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

5 Questions with Lillian U

rsz_img_5095 (1)What is your favourite swear word?
Fuck. (In Context: Fuck fuck fuckity fuck.) It’s just so plosive.

What are you wearing?
Blue dress, no shoes! Enjoying my day off by getting out of my theatre blacks.

What is love?
Baby don’t hurt me! Don’t hurt me no more.

What was the last show you saw, and how many stars do you give it?
Rosencrantz And Guildenstern Are Dead. Does it need more stars than Tim Minchin and Toby Schmitz? It was pretty shiny. I give it four stars.

Is your new show going to be any good?
Heck yes! Rooted is smart, funny as balls and just that little bit heartbreaking. It’s a stellar cast and we have heaps of fun. We opened on Thursday and I swear I’ve laughed every single show and I’ve seen it SIX times now!

Lillian U is stage manager for Rooted.
Show dates: 30 Oct – 9 Nov, 2013
Show venue: NIDA Parade Theatres

A Sign Of The Times (The Follies Company)

signofthetimesVenue: NIDA Parade Theatres (Kensington NSW), Sep 11 – 21, 2013
Playwright: Stephen Helper
Director: Stephen Helper
Actors: Scott Irwin

Theatre review (of preview performance, Sep 11)
One does not go to the theatre expecting the earth to move or a spiritual experience to take place, but a hope always exists in approaching the unknown darkness of a pre-show stage, that just maybe, tonight is going to be special. If once upon a time, you had seen an artist’s work that had overcome you and instilled a life long love for the arts, an unconscious yearning exists for that moment to recur. A Sign Of The Times is not perfect, but it is a play that can shake you to your core.

Like all great works of art, Stephen Helper’s script is about life. It is also about depression, and the obstacles we face that are so challenging that they stop us in our tracks and seem to be completely insurmountable. At these moments of stagnation, the mind goes into overdrive, and this is where the play starts. It features a lone character, performed by Scott Irwin , who delves into every cerebral space with themes like love, literature, poetry, mathematics, science, history, and a whole lot of philosophy. Irwin is perfectly cast as a man overflowing with palpable sadness. This is not a quality that he acts out explicitly but something that seems to manifest in his very being. Irwin’s performance is thoughtful and mature, and we benefit from him taking time with all his lines, many of which are dense and intellectual. He plays the character with tremendous, authentic and heavy emotion, but always careful to pay reverence to Helper’s words.

Helper’s direction is adventurous and dynamic. In contrast to the stasis of life in the play, Helper is effective at varying stage action to prevent anything from turning too severe or dull.  Lighting and sound together, play an important part of the story, and both are very accomplished indeed. Moments of silence are also introduced with powerful effect, and it is in those moments that the character is at his most vulnerable and the theatre feels most intimate.

A Sign Of The Times isn’t always an easy ride, but the journey into excavating the fundamental truths of life cannot be. There is a depth in Helper and Irwin’s work that is rare and incredibly moving. We understand that devastation and salvation make for good drama, but it is the way they portray these experiences, with dignity, bravery and truth, that has created something that shines bright, and eternal, like a diamond.

www.facebook.com/TheFolliesCompany

5 Questions with Scott Irwin

scottirwinWhat is your favourite swear word?
I have a lot of fun with the C-word, but only ever in fun, it becomes a bit off if you’re serious! Generally I replace every swear word with “Jeepers!” which is simultaneously old fashioned, family friendly and contagious to others.

What are you wearing?
A blue t-shirt and jeans.

What is love?
Wow… love is giving.

What was the last show you saw, and how many stars do you give it?
Do you know what? It was Legally Blonde the musical, and I have to say I’d give it 4.5 stars out of 5. A slick, sharp, snappy and hilarious example of a modern musical.

Is your new show going to be any good?
Yep. Steve Helper’s writing is fantastic… and if I can just say all of the things he’s written we’ll be off to a fine start! A Sign Of The Times is a story for anyone who has ever wondered WHY…
Read Suzy’s review here

Scott Irwin is starring in A Sign Of The Times.
Show dates: 11 – 21 Sep, 2013
Show venue: NIDA Parade Theatres

Moving Parts (Will O_Rourke)

Colin-FrielsVenue: NIDA Parade Theatres (Kensington NSW), Jul 25 – Aug 10, 2013
Playwright: David Nobay
Director: Steve Rogers
Actors: Colin Friels, Josh McConville

Theatre review
Moving Parts begins with the image of a lonely old man in a small but upscale watch dealership. Intrigue quickly follows when a second, younger man comes into the picture enquiring about a very large, expensive watch. A strange tension permeates from the start in this seemingly mundane scenario, and the audience is drawn into its irresistible allure. Soon, a series of revelations appear like little explosions, producing sequences that surprise not only with the trajectories of its narrative but also with the emotional depths it explores. This is a story about family dysfunction and love, told in the most honest way through two white male characters. The process of deconstructing these apathetic, unemotional archetypes involves the transgression of fundamental truths in family dynamics, resulting in a level of intense emotionality that any theatre-goer would relish.

Technical aspects of the production are highly accomplished. Every aspect is rendered virtually imperceptible to be in service to the actors and the story. Lighting design in particular is sensitive and meaningful, never drawing focus unto itself but always effectively assisting with the emotional fluctuations of the narrative.

Josh McConville plays Sean, with great internal fortitude. His depiction of a damaged, insecure man at the end of his tether is easily recognisable and indeed, heartbreaking. Even without the benefit of a filmic close-up, the audience is able to witness through his eyes, the inner devastation from which his character suffers.

One cannot overemphasize Colin Friels’ brilliance in the role of Roy. The psychological complexity that he brings to this man, is the crux of the show. All the contradictions of being human, and all the difficulty of life itself is displayed in his very corporeality. His mental jostles in dealing with the meaning of love, fleshes out for the audience the core concern of the script. Friels surprises with the amount of physical activity he introduces into his work, embellishing his lines with so much attention to gestural detail, which not only is a tremendous joy to watch but also amplifies beautifully the emotive qualities of the play.

In spite of a somewhat rushed and unexpected conclusion, Moving Parts is a great work that investigates the universal theme of family ties deeply and truthfully. Steve Rogers’ direction and David Nobay’s writing is a potent combination, creating theatre that is passionate and enthralling. Along with the best actors in the business, they have on their hands, something very memorable and actually, very moving.

www.willorourke.com

Arafat In Therapy (Jeremie Bracka)

brackaVenue: NIDA Parade Theatres (Kensington NSW), Jul 10 – 14, 2013
Playwright: Jeremie Bracka
Director: Pip Mushin
Actor: Jeremie Bracka
Music: Tomi Kalinski

Theatre review
Of course one gets trepidatious about the prospect of seeing an Australian Jewish actor tackling the role of Yasser Arafat as the show’s title would suggest, not knowing whether it would be an exercise of flaccid diplomacy, or disturbing controversy. Fortunately and very quickly into the performance, it does become clear that Bracka does not play Arafat for the entire duration, but prides himself on taking on a multitude of roles, switching at lightning speed between ages, accents and nationalities with extraordinary savvy and confidence. The biggest laughs, and there are many, come from Bracka’s uncanny ability at mimicking distinctive characteristics of familiar archetypes. He approaches all his characters with generosity and affection, which frees the audience into states of joyous laughter in spite of the frequently sensitive contexts.

Mushin’s direction excels at creating clear demarcations between Bracka’s many different characters. The audience is never left unsure about who is speaking, even though no costume changes or dramatic lighting effects are used. Careful and purposeful design with the actor’s positions, gestures and voice elevate this one-man show into a fast-moving, and thoroughly entertaining romp through many different times and spaces. The subtle, restrained use of music is cleverly utilised, and adds to comedic and dramatic effect whenever it is introduced. Sound in the new NIDA theatre is simply splendid. The set however, could probably add more to the show. The three pieces of furniture are sometimes distracting, and in fact all rather ugly. Bracka is uncomfortable sitting on the castor wheeled table, and is visibly distressed when having to move the items to their fluorescent marked spots.

It is noteworthy that the production does work for general Australian theatregoers even though it is concerned with sociopolitical events in Israel and the Middle East. A good understanding of those histories and conflicts would probably allow a greater insight into the nuances of the show, but its structure and plot are crafted well enough so that less aware  audiences would still enjoy every minute of this fascinating performance by a very funny Aussie.

www.jeremiebracka.com.au