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

Review: This Is My Box (Rue de la Rocket)

ruedelarocketVenue: Bondi Pavilion Theatre (Bondi NSW), Jul 16 – 19
Playwrights: Karli Evans, Erin Taylor, Karena Thomas
Director: Erin Taylor
Cast: Karli Evans, Karena Thomas

Theatre review
This Is My Box features two women in very colourful exercise gear exorcising demons. Their costumes do not change, but the actors go through many different characters in this hour long piece. They portray familiar everyday personalities from different walks of life, but they are all unified by their inanities. This is a work about the people we are afraid of becoming. They come from every social class, but are all less than intelligent. Their lives are filled with mundanity and they do not seem to have any mental capacity to escape their respective hells. This is probably a work about all of us, even though it may initially seem to be about “those people”.

The script is superb. It has all the hallmarks of a thoroughly devised work, relying on much more than words, where every moment is made absurd, and with a plot trajectory that is never predictable, yet everything seems to make sense. The narrative is about instincts and emotional reactions, rather than logic and story. Characters and scene changes are distinct, which gives the production a formal grounding, and its theatrical structure. There is a lot of fooling around, but the disciplines that conspire to create this coherent whole are clear to see.

Both performers are compelling, and all their roles are hilarious. Their use of voice, movement and face are exaggerated but appropriately so. It is almost like clown work, except with social commentary. Karli Evans is slightly more proficient with her physicality, while Karena Thomas tickles our funny bone with some very dynamic facial expressions. It is a high energy performance, by women with impressive and confident presences.

Erin Taylor’s direction is sensitive to the strengths of the players. She appears to have a deep understanding of the women’s abilities, and strives to expose all of their best features in these manic 60 minutes. Taylor commits to a specific sense of humour that is probably not of the widest appeal, but the conviction harnessed on stage is absolutely euphoric. The work is critical of many Australian women, but it is never mean spirited. It embodies a kind of sisterhood that is self conscious but generous. It is about girls who do not want to turn into their mothers but are wise enough to realise some inevitabilities.

Review: Awkward Conversations With Animals I’ve Fucked (Unhappen)


Venue: Bondi Pavilion Theatre (Bondi NSW), Jul 16 – 19
Playwright: Rob Hayes
Director: James Dalton
Cast: Heath Ivey-Law

Theatre review
This actually is a play about bestiality, and Bobby actually has awkward one-way (of course) conversations with a variety of animals. Rob Hayes’ script is unapologetic and obviously offensive, and completely bizarre. Of course, the scenarios painted are almost never realistic but they are confronting nonetheless. The thought of a man having a series of sexual encounters with animals is unsavoury enough, but to listen to his post-coital confessions and confidences is thoroughly unnerving. However, to take this play at face value would be absurd (there is nothing realistic about a monkey prostitute or sex with a grizzly bear, no matter how perverse one’s sexual tastes may be). Bobby and his stories are allegories for our sexual lives, and its reverberations. What makes us tick, if and why it matters, and quite naturally, the moral implications of our appetites.

Heath Ivey-Law performs the 70 minute monologue, along with two nonspeaking actors in masks who provide the presence of animals involved. Bobby is a very demanding role. The script is wordy, and its concepts are obscure, but Ivey-Law displays impressive resilience and focus that pulls us into his weird and disturbing world. Early scenes are lighter in tone, and the show feels almost like a charming stand up routine. The notion of Bobby having sex with a dog and then a cat, is initially ridiculous but as we come to accept that what we see is more literal than we are ready to accept, the comedy becomes very unsettling. Ivey-Law is more effective at making us feel uncomfortable than he is at creating laughter, but the edginess sets in too early in the piece, and as the work descends into even darker territory, the work becomes too alienating to connect with. It must be noted though, that Ivey-Law’s performance in the later scenes is very powerful even when the abstraction overwhelms. The precision in his execution is beautiful to watch.

Director James Dalton is particularly strong with adding a visual dimension to the text. His rich imagination creates on stage, vivid and arresting imagery that is aesthetically satisfying, and also an evocative enhancement of the story we hear. The venue is restrictive but the use of lights and sound are unexpectedly innovative. Sex is the most personal of themes, so our own perspectives inform the way we read this work. Dalton allows us to approach the performance from any aspect. There is an ambivalence that communicates intelligently, but the viewer needs to be active and creative with interpretations. Awkward Conversations With Animals I’ve Fucked is never an easy ride, but a few bumps on the road will make for a most interesting night.…

In Rehearsal: The Boat People

Rehearsal images above from The Boat People, by The Hayloft Project and Rock Surfers Theatre.
At The Bondi Pavilion, from May 29 – Jun 21, 2014.
More info at

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.


Best of 2018 | Best of 2017 | Best of 2016Best of 2015Best Of 2014

Anaconda (Tamarama Rock Surfers)

rsz_1390679_658422944190319_399168425_nVenue: Bondi Pavilion Theatre (Bondi NSW), Oct 29 – Nov 23, 2013
Playwright: Sarah Doyle
Director: Sarah Doyle
Actors: Damian de Montemas, Simon Lyndon, Leeanna Walsman, Martin Broome

Theatre review
There are stories that appear time and time again in our theatres because they contain evergreen ingredients, but once in a blue moon, a new story emerges that is poignant, interesting and representative of the times we live in. Anaconda is a tale that can only be told in civilisations that have achieved some level of gender and sexual liberation, and where religion is open to scrutiny. Taboos are omnipresent, but they evolve. What was once unspeakable is suddenly given release, and now is the time that themes of sexual abuse, and their many repercussions, are beginning to gain attention in public fora of certain societies.

Sarah Doyle’s script is an important one. It investigates the unraveling of sexual trauma in adult males from different perspectives, and we are provided valuable insight into hidden truths that are buried underneath the surfaces of our daily lives. Revelation is one of the most revered purposes of art. The play does not hold back at exposing gruesome details (although re-enactments are thankfully avoided), and descriptions of those details resonate powerfully with appalling terror.

Less successful however, is Doyle’s direction of her own writing. Characters do not develop as extensively as the story allows, and they come across overly simplified. The dynamics of the wife and husband relationship in particular, lack chemistry and credibility, even though performances are fairly strong. Actors are cast well, and all four bring conviction and gravitas to their roles, but the show requires greater “light and shade” for the dramatics of the script to work more effectively.

The greatest beauty in Anaconda is the way its plot unfolds. Full of intrigue and suspense, it provides great theatricality to what could have been a dreary, depressing experience. This show is a captivating one, and the air of mystery it creates ultimately finds gratification when it divulges its gritty and shocking secrets.

5 Questions with Damian de Montemas

damiandemontemasWhat is your favourite swear word?
Clusterfuck, or fucking motherfucker, or shove it up your ass and fuck off while you’re doing it…

What are you wearing?
Jeans, t-shirt, boots.

What is love?
All you need.

What was the last show you saw, and how many stars do you give it?
Ummm Iggy Pop at the Hordern… 9/10 stars… How many stars is it outta 5? 4.5 outta 5.

Is your new show going to be any good?
Anaconda is going to be unmissable.



Damian de Montemas is starring in Anaconda.
Show dates: 29 Oct – 23 Nov, 2013
Show venue: The Bondi Pavillion Theatre

Empire: Terror On The High Seas (Tamarama Rock Surfers)

1173881_628047743894506_803955022_n[1]Venue: Bondi Pavilion Theatre (Bondi NSW), Aug 29 – Sep 28, 2013
Playwright: Toby Schmitz
Director: Leland Kean
Actors: Anthony Gooley, Ella Scott Lynch, Billie Rose Prichard, Nathan Lovejoy, Anthony Gee

Theatre review
Empire: Terror On The High Seas is a murder mystery set on an ocean liner in the late 1920s, but it owes little to the world of Agatha Christie’s writing. Instead, Toby Schmitz’s script is evocative of improvisational jazz music and the work of William S. Burroughs, with a structure that lends itself to a plot that unfolds mesmerisingly, but also freely goes away on lyrical tangents as though the story takes a break to feed an opiate habit at suitable intervals.

This is a big cast, with the participation of just under 20 actors. Performances are consistently good, with even the smaller roles excelling at creating an impression. Leading man Anthony Gooley is spellbinding as an unorthodox writer of sorts, on a journey grappling with personal issues including his concept of setting poetry to the stage. Gooley skilfully creates an endearing character who surprises with dramatic turns that are deliciously outlandish. Nathan Lovejoy steals the first half of the show with an exquisite flamboyance. His stage presence is irrepressible and he rules the stage with perfect comic timing at the show’s lighter sections. Ella Scott Lynch’s creation of a wild, gutsy flapper provides some of the most entertaining moments, and her stage husband Anthony Gee is memorable with a high energy performance that is manic and menacingly intense.

Leland Kean’s direction is thorough and meticulous. His vision comes through distinctly from his players who obviously understand their captain’s destination and purposes. Kean does not shy away from shock value, but he is simultaneously elegant in his approach. There are explicit scenes of debauchery and murder but his show is an aesthetically stylish one. Costumes and set are cleverly and beautifully designed. Sound is outstanding by being omnipresent and crucial to the fluid machinations of the storytelling, but is never distracting.

This is an artistic work that takes many poetic licenses and while it does not always communicate clearly, it takes its audience on its trip and triumphantly weaves through styles and genres, ending up with a theatrical narrative that is gripping, fascinating, and utterly fabulous.

Certain Men (Encyclopaedia Of Animals)

322708_439295692788974_1011700878_o.jpg  1000×667Venue: Bondi Pavilion Theatre (Bondi NSW), Jul 26-27
Director: Christopher Brown
Actors: Brian Davison, Michael Gwynne, Tamblyn Lord

Theatre review
The audience is seated in a big circle, all facing inwards. The room is large, with no specific focal point and no stage. The actors constantly move around the space, and the audience finds itself in the midst of all the action, almost an intruder into the intimate setting, where three middle-aged men meet for a group therapy of sorts. This is a play about the issues that these men face, and the difficulty in expressing and articulating those issues. Certain Men is fascinating in its theatrical form, which aligns itself with psychological treatments that seek to deconstruct patterns and convention, in order to reach a breakthrough point of enlightenment.

The chemistry between the players feels solid, but the characters do not communicate well with each other. They talk about themselves, play lego, clean windows, sing, rap and dance; they try but do not form a strong connection. What takes place in this work is abstract and makes for challenging viewing, but it feels like witnessing real life. A sadness permeates these beings, and we get hints of their individual stories, but the main concern here are questions and not answers. Perhaps the intent of their therapy is only to ask, and not to conclude. In its artistic form, Certain Men seeks to create its own language. While not instantly gratifying, it is a commendable and necessary development away from theatre that is facile and obsolete, moving towards something fresh and intelligent.

Short Plays #3 (Tamarama Rock Surfers)

1010847_607684252597522_1882182589_n.jpg  960×640Venue: Bondi Pavilion Theatre (Bondi NSW), Jul 19 & 26
Playwrights: Kate Mulvany, Finegen Kruckmeyer, Kit Brookman, Phillip Kavanagh
Directors: John Kachoyan, Jessica Tuckwell, Pierce Wilcox, Jo Turner
Actors: Akos Armont, Danielle King, Yalin Ozucelik, Huw McKinnon, Joshua Anderson, Jonny Pasvolsky, Zak Ynfante

Theatre review
When writing a play, one should think of the stage and its audience. It is good to have a story, a message, or an idea, but writing for the theatre requires awareness of the various senses that are engaged in the act of “watching a play”, and also the various disciplines involved in the collaborative nature of the theatrical arts. Feast and Heart Of Glass are two of the short plays in this collection with distinct similarities. They both feature one male actor, and a great deal of verbiage. Akos Armont and Joshua Anderson are committed actors but are left on an empty stage with nothing more than pages and pages of words. Their stories are not uninteresting, but it is a tall order to perform without involving other elements of the live stage. Unfortunately, these two works come across too much like talented actors reading out chapters from great books, but this does not deliver the best theatrical experience.

Conversely, the two other plays provide dynamism and intrigue to the evening’s proceedings. Wolf imagines the last moments in the life of the boy who cried wolf.  Jonny Pasvolsky plays the wolf (in human form) with great confidence and delicious cunning. The showman delivers an entertaining yet dark performance, positioning himself somewhere between menace and comedy, while cleverly avoiding unpleasant territory in the presence of a child actor.

The Last Bell exploits the short form perfectly, Tension and intrigue is skilfully maintained throughout the piece, with the actors keeping their audience at the edge of its seat. Yalin Ozucelik’s enigmatic gravitas grounds the play. It is his character’s impending doom which is at the centre of the story, and he conveys powerfully that state of being with a minimum of words and movement. Kate Mulvany’s script bears a narrative structure that is thoughtfully designed, able to create dramatic impact without explicit details of horror, and emotional tangibility without being tediously sentimental. Really enjoyable theatre in the mystery/thriller genre.