Showing posts with label Old Fitzroy Theatre. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Old Fitzroy Theatre. Show all posts

Friday, 27 June 2014

The Mercy Seat - Review

Reviewed by Ben Oxley

The quality is strained

The Mercy Seat by Neil LaBute

Gentle Banana People in conjunction with Sydney Independent Theatre Company
Old Fitzroy Theatre
Credit: Sydney Independent Theatre Company

Rebecca Martin
Credits include – The Shape of Things, autobahn, Punk Rock, Dogs Barking (pantsguys productions), Havana Harlem (Sydney Fringe), After the End (Tap Gallery), Cock (NIDA).
As a director: autobahn, The Knowledge (pantsguys productions). As Assistant Director - Lord of the Flies (New Theatre)

Rebecca graduated from Actors Centre Australia in 2010 and has a BA from UNSW and an ATCL in Speech and Drama from Trinity College London. Rebecca teaches for NIDA and is currently studying a Masters of Teaching at Melbourne Uni

Patrick Magee
Patrick is a comedian, author and actor. His credits include Tempest/Lear (Verge Theatre), Richard III (Genesian Theatre), Brideshead Revisited (RGP Productions) and MOJO (Belvoir). 

On one hand there's a disaster, on the other the possibility of a new life. Or is there? 

In reality, it is a sexual battle played out in confinement. We know the lovers are going to split, as there is little to keep the relationship alive. Competing for the same position at work, Abby becomes Ben's boss, and so the illicit relationship begins on a conference trip. 

Two postmodern people struggling with overwhelming guilt and self-loathing tear strips off each other's fragile egos. The moral recognition of their sins is very brave, but could they go as far as turning from this affair?

We don't empathise with Ben at first, as his shallow self interest is pale against Abby's overbearing angst and tempestuous bitching. It's possible he has had a sudden windfall due to the events of 9/11. But no, there is a personal reason for his plan to escape, or 'run' as Abby says. 

It has been his wife trying to reach him on his mobile phone, despite his knowledge of what he has done. But the play ratchets up to the climax. 

Abby lays her cards on the table to say she will sacrifice her position and life for Ben. Will he do this one thing for her: call his wife and children and explain he is not coming back?

Ben picks up the phone, and calls. What happens next is a bombshell more devastating than the World Trade buildings crashing down. 

Rebecca Martin is a powerful presence, using her voice and body skillfully to portray the dysfunctional 40 something career climber. Patrick Magee makes Ben a credible loser, particularly in the growing tension of being forced to decide between his family and his mistress. 

Not easy watching, but worth the fine performances from these two actors.

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Lies, Love and Hitler - Review

If you fancy going to the theatre this week? Go and see this. Earlier this year Wittenberg played at the Old Fitz and now Lies, Love and Hilter. Both plays are intellectually stimulating and entertaining at the same time.
Lies, Love and Hitler is not set in WWII, and for the most part has little to do with Hilter, it has more to do with Dietrich Banhoeffer who, as you will learn was a double agent during the war and tried to bring Hitler down.  The play is set in a University, Dr Paul Langley has been studying Banhoeffer's life and work for a very long time. So long that he sees visions of him. Bonhoeffer helps Langley through his inner conflicts, particularly through a moral dilemma which he finds himself in when he falls in love with one of his students, Hannah. 
The play starts by giving the audience a moral dilemma, by posing the question would you kill Hitler? It immediately grabs you and brings you into the play.
The acting is superb with only three actors - James Scott 'Langley,' Doug Chapman 'Detrich Bonhoeffer' and Ylaria Rogers 'Hannah' & 'Hermione' (Bonhoeffer's fiance). Ylaria and James manage to switch in and out of German accents with ease.
The play is written by Elizabeth Avery Scott who is an Australia writer and holds a Master of Arts Practice in Scriptwriting from Charles Sturt University. The play was shortlisted in 2009 for the prestigious Rodney Seaborn Playwright's Award. All I can say is I would like to see what won that year!
This production is only on until 3 May so get your tickets now, you will be sorry if you miss this one.

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Tidy Town Of The Year - Review

Review originally posted at
Venue: Old Fitzroy Theatre (Woolloomooloo NSW), Mar 4 – 22, 2014
Playwrights: Victoria Greiner, Sarah Hodgetts, Andy Leonard
Directors: Deborah Jones, Sean O’Riordan
Actosr: Victoria Greiner, Sarah Hodgetts, Andy Leonard
Image by Katy Green Loughrey

Theatre review 
It is probably true that a show cannot contain too many amusing ideas. Tidy Town Of The Year has no shortage of amusing lines and concepts, but trying to keep up and absorb them all can be challenging. Its writing and direction lack breathing space, often making the show feel overwhelming. Timing is key in humour. Even with clever and inspired ideas, attention needs to be paid on editing and delivery for communication to happen, especially in comedies.

In spite of these imperfections, performances are actually polished and confident. It is a fast-paced show, with a cast that is full of enthusiasm and buoyancy. We may not always catch the jokes that they attempt to relay, but their energy can be infectious. More variation in tone could be explored to prevent the actors from playing at the one level that they are most comfortable with, but their overall commitment to the work is a delight.

At heart, this is a show with a great deal of eccentricity, but the eccentric is by nature an entity that finds connections challenging. It has the capacity for brilliance and originality, but to convey its genius, a bridge needs to be found. In the theatre, ideas are exchanged and laughs can be shared, but only when the linkage between show and audience is established. This isn’t always easy, but the quest for it is always rewarding.

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Everything I Know I Learnt From Madonna - Review

Review originally posted at
Venue: Old Fitzroy Theatre (Woolloomooloo NSW), Feb 18 – 22, 2014
Playwright: Wayne Tunks
Director: Fiona Hallenan-Barker
Actor: Wayne Tunks
Image by Katy Green Loughrey

Theatre review
Madonna, the pop star, means many things to many people. Like many brassy women in the public eye, she is regarded by gay communities as an icon. An outspoken proponent of the gay movement since the early 1990s, it is understandable that her place with LGBT people has endured the years. In this one-man play by Wayne Tunks, he talks about her obsession with Madonna in his introduction, then goes on to share with us his stories of coming out and relationships with various men, liberally quoting lyrics by his hero at every available opportunity. His script is an interesting one. It is almost as if Tunks is unable to verbalise his thoughts and feelings without the aide of Madonna songs, so her words keep appearing in his monologue, sometimes seamlessly, sometimes a little forced, but it is no doubt that his admiration is beyond skin deep, and that her work actually provides a space of solace. It looks a lot like religion.

Tunks is an actor full of vigour. He appears on stage and is determined to seize your attention, and for the entirey of his performance, we pay close attention to his stories. It helps that Tunks’ voice is commanding and versatile. It is naturalistic acting but there is definitely not a hint of mumbling, everything is said loud and clear, which is fortunate as the bareness of the staging and minimal direction of the near two hour work, leave nothing else for Tunks and his audience to hold on to.

The show overflows with earnestness. For a seemingly shallow premise of pop star fandom, it contains no irony and very little frivolity. We are presented love stories with a string of men, Sean, Warren, Guy, Jesus, and (presumably) Brahim. They are not particularly colourful events, in fact, slightly mundane. There isn’t really a set up of context, just a man keen to share with a captive crowd, and we are inspired by his fighting spirit that never gets dampened by failed relationships. He keeps getting back in business as though nothing’s better than more because ultimately, what can you lose?

“You’re never gonna see me standin’ still, I’m never gonna stop ’till I get my fill” (Over And Over, Madonna 1984).

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Fully Committed - Review

Fully Committed
by Becky Mode
Brevity Theatre Company in association with
Sydney Independent Theatre Company
Old Fitzroy Theatre

Work to pay for your career

credit: Brevity Theatre Company
Reviewed by Benjamin Oxley
Fully Committed - a play on the theatrical term for deeply in character, and a PC phrase for a full house at a restaurant - is much more than a one-man show. It allows the physical and vocal talents of Nick Curnow to stretch the gamut of Transatlantic vignettes. It tells the story of Sam, who takes the reservations for an over-priced Manhattan dining establishment. His dilemma is universal - how to escape from his post at Christmas to be with his newly-widowed dad.

With a dank office as his habitat, Sam is beset by cranky callers, high brow and hysterical, all bent on landing the plum spot at dinner. Lunch has its own concerns, as he attempts to balance the service demands of chef, maitre-d. and all those callers. It gets so frenetic that Sam is called on to double as toilet cleaner, after all others have grossed out at the diner's debacle.

It is enough that the role encompasses nigh on 40 characters, director Alexander Butt finds room for Curnow to work between the phone, the tannoy and the chef's personal line. Oh, and Sam's mobile phone that represents his life away from drudgery. Perhaps a telco could support this venture?

Nick Curnow is highly sought after for his talent and knowledge as a voice actor, is experienced in voice over narration and ADR, can differentiate between New York and New England, Liverpool and Lancashire, give you a Texan or a Russian, a Kiwi or Latino, or anyone else you might need. My favourite voice was Mrs Sebag, a distraught New York Jewess desperate for a table.

Praise too for the work from the control desk: split-second timing to match Curnow, placing the myriad sound effects on beats of musical bars. Benjamin Brockman's strobe-effected lighting created a suggestion of power overload at the climaxes, channelling the storytelling into a spiraling vortex.

After the call to Sam's father to ... you need to be there and see it for yourself. And if you are like me, you'll be pleased it's a theatre pub, so you can catch your breath and have a much needed drink.