Theatre

BACK TO M.A.: THE SEQUEL WE HAD TO HAVE

 

 

The ever wise and poetic Lebanese writer Kahlil Gibran wrote in his classic collection  of essays an essay on children. it starts:

‘Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself. They come through you but not from you. And though they are with you yet they  belong not to you. You may give them your love but not your thoughts. For they have their own thoughts. You may house their bodies but not their souls. For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit not even in your dreams.”

I would suggest that Maria’s alter ego would not have returned to M.A. (Mothers Anonymous) after her original show M.A. which played in 2011 at the Newtown Theatre if she and her mother had received such wise counsel.

Maria again plays the lead character. This time in the 12 step M.A. group she is not only still dealing with issues in  relation to her mother, even though she tells us she left home some twenty years ago and has just turned fifty, but is also contending with issues in regards to her relationship with her own grown up daughter, (fictitious of-course), who wants to break free from her mother’s clutches, played by the delightful Esther Monck.

The show relies on the conceit that we in the audience are fellow  members of the M.A. group and in simpatico with her. The twelve steps are gone through one by one and once the twelfth step has been completed mother and daughter make peace and lead the audience in an invigorating rendition of the popular Italian song Volare.

A cabaret isn’t worth anything without music.  The show comprises eleven songs which are reworkings of popular songs. De Marco and Monck are accompanied by the mellifluous tones of pianist Andy Freebom. The performance is  well directed by Simon Ward.

This was a clever, quirky and warm hearted show to savour as winter takes hold in Sydney.

A Madem Productions production, Maria De Marco’s BACK TO M.A. is playing the El Rocco Room, 154 Brougham Street, Potts Point on Sunday 19 June at 6.30pm and Sunday 26 June at 3.30pm and 6.30pm.

Bookings https://events.humanitix.com/back-to-ma

Production photography by Thomas Adams

DADDY DEVELOPED A PILL: FAST ACTING

Cynthia’s Daddy developed a pill, a mother’s little helper, that made her family very rich but left her emotionally bankrupt. His absence created an abscess in his daughter, the pus of parental negligence, remedied only by her emulating his pharmaceutical success, a prescription for parental approval.

The action of Cassie Hamilton’s chaotic play, DADDY DEVELOPED A PILL takes place in the lead up to the launch of Cynthia’s father fixation fuelled pharmaceutical and plays out in a porno parlanced pandemonia of pegging, prolapses, and pervasive perversion.

Sarah Greenwood plays Cynthia, a manic, magnetic personality around whom orbit a multitude of characters played in cavalcade caricature by Clay Crighton and Jack Francis West. The portrayals are a pot pouri of accent and antic performed with esurient enthusiasm.

A grotesque burlesque, DADDY DEVELOPED A PILL suffers from a tad too many characters, with a tad too many lines, which likens the narrative to walking knee deep in soft sand.

Featuring a set focused on three doors there’s no surprise that full use of these portals is prescribed, with performers in and out with the frequency of a bedroom farce and while the staging by LJ Wilson is frenetic, the timing is off, which stifles whatever wit the script offers. The finessing of physical business can be fixed, no doubt, to ensure entrances are crisp and exiting exciting.


Deviant and debauched but dulled by a delirium of dialogue, DADDY DEVELOPED A PILL may boast quick acting but it’s no panacea.

DADDY DEVELOPED A PILL plays Kings Cross Theatre till June 19.

 

Get your kicks here or here

EVERYBODY LOVES A WEDDING : A MUSICAL SOUFFLE

I caught Rosie Meader’s musical EVERYBODY LOVES A WEDDING on its closing night at Marrickville’s Flight Path Theatre.

There was a warm, supportive atmosphere in the theatre with  friends and family of the cast in the audience.

The musical is a bit of fun, a souffle of a play.

The show  starts with a bride coming to the stage and pushing up her bust, to audience laughter, and then walking off stage. This is followed by a well choreographed, up tempo number, the title song, which features the waitering staff at the wedding reception centre, Weddings By The Sea.

It was a good start.  It wasn’t long before we  sussed out the structure of the play.  The  leading character, Hope Magnolia Tamlin, played by Rosie Meader, is always trying to catch the bouquet of flowers that the bride randomly throws into the crowd. She so wants to get married but feels that she lost her chance when her long time boyfriend broke up with her. Surely there will be more opportunities for young Hope?!

The other main plot line relates to our diva of a bride. There is just one thing in the way of her taking her vows. She just wants to discreetly get in one last shag with her old and very  horny blonde boyfriend. Will she get found out or will she make it through the ceremony?!

The production, directed by Imogen Huntley with choreography by Mariah Gonzales, Rosie Meader, Imogen Huntley and Sabina Sales, had a fast paced, over the top, anarchic, farcical tone to it.  At times the audience roared with laughter at the appearance of their favourite character(s). Continue reading EVERYBODY LOVES A WEDDING : A MUSICAL SOUFFLE

EMME HOY AND KAMARRA BELL-WYKES WIN TOP STC WRITING PRIZES

Emme Hoy has been appointed Sydney Theatre Company’s new Patrick White Playwrights Fellow, shortly before her adaptation of Anne Brontë’s The Tenant of Wildfell Hall – directed by STC Resident Director Jessica Arthur – is to open at Roslyn Packer Theatre.

The recipient of this year’s Patrick White Playwrights Award is Kamarra Bell-Wykes – a playwright, director, performer and creative consultant from south-east Queensland – for her play Whose Gonna Love ‘Em? I am that i AM, which was last night presented as a rehearsed reading to a buzzing crowd in the Richard Wherrett Studio at Roslyn Packer Theatre.

Artistic Director Kip Williams said Hoy is “brilliant with story and language” and that her appointment as this year’s Patrick White Playwrights Fellow was a testament to STC’s commitment to incubate emerging talent.

Hoy’s relationship with STC began in 2017 when she became a member of the inaugural Emerging Writers Group; she then went on to write additional scenes for the Company’s 2018 production of Saint Joan starring Golden Globe Award-winner Sarah Snook. Continue reading EMME HOY AND KAMARRA BELL-WYKES WIN TOP STC WRITING PRIZES

BECOMING ELIZA : ANNA O’BYRNE RELIVES HER AWARD WINNING PERFORMANCE

Annie O’Byrne in Becoming Eliza at the Sydney Opera House. pic Prudence Upton

In this World Premiere of BECOMING ELIZA, Anna O’Byrne tells her personal story of playing Eliza in the 2016 recreation of the original musical My Fair Lady. Dame Julie Andrews personally interviewed, coached and gently encouraged Anna in the famous role. Anna won a Helpmann Award for her performance. For 70 minutes, wearing a classic blue Julie Andrews suit, Anna describes rehearsals, auditions and performances. 

There are many levels to Anna’s story. She was a shy girl who felt comfortable playing in the second row of the high school orchestra. She had to transform herself into a confident professional performer in front of large audiences for over two years in the role of Eliza. It’s her story-within-a-story. Continue reading BECOMING ELIZA : ANNA O’BYRNE RELIVES HER AWARD WINNING PERFORMANCE

COME YOU SPIRITS @ HAVEN AMPHITHEATRE CASTLECRAG

JO BLOOM AND SONTAAN HOPSON in Romeo & Juliet at Lake David, Kangaroo Valley. Pic Tim Clarke

JO BLOOM AND CHARLES MAYER in MACBETH at Lake David, Kangaroo Valley. Photo: TIM CLARKE

COME YOU SPIRITS are delighted to be the first professional theatre  company in years to re-ignite The Haven Amphitheatre in Castlecrag  with Romeo & Juliet and Macbeth playing Tuesday 21st to Sunday 26th June 2022 

Who are Come you Spirits

COME YOU SPIRITS is a collective of actors based in Sydney’s Lower  North Shore and touring NSW giving a fresh voice to the greatest  stories of our time.  

We’ve taken a unique approach to performance – uniting  ancient tradition and the basic human energies of the  heart, the masculine and feminine, drive, truth, vision,  our connection to the land and the pursuit of something  greater. 

The soundscape takes the audience on a journey. The actors are  amplified to allow for full vocal range in performance and the  speakers in the space are supported by large, wooden, constructed  flat reflector sheets that look like monoliths from Stonehenge.  These are positioned at specific points that hold the principles of  sacred geometry and temple building. In ancient temples, like the  ones that are 10,000 years old, they used giant stones to reflect  and resonate sound in the space – we’re using sound in such a way  so the whole body hears it.  Continue reading COME YOU SPIRITS @ HAVEN AMPHITHEATRE CASTLECRAG

FRIENDS ! THE MUSICAL PARODY : TWO DOUBLE PASSES

 

The hilarious New York and Las Vegas hit FRIENDS ! THE MUSICAL PARODY comes to Sydney this week as part of its Australian tour, playing at Riverside Theatres, Paramatta from Friday 10 June until Saturday 18 June.

The stellar cast who are playing these much-loved and iconic roles are acclaimed musical theatre performer Annie Chiswell (Shrek, Mamma Mia!) as Monica, Belinda Jenkin (50 Shades! The Musical Parody, Top Gun the Musical) is in the role of Phoebe, and Eleanor Macintyre (The Hello Girl, Sweet Charity) as Rachel. WAPPA graduate Maverick Newman (The King and I, Spring Awakening) plays Chandler, Conor Putland (Once On This Island, Dogfight) is Joey, and Tyran Stig (The Drowsy Chaperone, Little Shop of Horrors) makes his professional debut in the role of Ross. Dom Hennequin (VioletThe 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee) plays Gunther, while Callum O’Malley (The Wind in the Willows) and Lucinda Wilson (Grease) are the swings. Continue reading FRIENDS ! THE MUSICAL PARODY : TWO DOUBLE PASSES

SEXUAL MISCONDUCT OF THE MIDDLE CLASSES : CONFRONTING THEATRE

 

Dan Spielman as Jon in SEXUAL MISCONDUCT OF THE MIDDLE CLASSES. Pic by Jaimi Joy

Whilst watching Canadian playwright  Hannah Moscovitch’s SEXUAL MISCONDUCT OF THE MIDDLE CLASSES, there was another play that was running around in my head. It was American playwright David Mamet’s play OLEANNA.

The similarities between the two plays lie in that they are both very dramatic two handers and that both feature a rather precious middle aged male academic and a feisty young female student. Both plays pivot around the issue of gender politics.

Back in September 1993  I reviewed the Sydney Theatre Company’s production of Mamet’s play at the intimate Wharf 2 venue. It was directed by one of the greats of Australian theatre  Michael Gow and starred Geoffrey Rush, already an acclaimed international star, and a young Cate Blanchett, fresh out of NIDA.  It was an awesome production, one of my highlights from writing about Sydney theatre for over thirty years. Continue reading SEXUAL MISCONDUCT OF THE MIDDLE CLASSES : CONFRONTING THEATRE

MOULIN ROUGE ! THE MUSICAL : A WINNING ADAPTATION

Ryan Gonzalez (Santiago), Samantha Dodemaide (Nini) Pic Michelle Grace Hunder

There are many, many shows that finish with the hero/heroine dying and the audience is caught up in a huge groundswell of emotion. Shakespeare knew how to reach audiences when he had Romeo first and then Juliet die, the result of an irrational and deadly feud between two leading families in Verona.

At the end of  two hours plus of dynamic theatre, this show’s highest point, its crescendo, is reached, with Christian cradling Satine in his arms. Consumption had just claimed another victim. The cast come on stage to give a rousing finale, and another of Sydney’s major opening nights has come to a close.

What is it about the big musicals that draws so many people to them? A lot of people save up so that they can just see the big shows each year.  Going to ‘ordinary’ theatre is not even on their radar.

My theory, in brief.  It is about the enormous whoosh of energy, of ‘electricity’, that is generated on stage and bounces off the stage and into the hearts of everyone in the audience. It’s what makes us feel as if our weary lives had just been recharged as we head out of the theatre and into the night. Continue reading MOULIN ROUGE ! THE MUSICAL : A WINNING ADAPTATION

POINT8SIX @ LA MAMA : FASCINATING AVANT GARDE THEATRE

Annabel Marshall-Roth
Tim Wotherspoon and Annabel Marshall-Roth

POINT8SIX is a rare performance piece, exemplifying what is best in Melbournian theatre. It is dedicated, skilled, uncompromising, literary exploration of themes of power, technology, history, along with time travel, shifting identities, cosmological horizons and micro perceptual. Tim Wotherspoon has written a complex weft of action, comedy, music interlude, drama through a bold yet intricate warp of attuned poetry. It is great to see such an unashamedly literary work providing a springboard to the collective talents of such an outstanding cast so well versed in stagecraft. 

The story has to do with 1971 Berlin, 2142, totalitarian regimes, two sisters engaged in revolution, and a refugee scientist trying to retrospectively change history through advanced technology. Enticing? 

Tim Witherspoon was superb as the scientist Harrison, Annabel Marshall-Roth as Maidie, Rebecca Bower as her sister Charlotte, were joined by Matt Fulani, Leigh Lule, and Lliam Amor, in a superb ensemble. The show bordered on the multiform (not easy in the small La Mama space), with projected real time monologues, as well as rich and rapid lighting (Kris Chainey) and audio. Kirsten von Bibra kept a steady deft hand as the director, and also contributed to the set design.  Continue reading POINT8SIX @ LA MAMA : FASCINATING AVANT GARDE THEATRE

RED CARPET : MARY POPPINS

Briden Starr
Candice Dixon
Carla ( Ben Grey) from Bankstown
Deputy Premier Matt Kean & Family
Bob Sewell, Carlos Candall and Sam Sewell
Hayley Flowers & Sophie Lavender
James Tobin & niece
Jeremy Fernandez and guest
Karina Carvalho
Lucy Durack
Michael & Camille Cassel & Kids

Premier Dominic Perrottet & his daughters
Ros Childs and son
Sally Obermeder & daughter
Verity Hunt- Ballard (previous Mary Poppins)
Young Cast Member Alternates
Stuart Ayres MP

It seemed that the entire front bench of the NSW Government attended the premiere of Mary Poppins. 

In particular, Deputy Premier Matt Kean attended with his young family and Premier Dominic Perrottet walked the Red Carpet with three of his daughters. Former Premier Mike Baird was spotted as he left the Sydney Lyric Theatre. 

The other unusual aspect of this premiere relates to what I discussed in my opening paragraphs.

As I descended the escalator to the street level there was a very large contingent of police ready to protect the Premier and his Ministry as they left. 

Other distinguished guests were the Mary Poppins Australian producer Michael Cassel and his family, Sir Cameron Mackintosh and his partner, and George Stiles who wrote additional songs for this production.

Featured image : Belinda & Coco Russell. All photos by Ben Apfelbaum

ALL THAT FOSSE @ THE VANGUARD

ALL THAT FOSSE was a good cabaret show.

The Vanguard Hotel which is located just as you come into King Street on the way to Newtown, is a regular cabaret venue with a small stage with  a proscenium design.

The Vanguard was packed to capacity for the show. The  choreography, dancing and singing was of a high standard.

The disappointment was that the show just comprised songs and there was no attempt to bring up anything about the Bob Fosse story or the backstory to any of the famous songs. I felt that the show’s title hinted that we would learn some things about the man and  his life yet this was not forthcoming.

Set list:

1. Willkommen (Cabaret) (Lady singing /Ensemble)
LADY INTRO
2. Mein Herr (Cabaret) (Asuma Drag Lip sync – Lady singing off stage)
3. Tomorrow Belongs to Me (Cabaret) (Fletcher singing)
(BANTER)
4. Rich Man’s Frug – (Sweet Charity) (Dancers – no singing)
5. Maybe This Time – (Cabaret) (Lady singing)
6. Big Spender (Sweet Charity) (Dancers)
Intermission (25mins)
Act 2 (Approx 30mins)
7. All I Care About (Chicago) (Fletcher singing/Dancers KATE & SARAH WITH FANS)
8. Class (Chicago) (Fletcher & Lady singing)
(Invisible skit)
9. Mr Cellophane (Chicago) (Fletcher singing)
10. When You’re Good to Mama (Chicago) (Lady singing)
11. I Can’t Do it Alone (Chicago) (Asuma Lip Sync – no live singing)
12. All That Jazz (Chicago) (Lady singing/Ensemble)
Choreographed by Kate Garrett & Lauren Batschowanow
with additional choreography by Sarah Cregan and Dew Lin (Asuma Jender)

ATE LOVIA : A FILIPINO FAMILY DRAMA

First to the rather dissonant title. ATE LOVIA translates from Tagalong, a Filipino dialect, as Big Sister.  Fair enough. It just gets a bit much when the main  character’s name is also Lovia. Is this a case of the playwright just being a bit too clever by half.

A well structured family drama,  Jordan Shea’s ATE LOVIA takes us into the world of a Filipino family   who have migrated to Australia to escape President Marcos’ regime. The play is set in Sydney in the nineties with the Liberal Government in charge under conservative Prime Minister John Howard. Pauline Hanson and her divisive One Nation party are still getting a lot of airplay.

The play starts with the family just having moved into a new property. The family comprises a middle aged father Jovy and his grown up daughter, Lovia and son, Vergel. The mother left the marriage nine years prior, a decision which Jovy and the two, then children,  took badly,. Will the family survive the further struggles that are just around the corner…

The very experienced Kenneth Moraleda directs the action flowing well with very few slow periods. Together with the writer he manages to suffuse some humour into an essentially dramatic work. Continue reading ATE LOVIA : A FILIPINO FAMILY DRAMA

GODS AND LITTLE FISHES: DEATH AND A SALESMAN

Photos © Bob Seary.

From an event unimaginable comes a play full of imagination, GODS AND LITTLE FISHES.

Recipient of The Silver Gull Play Award for 2020, GODS AND LITTLE FISHES receives its world premier at New Theatre with an engaging production directed by one its writers, Richard Sydenham and featuring its co-author, Jamie Oxenbould.

Oxenbould plays Frank, adrift on a raft with three others, performers at play in some ritual Frank is invited to participate in. One French caricature, one flatulent clown and one philosophical actor form a trio of rescuers, figments of imagination keeping him afloat, to survive the emotional shipwreck that has capsized his life.

There is clowning, there is antic, there are puns there are fart jokes. It’s terrific ensemble work from Arky Michael, Andy McDonell and Eloise Snape as the coping aid mechanicals in this kidnapper blight’s dream.

And there’s fine support work from Katie Fitchett as Frank’s wife and Sarah-Jane Kelly as his son as well as the ominous, hovering, black hatted spectre of Sydenham.

GODS AND LITTLE FISHES seems to be a play whose intention is to stop you talking not to start you talking, yet there is still loads about the play and this production worth talking about.

Based on a notorious kidnapping murder case in Sydney some sixty years ago, the play is not a plodding police procedural but a journey through grief and disbelief.

Hannah Tayler’s set design is pure and simple magic complete with Narnia cupboards, mashed potato clouds and plush red curtain, safe fantasy taking centre stage, reality on the periphery.

Katie Fitchette’s costume design is a vaudeville delight leavened with fetching Fifties fashion.

Often, when a play script wins an award it enters the doldrums of the unproduced, moored to the page and not let set sail on the stage. Kudos to New Theatre for not only taking over The Silver Gull Award, an initiative of Subtle Nuance Theatre, but for further fostering its function by mounting a fully fledged production.

Thu – Sat 7:30pm, Sun 5pm
Final performance Sat 25 Jun 2pm

Running time 70 mins, no interval

 

WILLIAM ZAPPA : THE ILIAD – OUT LOUD @ BECKETT’S CLUBHOUSE

William Zappa and Wendy Beckett. Pic David Li Photography

William Zappa’s presentation of some entertaining parts of Homer’s The Iliad demonstrated that the Epic is contemporary. Fate: men have no choice but to go off to war!  Love: women tend the babies while the men fight! Patriotism: loyalty to the tribe regardless of the consequences! … That sounds like today’s news.

Remember The Iliad from high school?  The ten-year siege of the city of Troy by the  Mycenaean Greek states, the Trojan Horse, Achilles’ heel, Zeus and lots of other Gods? 

William’s vignettes from the Epic were presented as one 20-minute interlude in the middle of a five-course dinner with matching wines at Beckett’s Clubhouse in Glebe. Chef Jeff Schroeter’s courses were related to what might have been eaten at a feast in Homer’s time. It was all beautifully presented and delicious. Beckett’s is in the historic Darling Mills building, a beautiful setting for small theatre presentations. Continue reading WILLIAM ZAPPA : THE ILIAD – OUT LOUD @ BECKETT’S CLUBHOUSE

MARY POPPINS : A SUPERB, LAVISH PRODUCTION

 

Sometimes it feels good to  go back to an earlier, simpler time. Stories have the power to do this, and a great example of this  is the musical MARY POPPINS, adapted from P.L Travers Mary Poppins children’s books, and first produced on the West End in 2004,

Travers portrayed a time when the old style middle class family unit was still in place. The father was the provider, the mother looked after things at home, the kids were spoilt and naughty, and  an in house nanny was often employed to keep the kids in line.

Director James Powell takes us back in time with style and a lot of humour. His production is superb and lavish. Great sets constantly morph into  other  sets. This is a big production, superb and lavish. His creative team, too many to name,  do exceptional work.

Powell wins good performances from  his cast.

Tom Wren is wonderful as the father George Banks who goes on quite a journey through the play. At one point he thinks that he has lost his bank job with his role as the family’s provider falling into jeopardy.

Lucy Maunder impressed in the role of  Winifred Banks, George’s dutiful  wife who looks after the family and is the shoulder for George to cry on when he is stressed.

Chloe Delle-Vedove and Finn Walsham were great as the two naughty Banks children who Mary Poppins manages to ‘tame’.

Stefanie Jones is great as the pop in and pop out Mary Poppins, the the nanny who brings love and serenity into the family.

Jack Chambers was just tremendous as song and dance man Bert. His dancing, including some tap dancing, was just amazing. The show even. at one time saw him climb up the side of the stage and hang suspended from the top of the stage.

Nancye Hayes, one of the legends of Australian  music theatre, was great as the Bird Woman, a character of great pathos.

Hannah Waterman is good in a mainly comical role as the Banks family’s stressed maid Clara Brill.

Chelsea Plumley is suitably mean and horrid as Miss Euphemia Andrew, who way back in the past was George’s nanny. At the height of her horribleness she sings the song ‘Brimstone and Treacle’.

the nanny, at one time George Banks’ nanny, who temporarily replaces Mary Poppins when pops away for a while.

Robert Grubb  is good in two roles, as the kind hearted retired sea captain Admiral Boom and also the Chairman of the Bank in which George Banks works.

Gareth Isaac’s  excels in the comic role of Robertson Ay, the Banks family’s clumsy, ever so awkward  houseboy.

A talented large ensemble complete the cast.

The orchestra under the direction of Geoffrey Castles was outstanding.

Recommended, MARY POPPINS is playing the Lyric Theatre Sydney until 10 August 2022.

Production photography by Daniel Boud

TUMBLING DICE : ROLL WITH THE DICE @ CHIPPEN STREET THEATRE

An independent theatre production performing in an intimate Sydney theatre. TUMBLING DICE  follows the story of teenagers in the 90s, finishing up their schooling and with high hopes venture into the real world with big dreams. Some manage through effort a good life while others get their unfair share of struggles. Did they not work hard enough for what they want or did chance in the randomness of life get in the way?

An ensemble, the story follows seven characters whose lives intertwine and crossover in interesting and surprising ways. Each character is unique yet strangely relatable you’ll be sure to recognise yourself or someone you knew from high school. A smart arse boy who thinks he has life figured out, a quiet socially awkward girl with a tragic past who says she wants to be left alone but really she longs for connection, and chatty teachers who can’t resist getting in on the juicy gossip.

TUMBLING DICE mixes comedy and drama, tragedy and laughs to see what people do, how people respond when the parts of life outside of their control impacts on them. Are they just characters on a game board only moving when someone else rolls the dice or can they make the most with the life they get.

TUMBLING DICE is playing the Chippen Street Theatre, 45 Chippen Street, Chippendale between the 16th and the 25th June, 2022

https://sites.google.com/view/tumblingdiceplay/home

BENCHED : WHEN THE ACHE IS HARD TO BEAR

A good friend of mine Eliza is a fanatical runner. Any chance she gets she is up and away.

It goes back to when she was in school. She would get up early, sometimes as early as four in the morning, and go for a long run before coming home to shower and have breakfast before school. She’d compete every year in the athletics carnival and the state cross country events. Very impressive.

I have never been into running. The best I can do is a gentle canter around the beloved Centennial Park followed by a well deserved ice coffee. Well, that is what I tell myself.

I have never thought about running much. After seeing Jamila Main’s show BENCHED  I can’t stop thinking about running. Nor for that matter can I stop thinking about walking. Being able to…

Jamile was a sporty kid growing up. In  Jamile’s teens Jamile’s body started playing up with a terrible condition that Jamile describes best. It became too painful for Jamile to stand. Just to walk a little walk was the best that Jamile could do. And that was a real treat.

Jamile’s condition worsened and at the age of 20 Jamile resigned to the fact of being in a wheelchair for the remainder of life.  

In Jamile’s show at the Darlinghurst Theatre Jamila  sits on a bench, centre stage, facing the audience. All of Jamile is up there.

The premise of Jamile’s show is that Jamile has invited five brave, willing audience members, waiting backstage, to individually join Jamile on the bench, share two slices of an orange and have a chat. The chat always ends with Jamile asking for them to take a walk or a run in the coming days. One of Jamile’s  ‘subjects’, I can’t think of a word to put it, actually did a lap of the stage right then and there. He drew applause from the audience.

With each guest Jamila confided that ‘they’ would love to be able to run again. To have that rush, that thrill.

Jamile told each guest that, ” I am one of the toughest people I know’.  Jamile may well be right. Speaking personally I would find it agonisingly hard to feel that longing, that ache for something out of reach, every single day.

Two things came to mind. I have a book, it is only a tiny book,  by a Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh, entitled  ‘How To Walk’. It is a series of meditations about walking. Hanh constantly harks back to how great that feeling is to feel one’s feet on mother earth. To feel each step.

Then there’s that hypnotic soft rock class by American singer Christopher Cross entitled ‘Run Like The Wind’.  

Wouldn’t Jamila Main just love to be able to run like the wind…

BENCHED was a deceptively simple, poetic and resonant work of theatre. One is richer for having seen it.

A Darlinghurst Theatre Company production, Jamila Main’s BENCHED is playing the Eternity Playhouse, 39 Burton Street, Darlinghurst, until the 29th May, 2022. 

https://www.darlinghursttheatre.com/benched

 

 

BEFORE THE MEETING : THIS SHOW ROCKED

Tim McGarry, Jane Phegan PC by Danielle Lyonne

High expectation came with this production and it did not disappoint.

BEFORE THE MEETING is structured around a number of AA meetings, Well not exactly. As per the play’s title, every scene in the play takes place  in the meeting room as regulars gather prior to the meeting. Preparations have to be made, most importantly the urn has to be turned on so that people can have that important coffee. There is just the one scene outside ‘the frame’ and that is when the lead character gives an  extended share.

New York playwright Adam Bock, quite wisely, only peoples the play with five characters. We feel that we get to know them well, their personalities, their eccentricities, except for the fifth character who only makes a brief, albeit thunderous appearance. Continue reading BEFORE THE MEETING : THIS SHOW ROCKED

JANE EYRE by CHARLOTTE BRONTE @ GLEN STREET THEATRE

In 1847 Charlotte Brontë wrote the romance novel JANE EYRE in the Gothic genre “Bildungsroman Romance”, all about the fictional heroine/protagonist. The clever dialogue provides social criticism that includes many topics, including poverty, class, feminism, sexuality, religion and Christian morality. We follow Jane’s moral and spiritual development during her life, constantly searching for love, from her childhood, firstly as an orphan, her education at Lowood School, her employment first as a teacher and then as a governess at Thornfield Hall. Later her romantic involvement with her employer, the mysterious and moody Edward Rochester, the owner of Thornfield Hall. Continue reading JANE EYRE by CHARLOTTE BRONTE @ GLEN STREET THEATRE

MARY POPPINS OPENS TONIGHT @ SYDNEY LYRIC THEATRE

Following a triumphant run of preview performances, the Australian company of MARY POPPINS is perfectly poised to fly at tonight’s opening night.

Playing to packed houses since May 15, everyone from couples on date nights to intergenerational families have come to see his new production from Cameron Mackintosh and Disney.

Stefanie Jones, who leads the all-Australian cast as Mary Poppins, has been overwhelmed by the response of the audiences so far.

“Performing to such generous audiences is always an honour, and we are all loving their reactions to this special show. The emotional heart of the story really connects to the adults in the audience, and hearing children giggling in the comedic moments lifts us all on stage. And I hope that everyone is as enchanted by the stage magic as I am every night!”

Several members of the original creative team for MARY POPPINS  have made the trip from the UK to celebrate the opening night in Sydney.

Co-creator and producer Cameron Mackintosh, who wrote the original treatment for MARY POPPINS in the shadow of the Opera House 22 years ago, is thrilled to be back in the Harbour City with his new production.

“Australia is one of my favourite places in the world to work, so it is just wonderful to be back in Sydney. I was incredibly proud of the last production of Mary Poppins here over a decade ago, and I can pay no greater compliment to this cast that I didn’t think of the first production once. They are simply soaring. This cast have made it totally new and the reaction from preview audiences is even better than last time. So I can only echo PL Travers’ words and say they are ‘practically perfect in every way’.”

Also in Sydney for the opening night is George Stiles, writer of the musical’s new music including Practically Perfect. Stiles has been delighted by the Australian company, who are in fine form.

“Hearing Stefanie breathe new life into our songs is a truly beautiful experience – I love watching and hearing her perform with such grace. She truly is practically perfect!”

Seen by tens of millions of people worldwide, the original Tony and Olivier award-winning production was hugely successful in Australia, breaking box office records and winning a record-breaking eight Helpmann Awards. Now, a whole new generation of theatregoers have the chance to experience this magical stage adaptation of the wonderful stories by Australian author PL Travers.

The original music and lyrics by Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman include the classic songs Jolly Holiday, Step in Time, Feed the Birds and Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. New songs and additional music are by the Olivier award-winning British team of George Stiles and Anthony Drewe. Book is by Academy Award®-winning screenwriter and Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes, and this production is co-created by Cameron Mackintosh. The producer for Disney Theatrical Productions is Thomas Schumacher.

This production of MARY POPPINS has orchestrations by William David Brohn with dance and vocal arrangements by George Stiles. It has a new sound design by Paul Gatehouse and new lighting by Hugh Vanstone and Natasha Katz. Co-choreography is by Stephen Mear. The reimagined set and costume designs are by Bob Crowley. Co-direction and choreography is by Matthew Bourne and direction by Richard Eyre.

MARY POPPINS is produced in Australia by Cameron Mackintosh, The Walt Disney Company Australia and New Zealand, and Michael Cassel Group.

The Australian premiere of MARY POPPINS is supported by the NSW Government through its tourism and major events agency Destination NSW.

Tickets are currently available for performances to 31 July 2022.
For more ticketing information including a schedule of performances, please visit
marypoppinsmusical.com.au.

Production photography by Daniel Boud

CITY OF GOLD : PLENTY OF RICHES TO BE FOUND IN WYATT’S PLAY

Simone Detourbet as Carina Black and Matthew Copperas Mateo Black  in  ‘City Of Gold’.
Two brothers, Matthew Cooper as Mateo Black and Meyne Wyatt as Breythe Black in City Of Gold

Breythe is a young indigenous actor who has been working on the East Coast in the entertainment industry for a while and is being increasingly dismayed by the cliched and disrespectful treatment that he, a  proud Woongutha-Yamatji man, is receiving.

His life dramatically changes when one day he receives a call from back home in Kalgoorlie that his father has tragically died, He returns home to a mourning, deeply troubled family who are cynically about his successful city slickers career.

Structurally the play works well as a powerful drama. I felt a bit iffy about Meyne’s decision to go outside the narrative to include a vehement monologue,  straight after interval, against the dominant white culture after interval. The audience loved it. I guess my tastes are a bit traditional.

The performances are all big and passionate and really drive home the power of Wyatt’s play. My pick of the performances; Matthew Copper as Breythe’s malcontent, at times aggressive brother, Mateo, Simone Detoiurbet is heartfelt and excellent as Breythe’s sister who is often found trying to keep the peace. There are some flashback scenes in the play that feature Breythe’s father and Trevor Ryan gives a fine portrayal. Ian Michael impressed as family friend Cliffhanger who always seems to be getting himself in trouble.

Shari Sebbens direction is taut and accomplished. The main action of the play takes place around the family home with a lovely design by  Tyler Hill.  Verity Hampson’s lights the stage with her usual high standard. Michael Carmody’s videos work well to add to the play’s depth. Rachael Dease’s  soundscape is understated and very effective.

Recommended, a Sydney Theatre Company and Black Swan State Theatre Company of Western Australia production,  Meyne Wyatt’s CITY OF GOLD is playing the Wharf 1 Theatre, Sydney Theatre Company until JUNE 11 2022.

Running time : 2hrs and 10mins including one interval.

Performance start times
Mondays and Tuesdays  6.30pm; Wednesdays to Saturdays 7.30pm
Matinee performances Wednesdays at 1pm,  Saturdays at  1.30pm

http://www.sydneytheatre.com.au

Featured image : Trevor Ryan as Dad in City Of Gold. Production photography by Joseph Mayers.

ALL’S ONE THEATRE COMPANY PRESENTS HENRIK IBSEN’S GHOSTS

Phil McGrath, Rachelle Schmidt Adnum

Something marvellous is happening in the Newcastle Theatre world.
This year 2 new theatre companies, launched primarily by younger practitioners, have grabbed hold of the classic realist works of late 19th/early 20th Century playwrights, Henrik Ibsen and Anton Chekov, stripping them back in terms of set and even scenes and staging them in non-traditional theatre spaces.

All’s One staged a production of Henrik Ibsen’s Ghosts in the Dungeon at Adamstown Uniting Church 19 – 22 May 2022 and a new female led company; Her Productions is mounting Anton Chekov’s Uncle Vanya at The Lock-Up 25 – 29 May. Both companies are focusing the work into sparse and intimate spaces, with minimal sets and modern touches.

All’s One mission is to
“…foster a love and fellowship with the playwrights of old, not only Shakespeare — who gave us our name — but Ibsen, Chekhov, Strindberg, all the way back to Euripides and Sophocles. We will bring established texts and ancient ideas to the youth of Newcastle. We will share Classic plays with Modern audiences that leave them affected and really transformed.

The question is why are these young thespians attracted to these early realism plays? Plays where sinister motivations, carnal, monetary and social status desires are laid open in stifling familial settings and themes of depression, secrets and ambitions are slowly unfolded like those rancid stinky carnivorous plants. Continue reading ALL’S ONE THEATRE COMPANY PRESENTS HENRIK IBSEN’S GHOSTS

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