Review: Wasted (The Kings Collective)

Venue: The Factory Theatre (Marrickville NSW), Dec 1 – 9, 2017
Playwright: Kate Tempest
Director: Elsie Edgerton-Till
Cast: Jack Crumlin, David Harrison, Eliza Scott
Image by Robert Catto

Theatre review
Charlotte, Danny and Ted live in England where, like in all developed nations, opportunities abound. It is never easy though, to get ahead, to carve out a life, even when all the fruit is ripe for one’s picking. We stand in our own way, with psychological barriers that exist mainly as a result of social conditioning, or maybe the competitive nature of our economies are determined to make losers out of some, in order that the rich can get richer.

Kate Tempest’s Wasted does not take a strong stance on the external factors that affect English youth, but makes a case for personal responsibility. These are able-bodied, heterosexual, white people after all. Tempest is frustrated with the way these twenty-somethings jeopardise their own lives, when they clearly know better. This generation is given all the information and resources they require, yet many are unable to create a meaningful existence, choosing instead to languish in drugs, alcohol, in a state of perpetual purgatory.

The play’s message is simple, but Tempest’s writing is extraordinary. The passion with which her ideas are articulated, and the emotive use of language, go for the jugular, and we are held captive by the sheer intensity that the playwright builds into every line of dialogue. Directed by Elsie Edgerton-Till, the production is correspondingly powerful. Choreography for several of its more theatrical moments could be improved, but there is no question that Tegan Nicholls’ music is a source of energy that adds a great deal of excitement to the show.

Most memorable of all, is the trio of actors that bring scintillating life to the piece. We are shaken by Eliza Scott’s compassion as Charlotte, whose purity of spirit shines through, amid the despondent confusion of her pessimistic narrative. Together with Jack Crumlin’s convincingly crestfallen Danny, the couple’s love story moves us, in spite of the carelessness with which they regard each other. Ted is played by the charming David Harrison, who entertains us with an inexorable ebullience. The three strike the perfect balance in providing amusement, along with a sincerity and a sense of urgency that keeps us heedful of the work’s pertinence.

For those who have the privilege of access, the only real definition of failure, is when they ignore the opportunities that have been made available. There is no need to subscribe to how the concept of success is generally construed, but one has to understand the destructiveness that can be self-inflicted. When we have the freedom to decide for ourselves, what is good and bad, values can be poorly judged, and individual lives can turn to waste. Not everyone should aspire to be a millionaire, but we must all try to give more than we take, and to leave the world a better place.

www.tkcaus.com

Review: After The End (The Kings Collective)

thekingscollectiveVenue: Kings Cross Theatre (Kings Cross NSW), Oct 8 – 22, 2016
Playwright: Dennis Kelly
Director: Michael Abercromby
Cast: Josh Brennan, Grace Victoria
Image by Rupert Reid

Theatre review
Louise and Mark are locked in a bunker. We are not quite sure how they got there, but we know that it is the male of the pair who is calling the shots. It could be the apocalypse, and the end of the world is a complex matter for those who survive. Dennis Kelly’s After The End is a quirky, but dark, story about the atrocities that happen in a world where nobody thinks that they’re the bad guy.

Although its contexts are dramatic, its plot is simple and unfortunately, a predictable one. There is discernible concerted effort put into creating tension for the staging, but only its later sequences are able to captivate, and when we do become engaged, it is the portrayal of violence that draws us in, rather than inherent ideas that can seem superficial, with insufficient provocative power. Some of the play’s mysteries could be more effectively manipulated, but both performers (Josh Brennan and Grace Victoria) are remarkably focused, well-rehearsed and enthusiastically present.

In After The End, a woman is made victim when she finds herself waking up in an environment completely controlled by a man. Unable to negotiate a renewal of circumstances that will provide a level playing field, Louise is forced into combat for the top dog position, squarely on Mark’s terms. Determined for his desires to dominate their microcosm, Mark’s impositions are a representation of the obstacles that feminists are up against, and reason for the deterioration of advancements that had been made. It is a pessimistic view that the play proffers, but an accurate depiction of a state of affairs where everybody loses, if we perpetuate that status quo.

www.thekingscollective.com.au

5 Questions with Cecelia Peters and Jessica Arthur

Cecelia Peters

Cecelia Peters

Jessica Arthur: What is your ultimate Sugar fantasy (think Homer Simpson in sugar land or Willy Wonka’s Chocolate factory).
Cecelia Peters: The Dalai Lama, José Gonzalez and myself in a hotel room – stay with me – We order an abundance of raw vegan treats from room service (yes I’m one of the ‘kale people’. I also don’t want to offend the Dalai Lama and I’m not sure of José’s dietary requirements) and sit on the balcony, play music, slowly eat yummy goodness, and smile and everything is perfect. The end.

What is the most embarrassing thing you did as a teenager? or what is your guilty pleasure?
I feel as though the teen years are about embarrassing yourself on a daily basis and then learning to manage the urge to hide in bed all day. Or maybe that was just me. Does that answer the question?

A typical question, always a goodie – which three people, dead or alive, would you invite to a dinner party and why them in particular?
There are so many inspirational people I would want to invite (mainly to show off how intellectually gifted I am). However, above all I’d want the table banter to be brilliant so I would say, purely for entertainment reasons, Amy Schumer, Dorothy Parker and Ella Fitzgerald.

What is some golden acting advice you’ve been given that you always keep in mind?
Whilst I was at WAAPA I worked with an Irish director called Patrick sutton. He understood my impulses more than I did. He said to me “Cece. You can’t ever switch off on stage: you’re not the kind of actor who can get away with it. You have to keep the ball in the air, don’t let it drop, or it falls flat.” I guess because it wasn’t some passed down line from the hundreds of acting methods that it just stayed with me. So simple. Don’t let the ball drop.

A song lyric that you live by.
“Twerk hard, play hard,” by the Internet.

Jessica Arthur

Jessica Arthur

Cecelia Peters: Favourite city judging by its art scene?
Jessica Arthur: Favourite city art-scene-wise definitely has to be Vienna. I spent my days in the Museumsquartier and nights at the theatre. My favourite place was the Leopold Museum where I fell in love with my favourite artist Egon Schiele. I also couch-surfed with some hippy, bridge dancing, juggling to tango music, dumpster diving folk so Vienna takes the sweet Austrian cake for me.

Who’s your favourite feminist at the moment?
My friend just gave me How To Be A Woman by Caitlin Moran. I am only a few chapters in but she is a true contemporary feminist and also HILARIOUS. Also I must mention my two buddies Katie Cawthorne and Laura Lethlean who I have co-founded The Anchor theatre company with. We have a group on facebook where we share feminist articles and they will both forever be my favourite feminists!

Where’s your happy place in Sydney ? Do you have one?
My happy place in Sydney is more like a happy moment. That moment is when you’re coming out of the City Circle tunnel and you get that always remarkable view of Circular Quay from the train. As a Melbournian in Sydney it always astounds me and it will never get old. (I must also give a shout out to Satellite cafe in Newtown because they have great coffee and it is such a chill place to meet up with friends).

Do you get ESP with your twin brother?
Sadly no, but we can have full conversations where only a few knowing looks and very little words are required.

Favourite show this year thus far?
Kill The Messenger at Belvoir because of what it did as a piece of theatre. In my mind, theatre should say something and spark thought to the extent that you leave the theatre and think about what you saw for days after. The content of Kill The Messenger did that for me and continues to do so months after viewing it.

Jessica Arthur is directing Cecelia Peters in The Sugar Syndrome by Lucy Prebble.
Dates: 15 – 30 June, 2015
Venue: District 01

Suzy Goes See’s Best Of 2014

sgs-best2014

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: Gruesome Playground Injuries (The Kings Collective)

thekingscollectiveVenue: TAP Gallery (Darlinghurst NSW), Sep 23 – 28, 2014
Writer: Rajiv Joseph
Director: Anthony Gooley
Cast: Aaron Glenane, Megan McGlinchey
Image by Kate Williams Photography

Theatre review
The beauty of love is most potent when its departure is close at hand. Rajiv Joseph’s Gruesome Playground Injuries is about a relationship defined by absence. Its characters spend short periods together, sharing brief moments of intensity through each significant age, and then disappear from each other’s lives for years after. Kayleen and Doug’s romance is an eternal flower that does not bear fruit. They do not become partners, spouses or lovers but their bond grows stronger with each passing year. Their story is a tragic one, and Joseph’s script is filled with poignancy, shifting from the very light to the deeply sorrowful, constantly alternating between laughter and tears to tell a moving tale that no person can react with indifference. The events may not have happened to any of us, but we understand all the feelings involved, and this is a production that allows us to luxuriate in all the joy and pain that the couple has experienced.

The outrageously accident-prone Doug is played by Aaron Glenane, whose magnificence in the role cannot be overstated. His authenticity is immediate and thorough, and whether performing slapstick or catastrophe, he always remains believable and compelling. The brightness of the actor’s energy gives the stage a liveliness that captivates us, and his warm presence creates a likability in his character that holds our empathy from scene one to the end. Glenane is perfect in the part, and his work here is impeccable. Also engaging is Megan McGlinchey who takes on the role of Kayleen with a fierce sense of commitment and remarkable focus. McGlinchey is less effective in sequences that require her to portray her character’s later years, but the honesty in her acting provides an integrity to her work that sustains our empathy even when her narrative is missing the purity of Doug’s. The actors form a formidable pair, with an extraordinary chemistry between them that makes the production gleam with magic.

Anthony Gooley’s direction places emphasis on extracting brave and extravagant creative choices from his cast. The piece has a sense of grandness in the volume at which it portrays human emotion that comes from the sheer corporeality that is presented before our eyes. What Gooley has delivered is more than an accurate implementation of Joseph’s writing, it is an amplification, one that is dramatic, powerful and uncompromisingly visceral. The story spans thirty years, and the sentiments represented are correspondingly deep. Passion is conspicuous on this stage, and the director’s efforts at making its presence felt are commendable. The inventive use of space shows creative flair, and along with an accomplished design team comprising Toby Knyvett (lights) and Tyler Hawkins (set and costumes), visual design is noticeably elegant. The variation in atmosphere between scenes is efficiently and sensitively executed, with imaginative input from sound designers David Stalley, David Couri and Philip Orr.

This is an exceptional production that showcases brilliant acting, tells an exciting story, and issues a reminder of what heartbreak feels like. Love cannot be explained in words, but it can be enacted in the theatre, as Gruesome Playground Injuries does, to enormous satisfaction.

www.thekingscollective.com.au

Review: This Is Our Youth (The Kings Collective)

thekingscollectiveVenue: TAP Gallery (Darlinghurst NSW), Sep 16 – 21, 2014
Writer: Kenneth Lonergan
Director: Dan Eady
Cast: Joshua Brennan, Scott Lee, Georgia Scott
Image by Kate Williams Photography

Theatre review
Not all stories are universal. There will be characters we are interested in, and others that we do not give two hoots about. Kenneth Lonergan’s This Is Our Youth is a lamentation of sorts about spoilt rich kids. It is concerned with the neglected offspring of wealthy baby boomers, providing a perspective of new money in 1980’s Manhattan and the repercussions on its subsequent generation. Lonergan’s script is full of mischief and energy, but embodies the pointlessness of the characters it portrays. Their lives are lost, frivolous and sordid. Everything is dazed and confused, but the writing provides a rich and colourful inventory of drama and jokes for an electrifying work of theatre, and this is what The Kings Collective delivers.

The cast is extraordinary. Three young actors, sublime as a group but individually sensational, give a performance that is quite literally flawless. They all make bold choices that delight and surprise us, but are always thoughtful and sensitive to the creation of depth in their characters. We are enthralled by the dynamism in their work but never lose sight of contexts and circumstances. Joshua Brennan is Dennis, the misguided alpha male, whose bravado, anger and aggression are the only things getting him through life that do not come in small self-sealing plastic bags. Brennan’s range begins at bombastic, and then escalates further. His work is outrageously flamboyant but completely engaging, and one is able to sense a lot of substance behind his delicious madness. The material gives him many opportunities for comedy and he executes them brilliantly, but poignant moments at the end are slightly less effective even though his portrayal continues to be convincing.

Georgia Scott transforms the supporting role of Jessica into a memorable one. She fools us with a Barbie-esque appearance and surreptitiously shifts the play into intellectual gear. Scott brings a palpable complexity with strength, humour and tenderness, creating an authentic sentimentality that gives the production its humanistic aspect. Her romantic scenes with Warren are beautiful and real, allowing the play to speak compassionately, albeit fleetingly. The feminine voice is only secondary in the play, but Scott’s work is disproportionately impressive.

Warren is a clever young man who suffers from a lack of confidence and direction. He allows his father and friends to dominate him, and seeks refuge in drugs to silence his intelligence. Scott Lee’s moving depiction of that impotency gives the play its weight, and his comedic flair sets the tone of the production. Lee’s phenomenal chemistry with both colleagues shows an openness in approach that gives theatre its sizzle, and every second is kept lively by his marvelous commitment and presence.

Direction of the piece by Dan Eady ensures excellent entertainment and precise storytelling, without an instance of misplaced focus or loss of energy. This is the tightest of ships that any captain can hope to deploy. Audiences will laugh, be touched, and be provoked into thought, but the play’s social message is not a particularly potent one. It is hard to summon up any empathy for the very rich, even if they are innocent young adults. This Is Our Youth is thrilling and amusing, and while it does have some depth, they can be tenuous. Fortunately, theatre is about the craft as much as it is about meanings, and on this occasion, the artists are alchemists that have turned lead into gold.

www.thekingscollective.com.au

Review: Out Of Gas On Lovers Leap (The Kings Collective)

thekingscollectiveVenue: TAP Gallery (Darlinghurst NSW), Sep 9 – 14, 2014
Writer: Mark St. Germain
Director: Grace Victoria
Cast: David Harrison, Cecelia Peters
Image by Kate Williams Photography

Theatre review
USA in the 1980s was a time of great prosperity, when greed was good and the pursuit of riches seemed the only valid way of life. The pragmatism of money encouraged the dismantling of family units, and children grew up in the care of hired help, while parents explored possibilities in thriving economies. Mark St. Germain’s Out Of Gas On Lovers Leap is a lamentation that looks at two high school sweethearts, Myst and Grouper. Both characters are created with excellent depth and their backgrounds thoroughly elucidated. The script is dark and dangerous, with the aimless and misguided teenage couple discussing confronting subjects like abortion and suicide, and indulging in sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll before our eyes.

The play is about the gravity in these young lives, but Grace Victoria’s direction allows too much frivolity. The production is entertaining, and extremely high energy, but the dark nuances of the text is often lost. We hear the disturbing details of the dialogue but they do not resonate with a sense of urgency and tension. The cast is vibrant and enthusiastic, but they are not given enough instruction and the deeper social connotations of the story are sacrificed for a lot of clamour and amusement.

Cecelia Peters plays Myst, the talented daughter of a pop music celebrity. Peters’ fervour for comedy keeps the show buoyant, and she pushes effectively to create a sense of excitement. Her emotions are intensely portrayed, but not always appropriately so. The role of her boyfriend Grouper is performed by David Harrison, who is equally effervescent. There is a focus to his work that gives it a sense of polish, and he forms a complementary team with Peters, even if sexual chemistry between the two is a little lacking.

Entertainment is an important factor in assessing a theatrical work’s efficacy, and in the case of Out Of Gas On Lovers Leap, its cast does well at keeping us engaged. Not everything on stage needs to have poignancy and profundity but Mark St. Germain’s script requires a treatment that is more sensitive. The message is a serious one, and it needs to be presented with greater severity. The production concludes well, with Peters and Harrison showing wonderful commitment in the final scene, although a change in tone does occur suddenly. It is now thirty years after that fateful night at Lovers Leap, and Generation X is in its middle age, bringing up its own children. The circle of life may be perpetual, but questions relating to the heredity of emotional and psychological damage become increasingly relevant.

www.thekingscollective.com.au