Bodytorque.Technique (The Australian Ballet)

bodytorqueVenue: Sydney Theatre at Walsh Bay (Sydney NSW), Oct 31 – Nov 3, 2013
Choreographers: Joshua Consadine, Halania Hills, Richard House, Ty King-Wall, Ben Stuart-Carberry, Alice Topp
Image by Branco Gaica

Theatre review
The Bodytorque seasons by The Australian Ballet feature works by emerging choreographers, and this year the company presents six excellent and diverse pieces. There is an emphasis on the idea of technique this season, and these young artists have all brought to the event their individual perspectives, which are distinct, confident, and strong.

Alice Topp’s Tinted Windows is modern and romantic, with an immense sensuality that is quite overwhelming. It conveys romance so effectively, proving that narrative storytelling is no match for dance forms when appealing to those emotions of longing and intimacy.

Finding The Calm by Richard House is memorable for its theatrical sensibility, juxtaposing stillness with dance to create poignantly moving moments. Some of the shapes he creates in various pas de deux are surprising, and deeply affecting in a way that only flesh on flesh connection can communicate.

In Polymorphia, Benjamin Stuart-Carberry focuses on the beauty of movement, as well as of the human body. It is the perfect commencement to the night’s program, and is immediately arresting and captivating.

The dancers are of course, divine. Vivienne Wong exudes extraordinary aura from every pore; she is a real star of the evening. Jarryd Madden has the rare ability to create dramatic tension in his dance, with minimal reliance on facial expression. Chengwu Guo’s athleticism and the uniqueness of his discipline allows him to stand out, and his abilities are showcased perfectly in Ty King-Wall’s The Art Of War.

This is a breathtaking night at the theatre. Some of the music is performed live, and listening to these emotive and sometimes euphoric classical compositions is a truly special experience. The same euphoria is delivered time and time again through each choreographer’s work, all varied but all accomplished. Ballet is not always for everyone, but this program has wide appeal, and it is hard to imagine anyone able to resist the unquestionable genius of these artistic triumphs.

Spoil Your Love Life (The Newsagency)

spoilVenue: The Newsagency (Marrickville NSW), Oct 29 – Nov 9, 2013
Performer and devisor: Michelle Pastor
Musical director: Alison Avron

Theatre review
Michelle Pastor and her show Spoil Your Love Life are above all else, quirky. Pastor’s brand of endearing silliness is amplified in one of the smallest venues in Sydney, The Newsagency. This 40-minute comedy cabaret piece is not the most ambitious of creations, and it springs forth from the simplest of premises, but “small theatre” like this can certainly amuse and entertain.

Pastor is a performer with great conviction and natural charm. The songs for her show are well-chosen, and Alison Avron’s arrangements are pleasantly structured. Pastor has some tuning issues that are exposed by the intimacy of the room, but her phrasing is strong, and she uses the songs well to tell her character Hanna’s story.

Hannah has a deep infatuation for movie star Hugh Jackman, and the glitzy Hollywood lifestyle he represents. The elusiveness of “the big time” is a theme of the show, but it is a comforting idea that emerging Australian theatre practitioners like Pastor are able to showcase their work, irrespective of clout or stardom.

5 Questions with Charlie Hanson

charliehansonWhat is your favourite swear word?
I’m very fond of fuck-face, especially as a term of endearment.

What are you wearing?
No shoes. I very much like not wearing shoes. One of my favourite things about living in Australia is that this is an acceptable lifestyle choice.

What is love?
Perseverance, compromise and cups of tea.

What was the last show you saw, and how many stars do you give it?
Jerusalem at the New Theatre. 4 stars.

Is your new show going to be any good?
Yes, yes it is.

Charlie Hanson is appearing in Triune.
Show dates: 22 Nov – 7 Dec, 2013
Show venue: TAP Gallery

5 Questions with Trevor Ashley

trevorashleyWhat is your favourite swear word?
Cunt. I think it’s also my favourite word.

What are you wearing?
Currently, my pyjamas. But then it is early morning, being 11.30am. I’m not an early riser.

What is love?
Love is inconvenient. Usually because I find myself falling for the wrong person. He’s always unavailable in some way or another. But then again – so am I!

What was the last show you saw, and how many stars do you give it?
I saw Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. I give it 5 stars – it was one of the best musical theatre pieces I’ve ever seen. Funny and witty.

Is your new show going to be any good?
Well I’ve done it before, and it was pretty good last time… It’s a big barrel of laughs and spectacular costumes!

Trevor Ashley is starring in Star Struck.
Show dates: 8 Nov, 2013
Show venue: The Star Event Centre

5 Questions with Peter Hayes

peterhayesWhat is your favourite swear word?
That would be the F-word I repeated loud and long and clear when I was knocked off my bicycle last Friday.

What are you wearing?
A white shirt and jeans.

What is love?
Much considered in Shakespeare’s Sonnets and seems crucially to depend on many precarious variables.

What was the last show you saw, and how many stars do you give it?
The Good The Bad And The Lawyer with a star to each actor for a five star show.

Is your new show going to be any good?
The writing is very good and Bryan Andrews knows what he is doing so what could possibly go wrong?

Peter Hayes is appearing in Shakespeare’s Sonnets.
Show dates: 30 Oct – 9 Nov, 2013
Show venue: TAP Gallery

5 Questions with Kim Knuckey

kimknuckeyWhat is your favourite swear word?
I like most of them, but bugger works in practically every situation.

What are you wearing?
A t-shirt that says The Kingdom Of Doug, the name of a short film my friend Victoria Thaine made.

What is love?
A smile. A look. A hug.

What was the last show you saw, and how many stars do you give it?
Nick Curnow in Fully Committed. He played dozens of characters in a one man show and was fantastic!

Is your new show going to be any good?
I’m really looking forward to this. Lynden and I play characters who are as different as chalk and cheese – it’s a surprise they can agree on anything. And there’s a lot of fun in the show.

Kim Knuckey stars in the world premiere of The Maintenance Room.
Show dates: 7 – 30 Nov, 2013
Show venue: King St Theatre

5 Questions with Owen Little

owen-littleWhat is your favourite swear word?
Fuck. Its powerful, satisfying, and versatile.

What are you wearing?
Well to be honest, its 11:12pm and I’m in my boxers, thats it.

What is love?
Woah, big one… love is afternoon sun through olive trees. Love is a contradiction, it comes in many forms. It’s perilous but also a refuge, its free but it has its cost. It is passion, yearning, sharing, ecstasy, life and death…

What was the last show you saw, and how many stars do you give it?
Last show I saw was Super Discount by Back to Back Theatre Company at STC. I give it 4 Stars. The show was a devised by a group of actors with intellectual/physical impairments. It challenged the audience whilst entertaining and raising valuable questions about how art, people and performance is viewed and judged.

Is your new show going to be any good?
Sweet Nothings will come in like a wrecking ball! Its a fantastic play filled with great characters fuelled by sex, young love and consequence. As relevant today as it was 100 years ago. Go see it!

Owen Little is starring in Sweet Nothings.
Show dates: 7 – 23 Nov, 2013
Show venue: ATYP Under The Wharf

An Ordinary Person (Sydney Independent Theatre Company)

anordinarypersonVenue: Old Fitzroy Theatre (Woolloomooloo NSW), Oct 22 – Nov 16, 2013
Playwright: Robert Allan
Director: Julie Baz
Actors: Cherilyn Price, Alexander Butt, Mel Dodge, Jai Higgs, David Jeffrey, Carla Nirella
Image by Katy Green Loughrey

Theatre review
At the heart of An Ordinary Person is an unusual relationship. It is an unconventional marriage not often represented on stage, but it is an entirely believable one. Robert Allan has written an interesting story, and he has crafted characters that are idiosyncratic, curious and memorable. The structure of the plot, however, is a challenging one. The show’s first half is full of intrigue, but not much else. It takes its time introducing the various characters in an air of mystery, but the audience needs a stronger sense of the impending drama for these characters to be compelling. Fortunately, the second half is much more satisfying, with drama bursting at all its seams.

Performing the piece is an ensemble of uniformly strong actors. Cherilyn Price is particularly impressive, playing her character Aggie at two different ages. She switches effectively between the portrayal of a middle-aged woman and her 14 year-old version, without the use of costumes or makeup, relying only on her acting. It is quite an experience to see Price’s method in her subtle but distinct transformations. Carla Nirella plays Fiona, and stands out with the effortless intensity and conviction she brings to the production. Her role is a simple one, but she attacks it with clarity and energy, giving very solid support to the key characters.

The play’s themes are dark and uncommon but Julie Baz’s direction does not exploit them gratuitously. She is careful to depict all characters with compassion, so that we leave the show thinking about our society’s issues in a mirror that reflects the social, rather than the personal. Although fundamentally a singular species, ordinary persons bear infinite differences between each and every separate entity. It is in the meeting of these individuals that extraordinary things happen, good or bad.

5 Questions with Sylvia Keays

sylviakeaysWhat is your favourite swear word?

What are you wearing?
Light blue underwear, black bra, a red shirt with big graffiti print “Amour Moi” and black tights. Too much? 😉

What is love?

What was the last show you saw, and how many stars do you give it?
Michael Jackson The Immortal World Tour Cirque du Soleil – 5 out of 5! Brilliant.

Is your new show going to be any good?
Absolutely! A new Australian play Cristina In The Cupboard by Paul Gilchrist of subtlenuance. An experiment in comic magical realism – with an amazing cast of eight. It’s on.

Sylvia Keays is starring in Cristina In The Cupboard.
Show dates: 6 – 17 Nov, 2013
Show venue: TAP Gallery

Love Field (Bakehouse Theatre Company)

lovefieldVenue: TAP Gallery (Surry Hills NSW), Oct 22 – Nov 2, 2013
Playwright: Ron Elisha
Director: Michael Dean
Actors: Lizzie Schebesta, Ben Wood
Image by Tessa Tran, Breathing Light Photography

Theatre review
Jackie Kennedy and Lyndon Baines Johnson (the 36th President of USA) feature in this fictional story situated on a jet, immediately after the Kennedy assassination. Ron Elisha’s writing is imaginative and his thoughts are complex. There is a sense of something wild bubbling under his constructed universe, although the surface is deceptively restrained and conventional.

Direction of the production focuses on the creation of a naturalistic environment, and relies heavily on the actors’ lines to convey Elisha’s ideas. This is a tall order, as these concepts are deep and seem to demand more elaborate exploration. On the other hand, what results is an elegant work with a dignified simplicity.

Both actors are gifted with impressive but easy, stage presence. They are naturally fascinating creatures that absorb our attention effortlessly. Ben Wood plays Johnson, with a commanding speaking voice and great conviction. He instils clear character transitions throughout the play, and allows us to perceive several dimensions to his personality in a relatively short time (it runs for approx 75 mins). Lizzie Schebesta’s performance of the newly widowed Jackie Kennedy is beautifully melancholic, but she comes across slightly young for the role, and a little muted in her approach.

Although lacking in extravagant dramatics, Love Field is interesting and engaging. Its attempts at discussing issues of gender and social politics are well-meaning, and because modern times always seem to be in a state of “political turmoil”, the play is a timeless one.