Theatre Excentrique under the informed , thoughtful direction of Anna Jahjah have brought to Sydney a fresh , exciting and challenging production of Eugene Ionesco’s EXIT THE KING , a classic example of his ‘absurdist’ works , in an updated translation featuring the baroque music of cellist/vocalist extraordinaire Sister Ursuline, it is a metaphysical meditation on death and preparing to die.
We enter a topsy turvy and shattered world where time is bent , fluid and changeable. King Bérenger the First is dying after an extremely long life. His kingdom is disintegrating . He no longer can head his army, tell the rain to fall, nor the trees to grow. He is dying and there is nothing he can do to prevent it. He has lived from moment to moment but now there is no more time .His first wife, Queen Marguerite , is obsessively keeping track of time. “You will die in 1 hour and 30 minutes!” she informs him. And the doctor agrees. But King Bereneger refuses to listen. He chooses instead to bask in the love of his second wife, Queen Marie. Suddenly there are just “1 hour and 13 minutes left!” .Or is it fifteen ?The clock is ticking… Surrounded by his two wives, his cleaning lady, his doctor and a guard, Bérenger has to learn to accept the inevitable .He struggles and rages against it but to no avail. Continue reading EXIT THE KING @ CHIPPEN STREET THEATRE→
My friend has two sisters and I only have a brother. Familial practices, allegiances and secrets lie at the dichotomous heart of Theatre Excentrique’s ANTIGONE. A modern audience does not bear the weight of Antigone’s terrible ancestral turmoil but this sparse, drum punctuated production encourages each responder to bring their own sibling background to the interpretation.
On the surface, Antigone appears to be driven by a spiritual imperative to ease the wandered suffering of her dead brother’s soul but politics and power are encountered first in the domestic setting. My friend and I saw different shows. Both engaging, then absorbing, then intriguing: but different. We never really recover from family. Continue reading Antigone by Jean Anouith @ The Pact Theatre→
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.
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