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→
While long, this is a tremendous production, more faithful to Chekhov in spirit than recent revivals seen in Sydney. The play features a new translation by Karen Vickery that makes the play seem fresh and relevant. One picks up the plays’ similarities to other Chekhov works in particular The Cherry Orchard.
Director Kevin Jackson and his wonderful cast have caught the Russian melancholy and ennui perfectly. The production is magnificently performed. There is a huge cast -fourteen of the cast in credited roles and six others as servants/military /singers.- all of whom give fine, inspired performances.
With wonderful designs by Georgia Hopkins the first act sees a cluttered, crowded set of tables overflowing with books, well used worn chairs, rugs, a piano, a niche with an icon all evoking provincial Russia circa 1900. When we move into the second half, and the characters become increasingly unhappy with their lives, the stage space as defined by the rugs is halved; indicating that the action takes place in the smaller, upstairs parlour, and also reflectively surrounding the actors with empty, black space (and ominous fire-lit warmth ). For the final scenes, the carpets are rolled up and the furniture hidden under dust sheets, replaced with white wicker garden furniture, and lush green pot plants, which signify indicate the new beginnings planned. Emma Vine’s costumes are superb as is Martin Kinnane’s lighting design. Continue reading SPORT FOR JOVE PRESENTS ‘THE THREE SISTERS’ @ REGINALD THEATRE SEYMOUR CENTRE→
Enter the 1893 Victorian world of 221B Baker Street , a cold and foggy London, and Sherlock Holmes and Dr .John Watson. Conan Doyle’s stories continue to be enormously popular and now we have both ‘Sherlock’ and ‘Elementary’ on our TV screens.
Directed with a deft touch by Michael Heming, the play is performed with great relish by the cast and mightily enjoyed by the audience. Dietz first wrote his adaptation, a re-working of the 1899 Gillette play, back in the mid-2000’s, even winning the Hugo Award in 2007.
The fast paced plot niftily combines all the elements that Holmes fans have come to expect: suspense, intrigue and incisive ,witty dialogue, It combines elements of ‘ A Scandal in Bohemia’ and ‘The Final Problem’ with some neat changes and twists and added romance.
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.
SYDNEY REVIEWS OF Screen + Stage + Performing Arts + Literary Arts + Visual Arts + Cinema + Theatre +