The next Second Stage reading by Moira Blumenthal Productions, a leading Jewish Theatre Company, is Rob Selzer’s play ‘The Making Of Sasha Fein’,. a stage adaptation of Anita Selzer’s novel ‘I am Sasha’.
For sixty years Sandy Fein has kept a secret, a secret he is determined will follow him to the grave. All that changes the day he buries his elderly mother and some of her old mementos threaten to expose the truth. At the same time, his grand-daughter, Aviva, persuades him to be part of her family-tree project and picks at the threads of his past as well as the strings of his heart. Continue reading THE MAKING OF SASHA FEIN BY ROB SELZER : A STAGED READING→
Despite the subject matter, THE MAN IN THE ATTIC playing at Eternity Theatre is not an angry offering but it is definitely not a conciliatory watch either. It speaks in its own voice, directly to us. Perhaps for some of the audience last night this play meant a great deal but my experience was decidedly Brechtian. The play spoke of wicked things and, rational thought engaged, I was deciding what I would do.
It is late in the war in Northern Germany when Anna Moller finds a man at death’s door in a forest near her home. With her husband, Hermann they take him to their attic, steal his wallet and nail the trapdoor shut. When Daniel wakes he is in a precarious situation as the Moller’s have discovered he is a Jew. Conflict arises with Anna wanting to keep him safe and Hermann not willing to risk it. When they discover that Daniel has a skill that they can use in the bartering economy of the dying state, Hermann becomes an entrepreneur in the Black Market. Nosy neighbour Frau Giesling is also in for a cut. When the war ends there is even more scope for Hermann to make money from Daniel’s work and the pair decide not to tell Daniel the truth. Continue reading THE MAN IN THE ATTIC: THOUGHT PROVOKING THEATRE→
For the past five years Shalom and director Moira Blumenthal have co-produced a quality work of theatre for ever hungry Sydney theatre audiences. In 2014 it was Aaron Posner’s stage adaptation of Chaim Potok’s novel ‘The Chosen’ which played a theatre set up within Shalom College’s Educational Centre. In 2015 it was Arthur Feinsod’s ‘Coming to see Aunt Sophie’ at the Fig Tree Theatre UNSW. In 2016 it was ‘My Name is Asher Lev’, another stage adaptation by Aaron Posner of a Chaim Potok novel which played the Eternity Playhouse. Last year it was South African playwright Victor Gordon’s ‘You will not play Wagner’ again at the Eternity.
This year, in an exciting development, the offering is the Australian premiere of a play by an internationally acclaimed Australian playwright whose work isn’t performed enough in his home country. The play is ‘The Man in the Attic’ by Timothy Daly. Daly’s play has a fascinating scenario inspired by true events. A Jewish man is hidden by a German couple during the latter days of the Nazi regime. (Historical records indicate that over 11,000 Jews were hidden in attics, cellars and basements during the Second World War). Continue reading MOIRA BLUMENTHAL CHATS ABOUT ‘THE MAN IN THE ATTIC’→
Sport for Jove’s wonderful version of Shakespeare’s THE TAMING OF THE SHREW is a delicious version of this quite challenging play that had the audience in stitches at times. It has been adapted and transposed by director Damien Ryan to Italy in the 1920’s in the silent film industry with sly digs at the Australian film industry of the time. It is full of exuberant energy and performed with enormous zest.
Damien Ryan’s direction leads to a thought provoking production which questions how the play can be read from a feminist perspective and is delicately aware and nuanced in its approaches to gender politics but doesn’t really provide answers as such , leaving the audience undecided .
Anna Gardiner’s set is rather sparse but with multiple small props and a ladder that is rolled in, out or reversed allowing for many fluid scene changes and retaining the feel of a film production lot .With Sian James-Holland’s evocative lighting, and the use of projected, early cinema style film, the production is a visual feast.
The casting is superb with fine ensemble performances and wonderful work from the leads.
Seemingly the complete opposite to Katharine, Lizzie Schebesta shines as beautiful starlet Bianca who eventually reveals her hidden claws. On the surface, softer and far more the gracious , ideal woman she is as powerful as her sister. Schebesta impresses with her comic timing and graceful agility.
Danielle King as Katherina is brilliantly spitfire and spiky, at times almost feral, and , especially at first, rude and uncouth and delighting to annoy. She breaks convention and seeks to speak her mind and be independent in order to preserve her personal integrity but the dominant patriarchal society insists she does otherwise.
Angela Bauer is enchanting as the alluring Vincentia, prima donna movie star .
Baptista Minola here bossily, solidly played by Robert Alexander is a movie director with two eligible daughters: movie starlet Bianca (Lizzie Schebesta) and the fiery, explosive aviatrix Katharina (Danielle King). Baptista seems more concerned about his daughter’s financial security than their general well being.
The queue for Bianca’s hand includes matinee idols Gremio (Barry French) and Hortensio (Terry Karabelas) and, by proxy, a student, Lucentio (Christopher Stalley), who has his sister Tania (Eloise Winestock) impersonate him while he is in disguise as Bianca’s German governess.
Dashing Terry Karabelas as the vainglorious Hortensio is in fine form and revels in channeling his inner Errol Flynn.
Tall, blonde Christopher Stalley and Eloise Winestock have enormous fun as the scheming cross dressing siblings, Lucentio , (desperately in love with Bianca ) and Tania . Lucentio when in disguise as Bianca’s German governess Fraulein Gretchen is in the awkward situation of being the only character on stage who isn’t able to speak German!
James Lugton plays Petruchio, a dashing naval officer who seeks to ensure his financial future by marrying Katherina. His cruel taming methods almost amount to torture but he is a generally reasonable man who has to use unreasonable methods to get what he wants. The horrendous honeymoon is played aboard Petruchio’s ship, which suffers much rolling!, and then on land.
I enjoyed the neat visual twist that Katharina wears elegant black at her wedding, and it is Petruchio who has the spectacular entrance with a train. In a nice touch Petruchio enters shirtless, trailing a parachute.
The highly controversial speech by Katharina that ends the play, and that theoretically shows her vanquished spirit, is here presented with a troubled, questioning tone and laughs are orchestrated with the concluding projected film.
Petruchio’s servants here become his crew and sing a wonderful sea shanty and there is much fun with the rolling of the ship . Michael Cullen as Grumio , Petruchio’s valet and George Kemp as Biondello, in particular, show off their great comic timing and slapstick skills.
This Sport For Jove production is full of exuberant, boisterous energy with plenty of slapstick and silent film melodrama thrown into the mix.
The jokes hurtle along and Ryan and the cast do a magnificent job of maintaining the blistering pace in this bold production.
Running time allow 3 hours 15 minutes including one interval.
Sport for Jove’s production of TAMING OF THE SHREW is playing the York Theatre, the Seymour Centre until May 28.
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..
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