Tag Archives: Tim Overton


THE YOUNG KING – a tremendous production by Slingsby at the Sydney Opera House

This is a magical, inspired production that had the young children enthralled (and adults too) .  It is an interactive immersive production devised by the wonderful Slingsby company based in Adelaide.

Sensitively adapted by playwright Nicki Bloom (Tender, The Sun and Other Stars, Little Bird), the production is based on Oscar Wilde’s classic story , first published in 1891 , and retains some of Wilde’s magnetic, hypnotic, lush language. Memorable , tantalizing ,lyrical descriptions of snaking perfumes of jasmine, and of pearls shaped like the full moon and brighter than the morning star are provided .

As we enter there are harassed but welcoming busy courtiers , mysterious chambers , curious installations to examine and secret compartments , the only sound the relentless ticking of a clock , on the journey to the Young King’s coronation. There’s instructions involving a secret, directions as to how to greet the king, your card checked, a slight interlude while waiting in ‘the first chamber’ to enter and then we get to make a cardboard crown and take our seat .

Are you an Industrious Denizen of the South ? A Rough Fisher folk of the North? Come from the gruff Forest Folk of the East ? Or a Gritty Prospector of the West ? We are welcomed and the various gifts from the people arriving from the four directions presented and displayed before being carefully taken for safekeeping, (much fun with the last one where ‘pass the parcel ‘ and messages are included in the many layers of wrapping) .

It is the story of an art-loving princess who rebels against her traditionalist father the Old King; and of her son, raised in the forest by goatherds who is revealed to be the heir to the kingdom. Unaware of his birthright, fate eventually catches up with the young man , removing him from his idyllic forest to the palace to assume his royal duties.

As a quest ensues for treasures to create his robes, crown and sceptre, the boy faces a series of meditations and internal struggles as revealed by three dreams . Privilege and treasures are laid at his feet – but at what cost to others ? The three dreams – of the looms, of the diving for pearls , of the battle between Death and Avarice – are vividly brought to life. The Young King’s eventual rejection of the oppressive structures of feudalism rocks the Kingdom to its core.

Wendy Todd’s wonderfully seemingly simple but fabulously intricate set — a wooden fireplace of panelled walls — has various incredibly detailed secret compartments that slide in/out or open , containing fascinating objects, and an element of surprise.

The specially commissioned, wonderfully atmospheric score, at times rollicking , at times piercing beautiful and lyrical , is by Quincy Grant who accompanies the action live on several instruments, including piano and clarinet . The delicate ,extremely effective , atmospheric lighting by Geoff Cobham (fashioning everything from gleam of gold to the soft glow of jewels ) is beautifully incorporated.

Tim Overton and Jacqy Phillips narrate the story and act the cast of thousands and are also splendid at shadow play, torches , and puppetry .( think sort of a blend of Theatre of Image and 1927 perhaps ) .

They’re terrific together — Overton as the young fresh faced king with boyish charm : he is wide eyed with wonder and curiosity , awed by the beautiful objects and his robe for the coronation , but saddened to discover the hardships suffered to obtain them . As Death he is far more sinister with thrilling use of torches and shadows . Phillips in theatrical black is grumpy , cantankerous and scary as the Old King and as Avarice in the battle between Avarice and Death.

The transformation scene at the end is poignant and lyrical , Wilde’s moral tale still extremely relevant today.

THE YOUNG KING runs at the Sydney Opera House 11-12 November 2017.  For more information visit:


Summer of the Seventeenth Doll @ Glen Street Theatre

The Doll 1
A scene from the Doll. Production photos by Shane Reid

This is a classic play for a very simple reason. It is a very well written. Today it is an interesting study of an aspect of Australian culture as it was over sixty years ago. It brings the classic legend of the archetypal bushie into Melbourne’s urban environment.

The typical bushie was physically impressive and valued mateship and playwright Ray Lawler has managed to bring the outback into a theatre for a very dramatic character driven play.

Two cane cutters have spent the last sixteen summers or “the lay off” with Olive and Nancy. They work hard with their mates for the seven months of the cane cutting season and then come to the city to relax, celebrate and enjoy their time off. However, Nancy has recently married and Olive has convinced her fellow barmaid, Pearl, to stay with her when these great blokes from Queensland come to town.

This particular summer does not live up to the sixteen previous golden halcyon summers. Gradually during the play cracks and flaws are revealed. Olive has explained that her unconventional relationship with Roo is far better than all the marriages she sees in the pub and that the five months of the boy’s lay off is a glorious time.

When Pearl meets Roo and Barney she does not quite see what Olive has been so excited about. Pearl is a widow and single mother. She is reserved, prudish and sees herself as a more respectable and responsible person than the flamboyant and vivacious Olive. Their contrasting characters are just one interesting aspect of this play. The central interest is the tension and conflict between the various characters.

The standout performance, under Geordie Brookman’s direction, is Elena Carapetis as Olive. She gives a very modern and natural performance but is also funny, outlandish and at times angry, grumpy and distraught.

Jacqy Phillips, as Emma Leech, Olive’s cranky but wise mother delivers an excellent performance.

Just as Pearl’s reserved and respectable character contrasts with Olive’s, Lizzy Falkland’s portrayal of Pearl has similar contrasts, and is probably more in keeping with the time that the play was set and written in.

Other cast members are Chris Pitman, Annabel Matheson, Tim Overton and Rory Walker.

The impressive sets and costumes are by Pip Runciman, excellent lighting by Nigel Levings and the music with its haunting cello and atmospheric piano is by Quentin Grant.

SUMMER OF THE SEVENTEENTH DOLL is playing at the Glen Street Theatre, Belrose until the 24th May.