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.

5 Questions with Michelle Pastor

michellepastorWhat is your favourite swear word?
I don’t swear a lot. My boyfriend looks at me in shock when I do. So you’ll mostly hear me say Oh My Goodness, but in times of extreme frustration it’s F*ing Hell!

What are you wearing?
Right now I’m in my pyjamas. The curse of working from home. If I got dressed? Jeans and a lazy jumper. Im in Melbourne today and it’s stupidly cold.

What is love?
Wanting to spend every second with that person, or thinking about them, or remembering them, or talking about them, accepting every part of them and being so grateful they are in your life, because with them, joy is abundant.

What was the last show you saw, and how many stars do you give it?
I saw King Kong yesterday. That gorilla is freaking incredible. Kids were in tears with fear. I wanted to give him a hug. It took 13 guys
to work the puppet! How many stars? Sadly the story was a little disjointed, so I’ll give it 4.

Is your new show going to be any good?
Yes. Undoubtedly. Why? Because it’s fun. I have fun performing it and you’ll have fun watching it.

Michelle Pastor is starring in Spoil Your Love Life.
Show dates: 29 Oct – 9 Nov, 2013
Show venue: The Newsagency

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (Theatre Royal)

dirtyrottenscoundrelsVenue: Theatre Royal (Sydney NSW), Aug 14 – Sep 1, 2013
Writer: Jeffrey Lane (based on the 1988 film)
Music and lyrics: David Yazbeck
Director: Roger Hodgman
Choreographer: Dana Jolly
Performers: Tony Sheldon, Matt Hetherington, Amy Lehpamer, John Wood, Anne Wood, Katrina Retallick
Image by Kurt Sneddon

Theatre review
The “Broadway Musical” genre is hugely popular, with productions travelling across continents everyday. They represent the ultimate in live entertainment, and consistently provide incredible inspiration to everyday folk by showcasing unimaginable artistic skill and talent.

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is an excellent example of a show that ticks all the boxes. It is an engaging and amusing story, peppered with uproariously funny sequences, and a clever plot driven by beautifully written songs. Design elements are of the finest quality. The stage in Theatre Royal is slightly tight, but the venue looks exceptionally elegant and glamorous on this occasion. Performances are beyond “world class” with an Australian cast that can only be described as brilliant.

Matt Hetherington as Freddy Benson is a perfect fit; one can hardly imagine any other actor more suited for the role. Hetherington is the proverbial “triple threat” incarnate, with a killer singing voice, impressive command of choreography, and seriously hilarious comic abilities. His star shines irresistibly bright in this production.

Amy Lehpamer is an absolute delight as Christine Colgate. Her masterful vocals are quite literally perfect, and coupled with her fervency in the comic content of the show, she is completely impressive and a very wonderful musical theatre actor indeed. Like Hetherington, Lehpamer has star quality in spades, and together, they are a surety that this is one production that will never have an “off night” in its entire season. Also noteworthy is Katrina Retallick who has a smaller role as the pistol wielding Jolene Oakes. She earns some of the biggest laughs of the show, and while appearing only in a couple of scenes, they are thoroughly memorable ones.

This is a musical characterised by its vivacious humour. There is an irreverent sensibility that many would love, but others might find challenging. For those of us who enjoy a dose of naughtiness, and are not averse to a little scoundrelly wit, this is a show that will leave an enduring impression for many years to come.

5 Questions with Richard House

richardhouseWhat is your favourite swear word?
Just in case my mum reads this I’d better not be too creative when choosing my favourite swear word. I’m a big fan of South Park and Butters (one of the characters from the show) has a great expression in times of frustration. “SON OF A BISCUIT”.

What are you wearing?
I’m in-between rehearsals at the moment so currently I’m in sweaty tights, a sweaty bandana, sweaty ballet shoes and a sweaty t-shirt with Rafael Nadal on it.

What is love?
Love is a large Big Mac meal from McDonald’s. Ha! It’s also an enticing emotion that once you experience the completeness it brings, you’re always craving for more.

What was the last show you saw, and how many stars do you give it?
Well I haven’t seen a show in quite a while due to being incredibly busy, but I am seeing Beyonce perform this week and I can only assume she will rock my world and it will be a 100 stars out of 100 stars show!

Is your new show going to be any good?
Well it premieres on the 31st of October which is also my birthday and I have never heard of anything less than awesome happening on that date!

Richard House is starring in Bodytorque.Technique, with The Australian Ballet.
Show dates: 31 Oct – 3 Nov, 2013
Show venue: Sydney Theatre at Walsh Bay

Three Winters Green (Lambert House Enterprises)

threewintersgreenVenue: King Street Theatre (Newtown NSW), Oct 7 – Nov 3, 2013
Playwright: Campion Decent
Director: Les Solomon
Actors: Tom Sharah, Brett O’Neill, Gael Ballantyne, James Wright, Emily Kennedy, Matt Young, Diana Perini

Theatre review
First produced in 1993 (and again in 2003), Three Winters Green arrived at a time when the AIDS epidemic was still a crucial force in galvanising gay communities in the developed world. Campion Decent’s script is a beautiful representation of that generation’s experiences, and his depiction of their struggles is an important documentation that needs to be borne witness time and time again.

The emphasis on Les Solomon’s 2013 direction remains on the devastating effects of the AIDS virus, but other elements in Decent’s writing make the play more than a relic of recent lgbt history. It deals with uniquely queer experiences of family, the closet, and homophobic violence, all of which are hugely relevant themes that resonate strongly, even for the most jaded of contemporary Australians.

Tom Sharah is the lead, and his work is a major factor in the success of this production. Sharah has a thorough and sensitive understanding of the text, and his portrayal of Francis is deeply affecting. He plays the flamboyant character with great humour and delivers a lot of big laughs, but he also cuts through with beautiful, subtle moments that convey truthful character development and heartfelt emotion. It is a heartbreakingly sublime performance. Brett O’Neill is memorable in his supporting role as Andrew. He is naturally charismatic, and impresses with simplicity and authenticity. The restraint in his acting contrasts well with other cast members, and allows him to shine brightly through.

The play concludes with the unfurling of a quilt that was part of the Australian AIDS Memorial Quilt Project, that commemorates and honours those who have lost their lives to the disease. The poignancy of the quilt’s presence, along with the angels and the mourners they leave behind, cannot be understated. George Orwell said, “the most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.” May Three Winters Green return with greater emerald vibrancy at each passing season, and may we never forget the foundations of our shared histories, even if the communities we live in become increasingly fragmented.