FURY, the new play at Sydney Theatre Company’s (STC) Wharf 1 Theatre, is a new work by prominent Australian playwright Joanna Murray-Smith. The STC’s Artistic Director Andrew Upton commissioned the play from Murray-Smith, with the proviso being that it be a family drama.
In her Writer’s Note for the program, Murray-Smith revealed something of her creative process. ‘My starting point was the question- How do the children of radicals define themselves against the backdrop of their parents’ ideological convictions?’.
‘Before/After’ by Germany’s most performed contemporary playwright Roland Schimmelpfennig, is the first play in the Sydney Theatre Company’s 2011 Next Stages program.
First performed in Hamburg in 2002, the very contemporary ‘Before and After’ comprises 51 short, sharp scenes through which discreet fragments of the lives of more than thirty characters are revealed. A woman embarks on a sordid affair. A man is transported into a classical painting. Two handymen contemplate their place in the universe. A couple argue over the intricate lives of Hollywood screen sirens. A man discovers a new organism from outer space.
This was a fast paced, no holes barred night at the theatre, Director Cristabel Sved and a large cast including STC Residents Zindzi Okenyo, Richard Pyros, Sophie Ross and Tahki Saul, gave their everything to bringing Schimmelpfennig’s vision to life.
The main attraction was the style of storytelling. Actors followed each other around the stage with video cameras tracking the expressions on their faces,with these expressions then transmuted to the large video screen that dominated the stage back wall. It’s a startling, intimate technique that Sydney audiences are familiar with through the work of director Benedict Andrews and his stage productions of Patrick White’s ‘Season at Sarsparilla’ at the Drama theatre and Shakespeare’s ‘As You Like It’ at Belvoir Street.
Another interesting technique used was that the audience did not just see, and then interpret scenes being played out between characters, as is the standard narrative convention, but that there was also another performer who narrated, commented and layered the action.
My call… ‘Before/After’. was a radical and at times random and bewildering two hours of theatre. I confess to having more conservative tastes. It must be said that the young opening night audience, mostly in their twenties, loved it. The foyer afterwards was buzzing!
This Sydney Theatre Company’s (STC) production opened on Tuesday 8th February and plays at the STC’s Wharf 2 theatre until Saturday 19th February, 2011.
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