Monthly Archives: November 2012

Review: Into the Mirror, at King St Theatre

Into the mirror at King St Theatre

By Erica Brennan

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Into the mirror is a two act play that draws its story from the halting attempts to build and maintain intimate relationships by Tyler who is in the final stage of transition from her former female identity, Sally.

The story line is fast paced and jam packed with relationship triangles and beautiful quirky characters. With enough interwoven narrative arcs to make it seem like it could fill its own tv series.

Writer Shelly Wall has a solid grasp of her subjects and subject matter, and the staging is simple, direct and effective; not a beat missed. The only thing letting it down was odd scene changes where stage hands were brought into perform simple set changes. It felt like the creative team hadn’t quite factored them into the flow of the show. Although as mentioned before, the production overall gave me the feel of a TV series and I actually had a good time pretending that the black outs were add breaks, adding to the episodic feel of the play.

The casting was great, all working together at an equally high level, and all seemed finely tuned to their characters. A lot of care and love resulting in a captivating performance.

In fact all round a lot of love and care and good sense. I was lucky enough to see the show with the person who inspired the story and sensing their overwhelming response to the show made me feel very privileged to have come on the night I did.

Catch Into the Mirror if you love human centred drama and want to see a group of actors working at their best.

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Review: The Venetian Twins, presented by New Theatre.

Aussie larrikin meets Carnevale in New Theatre’s The Venetian Twins

by Tiffany Hoy

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An Australian musical based on an 18th century Goldoni classic? I really didn’t know what to expect, but The Venetian Twins is a playful comedy full of mistaken identity, jealous lovers, plenty of slapstick and even a nipple twist (or two).

Identical twins, Tonino and Zanetto, have been separated since birth and are as different as can be – one a Venetian gentleman, the other a country bogan. When each rock up at the same town (somewhere between Verona and Goondiwindi), to meet their respective girlfriends, chaos ensues.

Wine is turned into VB, bananas appear from some surprising places, and commedia is interrupted by good old Aussie slang.

Nick Enright and Terence Clarke’s libretto provides plenty of opportunities for laughs, and with director Mackenzie Steele at the healm, New Theatre’s production does not miss a trick.
The action is driven by mistaken identity and the machinations of would-be suitors – with some very funny songs throughout, sending up various musical styles.

White faces, stock characters and the odd Plague Doctor mask pay homage to commedia dell’arte traditions, on a set that recalls a travelling show with hessian sackcloth and a diamond-patterned drop. Low lights are used to great effect, as are giant picture frames and burnished mirrors, whisked about the stage for quick reveals and clever scene-setting. Set designer Sean Minahan and costume designer Alice Morgan have created a striking world in which the actors run riot.

And do they ever!

The cast as a whole are a very talented, well-oiled team, as you’d expect from the New Theatre, with impressive professional credits to everyone’s name. The script gives a lot of room to romp, and there’s no holding them back from the farce.

Jay James-Moody does admirable double duty as both twins, Tonino and Zanetto, with playful renditions of each character (he had me thinking there were two different actors till interval – der!).
In slinks Pancrazio, the villain of the piece, played by Dean Vince. Tall, bald and with a painted white face, Vince’s Pancrazio is a marvellous sort of diabolical cabaret Lord Voldemort – well worth seeing! Vince had the audience gleefully hissing back in his number, Hiss the Villain, with sly banter and slick dance moves.

Marisa Berzins as Beatrice, Tonino’s empassioned lover, steals the show with her fabulous soprano voice and hilarious scenes involving wind machines and rose petals that brought the house down.
Arlecchino and sassy Columbina (Zac Jardine and Debra Bryan) are a mischievous pair, Stephan Anderson makes a suave Florindo, with designs of his own, and Andy Johnston as the dandy Lelio keeps Rosina (Meagan Caratti) on her toes. And The Judge (Peter Flett) is not so holier-than-thou as he pretends…

The band does an impressive job of swapping between various musical styles – cabaret, operetta, Aussie folk song – and their moments of interaction with the cast are a highlight.
All in all, it’s a great night of fun – go see it! And get a seat down the front, as the venue lacks a little in mic support, and you won’t want to miss a single hilarious moment.

The Venetian Twins is showing at the New Theatre in Newtown, 13 November – 15 December. Click here for tickets and theatre information.

Review: The Cranston Cup FInal

by Emily Elise

Theatre Sports, Enmore Theatre 24th November 2012.

Improvisation is a scary beast. To face it, one might have great triumph and be heralded as the improv- slayer, on the other hand the beast could devour you whole in front of a packed theatre. This is why I love going to watch the best of the best battle it out.

I had butterflies for what I was about to witness. I wanted it to be amazing, I wanted to watch and celebrate success and I hoped that I was not about to witness embarrassing failure… now I want everyone to breathe a sigh of relief. The Cranston Cup Final at the Enmore Theatre on Saturday night will probably be responsible for a few more smile wrinkles in my old age.

Choosing the theatre sport games they wished to play such as an ‘epic’ scene, a poetry rollercoaster or just “a scene with canned goods” , each team was also given another stimulus ranging from an exotic location to free reign with an audience member’s text messages. The audience was taken on a journey through an alphabetic gondola ride, the ‘best day ever’, a Catholic confession and quite a few man snogs, whilst scores from five judges accumulated to decide the winner. Big congratulations to the winners of the Cranston Cup ‘Mother Father’, but with only a couple of points between the rest, all the players deserved the rumbling applause they received throughout the whole show.

If you have never seen theatre sports and don’t know what I am going on about, check out http://www.improaustralia.com.au which has all the upcoming shows and workshops etc. I cannot recommend getting out to one of their shows more. Bring your friends, your Mum, your neighbour, your Partner or anyone! You’re guaranteed a laugh a minute (at least).

Man of La Mancha Auditions

Auditions will be held in Early December for Berowra Musical Society’s 2013 production of Man of La Mancha.

Rehearsals will commence late January 2013, on Monday and Thursday nights at Berowra Community Centre, and the shows will be in May, at the same venue.

For dates and full details, go to www.bmsi.org.au.

NARNIA musical auditions this week – EUCMS

Narnia is the musical adaptation of the beloved children’s classic ‘The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe,’ with all its memorable animal, mythological and horrible characters which the four Pevensie children meet such as Mr Tumnus, Mr & Mrs Beaver, The White Witch and of course Aslan.

The script is its own original condensed version of the novel, bookmarked by the Professor Kirk’s Manor and the adventure of the four children into the world of Narnia in between, expanding on the themes, character’s motivations and relationships that author CS Lewis so well presented.

It contains a great scope for imagination in its set, lighting and costume design, magically transforming the ‘spare room’ into a forest, capturing the love Mr Tumnus had for the former summer days, asking the audience to witness the miraculous arrival of Spring and celebrating the freeing of the Witch’s frozen prisoners.

The show’s simple and elegant score, written primarily for children’s theatre, asks you to engage your imagination with “Doors and Windows,” and embrace destiny with “All Of These” but not to get too “Hot and Bothered”, rather welcome honesty “From the Inside Out,” and be deeply moved in “A Field of Flowers,” all while sinking your teeth into “Turkish Delight.”

Where you know the musical or not, if you love the story of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and have ever wanted to visit Narnia, we would love to see you audition this week.

If you would like to contact the Production Team, get further information or get access to the audition material, please click here: http://narnia.eucms.org.au/

Clare Burgess – Director

www.eucms.org.au

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Review: Sidekicks

By Erica Brennan

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Sidekicks is a very funny new Australian funny play by Stephen Vagg executed with finesse by Emily Rose Brennan and Dan Illic. The opening moments has the audience addressed directly with a very romantic marriage proposal by CB (Illic). She is pretending to be Hunter (Male Romantic Lead) explaining why Robin (Female Romanic Lead) can’t possibly fly off to marry that jerk when he –Hunter- is still in love with her. Enter Mac, our self proclaimed sidekick, who quickly puts a damper on CB’s grand gesture by explaining that as they are both sidekicks according to predetermined rules of being a sidekick they cant interfere in their romantic leads lives- at least in THAT way. Mac is Hunter’s side kick, CB is Robins. CB refuses to accept this and we are then taken back to the beginning of the story. What followed was a delightful and heartfelt hour of excellent theatrical work all round.

Sidekicks is a bare-bones theatre production. The only set pieces are a bench and a few whit screens for our performers to disappear behind while ‘time is passing’ or they are throwing on another characters wig. Each persona is played to its hilarious edge while still showing real moments of human vulnerability. Now bare bones it may have been but the performance wants for nothing with performers like… caring the audience along for the ride while clearly enjoying themselves. There genuine expression of the clownish pathtic had you falling in love with both of them again and again even when they behaved badly.

The script is easy to listen to but very intelligent and obviously well informed in all the factors that create a good romcom. Not just because Sidekicks’ story IS an excellent rom com story but it is intelligent and lithe enough to talk about itself as a rom com. It is both self referential and plays with the ‘fourth wall’ which I found surprising and quite charming. This is a fantastic achievement for the writer Stephen Vagg who is able to guide us through delicate emotional storytelling to hilarious slapstick awkwardness and back again without batting an eye. The sassy audience addresses, simple and effective directing and a cheeky sex scene, give this piece a wonderfully rounded feel. If you are a fan of romcoms, sitcoms or just coms in general go see this play!

I took my housemate who is an absolute sitcom fanatic. She is something of a connoisseur I would say. Now she thought it was one of the best pieces of theatre she had seen in a long time and was positively beaming as we crowed into the tiny lift to exit the 505 theatre. Can’t get a better recommendation than that. Get to it!

Sidekick Is showing at the Old 505. Click here for tickets and venue information.

Review: Great Expectations

By Erica Brennan

Great Expectations is an adaptation of the novel of the same name by Charles Dickens.

This adaptation by Nick Ormerod and Declan Donnellan was Commissioned by the Royal Shakespeare Company in London and brought beautifully to life by Bakehouse Theatre.

A beautiful chorus piece where we follow young Pip through his rise to gentlemanhood from apprentice blacksmith and his chasing of cold hearted love Estelle. Bakehouse theatre have done a sterling job and I saw it with opening night jitters! I was quite confused for the first 10 minutes of the play, partly because I didn’t know the story (never read Dickens) partly because the cast member plays out the inner monologue of main character Pip in a tag team style. A line here a sentence there, a crossing of paths and back to the first speaker.

Never fear, director John Harrison doesn’t treat you like an idiot and eventually I got through it and was taken on a stimulating ride through dickens England.

The nostalgic charm of the era was captured beautifully by the design. All props and set pieces were tucked inside various suitcases. All one had to do was snap open the lock and viola a kitchen, a lawyer’s office, a bachelors pad was at our actors disposal.

The opening moments of suitcase play were particularly stunning -but I won’t give it away. GO SEE IT. My only wish was that these extraordinary design pieces were placed a bit more centre stage. I was right down the front and could only catch glimpse of the truly incredible feat it was to have crafted each one individually.

Ducking and weaving their way through this beautiful design was a cast of no less than 15 actors. What a fabulous and unfortunately rare thing to enjoy! 15 bodies all of them dressed in matching bracers white shirts and demure pants, marching all over the space, performing crowd scenes, getting into energetic fights and singing us beautiful songs!

Bakehouse has truly exhibited one of the strengths of independent theatre* in this production of Great Expectations: a large, dedicated, highly skilled cast. And this is one of the things that perhaps Bakehouse Theatre does extremely well. They are able to assemble large highly skilled and dedicated cast that synergise exceptionally well with the text and each other. I saw their Metamorphosis earlier this year at PACT and while unimpressed with the text I was absolutely mesmerised by the ensemble. I haven’t seen such well oiled casts of double digits outside of Acting school lately and Bakehouse sure are bringing it.

I really do hope that the company continues to grow and cultivate their ensemble, it is such a great strength of them as a producing body and collective of artists. If you are looking for a gently ambitious, joyful, crowded, burst of energy please go check out Great Expectations the production at its very least gave me access to a story I probably wasn’t going to read in its original form anytime soon and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. If you had always planned on getting better acquainted with Dickens then go treat yourself to a live performance of it. Great Expectations is still playing it’s an energising live experience and well worth the evening out!

* I say this is a strength of independent theatre because having worked with budgets it’s a thin stretch to try and pay so many actors on equity minimum and thus we see it less than I would like in a ‘professional’ realm. I think I am right in assuming that all involved would be on profit share or small honouree payments. Without money being the deciding factor they have committed to the production for a much more important reason (I won’t be presumptuous enough as to assume I know this reason) and bottom line I’m glad they do it. I wish these artists were all able to make a living from what they do but I really am humbled that they created this rare experience for me to watch.

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