Sydney theatre patrons have recently been given the opportunity to see two impressive works of world theatre, in their Australian premiere productions.
First in line, I saw Sandra Bates’s impressive production of American playwright Gina Gionfriddo’s cutting edge discourse on feminism, RAPTURE, BLISTER, BURN at Kirribilli’s Ensemble Theatre. Suffice to say, I gave it a rave review:- http://www.sydneyartsguide.com.au/rapture-blister-burn-ensemble-theatre/
Which is also what I am doing now writing this brief piece on British playwright David Harrower’s SWEET NOTHINGS. Harrower’s play is a smart, contemporary adaptation of Austrian playwright Arthur Schnitzler’s 1895 play LIEBELEI (FLIRTATION). Schnitzler, the playwright who inspired the movies EYES WIDE SHUT and THE BLUE ROOM, described his play, written when he was in his early thirties, as a, ‘touching tragicomedy’.
The play is on a similar theme to one of my all-time favourite films, Swiss fimmaker Claude Goretta’s THE LACEMAKER, and starring French actress, Isabella Huppert. Huppert, who shared a Sydney stage earlier this year with Cate Blanchett in a Jean Genet play, plays a young woman whose spirit is shaken when she is abandoned by a careless lover.
SWEET NOTHINGS opens with two party boys, Fritz and Theodore, in a boisterous mood, getting ready for a big night out. Lothario Fritz has been having an affair with a married woman which is threatening to be exposed. Theodore is trying to distract Fritz from his adulterous affair by inviting two women over, party girl Mitzi and her friend, Christine.
The women arrive, everybody gets plastered, the party gets more and more decadent, and everyone starts kissing everyone… Then, there is a knock on the door, a Gentleman arrives…
John Kachoyan’s production serves Harrower’s play well and he wins good performances from the cast.
Ensemble Studios graduate Matilda Ridgway gives a well measured, touching performance a Christine, a naïve, sweet natured young woman who falls for Fritz. Christine Mills impresses as the brash, outrageous, Mizi.
Graeme McRae and Owen Little shine as the dirty, rotten playboys, Fritz and Theodore. Alistair Wallace plays the Gentleman caller out for vengeance. We have to wait until Act 2 to see veteran star of stage and screen, Mark Lee, who impresses as Christine’s anxious father, Weiring, and Lucy Miller plays family friend, Katherina.
Kachoyan’s creative team enhance the production with a good work coming from Sophie Fletcher’s well detailed costume and set design, Marty Jamieson’s atmospheric score and Hartley Kemp’s sharp lighting design.
SWEET NOTHINGS is the final production of the year in the ATYP’s Under the Wharf program. Recommended, SWEET NOTHINGS, a co-production by pantsguys productions and Geraldine Timmins, opened at ATYP Studio 1, Pier 4/5 Hickson Road, Walsh Bay, on Friday November 8 and runs until Saturday November 23, 2013.