Tag Archives: Nick Curnow

BROADWAY BOUND @ THE NEW THEATRE

Broadway Bound is a semi-autobiographical play by the late great American Jewish playwright Neil Simon. It is the last chapter in his Eugene trilogy, following Brighton Beach Memoirs and Biloxi Blues.

I am  very partial to this kind of autobiographical play because of its structure. By this I mean that the play had a main character narrator who gives us a greater insight into the characters which I find particularly satisfying. It is a complex thing to do but Simon carries it out triumphantly. It creates a feeling of intimacy that draws you irresistibly closer to the play’s heartbeat.

The play works by way of a narrator who is Eugene, the Neil Simon character. He shares us with us the dramatic goings on within his family. The play starts with the time that Eugene and his brother Stanley are starting to make inroads in their writing careers, writing skits for CBS radio.

There are so many good moments. The interactions between mother and son especially the closing scenes…the moment when Kate polishes her beloved dining room table which the play ends on…

The interplay between the two brothers as they work on their comedy script to submit to CBS radio effectively conveys to the audience their rising level of excitement which is quite infectious.

The play was well directed by Rosane McNamara. Her love of the play shone through, infusing her enthusiasm into the lively performances of the actors.

The consistency and quality of the New York accents enunciated by the actors gave this play an authenticity which transported one to a working class suburb in New York in the late 40’s after his left the Army(Biloxi Blues was set in his army days).

Patrick Holman gave a well judged, very engaging performance in the main role of Eugene (the Neil Simon character).

Simon Lee gave a really energy charged performance as Eugene’s enterprising brother, Stanley.

Suzann James was very convincing as Kate, a typical conservative, over protective jewish mother.

Brett Heath gave a very sound performance as the boys father, Jack Jerome. Jack’s marriage to Kate is on the rocks and the boys can sense trouble ahead. Heath also played the role of a radio host.

Les Asmussen plays the boys warm hearted, socialist grandfather, Ben Epstein who plays a big part in their lives.

Susan Jordan plays Ben’s sister, Blanche, who tries to convince Ben to join his wife in the sunshine of Florida. Blanche has married into wealth and is in a position to help her brother out. Susan also plays the role of mrs Pitkin and a radio host.

Nick Curnow and Jesse Shore played voice parts (from the CBS radio program coming out of a vintage old radio) and weren’t seen on stage. 

A lovely set was designed by Allan Walpole featuring a family living room where most of the action takes place and then behind the family room are the boys two bedrooms. Further back is a little hallway leading to the bedrooms of the mother and grandfather.

If you want a rewarding night’s entertainment make sure that you are Newtown bound. BROADWAY BOUND is playing the New Theatre 542 King Street, Newtown until 15 December 2018.

www.mewtheatre.com.au

 

DISCO PIGS @ PACT THEATRE ERSKINEVILLE

 

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A two of us against the world attitude pervades the world of Pig and Runt, the seventeen year old inseparable couple in Enda Walsh’s play Disco Pigs.

The play starts with their mothers in simultaneous labour and exaggerated detail about hospital trolleys racing through wards, pushing, screaming and heads emerging. Through this chaos the infants eventually lock eyes on each other and so starts their journey through life together, closer than brother and sister. They grow up in the rough part of Cork, Ireland, sharing birthdays, nicknames, a secret language and outlook. Continue reading DISCO PIGS @ PACT THEATRE ERSKINEVILLE

THROWING SHADE THEATRE COMPANY PRESENT SARTRE’S NO EXIT @ THE FUXEBOX

Courtney Powell and Darcie Irwin-Simpson as Estelle and Ines
Courtney Powell and Darcie Irwin-Simpson as Estelle and Ines

Throwing Shade Theatre’s NO EXIT is good work. Written by Jean-Paul Sartre and famous for the line, “Hell is other people”, it’s a modern theatre classic which demands respect in the production. Yet, as written, it doesn’t quite stand on its own to a general public audience. The delicate balance is well achieved in this production which has a rich period feel with depth enough for an aficionado yet enough contemporary and narrative expression for an audience new to the work.

A nice room. A period room. Rich with velvets, a mantle and even a bronze. Into the room comes a butler with Joseph Garcin and from their initial dialogue, it becomes apparent that this is Hell. As the butler leaves, the newly deceased Garcin is entombed here. Where then is the torturer and his instruments of trade? When Inez arrives, she too wonders the same. The final of this ménage a trois is Estelle who arrives before her vision of the world fades and is able to see that no one is crying at her funeral.

Sartre is synonymous with Existentialism, a philosophy which considers each person capable of determining their own life through acts of will. What happens, then, when these 3 are overseen and choices for action are limited? Considered to be a reflection of Sartre’s ideas about oversight of Parisians by the Germans and his expounding of philosophy by stealth through stories, NO EXIT still has much to give a modern audience.

But … some of the ideas don’t work anymore. Hell is difficult enough to accept without assuming Sapphistry, cowardice or adultery would be condemned eternally. There are some other sins in NO EXIT which deserve their place though. In making the play more accessible without perverting the text as written, Throwing Shade have begun by ignoring the stage instruction that the butler (Jeff Hampson) has no eyelids. The viewing aspect is successfully covered in the Estelle’s search for a reflective surface. The well-appointed set is Victorian rather than French Second Empire and the costuming blends then and now. The accents chosen work well with the characters (Nick Curnow – dialogue consultant) and serve to support the period elements.

With an French upperclass accent, Courtney Powell as Estelle is light and fluffy, prideful of her appearance and expresses well Estelle’s need for reinforcement of what she is by how she looks. In her peacock green period costume, the established character carries nicely through the revelations and her lack of shame about what she has done.

Costumed in a period-indeterminate black block, Darcie Irwin-Simpson portrays Ines with little light and shade. The character has a hardness which doesn’t crack, yet some of the brittleness inside filters through. This is especially so in her responsive and reactions when observing the other two. She also has a clipped delivery which suits Ines well; some ideas require a full stop. Though I would have appreciated a bit more exploration of class in her accent. The working class unkempt Valet (Jeff Hampson) was an usual directorial choice but theme might have been developed further.

Harley Connor as Garcin reflected the facade that cowards can show until caught out. In a costume which gives some sense of modernity, he uses his lengthened speech to show the duplicity and lies behind his words. As the first of the three condemned, he takes control of the room and this makes his cowardly choice not to leave more understandable. The breakdown when it appears is well foreshadowed in the early character choices.

The blocking is tight in the tight space and the enveloping claustrophobia is skilfully manipulated by using the downstage area mostly. Director, Andrew Langcake also allows time for the 3 characters to just sit and think out loud as if sharing with the audience in some dark corner of a sherry sipping effete hostelry. At other times, especially early on, they successfully move around each other enlarging the acting area with their travels. Langcake keeps his cast on track for most of the longer sections but towards the end the energy does sag and there is somewhat of a soundwall effect. But as the climax is reached the audience appeared to engage once more.

On balance the production manages to put Sartre’s themes on show by allowing the text to speak for itself yet allowing intelligent design to guide the considerations and contemplations of a contemporary audience.

NO EXIT played a short season at The Factory, Marrickville and closes tonight.

 

MOTHERS AND SONS @ THE ENSEMBLE THEATRE

Inset pic- Anne Tenney plays mother Katherine Gerard. Featured pic- Anne Tenney as Katherine Gerard, Tim Draxl as Will Ogden, Jason Langley as Cal Porter and Thomas Fisher as Bud Ogden-Porter. Pics by Clare Hawley

There is a deal of courage in Katherine Gerard’s decision to knock on Cal Porter’s door during her latest visit to the Big Apple. With it she knew she would be confronting a very painful part of her past.

Katherine hasn’t seen Cal for a very long time, at her son’s memorial service. Her gay son died of AIDS, at the height of the epidemic which ended the lives of so many.

At the service Katherine was coldly indifferent to Cal. There was a lot of stuff around her son’s life that she hadn’t been dealing with. Continue reading MOTHERS AND SONS @ THE ENSEMBLE THEATRE

ENRON

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Nick Curnow plays Enron Chief Financial Officer Andy Fastow

The collapse of energy trading giant Enron in 2001 was a bankruptcy of massive proportions, not just financially but also morally. The entire company was in thrall to its share price and would do anything to see it surge higher and higher.

The opening of Lucy Prebble’s play ENRON is a spectacle comprising the massed ranks of the Ensemble, with the front-of-stage energy traders chanting their mantras in homage to the supposedly free market.

However, Enron the company was based not on free-market principles but on impenetrable financial engineering. And Enron pursued profits with such tenacity that it would sooner see swaths of California plunged into blackouts rather than lose a single dollar in profit.

The play’s opening scene is reminiscent of the great Nazi rallies at Nuremberg and even the infamous Enron “E” logo takes on ominous swastika overtones. The cult of Enron was masterminded by president Jeffrey Skilling (played with creepy manipulative skill by Matt Young) in the service of George W Bush’s great friend, the chairman Ken “Kenny Boy” Lay (Peter Flett). Even the initially innocent and blundering chief financial officer Andy Fastow (Nick Curnow) becomes caught up in the web.

The monsters he and the rest of Enron have unleashed are symbolised, rather bizarrely, by several “raptors” in a cage behind his desk, the vicious dinosaurs scratching and hissing as he hatches his dodgy schemes. In other light-hearted moments among the financial chicanery, investment bank Lehman Brothers is portrayed by two simple young boys and auditors ARTHUR ANDERSEN as corporate yes men. On the other hand, some of the most callous dialogue is taken from Enron energy traders’ actual taped conversations.

Director Louise Fischer handles the play and the substantial cast well, and although the opening night performance at times appeared not to quite gel, it will undoubtedly acquire more polish as the play’s run progresses. Thanks to Fischer’s direction, the complicated financial shenanigans never become unclear and interest is maintained right until the end, when the whole shoddy corporate edifice collapses.

Louise Fischer’s production of ENRON opened at the New Theatre, 542 King Street, Newtown, corner of Alice Street, on Thursday 6th June and plays until Saturday 29th June, 2013.