Tag Archives: Elizabeth Gadsby

BAROQUE IN BLOOM : AUSTRALIAN BRANDENBURG ORCHESTRA

Photo Keith Saunders

This glorious concert by the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra, filmed in September at City Recital Hall Sydney, the latest in their Brandenburg One series, was directed by Stef Smith with production design by Elizabeth Gadsby  and was dedicated to Carla Zampatti.

There is a huge spacelike circular rig that can tilt, but the performance is dominated by the garden of blooms erupting onstage, at times almost dwarfing the Orchestra. Paul Dyer leads his ensemble most enthusiastically on harpsichord or organ. There is assured, precise, controlled yet at times passionate and joyous playing throughout with great attention paid to the nuances and structure of the music.

The concert is a celebration of Spring. We hear two vibrant works by Gregori, given their Australian premiere and also Roman and Venetian music by Corelli, Marini and Vivaldi. The filming was excellent with at times fascinating closeups of the performers. Continue reading BAROQUE IN BLOOM : AUSTRALIAN BRANDENBURG ORCHESTRA

JULIUS CAESAR : AN INVENTIVE, UNIQUE NIGHT OF THEATRE

Geraldine Haekwill, Ewen Leslie and Zahra Newman. Photo Daniel Boud
Zahra Newman in the Sydney Theatre Company’s production of ‘Julius Ceasar’ Photo Daniel Boud
Zahra Newman in Sydney Theatre Company’s production of Julius Caesar. Photo Daniel Boud
Geraldine Hakewill, Zahra Newman and Ewen Leslie in the Sydney Theatre Company production of J’ulius Caesar’. Photo Daniel Boud

Please, don’t read reviews that explain how Sydney Theatre Company has staged ‘Julius Caesar’. Please, don’t let people who have seen it tell you what happens. It would be better to enter the Wharf Theatre knowing very little so that you will enjoy the surprises and immerse yourself in the creativity of director Kim Williams and his team. This is a creative, sometimes funny, often inventive, unique night of theatre.

For the Shakespeare purists, you, too, will probably immerse yourself in the magic of STC’s rendition of Shakespeare’s take on power, moral corruption and democracy. It would be a very closed-minded purist who would object to this production, because this ‘Julius Caesar’ is true to of the text (albeit truncated), powerfully acted and deeply connected to the here and now.

For those who may dread a Shakespearean tragedy’s murders, blood and angst, and therefore decide not to go, please fear not. Yes, there is blood, but it is soon vanquished by surprising theatrical techniques that make the audience forget the gore. This ‘Julius Caesar’ includes humour that sometimes provokes laughter from the audience. Continue reading JULIUS CAESAR : AN INVENTIVE, UNIQUE NIGHT OF THEATRE

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

A CHEERY SOUL @ THE DRAMA THEATRE

‘All the lonely people

Where do they all come from?

All the lonely people

Where do they all belong?’

Eleanor Rigby

Patrick White’s classic play A CHEERY SOUL is the Sydney Theatre Company current production at the Drama Theatre, Sydney Opera House. White has described this play, set in 1963 in the make believe suburb of Sarsparilla as ‘exploring the destructive power of good’.

Sarah Peirse is versatile but seamless as the ever cheerful but dreaded Miss Docker with her  obsessive, clumsy acts of Christian kindness. Her mania to do incessant good irritates all and sundry.  At the start of the play she is forced to leave home and must rely on the charity of those who know her. Mr and Mrs Custance welcome her into their home but she soon grates on their nerves. One scene has her making a humble cup of tea turn into a kitchen tornado experience. She spills three teaspoons of sugar, loose tea leaves and milk, and then offers to clean things up but actually doesn’t do it leaving Mrs Custance to clean up the mess, In the end, Mr and Mrs Custance ask her to leave because she is unbearable to live with.

In her main role Anita Hegh is wonderful as the very conservative, saccharine,  nervy Mrs Constance. Anthony Taufa, in his primary role, is her gruff, set upon husband.

Miss Docker’s next stop  is the Sundown Home for Old People- a very depressing nursing home. The patients have their cliques and Miss Docker’s reputation precedes her. She tries to ingratiate herself with one of the main women there, a  Mrs Lillie, well played by Tara Morice, whose husband has recently died. Mrs Lillie wants very little to do with Miss Docker, which is further indicated at her husband’s funeral. Miss Docker steps out of the car for a  brief time, and what follows is that the funeral car leaves her behind and she has to walk wearily home alone. Continue reading A CHEERY SOUL @ THE DRAMA THEATRE

BLACKIE BLACKIE BROWN : THE TRADITIONAL OWNER OF DEATH

Featured image – Ash Flanders and Megan Wilding in Lui’s new playProduction photography by Daniel Boud.

This is the new work by indigenous playwright Nakkiah Lui. It is a very different style of play to Black is the New White which was written in a  naturalistic style. BLACKIE BLACKIE BROWN : THE TRADITIONAL OWNER OF DEATH is a sort of  comic book come to life, a superhero revenge story which mixes live action theatre with stunning visuals and animation. The common feature to both plays is that Lui tackles serious subjects with a comic, satirical  touch.

The storyline follows Dr Jacqueline Black who is an Aboriginal archaeologist working on a dig somewhere in the Australian bush. Uncovering a mass grave, she picks up a skull and is suddenly seized by a transcendent power.

Dr Black’s great-great-grandmother speaks to her from beyond the veil. She speaks of the white men who brutally massacred her family. She speaks of that sin being passed down through the generations. Dr Black tasks Jacqueline with exacting revenge – she must kill all 400 descendants of the men who murdered her ancestors. A cold-blooded vigilante is born: Blackie Blackie Brown, the traditional owner of death. Continue reading BLACKIE BLACKIE BROWN : THE TRADITIONAL OWNER OF DEATH

Sharpen your knives for ‘Dinner’ @ Sydney Theatre Company

Production images by Brett Boardman

What setting is best to poke fun at other’s misfortunes? Why, a three course dinner party, of course!

Moira Buffini’s contemporary play, Dinner, is wickedly comedic as it is tragic. Centring around host Paige Janssen, the night is to celebrate her husband’s successful new pop-philosophy book being published, entitled Beyond Belief. Guests include an artist, a scientist, a journalist, a politician who cannot attend, and one uninvited stranger. The party is lead by Paige through a series of strange meals, with conversations turning uncomfortably personal. There seems to be no pleasant way this night can end. Continue reading Sharpen your knives for ‘Dinner’ @ Sydney Theatre Company