Showing posts with label Review. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Review. Show all posts

Monday, 30 June 2014

Richard III - review

                       credit: TimeOut
Reviewed by Ben Oxley
Richard III
Ensemble Theatre
from JUNE 24

"Fitting memorial"

I read with interest this week of the real Richard III's monument being built near Leicester Cathedral. Festivities mark the occasion, and timely coincidence has enabled us to have a fresh look at "this son of York" here in Sydney.

From Mark's Kilmurry's blog:

9 August 2013

Starts work on play

"As I stand, sit or wait lurking at the back of the room to enter the world we have created (none of us actually ever leave the acting space but are dotted around the upstage area) I marvel and congratulate myself (just once) at having such a great and dedicated cast. It has been a joy in a job that could have been so hard to make work till now, fun and exciting."

"The cast are great. Patrick Dickson smooth as Buckingham, Amy Mathews fiery as Lady Anne, Danielle Carter guarded and knowing as Queen Elizabeth, Toni Scanlan earthy Duchess and dead right as Tyrell, and Matt Edgerton playing so many roles and yet giving them all their own truth and humanity... I am thrilled. As director."

Kilmurry's portrayal has elements of Gollum, especially in the conversation with himself. He physically negotiates the tables and chair seats to create the dimension of a conventional theatre. Twitchy, restless, conniving - all traits we expect from this usurper are there.

Buckingham and Assistant Director was Patrick Dickson, who gave us a wan political figure who backs the wrong horse. Pun intended.

The trio of ladies cover the female and male roles, other than Matt Edgerton's nimble work with Clarence/Rivers/King Edward/Ratcliff/Catesby. Danielle Carter is superb as Queen Elizabeth, most vitriolic in her encounter with Richard.

Amy Mathews gave Lady Anne tremendous vocal and physical presence, and turned up with a resolute Richmond at the finale. In between she paired with Carter as the Prince of York, and gave a halting vignette as the Second Murderer.

The experience of Toni Scanlan as Richard's mother, the Duchess of York, fearlessly pegging him for what he really is, which contrasted with a watchful Tyrell and a very amusing First Murderer.

Bondi Winter Magic - review

Reviewed by Regi Su
Bondi Winter Magic begins this weekend as part of an initiative to spice up Bondi during the colder months. The Chamber of Commerce, in collaboration with Waverly Council are celebrating their 5th Bondi Winter Magic, which brings Bondi's beach strip, shopping district and nightlife a jazzed up vibe, encouraging Sydneysiders and tourists alike to unleash their inner child. From 9am until 10pm daily, artists and musicians light up the streets, while skaters young and old carve up Sydney's only ice rink by the sea. The local businesses have deals for Winter Magic, in an attempt to give Bondi a winter presence, when it is so often regarded as a summer destination.

The launch of Bondi Winter Magic was a real party. Colourful lights set the Bondi Pavillion ablaze and The Bucket List was the perfect venue to host the launch. Business owners from the local area and dignitries from the Waverly Council mixed with media and beach lifeguards. Mulled Wine and warm spiced cider accompanied by Ham and Cheese croquets and haloumi on polenta, to name a few canapes. We were warmly greeted and introduced to the Winter Magic social media promotion, which allowed us a direct stream of photos from the night onto our facebook profiles- something which is nothing less than an excellent marketing technique used to filter the party atmosphere into the cyber regions.

The Ice Rink by the sea was celebrated by none other than the stars of Sochi. When we were allowed on the rink, we had a wonderful time! The skates were sharp and comfortable and there were penguins for kids who felt uneasy on the ice. The initiative is super family friendly and attracts people from all walks of life to just have a go and get involved in the buzz that is Bondi in winter.

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.

Oleanna - Review

Reviewed by Nathan Finger and Sydney Abba
David Mamet’s Oleanna (1992) has a reputation for dividing audiences. ‘It’s my job to provoke you’, says John at one point, and it seems that this is Mamet’s objective as well.

The play is set in John’s university office. A power dynamic is straight away suggested by the presence of two chairs. John’s is large and imposing; the student’s, tiny by comparison. Indeed, this is a play about power. Carol, a student of John’s, is finding his course, Psychology of Education, impossibly difficult. At first John is uninterested, though he eventually becomes sympathetic to her plight (remembering his own from years ago). John rambles on and becomes increasingly familiar with Carol, which she finds intimidating. In the second act we learn she has complained of sexual harassment against him. His hopes of achieving tenure and buying a new home are subsequently threatened. The pair tries to resolve their issues, though further conflict, prompting Carol to up the charge.

Here audiences will divide. Is this rape or political correctness gone crazy? The kicker, of course, is that both characters are wrong, whilst also being ‘right’. But then, the play isn’t about that at all. Mamet’s point is actually about the privilege of power. John, a college professor, is in a position of privilege: he designs a course, he proscribes the texts, and he decides whether students will pass or fail. The power that comes with this privilege he exercises over Carol: he demands her attention, talks down to her and makes her feel inadequate.

Of course, as the play progresses the power shifts. Carol finds ways to assert control over John’s life: threatening his job, his home, even his family. This is also an abuse of power and one must ask - is it justified? The play becomes an examination of the conventional systems that exist within society and how they exert control over us in ways that are accepted and, at times, not even fully recognized for the damage they may cause.

This was obviously a pet project for Jerome Pride; nevertheless, the play appeared somewhat too big for the actors’ boots. Both Act I performances felt self-contained and it was only during the second half that the audience was invited in. Our student, Carol, played by Grace O’Connell (a second year student at the Sydney Theatre School) is a mousy, confused cipher. Though her failure to comprehend her professor’s classes is never really explained O’Connell does her best to fill in the gaps. O’Connell has an interesting, rather mysterious presence on stage, yet the character’s final transformation led to stock-standard acting choices that detracted from the power O’Connell wished to convey. 

Our Professor, John, played by director Jerome Pride, is best described as intellectually self-indulgent. Pride layers a subtle blend of unconscious abuse of power with a seemingly contradictory cognizance of how smug he is. This works well. Whilst he plays this insufferable middle-ager with gusto and understanding, it is evident that the choice to either direct or act should have been made. This is because the chemistry between the two performers, whilst good, lacks the lustre or shine that one would expect from a two-hander. This could have been avoided by a full time director.

Oleanna is playing at the Sydney Theatre School until the 6th of July. For more information see

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Album launch of Matty B's Philosophical Bogan - Review

Reviewed by Regi Su
Thursday night saw the album launch of Matty B's Philosophical Bogan, a stand up show of hilarious comedy coming from the renowned Matty B.

The Friend in Hand, Glebe, was the perfect setting for a comedy set. I don't often frequent the pub, so I wasn't really aware of the Thursday routine that is A Mic In Hand- an opportunity for amateur stand up comedians to showcase their work. The Friend In Hand hotel is a quirky, offbeat pub steeped in old timey Australiana. It has the full regalia, such as mannequins in wet suits, a wall of car registration plates and complete with George, the resident Cockatoo. The Friend in Hand is a place of unique character, warmth and has an inherent sense of Australian dry, sarcastic humour anyway- so it only makes sense for the hotel to boast a live comedy night.

The line up of comedians were great. For an amateur presentation, the presenters gave all they had- some presenting successful one-liners bam, one after the other, others from an international stage with reflections on travel and Australia. The most memorable comedians managed to dish out representations of modern society with uncanny accuracy and hilarious logic. These esoteric outlooks on life left the audience massaging their cheeks from laughing too hard.

The headline act, Matty B, served his unique perspectives on life with the side dishes of dry, black humour and fragmented existentialism. His act was aptly named Philosophical Bogan and I highly recommend his act to anyone interested in stand up comedy. His humour is based in reality with real life experiences as he astutely draws attention to their inherent flaws and mocks them with dry comic timing. At other times, his experiences are so unique and esoteric that you can't help but laugh at the level of ridiculity and outrageousness in each situation.

A great night out, I recommend both A Mic In Hand and Matty B to all.