Sydney University Musical Theatre Ensemble’s (MUSE) production of Stephen Sondheim’s ANYONE CAN WHISTLE is performed by a group of talented and highly energetic and committed performers. The show is, in part, a social satire and a sharp critique of modern society, breaking the fourth wall, acknowledging itself as theatre and sometimes not following a logical, linear structure.
This Sondheim play is also partly a musical romantic comedy, complete with love songs and happily ever after scenarios for the hero, the heroine and even the villains.
The town in ANYONE CAN WHISTLE is in serious financial trouble and needs a miracle. The scheming Comptroller has a solution and supported by Mayoress Cora creates a water spouting rock and calls it a miracle. Yet when Nurse Fay Apple brings her ‘cookies’ from the local mental institution, the Cookie Jar, to cure themselves, chaos ensues as patients and residents become mixed up. From there the plot twists and turns till all is well – well almost – at the end. Continue reading Anyone Can Whistle→
BOYS’ LIFE by American playwright Howard Korder scrutinizes in short scenes many conflicting issues and confidence levels present for both men and women as they mature. It traces trajectories of experience in relationships for three long-term friends named Jack, Phil and Don. This Pulitzer Prize nominated piece dangles questions concerning the validity of traditional attitudes, rites of passage and the concept of the man-child.
This is the first production for a new Sydney theatrical identity, Wolfspider Productions. It is an appropriate choice for the collective of young artists, which aims to provide a platform for emerging young actors and production teams. The freshness and directness required in Korder’s play about twenty-somethings are essentially captured with success here. The series of interactions between believable, well-cast characters have been given suitable forward momentum and atmosphere by first-time director Barry Walsh. Continue reading Boys’ Life→
IT’S BEEN A WHILE is the latest production from Smoking Gum Theatre (producer Eunice Huang) and the first full length play, running at about an hour, by Jordy Shea.
Five friends take a holiday to Kiama to celebrate new beginnings and finishing high school. Tragedy strikes the group when one of them is found dead after a night of heavy partying & the group must deal with painful memories as they look into that fateful night seven years later. It is a play about friendship, loyalty, guilt and trying to make sense of the past.
Directed by Lucinda Vitek with lighting by Chrys Chandra and sound design by Olga Solar, the plot is gradually revealed in a series short scenes and flashbacks. The audience is kept guessing as to the whole truth right up until the end.
The Sydney premiere of this originally Tasmanian play went off with a bang and was hugely enjoyable, cast and audience having a delightful time. Whovians can spend hours gleefully noting all the Doctor Who allusions and in-jokes – the play is littered with them.
Director Kyle Stephens and his small cast have done a sterling job in bringing this fun play to life. The script is very cleverly written and in some ways structured like a two part story from the early years of the Doctor. There is a major cliffhanger at interval .
Originally premiered in 2009, McIntyre set himself the task of using a quote from every single Doctor Who story and it is great fun. The play has several NSW and local references, – it would be interesting to compare with the Canadian version that has just been completed.
POSSESSIONS is a brand new play, channeling the two Mancini Sisters, Marie and Hortense, as devised and written and performed by Jane Bergeron and Carrie Ann Quinn together with a fine ensemble cast that includes Frances Attard, Morgan Davis, Samantha Stewart and Shane Waddell.
This production is playing now at the King Street Theatre in Newtown for a very limited run. The show premiered in the USA at the Boston Playwrights’ Theatre in June 2013. I strongly recommend seeing this acclaimed production of POSSESSIONS with its ambitious quick juxtaposition of moods and settings that bring their history to life.
The second week of Short and Sweet Week 2 Theatre Top 80 featured some interesting scenarios created by playwrights of the short form along with a consistently good quality of acting through the night.
The strongest drama of the night was Luther Canute, Max Moran and Ed Capel’s THE GAME, directed by Phil Cunich, which featured a poignant take on mateship with the setting being three young men trapped in a combat zone dreaming of being back home playing their beloved Aussie Rules.
Short & Sweet Theatre Sydney is the largest festival of 10 minute plays in the world! This festival, now in its 13th year, takes place over a period of two months in the summer. The program, different every week, features approximately ten short original plays each night. This festival provides an opportunity for emerging writers, directors and actors to “strut their stuff” and hopefully gain the exposure needed to launch their careers to the next level. The festival is also a competition, and audience members are invited to vote for their two favourite plays; the winners will be selected for the Gala Finals on 21-22/3/2014.
Every show is a collaborative effort comprised of many disciplines and disparate elements, but in The Maintenance Room, the actors’ performances are so fine that it is hard for the audience to focus beyond their spectacular work.
Gerry Greenland’s script has an excellent plot that never gives room for any predictability, and its every twist and turn keeps us engaged and fascinated. The story might not be particularly interesting, but Greenland’s storytelling is calculatedly clever. However, his depiction of the two women characters (who we hear a lot about but do not appear on stage) disappointingly utilises the madonna and whore dichotomy, which is convenient and somewhat regressive.
Allan Walpole is director and set designer, and he does both jobs marvelously. The set is complex, realistic and believable, providing a wide variation of levels and spaces for movement and activity during performance. Walpole’s work as director is much more subtle. He wields an invisible hand through the show, but we see extraordinary chemistry between the actors, and their many dialogues are timed to perfection. It is impossible to divorce the actors abilities from Walpole’s direction, but he must be given credit for the liveliness they bring from start to finish, even when the scenes are quiet and sorrowful.
THE MAINTENANCE ROOM is really about the actors, Kim Knuckey and Lynden Jones. Their portrayals of the complicated experience of human suffering, and the constant shifting of emotions in that space of grief and fear, are incredibly real and compelling. Jones masterfully manipulates physical performance and internal authenticity, accurately balancing emotional realism with theatricality. Knuckey’s work impresses with the remarkable believability of his character. The being he creates on stage is palpable, and the rawness of his crisis is felt as undeniable as the flesh and blood right before our eyes.
Theatre is about many things, but when it is about stunning performances, the experience is immensely rewarding. Most of us are likely to remember that when we fell in love with the stage, it was the work of actors who first drew us in. Great acting is divine, and THE MAINTENANCE ROOM is magnificent because of it.
THE MAINTENANCE ROOM is playing the King Street Theatre Newtown until Saturday November 30, 2013.
(Suzy Wrong’s review of THE MAINTENANCE ROOM first appeared in her blog:- www.suzygoessee.com).
“To me, fair friend, you never can be old,
For as you were when first your eye I ey’d,
Such seems your beauty still. Three winters cold,
Have from the forests shook three summers’ pride,
Three beauteous springs to yellow autumn turned,
In process of the seasons have I seen,
Three April perfumes in three hot Junes burned,
Since first I saw you fresh, which yet are green.
Ah! yet doth beauty like a dial-hand,
Steal from his figure, and no pace perceived;
So your sweet hue, which methinks still doth stand,
Hath motion, and mine eye may be deceived:
For fear of which, hear this thou age unbred:
Ere you were born was beauty’s summer dead.” Shakespeare CIV
Campion Decent’s play THREE WINTERS GREEN still stands strong some 20 years after it was performed.
Set in the late eighties/early nineties, Decent’s play captures eight people, a tiny community if you like, all linked together either though friendship or family, who are torn apart by the scourge of AIDS.
Emotions run high with this play which peak at the unveiling of the stunning AIDS quilt at the end.
Les Solomon again directs, as he did with the other two main productions of the play in its premiere season in 1993, and in its tenth anniversary production in 2003.
Solomon wins strong performances from the cast.
Tom Sharrah is excellent in the main role as Francis who has such a big journey from being a naïve, 17 years old schoolboy to being a confident drag queen/cabaret artist with a reptilian wit.
Matt Young gives a deftly balanced portrayal as the schoolteacher who falls for him. This was a role that could have so easily been overplayed.
Gael Ballantyne exudes warmth and humility as mother Maxine who doesn’t quibble with her fate that her two progeny, one of each gender, are both gay.
Emily Kennedy impresses as her tomboyish daughter, Beck, and James Wright doubles up as her gay, AIDS inflicted son, Martin, as well as playing rough and ready country boy, Mick.
Diana Perini charms as the effervescent Jen, Beck’s girlfriend, who is always there to bolster everyone’s spirits.
Brett O’Neil gives a touching performance as a sensitive, twenties something gay man, stricken with AIDS.
A co-production of Lambert House and Emu Productions, THREE WINTERS GREEN is playing in repertory with the sixties American classic BUTTERFLIES ARE FREE at the King Street Theatre, Newtown until Sunday November 3, 2013.
It’s the weekend. You are looking through the entertainment guide for something to do. You check out the theatre section. There’s not much that takes your fancy. And then you spot something. A company, the Impulse Theatre Company, is doing the Bard’s Romeo and Juliet but they’re giving it a contemporary setting, resetting it at the time of the Cronulla Race Riots that took place in December 2005. The show’s promo line,-‘Two households, both alike in dignity, in fair Cronulla’….It sounds interesting…Let’s do it!
Clever concepts don’t always convert. This is the case with this re-imagining of the Bard’s classic in the setting of the Cronulla riots. It may well have been a good pitch but it doesn’t make for a great fit.
The Cronulla riots were the result of tension, over a long period of time, between local residents and people from a Middle Eastern background, mainly from the Western suburbs, who were coming into the area on weekends. The riots had nothing to do with warring families nor was the racial conflict the breeding ground of a romance for the ages….
Thankfully, Wallace only gives this angle to the narrative a very light brush! He starts strongly with the replaying of old video footage from the riots, and then the staging of the Cronulla beach scene where a local Aussie woman is sunbaking and being harassed by Lebanese guys however by play’s end titles flash across the back wall saying that we are now in Mantua. From Cronulla to Mantua in a flash….
All is not lost! Impulse’s production proves to still be worth catching, as the result of a very committed cast and some good really good performances, particularly from the supporting cast. Bryan Hajduczoh as Mercutio and Alex Bryan-Smith as Tybalt impress as the impulsive foes. Lisa Peers, the real-life mother of Rainee Lyleson who played Juliet, gave, for me, the performance of the night, playing Juliet’s Nurse as well as Lady Montague (quite indiscernible in this role). Alan Faulkner impressed in multiple roles as well as delivering Shakespeare’s wonderful prologue.
Impulse Theatre Company’s production of ROMEO AND JULIET opened at the King Street Theatre, corner King Street and Bray Street, Newtown on Wednesday 31 July and plays until Saturday 24 August, 2013.
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