In Eugene Ionesco’s EXIT THE KING, King Berrenger has been in power for hundreds of years. His kingdom is crumbling all around him: there’s lightning stuck in the sky, the clouds are raining frogs, the sun doesn’t listen to him, and not to mention there’s a huge bloody crack in the wall. Yet despite all these warning signs, the stubborn monarch refuses to abdicate! Not even certain imminent death can convince the crown he’s no longer good for the job. But this will not do, Queen Marguerite knows that if the country is to be saved the king must die. There is no other way.
OLD FITZROY THEATRE & RED LINE PRODUCTIONS
Venue: Old Fitzroy Theatre, Cathedral Street, Woolloomooloo
Season: 18 March – 10 April
Times: Tuesdays to Saturdays at 7:30 pm and Sundays at 5pm. There are select Saturday matinees at 2pm
After a successful start to 2021 with a season at the Sydney Opera House with Hamlet: Prince of Skidmark by kid’s entertainment maestros The Listies, the company is looking forward to getting back on the road with another nine outstanding independent productions from Australia and New Zealand.
Highlights from the first half of the touring year include Jane Bodie’s poignant Lamb, a story of family, the land and being the one who stays. The story charts the history of one farming family over two generations, featuring original music and lyrics by Mark Seymour (Hunters and Collectors). The production kicked off an eight-city tour in Frankston VIC to a sold-out audience on 25th February.
Lamb will still be touring when the company’s biggest show of the year, I’ve Been Meaning to Ask You, produced in partnership with Australian Theatre for Young People, comes to Riverside Theatres from March 17th. The work, created by Brisbane’s The Good Room, features 18 local young people in a revealing one-hour tell-all, where adults take a backseat as this powerful group of 9 to 13-year-olds deliver answers to their burning questions in a joyous music and video-driven theatrical extravaganza.Continue reading CRITICAL STAGES DELIGHTED TO BE BACK ON THE ROAD AGAIN→
With THE SECRET OF CHIMNEYS the Genesian Theatre Company (GTC) once again welcomes audiences into Agatha Christie’s world. This is one of Christie’s lesser known works. Christie wrote the play in 1931, an adaptation of her novel of the same name, published in 1925. The play didn’t have its world premiere until 2003 with the Canadian theatre company, Vertigo Mystery Theatre.
It’s a regular event that the GTC puts on a Christie murder mystery. The Christie shows bring in good houses for the Company. This again has proven to be the case with the season, already, almost sold out.
In THE SECRET OF CHIMNEYS it is the 1920s in England. Aristocrat Lady Caterham agrees to host a weekend party at her stately home called Chimneys. A murder occurs in Lady Caterham’s council chamber room. The dark secret of Chimneys is that famous diamonds have been missing for years somewhere within the Chimneys estate. Chaos ensues with, of-course, police officers in tow.Continue reading THE SECRET OF CHIMNEYS : A LITTLE KNOWN CHRISTIE→
“William Shakespeare was not of an age, but for all time”. Ben Jonson
John Bell in ‘One Man In His Time’ is Bell Shakespeare’s first production for the year.
It is fitting that it is starting its thirty first year with a show presented by its founder.
‘One Man In His Time’ is the most pared back of shows. John Bell walks on to the stage, with applause of-course, and at the centre of the stage is a chair and a side table with a bottle of water and a folder sitting on top.
Ensemble Theatre Artistic Director Mark Kilmurry’s play OUTDATED is the Company’s first show since shows were cancelled as a result of Covid in March last year.
During lockdown, Kilmurry, ever resourceful, ran an entertaining, interesting weekly show, entitled Ensemble Conversations, in which he interviewed a wide range of theatre personalities. His guests were interviewed by video link, with Kilmurry in the theatre foyer and the guests seen on a large monitor. Theatre lovers were able to access the interviews from the Ensemble’s Facebook page.
YOU’RE NOT SPECIAL may seem a strange title for a play in an age where we are told we are all special.
But as one character points out, to call someone “one in a million” when you consider the population of the earth, it really means you’re still like thousands of others – nothing special, nothing unique.
The play begins in a dog park where Dan meets April-May. He’s an illustrator working from home, she is a dog walker, a job that is paying her tertiary course to become a secondary school teacher. With one hand she bowls balls to Graham, the German Shepherd. With the other she holds a copy of Carmen Maria Machado’s book of short stories, Her Body & Other Parties.
Like Machado’s stories, Sam O’Sullivan’s script is socially astute, elliptical and never quite plays out how you might expect. In Machado’s view, stories can sense happiness and snuff it out like a candle. O’Sullivan certainly concurs.
Dan has recently moved in with Ellie and they are happy. Assembling an Ikea bed goes without a hitch. She has only one rule and that is that laptops, indeed all sorts of screens are banned from the bedroom. But a new job causes her to eventually break that rule, and soon, both are irrevocably caught in the technology trap.
YOU’RE NOT SPECIAL is an intriguingly layered story about the pervasive power of the digital portal, and how our existence in the modern age can be overwhelmed by the internet – communication, community and commodification.
At its most insidious, it is an observation of the Tetris effect, illustrated by Dan devoting so much time and attention to a virtual activity that fantasy begins to pattern reality, an addiction that disables real and genuine human contact.
There are dark matters at play in YOU’RE NOT SPECIAL but O’Sullivan has the wit and the skill to leaven the drama with laughter, an ingredient that is liberally employed, both heightening the happiness and the coruscating counterpoint.
YOU’RE NOT SPECIAL boasts three very special performances.
Kate Skinner sizzles as Ellie, an advocate for an advertising agency, in love with her new man and her new job, effervescent in boardroom and bedroom, until the evanescence of twenty-four seven as opposed to nine-to-five in the workplace combines with Dan’s detachment to cast a pall over her life.
Ariadne Sgouros as April-May is marvellously enigmatic as both cyber cipher and flesh and blood antagonist.
And Arkia Ashraf as Dan making a remarkable debut on the Sydney stage having recently graduated from the Actors Centre.
Elegantly and energetically directed by Samantha Young, YOU’RE NOT SPECIAL is a meditation on love and human connection – tender, poignant, painful, funny and sad – from one of the most original voices in Australian theatre.
YOU’RE NOT SPECIAL Presented by Rogue Projects in association with bAKEHOUSE Theatre Company, playing at KXT
Season: 5 – 20 March Tue – Sat 7.30 pm Sunday 5.00pm
Suzanne Hawley’s play WILD THING starts in 1956. Jackie, Elizabeth, Frances and Susan are thirteen year old high school besties.
Jackie is the leader, the D’Artagnan to her three musketeers, a wild thing ready to buck and challenge the system and to inspire and incite her cohorts to do likewise.
Forged on the anvil of school days, the quartet’s friendship becomes an indelible and enduring relationship that sees them share the “rites of passage” trip to England that was de rigeur for certain young Australians in the Swinging Sixties.Continue reading WILD THING : IT MAKES YOUR HEART SING→
The international smash-hit, Faulty Towers The Dining Experience is bringing laughs, mayhem and madness to the Sydney Opera House from 23rd March to 27th March.
Basil’s rude, Manuel’s confused and Sybil’s cracking the whip… all the while dishing up the laughs and a three-course meal. The world’s longest-running and most successful Fawlty Towers tribute, this unforgettable immersive show sees audiences become paying guests at the Faulty Towers hotel, ready for two hours of chaos, comedy and action.
A loving homage to the smash hit BBC TV series written by John Cleese and Connie Booth, Faulty Towers The Dining Experience uses a supreme blend of top-flight improvisation, audience participation, and a completely original theatrical script to create a night perfect for absolutely anyone ready to laugh. Continue reading FAULTY TOWERS THE DINING EXPERIENCE @ SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE→
“The point is that when you’ve got a dull, boring life and something comes along that gives you a moment of happiness, you cling onto it. That’s what all of the characters in the play are looking for – some beautiful thing to cling on to. All those characters have that beautiful thing at some point in the play and that’s why it’s so cosy. Also, I wanted to write a story in which being gay was about falling in love and about emotions and having a laugh and finding your soul mate”. British playwright Jonathon Harvey ‘Beautiful Thing’ (1993)
Harvey sets his play in a government housing estate in South East London. It’s a tough world; people are living too close to each other, tempers are frayed, there’s alcoholism, domestic violence, drugs…In this world two young people find love.
In the central role, Will Manton plays teenager Jamie who going through his internal processes is coming to terms with being gay. Jamie is also having to deal with his loud, overbearing mother, Sandra, which takes up a lot of his energy. Trying to get his schoolmate and neighbour Stephen to be his boyfriend would be a beautiful thing.
Bayley Prendergast plays Stephen. He also has an Everest to deal with; an alcoholic father and a drug taking brother. One night he comes over to visit Jamie with welts on his back. He is invited to stay the night, They sleep toe to toe in Jamie’s single bed. The start of things to come.Continue reading BEAUTIFUL THING : LOVE COMES THROUGH DARK CLOUDS→
Shows can’t go on forever, especially ones that maintain through their run a consistently high quality. At some point one has to ‘pull the plug’.
And such is the case now with the final season of The Wharf Revue which has been nothing short of a cultural institution for many Sydney theatregoers over the past twenty years.
Where, exactly, does the time go?
I remember back in 1999, my God we are talking the last century, being invited to the Sydney Theatre Company’s (STC) launch of their 2000 season. Robyn Nevin was the then Artistic Director of the Company.
The Phoenix Collective is returning with Maggie Ferguson (OzTango), PCQ, Dan Russell and Dr Edward Neeman (Juilliard/ ANU) and super star Jacqueline Dark (Helpmann Award winning internationally acclaimed mezzo-soprano, principal with Opera Australia and cabaret artist). Also worth noting, two new Sydney venues on the bill; Christ Church St Laurence and Mosman Art Gallery plus two new concert series: eight lunchtime concerts at the wonderful Wayside Chapel, Kings Cross and four concerts at Tattersalls Club, Sydney.
The Collective’s first concert of 2021, ‘Knife in the Boot’, features Maggie Ferguson, founder of TangoOz and a legend in her own right. With Maggie on bandoneon, Edward Neeman on piano, Isabella Brown on Double Bass and PC director & violinist Dan Russell. The Ensemble will explore early and traditional works from the birthplace of Tango, Buenos Aires and works by the father of Nuevo Tango, Astor Piazzolla.
Performances will take place in the following venues :-
5th March, Canberra: 6pm and 7:30pm, Wesley Music Centre
6th March, Sydney: 2:30pm, Hunter Baillie in Annandale
7th March, Central Coast: 2:30pm and 4pm, Greenway Chapel
The concert series is the initiative of Artistic Director, Dan Russell, and have also been made possible and funded by Judith Neilson AM (White Rabbit / Phoenix Central Park).
A bit about The Phoenix Collective:
PC began in 2018 as an initiative of well-known violinist, Dan Russell. A means to play high art music with exceptional musicians that share similar views musically, artistically and emotionally. In just 3 years we are playing concerts in 3 cities, unique core venues and several additional projects, recordings, music society performances and workshop engagements.
With two new live concert series soon to be announced and an ever-increasing recording and external project workload, Phoenix is rising. Programs include the virtuosic flair of Italian Baroque, the simplicity of Folk Music, French Impressionism, the intense emotions of Romanticism, Contemporary, Classical, Experimental, Jazz crossover and the meditative calm of Minimalism.
The Sydney Theatre Company (STC) has come back home to the Wharf 1 Theatre, after extensive renovations, with Kate Mulvany’s stage adaptation of Ruth Park’s classic children’s novel ‘Playing Beatie Bow’.
This is the second Ruth Park work that Mulvany has adapted for the stage after the highly acclaimed adaptation of ‘The Harp In The South’. Again the STC’s Artistic Director Kip Williams directs.
It’s great to see the Hayes Theatre open again after the long Covid shutdown.
What a great way to start up again with the complete silliness, zaniness, of Mel Brooks.
Not content with making the hit comedy movie ‘Frankenstein’ in 1974 which was listed as the 13th funniest film ever made by the American Film Institute, in 2007 he transformed the movie into a stage musical which became a Broadway hit.
In YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN scientist Frederick Frankenstein (it’s pronounced Fronk-en-steen) – grandson of the infamous scientist – travels reluctantly to Transylvania where he has inherited his family estate. Before long, he finds himself back in the mad scientist shoes of his ancestor, and with the help of hunchbacked sidekick Igor and yodelling lab assistant Inga, he brings to life a new creature to rival his grandfather’s. But this time, when the monster escapes – great hilarity ensues.
The show’s director Alexander Berlage in the last two active year of the theatre,has directed two hit productions; ‘American Psycho’ and ‘Cry-Baby’. With YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN, the Australian premiere of this Mel Brooks show, it looks like now he was won the trifecta with this show already booking well.
Berlage continues his tradition of reworking classic old (comparatively speaking) shows and getting new things out of them.
Matthew Backer gives a great performance as Dr Frederick Frankenstein. Becker shines in all areas.
Nick Elyard makes for an alarming monster who does however show a sensitive side.
Other performances to catch the eye include Lucia Mastrantone as the decidedly odd housekeeper Frau Blucher and Shannon Dooley is outrageously good as Frederick ‘s wife Elizabeth who pledges her love to her husband yet will not let him touch her.
Isabel Hudson’s clever set alludes to modern art, and Mason Browne’s costumes are stunning.
The show ends on an appropriately emphatic note with the cast gathered across the front of the stage laughing their heads off as the curtain slowly descends on them even peeking through the curtain as it reaches the bottom.
Running time 2 hours and 30 minutes including one interval.
Recommended, YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN is playing the Hayes Theatre, 19 Greenknowe Avenue, Potts Point until Saturday 20 March 2021.
Performance times Mondays at 6.30pm, Tuesdays to Saturdays at 7.30pm, Thursdays at 1pm and also matinees on Saturdays at 2pm.
A joyous coming out romp, 5 LESBIANS EATING QUICHE, is currently on show at the Giant Dwarf. Director Rosie Niven says it provides a space in which “women can be unapologetically silly, funny, and proud”. This show does that but it is not all just hilarity. There is bitchiness and political back-stabbing against larger issues of war and destruction outside permeating the 1956 world of the Sisters of Gertrude Stein.Continue reading 5 LESBIANS EATING QUICHE : A JOYOUS COMING OUT ROMP→
FAG/STAG by Jeffrey Jay Fowler and Chris Isaacs is a comic but bittersweet story of the emotional complexities of the gay/straight man relationship. In this two-hander, ably directed by Les Solomon, Corgan played by Samson Alston and Jimmy, played by Ryan Panizza, are two best friends one straight, one gay, both trying to understand and navigate a society that portrays stereotypes of masculinity.
Corgan and Panizza draw the best out of the witty and astute dialogue and the performances hold us in the grip of their fraught relationship. These two narrators tell the same story from very different perspectives. It’s not always a pretty tale as there too much booze, too much melon air freshener, vomit, ignored text messages, unsuccessful ventures into on line dating, Donkey Kong, crawling home to the parents and other messy situations. Continue reading FAG/STAG : A CLOSE FRIENDSHIP BETWEEN A GAY AND A STRAIGHT MAN→
Back in 2019, Little Eggs Collective presented Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poem, The Rime of The Ancient Mariner as a theatrical piece. It was a triumph.
Now this company is presenting a musical piece, Symphonie Fantastique by Berlioz, as a theatrical experience, and it too, is a resounding triumph.
Not musical theatre but theatre from music. This is not the Hayes crowd, but the haze crowd.
Taking Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantistique as a springboard, Little Eggs Collective re imagine it is a romantic epic with sinister overtones and undertones of subordination, a latex and leather symphony that revels in fascination, obsession, and fetish, a fishnet fantasia.
Back in the 1800s, the music was a revelation, Berlioz creating the era equivalent of “house”. The company illustrate this by creating a sound and light dance space redolent of Biarritz.
Symphonie Fantistique may be the base from which this thrilling theatre springs but other musical sources, tributaries of this deep musical well that has irrigated our imaginations, pour forth, and in the most delightful, playful, audacious and thought provoking ways.
Hints and echoes of Rogers and Hammerstein, Ennio Morricone and a bold and telling lip sync rendition of Brenda Lee’s “I’m Sorry.”
The ensemble work is excellent. Lloyd Allison-Young, Cassie Hamilton, Clare Hennessy, Annie Stafford, Nicole Pingon, Chemon Theys, LJ Wilson are uniformly and universally in sync, a well-oiled machine with a beating human heart.
Wolfish performances in lambs’ clothing, but never pulling the wool over your eyes, give yourself over to the absolute pleasure of a genuine Baa Baa Sheep Quartet!
SYMPHONIE FANTASTIQUE plumbs the dizzying highs and destructive lows of a pained artist and the less than amused abused muses. Heady stuff!
Directed by Mathew Lee with Musical Direction/ Sound Design by Oliver Shermacher; Lighting & Set Design by Benjamin Brockman and Costume Design by Aleisa Jelbart, SYMPHONIE FANTISTIQUE is, quite, simply, fantastic.
SYMPHONIE FANTASTIQUE plays Kings Cross Theatre, atop the Kings Cross Hotel, oppisite the big Coke sign, 244 – 248 William St, KINGS CROSS. NSW 2011.
Sunday Matinee 21st February – 5pm
Season23rd-27th February 7.30pm
British playwright John Donnelly’s THE PASS, which premiered back at the Royal Court in London in 2014, asks one of those quintessential questions.
How important is it, in life, to live authentically?! Especially when considering how easy it is, in contemporary life, in our technologically savvy age, with everything that is available, to fake it.
And even more so, considering there are so many temptations that exist, which challenge our commitment to live authentically. Such enticements as fortune and fame, and the precariousness of both.
In THE PASS, we follow star British soccer playerJason’s odyssey.The play starts with Jason spending a night in a hotel room in Bulgaria with fellow player and friend, Ade. It is the night before a big game. There is plenty of testosterone and high spirits in the air. They’re horny. In a matey way, they talk about all the hot women they would like to shag.Continue reading JOHN DONNELLY’S ‘THE PASS’ : A STAR IS TORN→
This is an affectionate, delightful look at the life of June Bronhill, one of Australia’s theatrical legends, by Richard Davis.
The book has twelve chapters, a list of June’s stage performances (this reviewer saw her several times in various productions), a list of the recordings she made and a select bibliography as well as an index and a loving forward by Marina Prior. All the photos included are in black and white.
So, I looked up the etymology of the word “normal”. In classical Latin “made according to a carpenter’s square, from norma – rule, pattern”. “Conforming to common standards or established order.”
Meaning “heterosexual” by 1914.
Next was “prejudice”. “Despite, contempt. Injury and physical harm. Judicial examination before trial”.
Bearfoot Theatre’s latest two act full length production DO YOUR PARENTS KNOW YOU’RE STRAIGHT written and directed by Riley McLean, with assistant director Harry Liddiard, thematically addresses both these words.
A concert featuring the wonderful songs of Joni Mitchell is sure to entice an enthusiastic audience to Parramatta’s busy and pulsing Riverside Theatre. Queenie van de Zandt delivers a polished and informative show to the appreciative crowd. An excellent trio comprising Hugh Fraser on bass, Gary Vickery on guitars and Daniel Edmonds on piano and stand in musical director supports Queenie. These talented musicians were a highlight of the evening and featured some delightful and entertaining arrangements. Queenie skill as a singer is impressive. She covers the extraordinary vocal and dynamic range required for Joni Mitchell’s songs although in a different style than the passionate folk music reflectiveness of Joni. Her style of singing and warmth suits the cabaret and storytelling format of the evening.
Queenie opened with ‘Blue’, one of Joni Mitchell’s great love songs that appears on her album of the same name. The album ‘Blue’ features on various lists as one of the greatest albums of all time so it almost selects itself as a song to include in the show. This raises the difficult question what songs should be included in a performance showcasing Joni Mitchell songs. On Joni Mitchell’s website there is an article listing the thirty greatest songs of Joni Mitchell. It acknowledges that this a subjective list and is assembled with assistance from Roger McGuinn, Matthew E. White, Graham Nash, Linda Perhacs, Mike Heron and others. David Crosby was asked to pick a best song and said that there are thirty or forty best songs. Continue reading QUEENIE VAN DE ZANDT : BLUE – THE SONGS OF JONI MITCHELL→
Director/musical director Mitchell Old has assembled a talented group of musicians and performers for this exciting and vibrant production of THE LAST FIVE YEARS. This is the debut production of the Mitchell Old Company, and is certainly an impressive achievement, particularly when one considers the average age of those involved, excluding the lighting/sound crew, is just 19 years.
A co-production with Queensland Theatre and Brisbane Festival in association with the Australian Theatre For Young People, Australian playwright Yve Blake’s FANGIRLS premiered at the Bille Brown Theatre in Brisbane back in September 2019 and then transferred the following month to our own Belvoir Street Theatre.
Castle Hill Players have chosen well with Andrew Bovell’s powerful play ‘Things I Know To Be True’ beginning their 2021 season. The production was about to open last year before COVID -19 struck, so it is wonderful for audiences to see it finally make it to the stage.