There’s something special about the kind of theatre where the characters invite the audience into their worlds…where they share some of their life experiences which have gone some way in to shaping the kind of people that they are today. Particularly when it comes together as well, and as skilfully, as it does with DEAD CENTRE/SEA WALL, companion monologue pieces written by two talented Australian playwrights.
Director Julian Meyrick has chosen a fitting way to present these two works. The approach is informal. There is no set to speak of. Both actors stay close to the centre of the tiny stage and spend time making eye contact with each of the theatregoers. They give assured performances in this campfire like style of presentation. Continue reading DEAD CENTRE/SEA WALL @ OLD FITZ→
Rowan Greaves’ production of BULL by Mike Bartlett suffers somewhat from having to use the fatigued set of the The Aliens, the current “main stage” production at the Old Fitzroy.
The set up of BULL is three employees await a meeting with the head of their company, at which one of them will lose their job, and the existing set distracts from what is supposedly a swish corporate suite. Continue reading BULL @ Old Fitzroy Theatre→
Mutual mastication of Steven Berkoff’s limber lines by four performers make a meal of LUNCH, part of a two course late night fare accompanied by Andrew Bovell’s LIKE WHISKEY ON THE BREATH OF A DRUNK YOU LOVE at The Old Fitzroy.
The prologue that lead to Andrew Bovell’s Speaking in Tongues and the subsequent celebrated film, Lantana, LIKE WHISKEY ON THE BREATH OF A DRUNK YOU LOVE is the evening’s appetizer and intertwines two scenes of betrayal and seduction.
Two couples, unbeknownst to each other, both alike in infidelity, each others partner out on the tear looking for rhythmic couplings, one partner finding the others, and vice versa, creates the interlocution that precedes intercourse. The doubt, the guilt, the frisson of the forbidden, the vice like grip of vice, explored in pungent, pacey jigsaw puzzle dialogue.
From Bovell to bovver boy Berkoff, the second course is a lithe and limber lewd show with all the pyrotechnic theatrical poetics the East End Bard has built his reputation on.
Lunch and lust are near neighbours in the lexicon, both are about appetite and hunger, and Berkoff playfully merges them into a ribald romp. There’s even a bit of audience participation but nothing to knot your knickers in anticipation.
Presented by new Indie outfit, Golden Jam, and directed by Sean O’Riordan, this double bill boasts a talented line up including recent Australian College of Theatre and Television (ACTT) graduates Natalie Freeman and Nicola James alongside Edric Hong and Yannick Lawry.
LIKE WHISKEY ON THE BREATH OF A DRUNK YOU LOVE and LUNCH sadly played the Old Fitz for too short a time, playing between the 21st and 25th July.
The name Dolores means sorrows. It derives from the Spanish moniker for Virgin Mary of Sorrows.
The titular Dolores of Edward Allan Baker’s DOLORES is no virgin, but she certainly is a sorry so and so, a perpetual sucker to a string of abusive men, the latest of which has bloodied her face and blackened her eye and forced her to seek refuge at her sister Sandra’s place.
Growing up in a blue-collar family, both women are dependent on men and both are vulnerable. Dolores is the family fuck-up with a life strewn with abortions and reckless unrequited romances. Continue reading Dolores @ The Old Fitz→
The new custodians of The Old Fitz theatre, Red Line Productions, have invited a fringe favourite, MASTERCLASS, to kick off their inaugural season.
Written and performed by Gareth Davies and Charlie Garber, this entertaining existentialist two hander is an acerbic and absurd examination of celebrity and the deification of thespians.
Peppered with all the pretentions that can pitfall performers, MASTERCLASS tends to pratfall in its pricking, loading up the ludicrous to lethal levels.
The theatrical expressions of “knocking them dead” and “killing the audience” takes on a literalness when it is stated that Gareth’s acting eminence arose from a performance that had showgoers shuffling off their mortal coil. Continue reading Masterclass @ The Old Fitz→
SITCO’s swan song as stewards of The Old Fitzroy theatre space is an apt one.
The end of an era is marked by a double bill of one act plays about colourful characters from the Kings Cross area that are from another era, THE LES ROBINSON STORY and BELLE OF THE CROSS.
THE LES ROBINSON STORY is a palimpsest of a personality, Les Robinson, a slacker before the term was coined, whose stories, Kenneth Slessor is attributed as saying, would be better understood and appreciated in 1993 than 1933.
Brought up on readings of Robinson Crusoe and the Swiss Family Robinson, these literary namesakes seem to have foreshadowed Les’ literary ambitions which foundered and shipwrecked on the shores of Bohemia. Continue reading SITCO’s memorable finale→
American playwright John Patrick Shanley’s play FOUR DOGS AND A BONE (1993) is theatrical take on a filmic confection. There are only four scenes in the play, four characters and the bone of the title is the unnamed film in which they are all involved.
We are introduced to an evidently West Coast airhead actress, Brenda (Melinda Dransfield) discussing her current film with the producer, Bradley (Sonny Vrebac). Brenda’s famous step brother is one of the main topics of conversation. What he and his friends can do for the film. Brenda name drops a famous family friend with whom she has script consulted and she has copious notes on how to fix the movie. Brenda and Bradley agree that the best solution is to reduce the role played by Collette (Amanda Collins). Collette meanwhile has engineered a drunken meeting with Victor, (Paul Gerrard) the writer. He has just lost his mother and is depressed, loveless and verklempt. Collette and Victor agree that the best solution is to reduce the role played by Brenda. Continue reading Four Dogs And A Bone→
If one could time travel back to pre September 11, 2001, might one convince Atta, plotting his twin tower atrocities in Hamburg, to fly his planes into an apartment block nearby the World Trade Centre instead and put the two morally bankrupt people that populate Neil LaBute’s THE MERCY SEAT out of their misery.
Abby is Ben’s boss and sugar mommy. He was supposed to be at work in the World Trade Centre when the jets hit but was bonking the boss in her apartment instead.
In the post coital, post apocalyptic aftermath, Ben sees this act of terrorism as a “meal ticket” out of his moral morass.
He will have his wife and kids believe that he has perished in the attack, sparing them the pain of his infidelity and springboard a new life elsewhere with Abby.
The program notes tell us that this production only had three works rehearsal disrupted by eviction from NIDA. Four collaborating directors are credited but the collective fails to give cohesion. Too many cooks, and all that.
Performances are robust but characterisation suffers probably because of the shrunken rehearsal time and commitment to learning the lines over creating a character.
Opposites attract notwithstanding, the credibility of the relationship is stretched, with Abby being the career driven, glass ceiling ball buster and Ben, the man child who can only service his lover doggie style. Mind you, he’s a might less malicious and malevolent than most other LaBute brutes like the alpha misogynists of Fat Pig and In the Company of Men.
Patrick Magee plays Ben as a catatonic couch potato for a good part of the first act, leaving Rebecca Martin’s Abby to prowl, prod and provoke some sort of action from him. All she gets is reaction, until the toyboy mans up a little in the second act.
When Ben looks out on the devastation of the towers he exclaims “It’s biblical”. He could be answering the question, ‘Where does the play’s title come from?’ It’s an arcane term from the Bible regarding the Ark of the Covenant and loosely translated as an atonement piece.
LaBute’s script is, ultimately, about atonement, but it’s far from being a perfect act of contrition.
THE MERCY SEAT by Neil LaBute plays The Old Fitz, Woolloomooloo Tues-Sat8pm Sundays 5pm till July 5.
“There’s a new world that both compliments and conspires against our own – the digital world” says writer Paula Noble, describing a ‘key stroke’ for a very noble effort that opened at the Old Fitz last night. While Director Steven Tait hopes that “audiences leave the Old Fitzroy, not simply satisfied with an enjoyable theatrical experience, but with the basis for starting a new conversation with each other.”
As you’ll see in the program notes, Brad has relinquished a torturous relationship with control freak wife, Maggie and prompted by best friend ,Grub, ‘checks in’ on Facebook to find new relationships. He doesn’t have to wait long as Di, a rather ravishing and predatory (and attached) blonde bombshell ‘explodes’ on the scene looking for mischief, followed inevitably by her menacing, jealous husband who is actually not far of the mark, (literally when he tries to rearrange Brad’s face!) Rebecca, a young ‘old flame’ (also attached), who’s never really got over being rejected by Brad, returns for a second tilt, and jilt! But current wife Maggie hasn’t accepted separation either and moves back in to re-stake her claim (or maybe Brad’s heart?)
Three writers, likewise, who to praise, who to blame?
Three performers all credited with writing the show. It’s a three way split and the divergence is palpable.
Play opens with an unnecessary solo spot from Hope (Sarah Hodgetts) desperately trying to contact someone via mobile phone.
Lights up on a motel room at the Gandiddyup Motor Inn, a strangely decorated abode which includes a photo portrait of Joe Dolce – apparently he once slept here – and a painting of what looks like Al Pacino, a telegraph to Scarface style shenanigans that litter the narrative.
This production of David Davalos’s WITTENBERG is a fast-paced, witty triumph of a play in which the views of an unformed young Hamlet (Alexander Butt) are bounced around between the worldly John Faustus (David Woodland) and the earnest Martin Luther (Nick Curnow). No surprise then that Hamlet spends much of the play in his tennis togs and in one high-energy scene imaginary tennis balls are volleyed at him thick and fast.
Last Thursday night after wading through the pub patrons and a large group of Morris Dancers, I found my way downstairs to a little gem of a theatre and a little gem of a play.
Danielle Maas and Joe Kernahan displayed an impressive array of performance skills in presenting an enlightening, witty commentary on modern casual, and not so casual, relationships. With its wonderful multi-media set, spontaneous audience involvement and on the button currency, this show delighted the crowd with a laugh every second line. The writing could be shortened a little perhaps toward the end.
It’s usually a good rule not to linger too long after the denouement or the most dynamic moments in a play. BUT, the impressive thing is that, as writer as well as performer, (devisor, dramaturg…), I’m guessing that Danielle Maas already has that in hand.
Incidentally, the audience is treated on their return to a ‘dress tease’ as tantalising as any of the opposite exercise that you are likely to see! The entire troupe including Jason Langley- Director, Sean Minahan- Set And Costume Designer, Alex Berlage- Lighting Designer, Stephen Penn- AV Designer, Margaret Davis- Dramaturg, Sophie Fairweather- Stage Manager/Performer, supported by the rest of the team, seem to be a diamond mine of talent to produce such a multi-faceted show.
A final note on Danielle’s performance; actors are taught that Artistic Truth means that the performer doesn’t have to break their heart every night on stage. The audience just has to believe they do. I was convinced.
SAY HELLO FIRST opened at the Old Fitzroy Theatre, 129 Dowling Street, Wooloomooloo on Thursday 4th July and runs until Saturday 27th July, 2013.
With their production CIRCUIT the Oligarch Theatre Company takes us into gym land, a world that has become the part of so many young people’s lives. The Oligarchs doesn’t give us the run-around, it delivers a satire on gym culture and behaviour.
We take our seats in the theatre and see the stage filled with the usual accoutrements of the gym world including the dreaded treadmill . The show starts in a suitably feisty way. A gym junkie is looking at themselves in the mirror, another enters and comments,- ‘Should I leave you two alone?!’.
Over the course of the play, that runs about two hours including interval, we get to meet six regular gym junkies as they do their moves and tells us their particular stories/journeys. Each character has been written by a different writer, with in four cases the writer getting to perform their creations themselves. They come across as very recognisable types…
Michael Drysdale impresses with his character, trainer Joel. At first, we see him as very caring and supportive of his clients however later on we see his methods as being quite calculated and business-minded, especially in the way that he entices and traps new clients into contracts. Sound familiar?!
Tom Mesker gives a strong performance as Justin (role written by Josh Forward). As far as how the body works and all its physiological constellations go…Justin knows it all. He is might as well be an MD!
Sean Corcoran plays Adam, a shy, nervous young gay guy, a bit over-awed by the mass of great male bodies working around him. A favourite quote, ‘the SHIFT nightclub is like a fish tank that hasn’t been cleaned in 3 months’.
Aimee Timmins plays the colourful, a little bizarre lesbian Janine (role written by Amanda Yeo). Janine is a bit of the over-flowing, am I sharing too much type. Very gossipy, a little Goldie Hawn like, into the Zumba and sees herself as a new age feminist.
Anika Herbert plays her creation, Kelly, who gets herself all worked up with her creative visualisations as she keeps on encountering Jane Fonda in her prime to often hilarious results.
My favourite performance of the night was Grace de Morgan who played the highly strung, disillusioned and indiscreet yoga teacher, Darcy to perfection. Her poor class finds out all about her failed romance with another yoga teacher Allejandro, who didn’t turn out to be far from the perfect, spiritual human being that she had imagined.
The verdict. CIRCUIT was a fun night at the theatre, featuring mostly gentle satire on what has become a modern obsession. I go along with what one of the characters said about their gym experience, ‘All these masochists look the same…like a bunch of sweaty robots…a sorority of sweaters’.
CIRCUIT is playing the Old Fitzroy Theatre, 129 Dowling Street, Woolloomooloo until Saturday 29 June, 2013.
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