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