Once upon a time there was a small intimate theatre that decided to put on a musical called BIG FISH and the show became a smash hit and just grew and grew…This captivating musical has a heart bigger than the Nullarbor Plains.
The show is presented as a ‘chamber opera’ in what the producers have called the ‘twelve chairs’ version. Under Tyran Parke’s refined, accomplished direction, and thrillingly staged, the brilliant cast bring this story to magnificent life.
The small orchestra as led by Luke Byrne are invisible behind the scenery – we never see them but they are terrific. The set – young Will’s bedroom with seashell ruffles at the back for the mermaid – allows for fluid scene and locale changes including the moving in and out of beds and tables etc. Continue reading BIG FISH : A MUST SEE @ THE HAYES→
Damn Tyran Parke. His cabaret CHILDREN AND ART has disrupted my precious sleeping. Not just because it’s a brilliantly written show interpreted by a charismatic and talented star but because it lingers in the twilight, full appreciation of the complexity just slightly out of reach. As the light fades on the experience of seeing his show, the concepts curl into relief and his colours reach into memory demanding further consideration.
CHILDREN AND ART was developed for the Art Gallery of NSW in 2014. The title refers to the scene in Stephen Sondheim’s SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE where artist George Seurat discusses what it is that he believes that we leave behind after we pass on. Seurat states two things: Children and Art.
Tyran Parke and his 2 brothers are the focus of the story. The three are the children of a creative, photographer mother and an irrepressibly happy father. “My friends thought he was an alcoholic” says Tyran with a cheeky smile. Like their mother who died young, they are all creative and accomplished. But their story is a sad one at heart, though with an affirming ending … at this point. Funny and silly with pathos to spare, sibling love shines through Parke’s writing and storytelling. And he is a wonderful storyteller.
When Thespis first stepped out of the ancient Greek chorus to represent someone other than himself, Athenian society was outraged. Actors are liars they cried. PLAYING ROCK HUDSON is about one such liar, Roy Scherer Jn, a gay man who created and lived the role of Rock Hudson. Rock in turn, plays straight, heroic characters on screen. In this production, who lies or lays when and where and with whom is the essence of the story and the thespian who plays Roy as Rock is also a wonderful liar, ably supported by other great liars.
Rock Hudson was a heartthrob. His shirtless bio pictures were teenage girl sweetmeat. He played rugged masculine characters like Bick in Giant but he also played the nice guy object of desire, Brad in Pillow Talk. As an active gay man, Rock (Paul Dowson) became involved in later life with Marc Christian (Mark Taylor). How and where they met and whether they were happy is up for debate. What is sure is that when Hudson died of AIDS in 1985, Christian sued his estate for reckless endangerment. He claimed that he was never made aware of Hudson’s diagnosis.
LOVE BITES at the Hayes Theatre at the moment. Well, sometimes it bites, taking a large chunk out of your heart but at other times it just nibbles your ear and makes you love it. Toe tappers and heartbreak songs sit well together in this deceptively cabaret outing from Wooden Horse Productions.
Act One of the show opens with ‘Falling in Love’ and this is reprised in bookends at interval and the finale. The quartet (Kirby Burgess, Tyran Parke, Adele Parkinson and Shaun Rennie) make it very clear that there is to be no judgement about where the human heart will love. The final tableau of this intro gently reinforces to the audience that they are about to run the gamut of desire. Continue reading Love Bites at the Hayes Theatre→
Another excellent Sport for Jove production , performed in rep with ALL’S WELL THAT ENDS WELL, this TWELFTH NIGHT has the atmosphere of a typical 1960’s Aussie summer right on Christmas time …. there is the feel of a joyous beach party ( think the recent wonderful production of Opera Australia’s ‘The Turk In Italy’) and water/maritime themes and analogies running through the show.
There is also an ominous side, though, with shipwrecks and the presence of border guards/police demanding passports for example. Another theme is mirrors (a fun sight gag is when Sebastian and Viola as Cesario both put on a white hat as if either side of a mirror and don’t see each other. It is uncanny how alike they look) And a special mention as well for the design elements all of which are well executed
Music also is a crucial part of the production with hits from the Beach Boys , Four Seasons and Roy Orbison amongst others incorporated into the performance. The play itself, was originally conceived as a Twelfth Night Christmas period jaunty entertainment and included several musical interludes which the director Damien Ryan has incorporated with relish.
The complicated plot is somewhat as follows : a tremendous storm and shipwreck sees twins Sebastian and Viola separated with each thinking the other is dead. Viola decides to dress as a man, Cesario , and quickly becomes accepted as part of the Duke of Illyria , Orsino’s , entourage. Orsino is desperately in love with the snappish, elegant Countess Olivia who doesn’t return his love.. Instead , she falls in love with Viola as Cesario , when ‘he’ is sent as unwilling messenger , and meanwhile Viola is in love with Orsino…But eventually hidden secrets are revealed and all put to rights.Sebastian, having met Olivia and she mistaking him for Cesario, sleeps and marries him, is eventually reunited with his sister Viola who is revealed to be a woman and the attraction between her and Orsino is disclosed .
Ryan is blessed with an exceptional Malvolio and Viola/Cesario in particular but the whole ensemble is terrific.
As Viola/Cesario Abigail Austin is sensational. She is elfin and petite , quite a believable debonair young boy/man. No wonder the Lady Olivia is fascinated and the Duke likes him! A mysterious androgyny clings to both Viola and Cesario. Ryan possibly wanted to heighten the hidden ambiguity, which was so powerful in Shakespeare’s day, when all the players necessarily were men. – meaning a man would be playing a woman, impersonating a man. Confused? Having created her new identity as Cesario , (s)he is lively and spirited yet hides a great loss and a maddening, not to be revealed love. ( Until all is magically made right at the end ,at least for her… ).
Robin Goldsworthy, our Malvolio, is splendid. He is played as a pompous , fussy , obsessive military character ( parking tickets on the ice cream van for example) yet underneath he has a huge hidden heart and he is presented very sympathetically. Goldsworthy has fantastic comic timing . His mean treatment by, and the ghastly‘prank played by Sir Toby , Maria and the others, I did not find funny but rather horribly cruel. Others in the audience however found it hilarious. Goldsworthy gives Malvolio a range of elements that delights and overtake us. We are enchanted and mesmerised . His energy ,conviction and range are magnificent .
Anthony Gooley plays the cigar smoking , melancholy Duke Orsino with flamboyance and a touch of arrogance .He can ‘play’ quite dangerous if necessary .
Tall Tyran Parke is terrific as the wise clown Feste, blessed with a sparking wit and a great voice. His finale ‘The Wind and the Rain’ is extremely moving. A jocular gag was Feste’s teasing of Cesario when, suspecting he is a she, begins to sing The Four Seasons song, ‘Walk like a man, talk like a man’ .
While yes she is in mourning for her brother, Lady Olivia ( Megan Drury) is shown as a modern woman being aware of her present and future options . Drury finds a delicate balance between glamour and absurdity with an assertive confidence in her presence that effectively prevents Olivia’s femininity from ever being seen as weak.
James Lugton as the rather dim , sozzled Sir Toby Belch and his partner in crime Sir Andrew Aguecheek, played by Mike Pigott should also be mentioned .Their foolish antics cause much laughter .
Shakespeare’s TWELFTH NIGHT is a story of love and confused identity set against the backdrop of the 1960’s. With its beautifully detailed ensemble work, the production is very funny as well as being, at times, deeply moving . A delight.
If music be the food of love play on …
With a running time of 2 hours and 45 minutes, including one interval, TWELFTH NIGHT plays in rep with ALL’S WELL THAT ENDS WELL at the Seymour Centre until Saturday Apr 12.