Tag Archives: Reviews

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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Theatre Junkies update: Six months on.

A big thank you to everyone who has supported Theatre Junkies in its first few months. Our efforts to create an avenue of promotion for community and independent theatre companies and performers that is accessible (no user accounts needed!), centralised (one page to bring them all!), and most importantly FREE has been well received by many in the world of community theatre, so again, thank you! Here are some of the specifics…

In only 6 short months since the first post, Theatre Junkies has attracted over 5000 views from theatre enthusiasts around Australia.

Starting small, with an average of less than 10 hits per day, Theatre Junkies currently averages 55 hits per day (averaging 59 per day in the month of September!) with reviews and audition notices being the most highly viewed categories – and the offer of reviews for community and independent theatre productions has been taken up by a wide range of companies!

Two theatre companies, Blacktown and Epicentre, have taken up the opportunity for reciprocal advertising, and we’re hoping to build more partnerships within the community theatre world over the coming months.

In terms of followers and subscribers, between Facebook, Twitter and direct email subscriptions, we have 129 followers as of this writing, and the Theatre Junkies yahoogroups mailing list maintains over 700 subscribers. There have also been over 1000 referrals to the site from search engines, with people arriving at Theatre Junkies by searching for show names, company names, audition information, actors names or any one of over 200 different search terms or combinations.

This means that after only 6 months of operation, the website has attracted a lot of attention to theatre companies and their productions, auditions or other company information, and is growing at an exciting rate.

Thanks again for your support of Theatre Junkies! We look forward to helping promote your next theatre production.

Review: 100 Years of Lizards – part of the Sydney Fringe Festival

By Erica Brennan

100 Years of Lizards at King Street Theatre

Walking into the New Theatre I was transfixed by the beautifully crafted set. Jess Tran has created a design that is at once both sophisticated and childlike. The punctured holes and watery blue lighting on draped sheets suggested lizard skin and the inside of an attractively worn out field tent. It was simply stunning. I felt very grateful indeed for those first few hushed minutes as other patrons found their seats to just sink and admire the world I was about to. A world of ancient lizard overlords, lovesick rangers and Disney-esque villains – if Disney was okay with brutal animal consumption for the purposes of everlasting beauty.

I was aware that ‘100 Years of Lizards’ had been through a various developments and a season of work at the Adelaide Fringe festival, and it shows. Without a hint of clunkiness this show runs like a dream. A bizarre yet strangely alluring dream that will have you dance in your seat; no really, you dance like lizards. I’m not one for audience participation but I was sticking my tongue out and trotting from left to right on demand. The performers Kim Parrish, Alex Williams, Stephen Jones are unashamedly committed to the weird and wonderful world they have created with writer Patrick Lenton and move effortlessly between brilliant character acting and great sweeping electro songs. I’m still humming the theme music (thank you keyboard lizard Parick Weland-Smith for the live tunes) and chuckling over Lenton’s imaginatively false lizard facts.

All three performers are incredibly grounded in their craft and Director Ngaire O’Leary has brought each of their eclectic mix of skills to the forefront for one a crazy ride. Think a roller coaster between Monty Python style drama, belting musical numbers, solid character acting and seedy drag shows. It’s a sightly offbeat and wrong style of comedy, but its strong and very much an established style. This play is so indulgent, silly and there should be more work like it! It is a performance that showcases the excellent skill of its creators, is impossibly wacky and refuses to settle into a recognisable rhythm. It leaves you delightfully bewildered and I say bravo.

One thing that put a frown on my face was an alarming moment when a character’s throat was cut. Although no blood or gore it felt very real, very graphic and seemed entirely out of place it took me a few moments after to reconnect with the play.

But mostly a huge KUDOS to The Sexy Comedy collective. A mostly gentle, but often brutal poking fun at language and facts so effortless you could feel the faith and joy all involved took in the work.

Review: Zoe – part of the Sydney Fringe festival.

By Erica Brennan

The program notes of Zoe ask ‘how do you mourn someone who never existed? How do you stop’ I was immediately intrigued by the concept and extremely glad I’m so much of a nerd that I read the program notes obsessively before a show.

The story: Emma is going through a divorce and trying to cope with not only the breakdown of the marriage but the loss of her most desired future, a planned child whom they have already named Zoe. Almost by fate Emma meets an elusive and beautiful fire twirler on the beach who introduces herself as Zoe. Emma becomes obsessed with her fantasising that she is Zoe’s mum. Emma’s Mum Donna and her best friend Chris try and support her through her bizarre behaviour before becoming fed up. Emma follows her on face book goes to all her gigs tells people that she has become like a mum to the poor destitute girl. Finally she once again approaches Zoe and the fragile world she has created crashes down. Zoe is baffled by Emma’s familiarity and then demands she stop stalking before storming away. This dilemma of letting go of something that never existed was definitely the thing that carried the play for me. It is strong enquiry to build a play around and I thought the story had all the touch stones to be something really fantastic. I applauded writer/director Jean Gordon for her choice of material.

For a fringe show with all the restrictions created by venue sharing and short runs, it was a seamlessly put together production with some truly inspiring touches. The original Score by Michael Pearce was the right amount of ominous and whimsical. Not too overpowering for a subject that is very difficult to comprehend but transporting you to the driving melancholy that Emma must have been consumed by.

The cast seemed at ease with the writing and seemed very comfortable in this tricky situation. Jen Mealing as Donna, Emma’s mum was one of the stronger performers with other cast members finding moments to really shine. Zoe, played by professional fire twirler Hanna Donnelley, is mesmerising. Never leaving the stage and in an almost zen like fashion twirls glow poi throughout all the scenes. It gives one a beautiful awareness that there are some things that haunt us and may never actually come into being. A lovely metaphor for the subject of Emma’s mourning.

Elements of the script and the staging were a bit hit and miss, and I’d love to see a dramaturge attached to it because I really thought the story and idea were fascinating. At times dialogue was truly striking and other times a bit clunky and lacking subtext. I was also craving a few more adventurous directing decisions, growing fatigued at similar choices made throughout. However this was a very easy production to watch and I very much hope that Gordon keeps writing and creating work. Her interest and care for her subject and characters shines through in the production and I was quite enamoured with the gentle exuberance the cast seemed to emanate. Even though the season is finished keep an eye out for future work.

As a side note this was my first visit to the King Street Theatre since its name change (formerly Newtown Theatre) and new interior. It’s a beautifully welcoming place and it was great to see the foyer filled with happily chatting patrons. If the chance comes up to visit it dear Theatre Goers please do!