Tag Archives: Arky Michael

THE HUMANS: ENSEMBLE CAST OF EXCELLENCE

Production Photography: Clare Hawley

They are a rowdy lot, the Blake family, as they meet for Thanksgiving dinner on the small stage at the Old Fitz Theatre.  They know how to fill a room with their lightly weaponized bonhomie, the jabs and pokes of long acquaintance and the love, the centrepiece of their dinner table, the love.   With an ensemble cast of excellence THE HUMANS from MopHead Productions, in association with Red Line Productions, is a bright, high energy affair for sure but I yearned for the dark, the mystic, the bog and the mist of this Irish bred clan.  For me, it is that which gives body to the purely narrative in this Pulitzer nominated, Tony winning, script by Stephen Karam.

Brigid is hosting the celebration this Thanksgiving.  She and boyfriend, Richard, have moved into an apartment in the run down Chinatown area of Manhattan.  The fact that these pair are without the benefit of marriage is merely one of the issues that concern her parents Deirdre and Erik who arrive from Scranton with ‘Momo’, Erik’s dementia suffering mother.

Joining them is Aimee, their other daughter, a lawyer who gives every indication of being very unwell.  Through the parents’ eyes we will see what is lost when the children move away from family, religion and working class moralities.  And during the course of the evening, this family under pressure will become more unstable and distant from each other despite the evident boisterousness and verve of their well-practiced interactions. Continue reading THE HUMANS: ENSEMBLE CAST OF EXCELLENCE

PERMISSION TO SPIN: THE MOUSE, THE MANIAC AND THE MENACE

Production images: Robert Catto

There must be a temptation to use real product on the set of PERMISSION TO SPIN from Apocalypse Theatre Company in association with Red Line Productions.  This is a manic 65 minutes and whatever hurtles the three person cast through it must be illegal.  And I want some!

In a shiny yet nondescript office we meet Martin and Jim.  Jim is the agent for recording phenomenon, Cristobel, whose music is about to win Children’s Album of the Year.  The reason that Cristobel is going to win the aforesaid award is down to the spin skills of Martin who has made her character, Miss Polkadot a household (read happy meal figurine) name.  His methods are obvious.  He brings the menace down on poor, coked up, manic Jim.  Cristobel on the other hand has been mouseily manipulated by this harrying double act but is on the roar to becoming her own person.  Consuming will happen, bullying will occur and disorder will ensue.  Continue reading PERMISSION TO SPIN: THE MOUSE, THE MANIAC AND THE MENACE

ON BONDI BEACH

Another beautiful  sunrise over Bondi Beach
Another beautiful sunrise over Bondi Beach.(c) Mick Duck

It was time to again sing the praises of one of Sydney’s great natural treasures. Last night saw the well attended launch of ON BONDI BEACH. Michael Caton emceed the launch,(hosted by the resident Tamarama Rock Surfers Theatre Company, in the upstairs theatre at the Bondi Pavilion. The launch  featured excerpts being read by local actors including Arky Michael and Odile Le Clezio.

ON BONDI BEACH is the fifth work put together by Ann Game, Andrew Metcalfe and Demelza Marlin, academics working in the School of Social Sciences at the University of New South Wales, following on from ‘Passionate Sociology’, ‘The mystery of everyday life’, ‘The first year experience’, and ‘Teachers who change lives’.

Their new work is the result of interviews, aided by research assistants Belinda Clayton, Ian Lennie and Luca De Francesco, that they carried out with people from all walks of life who shared a passion for Bondi. They then went on to transcribe these interviews so that  the ensuing rich variety of perspectives could be enjoyed.

During the editing process, a few style decisions were made. Each take would be published in the viewer’s own words, and then combined to form an ‘album’ of snapshots, a collage of perspectives.

Whilst sorting through the transcripts, the editors discovered that every-one had their particular favourite or interesting time/s of the day. For Waverley Council worker Jeanna dawn is a special time …for restauranteur Sharon it is night-time when Bondi truly comes alive. With this in mind the interviews were grouped together in different time periods from dawn to well into the Bondi night.

This book makes for entertaining reading with sentiments expressed that will resonate with many. ON BONDI BEACH, co-authored and edited by Ann Game, Andrew Metcalfe and Demelza Martin, academics from the School of Social Sciences at the University of New South Wales, has been published by Australian Scholarly Publishing. It is retailing for $24.95.

 

THE TABLE OF KNOWLEDGE

Arky Michael, Jane Phegan and Kym Vercoe. Pic Heidrun Lohr
Arky Michael, Jane Phegan and Kym Vercoe. Pic Heidrun Lohr

Using actual transcripts and wiretaps from the ICAC hearings into Wollongong Council lends THE TABLE OF KNOWLEDGE a gripping sense of immediacy. The corruption saga had a heady mix of bribes, sex, developers, ICAC impersonators and threats of violence. We are voyeuristically entertained with numerous scenarios from this tawdry media sensation.

This innovative production by Version 1.0 and Merrigong Theatre Company makes use of a wonderful set and video presentations. The audience is greeted by large blocks of colour dominating the rear of the stage and during the play these alternate between actual video footage and cartoon like representations of Wollongong streetscapes, greenfield sites and proposed developments. Sean Bacon’s visuals are quite stunning. The use of large plastic toy blocks is a colourful and clever device.

The actors play various characters and as they are often reciting ICAC transcripts it is very clear who they are portraying. “Mr Vellar, can you explain to the court…..etc”. There are also video screens further explaining who is speaking and in what particular context. Occasionally the actors will address the audience.

There is an opening address by Russell Kiefel explaining that these type of events could only happen in Wollongong, until the other actors, Angela Bauer, Jane Phegan, Kym Vercoe and Arky Michael chime in with “or Port MacQuarie, or (very topically) Ryde, or Randwick, or Burwood.” It is tacitly conceded that corruption in local government is widespread.

The performances are consistently strong and engaging. Kym Vercoe’s performance as Beth Morgan, the town planner who had sexual relations with two of the developers, starts out as confident and enjoying the expensive gifts she receives for assisting with planning applications before deteriorating into a scared and nervous wreck. Arky Michael’s performance as corrupt developer Frank Vellar captures the hubris and confidence of such a colourful character. Russell Kiefel’s Rod Oxley, General Manager of Council, has the audience almost believing that his unlawful practices were really in the best interests of Wollongong.

There are many laughs in this play, mostly from the outrageous behaviour of the main protagonists. At other times the mood is dark and threatening as the criminals exert menace and pressure on the corrupt and vulnerable.

THE TABLE OF KNOWLEDGE runs until July 21 at Glen Street Theatre, Belrose.