The Spooky Men’s Chorale (AKA The Spookies ) had a rapturous reception for their latest Sydney concert. This was the 700th performance by the wildly popular chorale , formed in 2001 and based in the Blue Mountains , dynamically led by Stephen Taberner.
.The concert was a mix of old favourites and some new songs with their trademark blend of mad male humour and social comment with fabulous voices inspired by the great Georgian male choirs among other things. Sixteen men in black – And the hats! (What those unfamiliar with The Spookies first notice is the blend of ages and sizes of the choristers and also the assortment of beards (or not) but mainly the wide rang of hats, from beanies to fur covered to pith helmets and and other . . . ) Continue reading SPOOKY MENS CHORALE @ THE SEYMOUR CENTRE →
Above : Performer Gabriel Dharmoo. Featured Image: Gabriel Dharmoo in front of the Anthropologies Imaginaires screen. Photo credit Greg Locke.
This fifty-minute experience from French-Canadian Gabriel Dharmoo is a unique and highly entertaining one. It combines a one-man tour de force performance of singing and sound effect with voluptuous accompanying movements. A subtitled documentary-style commentary on a screen behind the performer matches the vocal gymnastics to language and behaviours of imaginary cultures.
This event could be described as the Umbilical Brothers meet a deceptively satirical SBS. This performance’s subtle start is quite believable and resembles the canon of anthropological films on non-fictional tribes. However, as the show progresses the tongue in cheek comedy around the validity of commenting on a single aspect or practice by an ‘other’ culture becomes increasingly obvious. Continue reading SYDNEY FESTIVAL : ANTHROPOLOGIES IMAGINAIRES @ SEYMOUR CENTRE→
Under the excellent direction of Richard Cottrell Sport For Jove have brought us a most impressive, tense version of one of Shakespeare’s troubling plays, THE MERCHANT OF VENICE. Although classified as one of Shakespeare’s comedies, with a mostly happy ending, there is plenty of sinister drama happening behind the scenes.
This production, with the play a little abridged, is slickly and briskly delivered.
Cottrell’s version sets the events just before the Second World War. Mostly the men are in expensively cut elegant suits, the women dressed in lovely flowing dresses.
Anna Gardiner’s set design places the characters in a very posh, gold and white art deco world featuring revolving doors and sliding panels.
This Shakespeare play examines issues of hate, greed , resentment, racial intolerance and seeking revenge for long held grudges, but also shows the other side- the need for compassion and mercy.
At the centre of Shakespeare’s THE MERCHANT OF VENICE is its troubling anti-Semitic portrayal of the main character, Shylock, the Jewish moneylender. Nowadays productions have to consider adjusting their versions to be acceptable to contemporary views while still remaining faithful to Shakespeare’s original. As the production is set in pre-WWII, we are encouraged to see Shakespeare’s aspersions in a context relating to the rise of Nazism.
John Turnbull as Shylock is fascinating– he is cold, implacable and chilling in the courtroom scene. Full of vigour he is sinister and dangerous.Yet we also see good sides to his character and can, to some degree, sympathise with his lust for revenge without mercy. It is a stylish , mesmerising performance at once precise and, at the same, time powerful.
Portia, played by the beautiful Lizzie Schebetsa, is elegantly portrayed . Portia is shown as thoughtful and extremely clever revealing an intelligence and strength that continues throughout the play. Her famous ’Quality of Mercy’ speech was very impressive .
As Portia’s true love Bassanio, the very handsome Christopher Stalley was resolute, bold and determined- a delight to watch.
As the second pair of lovers, Gratiano (Bassanio‘s friend ) Damien Strouthos as Gratiano (Bassanio’s friend) and Erica Lovell as Nerissa (Portia’s lady-in-waiting/companion/confidant) provided charming, necessary comic relief when needed.
James Lugton was quiet and understated in his delicately nuanced and measured performance as Antonio, the eponymous merchant of the title who stands to lose everything.
There was fine ensemble work from the supporting cast. Special mentions…Michael Cullen who showed excellent comic timing playing Lancelot Gobbo, Bassanio’s servant and one of Shakespeare’s clowns. Lucy Heffernan as Jessica, Shylock’s daughter, was sweetly determined and enchanting. Jason Kos was stalwart as her suitor Lorenzo. Aaron Tsindos revels in his over the top portrayal of the arrogant Prince of Morocco, almost stealing the show.
Richard Cottrell provides audiences with an interesting, enigmatic ending.
Summing up, this was a very challenging, thought provoking and exciting production of this dark Shakespeare comedy.
Running time 2 & ½ hours including one interval.
Sport for Jove’s production of THE MERCHANT OF VENICE is playing the York theatre at the Seymour Centre until Saturday 30th May.
New initiative, The Theatre Division, triumphs with its current production, RUTHLESS! THE MUSICAL. This cuttingly satirical piece takes a decent back-stab at many aspects of the musical theatre industry, middle-American home and school life as well as the entertainment media.
Lisa Freshwater’s direction of a stellar cast ensures the piece progresses at a cracking pace. Amidst the mayhem of masked identities, merciless ambition from all ages and mother-daughter dialogues, some snippets of genuine confusion or heartbreak also appear. Issues burst forth from the Sydney stage in the firm hands, feet and voices of this premiere season cast. The strong tradition of this US cult musical is upheld.
Celebrating its 5th anniversary and Shakespeare’s 450th, this year Sport For Jove brings us a most fabulous production of this lesser known, rarely performed complex and difficult ‘problem play’ by Shakespeare .
The play has a quite improbable, rather dark, implausible plot ( one can imagine it straight out of a TV soap – a desperately ill king healed , unrequited love leading to a forced marriage , a very intelligent woman foolishly chasing – going to extremes even – a man who has nothing but disdain and humiliation for her, a ‘bed trick’ ( recorded on a mobile )and eventually a reconciliation all in times of war. It is both a tragedy and a comedy Under the gripping direction of Damien Ryan and with its very strong, superb cast the audience can focus on the situations drama and story especially of Helena and Bertram and their emotional development. It has been updated with the use of mobile phones etc .Shakespeare’s language is clearly delivered and feels fresh and new.