5 Questions with Amelia Jane Hunter

ameliajanehunterWhat is your favourite swear word?
Shizen.

What are you wearing?
Kaftan I bought in Santorini sans bra and undies, furiously sweating as the weather is a hairdryer on high outside.

What is love?
Acceptance, no underwires and a cold glass of good rosé.

What was the last show you saw, and how many stars do you give it?
der Helle Wahnsinn a Berlinesque acrobatic show in Berlin. Based on the true story of flamboyant gay Herbert Maria Freiherr von Heymann who after WW2 is committed for “healing purposes” to a madhouse, where he meets other artists and devises and performs a show for an American TV station. I sat there wondering if it was too late for me to start training to be a contortionist or an acrobat. Stunning, inspiring and upsetting… that it will never be me up there hanging from a swing. Or will it? 5 stars

Is your new show going to be any good?
Inspired by my life in Berlin and all the brilliant, crazy and dangerous people that inhabit it. Yes, it is good and I am equal parts proud and petrified to perform it… in front of my Mum. Let’s just say, things and parts of me have changed!

Amelia Jane Hunter’s Elegant Filth plays in Sydney for one night only.
Show date: 5 Mar, 2015
Show venue: The Comedy Store

5 Questions with Maree Freeman

mareefreemanWhat is your favourite swear word?
I like old school swear words, I’m very partial to a ‘drat’ or a ‘bother’… they make me think of a Victorian nun dropping her rosary beads and hoping no one notices the mild verbal expletive.

What are you wearing?
I work in the arts so, you know… Gucci.

What is love?
I’m not a romantic so I hesitate to give anyone advice on what love is.

What was the last show you saw, and how many stars do you give it?
The last show I saw was my niece’s preschool christmas performance – it was fantastic! 5 stars!

Is your new show going to be any good?
You be the judge. Only way to find out is to come and see it! I will say though that the Milk Crate Theatre Ensemble are one of the most interesting and unique groups of artists out there. This House Is Mine is definitely going to be a show like no other this year.

Maree Freeman’s This House Is Mine is a play about homelessness and social marginalisation.
Show dates: 12 – 22 Mar, 2015
Show venue: Eternity Playhouse

Review: Mother Clap’s Molly House (New Theatre)

Venue: New Theatre (Newtown NSW), Feb 11 – Mar 7, 2015
Playwright: Mark Ravenhill
Music: Matthew Scott
Director: Louise Fischer
Cast: Debra Bryan, Bradley Bulger, Stephanie Begg, Steve Corner, Andrew Grogan, Patrick Howard, Deborah Jones, Chantel Leseberg, Tess Marshall, Brendan Miles, Thomas Pidd, Garth Saville, Dave Todd
Photographs © Bob Seary

Theatre review
Mark Ravenhill’s writing is wild and exuberant. He uses theatre to express parts of life that are passionate, fun, taboo and brutal. In Mother Clap’s Molly House, Ravenhill places gay life under scrutiny, examining its relationship with capitalism, and the implications of an increasingly liberated community that loses its way in the struggle for freedom and acceptance. The play’s in-depth look at the subculture may not be accessible to general audiences, but it is a necessary and unflinching reflection at a significant segment of modern societies. Louise Fletcher’s direction addresses the political aspects of the play, as well as the deeply carnal flavour of its live experience. The production begins in an abundance of confused frivolity, but takes shape when its more serious themes set in and when the cast becomes more vibrant in its endeavour.

Mother Clap is played by Deborah Jones, who takes her character through drastic transformations over the course of two-and-a-half hours. As the narrow-minded version of Clap in early scenes, Jones is less convincing, but upon emancipation in the production’s second half, Jones is a spirited and confident performer, who delivers an interesting allegorical embodiment of queer empowerment. Steve Corner’s portrayal of Princess Serafina is complex and delightfully intriguing. His thoughtful approach is balanced nicely with an enthusiasm for broad comedy, although the actor can benefit from slightly less restraint. Chantel Leseberg brings a professional polish to the show, impressive in two dynamic and diverse roles, Amy and Tina. Her understanding of her parts is thorough, and her execution is consistently creative and exciting. The cast brings a warmth to the stage, and there is a charming intimacy that many of them share, but performances in general can be sharper and tighter for a greater sense of urgency, and while comic timing is not poor, there is room for improvement.

The term “molly” referred in the past, to male homosexuals and transvestites. Today, the word connotes recreational drug use. Ravenhill’s script is concerned with the evolution of gay identities, and the way societal permissiveness and the profit motive have encouraged a false sense of freedom, where men are made to believe that the pleasure principle equates to liberation and happiness. The show does not pass harsh judgement on “misguided” individuals, but it is critical of how gay communities can sometimes view themselves. To elucidate his point, Ravenhill makes a dichotomous relationship out of money and love. Of course, there is no need to think of them as essentially oppositional concepts, and we can expect to have both in our lives, but finding the right balance in moderation, as always, is key.

www.newtheatre.org.au

Review: Suddenly Last Summer (Sydney Theatre Company)

Venue: Sydney Opera House (Sydney NSW), Feb 9 – Mar 21, 2015
Playwright: Tennessee Williams
Director: Kip Williams
Cast: Paula Arundell, Melita Jurisic, Brandon McClelland, Robyn Nevin, Eryn Jean Norvill, Susan Prior, Mark Leonard Winter
Images by Brett Boardman

Theatre review (originally published at Auditorium Magazine)
The very nature of trauma is dramatic. It disrupts the heart and mind, and leaves in its wake, disorientation and damage. To repair and to move on, fragmented pieces must first be assembled so that a sense of narrative and coherence can be found. The business of theatre involves storytelling, but it also involves a representation and expression of the human condition. At its best, art communicates something that is deep, but also universal. We want to be able to connect on some meaningful level, whether obtuse or simple. Like psychotherapy and other healing processes, theatre can often be difficult and confusing, but what matters is that artists and audiences emerge with something of value, and perhaps something new.

More than half a century has past since Tennesse Williams’ Suddenly Last Summer first appeared off Broadway, but its ideas remain seductive, and his words have proven themselves to be eternally sublime. Scripts in the theatrical canon are timeless because they are of themselves exceptional, or are able to initiate something extraordinary. Williams’ brilliant work appearing on any stage today will spark debates on the degree to which a new interpretation should stray from the predictable. There will always be purists who prefer faithful renditions that acknowledge the perfection of what is already established on paper, and then others would applaud daring departures that take the text to unexpected realms. Kip Williams’ production places three video cameras on stage with his cast. The revolving stage contains a plain cyclorama that doubles as a screen, so that multiple perspectives of the same stage moment can be offered. The show opens with just the back of the screen in view, and the first scene is projected onto that backdrop so that we can only see a movie sized projection of the performance. The stage then turns to reveal its other side where the actors and set are situated. The projection now continues on the front of the backdrop as the action takes place right before it. The camera operators do not hide from our sight, and although all its design harks back to 1937, our experience is a thoroughly modern one.

The actors portray characters with a sense of nostalgic accuracy, but there is no conventional theatrical experience to indulge in. Our eyes are constantly being pulled away from one image to another, and yet another. We are never allowed to focus too long on any dramatic moment. The work distracts us from itself, and we become frustrated and anxious, like the disturbed people we are studying. The concept of the stage is redefined by the use of video in Suddenly Last Summer. Surely, what we see in the theatre constitutes the performing space, but if our eyes are being manipulated by technology so that we are exposed to something strange, then space takes on different form and notion. If all we can see in the 544-seater is a needle piercing into the leading lady’s arm, then something magical has happened on that stage. Similarly, if a man runs off stage but appears to continue running up the fly tower on screen, then the confines of the proscenium can be seen to have vanished. It is certainly experimental work, and with everything that is unusual, we react first with bewilderment, and if our mental capacities are able to process beyond the immediate, then perhaps the work has achieved interesting intellectual effects. When the director’s work is good, it is because he is immensely inventive, but when bad, it is for the same reason.

Less ambiguous is the quality of performance from Eryn Jean Norvill, phenomenal in the role of Catharine. Through madness and fear, the most extravagant drama can materialise, and Norvill is stunningly uninhibited with the level of emotional and visceral intensity she achieves. Williams’ poetry is delivered through her voice as though singing the most sumptuous, yet tragic, of arias. Whether observing her in the flesh or through the lens, her star quality is undeniable, and it is clear that without her heartbreaking portrayal of a woman in agony, the production would not be remembered for much more than its formalistic inventions. Also captivating is Robyn Nevin, whose regal presence is a perfect match for the severe and menacing matriarch, Mrs Venable. The veteran actor’s portrayal is authentic and hugely engaging, which probably explains the camera’s frequent focus on her, even at moments when she is not taking centre stage. Nevin’s “reaction shots” are beautifully done, but a tricky element that can sometimes diminish the effect of what is actually unfolding in the plot.

Suddenly Last Summer has an astonishing story to tell, with exciting themes that would interest any audience, but the playwright’s efforts come dangerously close to being subsumed by the methods in which his story is told. The unorthodox staging eclipses the text itself. There is so much to discuss and think about when the curtains fall, but what takes precedence is the director’s orchestration of proceedings, which seem to be much more concerned with structure, rather than content. Of course, we should not prioritise the writer’s voice over the director’s simply because the play is well-known, but human impulse wants to revel in narratives, and any deprivation of that enjoyment will come up against resistance. Luckily, when the shock of the new fades away, we discover that it is the immortal soul of a classic tale that endures, and suddenly, last night’s turmoil is distilled and the essence left behind is the memory of Mr Tennessee Williams’ unparalleled legacy.

www.sydneytheatre.com.au

Review: Playing Rock Hudson (Old Fitz Theatre / Left Bauer Productions)

FEATURE5[1]Venue: Old Fitzroy Theatre (Woolloomooloo NSW), Feb 3 – 15, 2015
Playwright: Cameron Lukey
Directors: Jason Langley, Cameron Lukey
Cast: Paul Dowson, Kim Knuckey, Tyran Parke, Peter Talmacs, Mark Taylor, Grace Victoria, Benjamin Winckle

Theatre review
The act of “coming out” by public figures remains a contentious issue. Rock Hudson was a prominent American actor from the 1950s, who had kept his homosexuality a dark secret up to his AIDS-related death in 1985. Playing Rock Hudson offers a look into the star’s final years and his lover Marc Christian’s lawsuit against Hudson’s estate after his passing. Cameron Lukey’s script is detailed and ardent, with shades of tabloid style revelations accompanying passionately political interpretations of events and personalities. It satisfies our need to catch a glimpse of the gay man that had been hidden from view and promotes discussion about the way LGBT history is tainted by deceit, and how it can be amended.

Direction of the work by Lukey and Jason Langley, feels like a nostalgic homage to films of Hollywood’s Golden Age. Scenes are reminiscent of romantic and courtroom classics, achieved by thoughtful costuming (by Georgia Hopkins) and specific acting styles, but the show’s rhythm and energy are consequently slightly lethargic by today’s standards. Sequences are not sufficiently differentiated to prevent a sense of repetition, which also results in a plot momentum that is less than dynamic.

Performances are consistently strong, with a support cast that is especially noteworthy. Grace Victoria is a compelling Elizabeth Taylor, leaving a lasting impression by bringing complexity and humour to a legendary character that most are familiar with. Benjamin Winckle plays multiple smaller roles, but each is distinct, colourful and memorable. Leading men Paul Dowson and Mark Taylor are committed and alluring. Dowson plays Rock Hudson with an astonishing likeness and quiet confidence, and the mysterious love interest Marc Christian is played by Taylor with intriguing ambiguity and charm.

The importance of role models for oppressed minorities cannot be overstated. Those who choose to live in the closet will always have their own reasons, but their actions are an obstruction to efforts for the eradication of discrimination everywhere. Even though he continued denying his sexual orientation from the public, it is believed that Hudson’s announcement of his illness 3 months before death, had had a critically positive impact on funding in the USA for AIDS research. People in positions of power and influence owe a debt to the communities who reward them with privilege and prestige. When acting in self-serving hypocrisy, the debt they owe us all is immeasurable.

www.leftbauerproductions.com

Review: Cock (Old Fitz Theatre / Red Line Productions)

redline2Venue: Old Fitzroy Theatre (Woolloomooloo NSW), Feb 3 – Mar 6, 2015
Playwright: Mike Bartlett
Director: Shane Bosher
Cast: Brian Meegan, Matt Minto, Matilda Ridgway, Michael Whalley
Image by Tim Levy

Theatre review
John is caught between a man and a woman. These relationships cannot co-exist, because the three people believe that the nature of love is monogamous, and more than that, love requires resolute sexual identities. Mike Bartlett’s Cock is essentially a play for the post-gay era. It makes us look at the boundaries and definitions that have come to rule our lives, and to consider their arbitrariness despite their unadulterated and pervasive presence. John has to decide if he is gay or straight, and as the pressure escalates, we become increasingly aware of the absurdity of his circumstance. There are few things in the LGBT world more controversial and dangerous than saying that sexuality and gender are choices that can be made by conscious adults. Cock makes reference to the need for manufactured concepts that serve political purposes, which may not be legitimately applicable to all individuals that they try to protect, and would disintegrate when its purpose is served. Of course, we can understand that no one would choose to be gay in a world that discriminates and persecutes those who deviate from heteronormativity, but if society has progressed far enough, then maybe making a conscious choice to become the “other” is no longer a threatening proposition (if the “other” can still exist in that progressive civilisation). What is discussed in Cock suggests the redundancy of sexuality labels in how we live, even how we love.

Shane Bosher’s direction strips the production of all sets and props. The actors do not make any costume changes, so all they have are words and ideas, bodies and space. The theatre-in-the-round configuration encourages constant movement, and coupled with scenes of incessant fight and struggle, the atmosphere is often electric. Bartlett’s writing is energetic and bold, with humour and drama bulging at the seams, but it is clear that Bosher’s affinity with the play’s graver portions is stronger. Tension on this stage is omnipresent, but jokes are hit and miss. The leading men give exciting performances but lack the versatility to flow persuasively between the light and dark of the writing.

Michael Whalley is John, the young man stuck in a state of confusion. Whalley embodies the frustration and weakness of his character with great clarity, and the play’s difficult themes find a surprising resonance through his performance, but John needs to be more affable in order for the dramatics to have greater efficacy. John’s male lover is played by Matt Minto, who is delightfully flamboyant, but repetitively so. The character is a stubborn one, and we eventually grow tired of his unchanging voice and mannerisms. Conversely, the female lover shows a great range of intellectual and emotional states, and those transformations make Matilda Ridgway’s performance a gripping one. She finds authenticity in a script that is more conceptual than real, and creates the only character we are able to empathise with, even though we are baffled by her devotion to John, the non-hero. Brian Meegan is a last minute replacement for the male lover’s father, so it is entirely understandable that he is yet to have all his lines down, but he does a superb job in later scenes to consolidate the play’s plot and philosophy.

LGBT communities in the West have invested decades to create cultures and identities, in order that oppression may be resisted and subverted. Once those objectives are fulfilled, however, a new stage of evolution will commence. In Australia, that time has not yet come, so John will continue to be forced into conceding an invariable sexual preference, whether it rings true to his personal experiences, or not.

www.oldfitztheatre.com

Review: Gaybies (Darlinghurst Theatre Company)

darlotheatre2Venue: Eternity Playhouse (Darlinghurst NSW), Feb 6 – Mar 8, 2015
Playwright: Dean Bryant
Director: Dean Bryant
Cast: Cooper George Amai, Sheridan Harbridge, Rhys Keir, Steve Le Marquand, Zindzi Okenyo, Olivia Rose, Georgia Scott
Image by Helen White

Theatre review
Plays about LGBT experiences often fail the test of time. They reflect certain moments in political causes, and social progress renders most stories passé after their periods of relevance are over. Mart Crowley’s The Boys In The Band (1968) and Jean Poiret’s La Cage Aux Folles (1973) now seem dated and contrived, but there is no denying their historical significance and the respective parts they have played in the human rights movement for gay men in the west. Dean Bryant’s Gaybies comes out of current debates about marriage rights of same-sex couples, and their detractors’ apprehension about parenting by LGBT families, should laws be changed to permit these unions.

Bryant’s script takes the form of verbatim theatre, composed of interviews he has conducted with children of same-sex parents, as well as a few lesbian and gay adults in the process of conception. The work is a timely response to community concerns, and a colourful look at contemporary family lives in Australia, providing a perspective that challenges notions of conventionality and presumptions of what makes a favourable set of circumstances for children to thrive. It is the kind of text that would either be daring and controversial, or merely preaching to the choir, depending on the audience it plays to, but Bryant’s own direction injects inventive variety and surprising humour to ensure a delightfully engaging experience for all but the very bigoted.

The brilliant cast brings a palpable tenderness to the production, with all seven performers taking on three roles each, demonstrating versatility and a good amount of heart and soul. Zindzi Okenyo has a gentle but magnetic presence, ensuring that we stay on her side from start to end. Her style is understated and honest, with an infectious enthusiasm that gives weight to her stories. Also very affable is Rhys Keir, who creates big distinctions between each of his characters, allowing them to be individually memorable. Keir’s impulses feel authentically spontaneous, and the vibrant energy he brings to the stage is refreshing and full of charm. Crowd favourite Sheridan Harbridge delivers a polished yet moving performance, with a visibly solid connection between the actor and her material. Harbridge’s comic and vocal abilities serve her well in the show, and we cannot help but fall under her spell repeatedly.

Owen Phillips’ set design is a straightforward but effective idea, executed with elegance. His facsimile of a community hall relies on our personal associations with a space characterised by ordinariness, and like the show’s very concept, visual aspects are kept pleasantly simple. Even though the absence of a traditional narrative structure means that we lose opportunities for greater emotional indulgences, what Dean Bryant and his cast provide are important testimonials and a valuable documentation that would function as a sign of the times, and without doubt, a step towards the momentous and inevitable legalisation of marriage for all.

www.darlinghursttheatre.com

Review: Tartuffe (Nine Years Theatre)

nineyearsVenue: National Museum of Singapore (Singapore), Feb 4 – 8, 2015
Playwright: Molière (Mandarin translation by Nelson Chia)
Director: Nelson Chia
Cast: Mia Chee, Jalyn Han, Hang Qian Chou, Koh Wan Ching, Neo Haibin, Darius Tan, Jean Toh
Image by Bernie Ng

Theatre review (first published at Auditorium Magazine)

The most noble function of humour, is that it allows for difficult things to be said. Taboo subjects are suddenly open for discussion under the guise of laughter, and with a pretence of jest and banter, sensitive issues can be dealt with in a manner so that the likelihood of causing offence is minimalised (and self preservation for the comic is usually secured). Where there is a sore spot, there inevitably lies an area of contention that represents fertile ground for artists to investigate. In the theatre, in particular, comedy is often used on surface levels to entertain, while it advocates socio-political perspectives that may be less effectively rendered within other contexts, or in fact, completely inappropriate to articulate in the absence of comedic devices.

Molière’s Tartuffe was first performed in 1664. but its resonances persist, and productions continue to appear all over the world in wildly different incarnations. Its themes of religion and hypocrisy, along with the miscarriages of justice in relation to patriarchal forms of economic organisation, are more than familiar; in societies everywhere, these are problems that people grapple with veritably. Singapore is one of the more advanced Asian countries, without the chronic wealth disparity that neighbouring places face, but its history of secrecy and scandal pertaining to the upper echelons in governmental, business and religious bodies, connects firmly with the acerbity of Molière’s play. It remains a problem that men in high places often wield their power in self-interested and misguided ways, behind our backs and to the detriment of communities within their influence, so the relevance and importance of Tartuffe as a timeless farce cannot be understated.

Nelson Chia’s direction places emphasis on the poignancy of the narrative’s themes and stories. The sociological implications of the title character’s villainy as well as the instances of aristocratic ignorance are clearly demonstrated, so that the moral of the parable is resolute and prominent. Chia’s own adaptation draws a beautiful parallel between Tartuffe’s behaviour and contemporary concerns with religious extremism, but his text is also compassionate to personal practices of faith, mindful that religion per se is not the enemy, but the corruption of our spiritual lives is what we are to be wary of. This Chinese language version introduces an alternate ending, replacing the original’s somewhat frothy wedding sequence with a surprisingly dark but authentic reading of consequences that was perhaps previously absent. Also meaningful is the way gender is presented in the production. Orgon’s misogyny and cruelty in forcing his daughter to abandon the man she loves in order to marry another of her father’s choice, and Marianne’s own obedience are obviously problematic by our standards, but Chia depicts that injustice with sensitivity, and a necessary gravity that reveals the repugnance of that situation. It is noteworthy that the voice of reason, Cléante is played by female actor Koh Wan Ching, whose work adds an unusual dimension that encourages a distinctly gendered interpretation of the text. It can be seen that a dichotomy is formed, with wisdom only ever emerging from the feminine, and all male characters straying far from the heroic. Traditional patriarchy is a problem, and we see it exemplified here.

Less successful however, is the play’s comedy. Molière’s unmistakeable absurdity is watered down and portrayed with a disappointing naturalism. Without sufficient laughs, the work is left with scenes that seem too didactic, and the shortage of irony in performances makes the script’s frequent sarcasm seem awkward. The abundance of earnestness in the company’s approach is comforting to observe, but also a mismatch for the writing’s raucous tone. There is to be sure, a sense of humour at work, but one that is not always appropriately gauged. Hang Qian Chou is entirely miscast as Tartuffe. The role requires a flamboyance and cutting satirical edge that the actor struggles to locate, and although his creation feels genuine, the lack of theatricality in his work is a substantial flaw. Theatre is always a collaborative endeavour, where individual talents merge to produce something that encompasses diverse skills and perspectives. Chia’s Tartuffe seems to be of a singular vision, and it is to his credit that the production is a cohesive one, but many in his cast appear stifled and are able to express only within regimented frameworks.

Exceptions include Darius Tan who shows excellent conviction and professional focus in the role of Orgon, head of the house. With Tan’s youthful energy, impact is slightly lost of a man desperate to find salvation beyond death, and the familial connotations of wills and property one leaves behind are also diminished, but his sense for timing and dramatic tension is a considerable asset to the production. Tan has a good sense of plot dynamics, and he conveys relationships and personality transitions with charm and clarity. It is not unusual that those who play the sprightly housemaid character Dorine would make an impression, but Jalyn Han is exceptional on this stage. Her vibrant energy contributes an aliveness to scenes, with impulses that feel spontaneous and fresh, a contrast to several other moments in the show that come across too arduously rehearsed. Han’s confident and entertaining presence is a breath of fresh air in an atmosphere that can tend toward being slightly rigid, and her intuitive creativity keeps us engaged and amused while maintaining a simultaneously coherent sense of storytelling.

Design elements are deliberately basic, but they reference the era of Louis XIV appropriately. The set consists of just three doorways and two pieces of furniture, with wings and crossover completely exposed, indicating a minimalist spirit that values the distilled essences of things over ornamentation, and an attentiveness toward the craft of performance above all else. The production is not the prettiest or the most extravagant, but it is certainly and thoroughly honest. All we have before our eyes are actors with their craft, and no apologies are made for this. The entertainment value of this Tartuffe is not wholly gratifying, and if we had laughed harder, the emotional impact of Molière’s classic would have been more affecting. Nevertheless, the story is well told, and its valuable lessons are imparted with salience. We leave knowing exactly what is being communicated, if only we are able to feel it too.

www.nineyearstheatre.com

Review: Between Us (ATYP)

atypVenue: ATYP (Walsh Bay NSW), Feb 4 – 21, 2015
Director: Sarah Parsons
Playwrights: Joel Burrows, Tahlee Fereday, Sharni McDermott, Tom Mesker, Julia Patey, Kathleen Quere, Callan Purcell, Caitlin Richardson, Fiona Spitzkowsky, Amanda Yeo.
Cast: Katy Avery, Christian Charisiou, Jordan Cowan, Patrick Cullen, Rebecca Cuttance, Airlie Dodds, Kelly Huynh, Lucia May, Dominic Roebuck, Gemma Scoble, Michael Smith
Image by Tracey Schramm

Theatre review (of preview performance)
The ten short pieces in Between Us are connected by the idea of secrets. These young Australian stories range from the deep and dark to the wonderfully inspired, all with a personal and revelatory perspective that aim to divulge something truthful. Nine are monologues, perhaps a reflection on the introspective nature of early adulthood. We do not get fervent commentary on our society and politics, but we are certainly witness to a fierce interrogation into human behaviour and its nature.

Direction by Sarah Parsons is adventurous and quite masterful. Her courageous use of space gives emotional and spacial dimension to each piece, respecting their individually distinct voices, and allowing their individual idiosyncrasies to take shape on stage. Transitions are sensitively and creatively manoeuvred so that the experience is fluid and cohesive as an integrated entity, while each writer’s own colour is staunchly retained. Parsons’ work with actors is wildly impressive in Between Us. Every segment is performed with surprising depth and sophistication, so that characters are meaningful beyond their ten minutes of showtime. We are drawn into these bite sized moments, sometimes seeing with astonishing clarity what is being expressed, and sometimes seduced into a sense of intrigue that leaves us hungry for more.

Fiona Spitzkowsky’s Accidents Happen is a remarkably funny yet brutal piece about parenting and ambition. Her blend of the macabre with a casual, almost unassuming everyday humour is a thrill to experience. Performed by Rebecca Cuttance with impeccable timing and focus, this is a programme highlight that exemplifies the intelligence and talent that is being showcased at ATYP. Pink Hair by Amanda Yeo is written with beautiful structure and shrewd acumen. It is technically accomplished, but also visceral and engaging. Kelly Huynh’s interpretation gives a magnetism and moving humanity to the play’s protagonist, and we are enthralled by her thorough authenticity and precision, without the actor having to move a limb more than once or twice during the segment’s entire duration. Also noteworthy are the production’s three male players, Christian Charisiou, Patrick Cullen and Michael Smith, all memorable for their refreshing and solid presences, and conspicuous, burgeoning star quality.

There is so much to like about Between Us, including its design aspects and technical proficiencies. Melanie Liertz’s set and Alexander Berlage’s lights are outstanding, and stage management is executed to perfection by Olivia Benson and her crew. It is almost unbelievable that these short plays can conspire to deliver something so substantial and rewarding, but it does. It is no secret that the Australian Theatre for Young People is a crucial element in the continuing progress of our artistic landscape, but on this occasion, the stepping stone has itself become a thing to celebrate.

www.atyp.com.au

5 Questions with Florette Cohen

florettecohen1What is your favourite swear word?
With two little boys listening I don’t get to swear much these days. Poo-face doesn’t count, does it?

What are you wearing?
My staples – jeans, a t-shirt and the high top green Connies that I’ve had forever. In the future I may be the first granny sporting Connies and a Zimmer frame.

What is love?
Love is wonderfully consuming!

What was the last show you saw, and how many stars do you give it?
The Snail And The Whale by Tall Stories at the Sydney Opera House. It’s a gorgeous story and the production was both witty and haunting – from 2 to 36 years old we loved it. I give it 4 out of 5 stars.

Is your new show going to be any good?
Yeah it is! Who doesn’t love a black comedy? I think the show has something for everyone, there’s even a film component. You’ll be crying one minute and laughing the next.

Florette Cohen stars in My Mother And Other Catastrophes, by Rivka Hartman.
Show dates: Sat 7 and 14 March at Gleebooks, and Sun 8 and 15 March at the Sydney Jewish Museum