Hamlet is dead. What next? APPROPRIATION, written by Paul Gilchrist, tells the imagined story of Fortinbras, a rash hothead who learns from his politically gifted wife when to wield a sword and when to weave a story. Raw, poetic and darkly funny, the performance is a surgical assault on how we use stories to establish power and gain prestige.
Fledgling Theatre Company are an international theatre company that explore raw and visceral new writing through a distinctly physical approach to theatre making. They are dedicated to creating theatre that excites and challenges audiences, utilising stage combat skills coupled with dynamic movement sequences to create confronting imagery. Since their inception in 2014, FTC have produced six new works including a UK tour, a critically acclaimed Edinburgh run, as well as residencies in London and Sydney. Continue reading APPROPRIATION FROM FLEDGLING THEATRE COMPANY. GIVEAWAY.→
TICK TICK BOOM is a new work by Melissa Lee Speyer and it is a play with a great deal going for it. The themes, characters and narrative are well woven into an entertaining drama with two richly written women characters, a plot which carries an intellectual mystery within it and a lightly lingering existentialism. But it is also a show which will benefit from genuine feedback in this, its first outing. Despite some slightly flawed direction, this production by subtlenuance is a satisfying watch particularly for the performances which display a lovely truth in the intimacy of this small venue.
Jodie and Clara are an odd couple of high schoolers somewhat trapped in Jodie’s room by their well-meaning mothers. They know each other from school, were friends when they lived on the same street as primary kids but it doesn’t appear that they now have anything in common, except the past. Jodie is suffering from a severe illness which is best managed in a confined space and Clara flits in and out of her tiny environs. Initially they are Fern and Cactus but their relationship to each other will change them both. Continue reading TICK TICK BOOM: THE FERN AND THE CACTUS→
It may be true, as ONE WAY MIRROR suggests, that modern actors are the truth-tellers yet when Thespis stepped out of the chorus to become someone else, there were riots in the Athenian capital. How dare a person pretend to be another? ‘Actors are Liars’ screams extant graffiti.
Liars indeed. The particular actor-liars in this production are characters who are paid to use their acting skills as academic sleight of hand. Little or no truth is told by these characters. However, the truths extrapolated by their professorial observers are presented with increasing scepticism and moral concern to the audience. It’s a fine premise for this new Australian work presented with commitment and coherence by the director and cast. Continue reading One Way Mirror: Observation and Complicity→
Cristina has decided upon a self imposed exile, to live in a cupboard incommunicado. She feels that modern life is shallow and inauthentic.
Cristina, excellently played by Emily McGowan, is going to stay in her cupboard and examine her life, her family, her friends and the impact of significant events in her upbringing. Cristina has taken a different approach than Socrates suggested. As Socrates supposedly said at his trial, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” He would rather die than live in exile unable to debate and engage with his students and fellow citizens.
In our older years, we sort of know most things about ourselves. I could tell you a lot of personal stuff if you asked me… and you held a psychiatrist’s licence. But last night I learned something new about my inner world. I’m a naysayer. I wouldn’t have thought that this is the case but there it is… Just hanging in the air of Old 505 theatre.
ALL THE DIFFERENCE is a play of choices. We meet Flik. Well. Felicity actually. The shortening of her name to make herself happy (get it?) enrages her mother. She’s young when we first meet her . She’s in a boat with her Dad. Dad time is precious. Continue reading ALL THE DIFFERENCE @ Old 505 Theatre→
AND NOW TO BED is the third in the Table Talk Trilogy commissioned and produced by one of Sydney’s most enduring and entertaining theatre companies, Subtlenuance.
Director Paul Gilchrist chose seven actors and paired them each with a writer. The writer then took a story from the actor’s personal experience and crafted it into a theatrical tale. The only brief given was to explore the concept of sexuality.
That done, Gilchrist curated the individual stories into a cohesive show, giving it theatrical shape and form.
Was the road to Rouen really the road to ruin for Jeanne D’Arc?
The story goes that the Maid of Orleans was made barbecue steak in Rouen, burned as a heretic by the same Church that canonised her some centuries later.
In writer/director Paul Gilchrist’s new play, JOAN, AGAIN, Joan appears a decade after the pyre in a sleepy little village called Plume. Perhaps she has chosen the place because its name is synonymous with smoke.
Plume’s claim to fame is its beds and it’s amongst the peasant feather pluckers that Joan reveals herself and instantly causes conflict.
Misanthropist matriarch of the mattress business, Isabelle (Helen Tonkin) doubts the person purporting to be Joan (Sylvia Keays) putting her into direct opposition to her only surviving child, Bernadette (Bonnie Kellett).
Her niece, Marie (Kitty Hopwood) also buys Joan’s bona fides when her returned soldier husband, Gerard (James Collette) identifies her in the affirmative.
Isabelle rants and vents against Gerard and Joan, seeing in both reminders of a war that has reduced most of her family to fertiliser in the field of France.
Genuine or fraud, Joan’s timing to appear in Plume is off, as the Grand Inquisitor, Cardinal Theobald (Lyndon Jones) and his overzealous acolyte, Father Berthold (Ted Crosby) have ducked down to the town in transit to meetings of overblown importance with other minor luminaries.
These two allow Gilchrist to target the hypocrisies of the Church, where superstition trumps spirituality and fear dictates faith. These are the embodiment of Catch 22 catechists who indoctrinate and damn to suit their own agenda.
Awash with words, verbally viscous at times, the most affecting characters in the play are the ones with fewer lines.
Compelling in her silence and stillness is Kit Bennett as Therese, quiet as a mouse and considered by some as the ‘village idiot”. And when she does speak, it is delivered with an eloquence and poignancy that speaks volumes.
As her father, Felix, Dave Kirkham imbues the flustered feather farmer with humanity, pathos and humour. Both these performers live up to the production company mantle of subtle nuance.
JOAN, AGAIN runs Tue-Sat 8pm and Sundays 5pm at The Old Fitzroy, Woolloomooloo till August 23.
Writer, director Paul Gilchrist has achieved a lot with his production of CHRISTINA IN THE CUPBOARD, now showing at the TAP Gallery in Darlinghurst.
Described in the program notes as “an experiment in comic magic realism”, the play is primarily effective due to the richness of its dialogue and powerhouse performances by a mainly young and exuberant cast.
Christina (Sylvia Keays) has retreated from the world, locking herself in a cupboard in her bedroom and apparently “withdrawing” from life, in part to do battle with her own “Leviathan”, a shadowy monster of the mind.
This has a profound effect on her family and friends who are all attempting to process the supposed abnormality of her actions, what role they played in her decision and what can and should be done to get her to come back to reality. They then embark on a number of strategies to coax her out of her situation.
Whilst those closest to her seem overly concerned about her well being, Christina herself seems strangely inured to their concerns, seeing nothing overly wrong with her desire to shut herself off, for a time, to disengage as a way of re-engaging with the world. As she says, “there are 7 billion of us out there” and her situation is undoubtedly being repeated elsewhere in the world somewhere.
This was this reviewer’s first trip to the TAP Gallery theatre and its surroundings left me not expecting very much, if the truth be told. Yet having seen plenty of Sydney theatre over the years full of lavish sets and big-name thespians, this show turned out to be a surprise joy on a number of levels and the sparseness of the set meant that all that was left were the words and those delivering them, and neither disappointed.
Keays shines in the lead role, where she is thankfully not confined to a cupboard but is free to roam the stage expressing the complexity of a character much wiser and worldly than her age would suggest.
She is constantly making comparisons with Jesus, Buddha and Mohammed taking the necessary time out to “find” themselves, and as absurd as these comparisons initially seem, they certainly provide the fodder for some of the play’s more amusing exchanges.
Alice Keohavong delivers a passionate performance as little sister Anna, beset with her own issues but needing her sister to be there for her.
Sonya Kerr and Sinead Curry are particularly memorable and provide much of the comic relief as Christina’s “best” friends Erica and Belinda, whose puerile competitive streak and obsession with social media and their number of Facebook “friends” offer a striking metaphor for the banality of the so-called real world, the one in which Christina is trying to escape from.
Helen Tonkin (Gwen) and Peter McAllum (Robert) put in first-rate performances as exasperated parents trying to process the notion that their daughter is in some way abnormal and that they had done something wrong to bring about this situation.
The parental perspective also gives the production a powerful counterpoint to the youthful perspective of the rest of the characters, and they are not afraid to ask some of the tougher questions, both of themselves and the others: are we any wiser just because we’re older? Is parenthood something people enter into out of a sense of obligation, because they are taught that it is the right thing to do, because it satisfies a primordial urge? Do mothers by definition love their children more than their children love them?
McAllum also provides some of the most memorable comedic moments, replying to Christina’s references to God with a very loud “Christ”.
Stephen Wilkinson as Christina’s nervous ex boyfriend Gabriel and Kelly Robinson as the somewhat enigmatic Lucinda are also highly believable.
Aside from the acting, what really makes this production work is the way in which Gilchrist’s dialogue has successfully captured so many aspects of life in a 90-minute timeslot: the struggle for acceptance, what constitutes normality, the need to conform to feel accepted, the struggle against loneliness, what is responsibility and what are the consequences of shirking that responsibility, all of which are explored through a myriad of characters within the confines of one small stage.
The theme of normality is one that underpins the play from the get go and what is particularly interesting is how some of Christina’s soliloquising constitutes some of the most level-headed thinking in the play.
CHRISTINA IN THE CUPBOARD is a must for serious theatregoers with a sterling cast, some of which may well be household names in the not-too-distant future. As an audience member, I entered a little theatrical cupboard in a gallery basement, and left with a feeling of being part of the grand magic of the theatre as an art form and with the philosophical duty of inquiring about, and answering the questions, of what it means to be human.
Subtlenuance Theatre Company’s production of Paul Gilchrist’s CHRISTINA IN THE CUPBOARD opened at the Tap Gallery on Wednesday November 6 and runs until Sunday November 17, 2013.
‘In wine there is truth and laughter’. So goes the promo line for local playwright Paul Gilchrist’s new play. One can also add now, – out of wine one can also make a very appealing work of contemporary theatre. BLIND TASTING works well with its combination of lyrical writing by Gilchrist, and a lovely, well measured, and warm performance by Sylvia Keays as the intrepid Sophie.
BLIND TASTING starts in a bright, winning way. Sophie walks out onto the stage blindfolded, a bright red mask covering her eyes, fumbling her way till she makes it to the centre of the stage, next to a wine barrel on top of which sit a couple of bottles of wine. She calls out for someone in the audience to lend her a hand and join her.
A willing volunteer raced on to the stage and starts things off by cracking open the first bottle of wine. Sophie begins her blind tasting, swigging the wine very enthusiastically, mouthing appropriate wine lingo, and then requesting refills. Clearly, this lady loves to drink.
When the volunteer summons up her courage and asks for a drop herself, Sophie quickly asks her to take her leave. She has no intention of sharing the good drop!
For the next hour Sophie entertains the audience with stories from her life. Wine tasting is one thing, but she talks about some of her experiences working as a telemarketer, of-course, for a wine company. Telemarketing is a hard call, and that’s exactly how Sophie tells it.
On a positive note though, the job gave her the bucks to go on a cruise that she goes on with her work colleague, Kirstie. For Sophie the highlight is a romance that ensues with the svelte smooth and super- organised Peter, which she tells us in vivid detail.
As well as being an avid wine drinker and raconteur, Sophie fancies herself as something of a philosopher. As her night of sharing comes to an end, she tells us that, in her life now, she is endeavouring to look beyond the labels on bottles of wine as well those labels that some may put on the people in her life.
A Subtlenuance Theatre Company production, BLIND TASTING has completed its season at the Ensemble Theatre, Kirribilli, having played there for two nights only, on June 25 and July 30. BLIND TASTING has previously had runs in Adelaide, Melbourne and Los Angeles.
Paul Gilchrist comes up with a clever situation for his new play ROCKET MAN.
Daniel Hunter and Sylvia Keays play two young, attractive single people, Neil and Veronica, who meet at a party and have a hot night of sex together at Veronica’s apartment (impressive set design by Rachel Scane). The play starts with them waking up the morning after, feeling great and still wanting more action. Maybe this could be the start of something beautiful, the relationship that both have been looking for?!
Not bloody likely- as George Bernard Shaw would have said- after the sexy strangers start finding out a bit about each other. Veronica jumps out of bed, apologising to Neil…she can’t lie in…she’s got an audition to go to… for the role of Lady Macbeth. Neil starts to mock her, he can’t stand actors and hates the theatre. Veronica is aghast. She then asks Neil what does he do. ‘I’m an astronaut’, he retorts. His answer throws Veronica..puts seeds of doubt into her mind…have I just spent the night with a loopy guy?! A match made in sexual heaven looks set for a short life span on planet earth.
No, the playwright does not end up delivering a variation of the ‘Looking for Mr Goodbar’ scenario…We end up with a complicated, intense play, delving into the difficult lives young people lead these days. Gilchrist throws into the plot mix, Veronica’s flatmate, critical curse, Claudia, played by Alyssan Russell, and her boyfriend, Justin, performed by Stephen Wilkinson, who just happens to have known Neil from high school days.
Gilchrist helms the play himself. The show plays straight through and the cast perform well.
My verdict. I wanted to like ROCKET MAN more. The narrative felt like it petered off, with the black-out being a little welcome. Maybe as a short, sharp piece this play would have worked better. The one level in which ROCKET MAN worked well was as a dialogue, a debate, about theatre…the importance of…the relevance…the craft…There was humour..insight…insider references…perhaps a few of the jokes a little too snide and self indulgent.
Subtlenuance’s production of Paul Gilchrist’s ROCKET MAN opened at the Tap Gallery, 278 Palmer Street, Darlinghurst on Thursday July 4 and runs until Sunday July 14, 2013.
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