Monday, December 22, 2008


FAKER at Oxford Art Factory, Oxford Street, Darlinghurst.

As you know my deal with myself is to review all the live "theatre" I see. A Diary of my experiences. So, this is how cool I am.......!!!!

On Friday night I was invited to a performance of FAKER, an Australian alternative rock band, to see a friend of mine make his debut as one of the guitarists. It was also a Christmas Party put on by the Band. My name was on the door list plus one. Very Special I thought.

The Oxford Art Factory is a really "coool" new venue for live music and dancing. It is very well kitted out. Very comfortable and very, very attractive. No pub space this. Good service as well. (Its other life, I remember it as, CENTRAL STATION RECORDS and clothes shop.) Two sections divided by a glass cubicle with two framed doors. On the night I was there the two sections were divided and a live Installation Act three girls variously dealing with Christmas gifts, toys and costumes were in the glassbox. Fake snow and wrapping everywhere. It went on for quite some time. The more Vodka Tonics I had, the better the Installation became.

FAKER is a quintet of musicians, led by a quirky and sexy waif called Nathan Hudson with Vic Mullins, Flynn Scully, Lucio Pedrazzi and Dizzi DeCazz. They have two albums ADDICTED ROMANTIC; BE THE TWILIGHT. Singles from the both albums have been very succcessful: This Heart Attack; Are You Magnetic; Sleepwalking. This year they had three nominations for the Aria Awards for Best Group. Best Rock Album. Best Single.

The live performance by the Band has been described as an "exciting and honest heart-on-sleeves act". I'd have to agree. A decent length of set and encores. No way would I usually play or listen to this music but the live playing and the magnetic and charismatic Mr Hudson, beautifully supported by a group of musicians that just oozed a love of creating, it had me uninhibitedly transported to a very receptive place. I had a great time. Nothing beats hearing and seeing LIVE music performance. The passion of the artists is infectious.

The fans were a great mixture of a whole cross section of the population. I definitely recommend FAKER (I checked out their website and the video clips are fun. The live experience of course is better) I also recommend the venue. A good, good and surprising (for me) time was had by all. Thanks for the invite.

For more info on FAKER visit or

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Response to 2008

Christmas and the New Year is hurtling towards us. Have the Holiday wishes from me. I thought I would go back over the year and list responses that left impressions upon me. I hope it leads to some ease of conversation for you.

I feel that the possibility for good work in the performing Arts has most to do with the writing.The writer as "GOD". So, that's where I'll begin.

After drawing up a rough draft and some cogitation here we go. This is mostly in a chronological order of experience.
  • THE SERPENT'S TEETH by Daniel Keene. Two one act plays: CITIZENS. SOLDIERS. Two contemporary plays that have a feel that is universal, made manifestly impactful with the particularity of the timing of their telling at the Opera House in April. A poet of the theatre. Spare and demanding. Neither play had the direction or acting qualities to match the vision and daring that could have revealed their full power, although the Design, in all aspects, were staggeringly conceived and executed. Particularly the Lighting of Nick Schleiper.
  • In May,a modest CO-OP production in the Stablemates Season at the Griffin: COLDER by Lachlan Philpott. The structure and form of this story of a missing person was refreshing and challenging to experience and solve. The writing continually poetic. I was moved to silence and stillness on the night I attended. Once again the direction and the acting were not on an equal par to reveal the work. It would be interesting to see it again.
  • In the middle of June: THE GREAT by Tony McNamara. I feel that this a very literate script of some wit and skill in form and vision. Full of promise. Some editing of the trendy usage of vulgarisms and tightening of the scenes, that I felt took to long to unravel, the audience was often ahead of the writing and patiently waited for the performance to move on. It should be looked at again, somewhere. I hope.
  • In July, the winter month, I saw terrific work. At the Griffin as part of their main season DON'T SAY THE WORDS by Tom Holloway was a very exciting night in the theatre. The play using some (small) inspiration of Euripides' AGAMEMNON, as written by Holloway, presents a contemporary war veteran returning home to find a relationship between his wife and best friend, a "battlefield" equally as confronting as what he has just left behind. This writing was fully supported by a terrific production by Matthew Lutton and his three actors: Anna Lise Phillips, Jack Finisterer, Brett Stiller.
  • September produced the best of Australian (Sydney) writing and production. Again the Griffin Theatre in its main season with Riverside productions continues its "genius", this time presenting THE MODERN INTERNATIONAL DEAD by Damien Millar. A scorching examination of the lives of three ordinary Australians doing heroic things in the course of their contemporary "duties". Mr Millar reveals an adroit ability to organise his material into an amazingly thrilling and confronting theatrical venture. Intelligence, wit and a compassionate heart. This production would be my favourite home grown experience of the year. The direction by Chris Mead outstanding in all areas of his responsibility.
  • JUST MACBETH! by Andy Griffiths presented by Bell Shakespeare at the Seymour centre,was a totally unexpected joy. And certainly, not only the target audience of young theatre go-ers but us adults, had a wonderful and educational time. Theatre for young people that transcends its ordinary objectives. Truly clever writing for all ages.
  • Justin Fleming's adaptation of Moliere's TARTUFFE, called THE HYPOCRITE for the Melbourne Theatre Company was outrageously hilarious in its liberties and accuracies as it skewered satirically parts of contemporary Australian "life".
  • The next of the Australian writing that was outstanding, was a revival of a B Sharp production at the Griffin as part of the Stablemates season: TENDER by Nicki Bloom. On a second viewing this work stands up to scrutiny and hopefully presages an exciting voice in the Australian landscape. A CO-OP Production.
  • The last work that I recommend is FRANKENSTEIN by Ralph Myers and Lally Katz. A collaborative effort with an entirely wonderful ensemble of artists in the New Work project at Wharf 1 for the Sydney Theatre Company.
The next big skill in order of responsibility for success in the Performing Arts is the Director, in my estimation, so....

Let's start with the younger practitioners that would cause me to hand over my money and time as a matter of artistic interest. The new Directors on my list to watch and follow would be:
Directors of the next generation who have been around for a while, knocking down the door for proper support from the leading companies:
  • Chris Mead (THE MODERN INTERNATIONAL DEAD) - I'd say the best production of the year.
  • Kate Gaul (ALTAR BOYZ, QUEEN C) and other work during the year - a tireless operator developing her opportunities relentlessly. Worth following and supporting.
  • Consistently, Neil Armfield with his work on SCORCHED for Company B (Flawed) but with an irresistible vision, followed by two peerless evenings at the opera, both revivals: BILLY BUDD and THE MAKROPULOS SECRET. We need to see Mr Armfield's work in the theatre more regularly to maintain a consistent benchmark in directorial excellence for Sydney audiences. A mentor for apprentice directors.
  • Two of the best experiences I had in the theatre this year were CODGERS by Don Reid (an old fashioned but thoroughly rewarding new Australian play) and JUST MACBETH! by Andy Griffiths both directed by Wayne Harrison. A thoroughly commercial and totally professional eye that delivers productions that are not only entertaining but have great artistic integrity and skill. Another essential mentor for apprentice directors.
  • Another director that I watch with interest is Peter Evans. Although I felt his work on THE GREAT did not serve the play to its full potential, I thought the work on THE HYPOCRITE for the MTC was a return to form (last year's DON'S PARTY being a revelation of the play in an exciting contemporary re-reading.)
Now, here is a list of performances by the actors that I enjoyed....
Other Favourite Productions....
  • ROCK AND ROLL, Tom Stoppard directed by Simon Phillips.
  • GALLIPOLI, Nigel Jamieson directed by Nigel Jamieson. The flaw of this achievement, that for me prevented it from being great, was the writing.
  • SCORCHED by Wajdi Mouawad directed bt Neil Armfield.
  • BILLY ELLIOT, The Musical by Lee Hall directed by Stephen Daldry.
  • 360 (DEGREES) choreographed and created by Rafael Bonachela for The Sydney Dance Company.
  • BILLY BUDD by Benjamin Britten directed by Neil Armfield for Opera Australia.
  • THE MAKROPULOS SECRET by Leos Janacek directed by Neil Armfield for Opera Australia.
International productions of unforgettable memories:
The best of my alternative theatre experiences:
  • Trash Vaudeville in FOOL'S GOLD at QUICK AND DIRTY at Performance Space.
  • THE BLAND PROJECT by Gravity Research Institute Inc (Alan Schacher) at Performance Space. This was an outstanding multi-media dance/theatre exploration.
  • LIVEWORKS curated by Fiona Winning at Carriageworks for Performance Space especially FRAUDULENT BEHAVIOUR written and performed by Rosie Dennis and TARKOVSKY'S HORSE with Peter Fraser directed by Tess De Quincey. (The most disappointing contribution was by the visiting PACITTI COMPANY U.K. with presentations of underwhelming work CIVIL and later FINALE.)
  • THE AGE I'M IN by FORCE MAJEUR directed by Kate Champion at Carriageworks.
Let us look at some technical contributions that I registered as arresting.

Set Design:
Lighting Design:
Sound Design:
Now I shall be a little contentious. I thought I should list work of some disappointment.
  • ANTIGONE or THE BURIAL AT THEBES adapted by Seamus Heaney directed by Chris Kohn at Company B - a jumble of intellectual conception and very uneasy acting.
  • ROMEO AND JULIET directed by Wayne Blair for The Sydney Theatre Company Education.
  • HAMLET directed by Marion Potts for Bell Shakespeare-a totally inadequate technical performance by Brendan Cowell in the lead as Hamlet. No Hamlet = no play.
  • ORLANDO by Handel directed by Justin Way and designed by Kimm Kovac and Andrew Hays for Opera Australia- an over designed and directed work that appeared to have no confidence in the work as it exists.
  • THE NARCISSIST by Stephen Carleton directed by Ian Lawson for La Boite and The Sydney Theatre Company- a truly terrible evening in the theatre in 2008. It lacked good judgement in almost every area (exclude the valiant actors.) This was my personal low point in the theatre in 2008.
  • THE CONVICT'S OPERA by Stephen Jeffreys directed by Max Stafford Clarke for the Sydney Theatre Company and Out of Joint.- a totally bewildering conception and offer in 2008.
  • THE PIG IRON PEOPLE by John Doyle directed by Craig Illot for the Sydney Theatre Company - a first play that did not feel developed enough to be presented in 2008. Brought to production too early. (Craig Illot seems to lack the director's eye for textual detail. See THE PILLOWMAN and R&J.)
  • MARY STUART by Schiller directed by Mark Kilmurry for the Ensemble Theatre - a truly misconceived and executed production of one of the great plays in the classic repertoire - a disaster.
My Best Experiences:
  1. A DISAPPEARING NUMBER by Complicite.
  2. THE MODERN INTERNATIONAL DEAD at the Griffin Theatre Company.
  4. THE BLAND PROJECT by Gravity Research Institute Inc at Performance Space at Carriageworks.
  5. THE MAKROPULOS SECRET by Opera Australia.
  6. FRANKENSTEIN by Sydney Theatre Company.
  7. GALLIPOLI by Sydney Theatre Company.
  8. SCORCHED by Company B.
  9. JUST MACBETH! by Bell Shakespeare.
  10. CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF by The Schaubuhne.
  11. DON'T SAY THE WORDS by the Griffin Theatre Company
  12. TARKOVSKY'S HORSE at Performance Space.
  13. 360 (Degrees) by Rafael Bonachela for Sydney Dance Company at Carriageworks.
I felt the work at The Griffin has been the most consistently interesting. Company B the most disappointing. The Sydney Theatre Company's huge range of work has, for me, both some of the best and some of the worst experiences of the year. This year should be vital for us to know what direction that company is headed.

Happy New Year to you all.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Tough Time, Nice Time

Company B presents the Ridiculusmus production TOUGH TIME, NICE TIME, written by Jon Haynes and David Woods at Belvoir Theatre.

There is a blackened stage with just a lit bathtub in the centre. The lights go down. I can see two men, in the dark, wrapped in white towels, enter, and sit in the small tub. The lights come back up.

Two men sitting in a bath, supposedly in a bath house, maybe in Bangkok, tell each other stories. The stories may be factual, they maybe distilled from film, fiction. The men maybe naked in the tub. There maybe water or not. They do have towels. (I do hear water gurgling down a plug hole!!) They may be straight, one of them says he is married, the other that he is not gay but tells stories of relationships with other men and lady/boys. One of them makes a physical play for the other. The other rejects it. But then they are both imbibing beer and some pills. Funny things happen under the influence. One, oddly, has a notebook and pen, he sometimes makes notes. He, wondrously, reads a very delicious, sexy story that he may have written from the notebook. The stories are sometimes sensational, and sometimes sordid. The stories sometimes sound vainglorious and sometimes outright pornographic. They are always interesting. They are often funny. They, depending on your life experience, can be shocking. Then, again, some novelistic fiction that has won prestigious prizes have been just as salacious. Nothing to be surprised or shocked me about except it is spoken out loud in public, in the presence of strangers who are surrounding me!! Ah, um. Should I laugh? Should I just be quiet? Should I object? Stand up and leave at such impertinent filth and tosh? Should I just relax and demonstrate my sophisticatedness? Should I just relax and enjoy myself? Maybe this is serious stuff. Maybe it is just a harmless leg pull. Indulge myself. Retrain myself. Surely this is not meant to be offensive. I am becoming a little uncomfortable about this experience and yet it is so wittily and confidently acted. The actors have such elan. Such a beautiful and trusting rapport. They are amazing to listen too. Am I being beguiled by their verbal rhythms and glorious timing and registers? They enfold each other seamlessly in meaning and sound. They do it at such a breathless pace that I hear them and I have time to think these questions, but they give me no time to answer myself, so, I am induced to sit and listen. I allow myself to be twisted about their magnificent technique.I pretend to force myself to stay, out of respect for their bravado of technique. Or is it that I am spellbound at the audacity of the whole concept of two men in a bath tub accompanied by the gurgling of water down a plug hole with a clever light show, basking these bodies in colours that shape, enhance and carve sculptures of visual pleasure and lustful temptations, confronting me with a world where fact and fiction, spin, are so intertwined that I am deliriously bewitched and paralyzed?

The actors, Jon Haynes and David Woods also wrote the play: "Tough time, nice time was created and written through a series of improvisations, reading and travel between 2005 and 2007. At first we talked of making a show about massacre. Something of this intention remained when we began to improvise and, over two years, produce two 'utterly repellent' characters who talked about massacre, genocide, celebrity and a plethora of other subjects while trying to tell and listen to each other's stories."

From a quote in the program by Jennie Erdal, GHOSTING: " Everyone tells stories. And all storytellers are liars. They have an excessive need to make sense of experience, and so things get twisted and shaped to suit. It need not be deliberate, but it's as well to admit that it happens. We fumble about in the fog, and patterns come to us eerily like distant foghorns over water. We put forward versions of ourselves. And versions of others." This is fairly much my experience of this work and much like my experience of AN OAK TREE, presented in the B Sharp season earlier in the year, their is a self conscious participation that is refreshing and challenging to have.

The performances are a wonder of ensemble,the technical offers; set and lighting (Mischa Twitchin) are abundantly supportive. I had a terrific time. I'm not sure that the writing is entirely rounded out. It is more interesting in its parts, than its whole. Worth catching.

Just a note of observation that I really can't pass by. Ridiculusmus have been guests of Company B. presenting this work and a version of THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST. (This latter work has already had a previous season in Sydney ) as a Festival Season. They have been resident for two months in the theatre. Next month, the whole of January, Company B with Sydney Festival present two other international companies. Certainly the work so far has been interesting but surely another venue could have presented this work. I can't help but feel sorry and alarmed for the Australian/Sydney actors who are unemployed. To quote the regular program note "Belvoir St Theatre's greatly loved Upstairs and Downstairs stages have been the artistic watering holes of many Australia's great performing artists..." But not for three months!!!! Not one Australian actor will have been paid to perform in this theatre for three months!!!! November, December and January. THREE MONTHS!!! This does not feel right that the Belvoir St Theatre has been so cavalier about the Australian Actor. I can't imagine that the Sydney Theatre Company could even dare contemplate such a season without objection from Equity and the Funding bodies. (The administration I imagine is on full salary.) Merry Christmas.

Playing now until 21 December 2008. Book online or call 02 9699 3444.

Monday, December 15, 2008


Sydney Theatre Company and Medina Apartment Hotels present RABBIT by Nina Raine at Wharf 1.

This British play was written and first performed in London 2006 "for which Nina Raine won both London Standard and Critic’s Circle Awards for Most Promising Playwright". Ms Raine recently expressed surprise that her "little" play has had such a big life. For it also has had a showing in an Off Broadway house in New York in 2007, and in New Zealand.

The play is not really covering any new ground (What play can?) except it is covering a contemporary Generation Y in its first conscious contemplation of mortality. Bella (Alison Bell), the leading character, living a fairly successful career as a PR Consultant and a seemingly carefree, hedonistic lifestyle, celebrates her 29th birthday with some friends in a restaurant/bar, whilst secretly dealing with the imminent death of her father with whom she has had a fairly toxic relationship since her teenage years. Like the recent Tommy Murphy play SATURN’S RETURN we meet this new generation Y on stage, coming to terms with the consequences of their life choices as the onus of future responsibilities as maturing adults are made manifest to them.

It is a well written play. Conservative in its construction and revelations and mostly interesting for the emphasis of experience and values that are reflected in the concerns of this group of youthful adults in 2006 (2008.).

At the performance I attended the play had a gentle response to the comedy and finally a respectful absorption in the human dilemmas of Bella, and the relatively empathetic response of her friends to the finally revealed crisis in her life in the last three pages of the play. It was a good old fashioned night in the theatre. Generally satisfying.

However, there is something wrong. It should have had a bigger impact. The tone of the piece in this production by Brendan Cowell feels slightly askew. Mr Cowell and his company have set the play in Sydney in 2008. It has been transplanted from its cultural authenticity both in time and place and it just doesn’t quite gel as an Australian play. The class of these British characters does not in this production find an equivalent in this Sydney locality. (Their costuming (Genevieve Dugard) does not even reflect their socio-economics) (When leaving the theatre I overheard several young members of the audience discussing their inability to believe in the characters and their behaviour. The level of personal confrontation, they felt, was not an experience that they would have in their world, in Sydney, even amongst close friends, and never in such a public place: a pub back bar.) Why Mr Cowell felt that this play was going to be more useful as an Australian play I can’t quite fathom, except in a very generalised way. I have a feeling that as a British play I might have been able to believe it more and appreciated it more by the keeping of the distanced context of the writer’s world.

In the Queensland Theatre Company’s program notes for their recent production of STONES IN HIS POCKETS there is a very interesting note by the dialect/accent coach, Helen Howard, headed: WHY USE ACCENTS? In the final paragraph she says, "To do all plays in our own great accent could be interesting, but would promote a parochial slant on our world outlook and understanding of other cultures, and diminish the pleasure to be had in the theatre’s great panoramic vision of human life. Only in revealing the specific detail of a play, which in many cases includes its own native accent, can we unlock the universal resonance within it." The embracing of the familiar parochial at the expense of the "universal" certainly hindered my response.

So, the change of location and dialect ie the dialectical word usage, and more importantly dialectical rhythms, that reveal truth and character, maybe some of the reasons for my sense of being in a world that was not quite right. The last time I was in a world of alcoholic truth telling in the theatre, was in Peter Evans production DON’S PARTY in the Drama Theatre at the Opera House. This play was authentically Australian which was reflected accurately in its sounds, word usage and rhythms. There was a greater sense of a reality that I could enter, to help me to accept the vitriol that was been expressed between characters in the play, than in this production of Ms Raine’s play.

As a digression, I feel fairly strongly about this dislocation of a play’s reality by the choice of not embracing the world of the play as written by the writer. Benedict Andrews’ production of Edward Albee’s WHO’S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF? at the Belvoir Theatre, though by most critics, and certainly by gauging the audience response the night I attended this work, was highly received, I would argue that what we saw was not the play written by its author Mr Albee, but rather a hijacking of somebody else’s art by an auteur that had an entirely different agenda than the author’s. I can’t imagine Mr Albee would have been pleased with what was enacted on the Belvoir stage, and knowing Mr Albee’s reputation as a protector of his integrity as a writer, would he have permitted the artistic licence that the Company B took with the play with its Australian sound and rhythms. The play as written by Mr Albee was hardly recognisable. I had just recently seen the American revival production with Kathleen Turner and had a devastating emotional evening in the theatre. It worked then and I saw no gains to what I experienced in the American production by shifting the location to somewhere in Australia. (The location guides in the text were not at all altered at Belvoir, which made the night for us, who find "delight" in the detail a very bewildering experience.) Similarly an Andrew Upton production of a Mamet one-acter (REUNION, I think) several years ago was reduced to sounding as if it were written, to my ear, by Daniel Keene. (No dishonour, I hasten to add, just not Mamet.) Ravenhill’s play, POOL (NO WATER) recently, at Darlinghurst Theatre also blighted. The rumour mill is telling me that the STC are about to embark on a Tennesee Williams in Australian dialect. Tell me it’s not true. If it is so, assist me to understand the raison d’etre. I know for instance, that Ms Blanchett , has a great ear and skill for dialect. So it can’t be a skill issue, can it?

The choice of the dialect in this production was an obstacle for me. Cultural ethics jettisoned for a parochial artistic licence.

Nina Raine says in the program notes "I just wanted to write something funny, moving and above all entertaining….. And it’s quite hard to make that happen. Unfortunately, cruelty is much funnier than kindness. What people don’t realise, reading the script, is that the lines are never played as hard as they are written…"

Unfortunately Mr Cowell has guided his, generally, talented actors in to playing at a very speedy comic style rather than mining the substance of the text. He has for most of the play drawn from the actors a tendency for them to present character types rather than real people. On almost every page of the script Ms Raine has musical cues of Ellipses, Beat, Silence and Pause. Within the musical scoring of the text there are writer’s directions to give the actors opportunities to create the subtextual substance of the characters. But the general style of playing by this company is rapid fire, give and take, aimed at achieving a comic joke through rhythmical timing and creating a kind of "farce" technique where speed and surprise is the essence of the work. But Ms Raine’s score suggests a modern comedy of manners where comedy is achieved by character juxtaposition and emotional dilemma and the pathos of situation in the landscape of these people’s relationships. Ms Raine through her directions provides the director and actors the clues to achieve this and gives them the breathing space to create that. As this is basically ignored, what we do have is a brash, and noisy exchange between characters without and real motivational time for cause and affect. So that these people appear angry, mean and spiteful or as Ms Raine suggests, what the trap is, cruel. The actors are tending to talk at each other rather than to each other. They wound each other as point scoring instead of maintaining and using and developing relationships. These are relatively comic automatons rather than vulnerable human beings. Comic strip instead of flesh and blood.

In the second half of the play the writing (although Ms Raine tends to spell everything out towards the end) is given breathing space by the director, for these so far brittle people reveal a deeper life. It is almost as if this production has two different plays on its hands. A farce and then melodrama (in the right sense).

Alison Bell is powerful vocally,both in timing and volume, though she tends to bully her way through the aching arc of Bella. We know something is going on but it is held and indicated. Toby Schmitz, like his performance in RUBEN GUTHRIE, reveals his shinning verbal skills and his comic physical quirks to gain some laughter from the audience but only reaches into the complex vulnerability of Richard belatedly. There was more to reveal throughout the piece. Kate Mulvany is best in the last act when she begins to voice the rather over written didactics of the writer in the "Surgeon speeches". (Why has the interpolation of "metaphoric tuning forks" been placed in the text instead of simply the writer’s "tuning forks" Is it that the director felt we wouldn’t get it?) The otherwise laying out of the "memory" revelations of the writing, by Miss Mulvany, is teasing in the possibility of what the play might have been when relatively, treated seriously. Geoff Morrell plays a father figure but does not really create the dominant presence that helps us see the plight of his regretful daughter. It lacks any real imaginative presence other than speaking the words believably. Romy Bartz is also a rather good farceur (Why does she enter with a bicycle is beyond me? It is hardly the character Ms Raine has written. Some quaint hippy !!) but like Mr Morrell, does not bring much depth to the role or the situation other than the bare bones. Ryan Johnson lacks the physical and vocal dynamic of the other performers and so kind of disappears. This is a well balanced sextet that Ms Raine has written and the play can’t function well enough if it is only been played by a quintet.

The actors are doing as well as Mr Cowell has demanded. Not much more. This is reflected in the Set design (Genevieve Dugard). Ms Raine asks that "the main setting is the restaurant and table at which the friends sit. But the area should be small and intimate: and it is in the darkness around this focal point that the father’s scenes materialise." Instead we have a setting that takes up the entire space and uses both the vertical and horizontal realities, in a well lit environment. Instead of being in the midst of a whirling hedonist world of a busy public space that Bella is escaping in to avoid her responsibilities to her parent, we are in a deserted back bar with nobody else in sight. Neither customer or waiter or even glassie. (The bollarding of the space by one of the characters a simplistic ploy by the director to explain the absence of the real world. It is a restaurant and not a back bar, isn’t it?) The physical Metaphor of the writer’s envisioned space has been thrown out. We have a juke box and a stairway to exit (to heaven!) instead.

The score (Steve Francis) is over emphatic and the lighting (Luiz Pampolha) merely pragmatic. What Mr Cowell and his team have given us is a kind of realism instead of an impressionism that is indicated by the writer. This weakens the impact of the writing.

It is these cavalier choices that finally undermines Ms Raine’s "little" play. It certainly has more to offer when read on the page than what is offered in production at Wharf 1. It is not enough to like the play. It is really necessary to respect the writer. Mr Cowell as a writer most probably knows only too well how hard it is to hand your creation to people who do not read your text closely and set up their own agenda instead of revealing the writer’s.

Playing now until 18 January 2009. Book online or call
02 9250 177.

Thursday, December 11, 2008


Sydney Theatre Company presents FRANKENSTEIN. Created by Lally Katz, Ralph Myers, Stefan Gregory. Based on the Book by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley. Performed at Wharf 2.

Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, British novelist was the daughter of the rationalist philosopher William Godwin and the feminist writer and radical Mary Wollstonecraft and became the second wife of Percy Bysshe Shelley. She wrote FRANKENSTEIN OR THE MODERN PROMETHEUS in 1818. It is essentially about a man who created a monster. Ralph Myers (the Director) and Lally Katz (the Writer. This is the first work of hers that I have seen performed. Very exciting.) believes that "the story has taken its place alongside the Greek Myths and the tales of the bible in the canon of great stories, destined to be re-told - and bastardised - over and over again." For most of us, the famous James Whale film of FRANKENSTEIN (1931) is part of our vivid story heritage, to be followed by THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN. (In the program notes this creative team acknowledge the ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN farce, and it sticks fairly powerfully in my mind, too, as one of the best times I had at the pictures as a kid.The drug-addled Ken Russell film about the night this story was first created, GOTHIC, also swims around in my memories) Ralph Myers and Lally Katz go on to say "We have not attempted to tell the whole story...... The details and scenarios of our version are often dramatically different to those in the novel but at the heart we are telling the same story. We have followed the essential core: A human makes another human. Then things go wrong. Shelley's creature is articulate, sympathetic and reasonable. Its creator, Victor is none of these things. Shelley seems to us to clearly identify with the monster. Is the creature a self-portrait?"

At the end of this performance I was asking: Is this Frankenstein a self-portrait of a generation of humans about to inherit the responsibility of the world as they have been left it?

What Mr Myers and Ms Katz and this creative team have done is create a little gem of the theatre. Certainly no monster, rather a great treasure, and while Mr Myers may have been "grappling with the creation of horror, and the horror of creation" (so the production pre-publicity card tells us) he can be rest assured, in my view, his creation is magnificent.

When you enter the theatre, about a third of the seats are occupied by life size dummy figures made of foam rubber and dressed in pastel coloured under-suits with simple facial decorations: X T for eyes etc. They sit separately or holding hands or with arms draped around the shoulders of their neighbours. There is a front black curtain. The lights dim, two performers, in white pants and long sleeved polo necked outfits, enter, pull back the curtain to reveal a slumped figure of Victor Frankenstein (Benjamin Winspear) in front of a white sheeted bed. One of the white suited actors, (who have helpfully printed across their back shoulders their principal task ie Writer, Composer, Props Maker) hold up a title board that announces the scene FRANKENSTEIN CREATES MONSTER, a little sound pings and the action begins. A circular collection of light bulbs brightens on a gesture from Victor and slowly the sheet begins to rise and finally levitates into the air to reveal the sleeping creation (Yael Stone). It comes to life and leaps from the floating bed (a piece of Magic by Simon Cavanough) in a coiled womb pose onto the upper body of Victor. A figure in white enters with another title board VICTOR REJECTS CREATURE. The sound pings again, and the next scene unfolds. This is the modus operandi of the story telling technique. (It reminded me of the device of the little singing mice in George Miller's film BABE who announce the next chapter of the story, and is similarly Brechtian in effect and totally charming.) The story moves through the discovery of the creature's ugliness, the loneliness, the demands for attention, the acts of revenge, the creation of a partner, the revelation of its inadequacy, the murder of Victor's bride, Elizabeth, and finally the demise of Dr Frankenstein and the plaintive state of the creature alone in the world facing an uncertain future.

The writing of the scenes have the feel of a story being told to children.It has the atmospheric composition of a sophisticated moral fable that say, Oscar Wilde or Angela Carter have. Child like but definitely adult. It is both comforting in its familiarity and stirringly stimulating in it's contemporary story telling technique and point of view.

The acting of the two principal actors (Benjamin Winspear and Yael Stone) is simple and naively articulated. Alongside the white suited non-actors, who occasionally take on verbal roles with the principals, they appear enormously sophisticated. (Well, after all,they are actors and have better developed performance story telling skills then the writers, musician and prop maker!!) The white suited story assistants play in what I take to be a deliberate style of child like selfconsciousness. It is a totally disarming technique. The feel is kind of SOUTH PARK without the vulgarisms. Charming but disturbing.

Benjamin Winspear (a wholly underused actor on the Sydney stage) is suitably petulant, bewildered and, as the character, oddly disconnected. It is a wonderfully judged and sensitive performance. The beauty of the shock communicated by his simple body language and face, in his wedding scene, with the drifting confetti falling from his hat, shoulders and hair is gracefully moving. He is a wonderful "straight man" , in the dramatic mode, to a wonderfully luminous and deeply affecting performance by Yael Stone as Frankenstein's Monster. The simplicity of her physical manifestations, sometimes, awkwardly gauche (her dancing movements in the nightclub scene are tenderly evocative and created a need in me, in the audience, to want to protect her), sometimes, tiny in their expression, are deeply touching. The vocal skills, with her simple pared back text, is splendidly economical, but then splendidly expressive in the lyrical demand of the songs. The last song hangs "romantically" and hauntingly in my memory. The tone both melancholic and, too, strangely hopeful. The scene where the monster meets her partner on a date, is poignant and pathetic. Deeply affecting and gorgeously beautiful to watch in the simplicity of the design. (It should be noted here that Ms Stone has appeared in four different stage productions this year: THE KID, STONING MARY, SCORCHED and now here in FRANKENSTEIN), and every one of her acting contributions have had dynamic input, and intelligently served the plays and created an impassioned and peerlessly intelligent insight into character. An actress of some integrity. (I haven't always found the work easy to watch, I must admit, too much uncomfortable physical tension, but always memorable and unforgettable.)

The Music and Sound Design (Stefan Gregory) is simple and the lyrics and score played by Mr Gregory on stage, on the piano, are deftly and mesmerisingly, successful tools of the overall tenor of the piece. The Lighting (Nick Schlieper) as usual flawless, both technically and creatively. The glorious glacier white, growing gently in intensity in the last scene, both metaphoric and beautiful.

Here, at last, in my experience of the New Work season in Wharf 2 this year, 2008, is a fully realised work. Ms Katz and Mr Myers are responsible for the choices in the adaptation and the text, and they are remarkably simple but monumentally clear and powerfully potent. All of the collaborators, Benjamin Winspear, Simon Cavanough,Nick Schlieper, Stefan Gregory, Joshua Emanuel, Matt Schubach, Ralph Myers, Lally Katz, Terri Richards, and Yael Stone (All can be seen hilariously spoofing the classic Karloff performance in the 1930's film in the program photograph) seem to me, have applied intelligence, integrity, wit, vision, ingenuity and a passion for expression through the performing arts with an apparent homogeny of high intention that would be hard to find surpassed this year in the Sydney production calendar.

Here, is a collection of relatively young artists (excuse me Mr Schlieper) who are making a wise and impassioned statement about our times. The heart-aching last song and moments, of this young modern Frankenstein Monster singing a "birthday song" beside the dead body of her dead creator, Victor, was remarkable both for the tragic pathos of a world, now being given to the young "monster", that she has had no encouragement or guidance to solve. It was truly an apocalyptic moment in the theatre for me, both for my world view, and for my hope and now my belief in the future of the Australian Theatre. I was saddened by these young artists predicament in a contemporary culture that seems to have heartlessly created them and abandoned them (but not by the STC!!), and yet entirely heartened and and excited by seeing worthy heirs of their culture, making such a mature investigation and statement. And have hope. All power to this company of Artists.

The piece is all of only 40 minutes long and is certainly worth catching.

Playing now until 13 December. Book online or call 02 9250 1777.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

The Age I'm In


THE AGE I'M IN was first presented at Sydney Festival and Adelaide International Festival in 2008. This is the first time I have seen this work. I have to confess I have not always enjoyed or liked this company's work. On reflection, after witnessing this work last night, it maybe because the work was always a work that was in its premiere season. The task of creating, rehearsing, solving problems artistic, and with this company's work, technical as well, and then presenting under an anticipatory deadline for an audience, a Festival audience, the works never seemed really comfortable and were still in a "baking" mode, not completely solved or settled. Not secure. Sometimes seeming to be attempting too much. Art, theatre, dance, multimedia, and philosophic observations. It just never seemed to be whole. Last night was the last performance at Carriageworks (in the usual Performance Space Bay, Bay 20.) after almost a year of gestation, and the experience was profoundly moving.

"Force Majeure is a Sydney based dance-theatre company led by Kate Champion as artistic director with Geoff Cobham and Roz Hervey as artistic associates...... Company artists include actors, dancers, designers, writers, visual artists, composers and film makers."

In Bay 20 we entered the usual dance configuration for dance performance with a steeply raked bank of seats facing the performance area. The performance area is just the bare wooden floor with a room-dividing screen backing, in the upstage left corner, a simple round table and four chairs. Slightly upstage of centre right there is another room divide screen that is covered in an opaque material. Scattered around the space are other variations of chairs or benches. Also on the floor are some small portable video screens, which are, during the performance, picked up and handled dexterously by the performers. On these screens appear images of the faces of the holder or other people. Sometimes there are images of naked bodies, or bodies in movement/dance, or design patterns like game images etc. The images shown to us on these screens are as varied as the artistic story journey requires. Amazingly complex. They are beautifully executed and decidedly effective in the narrative and design of the work. The Audio Visual Producer is Tony Melov and The Audio Visual Design is by Neil Jensen Their contribution to this work is simply remarkable. (The photographic images are credited to William Yang.)

The Original Music & Sound Design is by Max Lyandvert. The Sound design is by Mark Blackwell. Tremendously skillful. Besides music from sources as varied as Benny Goodman, Four Tet, John Zorn & The Treme Brass Band some 80 vox populi interviews have been made and edited into the soundtrack. Mostly the company of performing artists lip sync the speeches. The Lighting Designer, Geoff Cobham uses his resources almost as if the lighting effects are a dancer/actor in the progress of the work. Intergral to the fluidity of the piece. (Mr Cobham also Set design.) The costumes of the performers are clothing of the real world and they serve the actor/dancers comfortably and subtly. This is the work of Bruce McKinven. I have acknowledged all these artist because their contribution is so internalised into the work, and yet are so much part of the work, that it could go by without comment. It shouldn't and it hasn't.

The company of performers have been carefully chosen to cover a wide range of ages. Youngsters with the future in front of them. Young mid lifers in the middle of the bewildering swim of life. The middle age, confronted and confronting the toll of time and biology on the resources of their bodies. And, finally old age, and in either the conscious or unconscious closing journey towards finality-the end. (The Seven Ages Of Man!!!) Using the edited interviews with catch phrases, such as: "There's no respect anymore, I think the respect has gone out." "I enjoy childhood a lot, although I could do without school." "I think when you're dead you're dead." accompanied by physical movement - sometimes extrapolated from apparently natural gesture, sometimes extended into dance choreography, the audience are presented with vignettes of humanity dealing with living, all of them prejudiced by "the age I'm in." Depending on "the age you are in", the impact of the individual pieces have more relevance and empathy, although all the pieces are of a whole and are accumulatively impossible to not recognise or resist.

This was a last performance. And at first there seemed to be a clique of enamoured supporters who were in the audience who wanted to show their unbridled support by whooping or cheering or clapping at the end of sequences, but so accumulative are the observations, and so acutely accurate are they, in many different moods and modes, that even they were subdued and drafted into the spell of the work of the performance we were witnessing.

The performers, a mixture of dancers and actors, were so touchingly engaged with the work and their responsibilities that one cannot distinguish one as more interesting or more concentrated etc. This was a beautifully honed ensemble of artists (Please include the already alluded to design artists.) Stanislavsky would be proud. The dance/theatre, the acting/moving of all were of a whole.

One sequence for me was truly transporting. One of the performers with a slight disability is featured in a spotlight centre stage, but behind the opaque screen on the stage right side, four of the video screens form a square of images that when held together show us this theatre/dancer, naked from the waist up, in a beautiful set of choreographic poses that gave me the impression of his body suspended and floating, flying in the air, in space. The screens separate and float around behind the screen, different parts of the body separating (or disabling), rejoining in different configurations and separating again. Captivating and beautiful. I was in what Anne Bogart calls "Aesthetic arrest."

There were many such moments. The remarkable performers were Marlo Benjamin, Samuel Brent, Annie Byron, Tilda Cobham Hervey, Vincent Crowley, Daniel Daw, Brian Harrison, Roz Hervey, Kirstie McCracken, Veronica Neave and Timothy Neave.

The last credit must go to Kate Champion. It is illustratively moving for me to see the note in the program "Choreography created by the performers." Such a simple gesture of humility from Ms Champion goes a long way for me to understand the humanity she brings to her company (along with Karen Rodgers, Martin Langthorne, Erin Daly.): FORCE MAJEURE.

So, I was fortunate to see this work at the end of a season rather than in the hot house of the premiere. The value of time in the maturation of the work. A rare opportunity in the Performing Arts in Australia. A lesson to be observed and learnt.


Queen C

Sauna Productions & inc.studios in association with B Sharp present the Australian Premiere of QUEEN C by Laura Ruohonen, translated by David Hackston. At the Belvoir St Downstairs Theatre.

"Sauna productions was founded in 2004 by Yvonne Strzechowski and Ona Nurkkala with the aim of bringing Nordic theatre to Australian audiences." Their partner in this enterprise "inc.studios was established in 2006 by actor/producer Nicole da Silva. inc.studios aims to bring contemporary stories from across the globe to Australian audiences. Its focus is on creating more roles for women both on and off the stage." These aspirations are honourable and one could add that it is also a way to provide opportunities for themselves to practice their own performance crafts. Two of the named founders of the Production Companies have cast themselves in principal roles, including the role of Descartes, which presumably could be played by a man.

It is a very interesting choice of play. This production introduces a Finnish author, Laura Ruohonen, who I have never come across before and it is exciting to have a widening of one's contemporary Dramatic Literature experiences. The Producing Companies have also had the perspicacity to invite one of Sydney's more adventurous and accomplished freelance directors, Kate Gaul, to work with them on the presenting of this material to the Sydney audience.

Kate Gaul in some of the pre-publicity material is quoted as saying that "The biggest challenge though, is that if this play was performed in Europe people would already know who the character was and they would bring their own knowledge of history to the production." (Sydney Star Observer.) Kate Gaul goes on to say that the Sydney audiences lack of knowledge of the life of Queen Christina of Sweden may be some obstacle to the full appreciation of the play. This is a fairly accurate prediction. The play by Ms Ruohonen is written in metaphor and does assume that the audience has some grasp of the facts that she plays poetic games with.Kate Gaul goes on to say that "the play creates an allegory around the details of Christina's life". In my dictionary an allegory is "the figurative treatment of one subject under the guise of another; a presentation of an abstract or spiritual meaning under concrete or material forms " or "a symbolic narrative " or "an emblem." Because the "concrete" of Christina's life is assumed by the writer in this text it is relatively difficult to follow the in and outs of the journey of the play: "a synthesis of inner and outer worlds." In this experience, ignorance of Queen Christina's life is not bliss.

On top of the textual problems that Ms Ruohonen gives us, Ms Gaul gives a brilliantly conceived production full of a wonderfully imaginative theatrical vocabulary both in styles and gestures. The production "is conveyed through movement, music, the use of puppetry, and live multimedia". It is dense with "a constantly and rigorously inventive production ". (SMH -Stephen Dunne, 1st Dec.)" The Set and Costume design (Kate Shanahan) is wondrously invented and dexterously executed. The statements in the costume design providing a cornocopia of invitation for the audience to metaphorically solve. The multi set changes are swift, and on the night I saw it, flawless, in the transitions. The Lighting Design (Verity Hampson) is as usual both exciting and sympathetic to the action of the play. Most stimulating and arresting of all is the Composition and Sound design (Daryl Wallis). This is a very extensive and inventive score. Beautiful and supportive to the production. I don't think there is a moment in the performance where the sound is not creatively present. Again in other notes we are told "The play is surreal."

Well, then why doesn't it work in the theatre?

For my guest and I, in the theatre, this was truly a surreal experience. For without a knowledge of Christina's history, the text is a mystery of poetic weaving. The production compounds the number of dilemmas that we had in participating in the experience - too much to deal with. Surreal, in that the production and play seems to be "the expression of imagination uncontrolled by reason,and seeking to suggest the activities of the unconscious". (Like Strindberg's A DREAM PLAY.) QUEEN C needs a factual reality for us to begin the journey in this production. This does not happen.

However, neither the writing nor the production would have been impenetrable if the performers had been up to the demands of the work. None of the actors have the vocal or physical skills to express the complexity of the ideas/narrative of the text or really meet the demands of the director's super structure. All these actors seem to me to be way out of there depth. Viva Blanca and Natalia Ladyko represent the masculine and feminine elements of the queen. They exist on stage, beside each other, all of the play. Viva Blanca as the male - suited Christina has most of the responsibility. Unfortunately, Ms Blanca has neither the vocal flexibility in the sound of her instrument or the ease to use that instrument in expressing the language and arguments of the character: it is a blather of unpleasant noise with no real intellectual arc in the speech's dramaturgy. Co-herency textually is a hit and miss experience, it is mostly miss. Physically, the choice is mostly hands in the pockets swagger. Ms Ladyko has less to do and say and comes off best of the two queens. Nicole da Silva gives the most coherent performance. But what does the cross gender casting of Ona Nurkkala as Descartes set out to achieve? (Other than to give the actress something to act.) Descartes comes out of this production as a naughty ill child. If this play is only "an adult fairytale" then this may be acceptable but I suspect it is something more. Genevieve Mooy, an actress I generally admire, was unable to keep the play afloat by herself and then was tempted, and transgressed into some over the top gestures that just did not become comprehensible. All the men in the cast were inadequate in their roles. One seemed to be superfluous! All the actors are "enthusiasts", admirable in that way but not expert enough to tackle this work. It seems to be a case where the producers of this production in the casting of the work have made some errors of judgment. A case of "vaulting ambition oér leaping itself to fall on the other side." (Although there is a teasing note in the Sydney Star Observer pre-publicity article that intimates, perhaps, that even in Europe this play has mystified audiences.)

The historic figure of Queen Christina has indeed become "an icon for feminists and gay and lesbian artists." Christina was educated as a Royal Prince, heir to the throne of Sweden, and brought up to lead an army, and the dilemma of an educated thinker and a powerful woman in the Seventeenth century, led Christina to abdicate and pursue a life of intellectual enlightenment across Europe, ending in Rome. Her sense of her own sexuality was controversially and publicly explored by her, and because of who she was, left relatively immune to the period consequences. (Death.) The 1977 play, QUEEN CHRISTINA by Pam Gems, deals with her history in a much more co-herent and (then) contemporary way. (1977 feminism: duty versus biological urges). The pre-occupation of Gems in the using the life of Christina is different in emphasis to Ruohonen and is still, well worth reading, even today.

For those of you who have never seen the Greta Garbo film it is a must. In today's terms it is a fairly silly romantic melodrama, but Miss Garbo and her director (Rouben Mamoulian )were very intelligent subversives and one can read through "coded" acting some glimmers of the true story of the Queen's disposition and dilemma. (Besides there are some very famous moments of screen acting history that you CAN savour, especially the long last lingering shot of Garbo sailing from her homeland after her abdication.) There is also another film called THE ABDICATION with Liv Ullman as the Queen. With these experiences QUEEN C might be more penetrable for you. But I had all of these and a recent bio-graphy in my memory and failed to grasp the play.

It is a vital contribution by these two companies Sauna Productions and inc.studios to choose and introduce new writers to the Australian audiences. There mission being Nordic writers. However the responsibility of doing the writer justice is as equally vital. Ms Ruohonen remains a mystery to me.

The inventive direction of Ms Gaul still leaves me curious as to what she will do with her own company's (Siren Theatre Company) production of RICHARD 111 at Carriageworks in May, 2009.

Take your own chance. Mr Dunne in the SMH enjoyed it. So might you.......

This is a Co-Op production.

Playing now until 21 December. Book online or call 02 9699 3444.

Thursday, December 4, 2008



This play was presented last year in the B Sharp Season 2007 . The creative team in all departments are the same, so there has been a year to let this work mature. It was remarkable then, it still is. This is a very exciting and interesting new Australian play and playwright.

The experience of the play is much like a psychological thriller where the chronological order of the events have been jigsawed and sorted, you are invited in to detect your way through the clues of the 13 scenes. It is a roller coaster of emotional trauma. A trauma has occurred and what we are witnessing are the probable events that led to it and the subsequent stress of the aftermath. Three of the characters are dealing with post traumatic revelations, each of them having a very emotional and personal point of view. All three characters demand our empathy and woo us to appreciate their belief of the events. As an audience member one is puzzled, confronted, led to “judgements”, which then, one, in the next scene, may be forced to re-assess and alter.

The writing (Nicki Bloom) is very impressive, both in its construction and in its handling of the dramatic dialogue. My impression last year was of a very poetic and unique voice. Some times the poet in the writer may be just a little too evident (“Transparent.” “ Translucent.” “Luminous.” I thought I might go crazy if I hear those words repeated again.) but the overall affect is of a writer in relative control of both the language and the narrative. It is refreshing to hear the confidence of this young writer been mouthed by these actors who obviously relish the text and the “glorious” task they have been given.

The direction (Geordie Brookman) is detailed and in control. The clues are subtle and the exposition of the characters dilemmas are clearly delineated. Like the writing, it is very impressive. The other elements of this production the Set and Costume design (Pip Runciman), the Lighting (Matt Cox), and the Sound design (Fergus Brown and Holly Austin) are all discreetly and appropriately handled by Mr Brookman. Simple and unobtrusive. Aesthetically pleasing and constructive to the whole of the production solution.

The performances are generally good. The two women characters are particularly outstandingly written and played. The wife, Sarah (Kate Box) is played with a masterly sense of the whole arc of the journey well under a craftsman’s control. The performance has the breathless sense (most of the time) of being experienced anew in front of your eyes. It is contemporary acting at a most breathless reality, (one holds one’s breath in anticipation of the next possibility), a sense that it is happening for the first time in front of your eyes: NOW. The technical feats of the vocal work are admirable: the use of both volume and pitch to guide you through the delicacies of the sometimes heightened poetic reality of the writing are marvellous. It is powerful in its whole affect. The mother figure, Yvonne (Heather Mitchell) is played with great emotional wallop. One is slightly overwhelmed at first at the “histrionic” emotional entrance that the actress brings right at the beginning of the revelation of the character, but as each scene unfolds the careful and sensitive artistry of thought through choices eases the first uncertain response that I had to the acting. This performance has most certainly deepened since last year’s original outing. For me, it is interesting to observe the generational differences to acting that these two actresses have to their work. The quietly evolving acceptable expression of how to tell the story is, if you watch closely subtly different. Both are wonderful but the results are contrasted delicately, significantly. One is listen, receive, respond. The other is in action, gently and expressively, all the time. One is more cinematic than the other. One is more theatrical than the other. If you look at a film like PICNIC one can see the evolution of acting for screen in front of your eyes, starkly. On one extreme, you can witness Rosalind Russell giving a “theatrically “ histrionic “chew the scenery” style of performance, in contrast to the Strasberg “method” of Kim Novak, where it seems little is happening, it is all sub-textual. (Arguably). Bridging these two contrasts is William Holden utilising both approaches as required. Here is a history lesson in acting styles and evolution captured in the time capsule of a Hollywood film. I reckon you can see it here in these two remarkable performances in TENDER.

The son (Darren Weller) is played well and is certainly more accurate than I remember it last year. The Father figure (Pip Miller) is the least satisfying. His performance has a kind of technical proficiency that gives one only a generalized emotional understanding of the character’s journey and it results in the text, the poetry of the script been “sung” for affect instead of been imbued with the moment to moment experiencing of truth. It sounds contrived and in contrast to the other performances old fashioned. It makes no other demand of you but to, perhaps, admire the acting, instead of sharing the greatly human dilemma of the man. The great tragedy of a man who has not experienced honest love, who may have had a lifetime of unrequited agony. Here too, then, is an observation of the evolving art of the kinds of acting that were once pleasing and now, maybe because of our cultural intimacy to truthful acting through film and television acting, are now just quaintly unbelievable.

All in all, however, this is a very pleasing night in the theatre. Nicki Bloom is a writer worth nurturing and following. Geordie Brookman is a very accomplished young director. Ms Box is scintillating to observe alongside the burnished skills of Ms Mitchell. An abundance of reasons to attend, and more than one usually receives in one performance.

It needs to be said: Just another worthwhile experience at the wonderfully curated and produced projects from the Griffin Theatre Company in 2008. It deserves it’s increased funding support from the Australia Council. Hard and discerning work rewarded. An enviable record of consistent achievement.

Playing now until 20 December. Book online or call 1300 306 77.