Review: Bondi Legal (Bondi Theatre Company)

Venue: Bondi Pavilion (Bondi NSW), Oct 11 – 26, 2019
Playwright: Tony Laumberg
Director: Richard Cotter
Cast: Valentino Arico, Michael Arvithis, Jadie Bastow, David Evan Samuels, Tricia Youlden
Images by Lightbox Photography

Theatre review
Brad thinks himself an average lawyer at best, and when he has to fight a court case at short notice, we see him quite literally fall in a heap, overwhelmed by fear of failure. His client Frances however, has enough confidence for the both of them, and proceeds to be a formidable driving force that pushes Brad to do his very best work. Written by Tony Laumberg in 2009, based on personal experiences from the mid 90’s, Bondi Legal is an unremarkable narrative presented in an old-fashioned style, but its humour, although obvious, could certainly appeal to those with a taste for something traditional.

Directed by Richard Cotter, the production is appropriately rambunctious, and thankfully fast-paced. In the absence of an engaging story, Cotter aims to keep us invested by foregrounding some very broad comedy. Michael Arvithis demonstrates himself to be a reliable performer; skilful, agile and extremely energetic in the lead role. His determination to entertain, forms the anchor of the show, keeping things buoyant and amusing. Frances is played by Jadie Bastow, a prudent counterpart who provides steady, and generous, support to her irrepressible co-star.

Theatre is often more about how a story is told, than what the story actually is. The court case at the centre of Bondi Legal is unlikely to resonate with many, but the rowdy goings on make for a stage that holds our attention. When artists work together to assemble elements that could make large groups of people laugh as one, they are both reflecting and defining our culture. They identify who we are, and then have the opportunity to shape us into what we should be. Theatre can be regressive or progressive. It can hold us back, or move us forward, even if in the moment, all we can perceive is harmless laughter.

www.bonditheatrecompany.com.au

Review: Margaret Fulton Queen Of The Dessert (Bondi Theatre Company)

Venue: Bondi Pavilion (Bondi NSW), Oct 12 – 27, 2018
Book: Doug MacLeod (based on Margaret Fulton’s autobiography I Sang For My Supper)
Music: Yuri Worontschak
Director: Ruth Fingret
Cast: Manon Gunderson-Briggs, Clare McCallum, Alexander Morgan, Brett O’Neill, Jasmine Sands, Rebecca Spicer
Images by Lightbox Photography

Theatre review
Australia’s original celebrity chef, Margaret Fulton may be known to have provided culinary lessons to generations, but in the musical Margaret Fulton Queen Of The Dessert, we observe her to be a trailblazer who has, ironically, led women out of their kitchens and into the workforce. The story tracks Fulton’s rise to prominence in mid-20th century, through a combination of verve and luck, culminating in the publication of her hugely successful cookbooks. Helping to broaden the concept of an Australian cuisine, at a time when the White Australia Policy was still in place, her career is a significant landmark that many still hold dear today.

It is a wholesome show, perhaps too polite in tone, but the narrative is structured effectively for an entertaining, often amusing experience, featuring charming insights into our heroine’s story. Music by Yuri Worontschak is beautifully melodious, for a slew of catchy tunes that keep our feet tapping along. Sound design however, is a major sore point, as are most of its visual elements. Nevertheless, Ruth Fingret’s direction ensures that her cast takes every opportunity to deliver energy and merriment through their vibrant performances.

Leading lady Manon Gunderson-Briggs plays a gregarious Fulton; feisty and exuberant at centre stage, keeping us charmed and firmly attentive to the vignettes being shared. Equally likeable is Rebecca Spicer, whose sparkly confidence in a variety of supporting roles makes her a memorable presence. Brett O’Neill proves himself an adventurous performer, as he playfully invents one character after another, always with a tongue-in-cheek sense of extravagance that many will find irresistible.

A person’s legacy relates to their contribution to society. It is a measurement of how many lives are made better, even in the tiniest of ways, by the actions of individuals or groups that endeavour to bring progress to the world. The Margaret Fulton Cookbook has sold a million and a half copies, offering inspiration to young and old for 50 years and counting. Our achievements do not have to be of that scale, but mere mortals too, need to try to leave this a better place than when we had found it. Knowing that every thought, intention and action, has the potential to leave an indelible mark, we must simply always try to do good.

www.bonditheatrecompany.com.au