Review: Ate Lovia (Old Fitz Theatre)

Venue: Old Fitzroy Theatre (Woolloomooloo NSW), May 12 – Jun 4, 2022
Playwright: Jordan Shea
Director: Kenneth Moraleda
Cast: Dindi Huckle-Moran, Anna Lee, Chaya Ocampo, Joseph Raboy, Marcus Rivera
Images by Clare Hawley

Theatre review
It was 1996, and Australia could no longer deny that a tide was turning, when a newly-elected Senator proclaimed that we were “in danger of being swamped with Asians”. The long held national pride around notions of mateship and the fair-go, was obliterated overnight. Division and prejudice had suddenly become sanctioned, marking a significant occasion of innocence lost, in our collective history. Jordan Shea’s Ate Lovia is a story about a Filipino-Australian family, set during that watershed moment, when Asians on this land were singularly vilified. In the ensuing social disunity, we observe the fractures that had extended from the top levels of government, into the homes of individuals.

Lovia and Vergel are siblings, who live with their alcoholic father Jovy. There is no shortage of love in the household, but the trauma that Jovy had suffered before and after coming to Australia, means that peace is elusive. Fleeing persecution, only to find himself becoming a second-class citizen in a white colony, Jovy does his best to raise his Australian children, but the hardship he faces daily, proves too hard to bear. In Jordan Shea’s Ate Lovia, we see two teenagers left to their own devices, trying to find their feet in sink or swim circumstances.

Shea’s writing is astute and passionate, almost rhapsodic with the emotions that it captures. Its narrative may not feel original, but there is a level of detail in its observations, that makes for delicious theatre, fascinating and amusing to a great degree, whilst making statements that are important for a nuanced understanding of life on this land. Under the directorship of Kenneth Moraleda, Ate Lovia is strikingly authentic with the people it seeks to represent, and even though his approach is not quite as fastidious as the material requires, what the show is able to articulate, is resonant and undoubtedly truthful.

Production design by Ruru Zhu is simple, but powerfully evocative. Martin Kinnane’s lights help to tell the story in a succinct and direct way. Music and sound by Michael Toisuta are adventurous augmentations, sometimes humorous, and sometimes bold.

Actor Chaya Ocampo is an earnest Lovia, slightly limited with the sentiments she is able to convey for the titular role, but nonetheless a dedicated and resolute presence. Joseph Raboy plays Vergel with similar enthusiasm, and commendable with the introspective qualities he introduces, but certainly falls short in terms of physical discipline, in a role that requires exceptional dance ability. Jovy is given extraordinary energy by an intense Marcus Rivera, whose unabashed depiction of a melodramatic personality, offers a disarming style of performance rarely seen in colonised art spaces. Dindi Huckle-Moran as Lou, and Anna Lee as Wendy, are integral to the action, both performers bringing valuable buoyancy to the show.

Unable to find a sense of belonging in his adopted home of Australia, Jovy is in turn incapable of providing for his children, the security that they need to flourish. Lovia and Vergel soon discover the limitations of what their family can provide, and begin searching outside, but the rejections faced by their father, are likely to befall every subsequent generation in not dissimilar ways. That is, unless things improve. Comparing Asian-Australian lives today with 1996, we are unlikely to come to any firm conclusion, about the extent to which conditions have changed. The only certainty is that there is still a lot of work to be done, before the matter of race can be put to rest.

www.redlineproductions.com.au | www.kwento.com.au

Review: Volcanoes And Vulvas (Old Fitz Theatre)

Venue: Old Fitzroy Theatre (Woolloomooloo NSW), May 3 – 7, 2022
Director and Performer: Cheryn Frost
Co-Writers: Brylie Frost, Cheryn Frost

Theatre review
It is the artist’s passion that takes centre stage in Volcanoes and Vulvas, a one-woman show that excavates at the deepest recesses of Cheryn Frost’s psyche, for a theatrical portrait of feminine desire and queer love. The natural phenomenon of volcanoes, with all their eruptive force, is introduced into these discussions about the libido, as well as drawing humorous parallels between geological dikes and Frost’s sexual identity as a proud lesbian. A reminder perhaps, that the social and the natural, are to be regarded as one and the same.

The work resides in a place of impulse and emotion, which means its intellectual dimensions can feel somewhat under-explored, but its powerful aesthetics draw us in convincingly, and convey with exactitude, the internal realities of what it must be like to be Frost. An exquisite set design by Jessie Spencer, along with hypnotic lights by Frankie Clarke, seduce us into a state that is both rapturous and viscerally erotic, helping us connect the libido of humanity with the palpable drives of the rest of nature. Angus Mills creates a soundtrack that surreptitiously disarms, operating like sonic lubrication, in order that we may welcome the artist’s earnest expressions with commensurate openness.

As performer, Frost is charming, with a distinct vulnerability that keeps us firmly on side. It is admirable that she pushes herself to points of discomfort, so that a more dramatic experience could be manufactured, but it is in more introspective moments where Frost feels most authentic and inviting. At approximately 40 minutes, Volcanoes and Vulvas is unapologetically succinct. There is an insistence on honesty, of only saying what the artist wants to say, even if it is ultimately a simple and small statement.

www.redlineproductions.com.au

Review: The Seven Deadly Sins & Mahagonny Songspiel (Old Fitz Theatre)

Venue: Old Fitzroy Theatre (Woolloomooloo NSW), Mar 31 – Apr 23, 2022
Music: Kurt Weill
Lyrics: Bertolt Brecht
Director: Constantine Costi
Cast: Roberta Diamond, Allie Graham, Nicholas Jones, Anthony Mackey, Andy Moran, Benjamin Rasheed, Margaret Trubiano 
Images by Robert Catto

Theatre review
This double-bill comprises century-old short operas, The Seven Deadly Sins and Mahagonny Songspiel by German exiles, Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht. Both are stories concerned with decay and decadence, from artists known for their interest in social justice; the former explores the loss of innocence, while the latter has us enter a space that is already debauched. The passage of time seems to have done little to diminish the resonance of these themes. In fact, it is the awareness of capitalism being more pervasive and permanent than ever before, that influences our appreciation of these works. What were once cautionary tales, are now simply statements of fact.

It is a marvellous accomplishment, spearheaded by director Constantine Costi, to have opera playing in the basement of a pub in one of the world’s most monetised cities, complete with professional performers and a finely tuned orchestra.

Charles Davis’ set design miraculously transforms one of our smallest theatre spaces, in order that upwards of 20 people can be accommodated on stage at any one time. The pure luxury of being in complete sonic immersion, is an indulgence that is certainly unparalleled, at least in these parts of the world. Music delivered by Ensemble Apex and their répétiteur Antonio Fernandez, is an incredible pleasure, in the middle of one of the least likely places and times. It is an historic occasion, for Kings Cross at the height of the Covid era.

Costume design by Emma White is campy and humorous, but always elegantly rendered. Trent Suidgeest’s boldly coloured lights deliver for us a visual sumptuousness, even as we negotiate the seedy underbellies of Brecht and Weill’s collaborative imagination.

The stunning voice of Margaret Trubiano commences proceedings, as Anna I in The Seven Deadly Sins , accompanied by the heavenly nimbleness of dancer Allie Graham as Anna II, both women captivating in their respective areas of expertise. Other singers follow, namely Roberta Diamond, Nicholas Jones, Anthony Mackey, Andy Moran and Benjamin Rasheed, to keep us spellbound for the hour-long duration.

There is no doubt that bringing world class opera to an unexpected place, with unsuspecting audiences, is a mammoth undertaking. One sits in the middle of the ambition and tenacity of these remarkable artists, and wonders if the sad state of our economic lives, is indeed a foregone conclusion. Capitalism has advanced so far, and has infiltrated so much into our existence and consciousness, that we no longer dare hope for its abatement. Seeing opera at the Cross however, reminds us that the human spirit is boundless, until we decide that it is time to surrender.

www.redlineproductions.com.au

Review: Hand To God (Old Fitz Theatre)

Venue: Old Fitzroy Theatre (Woolloomooloo NSW), Feb 24 – Mar 26, 2022
Playwright: Robert Askins
Director: Alexander Berlage
Cast: Gerard Carroll, Merridy Eastman, Philip Lynch, Ryan Morgan, Michelle Ny
Images by Robert Catto

Theatre review
Recently widowed Margery is trying to get her life back together, but it seems her new responsibilities at church, of trying to teach puppetry to young teens, are working out very poorly. Her son Jason especially, is reacting in unimaginably terrifying ways, with his malicious puppet Tyrone seeming to take on a life of its own, to terrorise all and sundry. Robert Askins’ Hand to God toys with ideas around supernatural possession and dissociative disorders, but its greatest concern is trauma, a subject matter that the theatrical arts seem particularly adept at tackling.

Both Margery and Jason act out in highly unedifying ways. In Hand to God, the profane is conveyed through outrageous absurdist comedy. The entertainment that all the jubilant laughter provides, is a guise for valuable observations pertaining to loss, and the destructive behaviour that often ensues in its aftermath.

Director Alexander Berlage uses Askins’ extravagant material to create a work of immense vivacity. It is a very heightened type of theatre, that allows for the most flamboyant flourishes, but Berlage’s insistence on nuance and authenticity, ensures that the wild humour is always partnered with meaningful insight.

Set design by Jeremy Allen and Emma White is replete with sarcasm, in its depictions of religion and superstition, and also remarkable for its transformation of space, effective in providing the sensation of being immersed in parochial Americanness. Lights by Phoebe Pilcher, along with Daniel Herten’s sound design, are relied upon for sensory magnifications for the jokey paranormality, that forms the basis of the play’s pleasures.

Merridy Eastman brings great compassion to the part of Margery, thereby encouraging us to respond similarly. Eastman, like all of the cast, delivers a very funny performance, but it is her subtle renderings in between the comedy, that reveal the beautiful emotional truths behind all the manic manifestations. As the disturbed Jason, Philip Lynch demonstrates incredible skill in splitting mind and body between two vastly different personalities; his work is a fascinating and impressive thing to behold.

The enchanting Michelle Ny offers a critical dimension of purity to the story, even though her most memorable scene as Jessica, is anything but innocent. Ryan Morgan has the happy task of playing the entirely comedic part of Timothy, and is flawless with his bold choices, responsible for creating some of the show’s biggest laughs. Gerard Carroll’s wonderfully satirical take on Pastor Greg too, is hilarious, as he mocks the heart-breaking incapacity and voidness of religion.

So much happens during one’s formative years, but nothing can ever be done, to completely shield a young person from the ravages of life. There are however ways to steer for better outcomes when damage occurs; not everything can be resolved, but processes are always available, to try for improvements. The postscript of Hand to God is surely about healing, or a lifetime of navigating the inevitable hazards of existence. No matter how late one comes to acknowledging these scars, it must be in the essence of our humanity, to want to work towards something better, whether or not there is the possibility of comprehensive rehabilitation. Change is hard, but stagnation may as well be death. 

www.redlineproductions.com.au

Review: Chewing Gum Dreams (Old Fitz Theatre)

Venue: Old Fitzroy Theatre (Woolloomooloo NSW), Jan 13 – Feb 19, 2022
Playwright: Michaela Coel
Director: Bernadette Fam
Cast: Masego Pitso
Images by Teniola Komolafe

Theatre review
Fourteen-year-old Tracey Gordon talks a big game around the school yard, but really she is no different from any kid next door. English playwright Michaela Coel’s Chewing Gum Dreams is a hilarious look at early adolescence, a stage of life where there is often, too much of a hurry to grow up.

Coel’s refusal of condescension in her comical depictions, makes us regard young Black girls with only respectful humanity. Probably the most underestimated group in many of our societies, this realistic and thoroughly natural portrayal of a person like Tracey, is an effective attempt at changing the narrative in the West, about Blackness, and about girlhood, at their point of intersection.

Imbuing the story with admirable profundity is director Bernadette Fam, whose adoration for Tracey is plain to see. An air of reverence for the character, and for Coel’s text, puts strongly in focus, all that is important about Chewing Gum Dreams, demanding of us a corresponding gravity with which to consider the themes at play.

Set design by Keerthi Subramanyam offers simple solutions to assist our imagining of Tracey’s places. whilst Kate Baldwin’s lights bring unexpected variation and dynamism to the visuals presented, on what initially looks to be a minimal stage. Liliana Occhiuto’s sound design is memorable for the melancholy that takes over our senses at certain crucial points, but a sparseness in her approach contributes to a slight deficiency in energy for the overall experience.

Playing Tracey is Masego Pitso, a captivating performer whose mischievous glint in the eye sets the tone for the production. Effortlessly endearing, Pitso occupies our attention for the entire duration, able to make us hang on to her every word and gesture. Her confidence makes us feel at ease, and the exuberance she puts into the creation of Tracey, ensures that we fall in love with the character even before she utters her first words.

A sombre moment in Chewing Gum Dreams, sees young Tracey talking about cracks in the floor, designed for people like her, and her mother, to fall through. It is a reminder that for many of us, so much of our destinies, in these colonised spaces, are determined by external forces that never allow our well-being, and our ambitions, to be a priority. We exist mainly as instruments for the advancement of their agenda. We are at best, stepping stones that allow them to further perpetuate their project of inequity, always merely dispensable objects in their estimation. Chewing Gum Dreams shows us quite matter-of-factly, the ordinariness of Tracey. Yet, what we wish for her future, is something that in most of our realities, would look nothing less than a rare exception.

www.redlineproductions.com.au / www.greendoortheatrecompany.com

Review: Hyperdream (Old Fitz Theatre)

Venue: Old Fitzroy Theatre (Woolloomooloo NSW), May 15 – Jun 5, 2021
Creative Leads: Adriane Daff and Mikala Westall
Playwrights: Matt Abell-King, Adriane Daff, Nat Jobe, Angela Mahlatjie, Josh Price, Mikala Westall
Cast: Adriane Daff, Nat Jobe, Angela Mahlatjie, Matt Abell-King
Images by David Charles Collins

Theatre review
Hyperdream by Adriane Daff and Mikala Westall, takes us on a sci-fi joyride, in which individuals can visit a facility, where memories are replayed in a sort of virtual reality experience, so that one may be able to relive the past. Characters access best days of their lives, in order that they may escape the disappointments of today. Others reach back to traumatic moments, hoping to bring revisions to their personal histories. More than a mode of entertainment, it uses “total recall” to deliver what looks to be a futuristic psychotherapy, for when being in the here and now, is simply intolerable.

The staging utilises a big projection screen, positioned front and centre, with four performers and an omnipresent video camera, creating scenes in different nooks throughout the space. We find ourselves gradually losing sight of reality, as we watch these people in digital pixels and in the flesh, frantically rollicking in their chaotic green screen fantasia. Buoyed by the adventurous musical stylings of Julian Starr, we all get caught up in an undefinable space, half lucid and half catatonic. It is an effervescent work, derived from an incandescent experimental spirit. Although not always coherent or resonant, the atmosphere being generated is full of wonder, with moments of comedy that truly tickle.

Performer Matt Abell-King is especially funny, able to inspire laughter with a twitch of the eyebrow, and a flamboyant flick of a leg. Angela Mahlatjie too is hilarious, most memorably in a delightful sequence in which she flashes back to a cherished time of romance, for a sarcastic look at women’s relationship with love and marriage. Also thoroughly enjoyable, are Adriane Daff and Nat Jobe, whose bold approaches to Hyperdream‘s humour, offer an opportunity for viewers to revel in a brand of absurd extravagance infrequently seen in Australian theatre.

The way me make sense of today and tomorrow, depends entirely on how we understand the past. If one is given the ability to delve back into old narratives, so that they can be re-examined, and be given renewed interpretations, then returning to the now, could mean a complete revitalisation of being. So much of what is broken today, is a result of memories that have taken us, and continue to take us, down the wrong path. The past cannot be changed, but the ways in which we understand it, should always be evolving, in service of a better tomorrow.

www.redlineproductions.com.au | www.thelastgreathunt.com

Review: Goddess: The Elizabeth Burton Story (Old Fitz Theatre)


Venue: Old Fitzroy Theatre (Woolloomooloo NSW), May 4 – 8, 2021
Co-creators and Performers: Elizabeth Burton, Betty Grumble, Aaron Manhattan
Images by Joseph Mayers

Theatre review
Striptease artist Elizabeth Burton’s career began in the late 1960’s. When she discovered Go-go dancing, doors opened for Burton to travel the world, allowing her to meet people of all kinds, and to put her stamp on an artform that never ceases to be subversive. Now at the grand age of 73, Burton continues to create, and in Goddess: The Elizabeth Burton Story, takes to the stage once again, not only to usher us into the indulgent realm of exotic performance, but also to share anecdotes and wisdom, in a way only someone who has truly lived, can do.

Fearless and boundary-breaking, Burton’s stories are not all triumphant. Instances of tragedy and misfortune are many, as is the case with people who take roads less travelled, but these recollections are told with an astounding sense of objectivity, almost counter-theatrical in approach. Burton is wistful for sweet memories, but it is with a sense of duty, and sometimes humour, that she brings up trauma. There is little wallowing, and certainly no performative pensiveness for dramatic effect. It is clear that the show is intended to uplift, but there is no denying its capacity to devastate. The truth resonates powerfully, no matter how the storyteller wishes to present her account of events.

To have a living legend at close proximity, especially one who seems incapable of pretension or any hint of defensiveness, is to come in contact with the divine. In a culture that persistently celebrates youth, the meaning of time is lost on us. We are taught to cultivate desirous visions of ourselves at half our age, rather than think about what we could be when twice our age. Burton can reminisce about things sordid or wholesome, extraordinary or mundane; there is no end to the details she can offer up, in this attempt to encapsulate an existence too immense, but of greatest value is to look into her eyes, and to see with absolute certainty, that dark as this world can be, everything is simply going to be all right.

Providing on stage support are Betty Grumble and Aaron Manhattan, both looking like faithful disciples to the esteemed one, on hand not only to prompt for stories and to help illustrate them, but also to represent meaningfully, a sense of community. The image being created is anti-establishment and queer. Goddess is about a woman who breaks the rules in the most profound manner. It talks about a person’s worth, not in ordinary terms of success and status, but through the re-framing of one woman’s radical definition of selfhood, Goddess dismantles our priorities as a culture, and adjusts our social values, to one that more accurately reflects the important things in life. We also learn that there is nowhere more edifying, than from our queer elders, especially those emancipated from so many pointless pursuits of conventionality, that we can uncover those very important things in life.

Hierarchies are only of benefit to those on top. This is painfully obvious, yet we live as though unaware, completely invested in systems that exploit our participation at the lower rungs. We are required to endlessly obey, in the faith that rewards are assured, and that those on top are playing by the same rules. Both are empirically false. Goddess provides inspiration, for each of us to search for ways to exist on the outside. Fulfilment can never be dictated, it must only be discovered independently. Elizabeth Burton discovered a love of herself, and today altogether, we bask in her divine glory.

www.redlineproductions.com.au | www.performinglines.org.au

Review: Exit The King (Red Line Productions)

Venue: Old Fitzroy Theatre (Woolloomooloo NSW), Mar 20 – Apr 10, 2021
Playwright: Eugène Ionesco
Director: Megan Wilding
Cast: Toby Blome, Shakira Clanton, Jonny Hawkins, Rob Johnson, Emma O’Sullivan, Dalara Williams
Images by Robert Catto

Theatre review
The King has ruled for hundreds of years, but it is now time to retire. His body is failing, as well as his mind, and even though the will remains strong, there is no turning back. The end is nigh in Eugène Ionesco’s 1962 absurdist Exit the King, although it gradually becomes clear that it is in fact, a new beginning that the people really need. It is a timeless tale, an appealing lament that addresses our seemingly ever present desire for institutional change, and for better government.

Ionesco’s writing however, offers the viewer more than an enjoyable narrative. His work goes on endless tangents, often contradictory and deliberately obtuse, but when in the hands of the right creators, a rare form of theatrical magic is delivered. Director Megan Wilding revels in the mischievous and unpredictable qualities of the script, taking care to marry comedy with meaning, for a show that has us engaged on multiple levels, simultaneously. Wilding’s take on Exit the King is often very funny, but even more admirable, is her ability to keep our intellect keenly stimulated through all its jokes.

A highly amusing team of performers, is headed by Jonny Hawkins, who gives a thrilling depiction of King Berenger, the decrepit has-been determined to outstay his welcome. Incredibly nuanced, endlessly imaginative and brimming with generosity, watching the fierce talents of Hawkins in action, is pure inspiration. The divine Shakira Clanton plays a strong, imposing Queen Marguerite, making her support character rumble with danger, whether or not she is positioned centre stage. The devastating drama between a white king and a Black queen, is the immutable focal point of the show, no matter what shenanigans are thrown our way. All other actors in the piece are equal parts idiosyncratic and inventive, working with extraordinary cohesiveness for something that seriously satisfies.

The production is energised by Alexander Berlage’s lighting design, dynamic at every turn, as is Ben Pierpoint’s work on sound and music, reliably enhancing all the wonderful activity taking place on stage. Veronique Bennett transforms the space into a Warhol Factory, silver surfaces everywhere for a set that perhaps evokes flashbacks of facile rulers throughout history, who had done more harm than good for their peoples. The pop aesthetic is extended into costuming by Aleisa Jelbart, very au courant and very tongue-in-cheek.

There is likely no dignified way to overthrow a government, but in Exit the King, the fantasy of nature taking charge, intervening to simply kill off the problem, is certainly enticing. The truth is that although individuals who hold power do die away, structures will sustain themselves, and it appears that the more malevolent those systems, the more likely they will persist. The Black queen waits patiently for her white king to die, and in Ionesco’s fiction, her strategy proves successful. Real life however permits no passivity should we want the pale, male and stale to abdicate. There is a fight underway, and those invested, have no luxury of waiting.

www.redlineproductions.com.au

Review: Our Blood Runs In The Street (Old Fitzroy Theatre)

Venue: Old Fitzroy Theatre (Woolloomooloo NSW), Feb 19 – Mar 21, 2020
Director: Shane Anthony
Cast: Andrew Fraser, Cassie Hamilton, David Helman, Eddie Orton, Sam Plummer, Ross Walker, Tim Walker
Images by Jasmin Simmons

Theatre review
Violence is an indelible part of LGBTQI history in NSW. In the many years leading up to the decriminalisation of homosexuality and then the legalisation of same-sex marriage, Sydney’s gay men and trans women especially, have suffered physical harm, to the extent of murder, as a result of homophobia and transphobia.

Our Blood Runs In The Street is a work of verbatim theatre, composed of accounts by victims, as well as “family members, witnesses, historians, police officers, journalists and researchers,” presented alongside contemporary dance and physical theatre, for an examination of the prejudice and brutality that has shaped the community.

With stories mainly from the last three decades of the previous century, director Shane Anthony and his team have collated a meaningful text from which we can better understand that past. We are additionally informed that investigations are ongoing, in case new revelations should surface as a result of the show. It is a heavily fragmented work, and although able to convey the severity of incidents, struggles to elicit emotional involvement.

Visually enticing, with imaginative choreography throughout, and lights by Richard Whitehouse bringing constant colour and movement, our eyes are kept entertained. Auditory capacities are attended by composer Damien Lane and sound designer Nate Edmondson, who move us seamless from scene to scene, as they maintain an uncompromising gravity for these harrowing tales.

Seven performers, each one earnest and passionate, deliver testimonials with indisputable conviction. David Helman is particularly impressive with his clever blend of words and movement. Imagery and dialogue in the show do not always work well together, but Helman makes us watch and listen with coherence, without distraction from one or the other. A powerful speech is given by Cassie Hamilton, captivating in her stillness, recounting the serious under-estimation of violence against trans people, as reported by Eloise Brook of The Gender Centre.

The times are slowly changing, but problems for LGBTQI Australians continue, now most notably for ethnic minorities in suburbia. That the stage for Our Blood Runs In The Street is filled with white bodies, is indicative of the disparity that exists between cultures. People of colour have benefited from the work of Western activists, but there remains challenges, specific and nuanced, yet to be addressed. Pride has functioned as an effective war cry for many queers, but it is still a concept that eludes some, for which shame is still the default experience.

www.redlineproductions.com.au

Review: Krapp’s Last Tape (Red Line Productions)

Venue: Old Fitzroy Theatre (Woolloomooloo NSW), Nov 26 – Dec 14, 2019
Playwright: Samuel Beckett
Director: Gale Edwards
Cast: Jonathan Biggins
Images by John Marmaras

Theatre review
Another grumpy old man takes to the stage in Samuel Beckett’s Krapp’s Last Tape. He brings along a sense of confusion, perhaps disillusioned and defeated by a world that never lived up to its promises. A wall of filing cabinets containing a lifetime of voice recordings that he has made, an ongoing project representing a memoir that is both self-important, and self derisive. Indeed, it charts the man’s ageing process, from idealistic to despondent, as we find him in a state of decrepitude.

Most of the show involves Krapp listening to his tape machine, playing a collection of narrations that could only ever mean more to him than to anyone else. We observe past and present converge as he sits attentive to his personal oral history. Directed by Gale Edwards, the staging bears an affecting melancholy, with Veronique Benett’s lights and Brian Thomson’s set design providing just the right ennui. Actor Jonathan Biggins is confident and a sturdy presence, able to convey degrees of regret for a role that seems to be about little besides. He provides a charming wistfulness that translates as a sort of gentle comedy, more likely to elicit empathy than it would laughter.

Krapp looks back in anger and in pain, making us wonder about the way we regard the past, as it relates to today and tomorrow. On the occasion of his 69th birthday, he demonstrates that the older we get, the less we are able to be buoyed by the future. The anguish he experiences, as he hits playback on the tape, is a result of poor choices and bad luck. Decisions can be made every which way; right, wrong, indeterminate, bearing in mind that regret is valuable only as a concept for future use.

www.redlineproductions.com.au