There’s a favourite Cat Stevens song that goes ‘Oh baby, it’s a wild world/you can’t get by just upon a smile, girl’. The song was going around in my head more than little as I watched this latest David Williamson play, THE BIG TIME.
The great man’s subject is the entertainment industry, a world which he has inhabited for nigh on fifty years. How true Williamson’s program note is when he says, ‘I know that in the industry that creates fictional drama, that real life drama can be intense.’
Williamson is an ever astute observer of relationships and this is the engine which drives THE BIG TIME. We see the very fractured relationship of Celia and Vicki, two girls who went through NIDA together and whose careers have taken them off in very different directions.
Vicki is doing a lots of independent theatre gifs, whilst Celia has had a long standing role in a soapie, or as she calls it ‘a continuing drama series’. Whenever the girls meet for a cuppa Vicki baits Celia to leave the soapie and do some serious acting. After all, she was the star student at NIDA. Celia is a little torn, she would like to venture out but she loves the regular pay cheque she receives.Continue reading THE BIG TIME : OH BABY, THE ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY IS A WILD WORLD→
There’s a real fearlessness to Theatre on Chester’s latest offering. In the main, the stage is peopled with odious characters who espouse ideas that range from racist to a downright bigoted wrongness. And very easy to caricature but here, each of the unpleasant, self-centred hypocrites is fully formed and delivered with complete conviction. Unusual fare for a community theatre. A choice that respects their audience and the play.
David Williamson’s INFLUENCE centres around Ziggy Blasco, a radio host who has strong opinions … on anything that will up his ratings. He’s an equal opportunity dogmatist. At home, however, he is not king of the castle. His second wife Carmela is obsessed to regain her place as a prima ballerina after giving birth to their child and his daughter, Vivienne, from the previous marriage has just arrived to stay because she hates her mother. Continue reading INFLUENCE- THOUGHT PROVOKING WORK FROM THEATRE ON CHESTER→
In her program notes, Director Nadia Tass references the careful balance that Playwright David Williamson creates between gravity and humour. With that in mind, SORTING OUT RACHEL at the Ensemble Theatre is a play somewhat of your own making. On one level, it is a funny, moving and modern take on familial matters. Yet big issues insert themselves into the viewing and those themes are there for the taking. Continue reading SORTING OUT RACHEL: DECEPTIVELY DOMESTIC→
Playwriting Australia, the national organisation supporting new writing for the stage, is presenting the inaugural Chain Play, a celebrity fundraising gala crammed with the best playwrights and theatre artists from around the country.
Twenty of Australia’s most exciting and celebrated playwrights will join forces to offer Sydney audiences a raucous night of group creativity.
THE REMOVALISTS is one of David Williamson’s first and most influential plays, an iconic Australian play of the seventies dealing with domestic violence issues, that are still with us in 2015.
The Epicentre Theatre Company’s current revival features a very well chosen cast that is well able to deal with the emotional and physical demands of the script.
We witness how people play word games with each other to win each situation, but each with their own subversive reasons, in this vivid exploration of the changing roles of women and men.
The play starts inside the Police Station with two policemen, in a crime ridden suburb of Melbourne. One officer has been in the Police Force for 23 years and is corrupt whilst the other is freshly-trained and nervous, on his first day on the job. They are called on a job to help two sisters, one of whom has been badly beaten by her partner. Continue reading THE REMOVALISTS @ King Street Theatre→
Presented by Ensemble, DREAM HOME is the latest offering from David Williamson. Someone I met at the show compared Williamson’s comedies to seventies sitcoms: funny, if a little predictable and out of date. I have to admit, that was a perfect description, all the play needed was a laugh track.
The premise of a young couple buying their first apartment in Sydney is promising, but some of the antics that follow are what you would expect: neighbours from hell starting petty disputes over car spaces, and frisky neighbours who are looking for a little on the side. Paul (Guy Edmonds) and his pregnant wife Dana (HaiHa Le) are barely settled in their new home when the other residents of the apartment block come knocking, much to their annoyance. When one neighbour leaves, another quickly takes their place, with the couple never getting a moment to themselves.
“Headless body found in topless bar” is just one of many tabloid newspaper headlines created during the long life of media mogul Rupert Murdoch, now brought vividly to life in the Melbourne Theatre Company’s production of David Williamson’s play RUPERT, directed by Lee Lewis.
Given that the definitive play about Sydney’s shallowness was first performed in 1987, audiences may well question the contemporary relevance of David Williamson’s EMERALD CITY.
And also ask how this intimate Griffin Theatre Company production works on the small screen as it were, seeing as this play is about the lengths to which people will go to bag a harbour view made its sparkling debut oh so appropriately all those years ago at the Sydney Opera House.
EMERALD CITY pits Melbourne against Sydney and values against cash in the shape of fortysomething Colin Rogers (Mitchell Butel) and his publisher wife Kate (Lucy Bell) who make the move from Melbourne to Sydney, the city that gives good hedonism and where vicious cocktail parties are a necessary evil. Continue reading Emerald City→
FACE TO FACE is one of David Williamson’s plays from his Jack Manning Trilogy. The Trilogy is based on community conferencing, where victims and perpetrators of a crime are brought together to attempt to achieve a resolution and to avoid the court process. This might sound like good and worthy material for a typical left wing Williamson play and it could be viewed as such but the sharp and intriguing dialogue lifts it to a higher level. As could be expected the boss is exploitative and the workers treated badly but these are secondary issues to the main drama.
Glen Tragaskis, in a catching performance by Andrew Cutcliffe, a young scaffolder who has been fired and then rams his car into the bosses Mercedes. A community conference is held to try and resolve the situation and avoid court and gaol. Jack Manning, in an excellent performance by Glenn Hazeldine, starts nervously as he facilitates the conference, but generally directs the conversation assuredly as various unexpected side issues emerge. Bullying and pranking are common practices at the scaffolding site and these lead Glen to reacting violently and consequently being fired. These issues are further investigated and explored in the conference and it emerges that just about all of the characters in the play have acted dishonorably or inappropriately.
Willamson is in his best form writing the heartfelt, emotional and witty dialogue. Sandra Bates’ direction utilises this fine writing to encourage strong performances from the talented cast.
Adriano Cappelletta is excellent as Luka, a workmate of Glen, involved but not a ringleader in the bullying. Jamie Oxenbould, Erica Lovell, Kristian Schmid, Catherine McGraffin, Warren Jones, Fiona Press and Jessica Sullivan each bring fine performances to the production.
There is a plenty to enjoy about Face to Face. It feels as if the conference could erupt into a wild brawl or an all out screaming match, or possibly proceed in the opposite direction and with excessive hugging and crying but Williamson’s well crafted script avoids melodrama and keeps the audience fully engaged.
FACE TO FACE, along with the other two plays of the Jack Manning Trilogy, A CONVERSATIONB AND CHARITABLE INTENT, is playing at The Concourse, Chatswood, until 27th September.
David Williamson has gone for clever comedy, with a touch of the macabre, for his latest play, CRUISE CONTROL. Australia’s premiere playwright draws on a cauldron style scenario: Throw a group of very different people together, have it so that they can’t get away from each other, and then see how things play out.
The hothouse environment is on the cruise ship, Queen Mary 11, which is doing a seven night crossing from London to New York. Three very different couples come together each night in the main dining room and become increasingly entangled with each other. There are plenty of surprises in store for audiences with an intricately woven plot.
David Williamson’s play TRAVELLING NORTH is now 35 years old. Many people will know this piece from the film adaptation which starred the late Leo McKern as the larrakin, left wing, classical music loving Aussie, Frank. For the current Sydney Theatre Company revival, directed by STC’s Artistic Director Andrew Upton , Bryan Brown is well cast in the role.
Playing opposite Brown is Alison Whyte as Francis. What a fine performance she puts in, especially considering how she came in late in the rehearsal period after Greta Scacchi pulled out due to a back injury. She is a warm, confident performer and came across as being well suited to the role of this good natured, warm hearted woman.
A recently formed couple and newly retired, Frank and Frances decide to make a sea change and leave their Melbourne digs and move up to North Queensland where the weather is warmer and the people are friendlier. What starts out as a great idea becomes infinitely more complicated when Frank’s health takes a serious turn for the worse, his heart starts going on him, and Francis’s grownup children put pressure on her to return. The best laid plans of a happy retirement begin to fall apart….
Williamson puts in a lot of light touches, particularly his trademark witty lines, into what is a bit of a sad tale. Plenty of humour is generated out of the encounters that Frank has with the local medic, Saul, really well played by Russell Kiefel, as Frank tries to get to the bottom of his condition. It becomes tricky to work out who the Doctor is, and who is the patient!
Another great source of humour is the character of their newly acquired nerdy neighbour, Freddy. This was another fine comic performance, delivered by Andrew Tighe. Tighe had the audience in hysterics with every entrance, dressed in short shorts and appearing at the most inappropriate of times.
Harriet Dyer came across strongly in the role of Frances’s needy, bitchy daughter, Helen, whose husband leaves her. Frank displays little sympathy for Helen, ‘you can’t blame him for leaving, after being married for five years to that tongue’!
There’s so much to like about TRAVELLING NORTH. The play still works a treat. Upton ‘s production disappointed in one main way. This was in the staging- in the set design. There was nothing in the design to convey the lure, natural beauty and sensuality of life in the tropics, which had so much to do with Frank and Frances leaving their Melbourne home and comfort zone. The sparse set basically comprised different levels of platforms. So disappointing…
This current revival of TRAVELLING NORTH plays Wharf 1, the Sydney Theatre Company, until the 22nd March, 2014.
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