With his new play DARK VOYAGER local playwright John Misto taps into something pretty much universal, the passion, more to the point obsession that people have with everything to do with celebrity.
Misto piques our interest with this tantalising scenario:-
We are in Hollywood. It’s 1962. Right wing gossip columnist Hedda Hopper sure has a lively sense of wanting to live dangerously. Hedda invites the two leading ladies, Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, over for supper in her swanky Beverly Hills apartment.
The duo had just completed their latest film, ‘Whatever happened to Baby Jane?’ and word from the set is that the co-stars had been fighting like cat and dog through the film’s entirety and that the film had not turned out well.
Both the women arrive true to form. First Bette arrives and is so rattled by Skip, Bette’s house boy, not recognising her, that she gets into the whisky very early on…Then Joan strolls in, in a resplendent blue dress, having managed to get through her crowd of fans. Continue reading Dark Voyager→
“It is in everyone’s nature to try and protect yourself and the people you love, but I think taken to the absolute extreme, that can be quite isolating, counterproductive and even dangerous. Ayckbourn has done a brilliant job in exploring that theme in a hilarious play. It is so funny and so dry and I think it’s one of his best works.” Anna Crawford, Director, NEIGHBOURHOOD WATCH
A well crafted cautionary tale which catches audiences ‘on the hop’, often not knowing whether to laugh or to cry, awaits theatre patrons who make their way across you to Kirribilli’s waterfront Ensemble Theatre.
It is one thing for brother and sister pair Martin and Hilda to start up a Neighbourhood Watch group after an unpleasant incident takes place shortly after they move in to the plush new Bluebell Hill housing estate which is unfortunately situated close to a Council estate, populated by some less than charming individuals.
It is something altogether more bizarre, after tensions escalate between the group and riff raff from the council estate, that a mere fortnight after the Neighbourhood Watch group’s first meeting, Bluebill Hill has become a full-on gated community with security fences and armed patrols. The committee members, no longer believing in the ability of the police to enforce security, have taken the matter into their own hands and become their own erstwhile vigilante group.
It is a dark world that Ayckbourn shows us, where people’s small mindedness and pettiness dominate. Anna Crawford’s production, (the play had its world premiere in Scarborough in the UK in September, 2011),serves this incisive play well. Designer Amanda McNamara and lighting man Peter Neufeld set up the play’s world well, and Crawford wins strong performances from a good cast.
Brian Meegan and Fiona Press play the leads, Martin and Hilda, a rather precious, conservative pairing who get rattled far too easily.
Bill Young and Jamie Oxenbould have the most colourful roles ,playing ‘headcases’ former security guard Ron and unemployed engineer Gareth who almost take a para-military approach to the escalating conflict.
Douglas Hansell plays the menacing, volcanic Luther. Lizzie Mitchell gives a touching performance as Luther’s mistreated, fragile wife, Magda.
Olivia Pigeot performs the role of the promiscuous, sharp witted Amy- unfaithful wife to Gareth- with verve, as does veteran performer Gillian Axtell who plays Bluebell Hill gossip queen, Dorothy.
Recommended, the Australian premiere production of NEIGHBOURHOOD WATCH opened at the Ensemble Theatre, 78 McDougall Street, Kirribilli, on Wednesday 18th December and runs until Saturday 24th January, 2014.
If you want an exciting experience for your children during the school holidays, take them to see A YEAR WITH FROG & TOAD at the Ensemble Theatre. The young audience yesterday were mesmerised throughout the show’s 60 minute duration.
The play had its first run in 2008 at the Ensemble, winning the GLUGS Award for Best Children’s Production. Director Anna Crawford has brought back her enigmatic and delightful show for a return season.
The cast are all very competent actors, singers and dancers.
The timid and cautious Toad (played by Jay James-Moody) is reluctant to come out of winter hibernation and is goaded by the swashbuckling and adventurous Frog (played by Stephen Anderson) to greet the spring. They are visited by an amusing and colourful array of forest creatures,– (played with great flair by Jonathon Freeman, Crystal Hegedis and Lizzie Mitchell) – the elegant birds, the meddling moles, a mouse, a turtle and the hilarious snail with mail – played appropriately with a slow southern USA drawl by Jonathon Freeman.
The play originated on Broadway, followed by its world premiere in Minneapolis, Minnesota. It has had 3 Tony Award nominations in the USA, including Best Musical and Best Original Score.
Crawford has put together a great crew. A fabulous set by Anna Gardiner, razor sharp choreography by Shondelle Pratt, atmospheric and beautiful lighting by Matthew Marshall, fine costumes by Margaret Gill and sound design by Daryl Wallis.
The dialogue and song lyrics are simple, clever and easy for children to digest. It is a show well worth seeing.
A YEAR WITH FROG AND TOAD plays at the Ensemble Theatre from Sunday September 29th to Sunday October 13th.
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