Tag Archives: Genesian Theatre Company


production images: Grant Fraser

Genesian Theatre Company celebrates its 75th year with another entertaining night of theatre in A ROOM WITH A VIEW.  Giving modern audiences a chance to steep in period manners, mores and dialogue, the production also delights with a surprising number of comic moments plus a worthy heroine and a love match to bring gloved hands together for.  This E M Forster adaptation by Roger Parsley and Andy Graham nestles nicely into the venerable old building with a comforting immersion into a well-directed show.

Miss Lucy Honeychurch is on her first trip to Florence and her older cousin and chaperone, Miss Charlotte Bartlett, is rather taken aback when her loudly voiced concern about their pensione accommodations not having a view, attracts the attention of Mr Emerson Sr and his son George.  The men are also English and are offering to swap rooms with the women.  Views matter to women but not to men, opines the father.  The rest of the story will play out in a Florence populated with some other odd characters and then back home in the tiny village which is home to Lucy, her mother and infuriating younger brother, Freddy. Continue reading A ROOM WITH A VIEW – ANOTHER PLACE AND TIME BEAUTIFULLY EVOKED


The new show at the Genesian Theatre is an Agatha Christie murder mystery which is sure to bring good houses to this lovely inner city venue.  As always it is the interesting group of characters which bring Christie’s work vividly to life.

The setting is the living room of a country estate with a door out to the patio. The plot revolves around a gruesome discovery made by one Michael Starkwedder. One night his car goes into a ditch and he seeks help from a local house. No-one responds to his knocks, but he goes in  through the unlocked balcony to find a dead man in a wheelchair, one Richard Warwick. In the corner stands wife Laura, a woman in shock, with a gun in her hand. Continue reading THE UNEXPECTED GUEST @ THE GENESIAN THEATRE



You can’t go wrong with Agatha Christie. Well I suppose you could. But not if you are the Genesian Theatre Company. This is their metier. A MURDER IS ANNOUNCED is gripping, stylish entertainment. Adapted by Leslie Darbon, the play is from 1987 but it retains all the period elements that audiences require of a Christie Mystery. The Genesians have assembled an excellent cast, put them on a lovely set and costumed them superbly.

A unusual notice has been put in the village paper of the small English spa town of Chipping Cleghorn. It announces a murder will be committed at ‘Little Paddocks’ on Friday evening at 6:30. The household see it as rather a joke but neighbours and villagers are sure to drop by around about then. And no one is going to keep a certain Miss Jane Marple, in the village to take the waters for her rheumatism, away from the possibility of a delicious mystery.

And delicious it is. Owing much to  the way the climax has been adapted by the playwright who has wisely removed some of the novel’s more hysterical events such as an attempted drowning in the kitchen sink and the Snugglepuss redolent, Miss Murgatroyd: yet kept the period flavour which is required to keep Miss M in her place and time. Continue reading AGATHIE CHRISTIE’S ‘A MURDER IS ANNOUNCED’ @ THE GENESIANS



Genesian-secondProduction photography by Mark Banks.

Tucked away in inner city Kent steet is the Genesian Theatre. With its luxuriant velvet curtain and plush red seats, it is  amongst the most elegant and intimate of Sydney’s theatres. Thomas Hardys’ “Far from the Madding crowd, adapted by Mark Healy, is currently being performed here.

It is a sumptuous, generous play with a large cast and production crew. Hardy wrote it in the late 19th century, at a time when England was transforming from a mercantile, rural society to a  harsher industrial one. Mores too were changing, and the Great Era of Women’s Emancipation glimmered in the distance. The heroine, Bathsheba Everdene (could there ever be a name more grounded, independent  and respectable than that ?!), graciously played by Nicole Harwood, saves the life of Farmer Oak ( solid, working class), played with great gusto by Ben Dewstow. From then on their lives become inextricably entwined.

Hardy never has much time it seems to me, for the upper middle classes. His faith lies with the working class. The upper classes are invariably cheats and ne’er do wells. The lower are the salt of the earth.

The beginning finds Farmer Oak in burgeoning financial circumstances and Bathsheba relatively impecunious. In a twist of fate this is reversed. Bathsheba become wealthy and Farmer Oak becomes poor.  Farmer Oak remains the same but she becomes delicate and vulnerable to being preyed upon by the upper classes.

It is a gripping tale, played across 40 scenes with 12 actors playing multiple roles, in which rural England comes to life amid scenes of song, dance and celebration. it is a stellar cast and for my part, I was particularly drawn to Bathsheba’s maid and rock of support Liddy, played by  Kathryn Hutchins. Her character is another of Hardy’s metaphors for the working class being the solid backbone of England.

The Genesian Theatre has been the provenance of many fine actors, including John Bell, Baz Luhrmann, Bryan Brown and Judi Farr.

The current performance is in the spirit of these great actors.

FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD, directed by Debbie Smith, is playing the Genesian Theatre, 420 Kent street, until the 25th June 2016.



The team, cast and crew, behind AMADEUS. Pics Mark Banks
The team, cast and crew, behind the Genesian’s current revival of AMADEUS. Pics Mark Banks

“I don’t believe it” are the gossiping words declared ironically and repeatedly by the court ‘whims’ Venticello and Venticella as bookends to the opening and closing of Peter Shaffer’s 1979 play, AMADEUS. Hapsburg Court musician and composer for Emperor Joseph ll, Antonio Salieri has declared on his death bed that he murdered Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart via poisoning and the Viennese court of the early 19th century is buzzing with the news.

Whether it’s true or not (and there’s significant debate that suggests it’s a greatly exaggerated antipathy), it’s a ripping tale and far more interesting than a bit of petty jealousy. In Shaffer’s hands, Salieri becomes a full blown tortured protagonist, possessed by the demon of jealousy, causing him to renounce his faith, break his marriage vows and rail against a God who gave a divine gift to an essentially childish, giggling and foolish man – Mozart. Salieri’s duplicity in appearing to befriend Mozart, while blocking and destroying any opportunities for Mozart’s advancement or even financial stability is the basis of this tale of spiraling envy and despair. Continue reading Amadeus

Spider’s Web

A scene from Agathie Christie's SPIDER'S WEB. Pic Mark Banks
A scene from Agathie Christie’s SPIDER’S WEB. PicS by Mark Banks

With a set design and directed by Ylaria Rogers the Genesian Theatre’s production of Agatha Christie’s Spider’s Web is a thoroughly enjoyable romp. We know one or more of the characters will be murdered, but how & why & by whom? Everyone has something to hide but can we solve the mystery before the last clue is given and the final twist unfolds. Probably not!

The action takes place in the drawing room of a country house Copplestone Court in the 1950s. The set has the typical Christie secret passageway, a desk with hidden compartment and French doors opening into a garden for the possible quick entry/exit of suspicious characters. Well timed lighting ensures black outs occur just at the correct the moment to allow for dark deeds and menacing music hints at evils to come. Continue reading Spider’s Web


Jena Napoletano as Elizabeth and Jessica Egan as Jane in PRIDE AND PREJUDICE. Pic Grant Fraser
Jena Napoletano as Elizabeth and Jessica Egan as Jane. Pic Grant Fraser

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single play at the Genesian Theatre in possession of an effective adaptation and colourful characterisations must be wedded to patronage and applause.

PRIDE AND PREJUDICE is well cast and costumed in the staging of this adaptation by Simon Reade. The version preserves many key conversational exchanges and social confrontations from the novel across two acts and eighteen scenes.

Continue reading PRIDE AND PREJUDICE


Sophia Harrison, Daniel Hitchings and Christina Swan in THE STAR CHILD. Pic Mark Banks
Sophia Harrison, Daniel Hitchings and Christina Swan in THE STAR CHILD. Pic Mark Banks

With their adaptation, Roger Gimblett (book and lyrics) and Nicholas Edwards (music) have taken a sparse, precise Wilde morality tale-THE STAR CHILD (1891)- (the story is about a boy who is brought up believing that he has sprung from divinity- come down from the stars- only to discover that he is actually the son of a beggar woman…and how he deals with it) and turned it into a full scale, high energy, bright musical

The duo have gone for broke… there’s no lack of imagination here!…The show incorporates some twenty songs- all lively and all ‘carrying’ the story forward. My favourites were ’Trensdsetter’, when The Star Child is at his most arrogant, ‘The Transformation’, describing the ‘magical’ times when the Star Child is transformed into another ‘state’ and the big Company number simply called ‘The Star Child’.

I am not sure what Oscar would have thought…quite likely he would have been amused…the production even includes a fun tap dancing number featuring some quite jumpy rabbits, well choreographed by Debbie Smith.

In no slight achievement, director Gimblett manages to fit a 5 piece orchestra- piano, guitar, bass, drums and trumpet- onto  the tiny Genesian stage. The players do a great job under the batonship of Timothy M Carter.

The show kicks off well with a strong opening scene featuring blizzard sound and lighting effects (Michael Schell) and a great starry backdrop (Owen Gimblett).

Wilde’s original story only features a few characters…Gimblett has created many more, which means that a lot more actors get a gig.

All the central roles are performed well; Ben Bennett as the Star Child, Elizabeth MacGregor as his beggar mother and Robert Green as his leper father figure, Martin Searles and Amber Wilcox as the good hearted woodcutter and his wife, and Robert Wells and Greg Thornton as the Evil Magician and his sidekick, Pongo. The supporting cast do well.

The show features plenty of one liners.. Wilde of-course had a penchant for them, well he was one of the wittiest men to have graced the planet, however all the ripostes in the show are Gimblett’s own creations. Whilst some of them worked well others were too obvious and telegraphed.

Great period costumes are a feature of Genesian  productions  and Susan Carveth and Lissa Knight did not disappoint. The garb of the Beggar Woman and the striking red costumes of the Tower guards were stand-outs.

With this world premiere production  Gimblett and Edwards have added THE STAR CHILD to the long list of works by the brilliant Irish writer that have been given musical adaptations.

Good family entertainment, Roger Gimblett and Nicholas Edwards’s new musical THE STAR CHILD opened at the Genesian Theatre on Sunday November 24 and is playing until Saturday December 14, 2013. Check the website- www.genesiantheatre.com.au– for playing times.


A hockey final takes centre stage in DAISY PULLS IT OFF. Pic Mark Banks

In a similar vein to the famous St Trinian’s films, British playwright Denise Deegan’s 1983 play DAISY PULLS IT OFF, based on Winnifred Norling’s 1939 novel THE TESTING OF TANSY, transports audiences to the wacky, temperamental world of schoolgirl dormitory life. The spotlight falls on vivacious public school student Daisy Meredith who wins a place at the exclusive Grangewood School for Young Ladies in London.

It’s there that Daisy faces an uphill battle. The rich girls give her a dreadful time and try and make her feel unwanted. Daisy, however, is a resilient spirit and strives to gain acceptance and excel academically.

Putting it mildly, Daisy’s journey is not one of the more absorbing journeys put on stage. Nevertheless the playwright tells her yarn with plenty of appealing, tongue in cheek humour- the genre essentially parody, and Mark Langham’s direction follows suit. The stage is very busy…the pace fast…actors delivering props and then disappearing.

The big highlight is the hockey final that the school features in, which is played out in high spirits, much fanfare and plenty of flaying hockey sticks.

The show is good natured, light entertainment which the cast perform competently and with plenty of enthusiasm.

Mature actresses play the schoolgirl roles and pull it off well. Anna Hitchings plays the over-achieving Daisy.  Amylea Griffin is good fun as Daisy’s chum- high spirited poetess Trixie Martin, though, at times, I felt like she could have ‘pulled back’ her performance a little.

Bianca Bradey was convincing as Daisy’s nemesis, the bitchy, spoilt rich girl Sybil as was Diana Kalfax as her inseparable friend, Monica.

Anita Donovan and Laura Genders were suitably prim and bossy as school prefects, Clare and Alice.

In the more senior roles- Daniel Hitchings, Anna’s big brother, played quirky music teacher Mr Scoblowski, Kerry Day delivered a confident performance as the old fashioned and a bit daffy  headmistress, Miss Gibson, and Jane Thorpe was very busy playing four roles most notably Mademoiselle.

Owen Gimblett designed the period set, Susan Carveth the costumes, and Mehran Mortezaei designed the sound design with the director and the lighting, some nice touches with Mark Banks.

The Genesian Theatre Company’s production of Denise Deegan’s DAISY PULLS IT OFF is playing the Genesian Theatre, 420 Kent Street, city until November 16.




The cast of DANGEROUS CORNER. Pic Craig O'Regan
The cast of DANGEROUS CORNER. Pic Craig O’Regan

The new play at the inner city Genesian Theatre Company is a revival of DANGEROUS CORNER (1932), by the great British writer, J.B. Priestly, better known for his classic 1946 play, AN INSPECTOR CALLS.

Described in the publicity as, ‘part whodunit, part thriller’, the play’s artful premise comes across clearly;- Live a superficial life, a life of appearances, and you stand a fair chance of leading a good life. When you start digging under the surface of things, watch out…You never know where it can lead, and what darkness and turmoil you will find… One thing can lead to another, and you can end up with a disaster on your hands!

Priestly’s main characters are Freda and Robert Caplan, a happy, hospitable, middle-aged couple who are enjoying life at their pleasing country retreat. The play starts with them hosting a soiree for their colleagues, and partners, who work with them at  a transatlantic publishing company. Everything is just going dandy until… Freda questions one of her guests Olwen about a casual remark she made that has ramifications for her brother-in-law Martin’s sudden death… Freda wants to know the truth. The thing is that when you start probing for the truth, it’s like going around a dangerous corner at high speed…

Secret longings, intrigues, scandals come tumbling out at a rate of knots. As one character remarks to her partner, ‘it’s a wonder that we have any secrets left at all’. Her comment brought to mind the old 1972 Carly Simon song ‘We Have No Secrets’- ‘and though we know each other better than we explore/Sometimes I wish/Often I wish/That I never knew some of those secrets of yours’.

The play tends to melodrama at times and is a little dated in some of the dialogue such as when a character casually refers to assaulting his wife.

Peter Lavelle’s revival serves Priestly’s play well and he provides with very clear direction. His set, designed with Debbie Smith, plants the audience firmly in bourgeois London 1930’s with its art deco gold and black arches, two low level, plush sofas, a radiogram  with a veneered console, an art nouveau onyx statue featuring a naked woman holding an orb, and a King George 5th coin enlargement hanging on the back wall. The costumes, by Peter Henson, were plush and elegant, a highlight being Olwen’s backless black gown.

The cast put in authentic performances playing Priestly’s well-drawn characters.

Tom Massey and Elinor Portch played party hosts, Robert and Freda Caplan. Massey convincingly conveyed how his characters’ sunny, trusting nature steadily lost its gloss. Portch depicted well how Freda remained the genteel host, keen to offer sandwiches even in the heat of conflict.

John Willis-Richards and Amy Fisher, showing a strong stage presence, played the other couple, Gordon and his not so angelic wife young wife, Betty.

Elizabeth McGregor played the central character of Olwyn Peel whose of-hand remark at the play’s beginning was the catalyst for the dynamic set of revelations.

John Grinston played Charles Trevor Stanton whose good character quickly comes under scrutiny. Kirsty Jordan played the circumspect novelist, Maud Mockridge.

A satisfying revival of Priestly’s engaging, substantial drama,  Peter Lavelle’s production of DANGEROUS CORNER opened at the Genesian Theatre, 420 Kent Street, Sydney on July 6 and plays until August 10, 2013.