It’s only when the cast of 13 line up across the stage for curtain calls that you really take in what an achievement AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY is. Playing at the New Theatre, this work is so enjoyable and well-crafted that one is swept away with the characters and their story. People come and go in this tale set in the heat of an Oklahoma small town and each of the performances blends seamlessly into the atmospheric narrative. It’s long, three acts. But, with the help of two intervals, time flies by on the wings of a thoroughly enjoyable production from a Tony and Drama Desk winning script by Pulitzer Prize winner, Tracy Letts.
Beverly Weston is speaking to a figure in the dark as the play begins. It will turn out that this, once promising,poet is interviewing Johnna for a position as cook and cleaner in his house just outside Pawhuska, Oklahoma. It will also turn out that he has an addiction to alcohol and his wife, Violet, has an addition to pills. And cigarettes, despite her mouth being filthy with cancer and little cruelties. As the story weaves into itself after this prologue and after a tragedy, we will meet their three daughters, Ivy, Barbara and Karen and truths will be told in the heat of a southern summer. Continue reading AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY – ‘WHIMSICAL INSULTS’ AND TRUTHS TO TAKE HOME→
If you are a lover of rapid fire witticisms, frequent bon mots or bitchily wry observations you are in for a treat. There is luscious dialogue rich with contrapuntal adjectives in a very funny script. This New Theatre’s production is well realised with a nice balance of meaningless fluff and fluffy meaningfulness. Not too heavy, not too light, just all round enjoyable.
Mitchell is an up and coming movie star. Diane is his vociferous agent and wannabe producer. Alex is a men’s escort. Ellen is Alex’s love interest. In the beginning anyway.
Mitchell, who is seriously pissed in a hotel room, hires Alex. Things do not go well initially but in the morning there is the distinct whiff of a disastrous amour fou. Diane will need to balance bedings with the bravura public performances keeping Mitchell’s sexual orientation firmly cupboard-locked. She gets it: she’s a fixer … and a lesbian …so rely on her to get things done. Ellen is a party girl and knows what it means to be dumped, still this is a new one even for her. Continue reading THE LITTLE DOG LAUGHED : WIT AND LAUGHTER @ THE NEW→
Written in 1977, this “play with music” appeared just two years before the inaugural Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras parade. It contains some of the earliest progressive depictions of same sex relationships, and is an excellent choice for the New Theatre to present it in conjunction with the Mardi Gras festival this year.
The work comes from a time before political correctness, and includes many references to ethnicity, gender and sexual preference that could make contemporary audiences cringe, but director Alice Livingstone is mindful of the change in context and deals with those awkward moments shrewdly and with sensitivity.
Top Girls often have to take hits and make sacrifices to get to the top of their profession. One only has to look at Julia Gillard and her path to the top and her recent demise, which happened around the same time as the New Theatre’s current revival of Caryl Churchill’s classic 1982 play.
Alice Livingstone’s production serves Churchill’s groundbreaking play. Gina Rose Drew’s set and costume design works wonderfully well. The three main characters are tremendous. Julia Billington plays the lead character, ambitious Marlene who has won the top job at her recruitment agency aptly named ‘Top Girls , Claudia Barrie plays her anxious teenage daughter Angie, and Sarah Aubrey played her much down to earth sister Joyce who has raised Angie as if her own child. Angie knows nothing of this arrangement but begins to suspect. The leads are given good support by the ensemble that includes Cheryl Ward, Bishanyia Vincent, Ainslie McGlynn and Maeve Macgregor.
Livingstone’s clear transitions are a feature, switching from the play’s famous opening Act, set in an upmarket restaurant, where Marlene encounters and talks to eccentric, powerful women from the past about the challenges of being fesity, independent women in their particular generation, to Act 2 where the scenes are played out within Joyce’s home and Marlene’s workplace.
Recommended, Alice Livingstone’s revival of Caryl Churchill’s TOP GIRLS opened at the New Theatre, 542 King Street, Newtown on Thursday July 11 and runs until Saturday August 3, 2013.
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