Tag Archives: Annie Byron

HOMESICK : PART OF OLD 505’S FRESH WORKS FEMME FESTIVAL

In  Sally Alrich-Smythe’s HOMESICK we meet Sam,  a young woman going through a turbulent time in her life.

She has always fancied herself as a muso and  has picked up a good local following. Sam wants  more, she has come to the point where she wants to establish a career as a singer/songwriter.

Sam applies for a full scholarship to a leading music college in New York and is accepted. With the full support of her family Eliza went over to New York, hoping to get her big break in the industry.

Things don’t quite work out for Sam in New York. She finds the course difficult and is homesick for her little home town of Wallerawang.

The play starts on a blue note with Sam arriving back home. Her mum Rachel has picked up her up from the airport. Sam is greeted by her dotty grandmother Eadie.

Sam is jet lagged and in a bit of a grumpy mood. Her mood isn’t helped when she sees the flat in  disarray and  the main wall to her bedroom has been taken out. She also finds out that her favourite goldfish has died,

Sam wants to get some shut eye but this doesn’t eventuate. Her  grandmother is far too eager to chat and, more to the point, her ex boyfriend Jess climbs in through the bedroom window to welcome  her back.

I was engrossed by the play but wanted more from it. There was too much talk and not enough action. The ending also was a bit of a disappointment.

Claudia Osborne’s production is a good one. There was the use of some ‘home’ video through the play, which generally worked well. I wondered about the choice of some of the video which was quite indecipherable.

Eliza Scott gave a fetching performance as Sam. Deborah  Galanos played Sam’s loving mother, a bit concerned about her daughter’s sudden return home. Annie Byron was well cast as Sam’s dotty grandmother.

Alex Stylianou impressed as Sam’s very animated, ebullient ex Jess.

Verdict. There was a lot of promise in Alrich-Smythe’s play. It does need more work on it before it would be considered for a mainstream production.

Sally Alrich-Smythe’s HOMESICK played the Old 505 Theatre between the 8th and 12th December, 2019.

 

MOSQUITOES @ THE DRAMA THEATRE

In British playwright Lucy Kirkwood’s MOSQUITOES Alice is a scientist working towards an important new discovery. Jenny  is her sister, and believes any conspiracy she reads on the internet. They couldn’t be more different. So, when tragedy forces them together, the impact has unexpected consequences.

It’s 2008 and Alice’s team of physicists at the Large Hadron Collider are searching for the Higgs Boson, stitching together the fabric of the cosmos. But at home, Alice’s family is falling apart at the seams. ‘It’s a story of facts and feelings, of resilience and decay, of particle physics and sibling rivalry, that reaches to the edges of time and space without ever losing touch with its very human heart’.

This was a compelling night in the theatre,  ‘a perfectly focused family drama woven together with big questions about the universe and our very existence’.                     Continue reading MOSQUITOES @ THE DRAMA THEATRE

DIANE SAMUELS’ ‘KINDERTRANSPORT’ @ THE ETERNITY PLAYHOUSE

Production photography by Phillip Erbacher.

‘To really get to know a person you have got to get inside a person’s skin and walk around a while.’ Atticus Finch in Harper Lee’s ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’.

This famous quote holds as true as ever.  We need to step outside of ourselves and into the ‘shoes’ of another human being to truly understand and accept them.

This is what British playwright Diane Samuels does with her play which explores what it was like to be a Kindertransport survivor. These were the Jewish children who the British Government rescued from the clutches of Nazism. Between the end of 1938 and the end of 1939 the British Government issued 10,000 permits  to get children out, minus their parents, and provide them with safe passage to England, where they were taken in by foster parents who were ‘charged with’ trying to bring order and stability back into their lives.

The play follows the journey of Eva from the time she leaves Germany for England to her own middle-age as a long established British resident with an inquisitive grown-up daughter who is demanding to know more about her long ago past., Samuels’ play also includes a non-naturalistic, symbolic level with the use of extracts from an an eerie children’s story, ‘The Rat Catcher’.

I found the  play authentic, and well served by Sandra Eldridge’s fine production. Sarah Greenwood as young Eva and Camilla Ah Kin as the adult Eva took us deeply into her world. Continue reading DIANE SAMUELS’ ‘KINDERTRANSPORT’ @ THE ETERNITY PLAYHOUSE

A DOLL’S HOUSE

Douglas Hansall as Torvald ties valiantly to hold onto his darling Nora, memorably played by Matilda Ridgway. Pic Seiya Taguchi
Douglas Hansall as Torvald ties valiantly to hold onto his darling Nora, memorably played by Matilda Ridgway. Pic Seiya Taguchi

In stark, and it has to be said refreshing contrast to the recent radical approach by other directors to classic works, Adam Cook plays his Doll’s House with a very straight bat. The play is performed in its time period and the plot-lines are strictly adhered to in his concise adaptation. His creative team, designer Hugh O’Connor, and lighting man Gavan Swift bring the play’s world vividly to life.

The hallmark of this production is how strongly the bold, cathartic nature of Nora’s journey is conveyed. Leading a uniformly strong cast, Matilda Ridgway as Nora takes the audience all the way with her to her chilling epiphany. It is then when Nora realises that she has spent her entire playing roles, being the dutiful child, the sweet wife, the doting mother and it is now time for her to throw off all her roles and find her own way in the world.

Iconclastic Nora exits stage left, leaving Torvald transfixed, and the other characters left to play out their roles, secure in their insecurities. Torvald (Douglas Henshall) will continue to be the straightlaced bank manager. Nils Krogstad (Anthony Gooley) will remain a shifty character, trying to get the best deal. Nora’s childhood friend Kristen Linde (Francesca Savige) will live in a compromised life with Krogstad so that she can keep the debtors from her door. Ever dutiful family friend Dr Rank (Barry French) has decided to face his final days alone, a proud man to the very end. The maid Helen (Annie Byron) will continue to be the good natured maid and carer to the two children.

Another strong showing by Sport for Jove, A DOLL’S HOUSE opened at the Reginald Theatre, Seymour Centre on Saturday July 18 and plays until Saturday August 2..

PARRAMATTA GIRLS

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This extraordinary, disturbing and challenging play storms defiantly onto the small stage of the Lennox at Parramatta. This play received its premiere production back at the inner city Belvoir theatre in 2007.

Playwright Alana Valentine has skillfully woven together true stories of women who were former inmates of the notorious Parramatta Girls Detention Centre.

Under the exceptional direction of Tanya Goldberg, and starring a galaxy of fabulous Australian actresses, this vibrant, confronting and sometimes quite witty and funny play enthralls and challenges whilst play exploring the defiance, endurance and psychological legacy of being labelled a ‘Home girl’.In Valentine’s play, eight former inmates return to the notorious Parramatta Girls Detention Centre for a reunion forty years after it was shut down. For the lucky few it’s a way to find healing, for others it’s a way to dispel the ghosts, for all of them it is a way to share the pain.

Tobhiyah Stone Feller‘s set is extremely effective, minimalist ‘Institution’- grey concrete rubble with smashed windows , heavy doors with rusty locks , cold, dangerous wire and the atmosphere of Jane Eyre’s Lowood.

The staging is also rather minimalistic, with a few tables /chairs/buckets as required which allows for the fluid ,cinematic scene and time shifts.Verity Hampson’s lighting is very atmospheric and effective with a wonderful use of shadows.

We discover both the physical and emotional/psychological scars that are at first glance hidden. Valentine’s play features some very powerful monologues and also includes story telling and songs. It is a tribute to the mischief and humour in the face of hardship suffered by countless girls, forgotten Australians who were victims of this harsh juvenile detention centre.

We hear some of the stories of abuse and neglect of the girls by the State and at the hands of the people officially appointed to look after them. There are nightmarish ‘play’ scenes where the inmates act out sentencing, pretend to be the Matron and the notorious ‘Doctor Fingers’.

We learn of the exhausting scrubbing punishment,the isolation cells and the semi-mythical ‘dungeons’. There is a coverall dingy grey uniform they wear when ‘inside’.  It is an analysis of their struggle to survive and beat the system – if they can. Harsh, streetwise girls are mixed with naive far more innocent ones who do not understand ‘the system’ and haven’t a hope of survival. On this return visit , some crack and dissolve in tears , can’t face going back,some snap and scream ‘let me out’ ,– yet the door this time can be opened any time they wish.

The girl’s babies – if they had them – were removed at birth and placed for adoption. We learn about desperate attempts at abortion and other attempts to get into sick bay, to escape even temporarily…

We have Judi’s (delightfully played by Annie Byron) opening monologue about billycarting and her being self conscious about her bleeding elbows and the harsh treatment she received. (At one point the rest of the women wear elbow bandages in solidarity).

Christine Anu is excellent as feisty Coral,who has a delightful monologue about a group bus trip to Kings Cross among other things. Later it is revealed that she is illiterate and the case workers have badly written up her reports.We see Coral become one of the leaders of the riots for better conditions , an act that most unusually unites all the women in protest.

There’s Lynette’s (wonderful Vanessa Downing )’s mantra of self worth – she is NOT a ‘waste of space’.

A haunting, delicate performance was terrifically given by Holly Austin as ghostly, tragic Maree. In one very sad scene she is forced to rip the arm off her beloved teddy bear, becoming one who falls through the cracks in the system until it is too late.

Hard, streetwise and brash ‘bad girl’ Melanie is given a tremendous performance by Anni Finsterer. We learn that outside she becomes a mother with fierce love for her children.

Sharni McDermott and Tessa Rose as Kerry and Marlene enable us to follow the plight of the many indigenous girls who were inmates ,the racism in the system and how badly they were treated too.

Sandy Gore as Gayle gives a great performance , ending the play on an ironically rather hopeful note with her monologue about all the charity money she raised and winning a motherhood competition.

A shattering, disturbing play with a glorious cast that is highly recommended. There is a fascinating display as the audience enters about the history of the Institution and a wonderful eerily atmospheric exhibition by Heidrun Lohr.

Running time 2 hours 20 mins (approx) including one interval. PARRAMATTA GIRLS is playing at the Lennox at the Riverside Theatres until the 17th May.