A GHOST IN MY SUITCASE is soul food for the spirit … whatever age you find yourself to be. From the opening projection of a red koi and with a whoosh and a tinkle of bells, audiences are captivated by this splendid production. The story begins, the worldbuilding begins and the watchers, whether they have read the book or no, are transported to a place of enlightenment, joy and self-knowledge.
Celeste has lost her loved mother and is bringing the ashes back to China for ritual scattering. For the first time she will meet her maternal grandmother, Por Por who is feisty and powerful. This little woman is a ghost hunter, a skill often passed down in the female line and Celeste will need to confront her own doubting demons before she can see clearly enough to know if she is possessed of the art too. Por Por also has a ward living with her, a serious and defensive Ting Ting who is not keen to share Por Por’s precious mentoring time. Continue reading A GHOST IN MY SUITCASE – SPIRITS SOAR IN THIS DELIGHTFUL SHOW→
During Sydney Festival 19, Sydney audiences will be able to share in the joyous homegrown work A GHOST IN MY SUITCASE from Barking Gecko, a sumptuous production about ghosts, grief and a secret family gift, adapted from Gabrielle Wang’s award-winning children’s novel. Twelve-year-old Celeste visits China to scatter her mother’s ashes, where she reunites with her gutsy grandma and is thrust into the thrilling world of ghost-hunting.
The Guide had the opportunity to ask some questions of Matt Edgerton, co-director of A GHOST IN MY SUITCASE.
SAG: The play’s staging captures the water city so beautifully, was the show always conceived with a video element?
MATT: I came across the novel in late 2015 and actually had no idea how we would adapt and stage it! The design, including the video elements have really evolved alongside the play script as we’ve explored the story with our creative team and visited locations in China. We had initially thought of having live water flooding the stage but moved away from this to what is actually a much more ‘fluid’ design – a series of constantly moving boxes that we project images onto which can take us anywhere we want to go in an instant.
Media Artist Sohan Ariel Hayes travelled back to China with my co-director Ching Ching Ho to film and photograph footage in Shanghai and the water town Wuzhen, which make up the majority of the images we use in the show. It has been an incredibly meticulous process of selecting images and mapping them onto moving surfaces so I’m glad it has paid off! Hopefully it lets an audience get swept up in this epic ghost-fighting adventure!Continue reading SUNDAY SERIES: INTERVIEW WITH CO-DIRECTOR OF ‘A GHOST IN MY SUITCASE’→
A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM is playing as part of the season of Sydney Hills Shakespeare in the Park and Leura Shakespeare Festival and a festival it most definitely is. Families and lovers and friends and cronies, all together under a moonless sky to enjoy the group experience of enjoying a favourite 400 year old play.
A military Athens is initially in store for audiences as the guards in their grey shirts and pants usher people in and then stand on guard before the show starts.
Opening on the open raised stage near the small period home on Bella Vista Farm, we meet Theseus (Christopher Tomkinson) and Hippolyta (Francesca Savige). Never tick off an Amazon … she is cross and not shy about expressing it. Conquering Theseus has a very unwilling bride on his hands. Continue reading A Midsummer Night’s Dream @ Bella Vista Farm→
With nods to both the legendary Olivier and the McKellan versions, this is an extraordinarily beautifully spoken version of Shakespeare’s play, but I am afraid it just falls short of the mark. You can certainly see what this production is attempting to achieve, however it still leaves us feeling a little emotionally uninvolved.
This is a pared back abridged version with cuts, and many of the cast playing several different characters as required throughout the play, which can be a little confusing.
This production, directed by and starring Mark Kilmurry, is framed as a dangerous act of theatre, in which six players gather in a dark, sparsely furnished bunker to perform Shakespeare’s Richard III. There is a sense of suspense, of wartime desolation, of destruction.
Barely acknowledging each other upon flurried arrival, the cast set straight to work ,at first rehearsing short, key snippets of scenes, the sword fight in particular. Costumes, props and a set of benches, a table and dead TV sets have already been assembled. Kilmurry straps on a hump, picks up his gloves, assumes the now stereotypical gait and a clandestine performance begins, rather quietly and at a nervous pace.
What then develops is a sturdy presentation of an abridged text, occasionally interrupted by the menacing sounds of barking dogs, loud bangs on the door (which is monitored via CCTV) and patrolling helicopters overhead, all adding intensity and suspense, in what is a highly stylised production.
The cast speak in a broad range of accents, that dip and change as characters and alliances change.
The abridgements work well, as do some deft touches of theatrical shorthand – taking glasses on and off to demonstrate a quick-change between multiple characters played by a single actor.
Some key set piece moments do not really catch fire and we feel little for Clarence (Matt Edgerton) as he hurtles towards his death. Also the build up of circumstances towards Bosworth Field is rushed through and barely indicated.
As King Richard III, while beautifully spoken and with a very expressive face, Mark Kilmurry portrays him as shallow, calculating and manipulative rather than darkly villainous, and it is hard to care for him. The King’s wooing of Lady Anne is played straight and with plenty of feeling. This is in contrast with some of the set piece/famous monologues which did leave me unmoved.
Danielle Carter of the exquisite alabaster skin was tremendous as Queen Elizabeth and Prince Edward. I liked the effect for the Princes in the Tower of having them in brightly striped, very posh school blazers and boaters, but it also in some ways made them look like a vaudeville act.
Patrick Dickson as Buckingham gives a strong, splendid performance. Matt Edgerton is terrific in his many roles as assorted characters. Amy Mathews was most impressive.
At the finale, Kilmurry pauses for a tense, dangerous moment. He looks at the crown. He then drags on his coat. The ominous helicopter sounds increase in volume and appear to be coming much closer. He grabs a piece of chalk, defiantly writes the date, hurriedly scribbles ”Richard III” and vanishes out the door. They were there and this performance happened. We, the audience, were with them.
Running time – roughly 2 and a half hours including one interval.
”RICHARD III” runs at the Ensemble until July 19 and then transfers to play at the Parramatta Riverside theatre between July 22 and 26 .
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