Tag Archives: Sara West


There have been 10 ‘teaser films’ released to herald the full Mardi Gras Film Festival launch on Jan 11th. Documentaries, romances, international films etc. all reflecting the lives, interests and passion of the LGBTIQ community.

“By widening our search across the most influential film festivals, as well as the key LGBTIQ festivals, we know we are bringing the very best of the best to Sydney,” explains Festival Director Paul Struthers. “Interestingly, we can now do this as more LGBTIQ characters and storylines appear in mainstream movies.”

BAD GIRL is one such. This is not a ‘lesbian film’. This is a cracker of a thriller in any context with a charismatic young woman at its centre and an equally compelling young woman circling her, their sexuality merely one element of their attraction to each other. Continue reading BAD GIRL

The Trolleys @ ATYP Studio 1


As the birth-given amber flame inside sputters towards its inexorable, inevitable fading, we older folk often turn reflective. Searching for a moral? Not really. If we are old shouldn’t we have that already? Meaning? Perhaps, but of what? The metaphysic? Surely that answer awaits us at the extinguishment. THE TROLLEYS, playing at the Australian Theatre for Young People, burns with a gentle, compelling glow as it softly illuminates a path to reflection for any audience, young or old.

In a dystopian future we are confronted initially with darkness. A figure clutching a waning orangey light in a jar moves towards us. As her light disappears, shockingly so does she. A new figure arrives to lovingly clear away the dust of the departed, then to scurry away. A motley, dirty crew of 6 children wake and cluster to become the protagonists of the story. They call themselves The Trolleys after the way each carries their meagre belongings. Their small society is self-sufficient with clear rules to keep them safe. But they know what happens when the light in their ever-present jar fails. Continue reading The Trolleys @ ATYP Studio 1

Ugly Mugs

Steve Le Marquand and Peta Brady in Peta Brady's new play UGLY MUGS. Pic Brett Boardman
Steve Le Marquand and Peta Brady in Peta Brady’s new play UGLY MUGS. Pic Brett Boardman

One of the most telling factors in the success of a play is how well, how vividly, a playwright draws/paints her world and its characters.

In this regard, Melbourne playwright Peta Brady scores a bullseye with her new play, UGLY MUGS. There isn’t a false note to be had through the play’s rapid-fire seventy minutes.

The world of UGLY MUGS is the world of the street…of people living on the edge…of directionless, restless young people. It is a world that Brady intimately knows, having worked for the past 15 years as a drug and safety outreach worker in the seedy St Kilda area. Her love for her ”street people’ shines through and makes this a special night in the theatre.

The action takes place over just one day and night. We follow two storylines. In the main line, a murdered prostitute comes alive on the mortuary slab and tells her ‘story’ to the Doctor performing her autopsy. In the second, a bizarre encounter between two teenagers ends up with the boy, simply named Son, being held in a juvenile prison cell.

In a popular technique, the two narratives, at one time, intersect and then the play drives on to its disturbing conclusion. I, however, embraced Brady’s self-effacing, gritty and frank characters much more than the, at times, tricky narratives.

Brady herself gives a winning portrayal as the feisty main character, simply named Working Girl. The girl’s quick witted, sharp as a tack, and a great raconteur, telling some classic stories about some of her more off-beat clients.

Brady also doubles up playing Mum, the working class battler who visits Son in jail. Mum’s character is marked by her forever sprouting homilies and trivia that appear inane but have profoundity.

Very experienced thespian Steve Le Marquand impressed playing multiple roles, playing the part of Mug (Mug is slang for the client of a prostitute. The Ugly Mug of the title refers to a client who is violent) as well as the mild mannered mortuary Doctor.

Harry Borland, in his stage debut, and Sara West impress as the two restless teenagers flirting with each other and testing one another out. It’s their frankness and sharpness that appeals. When his Mum tries to tell him that maybe she was leading him with the clothes that she was wearing, Son retorts sharply, ‘Clothes don’t ask for a fight.’

Marion Potts’ production, which originally played at her home theatre, the Malthouse, served the play well though at times the style felt a little too sharp and minimalistic… At least a bit of a set would have been nice. The fast paced, colloquial dialogue was, at times, tricky to follow.

There is a quote said by the Doctor during the play:-‘Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass/ It is about learning to dance in the rain’. The characters in UGLY MUGS are true rain-dancers. For these people, the storm never passes.

A Griffin Theatre Company and Malthouse Theatre Company world premiere production, Peta Brady’s UGLY MUGS opened at the SBW Stables Theatre, 10 Nimrod Street, Kings Cross on Wednesday 23rd July and plays until Saturday 23rd August, 2014.


Bryan Brown makes a welcome return to the theatre in the Sydney Theatre Company's current revival of David Williamson's TRAVELLING NORTH
Bryan Brown makes a welcome return to mainstream theatre as Frank in the Sydney Theatre Company’s current revival of David Williamson’s TRAVELLING NORTH

David Williamson’s play TRAVELLING  NORTH is now 35 years old. Many people will know this piece from the film adaptation which starred the late Leo McKern as the larrakin, left wing, classical music loving Aussie, Frank.  For the current Sydney Theatre Company revival, directed by STC’s Artistic Director Andrew Upton , Bryan Brown is well cast in the role.

Playing opposite Brown is  Alison Whyte  as Francis. What a fine performance she puts in, especially considering how she came in late in the rehearsal period after Greta Scacchi pulled out due to a back injury. She is a warm, confident performer and came across as being well suited to the role of this good natured, warm hearted woman.

A recently formed couple and newly retired, Frank and Frances decide to make  a sea change and leave their Melbourne digs and move up to North Queensland where  the weather is warmer and  the people are  friendlier.  What starts out as a great idea becomes infinitely more complicated when Frank’s health takes  a serious turn for the worse, his heart starts going on him, and Francis’s grownup children put pressure on her to return. The best laid plans of a happy retirement begin to fall apart….

Williamson puts in a lot of light touches, particularly his trademark witty lines, into what is a  bit of a sad tale. Plenty of humour is generated out of the encounters  that  Frank has with the local medic, Saul, really well played by Russell Kiefel, as Frank  tries to get to the bottom of  his condition. It becomes tricky to work out who the Doctor is, and who is the patient!

Another great  source of humour is the character of their newly acquired nerdy neighbour, Freddy. This was another fine comic performance, delivered by Andrew Tighe. Tighe had the audience in hysterics with every entrance, dressed  in short shorts and  appearing at the most inappropriate of times.

Harriet Dyer came across strongly in the role of Frances’s needy, bitchy daughter, Helen, whose husband leaves her. Frank displays little sympathy for Helen, ‘you can’t blame him for leaving, after being married for five years to that tongue’!

There’s so  much to like about TRAVELLING NORTH.  The play still works a treat.  Upton ‘s production disappointed in one main  way. This was  in the staging- in the set design. There was nothing in the design to convey the lure, natural beauty and sensuality of life in the tropics, which had so much to do with Frank and Frances leaving their Melbourne  home and comfort zone. The sparse set basically comprised different levels of platforms. So disappointing…

This current revival of TRAVELLING NORTH plays Wharf 1, the Sydney Theatre Company, until the 22nd March, 2014.


Lucy Bell (Anne) and Andrew McFarlane (Michael). Pic Brett Boardman

Inspired by events surrounding the disappearance and murder of multi-millionaire Herman Rockefeller in 2010, DREAMS IN WHITE is a powerful and emotionally draining new play by Duncan Graham that’s anchored by the murder of an obnoxious swinger Ray Wimple aka Michael Devine, played by Andrew McFarlane.

Continue reading DREAMS IN WHITE