Tag Archives: Tamblyn Henderson

FALSETTOS

Tamblyn Henderson, Ben Hall, Elise McCann, Margi de Ferranti. Pic Helen White
The scourge of AIDS is poignantly featured in this Broadway masterpiece.
Tamblyn Henderson, Ben Hall, Elise McCann, Margi de Ferranti. Pic Helen White

A strong though flawed revival of the wonderful Tony award winning musical FALSETTOS-music and lyrics by William Finn and book by James Lapine and Finn- is currently playing the Darlinghurst Theatre Company’s pristine new home, the Eternity Playhouse.

With so many different variations in play within the modern family the scenario in place in FALSETTOS is as edgy and relevant as ever.  Marvin and Trina’s goal is to hold family life together and, in particular, the well being of their clever, adorable teenage son, Jason. Not such an easy task when they both move on to new partners,- Marvin falls in love with a guy called Whizzer, and later, Trina falls into the  arms of the  family psychiatrist, Mendel.

There is  much to love about this play,-the plot is involving throughout, the score is a treat with the thirty something songs all commentating superbly on the action, and most of all the unpretentious, erudite humour and resilience with which these characters, in Falsetto land, face the challenges that life throws their way not in ‘single file but in battalions’.

Colyer direction impressed and the simple, adept staging worked well. There was one reservation. The production would have been well served with a dialect coach. The way some of the Jewish expressions and Hebrew passages were delivered more embarrassing. A disappointment.

The actors were a powerhouse. Favourite performances were delivered  by Ben Hall as Whizzer, Katrina Retallick as Trina, Stephen Anderson as the frizzy (a great wig), eccentric psychiatrist, and Anthony Garcia, who showed plenty of promise in his assured performance as a teenager enmeshed in complex adult dramas.

Stephen Colyer’s production is playing the Eternity Playhouse, 39 Burton Street, Darlinghurst until Sunday 16th March.

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.