Last time I saw The Great Gatsby it was as a movie on one of the large VMAX screens at the Event cinema complex in Bondi Junction by way of Baz Luhrmann’s grand Academy Award winning film.
This time I was seeing F Scott Fitzgerald’s classic story as a play, in a newish, Sydney premiere adaptation by American playwright Simon Levy, presented by a local north side community theatre troupe, the Epicentre Theatre Company.
As I was watching the action impressively unfold, I thought to myself that there was something special about this experience. One doesn’t need all the hype, the big bucks, the huge production values, and fancy Hollywood stars for a show to work. All one needs is a damn good story, and a performing troupe who put their all into doing the best show that they can. In some respects the achievements of a small, unassuming troupe can be more impressive.
THE GREAT GATSBY is a hell of a story. The ‘major chords’ that it plays never fail to resonate. It is a parable for the ages….telling the story of Jay Gatsby, a ridiculously wealthy and classy man who assumed that he could have anything that he possibly wanted and yet falls short of keeping Daisy, the woman of his dreams.Continue reading THE GREAT GATSBY @ KU-RING-GAI TOWN HALL→
For their next show the Epicentre Theatre Company is presenting the Sydney premiere of American playwright Simon Levy’s adaptation of Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel The Great Gatsy.
THE GREATGATSBY , directed by Jody Goodman, will play the Ku-ring-gai Town Hall, 1186 Pacific Highway, Pymble from 16 September to 8 October. Performances are Fridays and Saturdays @ 7.30pm, Sundays @ 6pm, and Saturday matinees @ 2.00pm.
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→
Originally produced in 1981, Christopher Durang’s BEYOND THERAPY is a classic of its time and has had some spectacular names associated over time. Sigourney Weaver, Diane Wiest , John Lithgow to name just three. Robert Altman even made a film loosely based on it.
Johann Walraven, director of the current production at King Street Theatre views the text with a modern eye. His director’s notes speak of a “mid thirties” guy who sees his peer group change and wonders what choice is right for him. That generation was certainly well represented in the audience the night I saw the show. I was often alone in laughing out loud in response to the text and its 80’s references.
Bruce (David Hooley) is feeling the lack of marriage and children in his life, this despite having a male live-in-lover, Bob (Jasper Whincop). Abetted by his meddling and inept therapist, Charlotte (Nadia Townsend) he is placing ads in the newspaper’s lonely hearts column. Twice, he attracts Prudence (Rebecca Scott) who has been egged on by her therapist, Stuart (Andrew Johnson). After at first hating each other, the pair grow into a nervous relationship.
While Bruce has Bob to deal with, Prudence has her hands full with Stuart. She has had sex with him in the past and he is very keen to repeat the experience despite her mention of deregistration and his premature ejaculation issue. Bruce takes Charlotte’s advice as gospel despite the fact that she has some kind of nominal aphasia and a Snoopy toy to support her who barks when a patient makes her happy. And poor Bob is not going without making a splash! Continue reading Beyond Therapy @ King Street→
For their final production of the year, the Epicentre Theatre Company has taken on one of the classic courtroom dramas, Reginald Rose’s 1955 masterpiece, TWELVE ANGRY MEN.
The play opens with the twelve jury members congregating in the jury room shortly after having heard the closing arguments in what, at first blush, appears to be a clear-cut homicide case. If the the defendant is found guilty, the sentence is the electric chair.
As is the case with the American legal system, twelve jurors need to unanimously decide on a verdict of either guilty or not guilty. If a decisive verdict is not reached then the jury is declared a hung jury. The prosecution then have the right to seek a retrial.
Northside’s Epicentre Theatre Company is currently running a revival of BLACKROCK (1995), one of the strongest plays in the late, great Australian playwright Nick Enright’s body of work.
I was privileged to see David Berthold’s striking original production for the Sydney Theatre Company back in August 1995 with a marvelous cast including Simon Lyndon as Jared and Joel Edgerton as Toby. Whilst on a much smaller scale, the Epicentre Theatre Company’s current revival is an impressive one. Continue reading BLACKROCK→
Epicentre Theatre Company in their current production CALENDAR GIRLS explode onto the stage in a very funny, yet extremely moving production. Belinda Clark the director has a very strong cast and they all give very strong performances. The script is witty and incisive and the story told with great poignancy and humour.
Readers might have seen the film version or the stage version at the Theatre Royal in 2010.The plot, if you don’t know already, is developed from real life events: the making of a ‘nude’ calendar by members of a Yorkshire Women’s Institute which became a huge seller in 1999 and raised – and continues to raise, in part thanks to this play – truckloads of money for cancer research and the local hospital . There is much discussion about ‘Nude’ vs ‘Naked’ and is It Art ? ( ‘‘ Naked’ involves detail whereas ‘nudity’ rather suggests ‘). Some of the other issues raised in the play include aging, feminism , love, loss and friendship , and also that of selling oneself short for commercialization , albeit for an extremely good cause – how far do/should you go ? As retired school teacher Jessie ( Sandy Velini) says ‘ the worst thing about age is what you think age expects of you’ and ‘ I have never had a problem with age, my dear, it has had a problem with me’.
A mixed group of women – who we learn are variously retired, lonely frustrated, bored searching and all bonded by their dislike for their snobby chairwoman Marie – rally around the grieving Annie (Annabel Cotton), who has lost her husband to leukaemia. Characterization throughout is terrific .There are some very witty one liners , lots of laughs and some excellent , at times rather startling monologues . For the Easter section Melanie Robinson as Ruth dressed as the Easter Bunny is very funny . Chris, the rather outgoing ringleader seduced by media attention and succumbing to the commercialisation is wonderfully played by Wendy Morton . She is great friends with Annie (Annabel Cotton ) . We see their major spat in Act 2 yet their friendship is reforged by the end of the show .Ruth ( Melanie Robinson) is generally rather quiet but turns once she discover the confidence to confront the make up girl Elaine who had an affair with her husband. Celia is a stunning long legged ‘ hot ‘party animal brazenly, lusciously performed by Donna Sizer in a sizzling, magnetic performance . ( what a naughty, stunning Santa’s helper! )
The actual photo shoot at the end of Act 1 , somewhat abridged , is hilarious and very well done , dressing gowns coyly discarded among the tea cakes, iced buns, flowers and vegetables . While claiming to be outrageous the women still manage to be cautious yet flirtatious . Changing is done very discreetly behind photographic light shields and/or drapes and the posing is dramatically, tastefully done . Laughing Dona Sizer as Celia delectably juggles her appendages behind the iced buns with cherry nipples. Christine Firkin as Cora at the piano discreetly gives us an upper torso rear view while Melanie Robinson’s nervous,breathless yet determined Ruth lies enchantingly among a large tub of oranges. The audience absolutely loved it.
The climatic speech that opens the second half – the appeal to the WI – is very well done , and we are the WI audience. There are some cameo appearances by Carol Keeble as frightfully elegant ,delightfully snobbish Lady Carvenshire and Mark O’Connor is excellent as Lawrence the photographer in Act 1 . As John, Annie’s husband who has leukaemia, Nick Bolton gives a very powerful and moving performance beautifully , rather gently fading away .Liam in Act 2 is given a fine performance by almost unrecognizable Bolton and Tim Bate is very supportive as Rod .
The action is mostly located in the church functioning as a WI hall ( also used as a scouts hall , badminton court etc ) with some wonderful use of projections ( eg for the outdoor tai chi classes and the sunflower remembrance montage at the end ) .
There are some other great theatrically inspiring moments – for instance the sudden overhead fluttering arrival of the deluge of letters of support and encouragement . Also the use of the theme of the sunflowers and the huge sunflower field at the end.
In Act 2 we see the unexpected stiff battles between the friends at the Women’s Institute and wonder how they cope with their sudden , unexpected fame.Or in fact do they handle it well ?
A wickedly warm , inspirational and yet poignant show . 2014 Calendars are being sold to raise money for the Arrow Bone Marrow Transplant Foundation .
Running time 2 hours 30 (approx) including interval
CALENDAR GIRLS runs at the Zenith Theatre 11-196 October 2013
SYDNEY REVIEWS OF Screen + Stage + Performing Arts + Literary Arts + Visual Arts + Cinema + Theatre +