Above – Isobel Dickson and Rebecca Clay in Wayne Tunks Flame Trees. Production photography by Isobel Markus-Dunworth
”Who needs that sentimental bullshit anyway?” decries the pamphlet that I grabbed before going in to see FLAME TREES at the Depot Theatre in Marrickville last night.
The answer seems to be that we all do. For this play is all about sentiment. And about fire, fires and an old flame.
The Depot is part of the Marrickville Enmore/Newtown burgeoning theatre scene. Vibrant Young and Raw. The play is a reflection of that. Tess Ashley, finely played by Isabel Dickson, returns to the small town she left many years ago and we all wonder why. The reasons are gradually revealed in this drama which has it all. Love, sacrifice, crime, punishment, betrayal and duplicity. It is also a psycho drama and a whodunnit. Have I left something out? Continue reading FLAME TREES BY WAYNE TUNKS @ DEPOT THEATRE MARRICKVILLE→
Part of the Sydney Fringe, SLUTTERATI by Michael Gottsche has been developed with the assistance of the New Theatre where it is currently being performed. Under Louise Fischer’s sure direction, the excellent cast bring to life the biting, satirical script (which – warning – has lots of strong language) .The narrative is told clearly and the plot structure is quite strong.
SLUTTERATI lampoons the narcissistic obsessiveness of the age of ‘celebrity’ and with a dark twist reveals a delicate personal story hidden underneath the superficial world of vanity and ambition. Who (if anyone) can you really trust? It is about the continual rise of gossip as ‘news’ and its insidious omnipresence in today’s society, how ‘news’ is not simple reportage of major events but in synch with commercial sponsorship.
The set is quite sparse, – a sofa, several TVs, a desk and chairs. The scene changes, and there are lots of quick scene changes, are handled very smoothly, and in a quite cinematic way.
Very handsome Matt Charleston gives a strong performance as Dan Paul Newman, a TV presenter who is caught in a world of rather inane TV programs, B Grade celebrity colleagues and boring parties. In the lead up to the Olympics, Newman wants to remind people he once was a top Olympic swimmer. But in a wave of a series of embarrassing scandals he discovers how quickly and easily his reputation can be smashed and his career crashes badly.
It is all about ‘face’ and manipulation of the media as organised through Clark, his manager. Can the situation be saved? There is a sharp, almost Brechtian ‘nightmare’ scene, very well presented, where everything in Newman’s world comes crashing down.
Stephen Wilkinson as Clark, Newman’s likable yet seedy, quite shady manager with a criminal background, gives the play some of its tensest moments. He brings a feeling of urgency to the story and makes us believe that the stakes are very high.
Others in the cast include Rebecca Clay who plays Talia-Jayne, an early-evening commercial television presenter colleague of Newman’s, who regards herself as a serious journalist. With a toothy smile she certainly confidently looks the part, yet underneath is constantly aware of her superficiality .Her elegant, blow-waved, narcissistic self importance is underlined with a hint of caring phoniness.
As Angela, his harassed first agent, Jorjia Gillis was terrific. The cleaner, Lily, who gets to know Dan Paul quite intimately, yet at the same time not at all, was well played by Kate Skinner. The theoretical division between Personal and Professional lives and confidentiality was stressed .And Amy Fisher was terrific as Amy Dunn, whose kiss and tell TV interview, sparks a crisis.
A timely, very cutting analysis and critique of current media issues. Running time 75 minutes straight through.
Michel Gottsche’s SLUTTERATI ran at the New Theatre, King Street, Newtown between September 19 and 23, 2013.
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