Review: Everybody (Cross Pollinate Productions)

Venue: Kings Cross Theatre (Kings Cross NSW), Mar 6 – 21, 2019
Playwright: Branden Jacobs-Jenkins
Director: Gabriel Fancourt
Cast: Kate Bookallil, Caitlin Burley, Annie Byron, Giles Gartrell-Mills, Isaro Kayitesi, Mansoor Noor, Kate Skinner, Samm Ward and Michael Wood
Images by Clare Hawley

Theatre review
The idea is to think of that one thing you can take with you, when you die. Everybody by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins talks about the most common of denominators. A woman named Death has come knocking, and is asking Everybody to bring along one other, to meet their maker. It is worth pointing out that Everybody is played by any one of five actors, determined at each performance by lottery. As we watch ourselves shuffle off this mortal coil, leaving behind all things material, we are urged to consider a certain distillation of being, that occurs in the final hour, and come to a conclusion of what it is that might accompany the departure of each spirit.

It is a cleverly structure play, featuring thought-provoking and immensely enjoyable dialogue. Its raison d’etre may ultimately feel somewhat prosaic, but the journey Everybody takes us on, is a very satisfying one. Dynamic work by lighting designer Morgan Moroney and sound designer Felicity Giles, ensure that the production is consistently energetic and vibrant. Set design by Stephanie Dunlop makes effective use of space, with a simple solution that keeps us all engaged with every stage activity.

Gabriel Fancourt’s direction delivers a show that entertains from start to finish, able to position a compelling sense of theatricality alongside earnest explorations of the text’s philosophy. A charming cast, including five brave performers who allow a nightly act of chance decide their fate, collaborate on a presentation unique to the live form. When playing the part of Everybody, Isaro Kayitesi is tremendously impressive, with a glorious combination of vulnerability, complexity and authenticity, that she renders with apparent ease. Giles Gartrell-Mills is our usher, comfortably authoritative in the role, but also disarming with a sincerity that he exudes quite naturally. Death is a comical character when portrayed by Annie Byron, whose unremitting joviality brings splendid contrast to the grim notions that she embodies.

God is omnipresent in Jacobs-Jenkins’ writing, but Nature scarcely gets a mention. In 2020, it is our natural world and environment that has become a major factor in how we conceive of mortality and the future. Perhaps God has all along been indivisible from Nature, yet so many of our minds have learned to have them separated. There is a lot of truth in saying that we create God in our image (and vice versa), and for those of us who think of God and Nature as different, this must be the day of reckoning, the final opportunity for us to come to grips with the fact that it is us who are at the mercy of Mother Earth.

www.crosspollinate.com.au

5 Questions with Isaro Kayitesi and Mansoor Noor

Isaro Kayitesi

Mansoor Noor: If you could take one thing with you to the after life what would it be?
Isaro Kayitesi: My great tchotchke collection would be comforting, but actually I think I would take the good memories from my life to play over and over again whenever I wanted. Though, that’s assuming that I’d have a mind to experience them in…?

What’s it like learning every role in a play?
Well “nearly” every role… I reckon it must be really good for my brain (the nervous system, not so much). I’ve been doing a lot of shutting off of that little voice inside my head that’s saying: “this is impossible!!” I just hope I don’t start mouthing the other character’s lines while I’m not supposed to be playing them!

Who would you turn to for help on a presentation about your life?
Probably my mother because she is a glass-half-full kind of person, so I think she would leave out all the bad bits for me.

Who’s your favourite cast member slash which one of us would you take to meet God?
I’d probably take you, only because you naturally talk much more rapidly than I do so you could ask “God” like a million questions and do all the talking until I could actually wrap my head around the whole weirdness of the fact that I was apparently meeting “God”! (I don’t have favourites! That is crazy!)

Are you nervous about not knowing which role you will get to play each night?
Not knowing means that I’m going to have to just go for it without any time to over think. It also helps to know that there are 5 of us going through the same thing. So, no, not yet, but ask me again on the first night!

Mansoor Noor

Isaro Kayitesi: Would you rather go to an afterlife or just disappear in to nothingness, and why?
Defs the afterlife. Have you not seen The Good Place? It’s a never ending party where you can do whatever you like! The Good Place is based on facts… right?

Which kinds of lines do you find the hardest to remember?
All of them… apparently. Nah but seriously… the ones where you have to remember EVERY CHARACTER’S LINES.

Are you going to call “line!” during a show if you dry? Or what will you do if you forget your lines in front of an audience?
My usual trick is to just freeze and hope that nobody notices. Nah I’m kidding… I’ve only done that once. In this show we’re lucky because the actor opposite us knows all of our lines too. So the real question is, what will you do Isaro if I forget my lines?

How existential do you get in your day to day life; has working on this play affected that?
You might say I’m constantly in existential crisis. But it has nothing to do with this play. More with the fact that I’m a single, sometimes working actor (and headshot photographer at www.mansoornoor.com – I’ve mentioned this in another Suzy interview, she’s down with it) and living in a share-house. But no, I’m fine. I’m really, really fine.

Would you walk out on your friend’s death bed if they irrevocably insulted you?
Walk out? Never. I’d most likely smother them… with forgiveness… just so I could look like the bigger person… and then watch them die anyway. If that got too dark then I’m blaming the play.

Isaro Kayitesi and Mansoor Noor can be seen in Everybody, by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins.
Dates: 6 – 21 Mar, 2020
Venue: Kings Cross Theatre

Review: Australian Open (Kings Cross Theatre)

Venue: Kings Cross Theatre (Kings Cross NSW), Feb 14 – 29, 2020
Playwright: Angus Cameron
Director: Riley Spadaro
Cast: Di Adams, Gerard Carroll, Miranda Daughtry, Patrick Jhanur, Tom Anson Mesker, Tom Russell
Images by Clare Hawley

Theatre review
Inspired by her son Felix, Belinda decides to change the nature of her marriage, in order to try out new things. Felix adamantly objects, even though it is his own open relationship with Lucas, that had acted as the very catalyst for his mother’s radical transformation. Australian Open by Angus Cameron looks at the way we let our most personal lives be dictated by others, and how we in turn feel at liberty to intervene with other people’s private business. It is a wonderfully progressive piece of writing, that takes the discussion of sexuality and marriage into the twenty-first century. Framed by some fabulously mischievous wit, the play is often hilarious, with its strengths clearly residing in dialogue rather than in plot.

Relentlessly camp, the show is directed by Riley Spadaro, whose penchant for grand gestures makes the experience a vivaciously engaging one. Spadaro is meticulous with the comedy of the piece, never letting any opportunity for laughs go wasted, although it must be said that more serious moments at the end, can in comparison, feel perfunctorily handled. There is a sense of refinement to the staging, with Grace Deacon’s work on set and costumes proving enchanting with her refreshing palette. Phoebe Pilcher’s lights too, bring an exuberance to keep us in the mood for all the bubbly goings on.

An extremely adorable cast keeps us enthralled in their slightly naughty story, with Di Adams particularly charming as Belinda, full of pointed nuance and jubilant playfulness, for a character luxuriating in being able to get back her groove. Felix is played by Tom Anson Mesker, whose proficient comic timing establishes pace for the proceedings. Also very funny is Gerard Carroll as Peter, able to portray vulnerability whilst bringing cheeky humour to the role. The millennial tennis star Lucas is given a surprising authenticity by Patrick Jhanur, who hits the mark effortlessly, both in terms of his acting and allure, for the very sex-positive part. Miranda Daughtry is appropriately stern as Annabelle, a commanding presence who offers a valuable counterbalance to her flighty family members. Finally, Tom Russell is memorable in the smaller role of Hot Ball Boy, simultaneously playing clown and eye candy, for a delighted and appreciative crowd.

As demonstrated by Felix, the hardest part about love and sex, is the discovery for oneself, what it is that one really wants. The inundation of messages relating to those subjects makes it nigh on impossible to know, if one is acting in response to influences, or if one’s true nature or essence is actually being expressed. As children, we are given explanations about partnerships and gender, that are at best interpretations of phenomena. There comes a time in adulthood, that each individual must determine for themselves, and themselves only, what those things should mean.

www.presentedbybub.com

5 Questions with Di Adams and Patrick Jhanur

Di Adams

Patrick Jhanur: What do you love about the Australian theatre community?
Di Adams: I love that there are actors, directors, creatives who move between mainstage and independent productions dependent on the work and the company. There appears to be a level of respect for good work that allows this to happen. In the independent sector I am constantly impressed that so many people work so hard to put on a show with virtually no money, relying on so much good will and just a drive to produce theatre. I love being a part of these shows because everyone is giving their time, and everyone is so committed because why would you do it for nothing if you didn’t love it?

What is the most surprising unscripted, unexpected moment you’ve experienced on stage?
I did a play a few years ago with an older actor and we had the final scene together. A few moments in she suffered a mini stroke and could only tap my arm. At first, I thought she had completely forgotten her lines but then I realised something was wrong. I had a brief moment where I thought – should I stop and ask if there’s a doctor in the house? But I just went ahead and did a 2-person scene basically as a monologue. A friend in the audience had no idea anything had happened and neither did my fellow cast mates backstage. The actor was fine the next day, but it was terrifying at the time!

What are your top tips for approaching a new Australian work?
Be open and prepared for changes! Also make cuts with a pencil cause they’re likely to find their way back in to the script. If the writer is involved it’s great to have a good
relationship with them so you can discuss and suggest what works and what doesn’t. We’ve been so lucky having Angus around and so open to making the play the best it can be.

Who would be your most influential sport role model?
I’m not a sports fan so this is hard. I guess I would have to say Adam Goodes purely for the dignified way he handled the horrendous racist treatment he received during his career. It was inspiring and it showed him to have more humanity than any of the people who vilified him. And I’d mention Ian Thorpe for his bravery and his support of youth with mental health issues as patron of Reach Out.

In Australian Open, your character embarks upon a spectacular adventure, what would be your dream trip of a lifetime?
I’m not really into adventure holidays. Give me a big city and lots of walking & eating/drinking local specialities. That said – I’ve always wanted to sail around the Greek Islands and swim into the beach to a little Taverna with delicious food waiting.

Patrick Jhanur

Di Adams: Do you feel any responsibility doing a new work?
Patrick Jhanur: Absolutely, it’s a huge honour being a part of a completely new Australian story. The ripples of new Australian work tend to inspire different, fresh and often subversive perspectives within our theatre community and cannon. It’s so vital that these new works continue to occupy creative space with diverse and authentic Australian voices so as to create a self-sustaining and perpetually evolving industry.

There’s a line in the play about training, focus, competition, is this applicable to acting as well?
I like to put myself through a bit of a boot camp in the lead up to a gig. I might be a bit of a hermit in the weeks preceding and keep to a consistent health and fitness routine. Nothing too hectic! My day starts with 1200 crunches, 750 push ups and 18 Weetbix drizzled with organic honey from Amazonian Bees.

What is the difference between working in main stage and independent theatre?
I think independent theatre demands phenomenal stamina. I love the rigour of this creative process where in everyone committed to the gig is doing their job with less of many variables and luxuries you’re afforded in a main stage show. The sense of camaraderie amongst this chaos is wonderful. Often, plays we see on indie stages are new, untried or tested so you become very dependent on the trust built between your ensemble and fellow creatives.

If you could be in any play anywhere, what play and where?
Performing on the West End in London is my highest ambition. I also have this extravagant fantasy of one day performing in a play at the State Theatre here in Sydney. It’s such a spectacularly grand and beautiful space. I couldn’t choose between Holding The Man or Death Of A Salesman. They’re both incredibly influential plays for me and hold such great sentiment in their teaching me of the power and beauty of storytelling and theatre.

How do you feel about the sweltering conditions and harsh summer heat that tennis players compete in the Australian Open and could you do that?
A game of tennis in 35+ degree heat doesn’t sound too bad for a six figure plus pay day! I do love working under extreme pressure or uncomfortable circumstances or conditions. I’ve done a few touring gigs where things have gone awry and the pressure to make it work no matter and get the job done is thrilling!

Di Adams and Patrick Jhanur can be seen in Australian Open, by Angus Cameron.
Dates: 14 – 29 Feb, 2020
Venue: Kings Cross Theatre

Review: Pomona (Kings Cross Theatre)

Venue: Kings Cross Theatre (Kings Cross NSW), Jan 24 – Feb 8, 2020
Playwright: Alistair McDowell
Director: Anthony Skuse
Cast: Jane Angharad, Kevin Batliwala, Amanda McGregor, Lauren Richardson, Monica Sayers, James Smithers, Dorje Swallow
Images by Clare Hawley

Theatre review
A concrete plot of barren land sitting in the middle of the city, can only raise suspicion. It is simply unbelievable that what appears to be prime real estate is left to languish, as though millions of dollars are left unclaimed, right in front of our eyes. In Alistair McDowell’s Pomona, we are taken underground. In the absence of visible buildings, our cynicism goes into overdrive, as we watch the worst of our capitalistic impulses emerge, through a series of horrific criminal scenarios. The play imagines the most nefarious commercial activities taking place in hidden bunkers, behind closed doors. If business dealings dare be depraved in broad daylight, what more the shady dealings that happen in secret.

Pomona‘s drama involves missing persons, snuff films and more. It is not an exploitative work by any means, but that very tendency of ours to exploit, is placed under scrutiny. Director Anthony Skuse prompts questions about nature and nurture, and the origins of corruption, as we observe characters carrying out unspeakable acts. People seem to be either good or bad, but there is no denying the conditions we all have to operate under, that are in most cases, beyond repair. Lighting design by Veronique Benett is suitably gloomy, for the irrevocably pessimistic world being explored. Music by Nate Edmondson, commanding and tenacious, keeps tensions unrelenting for this foreboding representation of our dangerous lives.

The production is an engaging one, with powerful concepts and a cleverly fractured plot, conspiring to hold our attention. Actors Amanda McGregor and James Smithers depict some very big and genuine emotions, both wonderfully mesmerising with the focus they bring to the stage. Also memorable is Lauren Richardson, who has the unenviable task of inhabiting and portraying the unceasing terror of a woman escaping violence. Moments of innocence by the charming Kevin Batilwala are a delightful reprieve, while Jane Angharad, Monica Sayers and Dorje Swallow play some seriously dubious types who make us confront our own sense of morality.

In a dog eat dog world, good guys finish last. In Pomona, we may want to get rid of the baddies, but there is nothing to stop their positions being usurped by more of the same. Evil runs so much of the world, because of the way things are structured. The way we revere money and power, has allowed bad things to happen again and again. We can no longer afford to imagine that simply placing good people in harmful institutions will fix our problems. We have to move emphasis away from undesirable individuals, to a better understanding of the systems that govern our lives, and begin destroying them, as a first step to improving things for all.

www.secrethouse.com.au

Review: Blue Christmas (New Ghosts Theatre Company)



Venue: Kings Cross Theatre (Kings Cross NSW), Dec 11 – 22, 2019
Images by Clare Hawley

Good People
Playwright: Katy Warner
Director: Lucy Clements
Cast: Clementine Anderson, Laura Djanegara, Sasha Dyer, Chika Ikogwe, Jane Watt, Emma Wright

Shandy’s Corner
Playwright: Gretel Vella
Director: Lucy Clements
Cast: Clementine Anderson, Meg Clarke, Laura Djanegara, Harriet Gordon-Anderson, Zoe Jensen, Vaishnavi Suryaprakash

Theatre review
It is Christmas time, when things come to a boiling point for two groups of women. In Katy Warner’s Good People, old friends have their holiday in Indonesia cut short by a state of emergency, as violence breaks out and tourists are corralled and confined to an airport. These Australians have witnessed the true face of poverty, and are now confronting the brutal implications of their privileged first world lives. Shandy’s Corner by Gretel Vella takes place in a women’s shelter, in first world Australia, where the consequences of our patriarchal systems are on full display, with broken individuals trying to regain their agency and a sense of dignity.

Both hour-long works are sensitively written and immensely contemplative, offering valuable perspectives on the kinds of lives we currently inhabit. Directed by Lucy Clements, the double-bill presentation grips from start to end. Good People is provocative, able to instigate meaningful conversations, while Shandy’s Corner is fabulously entertaining, with a dark humour that proves deeply satisfying. Clements injects an infectious passion into every scene, for a theatre that communicates with efficacious power.

An excellent impression is left by a very strong and cohesive cast, remarkably engaging in their delivery of two ensemble pieces, with not a single weak link. Clementine Anderson and Laura Djanegara perform in both stories, taking the opportunity to demonstrate versatility, but are especially memorable in Shandy’s Corner for their compelling portrayals of women overcoming adversity in wildly different ways. Harriet Gordon-Anderson and Emma Wright bring complex characterisations and excellent drama to the staging, intense with the emotions they convey. Funny ladies Meg Clarke and Zoe Jensen are thoroughly enjoyable in comedic roles, each actor with approaches as bold as their imaginations.

It is appropriate that the Christmas message here relates to the inherent injustices of our way of life. To respond to these plays, we can do no better than to think, “what would Jesus do?” in the face of these man-made tragedies. Christianity proclaims to be about caring for the poor and the oppressed, as it preaches in Proverbs 31:8-9, to “speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” When we look around us, there is little that can be construed as holy, but good art remains, and it is eternally sacred.

www.newghoststheatre.com

5 Questions with Chika Ikogwe and Vaishnavi Suryaprakash

Chika Ikogwe

Vaishnavi Suryaprakash: If you could use your acting platform to change one thing about the Australian performance scene, what would it be?
Chika Ikogwe: I would love to see a more diverse and inclusive industry here in Australia. I know there are a lot of people that are tired of hearing this, and even people that believe that the pendulum has swung so far, that now the industry only favours diversity. Which is just completely false. The majority of work on stage and screen still majorly lacks First Nations people, People of Colour and minorities in general. And there’s also a lack of stories that are being created / written by people from these minority groups. I absolutely acknowledge the amazing work and the great strides that have been made in the last few years to create a more diverse and inclusive industry, but there’s so much more work to be done on that front. I just want to see the Australia that I see as I walk down the street, as I catch the bus and as I do my grocery shopping, being reflected on stage and screen here in Australia. That’s what I’d change ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

What has it been like growing up with the name “Chika Ikogwe”?
It has changed a lot over time. When I was younger, there were times when I absolutely hated my name, and wished I was called something else. I distinctly remember my first day of prep when the teacher called out my name on the roll, and all the kids just burst into laughter because for some reason they found my name so funny. One kid even yelled out ‘Chicken! Her name is chicken!’ That was the first time in my life I’d felt any kind of shame regarding my name. Then there’ve been other times when I’ve done over-the-phone job interviews, secured the job and have been greeted with perplexed facial expressions on my first day of work. Turns out some people don’t know Chika is also a Nigerian name. There’s been so much I’ve lost out on because of my name, but to balance that so much I’ve gained. Life is just funny like that though, and I kinda love it. It gives character. I wouldn’t trade my name for anything else… Except maybe Beyoncé?! Just kidding. I think…

What do you most love about the character you play in Good People?
Jess is an actor and she takes her best pals on a holiday so they can reunite and just, like, hang out?! That’s awesome and I hope one day I can do that with my friends. #Goals.

When you think about the vastness and contents of the universe, how do you feel?
Bruh, I feel a LOT. Sometimes I feel super overwhelmed at the fact that there’s so much out there that we don’t even know about. Sometimes I feel like I can do anything, and the world really is my oyster. Sometimes I feel incredibly small. Sometimes I wonder if the world’s richest people congregate monthly to discuss their plans to leave everyone on Earth behind to start a new life on Mars or Europa or something. Sometimes I wonder if Beyoncé remembers me from that one time we locked eyes at her concert back in 2013 (probably not, but I’ll keep lying to myself). Sometimes I ask myself, “Who the hell let Donald Trump, Scott Morrison and Boris Johnson occupy any kind of political space, AT THE SAME TIME?!” I feel many feels. 

Who’s your favourite tennis player and why?
The Williams sisters are my forever Queens. Particularly Serena Williams. I played tennis for about 6 years growing up, and Serena was one of the only players I could identify with. Not only was she a black woman, but she also had broad shoulders and a muscular build amongst players that were mostly tall, white and skinny. She played with such force and passion. I remember wanting to be just like her when I grew up. She made me feel so seen and inspired me so much. 

Vaishnavi Suryaprakash

Chika Ikogwe: If you could use your acting platform to change one thing about the Australian performance scene, what would it be?
Vaishnavi Suryaprakash: I would get more young people from CALD backgrounds involved in theatre and performance art. I want an artistic career path to be contemplated by more of these children, and for them to feel encouraged to create art.
 
What’s the worst Christmas present you’ve ever received?
I actually can’t remember – nothing stands out! I think I’ve been pretty lucky. On a related note, I think Harry Potter’s worst Christmas present would be the tissue from the Dursleys (yes, I am currently re-reading Harry Potter, how did you know). Though I have often wondered how they sent their presents to Harry. Does Hedwig turn up every year a few days before Christmas? How do they know the reason she has turned up? How come they give Harry Christmas presents, but never birthday presents?
 
If your character in Shandy’s Corner had a catch phrase, what would it be?
“A lady never discusses the size of her yarn stash.”
 
You win a million dollars. What are the first 3 things you spend the money on? 
The very thought makes me stress out… so let me tell you instead what I love to buy: good quality tea, books (a guilty habit because libraries exist!), and hiking gear (ooh nothing beats the feeling of the perfect supportive backpack resting on your shoulders…)
 
Which actor would you cast to play “Vaishnavi Suryaprakash” in your biopic? 
Definitely Scarlett Johansson. 

Chika Ikogwe and Vaishnavi Suryaprakash can be seen in Blue Christmas, a double bill featuring two new Australian plays, by Katy Warner and Gretel Vella.
Dates: 11 – 22 Dec, 2019
Venue: Kings Cross Theatre

Review: Coram Boy (Kings Cross Theatre)

Venue: Kings Cross Theatre (Kings Cross NSW), Nov 22 – Dec 7, 2019
Playwright: Helen Edmundson (adapted from the novel by Jamila Gavin)
Directors: Michael Dean, John Harrison
Cast: Rebecca Abdel-Messih, Lloyd Allison-Young, Violette Ayad, Andrew Den, Ryan Hodson, Joshua McElroy, Tinashe Mangwana, Suz Mawer, Emma O’Sullivan, Gideon Payten-Griffiths, Ariadne Sgouros, Annie Stafford, Amanda Stephens-Lee, Petronella Van Tienen, Joshua Wiseman
Images by Clare Hawley

Theatre review
The story revolves around the “Coram Hospital for Deserted Children” in 18th century London. Babies are abandoned, with some subsequently rescued and many others allowed to die, in Jamila Gavin’s novel Coram Boy, adapted for the stage by Helen Edmundson. The epic features unfeeling landowners, ruthless criminals, desperate mothers, music prodigies and George Frideric Handel, all woven into a very big play with narratives that all concern themselves with the welfare of children.

Wonderfully imaginative and often very touching, Coram Boy is written almost like a screenplay, with short scenes taking place in a myriad different places. Directors Michael Dean and John Harrison orchestrate the action marvellously, adventurous in their efforts to help us suspend disbelief inside a small black auditorium, allowing us to see in our mind’s eye, old streets, stately homes and the deep blue ocean. Lighting design by Benjamin Brockman is instrumental in manufacturing these impossible visions, extravagant and evocative with everything he presents. Similarly rhapsodic is Nate Edmondson’s sound design, an unbelievably rich aspect of the show, thoroughly assembled to cover all bases for a luscious rendering of this period drama.

Fifteen passionate members of cast bring soulful life to a huge roster of personalities, all of them imbued a sense of authenticity under the strict supervision of Dean and Harrison. The powerful Lloyd Allison-Young is captivating with the flamboyance he brings to the baddie Otis Gardiner, as is Gideon Payen-Griffiths who plays Handel, and other roles, with a delicious sense of theatrical ostentation. Annie Stafford takes care to introduce valuable nuance to the ingenue Melissa Milcote, while Joshua Wiseman impresses with musical talents that measure up beautifully to his considerable acting abilities.

Ariadne Sgouros is unforgettable with the emotional intensity she provides Mrs Lynch, a complex character with severely conflicting qualities that the actor makes truthful. Equally genuine in presence is Violette Ayad as Isobel Ashbrook, whose subtleties never fail to catch our attention, even in a sea of persistent cacophony. The noteworthy Emma O’Sullivan takes on a range of smaller parts with gusto, remarkably persuasive with all of them.

The greatest inspiration one would take from Coram Boy relates to the immense ambition on display. A grander project could not be envisioned for a smaller space, yet all three hours of the experience is entrancing, satisfying and fruitful. The rich people in the story have every resource to do good, but they do only bad. It may not be true that money will only bring forth evil, but it is clear that on this occasion, necessity has become the mother of invention. Endless shows have been put on costing more, but have delivered far less. When we feel as though in the gutter, looking at starry affairs of the wealthy, it is important to remember that the problems that money can solve for our individual lives, are not often as exhaustive as they seem to promise. When a lot is done with very little, is when we know that something truly great has been achieved.

www.kingsxtheatre.com

Review: Rudy & Cuthbert Too (Kings Cross Theatre)

Venue: Kings Cross Theatre (Kings Cross NSW), Nov 17 – 21, 2019
Playwrights: Toby Blome, Zelman Cressey-Gladwin
Director: Jo Turner
Cast: Toby Blome, Zelman Cressey-Gladwin
Images by Jasmin Simmons

Theatre review
Rudy and Cuthbert are throwing a party. They consult a listicle on the internet, for ten sure-fire ways to make it a success, but it appears that information on the world wide web is not always reliable. In accordance with the top tips they had discovered, the young men work hard to make fun. Performers Toby Blome and Zelman Cressey-Gladwin, on the other hand, are effortless in their approach, for a whimsical comedy based on mime and clowning principles.

There is an unmistakable innocence in the characters, that sets the tone for the show. Having presented themselves to be devoid of agenda, other than the simple intention of having a party for their friends, we watch circumstances evolve, and observe the way things begin to happen to Rudy and Cuthbert, to arrive at an understanding that life has its way of taking you by surprise.

Directed by Jo Turner, the show is perfectly paced, to offer an experience that is deeply amusing and consistently delightful. The escalation in stakes and therefore tension, gives Rudy & Cuthbert Too an emotional dimension that is perhaps surprising for a presentation of this form. Although eccentric in style, Blome and Cressey-Gladwin have energetic presences that always maintain a firm grip over their audience. The boys make it a point to look like they are fooling around, but their irrefutable proficiency would suggest that they mean business.

Click-baits are deceptive by nature, and they take without giving anything satisfying in return. Theatre is quite the opposite. It allows us to sit in what is usually a state of passivity, while extraordinary attempts at deciphering the universe’s meanings are being offered up in earnest. Whether entertaining, informative, inspiring, or exasperating, these gifts from artists everywhere are immense, and a crucial element in determining how our civilisation does or does not flourish. There is no question that most of Australia’s art is devalued. If we could only give it as much as we do the endless pointless clicks on our phones, our extinction might just become avertible.

www.facebook.com/rudycuthbert

Review: Good Dog (Green Door Theatre Co)

Venue: Kings Cross Theatre (Kings Cross NSW), Nov 1 – 16, 2019
Playwright: Arinzé Kene
Director: Rachel Chant
Cast: Justin Amankwah
Images by Jasmin Simmons

Theatre review
Good Dog by Arinzé Kene, details the life of a young black man in working class England. We watch him from childhood, an innocent boy like any other who dreams of owning a bicycle, but who learns instead, the harsh realities of poverty. It is a story about race and class, and how people can be depleted of patience and naivety, in the face of unremitting injustice. Years of deprivation sets our unnamed protagonist on a course of rebellion, that the play appropriately depicts as a valid response to systematic failures of modern economies.

Kene’s writing is intriguing, in a linguistic style faithful to the cultural contexts from which it emerges. Directed by Rachel Chant, the production is sensitive, and dignified, in its portrayals of prejudice and disparity in a foreign land. Sound design by Melanie Herbert is particularly subtle in how it conveys psychological shifts for the one-man show. Kelsey Lee’s lights are an elegant feature, and a set by Maya Keys provides just enough visual cues to spark our imagination. Actor Justin Amankwah is extraordinarily charismatic, but insufficiently inventive and overly naturalistic in the role. Good Dog requires a more expository approach to speak to an Australian audience, and at over two hours long, a stronger sense of theatricality is necessary to sustain our interest.

The power of white supremacist capitalism lies in the way it is able to subjugate so many, for so long. Those of us who are oppressed, not only buy into their myths about hard work and meritocracy, we further sympathise with their prescriptions of politeness and civility. They keep us asking for better, over generations, knowing that their continual denials are only met with perpetual compliance. Once in a blue moon however, a revolution will arise, with people tired of waiting, finally pressed to claim back their due by force. How and when this is going to happen, is as always, anyone’s guess.

www.greendoortheatreco.com