Tag Archives: Queensland Theatre Company

‘LADIES IN BLACK’ @ STRATHFIELD MUSICAL SOCIETY

LADIES IN BLACK is a thought-provoking comedy drama about the lives of a group of department store employees in 1959 Sydney Australia, with important female lifestyle messages that are still relevant today. Timeless and memorable coming of age story, focused on the naive bookish ultra-intelligent sixteen year old Lisa Miles.     December 1959 she takes a summer job for two months, at F.G. Goode’s department store, which is a fictional business that is loosely based on the Australian department store chain, David Jones Limited. The required work-uniform that all female counter staff wear, is the LBD (Little Black Dress) made iconic and famous by Coco Chanel when published in Vogue Magazine in 1926.                                      Continue reading ‘LADIES IN BLACK’ @ STRATHFIELD MUSICAL SOCIETY

THE EFFECT

Angie Milliken plays psychiatrist Dr James in Lucy Preeble's THE EFFECT
Angie Milliken plays psychiatrist Dr James in Lucy Prebble’s THE EFFECT

In British playwright Lucy Prebble’s play THE EFFECT two game young people, psychology student Connie (Anna McGahan) and charming drifter Tristan (Mark Leonard Winter) are volunteers in the clinical trial of a new anti-depressant super drug. Forties something psychiatrist Dr James (Angie Milliken) administers the trial over a four week period under the supervision of Dr Toby (Eugene Gilfedder) in residential quarters inside the pharmaceutical company premises.

Connie and Tristan spend a lot of time in each other’s company and, against all the rules, they start to fall for each other. Their romance threatens to play havoc with the rigor of the trial.

It’s an intriguing scenario for what turns out to be an engrossing night in the theatre.

The play’s intense tone is set very early on when Dr James comes on stage with a human brain in her hand, a moment that brings to mind the classic graveyard scene in Hamlet.

The audience is drawn in to following the four feisty characters and the conflicts that emerge between the two pairings. Tristan and Connie argue as to whether the feelings emerging between them are natural or the result of being under the influence?! 

Dr James and Dr Toby come from polar opposite positions of the psych drug debate. Dr James sees drugs as often being the soft option, Dr Toby believe they are the genuine balm for depressive illness.

The four actors, Angie Milliken and Eugene Gilfedder as the medicos and Anna McGahan and Mark Leonard Winter as the bold youngsters, ‘hold’ their characters well. 

Sarah Goodes’s production serves the play well. Highlights from the design team were Renee Mulder’s set which clearly portrayed the play’s very clinical, hospital setting, and Guy Webster’s edgy, contemporary soundscape.

The effect of Prebble’s play is that the arguments and debates between the characters reverberate long after the show has come to an end.

To end on a quote from the Bard. 

‘What a piece of work is man…how noble in reason, how infinite in faculties, in form and moving how express and admirable, in action how like an angel, in apprehension how like a god! The beauty of the world, the paragon of animals- and yet, what is this quintessence of dust? Man delights not me-’

I guess Shakespeare would be on anti-depressants if he was alive now. A diluted Shakespeare. An awful thing to contemplate. 

Recommended, a joint Sydney Theatre Company and Queensland Theatre Company production, Lucy Prebble’s THE EFFECT opened at Wharf 1, Sydney Theatre Company on Saturday 12th July and is playing until Saturday 16th August, 2014.

BLACK DIGGERS

BLACK DIGGERS1
One of the few light moments in the trenches

What a great story for a leading Australian theatre company like the Queensland Theatre Company (QTC) to tell at this time! And what timing! Whilst the show was still playing, on Australia’s Day, Koori AFL star Adam Goodes was announced ‘Australian Of The Year’.

BLACK DIGGERS tell of how, at a time when Kooris in this country were treated as less than second class citizen without voting rights, more than 1,000 indigenous soldiers fought side by side alongside their white countrymen in the battlefields of the Great War- in Palestine, the Somme, Gallipoli and Flanders Fields. Some became highly decorated soldiers…

It was another chapter in Australia’s- ‘White Australia has a very black history’- that the treatment that Koori returned servicemen received was no different from what they were used to before they left for the War.

With such a tough story, it would have been very easy for the playwright Tom Wright and the director Wesley Enoch to come up with a depressing, even spiteful production. Not so….Instead they have come up with a vibrant production.

The show went for 100 minutes without break, allowing the actors to maintain their momentum. We closely followed the individual journeys of the soldiers.

There were some sixty scenes- some stand-outs…The scene where two Kooris walk into a pub. The publican blocks their entrance. ‘We don’t have Kooris here’. From inside the pub a guy they fought alongside in the war spots them. He comes up to them and says to the publican- ‘You let these guys in- they fought with me in the war- or I will have words to the RSL about you’. His two mates are let in.

The play’s setting authentically changes from pre-war Australia to the horrors of the trenches to a cold, ineffectual post war country, giving us ‘the whole picture’. There was humour amongst the men with them just trying to stay on top of things.

A feature of Stephen Curtis’s set design was the chalkboard walls. Through the play the cast would inscribe telling details on these walls- signifying time periods, locations and much more.

The cast were great, delivering strong performances. The team comprised George Bostock, Luke Carroll, David Page, Hunter Page-Lochard, Guy Simon, Colin Smith, Eliah Watego, Tibian Wyles and Meyne Wyatt.

This was a show that absolutely called for something special and powerful. Wesley Enoch and his team  delivered.

A Sydney Festival and Queensland Theatre Company World Premiere production, BLACK DIGGERS played the Drama Theatre, Sydney Opera House from the 17th to the 26th January, 2014.