Tag Archives: Tamarama Rock Surfers


Emily Rose Brennan, Susie Youssef and William Erimya in THE BOAT PEOPLE
Emily Rose Brennan, Susie Youssef and William Erimya in THE BOAT PEOPLE

It’s not the tune but what a musician does with the tune that often gives a piece its special quality.

The same goes for a writer…it’s not so much the subject, but how a writer plays/works with it, the composition, if you like, that can give a play its appeal, its resonance.

There’s some interesting touches and tones that playwright Benedict Hardie brings to the perennial theme that exists within THE BOAT PEOPLE.

The play is about the steps that people go about to rebuild their lives in their new homeland and the baggage and the struggles that they have gone through in getting ‘here’ and the touch balancing acts involved.

Benedict Hardie helms his own play and realises a strong production. The show goes 100 minutes straight through and the cast keep up a good energy all the way through.

As the two former refugees, Susie Youssef plays the very ambitious Sarah and William Erimya  plays her companion Karl,  a troubled but jokey soul.

Emily Rose Brennan primarily as a pushy journalist and Luke Joseph Ryan mainly as an equally pushy, though in an all together way, physical trainer in the supporting roles.

THE BOAT PEOPLE is set in Sarah and Karl’s living room of their upmarket house with its all glass outlook as deftly suggested by Michael Hankin’s design.

Recommended, THE BOAT PEOPLE, a co TRS and Hayloft Project production, plays at the Bondi Pavilion Theatre until 21st June.


Ella Scott Lynch as Nicole and Anthony Gooley as Hertz-Hollingsworth. Pic Zak Kaczmarek
Ella Scott Lynch as Nicole and Anthony Gooley plays Mr Frey
in Toby Schmitz’s new play. Pic Zak Kaczmarek

Award winning playwright Toby Schmitz has joined forces with director Leland Kean to present his latest play EMPIRE: TERROR ON THE HIGH SEAS for the Tamarama Rock Surfers Theatre Company.

Schmitz and Kean set themselves the challenge of writing a post –colonial play that wasn’t set in Australia.  The story is set in 1925 aboard a luxury ocean liner, the Empress of Australia, on its way to New York.  We find a colourful array of characters from Britain’s once great Empire; the vicar – Reverend Daglish, Mr Frey – a misplaced Australian Dadaist, an Australian Anzac, bombastic South African fighter pilot Tony Hertz-Hollingsworth and his flamboyant wife Nicole, the charming ex Eton/Cambridge man of leisure – Dick Cavendish, French couple Dr and Madame Foveaux, Chicago bag-man – Bang Reiby and cabaret singer Poppy Mitchell, amongst others.

It soon becomes clear that there is a serial killer on board and Inspector Archie Daniels suspects that the culprit is from the eccentric first class of the ship.  We are aware by the second act of who the killer is and the murders become more and more macabre.  There are some very clever scenes, including the cabaret songs by Poppy, sung beautifully by Billie Rose Prichard and the private cabin party, played with great exuberance by Ella Scott Lynch as party girl Nicole.   Also invigorating is the wit and wisdom of Cavendish, played with great humour by Nathan Lovejoy.  Anthony Gee as Mr Hertz-Hollingsworth was funny, but a little out of place with his aggressive and somewhat inconsistent South African accent.

The cast are all competent actors who seem to be struggling to make this cabaret farce into a drama.  There is a lack of communication between characters, to the point where there is little sympathy when they are murdered.

The idea behind the play is great and the characters imaginative, but the dialogue is over intellectual at times and lacking in depth in terms of relationships.  Perhaps Schmitz has taken on too complex a story to be credible on stage.  There is great potential and brilliant humour and nuance nevertheless.  If the characters connected more, the audience could be more involved on an emotional level.  Kean has, however, brought out some fantastic characterisations amongst this strong cast of actors.

The production is very slick.  The set design by James Browne is very 1920s and has that shipboard transitional appeal.  The lighting and sound design by Luiz Pampolha and Jed Silver are extremely atmospheric and the costumes superb.

EMPIRE: TERROR ON THE HIGH SEAS plays the Bondi Pavilion from August 28 and September 28, 2013.






Simon Maiden gives a strong performance as Exec Bot
Simon Maiden gives a strong performance as Exec Bot

In his program notes, playwright Travis Cotton shares that he came up with the idea of writing ROBOTS VS ART after reading a newspaper article about a  play performed in Japan that featured robots as the actors…

Yes, news like that  does get the old brain box ticking over…With the way technology is expanding and consuming us, which way is human civilisation heading, let alone the world of the performing arts?!

Cotton has chosen to tackle this subject/ contemporary dilemma in a highly whimsical, comical way.  In Cotton’s world the robots have taken over and running things pretty efficiently- thank you very much. There’s the odd human being left- but they work deep under the earth in coal mines. Chief robot- named Exec Bot-  is determined that he can come up with a working formula for Art.  For him to come up with this formula, he realises that he has to understand Art and feel what it is trying to say. It is in this guise that Exec Bot grabs Giles, one of the few human beings left, out of the mines  and has a one to one meeting with him. He has heard that Giles has experience as a theatre director and gives him an ultimatum. Giles is to direct a play that he has written and if during the play he can get him to feel something then Giles will be able to live and reproduce with a robot. If Exec Bot goes through the play unmoved then Giles will be executed pronto.

It’s a bit of a rambly, convoluted scenario…Cotton, who also directs the piece, fleshes it out into a fast paced production. There’s a lot to keep the audience interested- will the Robots learn to feel?, how good are they at learning their lines- especially when Claw Bot can’t even hold onto a pencil to write down notes from his director- yes there are plenty of acting/theatre in-jokes.

The performances are in the main good. Simon Maiden is great as the fastidious Exec Bot, as is Daniel Fredriksen  as the angst ridden Giles. Natasha Jacobs was a lot of fun as  Fem Bot. I had problems with Paul Goddard’s performance as Claw Bot- yes, he was funny but  his performance needed to be pulled back.

Also not so satisfying was the romance that the playwright put into the mix- felt a little cringy and out of place. A bit of a contest as to whether it really worked.

ROBOTS VS ART opened at the Bondi Pavilion Theatre on Wednesday 19 June and runs until July 6, 2013.






Marital disharmony in Williamson’s classic play

Last night at the Bondi Pavilion Theatre was a classic night of Australian theatre with the benefit of current skills and finesse that has come from forty years of experience and maturing in theatre production. I’m sure the Williamson’s enjoyed, as we did, the masterful interpretation, presentation and performance of this timeless piece.

Director Leland Kean says in his program note that his challenge to himself was to “approach the work from as fresh a perspective as possible.” and “…a lot of the issues that he (Williamson) was discussing in 1971 are as relevant if not more relevant today.” David Williamson, in the Press release, was “…very relieved that the play is being presented as happening in the seventies.”

Continue reading THE REMOVALISTS


Luisa Hastings Edge as Judith lashes out. Pic Heidrun Lohr

“If it were done when ’tis done, then ’twere well It were done quickly:” opines Macbeth over the assassination of Duncan. And yet he procrastinates.

Such hesitation over homicide afflicts “the heroine” of Howard Barker’s play JUDITH –A Parting of the Body, a widow-woman who achieved warrior status in ancient Israel for despatching by decapitation the enemy general, Holofernes.

On the eve of his planned annihilation of the Jews, Holofernes, muses on mass murder, philosophises on warfare, and concludes that the meaning of life is to fuck and to fight.

Continue reading JUDITH