Review: House Of Games (New Theatre)

newtheatreVenue: New Theatre (Newtown NSW), Aug 9 – Sep 10, 2016
Playwright: Richard Bean (based on the film by Jonathan Katz, David Mamet)
Director: Louise Fischer
Cast: Ben Brock, Hannah Day, Cheyne Fynn, Charles Jones, Mark Langham, Rebecca Levy, Colin McCarlie, Katherine Shearer, Benjamin Vickers, Cindy Wang
Image by Bob Seary

Theatre review
House Of Games features a psychiatrist and a group of con artists. It wishes to be full of surprises and unexpected twists, but the unsophisticated writing relies on the unbelievable gullibility of its protagonist, as well as a gullible audience, for any of its plot to be effective. Its premise is interesting, with a straitlaced academic type finding herself embroiled in the underground activities of the Chicago lowlife, but there could not be a more predictable way to tell the story. Every revelation aims to deliver thrills, but is only disappointing in its failure to offer anything more than what is obviously anticipated ahead of every juncture.

Leading lady Katherine Shearer shows good conviction, in spite of a frankly ridiculous role that seems to take pleasure in depicting a woman’s status and accomplishments as an esteemed doctor, only to take her down more than a few notches by turning her suddenly, and unreasonably, stupid and naive. The actor’s impressive presence almost holds the show together, but we struggle to reconcile her character Margaret’s undeniable intelligence with the absurd predicament in which she finds herself. Co-star Ben Brock displays enough charm for initial scenes of flirtation to work, but to make Margaret “blinded by love” and be so thoroughly entangled in his deceptions, is a tall order that is beyond any sensible performance.

Names of three male writers are attached to this play. It is arduous, and deeply boring, to take them to task for a misogynist creation, but the show offers little else worthy of discussion. It is to their credit however, that the driving force behind House Of Games is Margaret’s ambitions, but it seems that diminishing those very desires is the only way to make sense of things. Feminist readings do not require that every woman comes out on top, but the masochistic treatment of “a strong female” here is reprehensible, because her degradation results from weak logic and too little plausibility, a figment of the imagination of a boys’ club, intimated, perturbed and panicked.

Review: Aladdin (Capitol Theatre)

aladdinVenue: Capitol Theatre (Sydney NSW), Aug 3 – Oct 23, 2016
Music: Alan Menken
Lyrics: Howard Ashman, Tim Rice, Chad Beguelin
Book: Chad Beguelin
Director: Casey Nicholaw
Cast: Aljin Abella, Adam Jon Fiorentino, George Henare, Arielle Jacobs, Ainsley Melham, Adam Murphy, Michael James Scott, Troy Sussman, Robert Tripolino

Theatre review
Based on their own 1992 film, Disney’s musical version of Aladdin is everything one could hope for in an adaptation of a much loved family classic. Fondly remembered for Robin Williams’ hilarious interpretation of Genie, and the chart-topping song “A Whole New World”, this theatrical rendering first appeared in 2011, and is now a well-oiled machine that delivers every bell and whistle expected of the format, including jaw-dropping state-of-the-art stagecraft, along with genuinely effective comedy, that provide sensational entertainment for young and old alike.

The show’s visual design is lavish and inexhaustibly dynamic. Costumes, sets and lights are a real treat, fascinating our senses at every moment like a kaleidoscope that constantly amazes. The manifestation of an actual magic carpet that literally flies around the stage is a gimmick that will captivate any viewer, including the very seasoned theatregoer.

Performances are strong, and the cast will likely grow in chemistry as the Australian season progresses. Michael James Scott’s work as Genie is particularly likeable. Although his energy levels do appear to falter after vigorous sequences, Scott impresses with charisma, sharp humour and a brilliant singing voice, making the larger than life character as commanding a presence as we wish for him to be. Ainsley Melham and Arielle Jacobs are the extraordinarily attractive leads, both delightful in their respective roles, and perfectly charming as the saccharine lovebirds.

It is an innocent romance that blossoms between Aladdin and Jasmine, but the show is a sophisticated one with its naive conceits kept in check. The world is a dangerous place in Aladdin, and its people must access their sense of morality to make the right choices. Themes of slavery, feminism and poverty are only lightly touched upon, but they provide the story with a meaningful foundation on which it discusses the eternal struggle between good and evil. This Disney musical has all the froth and frivolity that fans spend their money on, but at its heart is an ancient folk tale from the legendary One Thousand And One Nights, where the human condition is scrutinised, to reach an understanding of how we are, on our very best days.

5 Questions with Melissa Bonne and Robin Goldsworthy

Melissa Bonne

Melissa Bonne

Robin Goldsworthy: Cast your mind back…you’ve picked up Look Back In Anger for the very first time. You read it cover to cover and gently set it down beside your play reading chair. Walk us through your immediate gut reaction.
Melissa Bonne: Well, I actually read this play for the first time while I was studying acting at The Actor’s Pulse, but I was 17 so I don’t know if I was smart enough or open enough to truly take the story in. When I read it for the first time, since the first time, I actually just sat there (in my play reading chair), staring at the last page for a while, not only unsure of what to make of how the play ended, but also unsure of why it made me feel so uncomfortable. At the time I didn’t exactly know how to articulate why I was feeling that way but I knew that because of that, I had read something very special and that this play was probably going to be very important for me in some, if not many ways. It also didn’t feel like I had just read a play. It felt more like I was right there in that tiny room with these four people. I think that’s a pretty rare gift for anyone — artist or audience — that when it comes to a play or film or story, it feels almost too real to be something you are watching but more something that you are a part of, and I think maybe that is one of the things that is great about this play…it is so confronting and ruthless in everything that it is saying, that it’s almost impossible for audiences not to get pulled in and become so personally involved in the experiences of the characters.

What an amazingly complex character Alison is! A true gift for any actress to sink her teeth into. So my question is: If Alison were a sandwich, what type of sandwich would she be?
Hmm. Well, she would have to be the best bread made from the finest ingredients by maybe a French Chef or something. And I’d say her crusts would have to be gently sliced off. Her bread parts would also have to be right out of the oven so that she was still warm when served. Inside there would have to be something with bite, but tender, like a spicy piece of organic chicken. She would need a bit of razzle dazzle, so maybe something like a slice of avocado with a drizzle of olive oil and some broccoli sprouts. And she wouldn’t be complete without something sweet, so perhaps a thin slice of beetroot. When served, Alison would need to be gently sliced into triangles, as a triangle is her favourite shape.

Have you, yourself ever looked back in anger with regards to any moment in life thus far?
Oh dear. Well in regards to my own life, I’ve mainly looked back in anger at the not so great things that I myself have done or the great things that I had the opportunity to do but didn’t do… times in my life where I could have been kinder to people or paid more attention – like during a card game or something, where I would be in my own world and end up losing every time. One of the things that comes to mind that I would be angry looking back at, is growing up as a teenager and thinking I knew what was best for me. So silly. Should’ve listened to mum more. Grrr.

What is the best/worst thing about working with the prodigious acting talent of Robin Goldsworthy?
Haha, well it’s been delightful so far. I think you were perfectly cast and I am so glad because you’re a very authentic person to work with and you always make me laugh – which is so very important! Overall I feel very blessed to have you, Andrew and Chantelle to work with because you all make it very easy for me to believe you in every moment and believe you are the characters you are playing. So the best thing would totally be that you are completely believable as Cliff, but the worst thing would be that you have such a great, charming accent… which is, just so you know, quite the distraction. Oh and your jackets… I’m a big fan of how you dress to rehearsals. Very cool you are.

If John Osborne wrote Look Back In Anger today, how do you think the play would shift thematically?
If you think about what the themes possibly mean in the context of this story, I don’t think they would have to shift all that much to be relevant today or in other words, for audiences to relate to, especially when you simplify it all. For example, you have Alison and Jimmy — from two completely different backgrounds — who fall in love, only to find that their backgrounds are a constant obstacle in their relationship with each other and their lives together. I feel like there is always this human need for connection through understanding and you can see it in so many stories and it is such a dominant force in this play. When people come from different upbringings and backgrounds, it sometimes seems to cause conflict and that conflict eventually separates people from one another. That’s what happens throughout this play. But there is this truth that everyone can relate to on some level, and that is, through understanding all bridges are formed, but that understanding is only really possible when people are heard. I think that finding your voice and having your voice be heard is such an important part of this play and ultimately, every voice being just as relevant as the next, is a message that we are left with. Although Osborne may use a more modern way of delivering this story, I think using the same themes would be just as a gift now for people as they were in 1956.

Robin Goldsworthy

Robin Goldsworthy

Melissa Bonne: What would you like people to take away from this play, or in other words, what about this play would you like to stay with our audiences after they have seen it?
Robin Goldsworthy: Mainly how relevant this play still is. 2016 has been a pretty ugly year so far and there’s so much fire in the heart of this play that slots perfectly into our modern context. There’s a lot of anger and passion around the world at the moment, and this play’s got that in spades.

If you were alive and living in London in 1956 and still you — a wonderful person and actor — what do you think it would be like to play Cliff in the original production of Look Back In Anger?
Oh I think it would have been tremendous fun! There had never been a play like this on the London stage before… The institutions and ideas that are raged against in Look Back make it such an exciting and dangerous play. To do that for the first time, who wouldn’t love that?

Cliff’s upbringing and background is a bit of a mystery in this play. What story would you give him that could possibly change everything that we think about this man and his journey in the play?
Well we talked about Cliff’s sexuality in rehearsals for a while. There’s such a closeness and tenderness between him and Alison that’s totally non threatening to Jimmy (husband to young Alison) so yeah, we discussed the possibility of Cliff being gay. Would it change much? Not sure. In another production it would have been really fun finding out.

What has this play and/or Cliff taught you about yourself?
That Welsh is an incredibly hard accent to tame. At the moment I sound like Mrs Doubtfire’s gone to India. We’ll get there, hopefully.

What is the one question you would ask John Osborne?
I’d ask him if he were a sandwich, what kind of sandwich would he be? 😉

Melissa Bonne and Robin Goldsworthy can both be seen in Look Back In Anger by John Osborne.
Dates: 16 August – 10 September, 2016
Venue: Old Fitz Theatre

Review: A Nest Of Skunks (Collaborations Theatre Group)

depotVenue: The Depot Theatre (Marrickville NSW), Aug 3 – 13, 2016
Playwright: James Balian, Roger Vickery
Director: Travis Green
Cast: Peter Condon, Jeannie Gee, Penelope Lee, Amanda Maple-Brown, Brendan Miles, Aanisa Vylet

Theatre review
It is the future, and the slang word for refugees is “skunks”. Even though there is no indication as to how far ahead in time A Nest Of Skunks is set, our imagination does not have to work very hard at all to believe that society has disintegrated to that level, where we liken asylum seekers to an animal known for its repulsive stench. In fact, we often forget that events in the play are not actually taking place in the here and now, being so used to prevailing sociopolitical attitudes towards the needy that are already full of contempt.

The script, by James Balian and Roger Vickery, is taut, confrontational and stimulating. It appeals to our decency, demanding that we think about the repercussions of political decisions with compassion and rationality. Convincing parallels are drawn between Nazism and how public ideology is currently evolving, and in its dystopic vision, we see that it takes only a few small steps before fascism ascends again. A Nest Of Skunks is gripping drama, with compelling twists and turns that provide food for thought, along with excellent entertainment. Director Travis Green creates a powerful statement with the text, and although a couple of crucial plot revelations require greater clarity, his storytelling is nonetheless affecting.

There are accomplished performances in the piece, most notably by Brendan Miles whose robust presence and emotional authenticity, ensure that the show is held together by our tremendous empathy for his character Stephen. There are slight issues with the portrayal of language barriers between cultures in the play, but they do not dampen our enthusiasm for Miles’ very moving interpretation of a man in turmoil and desperation.

Refugees are used as pawns in the quest for power by those in the business of government. We are made to fear the weak. Instead of providing help, we turn against the innocent, employing harsh and cruel measures in the name of protecting our self-interest. A Nest Of Skunks demonstrates that resistance is the only instrument we have that could turn the tide. Characters in the play make radical decisions to do the right thing, but what is required of us is only reason, so that we may triumph against lies and greed, and all the irrationality peddled by fear-mongers who wish to undermine the best of our immortal human spirit.

Review: Who Am I (The Old 505 Theatre)

old505Venue: The Old 505 Theatre (Newtown NSW), Aug 2 – 20, 2016
Playwright: Russell Cheek
Director: Stephen Abbott
Cast: Russell Cheek

Theatre review
Watching game shows on television is perhaps one of the most frivolous ways to spend time. Obscure questions might be asked of its contestants, but what it offers viewers is mind-numbing entertainment that does little more than to help soothe away the day’s worries. None of it holds meaning for us after the 25 minutes have past, and we scarcely remember anything that had secured our undivided attention previously. This is not the case for Russell Cheek, who in 1993 participated in Sale Of The Century, one of the countless game shows to have appeared on our screens since the early days of broadcast technology. It was a life changing experience for Cheek, and in Who Am I, memories of that special time is presented to us, by a protagonist still spirited and surprisingly engaging in his one man show.

Cheek’s show entices with nostalgia, humour and a rare optimism. The prospect of sitting through 70 minutes of a man recollecting an event that is of consequence only to himself, seems farcical and banal at the outset, but we soon find ourselves investing in his tale. It is a story that appeals to our insatiable thirst for hope, and proves itself to be buoyant to a remarkable degree. Cheek is here to share in his joy, and it is terribly infectious. The script is simple but rigorously worded, so that its imagery is vivid, and the punchlines it delivers are definite. Stephen Abbott brings a discerning approach to direction that gives the show a delightful and relentless playfulness, while maintaining an air of elegance to proceedings. Cheek wins us over with charisma and a genuine eagerness to connect, and even though certain sequences seem slightly under-rehearsed, his ability to put all at ease makes for a pleasurable time at the theatre.

It is a turning point in life, with talent and chance coinciding to provide Russell Cheek with not just a unique anecdote for the ages, but also financial rewards and the associated freedoms that many of us can only dream of. We discover a comfort in the knowledge that dreams do come true and fairy tales can happen, and when it is a good person who has reaped the benefits, we are all the happier.

Review: Black Hands Dead Section (Sydney University Dramatic Society)

sudsVenue: PACT Centre for Emerging Artists (Erskineville NSW), Aug 3 – 13, 2016
Playwright: Van Badham
Director: Zach Beavon-Collin
Cast: Adrien Stark, Alice Birbara, Amelia McNamara, Anna Rowe, Anna Williamson, Bianca Farmakis, Cameron Hutt, Charlie Meller, Elliott Falzon, Eloi Herlemann, Emma Throssell, Hal Fowkes, Hannah Craft, Helena Parker, Henry Hulme, Isabella Moore, Jimmy Pucci, John Kenedey, Joshua Powell, Julian Hollis, Laura McInnes, Louisa Thurn, Maddie Houlbrook-Walk, Nick Jackman, Nell Cohen, Oliver Ayres, Patrick Sunderland, Victoria Boult, William Hendricks
Image by Clare Hawley

Theatre review
West Germany’s Baader-Meinhof Group were a far-left militant group in the early 1970’s, that had orchestrated acts of terror, including bombings and assassinations, in its efforts to instigate social and political change. In Black Hands Dead Section, playwright Van Badham provides a history lesson on the gang, looking at past events through a contemporary lens, mindful that terrorism is the hottest of today’s issues. No society thinks of itself as aggressors; in Australia, terrorists are foreign and we are its innocent victims. The simple but dishonest dichotomy frees our conscience, so we can continue with life as we know it, without having to understand the complexities of how we are responsible for our own woes.

Characters in the play begin as perfectly reasonable Western middle-class individuals, passionate about what they believe to be right, and although sometimes radical with their ideas, these personalities are familiar ones that we relate to readily. We want the same things of life, and our world views coincide. Gradually however, their actions become increasingly reprehensible, and we struggle to find the line at which us had become them. It is this ambiguity that is missing from public discourse about “religious extremists”. Dehumanising the enemy makes things convenient, but the lack of transparency and truth in how we talk about perceived threats, compounds our fears and prevents us from solving problems.

This student production features 29 enthusiastic actors, some more talented than others. The unevenness in ability certainly makes for challenging viewing, and although nuances and details are sorely lacking in their interpretations, they make their point loud and clear. Acts I and II feature an inordinately large number of characters and scene changes, which would test even the most accomplished directors and designers, so it comes as no surprise that this simple staging often leaves us confused with its every who, what, where and why. Thankfully, Act III turns uncomplicated and is more successfully rendered, eventually leading us to a cogent conclusion.

There are no easy answers in any war, because all life must be valued equally. If we believe that those in opposition must be annihilated, then no one is safe, and human nature is nothing but a perpetual death wish. We have to find the root of every evil before we can genuinely be rid of them, but this is not how we do politics (never have and probably never will), and when we look at the past, the truth is unquestionably full of doom and gloom. War has always been, but so has the longing for peace, and we cannot give up the desire for something better as it is that very desire that defines humanity. Characters in Black Hands Dead Section wishe for a better future, but it is their refusal to include every adversary in their vision of the ideal, that keeps them fettered.

Review: Broken (Darlinghurst Theatre Company)

darlotheatreVenue: Eternity Playhouse (Darlinghurst NSW), Jul 29 – Aug 28, 2016
Playwright: Mary Anne Butler
Director: Shannon Murphy
Cast: Ivan Donato, Sarah Enright, Rarriwuy Hick
Image by Helen White

Theatre review
Two extremely traumatic events happen in Mary Anne Butler’s Broken. Ash, Ham and Mia are regular people encountering dreadful circumstances, and their agony is positioned within their very ordinariness, compelling us to relate to their hurt with the most immediate intimacy. It is a poetic piece of writing, with characters speaking directly to us, or perhaps to themselves, but only occasionally engaging each other in dialogue. Instead of demonstrating incidents as they occur, we are given recollections, as though in psychotherapy sessions where the subject has to access memories, from which levels of understanding can be reached over time, as the dust begins to settle. The text is experimental, often very powerful in its description of shocking details relating to the horrors being faced and the accompanying emotions, but it is arguable if the words address sufficiently, the essentially spatial nature of a theatrical script.

The staging involves three stationary microphone stands, with a cast restricted by their apparatus. The play features crippled personalities, and what we see are three individuals confined to tight spaces, unable to gain a breakthrough for their struggles. Frustrated, stifled and depressed, they are caged in and try as they might to talk themselves out of darkness, their efforts are futile. The show is appropriately sombre, and although never short of emotional intensity, its dramatic qualities are subdued. Much is made of speech and sounds, including the slightly awkward incorporation of foley techniques, but physical and visual aspects of the production are heavily reduced. Without strong imagery to coincide with its verbal aspects, the production relies heavily on the audience’s imagination, which may not always be an effective means of allowing the story to connect.

Actors are uniformly strong, with impressive cohesion in their presentational style and tone. Thoroughly well-rehearsed and precisely executed, Ivan Donato, Sarah Enright and Rarriwuy Hick’s portrayals are confident and convincing. The harrowing nature of their depictions proves to be of no hindrance to the depth of exploration they are able to provide, and even though opportunities for interaction between players are infrequent, their timing as a group is beautifully polished, and a pleasure to witness.

Accidents can ruin us, and even though life must go on for those who survive, recovery is not always a surety. In Broken, we are subject to an examination of our being during the worst of days, without an opportunity to escape into the promise of a brighter future. Plunged into hopelessness, the play keeps our consciousness inside its pain, before we are able to again take a departure, and let our human resilience wipe it away from memory.

Review: The Hanging (Sydney Theatre Company)

stcVenue: Wharf 1 Sydney Theatre Company (Walsh Bay NSW), Jul 28 – Sep 10, 2016
Playwright: Angela Betzien
Director: Sarah Goodes
Cast: Luke Carroll, Ashleigh Cummings, Genevieve Lemon
Image by Lisa Tomasetti

Theatre review
When a girl becomes a woman, her body changes and her mind expands. The world’s ugly sides begin to reveal themselves, and she is disoriented, trying to understand her new place in the bigger scheme of things. She may choose to subsist in delusion, pretending that her guardians can shield all evils, or she can test the waters in a life fraught with danger, seduced by its honesty and the knowledge of its inevitability.

In Angela Betzien’s The Hanging, three 14-year-old girls vanish from their private school privilege, and the nation is gripped. We make assumptions based on beliefs about innocence, and create visions of their victimhood. When one of them returns, the mystery deepens and all is not what it seems. Inspired by Joan Lindsay’s Picnic At Hanging Rock, the 1967 novel is also an actual presence in the play that characters refer to. We are reminded of how we had reacted to the older story, and wonder if the way we think about girls, their desires and their strength, are trapped in fictive and romantic idealism.

Betzien’s plot structure makes for an intriguing experience, with fragments of potent curiosities scattered through its dialogue, intimating but not divulging what the three girls try to hide. It is enthralling theatre, made even more sensational by its subtle incorporation of many au courant social and political concerns. Its ideas are progressive and plentiful, and they elevate the play from its mystery genre to something altogether more important and affecting.

Having adopted Lindsay’s Australian Gothic aesthetic, the production is viscerally haunting in a familiar way, similar to the book and its famous film adaptation, but also sensitively updated to its contemporary context for a more evolved portrayal of femininity, and its encircling issues. Director Sarah Goodes brings a strong sense of import to the themes of the story, whilst pursuing dramatic tension for the very fascinating narrative. A stronger ambience of danger and sexuality could make the show even darker and more powerful, but Goodes’ work is undoubtedly enchanting. We are invested in the riddles of The Hanging right from the start, and she makes us hunger for each revelation that she delivers in perfect time, every one of them satisfying.

Restrained but intense performances by Luke Carroll, Ashleigh Cummings and Genevieve Lemon bring to the stage a distinct flavour, partly a conventional, almost soap opera approach using common archetypes, coupled with a confident embrace of a more silent and poetic approach to acting. Lemon is particularly memorable in the role of Corrossi, sharp and abrasive, with surprising emotional range, interpreting beautifully, the being of a middle age modern woman, and the perspectives of a high school teacher who has seen legions of girls blossom and decay.

Society is disparaging of femininity, and underestimates the young. When Ava, Hannah and Iris disappear, they expose our beliefs and expectations, along with the prejudicial ways we think about adolescent girls. The Hanging questions the way we nurture and offer guidance, confronting us with difficult truths about the instability of human volition, freedom and fortitude, especially volatile in the teenage years. In an effort to find a real understanding of how we are, the reflections we see in the play are necessarily pessimistic. It refuses denial of the bad inherent in what we do and think, making us acknowledge the less than perfect aspects of our nature. There are masochistic pleasures discoverable in its gloomy expressions, but for those less morbidly-inclined, its important lessons although disturbing, are relevant to one and all.

5 Questions with Bodelle de Ronde and Curly Fernandez

Bodelle de Ronde

Bodelle de Ronde

Curly Fernandez: With your artistic practice are there any art movements through time you feel an affinity with or get strong inspiration from?
Bodelle de Ronde: There are certain artists who have inspired me with their images when I’ve been creating a character. For me it’s portraits that come alive and I get a strong feeling of who that person is, or landscapes/scenes that conjure up an atmosphere I can use in my work and captures my imagination. Artists like John Singer Sargent, Edvard Munch, John William Waterhouse, Marc Chagall, Sir John Everett Millais, Frida Kahlo.

What is your most exciting cultural heritage memory when you were growing up?
Realising I came from a large family of such a different culture from the one I grew up in. Whenever we had get-togethers in Bangkok I’d be surrounded by aunties and cousins all speaking in a language I learnt to pick up but didn’t quite understand but it didn’t matter because we still had so much fun together. I gained a strong sense of belonging, family and identity spending school holidays in Thailand.

Do you have any obsessive compulsive tendencies?
I’ll check the oven’s off before I go to sleep but because I live in a shared house that hasn’t been such a silly thing to do.

Five items you would take to a deserted island?
Photos. Music. A spear for catching fish (aka Cast Away!). A collection of Haruki Murakami. Pen and paper.

How does the Orpheus myth translate to modern audiences?
Hopefully a bond of love is something that audiences will always relate to. As well as his sense of displacement being in the underworld, surrounded by people whose actions seem familiar and yet ajar with normality. The struggle to fight for what you believe in and the question of how far you are willing to go for that cause is also very topical.

Curly Fernandez

Curly Fernandez

Bodelle de Ronde: What’s your most memorable moment on stage?
Curly Fernandez: I performed a one man show at La Mama many years ago. It was called The Delusionist. Famous speeches from history retold. My wife directed it, my newborn daughter crawled around the space whilst we rehearsed and teched. My sound designer was my babysitter and my SM was our best friend. It was a real family project. My mother in law came one night and led a standing ovation. It wasn’t so much for my performance but for our family. She was very proud of what Lauren and myself had done, made a life in art with our family.

What’s your biggest turn on?
Great physiques. Great coffee. Great underwear. Yes in that order.

What’s the biggest challenge for you when devising theatre?
For me personally it’s feeling ok with suggesting ideas or things that pop into your imagination that have no logical base and then seeing them fail and not being ashamed of it but honouring the idea or vision, as sometimes something exquisite arises from it.

What drew you to this project?
Michael Dean had seen me over summer and was keen to work with me, and had spoke with a friend of mine. Everyone talked highly of his devised work. Importantly in the audition it was that himself and myself were able to talk quite freely and honestly.That was the key. We also share similar heritage.

Your character, based on Persephone, is an outsider. How do you relate to this?
I’m black.

Bodelle de Ronde and Curly Fernandez are appearing in Orpheus.
Dates: 18 – 27 August, 2016
Venue: Blood Moon Theatre

5 Questions with Cheyne Fynn and Cindy Wang

Cheyne Fynn

Cheyne Fynn

Cindy Wang: What is your ethnicity?
Cheyne Fynn: Ooh I get this question a lot I am Australian born and raised; my parents however are South African with a splash of Mauritian on my mother’s side.

How would you describe your character PJ in five words?
Five words is difficult for a character who spends most of the play pretending to be someone/something he isn’t but I’ll give it a go – anxious, boisterous, loyal, intelligent, cheap.

There are a few semi-adult scenes throughout the play. How do you feel about that?
It’s nothing compared to what goes on back stage, so it’s fine by me.

What made you decide to become an actor?
Was there a different path to choose other than acting? I don’t know if I ever chose acting. Since I was a kid, it’s all I wanted to be and all I wanted to do. I never made the conscious decision though, it just was who I was. My parents however always wanted to me get into teaching as a ‘fallback plan’… I don’t know why but the thought of being a starving actor just always had more appeal.

If you were a sales person, how would you sell the play House Of Games to a group of conservative board members?
I’d wrap it up in a hundred dollar bill and tell them there is a good night to be had!

Cindy Wang

Cindy Wang

Cheyne Fynn: Rumour has it you saw your first kiss in the House Of Games rehearsal room! How was that experience?
Cindy Wang: I am a huge prude, and like a good sheltered kid, it was really awkward watching it, but I’d like to believe I pulled myself through the experience and came out a better person!

Your character Edna is not a physical person in the original script. What have you found to be the best and most challenging part of creating a whole new character?
Perhaps it’s due to the lack of experience on my part, however, when you’re given so much freedom to do whatever you want for a character it gets a little overwhelming, it’s as if someone said, “What slice of cake do you want? And you really want to say porque no los dos?”

If money were not an issue, what’s the one thing you would ask for (and no, world peace is not an answer, you are not trying out for Miss Universe)?
I would want to buy a country so I could tell people I own one just because I’m a materialistic prick. However, if it weren’t a want rather a need, I would probably buy a house so I wouldn’t need to worry about that in 5-10 years’ time.

Do you have any show superstitions or rituals?
No, however, sometimes, during a really late night on the weird side of the internet, I read about the strangest things and I read about it being lucky (or unlucky, depending on the internet source) if you saw 11:11 on your clock. Not too long after that, 11:11 always happens to be on my watch when I looked at it.

If you could go back in time and give yourself one piece of advice what would it be?
I would tell myself to trust my instincts, relax, enjoy yourself, and follow the flow. However, knowing the young me, I would have said “omg… time travel exists.” Yeah, I had a short attention span.

Cheyne Fynn and Cindy Wang are appearing in House Of Games by David Mamet.
Dates: 9 August – 10 September, 2016
Venue: New Theatre