Colony (TAP Gallery)

colony1Venue: TAP Gallery (Darlinghurst NSW), Sep 24 – 29, 2013
Playwrights: Kate Dunn, Oliver Featherston
Director: Lucinda Vitek
Actors: Linda Ngo, Davey Friedman, Ian Ferrington

Theatre review
Three people take a voluntary one-way journey from Earth to Mars. This simple premise opens up countless questions, themes, ideas, and scenarios, and Colony does well in exploring a wide range of these concepts. It is a script that does not shy away from complexities, but also prevents itself from over-thinking and becoming too abstract. It is a strong script with interesting characters that consistently fascinate, and succeeds in bringing the science fiction genre to a minimal stage.

This is a production that relies heavily on its actors. Atmospherics are crucial in this genre piece, and in the absence of more substantial sound design, the players are required to create a sense of mystery, foreboding and tension but they only succeed occasionally. Linda Ngo is slight in stature but her presence is strongest in the cast. There is an element of daring to her performance that is alluring, and she provides a necessary dimension of levity to the earlier scenes. Davey Friedman brings the drama, and gives the most polished performance to the play. His character development is distinct and we are captivated by the way his role transforms through the course of the show.

The production begins well, and ends impressively. Director Lucinda Vitek does a wonderful job in handling the surreal turn later in the story, and all the explosive action as the end approaches. It is unfortunate that the tightness and urgency does not appear earlier. There are scenes in the middle that could benefit from being more lively; perhaps some editing would help in achieving greater tension. Nevertheless, this is an interesting work with intriguing concepts and an entertaining story that would appeal to theatre-goers everywhere.

5 Questions with Diana Popovska

dianapopovskaWhat is your favourite swear word?

What are you wearing?
Black high waisted skinny jeans, a black football jersey and black creepers.

What is love?
I’ve come to realize that love is loving someone without placing conditions or expectations on that love. It is the ultimate state of being present, where you abandon all your blissful dreamers notions and hopes of permanence, but rather, appreciate what you have now.

What was the last show you saw, and how many stars do you give it?
Rosencrantz And Guildenstern Are Dead. I give it 3.5 out of 5.

Is your new show going to be any good?
Good is boring. Our show, Penelope, is going to be fantastic!

Diana Popovska is assistant director of Penelope.
Show dates: 12 Sep – 6 Oct, 2013
Show venue: TAP Gallery

Narrow As The Line (King Street Theatre)

narrowastheline1Venue: King Street Theatre (Newtown NSW), Sep 24 – 29, 2013
Playwright: N. Gregory Finger
Director: N. Gregory Finger
Actors: Nicholas Richard, Sydney Abba, Logan McArthur, Ryan Knight, Daniel Hunter, Brendan Paul

Theatre review
Narrow As The Line is a clever and entertaining work set against the backdrop of war and destruction. N. Gregory Finger’s script is witty, thoughtful and intelligent. Its structure is simple and efficient, which allows for creative space on stage. Characters are interesting, although speech patterns could have been written more differentiated for greater distinction between personality types.

The actors are youthful and committed, with some displaying good skill and potential. Nicholas Richard shines in the role of Lieutenant Parsons, delivering a strong performance that anchors the production, giving it a sense of sure-footed solidness. Sydney Abba takes on the comic role of Colonel McGrath, delighting at every entrance. She connects well with the audience, and creates the most memorable character in the play. In general however, the cast plays the show too naturalistic. There is a good dose of absurdity in the script but the actors tend to underplay their scenes, attempting instead for believability and misses an opportunity for more heightened satire.

This is an impressive production that showcases young talent and a very smart script. The prominence of the writing does however, encourage the desire for a team of more experienced actors, and more adventurous direction. It is evident that a more dynamic show can be created from Finger’s words but as far as baby steps go, this is a monumental one.

5 Questions with Aaron Robuck

aaronrobuckWhat is your favourite swear word?
As a child raised by Spongebob Squarepaints and Patrick Star, my favourite phrase in times of frustration is ‘Tartare Sauce’. I also really like Tartare Sauce.

What are you wearing?
Clothes (this is a fairly big thing for me).

What is love?
Love is a river that drowns the tender reed. At least that’s what some say.

What was the last show you saw, and how many stars do you give it?
Last show I saw was Lifeforce at King St Theatre by Joanna Weinberg. 4 out of 5.

Is your new show going to be any good?
I’m going to go with yes. It’s gonna be great!

Aaron Robuck is director, choreographer, writer and star of The Hardest Part of Love, part of Sydney Fringe 2013.
Show dates: 24 – 28 Sep, 2013
Show venue: New Theatre

5 Questions with Nick Curnow

nickcurnowWhat is your favourite swear word?
I’m quite partial to “zounds.” But I mostly use the ol’ faithful fuck.

What are you wearing?
A smile. Also jeans, t-shirt from MonsterThreads in Newtown and colourful Bucketfeet sneakers.

What is love?
Love is blindness – I don’t want to see. Won’t you wrap the night around me? Well that’s what U2 said, but I prefer the cover by Cassandra Wilson.

What was the last show you saw, and how many stars do you give it?
Angels In America: Part 2. Five stars, absolutely. Stellar cast in a wonderfully realised production. Gave me shivers.

Is your new show going to be any good?
It’s going to be brilliant – it’s been a long time coming! I first saw the play performed about 10 years ago and it’s been percolating at the back of my mind ever since. Really happy to finally be bringing it to life with director Alexander Butt.

Nick Curnow is star of Fully Committed, part of Sydney Fringe 2013.
Show dates: 26 – 28 Sep, 2013
Show venue: New Theatre

Update: The show is revived at The Old Fitzroy, 24 Feb – 1 Mar, 2014.

5 Questions with Briana Bluebell

Briana-Bluebell-by-LadyphotoWhat is your favourite swear word?
Puck (F**k in the version of summer heights high)

What are you wearing?
Black. It’s chic.

What is love?
A life long devotion where you will do anything for that person. Love is giving and selfless.

What was the last show you saw, and how many stars do you give it?
Australia Burlesque Festival, 4 out of 5.

Is your new show going to be any good?
Not good, great! I’ve never had a flop yet!!




Briana Bluebell is starring in Noir et d’Or (BlaknGold Cabaret), part of Sydney Fringe 2013.
Show dates: 26 Sep, 2013
Show venue: Slide

In Between Days (King Street Theatre)

inbetweendays1Venue: King Street Theatre (Newtown NSW), Sep 21 & 28, 2013
Playwright: Leanne Mangan
Musical Director: Cassady Maddox
Actors: Leanne Mangan, Cassady Maddox, Josh Shipton

Theatre review
In Between Days is an example of the kinds of alternative voices that can appear in the Sydney Fringe Festival. The stage opens with a poster of The Cure’s Robert Smith dominating its backdrop, and he stays in position overlooking proceedings in this musical. 2 women share a home and a penchant for the goth aesthetic. They do not explicitly discuss the nature of the subculture of which they belong, but it is inscribed upon their being, and also in the music selection of this production.

The women’s singing are the absolute highlight of the show. Their voices are pleasant and occasional harmonies are always tight and beautiful. Accompaniment is simple, usually only with an acoustic guitar, but the arrangements are perfect for the small venue. Song choices are appropriate for the story, and all tend to be very melodic, which ensures immediate appeal.

Stand-out performance of the production belongs to Josh Shipton, who displays more experience than the other players. His character Johnno delivers the laughs, and endears himself quickly to the audience. The writing does not give any of the actors much to work with, but Shipton is able to turn his moments into brief instances of magic.…

Skazka: Told By Night (Scarecrow Theatre)

skazka1Venue: New Theatre (Newtown NSW), Sep 18 – 28, 2013
Dramaturg: Finn Davis
Director: Jonathan Dunk
Actors: Zerrin Craig-Adams, Finn Davis, Jonathan Dunk, Lucinda Howes, Caitlin West, Jem Rowe

Theatre review
Sometimes a quiet revolution takes place, and it creeps up on you in the darkness of the theatre and taps you on your shoulder. Scarecrow Theatre’s show in this year’s Sydney Fringe is so utterly original that it makes you feels like you had been hiding under a rock, while a group of youngsters were out creating something so beyond expectation and convention, that when you encounter it for the first time, you get the sense that the times, well, they are a-changin’.

Skazka: Told By Night is a work that springboards from real and imagined folk tales, and uses them to explore the space between form and content in the theatre. These six performers have created a visual piece with an emphasis on physicality and movement rather than dance. Also important are the sounds they create with speech and song, but the relationship between what we see and what we hear is not always of a logical coherence. There is however, a powerful consistency in a certain melancholy and beauty, which the six actors achieve with an amazing uniformity in their style of performance. This group demonstrates a chemistry so intense and deep, that they feel almost like a singular idiosyncratic organism, all pulsating with a common heartbeat. It is an unusual language they share, and we read them with fascination and awe.

Sets, props, and lighting are used minimally, and the only sounds we hear are from the actors. Yet, the show is mesmerising. It puts you in a strange state of trance, where you are absorbed into the activity on stage, and stop thinking. It is a kind of meditation that takes place, and a stillness that is experienced, even while fighting, tears and death are on show. It also bolsters your imagination. We effortlessly create in our minds, menacing forests and bitterly cold lakes around the actors. All dark, and all beautiful.

Art rewards those who choose to travel the road not taken. We live in an age of post-modern fatigue that no longer believes in originality, but in Skazka, something fresh and radical is created, and we fall into its spell of dreamy night stories.…

Slutterati (New Theatre)

slutterati1Venue: New Theatre (Newtown NSW), Sep 19 – 23, 2013
Writer: Michael Gottsche
Director: Louise Fischer
Actors: Matt Charleston, Rebecca Clay, Amy Fisher, Jorjia Gillis, Kate Skinner, Stephen Wilkinson

Theatre review
The title of the piece evokes the modern phenomenon of celebrity and glitterati that is less about a glamorous “smart set”, and more about the sleazy, cheap, and vacuous “content generators” of news and media. It is also about the rise and rise of gossip in the media landscape, and its perverse pervasiveness in our daily lives.

Michael Gottsche’s script begins with the familiar story of a sporting celebrity in the limelight for less than dignified reasons. We are introduced to the stereotypes: an ex-Olympian, an aspiring d-list actor, 2 media spin doctors,  a tabloid journalist; and the story unfolds like an amalgamation of the many scandals that have surfaced in recent times, of which none were of great consequence to the public. Slutterati discusses how “news” is created, that it is generated by commercial interest rather than a straightforward reporting of important events.

Rebecca Clay plays Talia-Jayne, the commercial television personality who presents herself as a journalist. Clay successfully portrays the dichotomy of misplaced self-importance with a good dose of low-life wretchedness. It is a thoroughly enjoyable performance that is convincing, but also knowingly tinged with camp commentary. She looks every bit the part, but we revel in the actor’s awareness of her character’s absurdity.

Stephen Wilkinson as Clark, the shady talent manager, provides the play’s most dramatic moments. His vigour creates a tautness to the drama, and scenes without his energetic presence tend to come across less focused. Wilkinson has a knack for introducing urgency to the plot, as well as the crucial sense that the stakes are high, so that the audience’s attention is tightly gripped.

The play comprises many quick scenes, and this is problematic for the live stage. Time and space change often and these sometimes occur inelegantly. However, the story is told with clarity and the plot structure is strong. Our interest in the characters grow, and we invest emotionally in their experiences. This is a critique of Australian media, and although it does not propose alternative strategies, the statement it makes is valid and timely.

5 Questions with Craig Annis

craigannisWhat is your favourite swear word?
I can’t usually swear in my day job BUT the best non-swear word I ever heard was a guy I knew who said the word ‘crumb’ as an expletive when he got killed in Call Of Duty. Try it, it’s the funniest thing ever!

What are you wearing?
Oh, behave! If I’m being COMPLETELY honest – my gym gear, just got back from a workout. I should have made that sound sexier… I’m wearing whatever Ryan Gosling was wearing in that movie when everyone thought he was at his sexiest. You should totally imagine his body with my head on it.

What is love?
I think this link explains it best… God Bless Haddaway!

What was the last show you saw, and how many stars do you give it?
Hmmmmm… are bands included? If so, The Lazy’s were truly FANTASTIC. They’re an Aussie Gen Y rock band who are so FREAKING AWESOME that Eddie McGuire once stopped in a laneway to listen to them and then got them on his radio show the next morning. I’ll be lucky enough to walk on stage to one of their tracks each night!

Is your new show going to be any good?
I can’t answer that! I’ll sound like a wanker… BUT it does have the BEST punchline I’ve ever written in it. When the comedy gods delivered it to me I had to pull over. Which was awkward, because I was on the Harbour Bridge and apparently traffic cops don’t have the same sense of humour. In short, my show’s a heartfelt celebration of life. It’s fun, thoughtful and involves an encore with a puppet that you never thought possible!

Craig Annis is appearing in Nanna’s Boy, part of Sydney Fringe 2013.
Show dates: 25 – 27 Sep, 2013
Show venue: Bedlam Bar