Theatre

ROSE RIOT: SPORT FOR JOVE’S IMMERSIVE, AMBITIOUS SHAKESPEARE. GIVEAWAY

Eloise Winestock

This summer Sport for Jove celebrates ten incredible years of theatre-making, ten summers of thrilling and surprising outdoor theatre, with their  most immersive and ambitious season yet: SHAKESPEARE’S ROSE RIOT.

ROSE RIOT consists of two distinct but linked productions.  THE HOLLOW CROWN (Richard II, Henry IV, Henry V) and THE WARS OF THE ROSES (Henry VI, Richard III).  Audiences can enjoy either show as a standalone production or experience full the cycle by seeing both. Continue reading ROSE RIOT: SPORT FOR JOVE’S IMMERSIVE, AMBITIOUS SHAKESPEARE. GIVEAWAY

THE WHARF REVUE @ ROSLYN PACKER THEATRE

It’s great to have the Wharf Revue team back again at this time a much larger venue, the Roslyn Packer Theatre, as a result of the current refurbishment taking place at the Wharf complex

The jokes kept coming as did most of our favourite characters. Malcolm Turnbull and the coup, with all the main players portrayed, was the first political skit.  Turnbull saying, ‘Should  I take the Lodge. You mean downsize!’

There was a skit with allusions to ‘Stomp’ about the way plastic has taken over our lives.

Our premier Gladys Berejiklian got her own skit which could have been a little tougher!

The Harvey Norman stores received a serve with their absolutely no interest campaigns-don’t miss this opportunity campaigns!

Barnaby Joyce made an appearance singing a country and western song saying he doesn’t do private interviews for free….

Drew Forsythe came on as a neatly coiffured Pauline Hanson with a bright pink jacket  promoting her book ‘Pauline Hanson In Her Own Words’’. Forsythe had the audience in stitches as she addressed her concerns about Muslims conjugating everywhere, as well as her sideswipe at David Oldfield- ‘he is a much bigger fraud than I am!’

The Greens got a look in with a manic Sarah Hanson-Young making an appearance with the inimitable Bob Brown  saying the Greens leader Richard Di Natale looks like a Wiggle!

Jonathan Biggins turn as former Prime Minister Paul Keating was a big highlight and again had the audience in stitches. Plenty of razor sharp observations followed. ‘Australians don’t know what a real leader looks like any more…You shouldn’t say Scott Morrison and leader in the same sentence.’ ‘Tony Abbott is the only man in history to bring down four governments, including the one he led!’ ‘Bill Shorten is as popular as  diarrhoea’.

After this, it wasn’t long before Biggins came back, transformed into President Donald Trump. There was byplay about Trump’s sacking of his national security advisors. Trump’s obsession with Twitter was well portrayed. Drew Forsythe came on stage and joined him in various guises playing sparring partners, Silvio Berlusconi, Vladimir Putin and even the Queen. There was a bit of serious satire thrown in with the Queen all about ruling with dignity whilst Trump was all about ego and roughshod leadership..

There was even some byplay between the Queen and Prince Philip thrown in with an aside  by the Queen about her husband (off-stage) ‘I’ve been trying to balance his medications for fifty years now’ which brought laughter.

These were just some of the highlights from this year’s Wharf Revue, an annual treat on the Sydney theatre scene. It was sad that Phil Scott is no longer part of the team. His absence was felt but the Revue team is still going strong. Biggins and Forsythe were in great form, their impersonations were spot on, the makeup, wigs and costumes were all good, and the pacing was excellent. They were supported by a trio of fine performers, Douglas Hansell, Andrew Worboys and Rachael Beck who helped with portraying other characters as well as contributing some flashy show/cabaret numbers.

The clowns are in good form. Try and catch the show if you can. The Wharf Revue is playing at the Roslyn Packer Theatre until 15 December 2018.

 

ALL MY SLEEP AND WAKING. AN INTERVIEW WITH THE PLAYWRIGHT.

Mary Rachel Brown

ALL MY SLEEP AND WAKING is playwright Mary Rachel Brown’s deeply moving look at the knot of family. A story of how the ties that bind us can just as easily undo us. Unspoken rules and rusted on habits undergo a tectonic shift, as a family attempt to understand the truth of who they are to each other.

Brown has revisited and rewritten the play.   We had a chance to speak with her before Apocalypse Theatre Company opens the newly reworked  play at the end of November.

SAG:        It’s so nice to speak with you again.
MARY:   Thanks for taking the time to speak with me about the show.

SAG:         I love speaking to playwrights, it’s just amazing how you do what you do.
MARY:      Well, I have to say the process isn’t so amazing. I think I’m a lot slower than a lot of writers but we all get there in our own way. Continue reading ALL MY SLEEP AND WAKING. AN INTERVIEW WITH THE PLAYWRIGHT.

MUSICA VIVA PRESENTS BENEDETTI ELSCHENBROICH GRYNYUK TRIO

Above : Violinist Nicola Benedetti played Prokofiev’s Violin Sonata No 2 in D major Op 94. Photo credit : Simon Fowler.  Featured image :  trio members Nicola Benedetti (violin), Alexei Grynyuk (piano) and Leonard Elschenbroich (cello). Photo credit: Vancouver Recital Society.

A huge thanks must go to Musica Viva and Artistic Director Carl Vine for rounding off the 2018 International Concert Season by bringing this exciting piano trio to our shoresfor the first time. The solid global solo reputations of Nicola Benedetti, Leonard Elschenbroich and Alexei Grynyuk precede them. The virtuosic calibre of their solo lines when combined in balanced and vivid chamber music works made a memorable debut for the second Sydney concert.

The rewarding programme also began with works for two of the trio members at a time to completed the concert’s first half. In this way virtuosic communication by cellist Elsenbroich and violinist Benedetti as well as the consummate skill of accompanist Grynyuck were showcased in no less than two challenging sonatas by Prokofiev.

Leonard Elschenbroich dug deep into  Prokofiev’s Cello Sonata in C major Op 119 to offer us beautifully delicate moments of refined tone and challemged us with prolonged focussed sections of loaded stillness. Moments of string effects such as pizzicato and multiple stop strumming brought us a fascinating array of colour. Prokofiev’s inventiveness on the cello was ably supported at all times by the piano.

Fireworks followed with Benedetti’s rendering of Prokofiev’s Violin Sonata No 2 in D major Op 94. Continuing the all-Prokofiev  first half with sonatas from the 1940’s, This violinist introduced herself to Sydney audiences in stunning style. The unique narrative thread of this work, with Prokofiev’s concise gesturing and angular twists, was in good hands here. This violinist’s signature precision and widely varied emotional colouring was impressive.

At times in this work even a single note or small phrase fragment delivered by Benedetti spoke volumes. The support from Grynyuk’s accompaniment was once again suitably pointed and exciting. A refined and eloquent balance was heard across the shifting textures.

The concert’s highlight came with the fine soloists collaborating as a trio after interval. Very satisfying in the trio format was their choice of Gordon Kerry’s Im Winde (Piano Trio No 2) from 2002. This work filled the Musica Viva concert criteria of visiting artists playing new or recent Australian
works.

This trio displayed a keen aptitude for new music in a beautiful interpretation of the fragments of atmosphere which make up Kerry’s work that explores seasonal contrasts in nature. This was a seamless reading of the score by the ‘BEG’ Trio, continuing the ensemble balance displayed previously during the instrumental sonatas with piano.

The flautato string effects were particulary beautifully here. They were reflected in the piano with carefully chosen degrees of nuance from the softer dynamic spectrum.

Closely nterlocking intimacy and elegance continued in the performance of Ravel’s Piano Trio in A minor. Although the earliest work in the programme by decades, Ravel’s meticulous craftmanship made it a perfect match to join the other works this concert programme.

With this trio performing, this  work came alive with a spontaneity and respect for the architecture. The arsenal of virtuosic resources at this ensemble’s disposal presented reiterations of motives such as the first movement theme with a gorgeous subtlety and persistently clever variation.  This made Ravel’s work a fresh and thoroughly engaging conclusion to this concert of ensemble gems various.

Our appetite for this trio’s special brand of solo and ensemble wonderful was truly piqued as Musica Viva brought this group to our attention and also brought their International Concert Season  for 2018 to a stunning close.

 

THE DANCE OF DEATH UPSTAIRS @ BELVOIR

This is not the first time Judy Davis and Colin Friels have had an encounter with August Strindberg. In 1983 at the Old Nimrod Theatre (now the Stables Theatre) they performed together in Miss Julie. By all accounts it was a scintillating production. In 1984 they were married.

In the Director’s Note in the program, Davis states that Strindberg broke away from his idol Ibsen by refusing to put social issues into his plays and indeed THE DANCE OF DEATH has no overt political issues. However, there is a commonality between Ibsen and Strindberg and indeed with Anton Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya, where there is an oppressive sense of entrapment.No doubt the gloomy and harsh winters in those northern countries contribute to the claustrophobia that inhabits works by these playwrights.

Brian Thomson’s set literally traps the performers by creating a moat encircling the stage backed up by dark hued walls and occasionally a  lit window that looks like a prison grate. Needless to say this moat is actually a symbol of the ocean surrounding the island upon which the protagonists live in isolation and bitterness.

Colin Friels plays Edgar, a military captain in charge of a garrison on the island, but whose career has stalled. Alice says that she thinks he doesn’t value anything but rifles. She says he doesn’t believe in rules, that he lives outside the rules. That he sinks his claws into people like a vampire and ‘sucks the blood out of you’.

Pamela Rabe plays Alice, his wife of twenty five years, who is embittered by the fact that their marriage thwarted a promising acting career.

Edgar describes his wife as ‘a despot with the soul of a slave’. He abuses Jenny for yawning in his wife’s presence.They constantly fight and the menace of violence hangs in the air fueled by Edgar’s alcoholism.

Into this maelstrom of acrid emotions strays Toby Schmitz as Alice’s cousin, Kurt, who promises some sort of escape for, on the one hand, Alice and on the other hand, Edgar. The more Kurt tries to mediate and bring peace to this warring couple, the more he is dragged into their vortex, an emotional wasteland. He also has to tarry with the sexual interest which Alice bestows on him. Kurt constantly refers to the uncomfortable feeling he gets being in their home.  

Colin Friels is wonderful as Edgar. He can play drunken rage and a violent temper but can then slip effortlessly into an almost endearing vulnerability due to his failing health.

Pamela Rabe also brilliantly displays both a visceral hatred and scorn towards her husband tempered with concern for his well being.

Toby Schmitz  as Kurt must portray an almost gradual descent into a kind of delirium and madness and he does so with ease.

Mention must also be made of Giorgia Avery who does well in the role of Jenny the put upon maid of Edgar and Alice.  

Davis as director has wrung dynamic yet nuanced performances from her cast. We watch as this trio of misery continue to play cruel tricks on each other. The cruellest trick of all as far as Kurt is concerned is that Edgar and Alice love to be in almost mortal combat with each other – the dance of death of the title.

Amidst all this loathing and despair Davis has found some moments of humour perhaps aided by the masterful translation of this play by May-Brit Akerholt. There is a scene between Alice and Kurt where Alice exclaims ‘but I am an actress’ drawing laughs from the audience.

As the play unfolded, with some of the scenes, with the characters displaying their vitriol, one didn’t know whether to laugh or to cry!

To heighten the tension of this play fight coordinator Nigel Poulton choreographed a thrilling sword fight between Edgar and Kurt.

Paul Charlier’s edgy, atmospheric, immersive soundscape was a great highlight of this production…so many sounds incorporated in the mix from instrumental to jolts of thunder to gunshots in the night and more.

Costume designer Judy Tanner clothes the cast in what appears to be authentic nineteenth century costumes. Pamela Rabe goes from wearing a dowdy housewife dress to a vampy, shapely vivid red gown. Colin Friels has a similar range of costume from dishevelled, ragged clothes to a smart and colourful military uniform complete with high boots, sword and scabbard. Toby Schmitz makes an impressive entrance in white tie and tails which he sheds to a blowsy shirt and pants.

To match the emotional storm in the interior of this play lighting designer Matthew Scott complements this with lightning bolts symbolising the raging tempest enveloping the island.

There’s no slow dancing in this production. This was raw, confrontational drama performed at a high pitch by the cast. THE DANCE OF DEATH is playing at the Belvoir street theatre, 25 Belvoir Street, Surry Hills until 23 December 2018.

http://www.belvoir.com.au

 

 

MERRIGONG THEATRE COMPANY ANNOUNCES FOR 2019. INTERVIEW WITH THE ARTISTIC DIRECTOR

This image: DUST 
Featured image: I WANT TO KNOW WHAT LOVE IS . Photo:Stephen Henry

Merrigong Theatre Company has just announced their 2019 season and we had the opportunity to speak with Simon Hinton, Artistic Director / CEO.

SAG:        You must be incredibly busy at this particular moment . Thanks for taking the time out to speak with us.
SIMON:   It’s always busy but yes we had a big night last night with the launch. Doing a bit of media this morning and watching our patrons going to the website!

SAG:         How long does it take to put a program like this together, there’s such depth here.
SIMON:    We are almost a quarter of the way towards the program for 2020 now, so we are working up to two years ahead. But the last bit of that program came together, like two weeks ago.

SAG:           And do you have a particular focus in mind when you are putting in a season ?
SIMON:     Not necessarily thematically. We certainly have certain things that we are trying to achieve in terms of the diversity and a balance between work that is challenging and work that is accessible. And a little bit of genre. I wouldn’t say we have a formula but we have some targets. We want to make sure we have some movement based work , some work with music , ensure that we’ve got stories that explore a range of things and that we have different voices on our stage.

What tends to happen is that a theme or thread emerges as we are programming and I feel like this year, Find Your Place is about speaking broadly about how theatre defines us and who we want to be and helps find our place in the world.  But there also were, emerging from the season, a number of shows that seemed to be about people’s journey of finding where they belong.

SAG:       I can see that. I’m a Queenslander, a North Queenslander in fact, and I was pretty excited to see Dancenorth on the program.
SIMON:       It’s something I am really proud of it in the season. As another company based in regional Australia, Merrigong has been really excited to see the rise of Dancenorth to be absolutely world class. And I have to say that what Kyle Page is doing up there is some of the most exciting… well I hate using the term Contemporary Dance because because it puts it in a box and what he’s doing there is more than that. He’s making extraordinary movement based theatre with some incredible dancers.

We are a co-commissioner of DUST with a number of major festivals through the Major Festival Initiative. And it’s stunning, ground breaking, high caliber work.

THE HUMOURS OF BANDON. Photo: George Carter

SAG:     I notice that the design element is very important in that particular work. Does your season benefit from having multiple, different, places in which to perform?
SIMON:    Yeah it is really important. Across the two venues Illawarra Performing Arts Centre and Wollongong Town Hall we have five different spaces we can program into. Most of the theatre season goes into the two fixed seat theatres in IPAC but then if we need a flat floor area we can bring it into the Town Hall. And there’s a more intimate venue called the Music Lounge.

So that flexibility has become more and more important as contemporary theatre is diversifying artistically in the spaces it needs. It’s very important. To confine everything to a proscenium arch space would be really tricky now to program a diverse interesting season.

SAG:     And the there’s the Spiegeltent Wollongong?
SIMON:    It’s a great thing for the city. For nearly a month the Spiegeltent parks itself near the arts centre and we create a lovely precinct there with outdoor dining. And it’s become a tradition now in its 3rd year.

I think what’s fantastic in our season next year is for the first time not just the centrepiece show is available for our season ticket holders.  The centrepiece show is DELUXE DELUXE  .. a kind of adults only cabaret burlesque circus spectacular and that will be amazing and really built for the tent.

But they can also include Lano and Woodley’s show FLY in their season choices. They are coming in and doing four nights to allow it to be offered to subscribers because most of the stuff in the Spiegeltent comes as a single show. Early next year we’ll announce the rest of the Spiegeltent program, about 30 different shows across the month.

SAG:     It’s a pretty amazing season all round.  A new work THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO PAUL about Keating, and a reprise of  BARBARA AND THE CAMP DOGS and a great kids’ program.  I can see I will be beating a path to Woolongong. I’m at the base of the mountains and it’s easier than getting into the city!
SIMON:   That’s happening more and more . Generally people in urban Australia are realising that things are happening in regional Australia . We’re pretty close to Sydney and people come down here for the first time and go I don’t know why I’m traipsing into the city!

You can see the details of the 2019 season for Merrigong Theatre Company at their website or on their social media platforms. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

Lano and Woodley FLY

FALSE PRETENCES : IN THE MOOD FOR A FARCE?

About the show: When confidence trickster Victor Blake descends on his long suffering sister and brother-in-law after a spell in prison he finds that they have a guest – an attractive and wealthy widow. He sees this as a solution to his financial problems and deploys his charm and trickery to ensnare her. But one scheme founders after another until Victor finds himself in more trouble than he can handle. A fabulous farce from the ever reliable Eric Chappell.

Cast: Beattie, Robert Stewart, Anita Lenzo, Jeff Houston, Gareth Martin, Vanessa Henderson and Scott Brawley.

Tickets: Adults: $25 Concessions: $22 Groups (10+) $20.

DATES
Friday, 16 November @ 8pm; Saturday, 17 November @8pm; and Sunday, 18 November @2pm

VEBUE

The Sutherland Memorial School of Arts
25 East Parade, Sutherland, NSW 2232

For more about False Pretences – by Eric Chappell, visit https://www.trybooking.com/book/event?eid=330183
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WINNER OF THE INAUGURAL PIONEER PLAYWRIGHT AWARD: SOPHIA SIMMONS

The 2018 Pioneer Playwright Award Winner is GRAVITY GUTS by Sophia Simmons (pictured).

Company of Rogues and the Pioneer Play Festival are proud to announce Sophia Simmons’ smart, sharp and funny play about growing up, the universe and everything is the winner of the 2018 Pioneer Playwright Award.

GRAVITY GUTS tells the story of a teenage girl as she tries to follow her dream of being an astronaut.  She loves sci-fi because her dad thinks it’s cool, she’s obsessed with space travel and her hero is Sigourney Weaver from Alien. She just needs to pass the medical, get through the entrance exam, and ace the physical fitness test (cue 80’s workout music). Continue reading WINNER OF THE INAUGURAL PIONEER PLAYWRIGHT AWARD: SOPHIA SIMMONS

CHARLIE SHEEN IN SYDNEY

 

Hollywood actor Charlie Sheen made an appearance in Melbourne and Sydney recently on a popular speaking tour of Australia. Some Sydney fans paid as much as $1500 for a VIP Meet & Greet ticket to connect with the former Two and A Half Men star who holds a strong fan-base in Australia.

An Evening with Charlie Sheen hosted by Richard Wilkins gave Sydney audiences an insight into the actor’s career as he took them through some of the defining moments in the making of movies such as Platoon, Wall St, Young Guns, Major League and Hotshots. Sheen discussed his multiple roles as his career took shape as a youngster in Hollywood. Continue reading CHARLIE SHEEN IN SYDNEY

A CHEERY SOUL @ THE DRAMA THEATRE

‘All the lonely people

Where do they all come from?

All the lonely people

Where do they all belong?’

Eleanor Rigby

Patrick White’s classic play A CHEERY SOUL is the Sydney Theatre Company current production at the Drama Theatre, Sydney Opera House. White has described this play, set in 1963 in the make believe suburb of Sarsparilla as ‘exploring the destructive power of good’.

Sarah Peirse is versatile but seamless as the ever cheerful but dreaded Miss Docker with her  obsessive, clumsy acts of Christian kindness. Her mania to do incessant good irritates all and sundry.  At the start of the play she is forced to leave home and must rely on the charity of those who know her. Mr and Mrs Custance welcome her into their home but she soon grates on their nerves. One scene has her making a humble cup of tea turn into a kitchen tornado experience. She spills three teaspoons of sugar, loose tea leaves and milk, and then offers to clean things up but actually doesn’t do it leaving Mrs Custance to clean up the mess, In the end, Mr and Mrs Custance ask her to leave because she is unbearable to live with.

In her main role Anita Hegh is wonderful as the very conservative, saccharine,  nervy Mrs Constance. Anthony Taufa, in his primary role, is her gruff, set upon husband.

Miss Docker’s next stop  is the Sundown Home for Old People- a very depressing nursing home. The patients have their cliques and Miss Docker’s reputation precedes her. She tries to ingratiate herself with one of the main women there, a  Mrs Lillie, well played by Tara Morice, whose husband has recently died. Mrs Lillie wants very little to do with Miss Docker, which is further indicated at her husband’s funeral. Miss Docker steps out of the car for a  brief time, and what follows is that the funeral car leaves her behind and she has to walk wearily home alone. Continue reading A CHEERY SOUL @ THE DRAMA THEATRE

THE NORMAN CONQUESTS : CLASSIC AYCKBOURN COMEDY

Alan Ayckbourn’s THE NORMAN CONQUESTS has nothing to do with the decisive military conquest of England by William, Duke of Normandy, in the year 1006. It has everything to do with his trilogy of plays about a charming, middle-aged Lothario called Norman and his attempts to make conquests of all the women he meets.

I took the opportunity to see all three plays run consecutively over a Saturday afternoon and evening. The first play, set in the family dining room, is TABLE MANNERS. In this play Norman has set up a d weekend away with Annie, a woman who is wearying of her role looking after her cantankerous, invalid mother. There are just a few glitches – Annie is the sister of Norman’s to the point and career driven wife Ruth.  Also, Annie decides to tell Sarah, the controlling wife of her brother, Reg of the plan that has been hatched and Sarah manages to convince Annie to call the whole thing off. Add to this group of people the shy, introverted local vet Tom, and you have a very promising scenario. Sarah makes the decision to get everyone to share dinner together where some poor table manners are displayed!

The other two plays LIVING TOGETHER and ROUND AND ROUND THE GARDEN are played out with the same characters over the same weekend. We see what happens ‘behind the scenes’ in two other settings within the home, the living room and the front garden. Continue reading THE NORMAN CONQUESTS : CLASSIC AYCKBOURN COMEDY