Tag Archives: Anna Gardiner

Educating Rita @ The Ensemble Theatre

Professor Frank (Mark Kilmurry) isn't used to reading essays quite like the ones that Rita (Catherine McGraffin) writes
Professor Frank (Mark Kilmurry) isn’t used to reading essays quite like the ones that Rita (Catherine McGraffin) writes

Mark Kilmurrry’s production takes us deeply into this Willy Russell world and its two loveable, vulnerable, very recognisable characters who stay in our hearts long after the house lights have come back up.

We walk into the theatre to be greeted with music from the nineteen eighties, the period in which the play is set, and Anna Gardiner’s finely detailed set of an academic’s chamber.

We first meet literature tutor Frank who is on the phone to his partner to tell  her he will be home. He has to first see a student who is enrolling in the Open University program. Continue reading Educating Rita @ The Ensemble Theatre

Blood Brothers @ The Hayes

Helen Dallimore as Mrs Johnstone
Helen Dallimore as Mrs Johnstone in the current revival of BLOOD BROTHERS

It’s doubtful that you will be able to score a ticket to BLOOD BROTHERS playing at the Hayes Theatre at the moment. Why? Because Sydney theatregoers recognize a good thing when they see it … and see it … and see it. I’ve gone twice and so have my friends. Some have managed to scrounge a third ticket from somewhere. What’s so good about this production? Nothing in particular. Just … the cast, the music, the band, the lighting, the audio mixing, the set, the costumes and the rousing applause of a thoroughly satisfied audience.

Mrs Johnstone (to be) is taken dancing by a fancy man whose chat line includes how much she looks like Marilyn Monroe. Marriage and children ensue and the dancing dwindles until Mr Johnstone scarpers with another Marilyn lookalike while his missus is up the duff with twins. Manipulated by the childless Mrs Lyons into handing over one of the twins and swearing on a bible to keep the bargain, Mrs Johnstone’s supposed to see the child every day as she chars for the Lyons. Until she gets the unceremonious boot and a few grotty Pound notes! Continue reading Blood Brothers @ The Hayes

Absent Friends @ The Ensemble

Absent Friends- Inset Pic
Inset pic- Foreground- Queenie van de Zandt, Darren Gilshenan and Michelle Doake. Background- Jessica Sullivan. Pics by Katy Green Loughrey

In Alan Ayckbourn’s ABSENT FRIENDS (1974) big hearted and  good natured soul Di has organised an afternoon tea for Colin, one of her husband Paul’s best friends.

She has been worried about how Colin has been going after his recent tragic loss of his newly wed wife Carol in a drowning accident. With this in mind Di invites two of Colin’s best friends,  John, along with his wife, Evelyn, and Gordon, along with his wife Marge, to join her husband and her in their family home, and hopefully this will help to cheer him up…

Oh…if only Di had a crystal ball! The afternoon soiree turns out very differently to how Di had hoped. Her husband Paul has come home from golf in a grumpy, cantankerous mood. He is rude, belligerent, even abusive to her.

Gordon doesn’t even turn up, his wife Marge attends and says her husband couldn’t make it. He isn’t feeling well. An absent friend as per the play’s titlle.

John is edgy and can’t stand still, his wife Evelyn is droll and bitchy. To top it all off, Diana has heard rumours that Paul and Evelyn have been having an affair.

Continue reading Absent Friends @ The Ensemble

The Crucible @ Bella Vista Farm

Crucible-inset Image
Images from Sport for Jove’s revival of The Crucible. Pics by Seiya Taguchi

It was only as I started my car engine to begin the trip to the performance tonight that I realised I wasn’t carrying any tissues. On my wander back to the house, I wondered … would I really need them? THE CRUCIBLE always makes me cry and it is the Elizabeth Proctor character who is the agency of those tears but Sport for Jove’s production is at Bella Vista Farm. Perhaps the open, less intimate space of a barn wouldn’t really translate into the genuine emotion which Arthur Miller’s text brings out in me. In the event, it was lucky that I did go back. Tissues were required but the agency was unexpected.

In the 1692 Puritan community of Salem, Massachusetts, Betty Parris, one of the town’s young women, has been struck down with a strange illness which leaves her unable to speak or move. Her friend, Abigail, confesses that the girls have been dancing in the woods with the West Indian servant woman, Tituba. Dancing combined with nakedness and drinking blood seem to have brought this illness on and its symptoms appear to be spreading among the girls. There is talk of witchcraft in the town and the Reverend John Hale arrives with the Malleus Maleficarum to root out evil. Continue reading The Crucible @ Bella Vista Farm

Danny and the Deep Blue Sea

Karli Evans and Wade Doolan play two lost souls who make connection in the 30th anniversary year of John Patrick Shanley's classic play
Karli Evans and Wade Doolan play two lost souls who make connection in the 30th anniversary year of John Patrick Shanley’s classic play

Staging theatre in a pub is a good fit. Drama and bars complement each other well and the performance of John Patrick Shanley’s 30 year old New York play DANNY AND THE DEEP BLUE SEA in the Roxbury Hotel, St John’s Road, Glebe, works exceptionally well. The first act is set in a bar and initially the audience is not quite sure if Danny (excellent performance from Wade Doolan) is an actor or a drunken patron.

Danny’s banter with the play’s only other character, Roberta (skilfully realised by Karli Evans), soon assures us that is in fact theatre and we can enjoy the ebb and flow of the drama. The characters’ tones and attitudes oscillate between disinterest, antagonism, affection and amusement and following the variations in these states is very engrossing.

Continue reading Danny and the Deep Blue Sea

Dark Voyager

Anna Gardiner's set stars with the cast. Pic Natalie Boog
Anna Gardiner’s set stars with the cast, left to right Belinda Giblin, Kate Raison, Lizzie Mitchell, Eric Beecroft and Jaenette Cronin. Pic Natalie Boog

With his new play DARK VOYAGER local playwright John Misto taps into something pretty much universal, the passion, more to the point obsession that people have with everything to do with celebrity.

Misto piques our interest with this tantalising scenario:-

We are in Hollywood. It’s 1962. Right wing gossip columnist Hedda Hopper sure has a lively sense of wanting to live dangerously. Hedda invites the two leading ladies, Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, over for supper in her swanky Beverly Hills apartment.

The duo had just completed their latest film, ‘Whatever happened to Baby Jane?’ and word  from the set is that the co-stars had been fighting like cat and dog through the film’s entirety and that the film had not turned out well.

Both the women arrive true to form. First Bette arrives and is so rattled  by Skip, Bette’s house boy, not recognising her, that she gets into the whisky very early on…Then Joan strolls in, in a resplendent blue dress, having managed to get through her crowd of fans. Continue reading Dark Voyager

STITCHING

Lara Lightfoot and Wade Doolan star in STITCHING
Lara Lightfoot and Wade Doolan star in STITCHING

Some nights at the theatre leave you in stitches. Not so with STITCHING.

This is a dour hour of time shifting game playing from here to maternity and there to paternity made palatable by two very fine performances

Abby and Stuart’s living room is made up of mesh wire walls and bench seats, a cage or coop, where these two lovers are trapped.

Continue reading STITCHING