Tag Archives: Giles Gartrell-Mills


Presenting the noble artistic credentials of one of the most evil group of men in history to the knowledgeable Old Fitz theatre crowd is a very clever conceit. Theatre crowds generally have artistic interests. They frequent cinema, galleries, music venues and museums and would not expect themselves to be confronted with the vile Nazis displaying their affection, knowledge and desire for the various genres of creativity. Take these themes and meld them with some fine writing, directing and strong performances and you have impressive theatre.

The opening monologue introduces the idea of the humanity of these creeps but then slowly breaks their personalities down into their foibles, prejudices, vanities and pathetic weaknesses. The play runs at a frenetic pace as it presents the history and examines what art was considered suitable and what art was declared degenerate. Narrator Megan O’Connell presents a timeline of major events starting with the groups’ disillusionment with the state of their country in the aftermath of World War 1 and how they coalesce into a group that rides on bigotry and injustice to lead Germany and then invade large swathes of Europe. Simultaneously the actors present scenarios of their artistic interests or those foisted on them by Hitler’s dominant personality and his particular taste in art, music and architecture. Continue reading DEGENERATE ART @ THE OLD FITZ


This is the first time that this neglected rather early Rattigan play has been seen in Sydney. While it now perhaps seems rather dated and ‘of its time’ under Giles Gartrell-Mills’ excellent direction this play while at first, seemingly very artificial, superficial and slow to take off, develops and becomes quite intense and multi-layered.

Rattigan’s play, AFTER THE DANCE written in 1939, examines the life of the young people who survived World War One and lived life to the full in the hedonistic 1920s, only to find themselves now middle-aged, disillusioned and facing another World War .It is a study of a  lost generation. The script is brilliantly written and the play well plotted and structured. At times the play seems a bit like a brittle Coward comedy – the audience laughed heartily at certain points at the sparking , witty dialogue –  but there remains  an underlying passion and morality. Rattigan is able to let the audience see  the hidden sadness of these doomed fantasists. Continue reading TERRENCE RATTIGAN’S ‘AFTER THE DANCE’ @ THE NEW THEATRE NEWTOWN

Sweeney Todd @ The New

Mrs Lovett with the Ensemble. Pics by Bob Seary
Lucy Miller as Mrs Lovett with the Ensemble in SWEENEY TODD. Pics by Bob Seary

Attend the tale of Sweeney Todd: he served a dark and vengeful God!” After a visit to the New Theatre’s website advertising their current production of Stephen Sondheim’s SWEENEY TODD, with its graphic image of a throat being cut and a viewing of the teaser video with its huge blood splash finale, one might be forgiven for thinking a dark evening is in store. In lesser hands perhaps the show could float in gore like the 2007 movie. This production, however, focuses on an exploration of what it takes to make a monster. It seems that answer is … love!

Benjamin Barker arrives back on the docks of Victorian London. He is accompanied by his shipboard companion, Anthony Hope. Anthony knows this man as Sweeney Todd. He rescued Sweeney from a mysterious shipwreck and honours his vow not to ask questions even after a mysterious beggar woman confronts them both. Sweeney’s past is revealed as he revisits his old haunts and meets up with Mrs Lovett who recognises him at once as the man she adored from afar. She has even saved his silver razors and offers him her upstairs room as a barber shop. Continue reading Sweeney Todd @ The New


Joseph Appleton, Giles Gartrell-Mills and Katherine Moss
Time to pig out on the sofa

Some plays can kind of take you by surprise…they come up with something different from what you had envisaged…This isn’t the case with British playwright Mark Ravenhill’s 1996 play SHOPPING AND FUCKING. What you expect is what you get.

TOUGH… uncompromising theatre…the darkest side of life under the spotlight.

If you are a bit squeamish….coarse language and rough sex-play turn you off….don’t even think about seeing this show. You will leave at interval if you last that long. You want entertainment…escapism…You won’t find it here.

This is a kind of punk play, the kind of play i could imagine Johnny Rotten writing if  he wrote plays.  Ravenhill’s play depicted the world of the under-class in London, where many young people felt  they had no future…where they lived moment by moment,…everything was about survival…zero romance…zero imagination…zero spirituality.

Living was about survival… about making enough money to get to next week…any way you can…prostitution…phone sex…drugs….As the play’s drug lord character says,-‘Civilisation is money’.  Consumerism ruled in all contexts.

As the program notes about this production advises,- ‘Andy Harrison’s soundscape- made from recordings of planet movements from the Voyager craft as it flies towards the edge of our solar system- is an attempt to reflect the sense of anchor-less existence’.

Alan Chambers’s production is spot on. The actors- Joseph Appleton, Giles Gartrett-Mills, David Ryan Kinsman, Steve McCall, Katherine Moss-are right on target.

A playwright telling things as he sees it. A bullseye.

A joint NIDA Independent and Sly Rat Theatre Company production, Mark Ravenhill’s SHOPPING AND FUCKING opened at  the Studio Theatre, NIDA, on  Tuesday 25 June and runs until Saturday 6 July, 2013.