SAG Archive

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IT’S MY PARTY

The talented cast of IT’S MY PARTY led by Henri Szeps

Australian playwright Elizabeth Coleman’s 1993 play IT’S MY PARTY invites the audience into the world of the Patterson family at a major turning point in their lives. This play is yet another playwright’s portrayal of a dysfunctional family, though not quite on the same scale as the Addams family!

Family patriarch Ron Patterson (Henri Szeps) has brought his family together for an urgent meeting (this is the party that the play’s title refers to). Ron announces that in 111 minutes precisely he will be dead. He is aware that he has been an ineffectual father to his grown-up children, his two daughters Karen (Freya Pragt) and Debbie (Sharon Davis) and his son, Michael (Trent Baker). He is also regretful that he has been a difficult, selfish husband to his wife, Dawn (Robyn Arthur). In the little time that he has remaining, he wants to make amends, make peace with his loved ones.

Everything goes pear shaped for Ron as we hear the clock mercilessly tick down to Ron’s premature demise. It turns out to be a revelatory journey though unlike Eugene O’Neill’s gut wrenching masterpiece about the Tyrone family, Coleman’s take on family dysfunction is mainly played for laughs with some added moments of pathos.

Director Denis Moore guides the production well. Henri Szeps, as always, gives an assured comic performance in the lead role. Robyn Arthur plays his less than happy wife, Dawn. Much humour is made out of the rivalry between Ron’s daughters who have very contrasting personalities. In two fine performances, Sharon Davis plays the willful, independent Debbie with Freya Pragt playing the much conservative, dutiful Karen.

Trent Baker gives an affecting performance as their sweet natured brother Michael who has finally come to terms with his alternate sexuality and has the agonising task of coming out to his father at the worst possible time.

Coleman’s play owes more than a nod to the rich theatre of the absurd playwriting genre. The audience was in stitches in the play’s second half when Ted Wilkins from the funeral company (well played by Matt Furlani) arrives at the family home, expecting to take away Ron only to find him still walking around. Well…Ted had forgotten to turn back his clock for daylight savings time!

Shaun Gurton’s set, featuring a wallpaper photo of a suburban bungalow running across the set’s walls, along with a long dining room table and chairs, worked well.

Recommended, Christine Harris and HIT Productions production of IT’S MY PARTY opened at the Glen Street theatre, Belrose on Thursday 11th April and plays until Sunday April 21, 2013.

(c) David Kary

15th April, 2013

Tags: Sydney Stage Reviews- IT’S MY PARTY, Elizabeth Coleman, Christine Harris and HIT Productions, Henri Szeps, Robyn Arthur, Trent Baker, Sharon Davis, Freya Pragt, Matt Furlani, Denis Moore, Shaun Gurton, Sydney Arts Guide, David Kary

WARM BODIES

‘fresh zing into the zombie genre’, WARM BODIES

WARM BODIES (MA) puts fresh zing into the zombie genre with the funniest foray into flesh eating fiends since SHAUN OF THE DEAD.

Based on Isaac Marion’s novel of the same name, WARM BODIES is the latest crazy wackiness from screenwriter/director Jonathan Levine whose THE WACKNESS was a calling card to audiences to sit up and take notice.

Making the walking dead sexy is a stretch but Levine livens up the Lazarus shockers with a resurrection shuffle of Shakespearean themes, a kind of Romeo and Ghouliette, where the rigours of mortis are softened by love.

Nicholas Hoult plays R, a soulful stiffy who is captivated by Teresa Palmer’s Julie, who he holds captive in an attempt to steal her heart and save her brains from being devoured by brainless drones. As he spins old vinyl, memories of his life flash before him and his deathliness seems to drain from him.

These star crossed lovers make their life, rage against the dying of the life, taking up the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, and seek to overthrow piteous misadventure.

They are aided by M, a mordant Mercutio maybe, played with dead pan aplomb by Rob Corddry.

The course of their true love path is thwarted by Julie’s dad, a zealous zombie zapper with zero tolerance to the barbarian brain banqueters, played with a zestful purpose by John Malkovich.

There’s action and romance, humour and humanity, a whole lot of heart and high portion of brains, WARM BODIES is a picture with a pulse worth taking.

© Richard Cotter

10th April, 2013

Tags: Sydney Movie Reviews- WARM BODIES, Zombie movies, Sydney Arts Guide, Richard Cotter

WARM BODIES

‘fresh zing into the zombie genre’, WARM BODIES

This unconventional and goofy rom-com, starts with dead zombies finding humans on which to munch, the movie quickly evolves into a teen laugh-out-loud sweet comedy romance.

The tag line is tag line, “Who says romance is dead? Cold Body, Warm Heart”.

Able to absorb memories from the brains of his victims, teenage zombie R (Nicholas Hoult) finds himself overcome with affection for the girlfriend of one of his victims, Julie (Teresa Palmer), whom he rescues from imminent death at the hands of his cohorts.

Captain Grigio (John Malkovich), the leader of the human group and Julie’s father, refuses to accept R as anything but a monster, leaving R and Julie to set into motion a chain of events that will transform him, his fellow dead and maybe even the
whole lifeless world.

Recommended, WARM BODIES opens at cinemas today.

© Lynn Belvedere

11th April, 2013

Tags: Sydney Movie Reviews- WARM BODIES, Sydney Arts Guide, Lynn Belvedere

An unlikely romance results, but Captain Grigio (John Malkovich), the
leader of the human group and Julie’s father, refuses to accept R as
anything but a monster, leaving R and Julie to set into motion a chain
of events that will transform him, his fellow dead, and maybe even the
whole lifeless world.

Recommended, WARM BODIES opens at cinemas today.

© Lynn Belvedere

11th April, 2013

Tags: Sydney Movie Reviews- WARM BODIES, Sydney Arts Guide, Lynn Belvedere

ONE MAN, TWO GUVNORS

Owain Arthur is wondereful in the lead role. Pic Lisa Tomasetti

A popular feature of every Sydney Theatre Company main season program is a page devoted to listing different experiences that are along the same lines as the experience the show is about to give you….

This is the list compiled for one of their current shows, ONE MAN, TWO GUVNORS:- Listen to Buddy Holly…The Quarrymen (John Lennon’s skiffle band that was precusor to the Beatles), Read Graham Greene’s BRIGHTON ROCK, Watch Benny Hill… Are you being served?…Carry On Films…Your back! , Embrace confusion… cross-dressing…overtime, Wear three piece tweed suits…floral dresses…beehive hair-dos…your brother’s suit, Visit Brighton Pier in the 1960’s…

The choices all fit in with Richard Bean’s very colourful adaptation of Carlo Goldini’s classic 18th century farce A SERVANT OF TWO MASTERS the setting has been changed to the seaside resort of Brighton, England and the time is the hip, everything goes 1960’s. There’s a skiffle-like band that plays through the show during set changes….and the show has a rich vein of British knockabout physical comedy….

Essentially, what this National Theatre of Great Britain production does deliver is a very well produced and funny, feel good night at the theatre with a storyline that is easy to catch on to and follow.

The protagonist, the rather peculiar Francis Henshall, isn’t content just to serve one master, Roscoe/Rachel Crabbe. Henshall decides that he can keep two masters happy, hence he takes on the role of serving snooty, Stanley Stubbers. As Bob Dylan sang, ‘you’ve gotta serve somebody’, however serving two masters, and making sure that neither knows of the other’s presence, is very hard work and soon sees Henshall stretched well beyond his limits.

The show’s main attraction is the high comedy that arises from seeing Henshall face more and more difficult situations, and become increasingly flumoxed. You need a really good funny man to pull it off. Owain Arthur may not be Rowan Atkinson but God he is wonderful and has the audience in stitches for most of the show.

Arthur is not alone in entertaining the audience. Other stand-outs in a large, accomplished cast included Rosie Wyatt as Rachel Crabbe, Edward Bennett as Stanley Stubbers and the supremely funny Mark Jackson as Alfie.

The National Theatre of Great Britain production of ONE MAN, TWO GUVNORS by Richard Bean, adapted from Carlo Goldini’s classic 18th century farce and directed by Nicholas Hytner, opened at the Sydney Theatre, 22 Hickson Road, Walsh Bay on Tuesday 2nd April and runs until Saturday 11th May, 2013.

(c) David Kary

7th April, 2013

Tags: Sydney Stage Reviews- ONE MAN, TWO GUVNORS, National Theatre of Great Britain, Owain Arthur, Sydney Arts Guide, David Kary

GIRL IN TAN BOOTS

Linden Wilkinson and Francisca Savage. Pic Patrick Boland

They are there every day, at the end of the day, standing outside the turnstiles to the railway stations, cheerfully handing out copies of the free, afternoon paper, the mX. A fairly thankless job, especially with many workers, weary after their long work day, dismissively and gruffly walking past them, as if they were invisible. Still they get their fair number of takers, the paper’s free and what the heck, it’s something to read on the train home.

The mX is great for skim reads with plenty of light news and strange stories from around the world. There’s also a small section that has become a hit with commuters…it’s called, ‘Here’s Looking At You’.

This quirky section publishes readers ‘grab’ messages to fellow travelers to whom they are attracted to, in the hope that they will will result in a date, or at the least to simply anonymously compliment the apple of their eye.

Here’s an example, cutely titled PINS AND NEEDLES:-

‘To the girl on the Lilydale train on Thursday with the shoebox and knitting needles. I never thought knitting could be so hot’.

The messages are short, sharp and fun. They also represent the starting point, the genesis, for Phillip Parsons Young Playwright’s Award winner, Tahli Corin’s latest creation, GIRL IN TAN BOOTS.

The play’s title comes from the following message:-

‘Tan Boots: To the girl in tan boots who always gets on at St Leonards, you are my angel of the morning. My daily fix of heaven. Man in grey suit’.

Corin’s play starts in the middle of things with Detective Carapetis investigating the disappearance of a woman in her early thirties and wearing tan boots, Hannah, from her local railway station after telling her female flatmates that she was going to meet up with Grey Suit.

Hannah has been declared a missing person, there is even a police mannequin made of her, and Hannah’s mother and flatmates and girlfriends are fearful that foul play has taken place…

No plot spoilers here! Corin’s piece is one of those plays with many twists and turns, and the elements of surprise are one of its strongest suits.

On to the Verdict… I’m a big fan. The play’s original, tight, multi-layered, entertaining, thought provoking… There’s a lot of potential here. I hope that it has legs!

Susanna Dowling gives the play a strong premiere production. The cast were great with Linden Wilkinson as Detective Carapetis, Odile LeClezio as Hannah’s mum, and Hannah’s girlfriend and flatmates played by Madeline Jones, Zindzi Okenyo, Francesca Savige and Sara Zwangobani.

Ekren Mulayin’s evocative soundscape fits the play perfectly.

A Collide and Griffin Independent co-production, Tahli Corin’s GIRL IN TAN BOOTS opened at the SBW Stables Theatre, 10 Nimrod Street, Kings Cross on Monday 1st April and runs until Saturday 20th April, 2013.

© David Kary

6th April, 2013

Tags: Sydney Stage Reviews- GIRL IN TAN BOOTS, mX, Collide, Griffin Independent, World Premiere, Tahli Corin, Susanna Dowling, Olile Leclezio, Madeline Jones, Zindzi Okenyo, Francesca Savige, Linden Wilkinson, Sara Zwangobani, Ekren Mulayin, Patrick Boland, Sydney Arts Guide, David Kary

TRAPPED IN MYKONOS

Dimity Raftos, Anthony Hunt and Paul Armstrong. Pic Gez Xavier Mansfield

A striking and colourful set by Tom Bannerman conjures a Greek tavern on the hedonistic holiday resort of Mykonos.

Its owner, Agamemnon, modeled on the recently disgraced mayor of Mykonos, is depicted as a mammon-driven despot confined to a mechanised chair that is set in almost perpetual motion, like some manic pinball machine, cannoning and colliding, a loose cannon draped in Greek flag, symbolic of patriotism being the last refuge of a scoundrel.

A portrait of Angela Merkel depicting Artemis as our lady of perpetual succour, (Artemis was, among other Olympus portfolios, Greek goddess of virginity, so there’s a double whammy allusion or mixed mythological metaphor) instructs us that this modern adaptation of Euripides’ IPHIGENIA AT AULIS is all about the current financial crisis that is the curse of Greece and Cyprus.

Profligate greed and injured male pride is at the heart of the story where a Greek fleet are rendered impotent, routing a planned reclamation of Helen from her Troy boy, Paris. Trouble is that the production is also beset of the doldrums, becalmed when it should be storming.

The Greek chorus features a couple of T-topped, buxom barflies, Menelaus is reduced to an emasculated beach bum, and Achilles an air cav commando in search of a surf break. Iphigenia is presented as a doe-eyed ingénue, presaging her transformation into a deer on the sacrificial altar.

Designer turned director Antoinette Barbouttis opts for the declamatory style of classic Greek theatre, but does not drill her thesps in the discipline of stillness, while the syntax of Nicole Colantoni’s adaptation impedes clarity of oration.

The use of SHE’S LIKE THE WIND, the power ballad from DIRTY DANCING, as the play’s parting music cue is bizarre, a cute counterpoint of dramatic irony, perhaps…

An interesting concept, TRAPPED IN MYKONOS could be considered a case of Orestes development. To quote Cassius, “It’s all Greek to me.”

Gravas Productions presentation of TRAPPED IN MYKONOS, adapted by Nicole Colantoni from Euripides’ IPHIGENIA AT AULIS opened at the downstairs Reginald Theatre, Seymour Centre on Thursday 4th April and runs until Saturday 13th April, 2013.

Tags: Sydney Stage Reviews- TRAPPED IN MYKONOS, Gravas Productions, Tom Bannerman, Antoinette Barbouttis, Nicole Colantoni, Sydney Arts Guide, Richard Cotter

TRANCE

James McAvoy plays the lead in TRANCE

Simon (James McAvoy), a fine art auctioneer, teams up with a criminal gang to steal a work of art worth millions of dollars, but after suffering a blow to the head during the heist he wakes to discover that he has no memory of where he has hidden the painting. When physical threats and torture fail to produce answers, the gang’s leader Franck (Vincent Cassel) hires hypnotherapist Elizabeth Lamb (Rosario Dawson) to delve into the darkest recesses of Simon’s psyche.

As Lamb digs deeper into his broken subconscious, the stakes become much higher and the boundaries between desire, reality and hypnotic suggestion begin to blur and disappear.

TRANCE is SIDE EFFECTS out of SPELLBOUND as deception and the doors of perception fly open and shut like some freaky Freudian farce as director Danny Boyle uses an hypnotic tone to trance-port on a hundred minute thrill ride of huh? Wow! And what the ….
Interest never wanes especially when Rosario Dawson waxes Brazilian and Vincent Cassel excels in urbane menace as if auditioning to play the next suave nemesis to James Bond.

Shot by Anthony Dod Mantle who won the Oscar for Boyle’s SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE, TRANCE has a translucent look that is quite literally mesmerising and the use of a trance like beat to the music adds to the complete audio viz experience.

A trip to the cinema is well worth a bit of TRANCE spotting.

© Richard Cotter

4th April, 2013

Tags: Sydney Movie Reviews-TRANCE, Danny Boyle, James McAvoy, Vincent Cassel, Rosario Dawson, Anthony Dod Mantle, Sydney Arts Guide, Richard Cotter

RUST AND BONE

Matthias Schoenoerts and Marion Cotillard in RUST AND BONE

In RUST AND BONE (MA15+), Marion Cotillard plays Stephanie, a killer whale trainer, who suffers a horrific catastrophic accident. With her world turned upside down, she develops an unlikely bond with Ali (Matthias Schoenoerts), a tough, proud man who offers her hope.

This is a moving story of hope being found in two fractured lives. The movie breaks all taught rules for writing screenplays, defying categorization and leaves audiences feeling both haunted and inspired. A bonus, is the unexpected ending, an ending most unusual for a French film.

Summing up, this is a masterful film from acclaimed director Jacques Audiard who has previously made the excellent films, A PROPHET and THE BEAT THAT MY HEART SKIPPED.

© Lynne Belverdere

3rd April, 2013

LIGHT AND GOLD- THE MUSIC OF ERIC WHITACRE

Grammy Award winner Eric Whitacre

Celebrated Grammy award winning American conductor/composer Eric Whitacre, known globally on YouTube
through his virtual choir, made his conducting debut of his own music on Saturday night with the Sydney Philharmonia Symphony Chorus and the youth choir VOX, accompanied by the Synergy Percussion and the Acacia Quartet along with Christopher Cartner on piano and organ.

LIGHT AND GOLD- THE MUSIC OF ERIC WHITACRE proved to be a special night at the Concert Hall. Whitacre was a warm host and he gently introduced each piece, providing some background, in what turned out to be a very strong program.

Whitacre’s love of poetry and his wonderful musical arrangements of poems by E E Cummings, Octavia Paz, Greek poet Pindar, Israeli poetess Hila Plitmann (now his wife), and Charles Anthony Silvestri were highlights.

The piece HIGHER, FASTER, STRONGER, from the Olympic motto- Citrius, Altius, Fortius- composed for the 2012 BBC Proms came across strongly.

The evening ended on a high note with three wonderful pieces- a lovely rendition of COME, SWEET DEATH- music by Bach, conceived by Edwin London-, CLOUDBURST- a piece composed around an extraordinary desert storm that took place, and which featured the very effective technique of the entire Choir snapping their fingers together to simulate the sound of falling rain, and SLEEP, with the music originally set to Robert Frost’s meditative, end of life poem, STOPPING BY WOODS ON A SNOWY EVENING.

The program will be repeated next Friday at the St Patrick’s Cathedral, Parrammatta, this time however conducted by Elizabeth Scott and Anthony Pasquill. This represents the Sydney Philharmonia Choir’s first ever Western Sydney subscription season.

There will be a further Eric Whitacre Concert to be performed in Melbourne on Saturday 13th April at the Robert Blackwood Hall, Monash University, Wellington Road, Clayton.

To explore his Whitacre’s music more visit his official website on http://ericwhitacre.com. And there’s the link to his extraordinary Virtual Choir work- http://www.youtube.com/EricWhitacresVrtlChr.

(c) David Kary

1 April, 2013

Tags: Sydney Stage Reviews- LIGHT AND GOLD- THE MUSIC OF ERIC WHITACRE, Concert Hall Sydney Opera House, Sydney Arts Guide, David Kary

FRANKENSTEIN

A new version of FRANKENSTEIN

The new adaption by Nick Dear of Mary Shelley’s novel FRNAKENSTEIN is not the traditional type of play one associates with the Ensemble Theatre.

In this adaptation the creature is very human like, and indeed, at the start as it comes to life one may wonder if one is attending a play or a physical dance event.

Nick Dear’s adaptation tells the story from the creature’s point of view as it searches for knowledge, an understanding of human relationships and love. Frankenstein is faced with prejudice, hatred and betrayal and much of this, and the associated violence, is presented in stylised form.

Lee Jones as Frankenstein gives an engrossing physical interpretation of deformity and Katie Fitchett as the female creature is the perfect foil in her statuesque beauty.

Andrew Henry is convincing as Victor Frankenstein, the man obsessed by his scientific experiments to create life and Katie Fitchett, who plays a second role as his fiancée, is the woman yearning to create life by natural means.

The other actors, Brain Meegan, Michael Rebetzke, Michael Ross and Olivia Stambouliah have dual or multiple roles which give the play a narrative tale as well as making philosophical comments on the meaning of humanity.

Mark Kilmurry, the director, effectively uses a giant circular curtain to create different scenes and often has simple props or stage effects to represent events.

A cello played by Heather Stratfold on stage adds significantly to the atmosphere.

This production moves from the large stage of the Playhouse at Opera House to the Ensemble on April 17. It will be interesting to see the differences in the production in the much more that more intimate venue where those in the front row are almost part of the play.

I, for one, was happy to be a least a few metres back from the creature!

It is good to see the Ensemble widening its range of plays this year.

I saw this production at a preview. FRANKENSTEIN runs at the Playhouse, Sydney Opera until Saturday 13th April. The production then moves to the Ensemble Theatre where it plays from Wednesday 17th April to Saturday 4th May. The show then tours nationally for three months starting in Canberra from May 7 and then touring to various venues through Victoria, Tasmania, Queensland and New South Wales, finishing in Wollongong on August 10, 2013.

© Maggy Franklin

30th March, 2013

Tags: Sydney Stage Reviews- FRANKENSTEIN, Mary Shelley, Nick Dear, Lee Jones, Katie Fitchett, Andrew Henry, Brian Meegan, Michael Rebetzke, Michael Ross, Olivia Stambouliah, Mark Kilmurry, Heather Stratfold, Sydney Arts Guide, Maggy Franklin

BOMBSHELLS

Sharon Millerchip as Zoe in BOMBSHELLS. Pic Steve Lunam

The breezy caricature of Sharon Millerchip, dressed in nightclub attire, swinging hands free from a barstool with long hair flowing seductively, that graces the front cover of the theatre program, is representative of the vibrancy of this wonderful performer.

Millerchip is an actress who is always up for a challenge, like playing multiple characters, and, in particular, playing women who live life on the edge. Last January she played three stressed out women in Neil Simon’s classic comedy, THE LAST OF THE RED HOT LOVERS; pushy Elaine, kooky Bobbi and depressive Jeanette.

In the Ensemble’s current revival of Joanna Murray-Smith’s six super sharp monologues which make up BOMBSHELLS, Millerchip doubles the load, playing six angst ridden women. She carries it off with panache.

In a whirlwind two hours Sharon morphs into suburban mum of three Merryl, abandoned wife and cactus aficionado Tiggy, teenage talent quest competitor Mary, anxious bride to be Theresa, bored widow and volunteer worker Winsome and sloshed cabaret singer Zoe. The only support she receives is from pianist Lindsay Partridge who unexpectedly appears in the final piece to accompany her character’s zany antics.

A note of caution, Sharon…don’t raise the bar too high. Remember what happened to our own Steve Hooker at the recent London Olympics. With a talent like yours, we don’t want you to start getting the yips. Brilliantly playing six very different females imploding on stage every night is achievement enough, and the well deserved ovations are proof positive of this.

Sandra Bates’ production of Joanna Murray-Smith’s BOMBSHELLS opened at the Ensemble Theatre on Wednesday 20th March and plays until Saturday April 13, 2013.

© David Kary

29th March, 2013

Tags: Sydney Stage Reviews- BOMBSHELLS, Joanna Murray-Smith, Sharon Millerchip, Ensemble Theatre, Sandra Bates, Steve Lunam, Sydney Arts Guide, David Kary

HYDE PARK ON THE HUDSON

Bill Murray plays the legendary American President, FDR

Seems like old FDR was a real JFK in the Lothario stakes…

In a kinder time when the press was not the pap pack it is now, Presidents were protected and their private peccadilloes were kept from the public.

HYDE PARK ON THE HUDSON (M) has Bill Murray playing Franklin Delano Roosevelt, a pants man president who didn’t let polio hamper his hanky panky. Legs rendered useless didn’t dent a robust libido to which wife Eleanor turned a blind eye. His liaisons stretched from secretaries to a cousin twice removed, Daisy.

Richard Nelson’s marvelous script delicately juxtaposes the public and the private, and the domestic and the epic. The sweep of great events and the persuasive power of great personalities vie for a hand at the tiller of history.

In June 1939, England was on the cusp of war with Germany, and desperately needed US support. It was to help gain this support that the King and Queen were sent to America, and it was to help them with this cause that Roosevelt invited them to Hyde Park, the president’s country residence. But much of America needed convincing; the mood of the country was to stay out of another European war.

Add to this an historical (and understandable) American reticence toward British royalty and all things royal, exacerbated by the recent royal abdication of Edward VIII forced by his wish to marry not only a divorced woman (Wallis Simpson) but also, “Heaven forbid,” as it was perceived by the Brits, “an American, of all things.” The inexperienced and accidental King George VI, or Bertie, needed to show America he admired our country and its people, and respected us as equals. That was his mission. And Franklin Roosevelt gave him just such an opportunity –by serving him a hot dog!

The two stories – the affair with Daisy and the weekend with the King and Queen – are at the centre of our tale. The two stories become intertwined, each commenting upon the other; a woman painfully learns the truth behind the world -famous image of her lover, while a king learns to hide his insecurity and project courage.

The supporting cast is exemplary -OLIVIA WILLIAMS stoically sturdy as Eleanor Roosevelt ELIZABETH MARVEL marvelous as Missy, of and on mistress and secretary, OLIVIA COLMAN as the suspicious Queen Elizabeth, SAMUEL WEST as Bertie, and LAURA LINNEY as Daisy.

© Richard Cotter

27th March, 2013

Tags: Sydney Movie Reviews- HYDE PARK ON THE HUDSON, Bill Murray, Richard Nelson, Olivia Williams, Elizabeth Marvel, Olivia Colman, Samuel West, Laura Linney, Sydney Arts Guide, Richard Cotter

RUST AND BONE

Marion Cotillard as Stephanie has a difficult journey in RUST AND BONE

Orcapedic – it’s when a killer whale takes your legs.

That’s what happens to Marion Cotillard’s character in RUST & BONE (MA) the latest pic from Jacques Audiard’s latest picture. She’s a beauty on a beast for which her leg became a feast, and spends the picture navigating the journey of coming to terms with dismemberment, looking to find meaning in a limbless limbo.

Based loosely on a couple of stories from Craig Davidson’s short story set of the same name, RUST & BONE combines her plucky marine park amputee with a mixed martial artist to deliver a tough love romance of sorts.

The punk pugilist is a pants man who likes to get his leg over even with the legless lady.

On the page, the collection of eight stories begins with pugilist, Eddie, educating us about the anatomy of the hand, how twenty-seven bones are embedded there, how all vertebrates share a similar set, how some primates got more – gorilla’s thirty-two. The director has taken up the image of the gorilla and imbued his film reincarnation, now called Ali, a brutish, knuckle dragging ape, who one could suspect had only learned to stand erect recently.

What’s happened to the physical phrasing, sinewy prose and muscular narrative? It’s been misconstrued to what might pass as nuance to a Neanderthal.

Nowhere near as good as the recent stage adaptation at the Stables, somehow the film version has accentuated the ugliness and yet cops out at the finale with a happy ending which sits like a great big steaming cow pat on an ice flow. Audiences will need to grow wings to stay above the BS.

© Richard Cotter

27th March, 2013

Tags: Sydney Movie Reviews- RUST AND BONE, Sydney Arts Guide, Richard Cotter

SYDNEY INTERACTIVE THEATRE AT THE ROCKS

Theatre enthusiasts at the Rocks

Saturday afternoons, every half hour until 4:30pm, and at 2:00pm the
first of the small audience groups, begin from Circular Quay.

Based on a live theatre concept that has been highly successful in
London, New York, Hollywood, and now Sydney. Sydney Interactive
Theatre’s actual locations, are of course kept secret until you start
your journey with helpful plot clues, all about “The Messenger”. The
plot unfolds clue by clue, within the area of Circular Quay and The
Rocks.

© Lynn Belvedere

25th March, 2013

Tags: Sydney Stage Reviews- Sydney Interactive Theatre, The Rocks, Sydney Arts Guide, Lynn Belvedere

THE ADDAMS FAMILY

THE ADDAMS FAMILY. Pic Jeff Busby

Go on, join the dark side. Treat yourself. Fans of the cult TV show and original comics will love this.Kooky , bizarre with dark humour this is enchanting and thrilling.This musical version of THE ADDAMS FAMILY has an original story , inspired by the creations of American cartoonist Charles Samuel Addams and it’s possibly every father’s nightmare. Wednesday Addams,a dangerous young girl with a crossbow, is now grown up and has fallen in love with a sweet, smart young man from a respectable family ,Lucas Beineke. If that doesn’t cause problems enough, she confides in her father and begs him not to tell her mother.All Wednesday wants is ‘one normal night’ of a family dinner to impress Lucas’ parents.

Now, Gomez Addams is ‘trapped’ and must do something he’s never done before – keep a secret from his beloved wife, Morticia. Everything will change for the whole family on the fateful night they host a seemingly disastrous dinner for Wednesday’s “normal” boyfriend and his parents.Can Gomez salvage his marriage ? . There is also a secondary plotline with Uncle Fester’s love for the moon.

We follow Uncle Fester as narrator as he plots to help Wednesday and with the participation of the ghostly ancestors – will love conquer all ? Wittily scripted with some great musical injokes and visual sightgags this show in fact emphasises family love, fidelity and devotion .

The splendid cast under the excellent direction of Jerry Zaks have a glorious time. There are lavish ,spectacular sets sets ranging from huge cemeteries to glorious city skylines as well as plush interiors and dark dungeonsThe costumes are fabulous as are the lighting and special effects . ( eg the giant chameleon , the live curtain tassel etc ) .

Gomez Addams , strange yet loving husband and father, is wittily played by John Waters who has a whale of a time.He steals the show with among other numbers ‘Trapped’ in Act1 , smouldering delightfully as the man caught between promises to his wife and his daughter, and is splendid in Act 2 with the ‘Tango de Amour ‘ in his desperate attempt to win back Morticia .

Chloe Dallimore as Morticia is superb. A pale, tall, thin elegant Beardsley brushtroke she is magnificent. And boy does she have LEGS . ‘Ay carumba !’ as Gomez might say. She is darkly strange , a caring mother and loving wife, with a glorious cascade of long , dark hair. And she is a terrific dancer. She has at least two huge show stopper numbers , especially in Act2 – ‘Just Around the Corner’ and ‘ Tango de Amour’ . The Tango in particular literally stops the show. ( If the Tango was any hotter it would have to be censored !.) Totally magnificent and enthralling .

Young Wednesday is splendidly played by Teagan Wouters.She is caught between her unexpected love for Lucas and her love for her bizarre family .

Lucas her boyfriend was marvellously played by Tim Maddren . His parents , Mal and Alice Beinke are given great performances by Tony Harvey and Katrina Retallick. Their lives are all changed – as it turns out for the good – by Pugsley’s interference at the dinner party. Retallick in Act1 has a showstopper Sondheim like part in ‘Waiting’ that brings the house down.

Russell Dystra as Uncle Fester is fabulous. There is a show stopping number for him in Act 2 ( ‘The Moon and Me ‘ ) that has some joyous, childlike floating Phillipe Genty like effects – and some wonderful umbrella manipulation by the ladies chorus. (There are also charming references to the Georges Melies classic silent movie.)The chorus of ghostly ancestors Fester raises from their graves – ranging from Elizabethan , to dead WW1 soldiers and including Ballets Russes inspired outfits – was fabulous.They help Fester in his plot to aid Wednesday and Lucas.Sergio Trujillo’s choreography is sharp and snappy , excellent ‘Big Broadway Musical ‘ in style with some possible Murphy and Bourne influences.( Look out for the arrow scene ).The orchestra conducted by Luke Hunter sparkles.

Pugsley , who just wants things to remain as they are and is terrified of losing Wednesday’s affection, is terrifically played by Liam Faulkner – Dimond .Meredith O’Reilly as Grandma has great fun being delightfully bizarre and naughty. Ben Hudson as Lurch is towering and imposing and is very effective (and surprising ! ) in the finale.

Sinfully bizarre, wickedly delightful , this is darkly ultra cool and the audience absolutely loved it .

Running time 2 hrs 30 mins (approx) including one interval.

THE ADDAMS FAMILY opened at the Capitol Theatre on Saturday 24th March and a long season is anticipated.

© Lynne Lancaster

24th March, 2013

Tags: Sydney Stage Reviews- THE ADDAMS FAMILY, Sydney Arts Guide, Lynne Lancaster

SYDNEY INDEPENDENT OPERA GALA CONCERT

Regina Daniel and Maia Andrews are magic together

From time to time the unacceptable question of opera’s relevance to modern society and even to the Australian musical scene is murmured. Such comment was sung down with incredible force and style during The Independent Opera’s 2013 Gala Concert. Four artists delighted a diverse audience with a variety of arias, duets and ensemble extracts.

The Sydney Independent Opera Orchestra supported the voices well. Its playing of three overtures with stable direction Steven Stanke continued the night’s display of the intense communicative power of operatic music.

Coloratura soprano Regina Daniel, soprano Maia Andrews, tenor Geoff Knight and baritone Randall Stewart illustrated the dramatic focus, interaction and levels of control required to deliver operatic moments from well-known works by Mozart, Verdi, Rossini, Bizet and Johann Strauss.

These skilful subtleties were evident in a sublime and charmingly cheeky ‘La ci darem il mano from Mozart’s Don Giovanni when portrayed by Regina and Randall. Another Mozartean gem was the beautifully blended ‘Soave sia il vento’ from Cosi fan tutte.

Fireworks on many levels ensued when Geoff Knight delivered ‘La vita è inferno’ from Verdi’s La forza del destino. His is a significant voice coupled with an unwavering stage presence. Maia Andrews’ performance of ‘Ruhe sanft mein holdes leben’ from Mozart’s Zaide was floated with controlled beauty of tone. She will make a fine contribution as Zerlina in the Sydney Independent Opera’s Don Giovanni this November.

Rousing versions of favourites from Bizet’s Carmen added to the list of the concert’s crowd pleasers. An encore of ‘Do you hear the People Sing’ from Les Misérables was also a popular way to end the expressive programme.

The four soloists, mostly trained in Australia and now all performing here as well as with the Sydney Independent Opera, pleased the listeners repeatedly. There was much amour, amore and liebe in the room on this night. This was not just for the musicians and vocalists, but for opera itself.

Sydney Independent Opera’s annual Gala Concert was performed at the Independent Theatre, 269 Miller Street, North Sydney on Friday 22nd March. 2013.

© Paul Nolan

25th March, 2013

Tags: Sydney Stage Reviews- SYDNEY INDEPENDENT OPERA GALA CONCERT, Independent Theatre North Sydney, Sydney Arts Guide, Paul Nolan

7 LAST WORDS

The Sydney Chamber Choir

From the first notes to the final susurrations of the orchestra, this was a wonderful performance.

The choir displayed the expertise and discipline for which it is known and, despite the heat, the orchestra were an integral part of the pieces in which it participated.

The opening item, ‘Is it nothing to you?’ by Ouseley was notable for its crisp, clear finish and beautiful articulation – I could actually follow the text from listening to the singers! This was followed by the harmonically beautiful ‘Caliganaverunt oculi mei’ by Victoria and the moving ‘Vide homo by di Lasso’.

The Australian premiere of James MacMillan’s ‘Tenebrae factae sunt’ was a tour de force. Again, the excellent diction of the choir was appreciated as it enabled a full enjoyment of this complex piece. The reverberating finale was, as described in the program notes – “a roar of agony”, which reached into one’s heart.

The composer himself was present for the world premiere of ‘Nasce la gioia mia’. This is an adaptation developed for the Sydney Chamber Choir from an earlier work Missa Solis – Requiem for Eli written after the death of the composer’s son. It was a change to hear a treatment of grief and immortality that was not liturgical in origin and yet fitted with the liturgical works of the program, which were drawn from the Holy Week services. The intensely personal nature of the particular grief that was behind this work was apparent and added to its impact.

The last item was Heinrich Schulz’s ‘7 Last Words’. The integration of the choir and orchestra in this piece displayed the skills and expertise of both singers and players, including a promising countertenor in Chris Hopkins. Some highlights from the wonderful string playing included the violas and their notes of grief, in the Woman, behold thy son! … Behold, thy mother! movement, and the wonderful denouement of the last movement, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit, when the strings alone finish the work. The ‘ethereal’ singers, Megan Cronin and Liane Papantoiniou, also deserve a mention, not least because singers in that range seem rare these days.

Special mention must be made the of excellent program notes, which revealed a depth of scholarship that certainly enriched my enjoyment of the concert.

The concert, ‘Seven Last Words’ with the Sydney Chamber Choir and the Sydney Camerata Chamber Orchestra, was performed at the Great Hall, Sydney University on the afternoon of Sunday 24th March 2013.

© Toni Adams

25th March, 2013

Tags: Sydney Stage Reviews-SEVEN LAST WORDS, Sydney Chamber Choir, Sydney Camerata Chamber Orchestra, Great Hall Sydney University, Sydney Arts Guide, Toni Adams

SHORT AND SWEET 2013- AWARDS

Best actress Lucy Gransbury with Festival Director Mark Cleary

Best Script – Simon Godfrey for THE FOX AND THE HUNTER

Best Production – PEOPLE STRINGS

Best Director – James Hartley for THE FOX AND THE HUNTER

Best Actress – Lucy Gransbury for DRAGOSTEA MEA

Best Actor – Tom Green for THE FOX AND THE HUNTER

Best New Talent – Mitchell Fitzpatrick for THE COFFEE TABLE

People’s Choice Winner- THE COFFEE TABLE

Overall Wildcards Winner- WEEING ON A STICK

Tags: Sydney Stage News- SHORT AND SWEET 2012 AWARDS, Seymour Centre Sydney, Simon Godfrey, THE FOX AND THE HUNTER, PEOPLE STRINGS, James Hartley, Lucy Gransbury, Tom Green, Mitchell Fitzpatrick. THE COFFEE TABLE, WEEING ON A STICK

THE TAP PACK

THE TAP PACK hits the mark

Fred Astaire reportedly said:- “Do it big, do it right and do it with style.” He also said: “I just put my feet in the air and move them around.” The guys last night, the Tap Pack, were guilty on both counts.

The dancing was terrific, the banter was, in the main, was very good. And any quips that were a little corny were in the style of the Rat Pack that the show was not a tribute to!

There were slight standout turns from Jesse Rasmussen, Dion Bilios and Thomas J Egan but you got the feeling that any one of the five could have ‘handled’ (“I got this.”) any of the routines. The solo songs from the other two performers also stopped the show.
My only criticism was that the early harmonies could have used drilling or perhaps a little vocal coaching and that the band needed to ‘go for it’ a little more in their number. I also thought the show could have gone longer with perhaps a slightly less abrupt denouement and finale but that’s surely an endorsement of the quality of the entertainment all round.

I was also surprised at the difference in the cast when they finally came out into the foyer. My impression was of a larger group which speaks volumes for their stage presence and filling the space!

Well done. This show deserved a longer run!

THE TAP PACK is only playing for 3 performances, two performances yesterday and a final performance tonight at at 7.30pm at the Parramatta Riverside.

© Allan Chapple

23rd March, 2013

Tags: Sydney Stage Reviews- THE TAP PACK, Sydney Arts Guide, Allan Chapple

THE CREDEAUX CANVAS

The talented CREDEAUX CANVAS team. Pic Craig O’Regan

The CREDEAUX CANVAS, written by Keith Bunan, is a powerful study of relationships and how these are radically and permanently changed by decisions the characters make.

Three young flatmates are all searching for a different elusive dream. Jamie, played by Richard Cornally, has been disposed by his father and wants desperately to get ahead in business. Amelia, played by Kitty Hopwood, a singer is seeking that gig that will launch her into stardom. Winston, played by Alex Shore, is a talented and hopeful artist who is immersed in his art to the exclusion of personal relationships.

Jamie comes up with an idea to solve their problems by forging a masterpiece. With the plan however comes deceit and the destruction of their relationships. The first half of the play sets up the story and we come to understand the characters and their relationships. The second half explores the consequences of their decisions and where their futures take them.

Alex, around whom the play pivots, powerfully portrays the man concealing his emotions beneath a veneer of aloofness. Kitty demonstrates with great feeling the woman lost in uncertainly and love who seeks a genuine soul mate. Richard plays with great enthusiasm the hurt but optimistic youth who is ultimately the victim of his own plan. The forth character, Jennie, an art collector and the object of the plan, is played with stylish experience by Tess Anderson Rose.

Richard and Kitty are founding members of the relatively new theatre group Sure Foot Productions. This is a play with an interesting story and strong characterisation which develops throughout the play. There is good technical support by Tom Bannerman as set design, Larry Kelly lighting and Tom Massey as stage manager.

THE CREDEAUX CANVAS plays at the Tap Gallery to 6th April. Recommended viewing.

© Maggy Franklin

23rd March, 2013

Tags: Sydney Stage Reviews- THE CREDEAUUX CANVAS, Keith Bunan, Sydney Arts Guide, Maggy Franklin

THE CREDEAUX CANVAS

The talented CREDEAUX CANVAS team. Pic Craig O’Regan

THE CREDEAUX CANVAS, written by Keith Bunin and directed by Byron Kaye, is a funny and entertaining play centred around three young people dwelling on the creative fringes of art and music. The Tap Gallery, in Palmer Street, Darlinghurst, is the ideal place for this production, with its profusion of artworks on the walls and an old piano in the bookshop café.

The play opens with some very cool jazz and Winston, played by Alex Shore, wearing a Miles Davis t-shirt, in a bedroom with an easel and canvases leaning against the wall. We are in a very artistic and creative environment.

Amelia, played by Kitty Hopwood, enters the room in her dressing gown and examines the artworks. She is interrupted by the waking Winston, apologises, offers to leave but Winston and Amelia engage in awkward conversation.

Winston manages the awkward conversation with hesitancy and clumsiness, even though the dialogue seems too literary for conversation. Amelia is a little more confident and maintains the conversation. She explains she is the girlfriend of Winston’s flatmate and long term friend Jamie.

Jamie, played by Richard Cornally, arrives full of exuberance. He has been at the reading of his father’s will and had been left nothing. His father was a difficult person and he and Jamie had a poor relationship. Fortuitously, Jamie had a chance encounter with a wealthy client of his art dealing father. This encounter gave him the idea of getting Winston to paint a forgery of the obscure but growing in popularity French fauvist Jean-Paul Credeaux, and selling it to his father’s former client Tess Anderson Rose.

Jamie considers her a fool and fortunately a Credeaux fan. Credeaux had paid off gambling debts with nude paintings of prostitutes and many of these paintings had been lost as they were in the hands of atypical art collectors. It is not unheard of for a Credeaux to emerge from seedy source. Jamie’s plan includes getting Amelia to pose as a nude prostitute.

These convolutions set up the nude second act. Amelia reluctantly poses and Winston removes his clothes as he bizarrely thinks this will make Amelia more comfortable. Amelia opens up about her life, her thoughts and her relationship and soon the groundwork has been laid for a classic tragedy, and it artfully unfolds. Tess Anderson Rose, played by Jennie Dibley, turns out not to be as utterly foolish as Jamie thinks she is and her insights lead to calamitous unravelling.

Some interesting themes are explored. There is a discussion about how long to persist with your art before accepting that situations and circumstance will take you in another direction. Creative passion should not be destroyed in trying to eke out a living through creativity nor should you compromise if it is what you are driven to do so.

There is lots of humorous dialogue and wry observations in Keith Bunin’s play. The story and performances are strong. Tom Bannerman’s set design and Larry Kelly’s lighting is simple and apt. Recommended, this production, by Sure Foot Productions opened at the Tap Gallery, 178 Palmer Street, Darlinghurst opened on Thursday 21st March and plays until Saturday 6th April, 2013.

© Mark Pigott

23rd March, 2013

Tags: Sydney Stage Reviews- THE CREDEAUX CANVAS, Keith Bunin, Byron Kaye, Alex Shore, Tap Gallery Darlinghurst, Kitty Hopwood, Richard Cornally, Jennie Dibley, Tom Bannerman, Larry Kelly, Craig O’Regan, Sydney Arts Guide, Mark Pigott

SHOUT!

Luke Losely as JO’K surrounded by fans. Pic Andre Moonen

Miranda Musical Society sends an energetic Australian shout out to all lovers of the jukebox musical genre as it explores ‘The Legend of the Wild One’, Johnny O’Keefe. The challenges of this style with regard to historical and musical recreation are well handled. This is a production which flows extremely well from scene to scene, whether it be small vignette or major song and dance showstopper.

A consistently high standard of enthusiasm is maintained by the versatile and well-drilled ensemble cast. They are fine support for the characters of Johnny with love interest Marianne, the O’Keefe family and the promoter Lee Gordon. Choreographer Kira Nelson has added a very exciting and successful dimension to this show.

Principal parts in the story are well characterised. Erin Bruce’s German girlfriend to the rocker, Marianne, is acted with greatly controlled range and some delicious singing. Her version of ‘Crazy’ in Act Two is especially poignant.

Jonathan Acosta presents a believable picture of U.S promoter Lee Gordon, interacting comfortably with other principals and members of the ensemble. Luke Loseby takes us on a lively physical and vocal journey. He explores the references to the fledgling local rock n roll industry well.

There were some opening night moments in Act One for Johnny and ensemble which could have benefitted from a stronger and not so pitchy vocal delivery. This would have ensured a firmer beginning to the notion of the revolutionary ‘wild’ one born with super confidence. A great momentum however is created by concise direction in Act Two and numbers with Johnny with his fans are joyous.

This is a brightly costumed musical, with a set incorporating typical Australian materials and images. It is a fine example of the jukebox musical style, and you will enjoy the highs and lows of the legendary Australian story as told with lots of heart by this cast.

SHOUT! THE LEGEND OF THE WILD ONE opened at the Sutherland Entertainment Centre , 30 Eton Street, Sutherland on Wednesday 20th March and plays until Sunday 24th March, 2013.

© Paul Nolan

22nd March, 2013

Tags: Sydney Stage Reviews- SHOUT!, Johnny O’Keefe, Miranda Musical Society, Sydney Arts Guide, Paul Nolan

WAR HORSE

Albert (Cody Fenn) with Joey in WARHORSE

The magnificent play, WAR HORSE, takes us along on a mesmerising journey of compassion, grief, love and cruelty.

The 32 scenes which structure the play begin in August 1912, in Devon, England and travel through Calais, France in 1915, the Somme valley in 1916 and finish back in Devon in November 1918. It is not a play about war, but about survival.

The protagonist, Joey, is not only a horse, but a puppet, which must be seen and experienced on stage to realise its full impact. Three puppeteers operate Joey, (and the other horses) who becomes so life-like, that you forget the puppeteers are there. Joey’s head, in particular, expresses his shyness, fear, pride and joy through endearing, piercing eyes.

Created by South Africa’s Handspring Puppet Company (with Basil Jones and Adrian Kohler), the horses are strong enough for men to ride and “bring breathing, galloping, charging horses to life on stage. They traverse the stage, their flanks, hides and sinews built of steel, leather and aircraft cables”. The movement and horse choreography has been brilliantly created by Toby Sedgwick.

Joey is the horse of a boy named Albert, played with great warmth and humour by Cody Fenn. Much to Albert’s dismay, his father sells Joey to the cavalry at the outbreak of World War 1 and he is shipped to France. Albert begins a quest to reunite with Joey, taking him to the battlefields of France.

The set, designed by Rae Smith, is clever, elegant and sparse. The actors hold wooden railings to form horse-yards and an ocean liner, whilst the above graphics and video (Leo Warner and Mark Grimmer) represent the land through which the horses gallop and the explosions of war. Wonderful English ballads are sung throughout the play, accompanied by piano accordion.

The play defies clichés about war, concentrating on relationships that are formed under such bleak circumstances.

The vulnerability prevalent in animals, is the centre of this emotional tug of war.

WAR HORSE is definitely not to be missed. It runs at the Lyric Theatre, Star City, Sydney, until Sunday 12th May, 2013.

© Bronwyn Fullerton

22nd March, 2013

Tags: Sydney Stage Reviews- WAR HORSE, Lyric Theatre Star City, Sydney Arts Guide, Bronwyn Fullerton