Review: 1984 (Sydney Theatre Company)

Venue: Roslyn Packer Theatre at Walsh Bay (Sydney NSW), Jun 28 – Jul 22, 2017
Playwrights: Robert Icke, Duncan Macmillan (based on the George Orwell novel)
Directors: Robert Icke, Duncan Macmillan
Cast: Molly Barwick, Paul Blackwell, Tom Conroy, Terence Crawford, Coco Jack Gillies, Ursula Mills, Renato Musolino, Guy O’Grady, Yalin Ozucelik, Fiona Press
Image by Shane Reid

Theatre review
People often look back at calamitous histories, and are grateful that they had emerged unscathed. In Robert Icke and Duncan Macmillan’s version of 1984, dystopia is not only an imagined future, but also a tragic past that its characters are happy to have left behind. When the worst is over, we think that life returns to a state of healthy normalcy. We choose to believe that those who had committed atrocities are wiped away, and all is good in the world again.

In our need to survive, memory has to become elastic. Self-preservation necessitates that we forget the painful, and in the case of 1984, forgive the unforgivable. Facts are erased, so that ideologies can dominate. The play portrays a simultaneous past and future, but its concern is firmly on the now. It believes in an essential sense of truth, along with the human tendency to obfuscate those truths, in order that power may be won and lost.

With obvious parallels with current political events, it is tempting to say that Orwell’s story is more pertinent today than ever before, but societies have never been pure. Certainly, technology does play an important part in how we control one another, but long before the discovery of electricity, men had sought to suppress thought and expression, with the sole intention of gaining influence and authority. Using lies as apparatus and methodology, devious personalities have risen to positions of leadership, while the rest of us are turned complicit, through acquiescence, obedience and silent surrender.

It is a sleek production, conceived and executed with an admirable sophistication. Orwell’s philosophical interests are powerfully presented, translated from book to stage effectively, though not always with great clarity. The protagonist Winston’s existence is a confused one, and on certain levels, we are accordingly, perhaps appropriately, bewildered. Its messages are unambiguous, however, with all of 1984‘s prominent themes and ideas, articulated emphatically, with conspicuous relevance and urgency.

Chloe Lamford’s scenic design transforms Orwell’s original futuristic outlook into a retrogressive frame of reference; after all, we are now looking at the world 33 years ago. Lights by Natasha Chivers and sound design by Tom Gibbons, play integral roles in the brutal depiction of ruthless tyranny. The assault on our senses is indeed severe, with aggressive noises and strobes unrelenting in trying to seize our nerves and inflict terror.

Actor Tom Conroy has the unenviable task of performing Wilson’s extended suffering, including a lengthy scene featuring quite gruesome physical torture. His work is painfully convincing, and the vulnerability he brings to the role, insists that we are affected by all his adversities. Terence Crawford turns up the drama as the frighteningly menacing O’Brien. His operatic approach to the enigmatic personality seduces us, keeps us on edge and captivated, as the play’s savagery escalates.

The deep pessimism of 1984 demands a strong response. It aims to provoke us into radical thought, if not radical action, with its revelations about a world ruled by evil. We think about governments, religions and corporations, the insidious ways in which they impact upon our lives, how they encroach upon our liberties, and the deficiencies of our resistance. Survival requires degrees of submission, but within any submission, the spirit of defiance can always be found, whether minuscule or vigorous, to spark a change that could pivot the course of history, one can only hope, for the better.

www.sydneytheatre.com.au | www.1984play.com.au

5 Questions with Emma Louise and Andy Simpson

Emma Louise

Andy Simpson: Violence is an important part of Mauritius. It colours our characters’ motivations and experiences. Have you ever found yourself in an unexpectedly violent situation?
Emma Louise: Wow, what a question to start with!  Yes, I guess I have been witness to various violent situations.  One which immediately springs to mind was when a person I was just getting to know had just walked a friend of his down the road from my place in Darlinghurst at the time to get a cab or something.  The next thing I know I hear these awful loud guttural sounds coming from that same direction down the street. I run out to my balcony to see what’s going on, and coming up the road I see both my new friend and another huge shirtless guy circling each other, weaving in and out between parked cars and making these noises I can only describe as animalistic. It certainly wasn’t English! Both already had blood staining their faces and arms, so I knew punches had already been thrown. It honestly looked like they were going to kill each other, despite being complete strangers who had never crossed paths before. I (oh so heroically) ran into my flatmate’s room screaming for his help, and he then saves the day… going outside, placing himself in the middle of these two burly men intent on destroying each other, and calmly talking the shirtless stranger down while firmly instructing my new acquaintance to get into the house. All while I stood watching on in horror on the balcony.  Ah the random, weird, unexpected violent things that can happen at 3.30am on a Friday night in Darlo!  Happy to report that I never saw the big shirtless guy again, and am also no longer in the company of the other violent acquaintance. The lovely hero flatmate however, (another actor incidentally, who uses words instead of fists) will always be in my life.  That’s definitely the kind of company I prefer to keep!

Serena Williams was pregnant while competing at The Australian Open this year. Is it a challenge to act when you are pregnant?
Ha! A little I guess, especially as you grow bigger with each passing month – making it a harder thing to physically disguise. I will be 7 months along when this show is up, so am extra aware of my physicality… having to watch that I’m not standing like a pregnant lady, or letting the tell tale waddle slip in anywhere. Even the way you get up and down from a chair can be tricky at times. So much to monitor! But basically I’m just aiming to keep myself as rested as possible when not rehearsing/performing, as well as stretching and seeing a physio to help keep everything as limber as possible. A woman being pregnant is not a disability after all… we can do pretty much most things we would usually do – perhaps just being a bit more mindful, that’s all.

Mauritius is an intense play. Full of emotion and pain. Do you prefer this sort of work or are you a comedy gal?
Ooooh, I really like both! I’ve been super lucky I think to have had the opportunity to work across many genres. I learnt back at drama school that I had the ability to effectively tap into painful emotions – helping me dig into roles like Madame de Tourvel  (Les Liaisons Dangereuses), Paulina (The Winter’s Tale) or Olive (Summer Of The Seventeenth Doll).  But I’ve also discovered through training and practise that I have a bit of a knack for making people laugh as well – enjoying roles like Edith (The Women), Daria (We’ll Always Have Wagga) or Mum (Vernon God Little). I would hate to have to pick just one or the other to do for the rest of my life, and here’s hoping I never have to!

Have you acted in other cities around Australia, or even overseas? How does the Sydney theatre scene compare?
I actually started out acting in Canberra – back before I went to Uni, and we used to joke that the only way anyone from Canberra would get to set foot on the Canberra Theatre stage was to leave Canberra and be employed by an interstate company. There really wasn’t much around at that time, however from what I’ve read now it seems that the Canberra Theatre scene has grown somewhat, and even has an acting school of it’s own which is great. I then went to study in QLD, so have performed in both Toowoomba and Brisbane, though it has been years since being there so I can’t really give it an accurate comparison to the Sydney scene I’m afraid. Other cities I’ve performed in include Melbourne and Adelaide – which is so great to perform in at Festival time. There is such a buzz and sense of artist camaraderie at the Adelaide Fringe which I wish could bottle and bring to Sydney to have all year round!  

What do you prefer, rehearsal or performance?
Ooooh, that’s another hard one. Ultimately performance if I had to pick one, as by then I’ve done all of the work and can enjoy just giving myself over to the character each night and watching how their story affects different audiences. But playing with other actors in a rehearsal room is pure joy also! I love meeting new actors whom I’ve not worked with. I love hearing words off the page for the first time. I love making ridiculous mistakes throughout the rehearsal process all in the pursuit of truth and telling a good story.  I love being so frustrated that a scene is not working, and having a breakthrough moment where it all becomes clear. God I probably sound like a bit of a wanker, but I really do love what we do!

Andy Simpson

Emma Louise: What is Mauritius all about, and why did this play appeal to you?
At a basic level Mauritius is about stamps. Extraordinarily valuable stamps. Although saying that is a bit like saying Indiana Jones is about archaeology or Animal Farm is about farm animals. The play is about five desperate people who will go to extreme lengths to get what they want. They steal, lie, fight and intimidate, all for “two tiny slips of paper”. Mauritius has wonderful characters and pacy, muscular dialogue. I love American drama like this. It is evocative of the plays of David Mamet and Martin Scorcese’s New York movies. Truly exciting work.

Are you, or have you ever been a stamp collector? Or avid collector of anything for that matter?
I collected stamps as a child although I had completely forgotten about it until I was cast in the play. It was almost like a suppressed memory that popped back into my head. I’ve since found that my parents still have my collection in their home, safe and sound and exactly as I left it. I’m looking forward to reconnecting with it when I next visit them next year.

If you were writing a personal ad for your character (Philip), how would it read?
Companion wanted for lost man. Must love embarrassing silences and glib comebacks. Passion for retrospection and bitter recrimination a definite plus but not a deal breaker if you’re willing to put out. A willingness to excuse long, unexplained absences and poor timekeeping would be appreciated. 

How did you get this role?
Sure Foot put on auditions. There was a small problem with getting me the audition material but two hours is enough notice I reckon. Two hours to get my twins dressed, my daughter and son to Saturday morning sport (different sports of course) grab a coffee (vital), drive to Newtown, find parking, find the theatre, read the three scenes, shake hands and smile. I auditioned. I was the least bad option. Typical audition really.

What is your favourite thing to do when you’re not busy playing with us in a rehearsal room?
Softball. Playing softball. Practising playing softball. Talking about softball. And coffee.

Catch Emma Louise and Andy Simpson in Mauritius, by Theresa Rebeck.
Dates: 12 – 29 July, 2017
Venue: New Theatre

5 Questions with Melissa Hume and Gideon Payten-Griffiths

Melissa Hume

Gideon Payten-Griffiths: What does the ancient story of Bluebeard make you think about?
Melissa Hume: It makes me think of deception, of a beast with a glistening smile, murder, a marriage mistake, a room full of blood and bones. All of the fun, juicy stuff. It also makes me think and question the concept of doubt. The nameless young woman becomes doubtful that Bluebeard was to blame for the multiple disappearances of his past wives. The doubt is enough for her to agree to marry him. What causes her doubt of his guilt? Is it his wealth, pressure from her family, or his kind, seemingly generous manner?

How does performing in a men’s change room and toilet make you feel and affect your devising process?
Performing in a men’s change room and toilets makes me feel like a theatre rebel! I’m really excited about it because there are so many interesting aspects and items to play with (toilets, taps, showers!) that you don’t usually have in a normal theatre. I’ve performed in site-specific works before and it’s always been an amazing experience. Often the preconceived ideas to how an audience should act are lifted, so it makes it all so immediate and exciting. It affects the devising process because the seating arrangement, architecture, layout and acoustics of the change room/toilets is really different from our rehearsal spaces. So these things need to be kept in mind when we devise and we also need to keep it somewhat flexible and adaptable.

Why are you an artist/performer/actor?
The idea of dying is frightening and the idea of living is also frightening. Somewhere amongst all of that is meaning, and I’m trying to find out what that meaning is through the lens of stories. There’s also nothing that makes me feel quite alive as when I’m working on and performing in a show.

5 desert island necessities?
Toothbrush. Floss. Tampons (such a luxury item). An avocado tree. Bear Grylls.

If you were not an artist/performer/actor, what would you be doing?
I’d be on a desert island with Bear Grylls.

Gideon Payten-Griffiths

Melissa Hume: Bluebeard; Or, The Marriage Mistakes Of A Nameless Bride will be performed in the men’s toilets and change rooms at Bondi Pavilion. Tell me more about this and your experience with non-traditional venues?
Gideon Payten-Griffiths: Unusual contexts and audience relationships has become a big part of my practice. The unexpected can simply thrill the audience or keep them active. It can transform the viewer’s everyday experience of that space or the normally relatable; with this you might talk about what lurks underneath, reveal the unseen. Site specificity can exploit a fusion between art and ‘real life’, offering a beauty and/or an unsettling quality which can provoke or open up the audience. Suspending the everyday creates joy. A men’s change room and loo makes me think of social conventions, competition and intimacy which could reveal (darker) aspects of the (male) psyche. For women entering the space there layers of permission, trust and disgust heightening questions of gender and the roles we play, romance and the mystery of the other. This amplification of the binary has me thinking about seen and unseen sides to the same story. Responding to the physical aspects of this space is also inspiring; the hardness, greyness, moisture, seclusion, compartments, obscured vision, neon lighting. In playing clarinet and other sound in the space, the reverberation, the source of sound and the ambient sounds of Bondi have great potential.

How do you think the audience will be able to relate to this adaptation of the fairytale Bluebeard?
I think we are exploring Bluebeard in terms of what it says about emotional needs, desire, intimacy, fear, trust, aspiration, reputation, gender expectations; all sorts of things we all experience that are in there alongside the far out, suspense, horror and eroticism of a good serial killer tale. Or is it? There is no script, we are re-making this story from scratch and still creating; it will be a contemporary view. It may have some abstraction which might further allow the audience to relate in their own ways. I think we want to resist the simple moral conclusions of a fairytale; that a young woman should be less curious or that Bluebeard is pure evil. It’s a story of courtship and life-altering choices. Meanwhile, we’ve been asking what drives people to extremes, what makes a ‘bad’ person and what is the source cause of horrifying acts; where is the killer in all of us? By the way, its not just a fairytale! These stories of violence happen, today, just around the corner…

Can you tell me your story of how you came to be a performer?
I became a performer when I realised I always was a performer. Having made, sung, danced and acted since an early age it was in my bones. Yes Mel, that meaning and life/death thing can be terrifying. Maybe something about this self-awareness and sensitivity is part of what got me to this profession, or vice versa. After school I went listlessly, and at times pathologically, in other directions. Then, in 2005 I did a training program at PACT centre for emerging artists and remembered I didn’t have to pursue one discipline but could explore the fusion of different practices. I could simply be and artist (person). I realised that being an artist was the only thing I could do – there is a special kind of joy and transcendence it brings. After we’ve taken care of the basics, it’s what we do. When we haven’t or can’t take care of the basics, it’s what we do. I think art in life used to be less about the audience vs. performer and more about a community spirituality. I’m still coming to being a performer. There’s the ongoing research into knowing and harnessing the self, my embodied energy and how to move and project it (in the endless entropy of existence). I love making and performing as an act of empathy, compassion and connection. To question, reflect, break down and see anew. To speak truth to power. To be the jester. I guess it is the sense of purpose to the work that is the real story. Let alone the fun in the play of it!

If your life was to be written as a fairytale, what would the first sentence be?
There was once a fool who lived at the top of an empty hill in a warm little invisible house and dreamed of being a real person. (I reserve the right to change the fairytale at anytime).

Do you have any pre-show superstitions or rituals?
Urinating. Hugging my colleagues (you know like energetic, inter-corporeal ensemble building, we are one, we are many, listening with my feet, seeing you with my elbow!)

Melissa Hume and Gideon Payten-Griffiths are performing in Bluebeard; Or, The Marriage Mistakes Of A Nameless Bride, part of Bondi Feast 2017.
Dates: 25 – 29 July, 2017
Venue: Bondi Pavilion

5 Questions with Harriet Gillies and Pierce Wilcox

Harriet Gillies

Pierce Wilcox: Why do you love working with me?
Harriet Gillies: OMG it’s so good, obvi because Pierce is so good at banter game and then writing it down and making me talking shit sound like good dialogue 👍

No, but seriously why do you hate me so much, do we need to step outside?
Let’s GO.

Why is our show the best show?
Because I read out listicles about renaissance babies while we play The Pirates of Penzance music and you shockingly flirt with the audience, and because we drop a bucket of water on our heads. It’s also funny and interesting and cool i think 😉

What’s the worst thing on the internet?
This is such an inappropriate question – how could you Pierce how COULD YOU?! https://www.tweeddailynews.com.au/news/apn-meet-our-brainiest/146070/

I saw you talking to the witch who lives outside the grocery store, Ol’ Grocery Crone. I know she told you your future, don’t lie to me, what did she say?
Um it sounded like the world from that movie Joaquin Phoenix is in, Her and, like, I was Scarlett Johansson’s character omg sexy robot voice Harriet! #socool #thefutureisnow #comeseeourshow #youwillloveit #yqy

Pierce Wilcox

Harriet Gillies: Why is Harriet the best collaborator you have ever had?
Pierce Wilcox: Harriet is so goddamn great that working with her makes me infinitely better, thanks to the mere reflection of her glory. Even standing next to her increases my attractiveness by 300%. Plus she lets me nap on her couch when I get sleepy in rehearsal. I’m a big sleepy boy.

How excited are you about doing our show at Bondi Feast babe?
Girl, I am pinging you know it. I am going to get the worst fucking sunburn. I’ll be a crinkly theatre lobster.

What’s your all time fave audience interaction that we have had in They’ve Already Won?
Months after a run of the show, I starting seeing someone. She admitted that she first got a crush on me because of my performance in They’ve Already Won, but also she was bi and actually liked you more. That counts as interaction.

Do you think Dev Patel is a super babe, sex god, the finest man alive, or all of the above?
Dev Patel is the closest man has come to God’s perfect image. I would like to kiss the inside of his wrist.

What are you thinking about?
One question: is love is enough to save us?

Harriet Gillies and Pierce Wilcox are in They’ve Already Won, part of Bondi Feast 2017.
Dates: 26 – 27 July, 2017
Venue: Bondi Pavilion

5 Questions with Gary Clementson and Clare Hennessy

Gary Clementson

Clare Hennessy: What’s the most enjoyable aspect of playing Parker?
Gary Clementson: Parker has it all going on. Great job, nice car, beach side apartment, life is running very smoothly. Until a young journalist, Mia, shows up and bursts his bubble. Parker is so enjoyable to play, because he is a man who is having his foundations rocked to the core, while exchanging banter over a tasty Sunday juice.

Parker is in Public Relations. What do you think the key to being good at PR is?
To be successful in the Public Relations realm I think you need to be a pretty good spin doctor with the truth. Parker is a pretty smooth talker, but I think Clare Hennessy says it best in the play:

MIA: Isn’t apologising your job?
PARKER: Not really. Public relations is about pretending everything’s fine.

Make up a name for a brand new flavour of juice! Go!
Errr… BeetSting. Beetroot, honey, apple, ginger. Add gin to suit.

What’s guaranteed to make your co-star Contessa laugh?
Hahahah! I spend half of my rehearsal time trying to make Contessa laugh on stage. We studied together at drama school, so I know a few buttons to push, but mostly she just laughs at me trying not to laugh. It’s a vicious cycle.

If you could give Parker one piece of advice, what would it be?
Parker, mate, you need to really think about the things you say before you say them. Sometimes we might just regurgitate things we have heard without actually taking into account what they really mean and how they effect other people.

Clare Hennessy

Gary Clementson: As this is a response piece to The Village Bike, what correlations did you make between the pieces?
Clare Hennessy: I’m really interested in putting exciting genres on stage, so as soon as I read The Village Bike I thought it was the perfect opportunity to explore the genre of “sexy drama”… (that’s a genre, look it up). In all seriousness, The Village Bike asks some incredibly interesting questions about sexual politics, so I leapt at the opportunity to explore that conversation from a different vantage point.

The character of Mia is a journalist, writer, and sharp as a whip. Who has inspired this powerful character?
Luckily for me, I know so many ladies who are smart, driven and passionate as hell. The character’s not based on anyone in particular, but it’s definitely a hark to the strong and outspoken female writers who are blazing trails at the moment. I was particularly interested in writing this kind of character because I wanted to explore how accepting a position as an activist and writer is potentially a lonely place to be, especially as a woman. We need these kinds of writers, but is it possible to do so without compromising other things?

Important question. You’re ordering dumplings, what do you get?
Great question, Gary! I get fried AND steamed pork and chive… but most importantly, I get eggplant dumplings.

The New Fitz program is running incredibly well. Do you find it challenging to write to a shorter running time?
I actually love writing to a short running time; I like pushing the audience in the deep end and asking them to play catch up. There are certainly challenges, especially when you want to create a world that’s rich and complex without being too complicated, but when it goes well it’s such a short and sweet treat for the audience.

What research did you do to explore the issue of sexual harassment in the work place covered in Tongue Tied?
Unfortunately, there’s a lot to draw from. There’s a heap of really important activism/journalism happening in universities and other institutions at the moment, cases that I’m constantly following. I’m hoping that some genuine change comes out of the efforts of these legends. I’ve also been diving into the legal end of sexual harassment, and there are some alarming blind spots in the legislation that contribute to the conditions in which sexual assaults slip through the cracks. It’s made me realise how important it is to hold institutions accountable, and if institutions can’t then we need to find other ways to aid women and men with the knowledge they need to protect themselves.

Gary Clementson is in Clare Hennessy’s Tongue Tied.
Dates: 27 June – 8 July, 2017
Venue: Old Fitz Theatre

Review: Sunset Strip (The Uncertainty Principle / Griffin Theatre Company)

Venue: SBW Stables Theatre (Kings Cross NSW), Jun 14 – Jul 1, 2017
Playwright: Suzie Miller
Director: Anthony Skuse
Cast: Emma Jackson, Simon Lyndon, Lex Marinos, Georgina Symes
Image by Patrick Boland

Theatre review
Phoebe has lost custody of her children, due to a history of illicit drug use. Her sister Caroline has been battling cancer, while dealing with a relationship breakup. Their father Ray is suffering dementia. Life is hard, as we well know, but it is not all doom and gloom with these sisters. They are determined to get on with it, making the best of the cards they were dealt.

In Sunset Strip, playwright Suzie Miller brings a family together at a time when they are in desperate need of each other’s support. None of them realises this kindred reliance of course, for it is easy to take these relationships for granted, and like many of us, Phoebe and Caroline have resentments, jealousies and unresolved issues from the past, so their reunion was always going to be precarious.

Miller’s detailing of that delicate balance, between joy and pain in how they love, is full of tenderness, subtle but powerful. Their interchanges are nuanced, splendidly complex, and always with a gentle, familiar ring that will remind us of our own homes. When families talk, it is what we say between the lines that matters most, and Sunset Strip‘s sensitive explication of those dynamics, is what makes it feel like every person’s story.

Director Anthony Skuse’s quiet approach to storytelling is a perfect fit for the play. In this intimate venue, the drama envelopes as it unfolds, and we fall deeper and deeper into its emotional grip. Skuse’s work for Sunset Strip transcends the need for a dominant narrative, getting us to the heart of its characters by simply presenting four individuals who are so thoroughly authentic and vulnerable, that finding a meaningful connection with them is inevitable. This is theatre at its most moving (sans manipulative show tunes and fantastical storylines), made even more affecting by audience members sobbing uncontrollably in neighbouring seats.

Emma Jackson and Georgina Symes play the siblings, both laid bare spectacularly, allowing us to peer right into their fractured souls. The part of their ailing father is performed by Lex Marinos, who has us transfixed in the precision of his approach, and heartbroken by his depiction of a parent who can no longer provide guidance and care. Simon Lyndon is the love interest who offers much more than meets the eye, with an ability to introduce disarming and devastating poignancy, when you least expect it. These actors are truly wonderful.

No amount of love, can prevent people from growing apart, but it is in the capacity to make sacrifices, that the depths of love is revealed. Love is not about holding tight, in fact, it is more often about letting go, but there will come moments where people are required to sit together, maybe to laugh, or maybe to fight, so that love can do its job. When life turns too hard, loneliness will only add fuel to fire. Not every problem will have solutions, but a warm embrace makes everything, miraculously, easier.

www.griffintheatre.com,au

Review: Cyrano De Bergerac (Sport For Jove Theatre)

Venue: Seymour Centre (Chippendale NSW), Jun 15 – 24, 2017
Playwright: Edmond Rostand (adaptation by Damien Ryan)
Director: Damien Ryan
Cast: Andrew Johnston, Barry French, Bernadette Ryan, Christopher Stalley, Christopher Tomkinson, Damien Ryan, Drew Livingston, Francesca Savige, James Lugton, John Turnbull, Julian Garner, Lizzie Schebesta, Madeleine Jones, Melanie Dobson, Thom Blake, Tim Walter, Wendy Strehlow
Image by Phil Erbacher

Theatre review
Women, no matter how intellectual or beautiful, are not to be trusted with their own decisions in Cyrano De Bergerac. Edward Rostand’s 120 year-old play is a romantic fantasy about an ugly man who successfully deceives and misleads the object of his desire, so that his feelings can be reciprocated. His nose, of legendary proportions, clearly does not stand in the way of human vanity.

Roxanne’s lust for the handsome Christian, is presented as foolish and absurd, hence illegitimate, in the old-fashioned play, because of course, the verbosely articulate Cyrano is the appropriate match, if a girl is to experience true love. Women are once again infantilised, and our sexuality subjugated, in order that patriarchal ideals can be presented as superior.

Tiresome ideologies of the original are retained in this recent adaptation, but there is no doubt that Damien Ryan’s remarkable wit and extraordinary talent with words, have polished up Cyrano De Bergerac, rolled it in glitter, and all but blinds us from its inferior politics. Ryan’s work is supremely clever, often very beautiful, and for the many who find enjoyment in its brand of outlandish romance, this is a play that will prove deeply satisfying.

Ryan’s work as actor too, is marvellous. Brilliantly funny, and irresistibly charming, he convinces us that sexual attractiveness is completely irrelevant, and that Cyrano is the only man for Roxanne. Lizzie Schebesta expends her efforts into the side of Roxanne that is repeatedly emphasised to be intellectual, and does all she can to elevate the role from the embarrassing gullibility that is Rostand’s creation. It is a very vivacious cast, relentlessly amusing, and audiences will be held captive for its entire 3.5 hour duration.

There are no big pertinent messages in Cyrano De Bergerac that need our urgent attention. We can certainly be entertained by other much more relevant stories, but this French play continues the perseverate tradition of European occupation of the arts in Australia. For over two centuries, we import these works, as though the purposes they serve are somehow irreplaceable or worse, more resonant than what we can find in the art of our own region. It offers an accurate reflection of the ongoing attitude of colonisation that persists (why else would all 18 actors on this stage be of Caucasian appearance?), even though we wish to think ourselves a modern, progressive and inclusive society.

www.sportforjove.com.au