5 Questions with Michael Cutrupi

michaelcutrupiWhat is your favourite swear word?
A tie between Cunt Face and Fuck Knuckle.

What are you wearing?
Right now… not much in the throws of dressing for the day, I think. A dark green jean and French striped top.

What is love?
“Oh baby don’t hurt me anymore.” Love is understanding, passion and knowing when to shut up.

What was the last show you saw, and how many stars do you give it?
Penny Plain by Ronnie Burkett in Geelong, Vic. I give it 5 stars; a beautiful one-man marionette show about the end of the world. It was stunning.

Is your new show going to be any good?
Good? No! It will be great. 4 of the funniest men in speedos in a drained swimming pool speaking the words of one of the world’s contemporary theatre masters, Enda Walsh.

Michael Cutrupi is stage manager for Penelope.
Show dates: 12 Sep – 6 Oct, 2013
Show venue: TAP Gallery

5 Questions with Meg Biggs

megbiggsWhat is your favourite swear word?
I grew up in a family where my mother and her sisters would replace swear words with “jolly” which works rather well.

What are you wearing?
My costume… double denim!

What is love?
I could go on forever on this topic but put simply: love is unconditional and unwavering.

What was the last show you saw, and how many stars do you give it?
Rosencrantz And Guildenstern Are Dead at STC. It was fabulous, I’d give it 4.5 🙂

Is your new show going to be any good?
Fame is going to be more than good 😉 We have such a vocally strong fluro and denim-clan cast who will have you dancing in your seat for days after!


Meg Biggs stars as Grace “Lambchops” Lamb in Fame: The Musical.
Show dates: 2 – 5 Oct, 2013
Show venue: Pymble Ladies College

The Hardest Part Of Love (New Theatre)

thehardestpartofloveVenue: New Theatre (Newtown NSW), Sep 24 – 28, 2013
Director: Aaron Robuck
Choreographer: Aaron Robuck
Writer: Aaron Robuck
Musical Director: Gavin Lockley
Performers: Aaron Robuck, Leah Simmons, Gary Robuck

Theatre review
Aaron Robuck is an extraordinarily talented young man with big ambitions. The Hardest Part Of Love sees him stretch his abilities to the limit, working as producer, writer, director and choreographer, in addition to being the only lead performer in his show. Robuck has good charisma and timing, and has no problems connecting with his audience. His impressively powerful singing voice comes across as his strongest asset, but it eclipses the other elements in the show that can appear pale by comparison.

The ensemble of back up dancers and singers are accomplished, but they are not always incorporated well. They are effective in the comedy sections, but at other points, their presence is not always necessary and can expose the weakness in Robuck’s choreography. The story is a very personal one, and Robuck’s performance abilities are more than enough for him to put up a great show without too much razzle dazzle. It would be interesting also, if a director was appointed to lend some objectivity and to focus Robuck’s talents to greater effect.

Religion plays a big part of Robuck’s story and it is responsible for a lot of the show’s success. It adds colour and idiosyncrasy, providing unusual insight and gives an interesting voice to an otherwise conventional coming-of-age story. Ultimately, the fundamental joy in this production is Aaron Robuck’s singing, and some editing to the staging would have elevated it to something even more spectacular.


Inspiration Porn (New Theatre)

rsz_24_inspiration_pornVenue: New Theatre (Newtown NSW), Sep 26 – 28, 2013
Performers: Hayley Flowers, Kiruna Stamell, Damien Noyce, James Cunningham, Josphine Lancuba, Asphyxia
Image by Jeff Tan

Theatre review
Inspiration Porn features six different acts presenting their individual works. Their common thread is the idea of inspiration, and what results is a moving night at the theatre.

Kiruna Stamell’s Coffee & Sheep is mainly physical theatre, although there are monologual elements. She also uses burlesque in her act, as well as a good dose of absurdity, which all adds up to a form of performance that resists categorisation. Stamell is simultaneously funny and serious, and the audience is never too sure whether a message exists in her work. What is certain though, is the irresistible magnetism of this performer, and the effectiveness of her work. She keeps you enthralled, bewildered, and wanting more. Stamell is the kind of artist that cultivates a loyal following, a natural star.

James Cunningham presents a highly unusual dance routine based around the loss of the use of his left arm. He also demonstrates an exercise involving a mirror that helps him negotiate his new physicality. Almost creating an illusion of symmetry using his functioning arm, Cunningham talks us through the process and we are thoroughly transfixed. In his presentation, we witness the strength of spirit that has been awoken by his unfortunate accident.

Finally, we are served an extract from The Grimstones, a gothic marionette performance that is truly sublime. These wooden characters by artist Asphyxia, possess a kind of hyper-reality and they convey emotions that no real actor can. Their story is simple but due to the way their world has been constructed and presented, every gesture they make becomes deeply touching. Even though their world is far removed from our daily lives, there is a sense of authenticity that connects with us, and we feel the puppet masters earnestly tugging at our heartstrings.


Fully Committed (Brevity Theatre)

fullycommittedVenue: New Theatre (Newtown NSW), Sep 26 – 28, 2013
Writer: Becky Mode
Director: Alexander Butt
Actor: Nick Curnow

Theatre review
This work is a vehicle for showcasing the talents of actor Nick Curnow, and the incredible versatility of his voice. The main character is Sam, who works in a windowless basement office, but he speaks to forty different characters on phones and intercom, and all are played memorably by Curnow. The experience of watching this production feels as though at a magic show, where the audience is kept fascinated, amused and gobsmacked for the entire duration.

The actor switches characters at lightning speed, and we marvel at his ability in portraying such an astounding range of people, as well as his extraordinary memory, which in the absence of other actors, is the only thing he can rely on. Like an athlete on stage, we admire the skill, technique and sheer hard work he has obviously put in for this production.

A strong feature of the show is the relentless air of frenzy that permeates it. Most of the characters are on edge, upset, or nervous, and the sense of urgency and tension is created very well by the actor and his director Alexander Butt. There are, however, a few comic moments that seem to have been sacrificed for the sake of speed and excitement. The script’s humour might have been more fully realised if the intensity of the piece is allowed to slightly relax at times.

It is noteworthy that the sound cues in this staging are crucial to the plot, and they are beautifully executed. One could imagine the sound booth being as intense as the action on stage with the incessant rings, beeps and buzzes that need to be produced perfectly in order for the play to work. This is entertaining, impressive and exciting theatre, with an actor who is perfectly cast. The next performer who takes on the show faces an onerous task, as it is difficult to imagine anyone possibly doing a better job of it.


The Sexual Awakening Of Virginia Poppycock (Seymour Centre)

virginiapoppycock1Venue: Reginald Theatre, Seymour Centre (Sydney NSW), Sep 25 – 28, 2013
Playwright: Elena Gabrielle
Director: Carl Whiteside
Performers: Elena Gabrielle, Marco Fusco
Image by 3 Fates Media

Theatre review
Virginia Poppycock is very keen to lose her virginity. Describing her as frustrated would be a gross understatement, but fortunately for us, that frustration manifests itself in a series of uproariously funny songs that come together wonderfully in a cabaret style comedy musical.

Elena Gabrielle is the star of the show, and her performance is a real joy to behold. Her supreme confidence and passion for the stage is met with a stunning singing voice and a keen sense of comic timing, giving rise to a giddily funny show full of entertainment. This is a brave performance that requires the performer to be in contact with the audience constantly, and it is that rapport she is able to maintain that keeps us amused and fascinated. Her counterpart Marco Fusco plays Richard “Dick” Scrotumsberry III, with less effectiveness, but he brings a thoroughly enjoyable campness and has great chemistry with his leading lady. They are a convincing couple but Gabrielle’ energy is difficult to match and there is a sense of unbalance at certain points.

Carl Whiteside directs every number with flair and brilliant humour. Each song is thoroughly choreographed so that no comic opportunities are missed. The overall structure of the show, however, has some imperfections. It starts with a bang, but slightly weakens halfway through, and the conclusion appears somewhat suddenly. Keeping in spirit with the theme of the musical, one would hope instead for a slower build, leading to a grand explosion at the end. Nevertheless, Virginia Poppycock is a delightful character who will speak to audiences everywhere, and Elena Gabrielle’s performance in that role is truly outstanding and should not be missed.


Craig Annis: Nanna’s Boy (Bedlam Bar)

rsz_craigannis1Venue: Bedlam Bar (Glebe NSW), Sep 25 – 27, 2013

Theatre review
Due to the recent loss of Craig Annis’ grandmother, he wisely chose to steer his show Nanna’s Boy away from its original concept, and move it towards a more general style of stand up comedy. The short sequence where he does talk about his grandmother, is beautiful and strong, but it is evident that the performer is not ready to delve too heavily into that emotional space. The rest of the material though, varies in effectiveness, and does not always deliver the best results. It is fortunate then that Annis is an excellent performer, and his natural talents easily makeup for a few shortfalls in the writing.

Annis’ greatest strengths are his charm and energy. He is easily buoyed when the audience responses well, and never falters when a punchline misses the mark. The enthusiasm for his work is highly infectious, and that is half the battle won. Most memorable moments include a hilarious impersonation of comedy celebrity Dave Hughes (with a French twist) and a very amusing interchange with a puppet that involves inter-species affection. Nanna’s Boy may not have a perfect selection of jokes, but his grandmother would be very proud indeed of Annis’ skills at telling them.


5 Questions with Rosane McNamara

rosanemcnamaraWhat is your favourite swear word?
I love the sound of “bollocks” and “bugger” but nothing beats the pithiness of good old reliable “fuck”.

What are you wearing?
Purple. No surprises there.

What is love?
Beats me!

What was the last show you saw, and how many stars do you give it?
Jerusalem. 5 out of 5. It was as good as theatre gets anywhere.

Is your new show going to be any good?
Has anyone ever said here that their show was going to be rubbish? Of course Hay Fever is going to be a grand show.

Rosane McNamara is directing Hay Fever, by Noel Coward.
Show dates: 8 Oct – 2 Nov, 2013
Show venue: New Theatre

5 Questions with Vivian Tselios

viviantseliosWhat is your favourite swear word?
Fuckstick, cos it’s a weapon of mass destruction.

What are you wearing?
Let me set the scene first – It’s 3pm, I’m home alone…..and….. I’m typing up my thesis on my laptop.

Mismatched house tracksuit, fluffy hooded robe, and a new pair of black & white sandals I bought last summer, which I’ve never worn before (there’s hope for me yet).

What is love?
The beginning and the end of everything.

What was the last show you saw, and how many stars do you give it?
Rosencrantz And Guildenstern Are Dead at STC. 4 stars.

Is your new show going to be any good?
Is it?! It is!

Vivian Tselios is directing Family Voices, by Harold Pinter.
Show dates: 2 – 6 Oct, 2013
Show venue: University of Notre Dame Theatre Space

Sure Thing (Walking Moose Theatre Co)

surething1Venue: TAP Gallery (Darlinghurst NSW), Sep 11 – 29, 2013
Playwright: David Ives
Director: Raf Nazario
Actors: Steven Corner, Lisa Fletcher

Theatre review
Sure Thing is a very short play, running approximately 15 minutes, but it is marvellous. Certainly, “a quick game is a good game”, but this production also demonstrates that great writing and great performances can provide as much satisfaction as any two hour piece. David Ives’ writing is superb, and the condensation of time in the play creates a structure which ensures that every moment packs punches.

Raf Nazario’s direction shows a thorough engagement with the text. His insistence in working with the most minute of nuances creates a sense of multi-dimensionality that quickly draws the audience in and keeps us involved to the end. Things move quickly, but nothing feels rushed. Humour and cultural references are allowed their flashes of brilliance, and we relish them all.

Lisa Fletcher plays Betty, the straight man in this comedic two-hander. The audience identifies with her authenticity and she provides an anchor to the script’s frenzy. Steve Corner’s performance as Bill is magnificent. He plays a character that manifests in many different forms, with what seems like a hundred faces and voices, all compelling and charming. There is always a sense of joyous play in his work, and also a focus that is intense but never laboured. He plays his jokes on many levels, but whether subtle, obscure or hammy, Corner shows himself to be a rivetingly funny actor… and this little quickie leaves us pleasantly surprised and delightfully sated.