Italian playwright Dario Fo, 1997 recipient of the Nobel Prize for Literature, is essentially a writer of farce. His wit and humour successfully both cloud and enhance his deep political undertones.
‘NO PAY? NO WAY!’ (“Sotto Paga! Non Si Paga!”), written in 1974, is regarded as Fo’s second best known play internationally (after “Accidental Death Of An Anarchist”), and was performed in 35 countries by 1990.
The vitriol hits you full on. We knew it was there, it had to have been. While words like ‘murder’ impact hard, there is other sneaky vocabulary in there, ‘wilderness’ slides by in the middle of a sentence. And should you see yourself in this opening assault, then you are in for a good old fashioned kick in the pants. Despite the onslaught of thousands of LETTERS TO LINDY which threaten and accuse with a malignancy that only the anonymous can be truly capable of, Lindy speaks directly to us with warmth and candour. For this is a play drawn from a life, not just the 199 boxes of letters which are housed in the National Library, but interviews between Lindy Chamberlain-Creighton and playwright Alana Valentine.
In 1980 Lindy and Michael Chamberlain’s daughter, Azaria, was taken by a dingo from their campsite near Ayres Rock, as it was called then. For reasons that defy understanding Lindy Chamberlain became the focus of public attention. It was some kind of national sport to discuss the event, the succeeding inquests, the trial, around backyard barbeques. We didn’t have water coolers then but I can remember the first joke hit well before the first headline did. There was an ownership in the Australian psyche and many took to pen and paper to give their opinion. Lindy kept the letters, she still does, letters and emails and gifts all donated to scholarship. Continue reading LETTERS TO LINDY: A NATIONAL TOUR OF A COLLECTIVE CONSCIOUSNESS→
This new production of Andrew Bovell’s brilliant debut comedy AFTER DINNER makes a perfect fit for the wonderful Sydney summer that we are having.
I strongly recommend a visit to the Wharf, one of Sydney’s finest theatre venues, enjoying a wine before the show and taking in the lovely view of Sydney harbour from the balcony, and then heading into the theatre to see five of Sydney’s finest thespians playing very well drawn characters and presenting a night at the theatre imbued with humour and pathos.
The time period is the nineteen eighties, the setting is the dining room of an RSL club. The play shifts action between two tables as they wait for the local band to fire up, which only takes place very late in the proceedings. Continue reading After Dinner @ The Wharf→
A conniving, narcissistic, backstabbing bitch is the central character in the final play in David Williamson’s Jack Manning trilogy. Bryony (Catherine McGraffin) has been appointed as CEO of a charity and her modern corporate methods cause conflict with the staid, long term members of the organisation. The harmonious operation of the organisation has become dysfunctional to the extent that the board requires a community conference in an attempt to restore balance.
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.
Infertility leads to infidelity in the infinitely engaging EVERY SECOND, the new play by Vanessa Bates now playing at the Eternity Playhouse, Darlinghurst.
This spry, wry, and fly production is all about breeding, and the lengths modern couples go to achieve conception. Whether it’s blokes shooting blanks or sheilas shackled with wombs wherein seed can find no purchase, the need to breed takes up every second that ticktock the biological clock.
Four friends, bound by barrenness, Bill and Jen, Tim and Meg, share the frustrations of non fecundity, and the plethora of reproductive panacea, from praying to fertility gods to the latest scientific espousals.
My husband returned from his daily dog walk, drenched from a sudden downpour of rain. He had been stopped in the park by a man who wanted to know the time and who then proceeded to deliver a half hour diatribe about how messed up the world is and it’s all because of technology. Eventually he shook my husband’s hand, thanked him for the chat and left. The delay meant my husband was caught in the rain and when he arrived home he noticed that the reasonably new guttering was overflowing. Once inside he banged his shin on the coffee table that had been moved for vacuuming. He wasn’t happy.
The familiar routine, order and placement of our time and space become second nature and we travel through our days without questioning or thinking, until something disrupts us. We only really notice when things are not working or in their usual spot or people randomly attack or interrupt us. We believe that we can control our time, homes, interactions and things. They are part of the way we establish our identity and attempt to organize our time and our lives.
During the performance of RAPTURE, BLISTER, BURN, I occasionally averted my gaze from the action taking place on stage to look across at other audience members to take in their reactions. I noticed some people shuffling around in their seats.
When the play ended, even before the cast had completed their curtain calls, I saw one couple start to leave. It felt like they were registering some sort of protest.
Not surprising, really. American playwright Gina Gionfriddo’s play RAPTURE, BLISTER, BURN (the title comes from a typically abrasive Courtney Love song), which the playwright herself has described as, ‘a play about the state of male/female relationships at this particular time’, is a gutsy, even at times controversial play, meant to shake audiences up, more than a little. Here’s an extract:-
“ Avery: Drink is your body under the influence of alcohol and love is your body under the influence of hormones. Booze, sex, hormones…they do the same thing which is dupe you into thinking average people are great.
Catherine: What a grim philosophy.
Avery: I’m a Bio major. Evolutionary? It makes total sense. The love drink lasts about six months. Just enough time to get knocked up and trapped.”
RAPTURE, BLISTER, BURN cleverly mixes a discourse on feminism and its place in the modern world with the playing out of a whirlwind reunion between old friends. She does so through the journey of her main character, Catherine (Georgie Parker). Forties something academic and talk show celebrity Catherine returns to New York to her ailing mother, Alice (Diane Craig). Whilst in NY she reunites, after over ten years, with her best friend, Gwen (Anne Tenney) and Gwen’s husband, Don (Glenn Hazeldine), who used to be her boyfriend.
During her stay, Catherine decides to run a summer class on feminism from her mother’s home. She ends up having only two students, Gwen, and Gwen and Don’s former babysitter, precocious, outspoken university student, Avery (Chloe Bayliss). Lively discussions ensue whilst Alice makes martinis for everyone and chips in with the occasional comment.
What stands out about RAPTURE, BLISTER, BURN is that here is a playwright getting the audience to look at some of the big social issues happening right now. Like any drama worth seeing, the play asks questions, amongst them…How well do all the bold feminist texts and ideas stand up in the present day? What is going to be the social impact of the voyeuristic content that is freely available on the internet? Is the choice for women between family and career getting more and more difficult? Aren’t we weakening our relationships when we put so many expectations on our partners?
Sandra Bates directs the play’s Australian production well. One suspects that it won’t be long before other theatre companies tackle this piece.
The play offers good roles all round and the cast deliver. Georgie Parker is great in the lead as Catherine, Anne Tenney plays her best friend, the more conservative Gwen, the ever reliable Glenn Hazeldine plays Gwen’s husband, Don, who lives his life out in a second gear ‘fog’, Chloe Bayliss is tremendous as the tough talking but warm hearted Avery, and Diane Craig is well cast as Catherine’s wise cracking mum, Alice.
Recommended, Sandra Bates’s production of Gina Gionfriddo’s RAPTURE, BLISTER, BURN is playing the Ensemble Theatre, 78 McDougall Street, Kirribilli until Saturday December 7.
SYDNEY REVIEWS OF Screen + Stage + Performing Arts + Literary Arts + Visual Arts + Cinema + Theatre +