Review: Bite Me (ATYP)

rsz_bite_me_5_gxmphotographyVenue: ATYP Under The Wharf (Walsh Bay NSW), Feb 5 – 22, 2014
Director: Anthony Skuse
Playwrights: Jory Anast, Jake Brain, Sophie Hardcastle, Tasnim Hossain, Julian Larnach, Zac Linford, Felicity Pickering, Emily Sheehan, Kyle Walmsley, Keir Wilkins
Actors: Airlie Dodds, Darcie Irwin-Simpson, Joel Jackson, Angelica Madeni, Sam Marques, Paul Musemeci, Julia Rorke, Emily Sheehan, Kate Williams

Theatre review
Each year ATYP (Australian Theatre for Young People) brings together 20 young writers aged between 18 and 26 to participate in their National Studio. As part of the week, the writers are given a common theme and each creates a seven minute monologue for a 17 year old actor. Bite Me presents 10 of those scripts, in an unusual format that brings them together, not as a coherent whole, but a visceral entity that stands alone as a singular work of theatre.

The common theme in all the writing is food, but Anthony Skuse’s direction does not rely on that convenience to tie things together into one obvious unit. Instead, he focuses our attention on the actors’ work and design aspects of the production, to create an experience that is dramatic, thrilling, and avant garde. Skuse is acutely aware of the audience’s senses and all the potentialities an empty space holds for addressing them. His respect for actors and all their capacities is evident, and we are given the best sides of all his performers. Along with movement coach Adèle Jeffreys, Bite Me showcases a kind of image driven theatre that wonderfully imagines bodies in spaces, and pushes the boundaries of creativity within a realm of minimalism.

The cast is a young one, and while their standards of performance vary, all are allowed to present their strengths, and an excellent sense of evenness is achieved in terms of stage time. Julia Rorke, in Kyle Walmsley’s Food Baby, is easily the funniest in the ensemble. Her comic timing is natural and gleeful, and her determination in connecting with the audience is irresistible. Paul Musumeci’s performance of Keir Wilkins’ George is beautifully restrained. Like a caged lion, Musumeci exhibits a powerful magnetism, one resulting from a very controlled expression of a certain mysterious intensity that resides in the actor’s being. Jory Anast’s Pip Nat Georgie is performed by Airlie Dodds who delivers, without the aid of makeup and costumes, a memorable depiction of an archetypal young Australian masculine character. Dodds’ feminine appearance provides the perfect juxtaposition for her character, and allows us to see the actor’s interesting work with great clarity.

Set, lighting and sound design are thoughtful and exquisite. Narratives are scarce in Bite Me, but its atmospherics are dynamic and beautiful. This is a great achievement, given the minimalist approach taken by all the technical components. There have been many other showings of short plays that have entertained or titillated more, but this is a production that fascinates and impresses. It is thoroughly original.

Suzy Goes See’s Best Of 2013

Images from a few 2013 stand-outs: A Sign Of The Times, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, All My Sons, Hamlet, Empire: Terror On The High Seas, Hay Fever, Bodytorque.Technique, Waiting For Godot.

Images from a few 2013 stand-outs: A Sign Of The Times, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, All My Sons, Hamlet, Empire: Terror On The High Seas, Hay Fever, Bodytorque.Technique, Waiting For Godot.

This is a wrap up of special moments since the commencement of Suzy Goes See in April 2013. A personal selection from over 100 productions seen in Sydney. Thank you to artists, companies, publicists and punters who have supported Suzy Goes See in 2013. I cannot wait for more shenanigans with you in the new year!

Update: Click here for the Best Of 2014 list.

Suzy x

♥ Avant Garde Angels
The bravest and most creative experimental works in 2013.

♥ Quirky Questers
The most unusual and colourful characters to appear on our stages in 2013.

♥ Design Doyennes
Outstanding visual design in 2013. Fabulous lights, sets and costumes.

♥ Darlings Of Dance
Breathtaking brilliance in the dance space of 2013.

♥ Musical Marvels
Outstanding performers in cabaret and musicals in 2013.

♥ Second Fiddle Superstars
Scene-stealers of 2013 in supporting roles.

♥ Champs Of Comedy
The cleverest, sharpest, and funniest performances of 2013.

♥ Daredevils Of Drama
Bold and excellent acting in dramatic roles in 2013.

♥ Wise With Words
The most interesting and intelligent scripts of 2013.

♥ Directorial Dominance
The most impressive work in direction for 2013.

♥ Shows Of The Year
Nice coincidence to have different genres represented: drama, musical, dance, comedy and cabaret.

♥ Suzy’s Special Soft Spot
For an exceptional work I saw in Melbourne.


Best of 2018 | Best of 2017 | Best of 2016Best of 2015Best Of 2014

Sweet Nothings (Pantsguys)

rsz_902884_626394167418141_1051080144_oVenue: ATYP Under The Wharf (Walsh Bay NSW), Nov 7 – 23, 2013
Playwright: David Harrower, after Arthur Schnitzler
Director: John Kachoyan
Actors: Graeme McRae, Owen Little, Clementine Mills, Matilda Ridgway, Lucy Miller, Mark Lee, Alistair Wallace

Theatre review
Sweet Nothings is an adaptation of a 118 year-old play by Arthur Schnitzler, the Austrian writer whose work, in more recent times, inspired David Hare’s The Blue Room and Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut. Under John Kachoyan’s direction, the frank sexual content that Shnitzler is known for does feature prominently in the opening scenes but fortunately no actor is subject to gratuitous nudity. This is a difficult script to manage. Its lead character Christine tends to appear “pre-feminist”, and is challenging for contemporary sensibilities. It is a tragic love story with a gender imbalance that some of us may find hard to stomach.

Playing Christine is Matilda Ridgway who is extremely committed  but her understated performance is too internalised, which would probably suit film and television more than it does the stage. Owen Little is by far the strongest in this cast. He does have the most outlandish character to play with, but he more than fulfils his brief, giving the audience a playful vivaciousness that counteracts the low-key style of the leads. Mark Lee works hard to lift energy levels in the second half, and his experience shines through even if his role is fairly undemanding.

Set design by Sophie Fletcher is effective and beautiful. The transformation from an apartment in Act 1 into Christine’s home in Act 2 is well-considered and executed with elegance. The contrast between both sets helps convey character dynamics and provides colour to the plot. Not all facets of the show are quite as accomplished, but the show is in general, a polished one, and would no doubt act as a springboard for further achievements.

5 Questions with Owen Little

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fireface (Stories Like These)

FIREFACE   Production PhotosVenue: ATYP Under The Wharf (Walsh Bay NSW), Aug 1 – 17, 2013
Playwright: Marius Von Mayenburg, translated by Maja Zade
Director: Luke Rogers
Actors: Darcy Brown, Darcie Irwin-Simpson, James Lugton, Lucy Miller, Ryan Bennett
Image credit: Phyllis Wong

Theatre review
The “nurture vs nature” debate is always a lively one, so building a play around that theme almost guarantees an exciting and instantly controversial exercise. Director Luke Rogers’ take on Fireface is powerful and thought-provoking. He deliberately restricts his work from providing easy answers, relying instead on the strength of the questions themselves to captivate his audience. Arguments and counter-arguments are presented with subtlety, producing theatre that is cerebral and discursive.

Set design is beautifully simple. The director’s use of the awkward wedge-shaped stage, basing all the action around a singular big table shows talent and thoughtfulness. Lighting and sound are pushed to their limit in terms of how much they can be utilised in what is essentially a narrative based play. They add to the drama, and assist with the innumerable scene changes in Von Mayenburg’s script, but are at times too noticeable and distracting. The final moments are fractured by several successive black outs, which unfortunately impede the story from developing with a greater sense of urgency.

Darcy Brown stars in the lead role and turns in a stunning performance. In addition to his enigmatic charisma, his artistic choices always feel just right, and the character he has created is simultaneously strange, compelling and frightening. James Lugton plays the distant, withdrawn father with painful accuracy. His role might be characterised by stupefying inanity, but the actor’s every appearance is entrancing. This is a strong cast, and their cohesion within the show’s unusual style and tone is thoroughly impressive. Together with Rogers, the work they have created here is intellectually demanding, and an artful triumph.