Tag Archives: Reginald Theatre Seymour Centre

ELIXIR @ REGINALD THEATRE SEYMOUR CENTRE

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I went to the circus last night, set up in the tiny space that is the  Reginald theatre at the Seymour Centre. This was by way of a show called ELIXIR put on by Head First Acrobats and presented as part of this years’ Sydney Fringe Festival program.

ELIXIR proved to be a bit of knockabout fun. Just a note to begin with. With its colourful blend of risque humour that runs through the show, ELIXIR does not come under the ambit of a family show, and is not suitable for young kids. Three very enthusiastic performers- Callan Harris, Thomas Gorham and Rowan Thomas– took over the small Reginald stage with their very impressive acrobatic skills, honed from years of training.
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R.C. Sherriff’s JOURNEY’S END

Will Usic and Mark Lee in Breaker Morant, Theatre Troupe's 2013 production
Will Usic and Mark Lee in Breaker Morant, Theatre Troupe’s 2013 production

There’s a line in R.C.Sherriff’s powerful play JOURNEY’S END where the Colonel says to Osborne “I’m certain you’ll put up a good show.”

That line has an added resonance when The Theatre Troupe’s production opens at the Reginald at the Seymour Centre in October, as Osborne is played by Will Usic, who is also directing the show.

Will was also a cast member of The Theatre Troupe’s 2012 production of Breaker Morant, which was also staged at the Reginald.

For JOURNEY’S END, he’ll be directing Andrew George in the starring role of Stanhope. Andrew played the title role in Breaker Morant, so there’s a solid working relationship already forged.

Like Breaker Morant, JOURNEY’S END is a coruscating drama about men in war, this time in the trenches of World War One.

Playwright R.C.Sherriff served as a captain in the East Surrey Regiment from the outbreak of the First World War and so his writing has the ring of verisimilitude.

JOURNEY’S END has become a classic, as has many of Sherriff’s other work, including the Academy Award nominated screenplay for Goodbye Mr. Chipps and Mrs. Miniver.

Rising stars Jack Douglas as Raleigh, Jeremy Bridie as Hibbert and Ian Bezzina doubling as Mason and the German soldier, are indicative of the youth that were catapulted from the playing fields of Eton and the like to the hell holes of Flanders Fields, the Western Front and the like.

Like the characters they play, they’re keen, strong and brave chaps who should deliver the very good show this company promises.

Coinciding with the centenary commemorations of the commencement of the First World War, JOURNEY’S END stands as a tribute and a remembrance of a conflict that devastated one generation impacted those that followed.

JOURNEY’S END plays The Reginald Theatre, Seymour Centre, Broadway, October 22- November 15.

WONDERLAND

‘Some people do need to have happy ever afters’.

This is an intense, intriguing work with solid performances and excellent technical aspects, and the idea behind it is terrific , but I am afraid it just misses the mark. The title I gather comes from what Lucy says at one point – ‘Being in love is like travelling through Wonderland’ .Young lovers Lucy and Max bitterly blame each other for the collapse of their relationship.

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SINGLED OUT

Bali Padda and Rosie Lourde in Emms Magenta's 'Our Two Sounds Therefore, Which Are One'. Pic Marnya Rothe
Bali Padda and Rosie Lourde in Emms Magenta’s ‘Our Two Sounds Therefore, Which Are One’.
Pic Marnya Rothe

Statistics reveal that more and more people in Sydney town are bunking down alone. Is this a societal trend and is this figure to increase even further?  Is it a good or bad thing? Can we do anything about it…? It is a weighty subject and one deserving of the attention of talented young theatremakers such as Augusta Supple who has curated her new show, SINGLED OUT, around it.

The show starts with a satirical bang. The audience is crowded around the foyer when a young man announces that he is an accountant who is about to do a presentation re the show and could everyone please come over to his flip chart stand. We all huddled together and heard him begin his spiel. The presentation started very somberly- as he ripped pages off his flip chart and delivered countless statistics about the growing social trend of young people living alone and the dire consequences of this…..

Then all of a sudden he left the verbiage behind and started some spontaneous, frenetic break-dancing around the crowd. It was pretty impressive, vibrant stuff, and then just as quickly he announced that he was done now and could everyone please now go down to the Reginald theatre where the show proper was about to begin.

How can one top an opening that features a Dancing Accountant?!

SINGLED OUT ‘proper’ features vignettes/playlettes written by a group  of eight talented Australian writers- Vanessa Bates, Wayne Blair, Susan Carradine, Luke Carlson, Emma Magenta, Grace De Morgan, Tim Spencer, Alli Sebastian Wolf- who were briefed to write on the theme and to ‘imagine the unwatched moment’…Which is the point essentially..When one is living alone, there is no-one watching…no-one that one has to share with…It gives the writers a rich world to explore not the least being the many examples of eccentric behaviour that result. The writing was of a good standard though, at times I wished for it to flow more from the heart than the head.

My favourite pieces,- Alli Sebastian- Wolf’s ‘Lighthouse Keeper’ about a suicidal lighthouse keeper and his beloved cat- featuring some neat puppetry work with a cat puppet made by the writer, Grace De Morgan’s ‘The Intruder’ about an intruding moth that sees two neighbours, an elderly man and a young woman, meet and befriend each other, and Emma Magenta’s playful and insightful  ‘Our Two Sounds Therefore, Which are One’- where the scenario is a little different, as two young, demonstrative neighbours, who resent each other greatly, make a kind of musical peace.

Lisa Mimmocchi’s set is neat, and catches the eye from the start with the entire cast walking/drifting out onto the set and taking their various vantage points, in what is set out as different parts of a house,  from which they perform from…bathroom…bedroom, lounge room sofa, study, et al….

I haven’t singled out any of the cast- the players in the Singled Out ensemble deserve mention,- comprising Amanda Stephens Lee, Bali Pada, Rosie Lourde, Josipa Draisma, Leofric Kingsford-Smith, Amber McMahon, Eloise Snape, Richard Cox, Alex Bryant-Smith, Alli Sebastian- Wolf, Roland Baker, Kate Fitzpatrick and Appelonia.

Recommended, SINGLED OUT opened at the Reginald Theatre, the Seymour Centre on Thursday October 3 and is playing until Saturday October 12, 2013.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST

John Worthing (Michael Whalley) and Gwendolyn Fairfax (Paige Gardiner) court and spark.
John Worthing (Michael Whalley) and Gwendolyn Fairfax (Paige Gardiner) court and spark.

‘I always take my diary with me when I go on trains.  I need something sensational to read’.

Oscar Wilde’s 1895  play THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST saw one of the wittiest people who ever lived at the height of his powers. It is quite simply a comic masterpiece. The humour is irrepressible, like the writer himself, who even on his deathbed, had the final say, ‘Either the curtains go, or I go’.

Satire was Wilde’s forte, his penchant for mocking the pretentiousness and preciousness of society’s ways. In EARNEST, Wilde has come up with a wonderful caricature of a society woman in the role of Lady Bracknell. Andrew Benson gives a fine comic performance as the good Lady in the current Burley Theatre Company revival, directed by Brandon Hartignago. Hartignago’s choice to have a man play Bracknell is not such an unusual choice, years ago Geoffrey Rush played the part with great success.

Michael Whalley as John Worthing and Kurt Phelan as  Algernon Moncrieff make an entertaining duo as the two young friends/scallywags/scoundrels who both, quite separately, have come up with the strategy of creating out of town people, in John’s case his wayward brother Earnest….Algernon his invalid Uncle Bunbury, whom the visit when the life becomes too ‘curly’ and they need to get away.

As cunning as these two men are, they both have soft spots for the fairer  sex. Paige Gardiner as Gwendolyn Fairfax and Katie McDonald as Cecily Cardew are the very attractive objects of their affection, and in a way they match their male counterparts in their use of feminine wiles.

Rounding out the cast Tamblyn Henderson and Ana Maria Belo showed some nice comic touches in servant/maid roles.

Director Brandon Martignago, who resets the play in the present day, delivers a bright, brassy, fast paced, very playful production. There are some interesting choices; the first scene, set in Algernon’s living room, is played out in front of a stage-wide curtain, in a very small space at the front of the stage, that the actors did well to transverse without doing any damage. For the second scene, in effect the curtain opens, to a great, wide reveal, of the garden in John Worthing’s country manor house. There are some nice touches by set designer Mason Browne, peacock chairs, tufted grass, the back wall is covered with Martinique wallpaper depicting a lush garden scene. Browne also designed the bold, character driven costumes.

My favourite scene? There are too many in this play. It’s like asking what’s my favourite Oscar Wilde quote- have you heard this one?-  ‘I can resist everything except temptation’. Ok…I will go for the scene where Algernon turns up at his friend’s county estate, and the shock on John Worthing’s face, and the ensuing comic chaos that it causes.

Recommended, Brandon Hartignago’s revival of THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST plays at the Reginald Theatre at the Seymour Centre until August 3, 2013.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

OTHELLO

OTHELLO

O most noble, brave and valiant Othello!

Explosively powerful this is a striking, unusual production prominently featuring water. Wonderful Sport by Jove under the inspired direction of Matt Edgerton bring us a gripping performance with a magnificent cast and show their usual excellent style of fluid scene transitions, a respect for the text , very energetic performances and a driving pace . Edgerton has the luxury of two strong, fantastic leads  in his Othello and Iago . It is a ‘timeless  ‘production with a hugely masculine sparse military feel , the military people such as Othello , Iago and Cassio wearing dark blue shirts a, black trousers with a stripe and dashing white ‘ dress ‘jackets with medals where appropriate.

The set itself is dominated by sandbags (used to control the flow of water) and blends various elements of military camp, dockside and bathhouse. Desdemona’s bedroom is prettified by the addition of four candles (which Othello symbolically blows out during his ‘it is the cause’ monologue). The water – from a tap opened by Damien Ryan’s Iago and gradually covering the marvellous tiled mosaic floor to become a shallow pool – is a major theme of this version and works on multi – layers of metaphor, meaning and sensation. The water is there for almost the entire play and the actors (and front rows of the audience) can get quite wet (and Desdemona’s long gowns almost ruined…). There is wonderful use of the lighting by Mat Cox and David Stalley who use the water reflection/dapples to great effect at various points.

In this production our attention is somewhat shifted from the usual perception of the play being about race hate and more focused on how Iago becomes the driving force and instigator of the tragedy with his evil machinations affecting the other more gullible characters. But Othello being regarded as an outsider and Desdemona’s daring everything to marry him are clearly shown, as are the power politics with the clever use of microphones.

Our Iago Damien Ryan is exceptional, a superb performance. (I would love to see him cast as Richard  111) .The seemingly ‘honest ‘ ( note how that word is repeatedly used about him ) Iago is in fact the opposite – a deadly schemer. As in Shakespeare’s Richard 111, his monologues are shown sympathetically and he mesmerizes and completely draws in the audience. The show opens with Iago being water tortured to reveal why he did what he did but to no avail. The big question is WHY Iago does hate ‘The Moor’ so much and Shakespeare never really gives us an answer although it is implied he is jealous and ambitious.

Ivan Donato as Othello is also brilliant, an excellent performance. We see the range of his emotions and his many ‘faces’ from a man in his prime in top form, a galvanising, proud, commanding general and new husband, to his hidden weaknesses – the epilepsy and the ‘green eyed monster’ of jealousy , succumbing to Iago’s  fiendish machinations.

Sweet, innocent, wronged Desdemona is tremendously played by Isaro Kayitesi .While seeming to be a lovely , fragile tropical flower she has steely determination and a mind of her own.

There is some doubling/tripling of some of the smaller roles and the Duke becomes a stunning Phryne Fisher like exotic Duchess in red. Poor young very handsome Cassio was well  played by Scott Sheridan. Emilia , Iago’s unsuspecting wife and Desdemona’s supportive companion ,was strongly played by  Julia Ohannessian who gave a terrific performance .

Oh! The fuss over that handkerchief that Desdemona loses! In this version Iago’s devilish machinations (unwittingly put in train by Emilia) are clearly presented . The handkerchief becomes a repeated visual motif used at times throughout the play .

A thrilling production. Go see.

OTHELLO is playing the Reginald Theatre, the Seymour Centre until Saturday 29 June, 2013. Running time is 3 hours and 15 minutes without interval.