Review: Vice (Emu Productions)

emuproductionsVenue: King Street Theatre (Newtown NSW), Apr 21 – May 9, 2015
Playwright: Melvyn Morrow
Director: Elaine Hudson
Cast: Margi De Ferranti, Jonathan Deves, Roger Gimblett, Christopher Hamilton, Jess Loudon, Benjamin McCann

Theatre review
Writing a play about hot topics of the day is a delicate operation. Reiterating dominant schools of thought without adding new perspectives will make the work seem lightweight and redundant, but proffering alternative ideas can be dangerous, especially when the issue is a sensitive one. Melvyn Morrow’s Vice joins the very contemporary discussion on the sexual assault of children by authority figures in religious institutions. We meet Jasper, a manipulative eighteen year-old who uses his burgeoning sexuality as currency, and the guardians at his affluent high school who exploit their custodial positions over students in their care. The illusion of consent that exists between people in hierarchical organisations become further complicated by the issue of age. Society acknowledges a certain legal age where people become adults, but within the paradigm of school and family, we believe in a sacred sense of protection that must prevail for all our daughters and sons. Morrow writes with an ambiguity that inspires thought, and although unlikely to change anyone’s moral position, his story opens up points in a hackneyed argument that may have been previously overlooked. The play’s structure is engaging and tight, with character transformations and edgy dialogue that provide drama and intellectual stimulation.

Direction by Elaine Hudson is punchy and passionate, and although personalities are not always convincing, their narratives are conveyed with enough clarity so that the plot retains its complexities without losing too much coherence. Morrow’s script is often witty, but comedy is not handled well in the production. The cast is under-rehearsed with an inordinate frequency of actors tripping over lines, and several key roles are approached with insufficient depth, resulting in emotions that lack accuracy. The play is situated in modern day Sydney, but its speech emulates an artificial upper class affectation that seems to have been awkwardly derived from mid twentieth century English film and television, that can occasionally cause a troubling dislocation of space and time. On a brighter note, all performances are energetic, with an enjoyable urgency that holds our attention. Playing Olivia Fox is Jess Loudon who attacks with conviction and a charming boldness. Her part is simpler than the other darker characters, but Loudon brings nuance and texture to create a presence on stage that the audience can relate to.

Societal progression involves the dismantlement of old organisations that have proven themselves contrary to democratic ideologies. The pervasiveness and influence of religion in our lives run thorough and broad. Many profit from archaic power structures, and are determined to sustain them by deceptive and cowardly means. The rich and powerful choose a status quo that requires poverty and powerlessness to exist, so resistance and change can only occur at snail place (if at all). Communities are divided and conquered by a 1% of humanity, that insist we continue to participate, knowingly and unconsciously, in all the rituals of daily life that perpetuate our own oppression, in ignorance and isolation. Only when we find an appetite for destruction big enough and brave enough, that revolution can happen. There is a gentle flame in Vice that can inspire, and perhaps provide a spark that can lead to a solution for these disturbing circumstances that we should all be very concerned about.

5 Questions with Elaine Hudson

elainehudsonWhat is your favourite swear word?

What are you wearing?
Vintage kimono.

What is love?

What was the last show you saw, and how many stars do you give it?
Mother Courage with Jaram Lee at Sydney Festival. How many stars? A constellation!

Is your new show going to be any good?
Good, better, best!



Elaine Hudson is directing the new play Vice, by Melvyn Morrow.
Show dates: 21 Apr – 9 May, 2015
Show venue: King Street Theatre

5 Questions with Melvyn Morrow

melvynmorrowWhat is your favourite swear word?
Tony Abbott.

What are you wearing?
Shorts and a polo.

What is love?
Tis not hereafter. Present mirth has present laughter. What’s to come is still unsure.

What was the last show you saw, and how many stars do you give it?
The Big Funk. 3 stars, and 5 stars to Jess Loudon who has just joined our cast.

Is your new show going to be any good?
No. It’s going to be effing sensational on every front.
Melvyn Morrow’s Vice is set in a Catholic boys’ school, and tackles a highly controversial subject head on.
Show dates: 21 Apr – 9 May, 2015
Show venue: King Street Theatre

Review: Beyond Therapy (Understudy Theatre)

understudytheatreVenue: King Street Theatre (Newtown NSW), Jan 28 – Feb 14, 2015
Playwright: Christopher Durang
Director: Johann Walraven
Cast: Tel Benjamin, David Hooley, Andrew Johnston, Rebecca Scott, Nadia Townsend, Jasper Whincop

Theatre review
Christopher Durang’s sensational Beyond Therapy was first staged in 1981, at a time when psychotherapy and counselling were just arriving into the consciousness of the mainstream. Unlike the tendency today to class every colourful mode of behaviour and thought pattern as dysfunction of one sort or another, the play emerges from a period which paid attention to the peculiarities of human expression to locate machinations that might be able to provide explanations to our ever-present existential angst. The inevitable interrogation of normalcy, and the dismantlement of conventional expectations takes pride of place in Durang’s meditation on life for the thirtysomethings, but Johann Walraven’s direction of the piece does not always adhere to that sense of chaotic ideology. Walraven’s exploration of the play comes from a realistic perspective, trying to find coherence in what is essentially absurd and wild at heart. His need to find understanding is entirely reasonable, but the approach causes a muting of what could have been a comedy that guffaws at a much higher octane. The show is about being crazy, and although Walraven does not forget that fact, his interest in grounding the action in a place of logic sometimes gets in the way.

Performances by the cast of six are committed and focused, but an air of restraint permeates the atmosphere. The material requires no straitjacket, and when the actors find moments of abandonment, the production clicks right into position. Nadia Townsend plays Dr Wallace with a kind of Saturday Night Live sensibility, playing for laughs rather than earnest authenticity and her approach works well. There is no need for actors to provide explanation for Durang’s words because they are loud and clear on their own. They should, however, bring an energy to the stage that embodies a manic universe that the text is keen to reveal, so that its raucous comedy can be unleashed. Chemistry in the work is honest and resolutely present, especially in a sequence that sees Rebecca Scott’s character Prudence taunting the patrons at a restaurant. The ensemble loses its self consciousness and takes on an exciting unhinged humour, delivering some of the biggest laughs of the show.

Themes in Beyond Therapy are timeless and universal. It talks about growing up and marriage, within a context that investigates the meanings of sanity and social acceptability. Great art attempts to excavate the layers of fictions that we place between our daily lives and a sense of truth that seems to lie in an irrefutable core somewhere. We go about our business moving from one day to the next with the niggling suspicion that most of what we do is farcical, and entirely laughable if not desperately pointless. Yet, most of us would rather play the role of the sane, persisting with the anxieties and uncertainty of a life done in appropriateness. We believe that the alternative is out there, but we are afraid of what it might present, especially when madness begins to look no more closer to truth than our private falsities.

Suzy Goes See’s Best Of 2014


2014 has been a busy year. Choosing memorable moments from the 194 shows I had reviewed in these 12 months is a mind-bending exercise, but a wonderful opportunity that shows just how amazing and vibrant, theatre people are in Sydney. Thank you to artists, companies, publicists and punters who continue to support Suzy Goes See. Have a lovely holiday season and a happy new year! Now on to the Best Of 2014 list (all in random order)…

Suzy x

 Avant Garde Angels
The bravest and most creatively experimental works in 2014.

 Quirky Questers
The most unusual and colourful characters to appear on our stages in 2014.

♥ Design Doyennes
Outstanding visual design in 2014. Fabulous lights, sets and costumes.

♥ Darlings Of Dance
Breathtaking brilliance in the dance space of 2014.

♥ Musical Marvels
Outstanding performers in cabaret and musicals in 2014.

♥ Second Fiddle Superstars
Scene-stealers of 2014 in supporting roles.

♥ Ensemble Excellence
Casts in 2014 rich with chemistry and talent.

♥ Champs Of Comedy
Best comedic performances of 2014.

♥ Daredevils Of Drama
Best actors in dramatic roles in 2014.

♥ Wise With Words
Best new scripts of 2014.

 Directorial Dominance
Best direction in 2014.

♥ Shows Of The Year
The mighty Top 10.

♥ Suzy’s Special Soft Spot
A special mention for the diversity of cultures that have featured in its programming this year.

  • ATYP



Photography by Roderick Ng, Dec 2014


Best of 2018 | Best of 2017 | Best of 2016Best of 2015Best Of 2013

5 Questions with Kyle Stephens

kylestephensWhat is your favourite swear word?
It’s a kids’ show. Sugar Honey Ice Tea.

What are you wearing?
Well this is embarrassing but I’m wearing a tiger onesie.

What is love?
Love is what I share with my lovely girlfriend Amy Fisher. It’s like a sore tummy except with joy on top of it… and hugs haha.

What was the last show you saw, and how many stars do you give it?
The last thing I saw that wasn’t what I was working on was Ruthless at the Seymour Centre. It was 10 out of 10.

Is your new show going to be any good?
It’s going to be amazing.

Kyle Stephens is in Mother Goose by Emu Productions.
Show dates: 8 -23 Dec, 2014
Show venue: King Street Theatre

Review: Leaves (Théâtre Excentrique / Emu Productions)

theatreexcentriqueVenue: King Street Theatre (Newtown NSW), Nov 18 – 29, 2014
Playwright: Steve McGrath
Director: Markus Weber
Cast: Martin Ashley Jones, Steve McGrath, Gerry Sont

Theatre review
Three men from privileged backgrounds are turning fifty, and they head out for a camping trip to commemorate the occasion. It seems that their mid-life crises have not subsided, and they struggle to find meaning and fulfillment in spite of having successful careers as a psycho therapist, a barrister, and a real estate agent. Steve McGrath’s script includes many interesting elements that keep the plot layered and unpredictable, with a peculiar sense of humour that gives it an air of whimsy. Some of the jokes are corny, and the overall structure of the play is slightly inelegant, but McGrath’s themes of time, mortality, and the quest for enlightenment are contextualised with enough creativity for Leaves to sustain interest.

Like one of the presenting companies’ names, direction of the work by Markus Weber is eccentric. The production is vibrant, often with a frenzied, almost childlike energy that translates passionately, but there is a general lack of focus that can make narrative details hard to follow. Visual design is adventurous and very colourful, but lighting cues tend to be haphazard and poorly timed (or the show might have been suffering from technical troubles on the night of review). The cast is committed, especially Gerry Sont in the role of Chas, the realtor, who drives the action with a blend of exuberance and frailty that characterises the dilemma being explored. Each actor possesses a degree of authenticity, and they manufacture a lively and noisy atmosphere, but their chemistry is not always convincing. They seem to understand their own parts well, but are detached from the others. Similarly, the play struggles to find coherence, although its philosophy does manage to come across surprisingly clear.

Growing older is no walk in the park for the men in Leaves, and perhaps for men everywhere. There is an interesting link between masculinity and the ageing process, where a shedding of exteriors becomes almost inevitable, and the exposure of weaknesses presents an unexpected challenge. Death for the fifty year-old is a conflicting concept, working as a reminder of the brevity of life, yet bringing to attention, the vulnerability of the body. The remaining years are short, but also long, and it is with a zestful maturity that one can navigate the autumn of life and turn it into days of wine and roses.

In Rehearsal: Leaves

Rehearsal images above from Leaves by Théâtre Excentrique.
At King Street Theatre, from Nov 19 – 29, 2014.
More info at
Photography by Kyle Stephens

5 Questions with Dimitri Armatas

dimitriarmatasWhat is your favourite swear word?
Fucking/fucken shit! Both of these alternatives, I find, have an incredible way of doing two things at once. Firstly, it helps to release all the frustration you’ve got inside you, which is the reason for swearing in the first place. Secondly, if said properly, will come out in an altering pitch and speed, allowing for ultimate success in execution.

What are you wearing?
Black t-shirt and jeans. T-shirts and jeans, the forever winning combination.

What is love?
I’ve got nothing, but…indescribable

What was the last show you saw, and how many stars do you give it?
Henry V at the Sydney Opera House. It was a great show with an interesting choice of staging, and always good to see a young cast showing the power of the Bard lives on. I would give it 3.5/5 stars.

Is your new show going to be any good?
With a great director and the quality of the talent within the cast, I really think it’ll be spectacular.

Dimitri Armatas is appearing in his own play Haus by Black Raven Productions.
Show dates: 5 – 15 Nov, 2014
Show venue: King Street Theatre

5 Questions with Helen Vienne

helenvienneWhat is your favourite swear word?
Fudge. Very G rated, I know.

What are you wearing?
Gingerbread pajama pants and an ex boyfriend’s T-shirt.

What is love?
Being a Beatles fan, I would have to say love is all you need 🙂

What was the last show you saw, and how many stars do you give it?
The Glass Menagerie at the Belvoir. It was a very simple but brilliant interpretation. They had video cameras set up to capture the actors in quieter moments and these images were projected on large screens in black and white, giving it an old Hollywood movie feel. I would give it four stars.

Is your new show going to be any good?
Bet your bottom dollar! (As Annie would say).

Helen Vienne is appearing in Haus by Black Raven Productions.
Show dates: 5 – 15 Nov, 2014
Show venue: King Street Theatre