All posts by Joy Minter

After a twelve month working holiday that took her from Sydney to Perth, Joy moved to Australia from Canada. She first lived in Canberra, where she studied literature and sociology at ANU. After graduating she moved to Sydney and enrolled at Macquarie to complete an honours year in Australian literature and graduated in 2001. She worked in finance and the arts before establishing the arts and entertainment website thebuzzfromsydney, which reviews and promotes live performance and exhibition in Sydney. She has been a member of the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA) since July 2013. She loves the vibrant art scene in Sydney, and reporting on local theatre.

VINCENT RIVER @ THE FACTORY THEATRE

 

‘’Vincent River is dead, the victim of a homophobic hate crime’

With that nugget of information we head into the theatre. The outcome of this headline story is not buried at the back of the paper, but put right out there at the start so we already know the ending. So what now is there to see? As it turns out, a lot. A gruesome, funny, tragic lot.

This Philip Ridley play first appeared in 2000 and was described by Variety at the time as being ‘a minor addition to Britain’s new brutalist genre’ and likely to cause audiences to stifle yawns. That production must have been  pretty awful, or more likely the reviewer was having an off night, as this current incarnation under the direction of Andrew Langcake  is another story. Put it this way, no one in the audience was yawning.

Vincent’s mother Anita (Susan M Kennedy) and young stranger Davey (Russell Cronin) circle around each other with caution at first after the death of Vincent, but as more gin is swilled, confidences grow riskier and more bold. Davey is initially only a casual witness to the end of Vincent’s life but he is obviously tormented and Anita naturally wants to know why.

Susan M Kennedy as Anita is world-weary but she is curious enough (and still maternal enough) to let her defenses down and let a strange young man in. Kennedy executes the humour in an authentic and off-hand manner that catches you off guard. Russell Cronin as Davey is incredible. His revelations throughout the play are not particularly surprising, in the final scene, however,  he delivers with such gut-wrenching emotion that you can’t look away during his hypnotic confession. The very estuary British accents are fantastic, Nick Curnow acted as dialect consultant and the result is impressive.   

Between Langcakes’s direction and Kennedy and Cronin’s performances, Vincent River packs an emotionally laden sucker punch that will leave you reeling. The structure and pace of this production are close to perfection: to call this an amateur production would be misleading, I have seen much so-called professional theatre that hasn’t come close to the production value that Vincent River offers.        

Vincent River is presented by Throwing Shade Theatre Company and is on at the Factory Theatre (Marrickville) until 5 March, for more details and tickets see:

http://www.factorytheatre.com.au/events/2017/02/21/vincent-river

 

 

 

THE TESTAMENT OF MARY @ WHARF 1 SYDNEY THEATRE COMPANY

When the lights come up on The Testament of Mary the audience is confronted with a traditional Catholic scene, Mary surrounded by candles with lamb in arms. The steps leading to this very iconic image resemble an altar , which is stunning in an understated style, yet the foreground of the stage is roped off with velvet cord draping languidly between the bollards: it is the church as a museum piece, a quaint antiquity. Then the edifice crumbles as Mary swiftly jettisons the props that have become a part of her legacy, a legacy which playwright Colm Tóibín revises from the safe distance of the ‘collapsed’ Catholic. Continue reading THE TESTAMENT OF MARY @ WHARF 1 SYDNEY THEATRE COMPANY

WORKING CLASS BOY : THE EARLY LIFE OF JIMMY BARNES

Just finished reading WORKING CLASS BOY the first instalment of the story of James Dixon Swan, aka – Jimmy Barnes. As usual I am about six months behind the times, the book was published to much fanfare last year, ironically when Barnsey was doing publicity for the book at various venues in Sydney I was in Glasgow. In a pub, about ten minutes from Cowcaddens, the rough area that Barnes lived in until the age of five.  That’s just how life is sometimes, but back to the real story.

Barnes’ home life in both Glasgow and Elizabeth, SA (where he spent most of his youth) was shambolic, the family lived in poverty and violence was commonplace. The stories he tells make your hair stand on end, the two bottles of vodka a day that became a regular feature of his later life start making sense. His substance abuse was not the usual garden variety abuse of the ‘sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll crowd. Barnes was in need of more anesthetizing, to banish the memories of his troubled upbringing. Yet he tells it with such candour and humour that the reader is drawn in to the grey streets of Glasgow and South Australia willingly and we are happy to take the journey with him, and to some pretty dark places. Continue reading WORKING CLASS BOY : THE EARLY LIFE OF JIMMY BARNES

BRIAN WILSON’S STORY – IN HIS OWN WORDS

I AM BRIAN WILSON is a rather long and vague postscript to  Love and Mercy, the 2014 film that tracks the famous Beach Boy’s mental illness from its onset in the mid 60s to the 80s, whilst he was in the care of the famously negligent Dr Eugene Landy.

Wilson’s sometimes prolific drinking and drug-taking was replaced under Landy’s regime with a steady diet of prescription medication which led to chronic apathy borne out of surrendering his will to that of the controlling doctor. Wilson eventually escaped the treacherous relationship with Landy with the help of second wife Marilyn. The film Love and Mercy is really an ode to their love.

This memoir features long tedious passages about the minutiae of Wilson’s present day, a long with details of his inspirations that, undiluted and free of intoxicants, are trivial at best and extremely tedious at worst. Continue reading BRIAN WILSON’S STORY – IN HIS OWN WORDS

A RABBIT FOR KIM JONG-IL@ SBW STABLES THEATRE

Inset pic- Kit Brookman and Steve Rodgers. Featureed pic- Kaeng Chan and Kit Brookman in A RABBIT FOR KIM JONG-IL. Production photography by Brett Boardman
Inset pic- Kit Brookman and Steve Rodgers. Featureed pic- Kaeng Chan and Kit Brookman in A RABBIT FOR KIM JONG-IL. Production photography by Brett Boardman

Bizarrely, the Lee Lewis directed A RABBIT FOR KIM-JONG-IL was partly inspired by real life events, when a German rabbit breeder sold his over-sized rabbits to the North Korean government. What subsequently happened was a mystery, though in filling in the gaps in this fictional re-imagining, Kit Brookman has created a fantastic comedy.

The play opens when Johann Wertheim (Steve Rodgers) reluctantly accepts money from Chung (Kaeng Chan), acting on behalf of the North Korean government, in exchange for his prize rabbits. When Wertheim regrets his decision he inveigles his way into North Korea but his hosts are cagy about the promised breeding program and the rabbits’ fate looks grim. Add to this mix a double agent who tails Wertheim (Kate Box) and a karaoke loving North Korean Official (Mémé Thorne) and you have a very funny show.  Even Felix, the extraordinarily large rabbit gets a chance at karaoke, where he has a tone-deaf go. Continue reading A RABBIT FOR KIM JONG-IL@ SBW STABLES THEATRE

A FLOWER OF THE LIPS @ KING STREET THEATRE NEWTOWN

A FLOWER OF THE LIPS began in an informal manner with narrator Yiss Mill welcoming the audience, and shaking hands with people in the front row. Mill is the only bloke on stage, and he plays the author of the story about Bruno Aloi, his great grandfather. Bruno was a Calabrese whose work for the state as a prefect almost 100 years ago leads to his death. His tale of betrayal and murder is recounted by an all female cast.

The cast, with the exception of Marcella Franco (Bruno), all play multiple roles and the acting was fiery. Though the play’s stage directions direct that all adult males but one wear mustaches and hats, they wisely omitted this direction for the production. An all female cast in mustaches would have been far too cheesy looking to take the play seriously, and the best acting in the world would have struggled to overcome such accoutrements.    Continue reading A FLOWER OF THE LIPS @ KING STREET THEATRE NEWTOWN

It’s War @ The Factory Theatre

IT’S WAR is a very funny, if completely politically incorrect satire about two neighbouring couples whose friendship turns sour when one pair decide to do backyard extensions. Shane and his Vietnamese wife Ngoc Bich keep their plans under wraps until it is too late, and when Soula and Pandelis find out about the new verandah, they are furious.

IT’S WAR is about coping with neighbours from hell and shifting allegiances in a landscape that is constantly shifting. Initially both couples are united in friendship and their battles against Mona, a leopard-skin clad stirrer on the street who drops in to gossip and boss the others around.      Continue reading It’s War @ The Factory Theatre

(Extra) Ordinary (Un) Usual III – The Monologue Project @ The New Theatre

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The third installment in this series debuted on Wednesday night at the New Theatre, with a host of new skits.

Created and produced by Pete Malicki, who finds his material in the everyday and the not so everyday, and weaves these elements of life into absurd, hilarious snapshots. Stories range from a demented office worker’s daily grind, to the sexually confused victim of a scam, these innocuous scenarios provide hugely funny results when given the Malicki treatment.

Continue reading (Extra) Ordinary (Un) Usual III – The Monologue Project @ The New Theatre

Lesbian Vampires Of Sodom @ The Kings Cross Hotel

Looking for another hit in the Mardi Gras line up? Lesbian Vampires of Sodom ticks all the boxes: it is hilarious and outrageously camp with great performances by the entire cast. When two very competitive female vampires cross paths, the fur looks set to fly. Starting in ancient Sodom, the jokes abound in the initial act where a young virgin is being prepared as a sacrifice for the Succubus. The play then fast forwards to the 1920s, where the vampires are both actresses who are vying for film roles (among other things). Mouth watering young lovelies are constantly a source of both lust and hunger for the vampires, though mostly hunger, with screamingly funny special effects. Their journey through time ends in Las Vegas, where Madeleine Astarte (Eliza Reilly) belts out a mean Cher number. Continue reading Lesbian Vampires Of Sodom @ The Kings Cross Hotel

Amy Poehler: Yes Please

Comedian Amy Poehler has written a frank account of her life to date, including various random essays, advice and email correspondence. She spills on working on Saturday Night Live with stars like Britney Spears, her marriage and subsequent separation from Canadian actor and fellow comedian Will Arnett, to her obsession with her phone (she does actually put her children first, at the phone’s peril).

I am still surprised when a pretty funny and let’s face it a professionally funny person writes their life story and it comes off kind of boring. It is ironic that publishers clamour to get the rights to celebrity and actor’s life stories, yet in reality they can be a little on the dull side. This is the second autobiography that I struggled to finish in recent times (John Cleese’s ‘So Anyway’ was another one). Continue reading Amy Poehler: Yes Please