Review: The Olympians (NIDA)

nidaVenue: NIDA Parade Theatres (Kensington NSW), June 11 – 18, 2016
Playwright: Stephen Sewell
Director: Jeff Janisheski
Cast: Saxon Blackett, Callan Colley, Laura Djanegara, Megan Hind, Imogen Morgan, Wil Ridley, Louis Seguier, Emele Ugavule, Ross Walker

Theatre review
We take sport very seriously in Australia. Billions of dollars have been generated from the industry, and countless personalities have attained national iconic status over the years. Stephen Sewell’s The Olympians attempts to deconstruct the sporting hero, with a story set in the Olympic village of the 2016 Rio games. It is a piece of writing highly critical of sporting and popular culture, using a narrative about a fallen star lost in sex and drugs, appealing to the same need in our audienceship that keeps tabloid journalism in business. Its characters are familiar but caricatured, and although hugely ambitious in scope, the play would probably be more effective if scaled down to its simple essence. Greek tragedy meets television realism in The Olympians for a curious exploration of dramatic form, but the play would make a stronger point if its many subtexts are trimmed down to a more succinct articulation of its thoughtful message.

Direction by Jeff Janiesheski is equally adventurous and imaginative with its approach. The very generously sized stage poses a challenge that Janiesheski responds by delivering amplified theatrical expressions for every scene, resulting in a work that can often feel too obvious with how it chooses to communicate, leaving little room for nuance or irony. The production’s humour is rarely effective but energy from a tireless cast and vigorous lighting effects by Ross Graham help retain our attention. Lead actor Wil Ridley shows good precision and discipline as the dishonoured Porter, especially proficient in some of the play’s more heightened sequences of sentimentality. Imogen Morgan is memorable as Jess, a bimbo type who encounters the goddess Aphrodite. Morgan’s ability to convey consistent authenticity in her role sets her apart in a group that seems to work more intently on exterior presentations than on emotional efficacy and psychological believability.

In an arena where individuals are ruthlessly pitted against each other, the sporting field allows only one winner at a time. Perhaps it is the idea of making concrete the abstract concept of “the best” that gives sport an allure that art has been unable to compete with. Awards are given out in artistic communities the world over, but there is nothing definitive about the good and bad in art, and certainly, the judgements we may bestow upon them are almost never more than irrelevant privileged perspective. People are drawn to the certainties of sport, and the creation of winners and losers in its equations. The nature of art resists that singular objectivity. Great art dismantles systems of segregation and exclusion to speak with universality as though at the Olympics, except all are to emerge victorious.

www.nida.edu.au

5 Questions with Stephen Sewell

stephensewellWhat is your favourite swear word?
“Abbott”, as in “holy Abbott!!” or “what the Abbott??!!” somehow it just seems to suit the times.

What are you wearing?
Nothing. What are you wearing?

What is love?
A good reason to stay on the diet.

What was the last show you saw, and how many stars do you give it?
Hamlet – 11

Is your new show going to be any good?
I believe we’ll all be sent to jail, it’s so good.

 

 

Stephen Sewell is playwright for Kandahar Gate, presented as part of NIDA Student Productions 2014.
Show dates: 17 – 24 Jun, 2014
Show venue: NIDA Parade Theatres

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.

End

Atomic (Dreamingful Productions)

rsz_1400420_585853668128395_551489903_oVenue: NIDA Parade Theatres (Kensington NSW), Nov 16 – 30, 2013
Music and Lyrics: Philip Foxman
Book and Lyrics: Gregory Bonsignore, Danny Ginges
Director: Damien Gray
Actors: Michael Falzon, Bronwyn Mulcahy, David Whitney, Christy Sullivan, Lana Nesnas, Simon Brook McLachlan, Blake Erickson
Image by Gez Xavier Mansfield Photography

Theatre review
Atomic is a musical about two things; the invention of the atomic bomb that destroyed Hiroshima in 1945, and Leo Szilard, the man who was chiefly responsible for the science behind it. It is admirable that the writers had afforded a substantial portion of the show to historical aspects of the story, but the nature of musicals always seems to favour less solemn content, even if they are highly emotional. It is hard to make a dignified musical work, but the efforts here are laudable. One is reminded of Miss Saigon and Madame Butterfly, where war provides the backdrop, but personal devastation is given the spotlight. The result is a stronger, and more effectively emotional experience, but those sentiments are clearly not of the best taste. Atomic would perhaps be a more conventionally engaging musical if it dwells more heavily on Szilard’s personal predicaments and crises, but it is understandable that the show chooses to adopt a more refined approach to its storytelling.

On the technical front, Michael Waters’ sound design is most accomplished. NIDA’s Parade Playhouse’s acoustic potentials are exploited thoroughly, and the venue proves itself to be an outstanding option for more intimate stagings of musicals. There are some issues with lighting and set, but they are a result of being over-ambitious rather than negligence.

The strongest element in this production is the quality of its performers, who each have their moments of undeniable brilliance. Leading man Michael Falzon invests a great deal of psychological authenticity into his characterisation, and puts on a subtle yet strong portrayal of Szilard. Falzon’s success at transforming an unassuming scientist into a musical protagonist without the use of stage cliches is impressive and remarkable. He also happens to be the performer who executes the show’s choreography most effectively. David Whitney plays Enrico Fermi, the show’s only flamboyant character, and stands out appropriately with a joyful and effervescent performance. Christy Sullivan plays a wide range of ensemble characters, consistently delighting with conviction and a natural charm. It must be said that all performers sing their parts beautifully, and this is an Australian cast to be very proud of.

www.atomicthemusical.com

5 Questions with Bronwyn Mulcahy

bronwynmulcahyWhat is your favourite swear word?
Bollocks. I know, it’s British, but I laughed so hard the first time I heard it (from my sister who brought it back from her UK trip many moons ago).

What are you wearing?
Jeans and jumper because it’s cold today. Well, cold for spring.

What is love?
Necessary, unique and the only thing that really matters.

What was the last show you saw, and how many stars do you give it?
The Floating World. 4 stars. The cast were something else.

Is your new show going to be any good?
Ummm – YES! Have you not heard who’s in it? Who wrote it (book and script)? Lyrics? Who composed it, directed it, designed the set, lit the stage, designed the sound? Who’s designing costumes? Choreography? Who the musical director is? The musicians? Oh- and there’s a puppet!

Bronwyn Mulcahy is starring in Atomic a new musical.
Show dates: 16 – 30 Nov, 2013
Show venue: NIDA Parade Theatres

5 Questions with Michael Falzon

michaelfalzonWhat is your favourite swear word?
Fuckwit. We apparently made that one up here in Australia. We’re good at that.

What are you wearing?
Right now? My robe… I like to be comfortable at home. You’re lucky I even have that much on.

What is love?
Many things – EVERYTHING! Too many clichés could be mentioned here and it means different things to us all. In a nutshell, to me, love is sharing and honesty. And halva (look it up).

What was the last show you saw, and how many stars do you give it?
The last show I saw was Dirty Rotten Scoundrels here in Sydney – a solid 4-star show with a fantastic performances from all. A special mention though, Amy Lehpamer is amazing (my leading lady from Rock Of Ages).

Is your new show going to be any good?
The best question ever asked in an interview. Yes. Atomic is going to be excellent. An engaging story from an international creative team that has spent years getting it ready. We have a tremendous cast of talented Aussies supported by a kick-arse six-piece band… the songs definitely stay with you and are great fun to perform. Plus, I have put on weight and had my hair thinned out to play this role, so the show had better be amazing!

Michael Falzon is starring in Atomic a new musical.
Show dates: 16 – 30 Nov, 2013
Show venue: NIDA Parade Theatres