Tag Archives: James Lugton


Director Peter Evans has set this latest HAMLET in the 1960’s . The only indicators that it is the 1960’s are the clothes, large ‘space age’ lamps, a cocktail serving tray and a shag carpet.

I don’t know why Evans  has set the play in the 1960’s because as I recall that decade, it was a great period of hope and optimism.. I. could not detect any of these qualities in this production. Quite the opposite.

Every commentator remarks that every generation views ‘Hamlet’ through its own prism. Continue reading BELL SHAKESPEARE’S ‘HAMLET’ @ THE PLAYHOUSE, SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE


This is a masterful comedy by Neil Simon.

The play  starts with Oscar enjoying a cards night with his friends.  This is a mens only club and they behave in a very relaxed and slovenly way. They are one man down.

Late in the night Oscar receives a  call to say that his friend Felix has been thrown out of his house by his wife and is roaming the street like a lost soul. The group ate very worried about him, knowing what a sensitive soul he is. They conspire, in the event that Felix comes to the door, to pretend to know nothing about  Felix’s drama. Continue reading THE ODD COUPLE : WHEN OPPOSITES CLASH, GREAT COMEDY ENSUES


Featured image- John Bell and John Gaden in DIPLOMACY at the Ensemble Theatre. Pic Prudence Upton.

Paris, August 25th, 1944.  As the Allied Forces move closer to the city, Hitler has decided, in his ever-increasing delusional state, that if Germany can’t have Paris, then no-one will.  He has ordered the complete destruction of the city, so famous for its centuries of unique cultural history and beauty.

From this historical fact, French playwright, Cyril Gely, has created in DIPLOMACY, a fictional reason for Paris’ survival, a beautifully rich, philosophical and persuasive dialogue between two men – quite different by nature, but both very powerful in stature and personality.

Gely’s play was first performed in 2011 at Theatre de la Madeleine in Paris.  It was skilfully adapted and translated into English for John Bell’s Australian premiere by Julie Rose.  Gely also wrote the screenplay for the French movie based on his stage play, ‘Diplomatie’, which was shown at our 2015 French Film Festival.


Unholy Ghosts

Mother (Anna Volska) and Son (James Lugton) in UNHOLY GHOSTs. Pics Danielle Lyonne
Mother (Anna Volska) and Son (James Lugton) in UNHOLY GHOSTS. Pics Danielle Lyonne

With his new play UNHOLY GHOSTS  Campion Decent has made a  a brave call. He has gone the way of some of the great dramatists by putting his dysfunctional family of origin, up there, on centre stage, for all to see.

Eugene O’Neill could not bear to see his nightmarish autobiographical work, LONG DAY’S JOURNEY INTO NIGHT, performed whilst he was alive. His masterwork first saw the light of day  when it was first published three years after his death. Actually O’Neill wanted the public to wait 25 years after his demise however his wife, realising the enormity of this work, arranged for its earlier release date.

The playwright was there on opening night to see his work premiere. What an experience for him to go through- so raw on one hand, on the other cathartic, to see James Lugton play himself so well, and his Unholy Ghosts, his late parents, brought so vividly to life, by two of our finest actors, Robert Alexander and Anna Volska

They had made life very difficult for him. His right wing, antagonistic father never accepted his son’s homosexuality. His actress mother was a self obsessed, hard living lush.

Then there was his younger sister who died tragically young in suspicious circumstances. We never get to meet her on stage but she is another ghost that haunts this play, and Decent’s life.

At the end of the performance the cast were greeted with very enthusiastic applause. Decent joined the cast on stage for their final curtain call.

He had survived the night! A night of strong drama but the ending spoiled it for me …I don’t believe in happily ever after especially when it comes to families of any description…

My view…Over to you!

White Box Theatre’s production, directed by Kym Hardwick,  of UNHOLY GHOSTS plays the SBW Stables Theatre until 20th September.


Sport for Jove's TWELFTH NIGHT. Pics Seiya Taguchi
By the beachside with Sport for Jove’s memorable revival of TWELFTH NIGHT. Pics Seiya Taguchi

Another excellent Sport for Jove production , performed in rep with ALL’S WELL THAT ENDS WELL, this TWELFTH NIGHT has the atmosphere of a typical 1960’s Aussie summer right on Christmas time …. there is  the feel of a joyous beach party ( think the recent wonderful production of Opera Australia’s ‘The Turk In Italy’) and  water/maritime themes and analogies running through the show.

There is also an ominous side, though, with shipwrecks and the presence of border guards/police demanding passports for example. Another theme is mirrors (a fun sight gag is when Sebastian and Viola as Cesario both put on a white hat as if either side of a mirror and don’t see each other. It is uncanny how alike they look) And a special mention as well for the design elements all of which are well executed

Music also is a crucial part of the production with hits from the Beach Boys , Four Seasons and Roy Orbison amongst others incorporated into the performance. The play itself, was originally conceived as a Twelfth Night Christmas period jaunty entertainment and included several musical interludes which the director Damien Ryan has incorporated with relish.

The complicated plot is somewhat as follows : a tremendous storm and shipwreck sees twins Sebastian and Viola separated with each thinking the other is dead. Viola decides to dress as a man, Cesario , and quickly becomes accepted as part of the Duke of Illyria , Orsino’s , entourage. Orsino is desperately in love with the snappish, elegant Countess Olivia who doesn’t return his love.. Instead , she falls in love with Viola as Cesario , when ‘he’ is sent as unwilling messenger , and meanwhile Viola is in love with Orsino…But eventually hidden secrets are revealed and all put to rights.Sebastian, having met Olivia and she mistaking him for Cesario, sleeps and marries him, is eventually reunited with his sister Viola who is revealed to be a woman and the attraction between her and Orsino is disclosed .

Ryan is blessed with an exceptional Malvolio and Viola/Cesario in particular but the whole ensemble is terrific.

As Viola/Cesario Abigail Austin is sensational. She is elfin and petite , quite a believable debonair young boy/man. No wonder the Lady Olivia is fascinated and the Duke likes him!  A mysterious androgyny clings to both Viola and Cesario. Ryan possibly wanted to heighten the hidden ambiguity, which was so powerful in Shakespeare’s day, when all the players necessarily were men. – meaning a man would be playing a woman, impersonating a man. Confused? Having created her new identity as Cesario , (s)he is lively and spirited yet hides a great loss and a maddening, not to be revealed love. ( Until all is magically made right at the end ,at least for her… ).

Robin Goldsworthy, our Malvolio, is splendid. He is played as a pompous , fussy , obsessive military character ( parking tickets on the ice cream van for example) yet underneath he has a huge hidden heart and he is presented very sympathetically. Goldsworthy  has fantastic comic timing . His mean treatment by, and the ghastly‘prank played by Sir Toby , Maria and the others,  I did not find funny but rather horribly cruel. Others in the audience however found it hilarious. Goldsworthy gives Malvolio a range of elements that delights and overtake us. We are enchanted and mesmerised . His energy ,conviction and range are magnificent .

Anthony Gooley plays the cigar smoking , melancholy Duke Orsino with flamboyance and a touch of arrogance .He can ‘play’ quite dangerous if necessary .

Tall Tyran Parke is terrific as the wise clown Feste, blessed with a sparking wit and a great voice. His finale ‘The Wind and the Rain’ is extremely moving.  A jocular gag was Feste’s teasing of Cesario when, suspecting he is a she, begins to sing The Four Seasons song, ‘Walk like a man, talk like a man’ .

While yes she is in mourning for her brother, Lady Olivia ( Megan Drury) is shown as a modern woman being aware of her present and future options . Drury finds a delicate balance between glamour and absurdity with an assertive confidence in her presence that effectively prevents Olivia’s femininity from ever being seen as weak.

James Lugton as the rather dim , sozzled Sir Toby Belch and his partner in crime Sir Andrew Aguecheek, played by Mike Pigott should also be mentioned .Their foolish antics cause much laughter .

Shakespeare’s TWELFTH NIGHT is a story of love and confused identity set against the backdrop of the 1960’s. With its beautifully detailed ensemble work, the production is very funny as well as being,  at times, deeply moving . A delight.

If music be the food of love play on …

With a running time of 2 hours and 45 minutes,  including one interval, TWELFTH NIGHT  plays in rep with ALL’S WELL THAT ENDS WELL at the Seymour Centre until Saturday Apr 12.

For more information about this production visit – http://www.sportforjove.com.au/theatre-company-plays/twelfth-night-or-what-you-will



Celebrating its 5th anniversary and Shakespeare’s 450th, this year Sport For Jove brings us a most fabulous production of this lesser known, rarely performed complex and difficult ‘problem play’ by Shakespeare .

The play has a quite improbable, rather dark, implausible plot ( one can imagine it straight out of a TV soap – a desperately ill king healed , unrequited love leading to a forced marriage , a very intelligent woman foolishly chasing – going to extremes even – a man who has nothing but disdain and humiliation for her, a ‘bed trick’ ( recorded on a mobile )and eventually a reconciliation all in times of war. It is both a tragedy and a comedy Under the gripping direction of Damien Ryan and with its very strong, superb cast the audience can focus on the situations drama and story especially of Helena and Bertram and their emotional development. It has been updated with the use of mobile phones etc .Shakespeare’s language is clearly delivered and feels fresh and new.

Continue reading ALL’S WELL THAT ENDS WELL


Darcy Brown (Kurt) and Darcie Irwin-Simpson (Olga) in FIREFACE
Darcy Brown (Kurt) and Darcie Irwin-Simpson (Olga) in FIREFACE

Stories Like These production company, formed in 2008, is presenting its latest play FIREFACE in a co-production with atyp (Australian Theatre for Young People), whose venue under the Sydney Theatre Company, is both intimate and comfortable.  Both companies use emerging and established professional actors as well as local and international playwrights.

FIREFACE introduces us to an alarmingly sad dysfunctional family struggling together through their dark and desperate journey.

German playwright Marius Von Mayenburg, who first presented this award-winning play in 1997, has delved boldly into the turmoil of adolescence, a brother and sister, Kurt and Olga, in love and inseparable, who do not want to grow up and become like their parents.

When Olga brings home her first boyfriend, Paul, Kurt’s obsession with his sister turns to anger.  His favourite hobby, firebombing, takes a serious turn resulting in his face being burnt.  The parents are seemingly unaware of the intensity of their children’s liaison, being somewhat distracted trying to save their own marriage.

Father lives through his newspapers, Mother is lonely for conversation, but feels quite at home undressing in front of Kurt, who is hopelessly entangled with his sister.  Father does not relate to Kurt and dismisses his behaviour as “puberty”, favouring the company of Paul.

Olga gives up Paul, returns to Kurt, and the pair begin their downward spiral.  They stop talking to their parents, choosing to eat dinner on the stairs.

There is some good humour in this dark story.  The script moves quickly within its 94 short scenes.  There is great sadness in the lack of communication, particularly for Mother, who tries so hard to get her son back.  Lucy Miller is fabulous as Mother.  She has the compassion, cynicism and sensuality which bring her character to life.  James Lugton plays Father, the dry, introspective, frustrated engineer extremely well.  Paul is played by the charismatic Ryan Bennett, refreshingly naïve, but perhaps lacking suitable responses at the end of the play.

Darcie Irwin-Simpson as Olga and Darcy Brown as Kurt, are superb as the tormented lead characters – reckless, sultry and withdrawn.  Their fluid movements are beautifully orchestrated by director Luke Rogers and the sexual contact is subtle and full of love.

FIREFACE touches a deep chord in our fragility and provokes curiosity about human behaviour.

FIREFACE is playing from August 1 to 17 at atyp Studio 1, The Wharf, Pier 4/5, Hickson Road, Walsh Bay.