Showing posts with label King Street Theatre. Show all posts
Showing posts with label King Street Theatre. Show all posts

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Trainspotting - Review

Review originally posted at
Venue: King Street Theatre (Newtown NSW), May 8 – 24, 2014
Playwright: Harry Gibson (based on the novel by Irvine Welsh)
Director: Luke Berman
Actors: Damien Carr, Taylor Beadle-Williams, Brendon Taylor, Leigh Scully

Theatre review
Irvine Welsh’s Trainspotting is one of the defining cultural landmarks of the 1990s. From novel, to play, and eventually to the blockbusting hit film, its immense popularity and pervasiveness in landscapes the world over is testament not only to the quality of work by artists involved, but also to the way its story has resonated and subsequently appropriated as a sign of the times.

Black Box Theatre’s staging of the 1994 Harry Gibson adaptation seems, on the surface, to be an exercise in nostalgia. It is entirely too predictable to have a group of Gen-Y enthusiasts take on a cult classic that pushes the boundaries of decency, but what they have created is a work that is surprisingly relevant, and very well crafted indeed. Luke Berman’s direction is exciting, colourful and crisp. Scenes move along quickly but clearly, as though injected with adrenaline. The action is heightened and dynamic, but sentiments are always elucidated. Berman has a sensitivity that ensures the text’s many controversial elements are handled circumspectly, with just the right amount of restraint that keeps bad taste from turning unacceptable.

Berman’s cast is truly impressive. They are a fearless and captivating foursome, whose love for the art of performance is absolutely evident. By taking on multiple roles, they all receive significant stage time and are able to showcase creative versatility, but we are not always able to identify the characters being played, although it must be said, that this does not seem to alter the enjoyment of the work. Damien Carr plays Mark, the protagonist and narrator of the piece. The duality of simultaneously narrating the story and performing the scenes being described is fascinating, and Carr does a stellar job of it. He is on stage for virtually the entire duration, and is able to provide a consistently focused energy that keeps us engaged and involved. Taylor Beadle-Williams is magnificent in her roles. There is often a baroque exuberance in her work that articulates perfectly the aesthetic of Welsh’s hallucinatory world, but at the core of her performance is a fixation on truth, which gives all her characters a beautiful empathy that is irresistible.

Drug abuse and the “junkie” subculture is sadly, not a relic of the past. Trainspotting‘s articulation of that underworld satisfies our curiosity, telling us about the fringe dwellers who reside on our peripheries. We are reminded that the world is a shared one, and our beliefs about life are often fundamentally the same. Even when our values diverge, and our judgemental minds divide us, it is our common humanity that allows us to look into the experience of others, drawing parallels where they exist, and discovering through these diversities what is enduring, and what actually matters.

The Jungle Book - Review

Review originally posted at
Venue: King Street Theatre (Newtown NSW), Apr 14 – 26, 2014
Book and Lyrics: Markus Weber (based on the original by Rudyard Kipling)
Composer: Michael Summ
Director: Markus Weber
Actors: Maria De Marco, Badaidilaga Maftuh-Flynn, Mark Power, Mandy Fung, Bernard Wheatley, Brett O’Neill, Kyle Stephens
Image by Lorina Stacey Schwenke

Theatre review
Markus Weber and Michael Summ’s version of The Jungle Book is a beautifully-written musical derived from Rudyard Kipling’s famed writings. Familiar characters are retained, and even though these songs are less well-known, they are delightfully catchy and pleasantly melodic.

Markus Weber’s current production is fairly minimal, and relies on the strength of the songs and text to carry the show. Musical arrangements are joyful and effective for most of the material, but several numbers need an update from an unfortunate and uncomfortable 1990s pop/rock sound. Weber’s use of space is thoughtfully varied. The multi-tiered stage is designed well, and used cleverly to keep the attention of the audience. It is noteworthy that although a vast majority of the crowd is very young, the musical has enough content to entertain any adult companion.

There are moments however, where performances falter, and confusion emerges. Even though performances are spirited, calibre of players vary dramatically. The show is designed for children, but the roles are not simple, and it relies heavily on what the actors can bring to the production.

Maria De Marco’s singing voice is strongest in the cast, using it wonderfully to convey the story wonderfully despite not having assistance from microphones. She plays Bagheera, the black leopard who delivers several poignant moments that give the production a necessary shade of gravity. Badaidilaga Maftuh-Flynn plays Mowgli, the only human character. Maftuh-Flynn performs with conviction, and has the gift of being able to portray emotion with great clarity without appearing to be doing very much at all. Brett O’Neill is a vibrant King Louie, the amusingly deluded monkey who never fails to entertain. O’Neill’s energy is big and focused, and his keen sense of comic timing shows him to be the most polished actor on this stage, leaving an excellent impression, notwithstanding the brevity of his appearance.

The Jungle Book‘s message of ecological awareness is a critical one. The anthropomorphism of wildlife imparts to younger generations, values of conservationism that are noble and necessary. Providing children with an understanding that animals are not our slaves or property is a responsibility we must take, if only for our own survival.

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Possessions - Review

Review originally posted at
Venue: King Street Theatre (Newtown NSW), Mar 27 – Apr 5, 2014
Playwrights: Jane Bergeron, Carrie Ann Quinn
Directorial Support: Luke Mullins, Anna Kamarali
Actors: Jane Bergeron, Carrie Ann Quinn, Frances Attard, Morgan Davis, Shane Waddell, Samantha Stewart

Theatre review
Possessions is about the aristocratic Mancini sisters, Hortense and Marie, from 17th century Italy. The script is based on their memoirs, published in an era where female memoirs were a revolutionary concept. There is a distinct appeal in featuring unusual historical figures, especially ones who had broken moulds and lived extraordinary lives, but it can be a challenging task finding a way to relate past stories of nobility to our modern times.

Often, comedy is the key to telling courtly tales. Absurdities abound and it is natural to respond with incredulity and humour. Those lives are so thoroughly alien to what we experience today, that laughter is the most direct reaction. The production is consciously directed towards finding comic elements in the Mancinis stories, and significant effort is put into creating a Black Adder type tone to the proceedings, but the performers’ skills seem to lie in areas other than comedy, such as melodrama and musical theatre. Fortunately, both Jane Bergeron and Carrie Ann Quinn both have opportunities to showcase these skills in the concluding scenes, even if they do appear too late.

There are a number of instances where an actor plays herself and interacts with a Mancini sister across time and space. These moments suggest the feminist theme, but they are fleeting. We do sense in the play’s undercurrent, the creators’ interest in the evolution of women’s statuses, but they miss the opportunity to explore and expound things further. The production needs a certain aggression. The Mancinis’ story develops to a point where the women are forced by circumstance to show courage and conviction. In order to progress, they found a belligerence to push their lives forward, and that seems to be the lesson we have to learn from many who have left their mark.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Dimboola - Review

Review originally posted at
Venue: King Street Theatre (Newtown NSW), Mar 13 – 22, 2013
Playwright: Jack Hibberd
Director: Darcy Green
Actors: Darcy Green, Louis Green, Ashleigh O’Brien, Phillip Ross, Alixandra Kupcik, Adam Delaunay, Anna Dooley, Julian Ramundi, Connor Luck, Annie Schofield, Kimberly Kelly, Zoe Tidemann, Letitia Sutherland, Tim Mathews, Michael Yore, Cameron Hutt

Theatre review
Jack Hibberd’s Dimboola is a play written with the metaphysical “fourth wall” completely removed. The audience’s presence is always acknowledged and whenever possible, characters are made to involve us in their story. In Epicentre Theatre’s production, even lighting design embraces the concept, with the entire theatre lit a bright white, and house lights are never turned off so that we are all conscious about being part of the onstage action.

Darcy Green’s direction pays tribute to 1970s Australia, with visual design aspects made to look very close to the 1979 film version, and actors determined to take us on a time travel expedition in which references to 2014 are strictly forbidden. What results is an experience that is unique, if a little bizarre. The humour is broad and old-fashioned. Under the guise of a country town wedding reception, the setting is relentlessly drunken and raucous. The air of wild disarray is successfully created by the uniformly strong cast, but some jokes and plot lines do get lost amidst the bedlam.

Adam Delaunay plays Angus with gleeful exaggeration, in a style that is reminiscent of villains in pantomimes. We don’t hear very much of what he has to say but his physical work is impressive and certainly attention grabbing. Anna Dooley as Florrie has some of the funniest facial expressions one can hope to encounter in the flesh. Her fight scene in particular is uproarious, and the most memorable moment in the show. Annie Schofield is hilarious as Shirl, playing up her character’s parochialism to great effect. It is a big and noisy crowd at the party, but Schofield works enough magic to stand out, with a characterisation that can be described as, well, a bloody ripper.

This work is an oddity. It is an interesting observational study of one aspect of our identity from a time past, so the audience does view it from a detached (and ironic) distance. We watch the nostalgia, but do not always find ourselves deeply immersed in it. Perhaps an update might improve the experience. Dimboola shows how we feel about ourselves when we are not at our best. The show is cheerful, forgiving and delirious, much like how we often think of each other.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

The Maintenance Room - Review

Reviewed by Regi Su
From the 7th until the 30th of November, King Street Theatre presents “The Maintenance Room”, a play of existential proportions. Written by Gerry Greenland and Directed by Allan Walpole, this play was clever, enticing and I walked away feeling very satisfied.

The premise: a businessman is unhappy with his current situation and when just about to make a serious life decision, he chances upon a man who brings new perspective and excitement. It’s a very interesting theme on which to base a play off. I loved it, every minute of it and by that I was pleasantly surprised. It touched on Jungian themes and dallied them a little, it touched on the deep and existential, then diverted to quick wit and humour. It used conventional narrative techniques like dramatic irony and although there were only two characters, they took on more personas and let the audience engage with their imaginations. The set was elaborate and yet so very appropriate and the design, sound design and lighting was perfect. All of these basic elements of theatre were employed and it came together as a very well-polished play.

The release of information was timely in that in a picaresque fashion, the information prompted in me questions, which they then answered. I was hooked along the general narrative structure, it was absorbing. The characterisation was refreshingly consistent. There were a number of plot twists and at each turn, I felt comfortable to go there with the character. They were believable because they were authentic and commendations are in order for Kim Knuckey and Lynden Jones for their tremendous and powerful performances, holding a very long two-man play. The climaxes were well-identified and isolated and the resolution was justifiably understandable; I felt confident in the actions of the characters and the hands of the playwright. I didn’t care about the characters as suchI wasn’t emotionally invested but, I was connected to them just enough to be concerned and that’s all you need for audience engagement.

The themes make this play more than just any old play, the themes make it accessible- to be played by anyone, of any calibre or any gender. The play was timeless in it’s exploration of issues like personal betrayal, the importance of reputation, money matters or life in general. It was just a very satisfying night, and I felt that some of the minor character details were congruent enough for me to have a feasible holistic image in my head; for example one character mentions a spiritual journey to The East, but we’re already open to it because we saw him wear a sarung earlier and we’re primed by postcards of the Taj Mahal in the background. The whole production was very clever and a good night of theatre.

Thursday, 31 January 2013

Short+Sweet Week 3 Winners

Week 3 Results 

Top 80 Week 3                                                                                                                                  Judges’ Choice
3rd place – The Man Who Knew Poe
2nd place – Kill Me, Please!
1st place – People Strings                                                                                                                     People Strings has been invited to the 2013 Gala Finals held at Seymour Centre in March!                    

People’s Choice
3rd place – Kill Me, Please!
2nd place – King Street Lights
1st place – People Strings                                                                                                                        

King Street Lights has been invited to the People’s Choice Showcase at Sidetrack Theatre, as the People’s Choice winner is already in the Gala Finals

RESULTS - Wildcards 3                                                                                                                    

Judges’ Choice
3rd place – Enough Hair
2nd place – Hassan Is Dead
1st place – Pissi Fit (Keep Off The Grass)                                                                                           

People’s Choice
3rd place – Pissi Fit (Keep Off The Grass)
2nd place – Hassan Is Dead
1st place – Enough Hair                                                                                                                           

Pissi Fit (Keep Off The Grass) wins a spot in the Wildcards Finals.