote (Penny) in the new production of Elanor Bergstein’s DIRTY DANCING directed by James Powell. Pics Jeff Busby

‘I have had the time of my life and I’ve never felt this way before’ sums up my reaction to DIRTY DANCING. This is the classic stage show based on the hit movie of the same name, written by Eleanor Bergstein.

Both the last production in Sydney in 2004, which I saw twice, and the present revival have been unique, very special and faultless.

Continue reading Dirty Dancing @ The Lyric

The Rosie Effect

Author Graeme Simsion
Prolific , best selling author Graeme Simsion. Pic Michael Clayton-Jones

THE ROSIE EFFECT by Graeme Simsion is a sequel to his quirky first novel:– The Rosie Project which imbued with warmth sold over one million copies and was published in thirty eight languages.

In the ROSIE PROJECT the protagonist Don Tillman writes himself a questionnaire to find the perfect partner. Rosie is not the type he would have chosen and Don, who is inflexible in his routines, has to throw his schedules out the proverbial window. Continue reading The Rosie Effect


Lucy Durack and Jemma Rix (c) Jeff Busby
Lucy Durack and Jemma Rix (c) Jeff Busby

WICKED is a prequel to The Wizard Of Oz and the plot unfolds in the years leading to Dorothy’s arrival. It is the tale of two unlikely friends: Glinda the Good, a role reprised by the outstanding Lucy Durack, and Elphaba, the future Wicked Witch of the West, played by the exceptional Jemma Rix.  They form a bond in College which leads to different destinies. Glinda is popular and beautiful while misunderstood Elphaba was “born different”, that is, she is green. One friend is seduced by power whilst the other remains true to herself.

The musical begins with the citizens of Oz celebrating the death of the Wicked Witch as Glinda arrives. The remainder of the plot forms an extended flashback of the lives of the two women. Continue reading Wicked


Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort in the new movie THE FAULT IN OUR STARS to be released in America in June
Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort in the new movie THE FAULT IN OUR STARS to be released in America in June

“Falling in love is like falling asleep…slowly then all at once” says Hazel the female protagonist in Green’s novel which is a number one New York times best seller.

The reader is involved from the outset in Hazel’s journey. It is extremely difficult for the reader not to become caught up in Hazel’s psychological, social, intellectual and emotional battles as she suffers from a serious illness. Not only must she deal with hormones and schoolwork she must face challenges on a day to day level.

Continue reading THE FAULT IN OUR STARS