Suzy Goes See’s Best Of 2014

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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

End

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Photography by Roderick Ng, Dec 2014

Click here to see Best 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.

www.ruedelarocket.com

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

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.

www.bondifeast.com.au/…

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 http://www.rocksurfers.org/

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

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.

www.rocksurfers.org

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