Sydney: Ensemble Conversations, a weekly series hosted by Ensemble Theatre’s Artistic Director Mark Kilmurry, has generated over 120,000 views since April.
The Ensemble is getting a little independent this week on Ensemble Conversations when Artistic Director Mark Kilmurry is joined by producers Andrew Henry and Vanessa Wright from Sydney’s legendary independent Red Line Productions.
Last December, Andrew Henry curated a cabaret about mental health to conclude a particularly difficult year. It was called Vertical Dreaming and SAGwrote “It was always going to be a very emotional night and that is the way it played out. “
On Sunday the 24th of June, at 7:30 pm Henry will be bringing the show back for one performance only at the HAYES THEATRE with every cent of profit going towards the extraordinary Actors Benevolent Fund Of New South Wales who were “such a help to me when I needed them and have been to countless others. “
You have the chance to experience the show again, or for the first time, knowing that the evening will help someone in our industry when they need it. The show will feature Erin Clare, Paul Prestipino, Matt Ralph, Simon Ripplingale & Genevieve Muratore.
More information and bookings at the Hayes Theatre website.
Adapted in 1937, by Nobel prize–winning author John Steinbeck from his novella written the same year, this wonderful play tells the story of George Milton and Lennie Small, two displaced ranch workers in California, searching for a job during the Great Depression. The title comes from Robert Burns perhaps most used quote, “The best laid plans of mice and men often go astray.”
You know from the start that this complementary friendship between the intelligent but uneducated George and the gentle, developmentally challenged giant, Lennie is headed inexorably toward disaster. (The term ‘politically correct’ was not invented in 1937 and Steinbecks’ novella attracted a lot of criticism for using words like “Dumb” and Nigger!).
Dread and trepidation accompanied me as I took my seat last night in the Reginald Theatre down the stairs at the Selmour Centre. The idea of not controlling our destiny was echoed again in the program note about, “we do not take a trip; a trip takes us.”
The moment we stepped into the theatre space we saw a very natural relaxed character playing slide guitar blues in the style of a panhandler straight out of the great depression. Then the unlikely pair of road travellers, George and Lennie, enter and put us at ease naturally with nicely crafted characters, regular humour and warmth that transported us with them to the promised land of the farm up ahead and the possibility of their own little ‘passle’ of land, a safe haven where Lennie can stay out of trouble and George can relax.
The stage then erupts with raucous farm hands transforming the space into the bunkhouse to the accompaniment of that natural guitar again and we know that we’re in good hands- but it’s gonna be a bumpy ride to drama and pain!
The cast are superb in every role. Andrew Henry delivers a sensitive characterisation of Lennie, a role which it would be so easy to overplay and lose empathy. Anthony Gooley is a wonderful, caring George. (I saw those tears at the end.)
Anna Houston was captivating as Curley’s plaintive desperate wife. Andre de Vanny played Curly, a villain to hate and Christopher Stollery played Slim, a solid support for George when needed.
John McNeil, Laurence Coy, Terry Serio, Charles Allen and Tom Stokes were all splendid and natural in character and performance. I make no apologies for reusing the word ‘natural’ to describe everything about this outstanding production.
We saw a simple but effective design from Michael Hankin, (I loved his design of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels), enhanced by the lighting design from Sian James Holland and Nate Edmondson.
Iain Sinclair’s direction elevated this classic script to unusual heights, the use of naturally occurring sound in the background created atmosphere, and the audience’s commitment was palpable. I heard sighs and gasps at all the right times.
The last scene led to nearly half a minute of stunned silence, then the rapturous applause exploded. Then we all trooped out, moved but satisfied .. naturally.
A Sport for Jove production, Jon Steinbeck’s OF MICE AND MEN is playing the Reginald theatre at the Seymour Centre until the 1st August.
It is interesting to note that two of our best independent theatre venues are currently presenting plays from the early 1980s.
Eternity Playhouse is showcasing the Ira Levin sluether DEATHTRAP and The Old Fitzroy has resurrected ORPHANS by Lyle Kessler.
Where DEATHTRAP is urbane, ORPHANS is urban, a gritty, visceral, muscular male tale, about sibling jetsam (father absconded, mother deceased) who exist in a shabby shoebox apartment. Continue reading Orphans @ The Old Fitz→
Theatregoers are in for a genuine treat if they make their way across to the Seymour Centre to see EUROPE, Slip of the Tongue’s very fine production of Michael Gow’s poetic 1987 play.
EUROPE is a quite remarkable play. From a simple premise Gow has come up with a richly textured work, replete with meaning and thematic content.
The premise…. A young Aussie guy, Douglas, and European actress, Barbara, have a brief affair when Douglas meets Barbara in the foyer after seeing her show that she has brought to Oz. Continue reading Michael Gow’s EUROPE→
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