Review: The Walworth Farce (Workhorse Theatre Company)

Venue: Kings Cross Theatre (Kings Cross NSW), May 18 – Jun 9, 2018
Playwright: Enda Walsh
Director: Kim Hardwick
Cast: Rachel Alexander, Laurence Coy, Robin Goldsworthy, Troy Harrison
Images by Clare Hawley

Theatre review
Inside a small London apartment, Dinny and his adult sons spend every day acting out a complicated farce, so that the best performer may win a trophy, and that Blake and Sean may remember their early days in Ireland, but only in a way that Dinny permits. It is an account of events that is absurd and dense, designed so that his sons’ memory of their collective biography, is doctored and confused.

Dinny has a lot to hide, and because Blake and Sean are a part of his confections, they are kept under strict control, even if both have well and truly arrived at adulthood. This is a story about parenting, and about the diaspora of cultures that every city experiences. It is about the relationships between countries, and the way individuals are affected by the boundaries we draw in the demarcation of national differences. Enda Walsh’s The Walworth Farce is unquestionably meaningful, but some of the play’s more culturally specific aspects, can prove impenetrable and tedious.

It is a tenaciously exuberant production, directed by Kim Hardwick who leaves no stone unturned in this complex work. There is a lot that goes on in every moment, and Hardwick’s eye for detail demands that we engage with her show in a way that is complex and nuanced. The very lively cast gives a generous performance, energetic and rich with spirit and inventiveness. Troy Harrison is particularly wonderful as Sean, the older brother on the precipice of discovering a new life. It is a plethora of emotions that emerge from the actor, conflicting yet distinct, allowing us to decipher the fundamental underlying truths that are in operation, amidst the constant vociferous hullabaloo.

As immigrants, we often find ourselves having to create narratives when required to explain how we have come to be. The tales that we weave are seldom the complete story, because the action of moving from one’s hometown, to somewhere entirely new, will always involve layers of intricacies that seem impossible to encapsulate in a convenient way. How we think of the past, is key to how the future looks. When we are unable to be honest about the journey before today, what happens hereafter, can only be fraudulent.

Review: 4:48 Psychosis (Workhorse Theatre Company)

Venue: Old Fitzroy Theatre (Woolloomooloo NSW), Aug 16 – Sep 9, 2017
Playwright: Sarah Kane
Director: Anthony Skuse
Cast: Ella Prince, Lucy Heffernan, Zoe Trilsbach
Image by Andre Vasquez

Theatre review
A large mirror forms the backdrop, and for much of the show, we watch the actors through their reflections. It is a peculiar sensation, to look into the mirror over a prolonged period and not be familiar with the person therein. In Sarah Kane’s world of mental illness, 4:48 Psychosis is often incoherent, but undeniably truthful. The characters speak, not always for the purpose of communication with an external presence, but to achieve a kind of sentience, or to find a way for things to make subjective sense.

Charged with emotion and an abundance of hopeless desperation, it is the rock-bottom of a dark existence that we encounter, a place where we are able to think of death as salvation. The work is difficult because of the deeply fragile omnipresence of a person’s impending suicide. Director Anthony Skuse is right to steer the show away from any sense of sensationalism or pleasure, so that we remain in the regretful bleakness of a fellow human being’s agony.

There is little that should be enjoyable of the work, but we discover that annihilation is seductive, and that poetry is beautiful, even (or especially) when tortured. It is a polished production, sensual and intense, with memorable design work by an excellent team of creatives. Benjamin Freeman’s music is heard for the entire duration, striking in its exacting sensitivity.

A cast of three women present an extraordinary study of a diseased mind. Thoroughly complex and remarkably focused, what they bring to the stage is replete with authenticity, but also unabashedly dramatic. The extremely well-rehearsed group, Ella Prince, Lucy Heffernan and Zoe Trilsbach are individually captivating, whilst maintaining an impressive cohesiveness that secures our attention, come hell or high water. We may not understand much of what they have to go through, but they are nonetheless demanding, of our concentration, our validation, our empathy.

Public discourse requires that we talk of suicide as fundamentally unacceptable. Forbidden by law and religion, the thing that is most unequivocally owned by the self, is one’s life, yet the decision to end it, is thought of as repugnant. In our refusal to condone suicide, we declare human life to be sacred. It is a social contract, that all must be given care. As Sarah Kane asks repeatedly in the play, “what do you offer your friends to make them so supportive?” the question becomes increasingly irrelevant. For any person to be given support, a currency of exchange is not needed. By the same token however, one can think of being, as essentially personal, and no debt will be owed, when extinguished.

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: The Motherfucker With The Hat (Workhorse Theatre Company / Darlinghurst Theatre Company)

workhorseVenue: Eternity Playhouse (Darlinghurst NSW), Sep 19 – Oct 19, 2014
Playwright: Stephen Adly Guirgis
Director: Adam Cook
Cast: John Atkinson, Troy Harrison, Megan O’Connell, Zoe Trilsbach, Nigel Turner-Carroll
Image by Kurt Sneddon

Theatre review
Few would claim to have experienced a perfect childhood. We sustain damage from the carelessness of parents, the cruelty of peers, and the dysfunctions of society. In The Motherfucker With The Hat, characters are seen to grapple with their individual histories, some trying to overcome agents of hindrance, and others submitting to destruction. Through themes of infidelity and disloyalty, we observe the way mistreatment of friends and lovers is rationalised, and through those betrayals, the demons that people carry within are exposed in the play’s violent narratives.

Stephen Adly Guirgis’ script is colourfully detailed. Interchanges are deep and revealing, and dialogue is relentlessly exciting. The characters speak the language of New York’s lower classes, with a rich idiosyncratic flavour derived from a passionate city and its spirited residents. The story is a compilation of altercations between personalities who do not shy away from confrontation. They express an exhaustive gamut of emotions, which makes for excellent drama, but whether their sentiments encourage empathy, depends largely on the audience’s ability to relate to each character. Direction of the work by Adam Cook is suitably rambunctious. The show is a lively one, always able to provide something amusing, even controversial, to spark the senses. Even though his work can at times feel emotionally distant, Cook extracts consistently brilliant performances from his cast.

In the role of Jackie is Troy Harrison whose spectacular presence anchors the production in a wild and turbulent space that resonates with an unusual authenticity. Through an extraordinary complexity, Harrison conveys a sense of profundity to the proceedings, in which his commitment to creating both entertainment and meaning is clear. Harrison’s portrayal of aggression is not always effective but the vulnerability he displays is powerful. Zoe Trilsbach plays Veronica, an unapologetic addict dependent on alcohol, drugs and lies. The actor has a fierce dynamism that gives her character a willfulness, and she paints an intriguing portrait of hypocrisy and delusion with the character’s determination. There is a vehemence to Trilsbach’s voice and physicality that gives accuracy to the play’s social context, and grants a fascinating insight into the role’s mental and emotional states. It is certainly an outstanding and memorable performance.

Supporting players too, are impressive. Nigel Turner-Carroll’s comedy is confident, mischievous and unpredictable, adding a necessary lightness to the production with the part of Julio. The role of Ralph experiences the greatest transformation in the plot, and John Atkinson’s depiction of that journey is delightfully dramatic. Both Atkinson and Megan O’Connell, who plays his wife Victoria, deliver very solid and captivating soliloquies that stay with us for their intense and palpable humanity. The couple’s desperately flawed relationship is presented with an unflinching honesty that is quite chilling.

Production design is marvelously conceived. The many set changes are handled with great elegance, and every setting is sensitively constructed. Dylan Tonkin’s set and costumes, and Ben Brockman’s lights are not attention-grabbing, but their work allows us to be transported effortlessly to a land far away. Composer and sound designer Marty Hailey is responsible for the urgent pulse that drives us from one explosive scene to another. His music is a metaphysical representation of the story’s progression, and a perfectly executed dimension of the show that finds beautiful harmony with its more tangible elements.

The play talks a lot about sobriety. It is concerned with how a person can grow and improve, through the search for honesty and self-awareness. Julio is the only character in the piece who does not suffer from addiction issues, and he is presented on stage as the only one who finds happiness and fulfillment. He is also the clown. There is an artifice and implausibility to Julio that signifies the absurdity of completeness as a state of being. To err is human, and to struggle, it seems, is evidence for being alive.

5 Questions with Nigel Turner-Carroll‏

IMG_4971What is your favourite swear word?
Fuck. It just says so many things. Positive, negative, arbitrary, sexy the list goes on.

What are you wearing?
Indie attire with a splash of G-Star.

What is love?
My wife and my daughter.

What was the last show you saw, and how many stars do you give it?
Last show I saw was The Tap Pack which I directed and co created. 11 out of 10 stars easily.

Is your new show going to be any good?
Gonna be off the hook.


Nigel Turner-Carroll‏ is appearing in The Motherf**ker with the Hat, from Darlinghurst Theatre Company’s 2014 season.
Show dates: 19 Sep – 19 Oct, 2014
Show venue: Eternity Playhouse

5 Questions with Megan O’Connell‏

meganoconnellWhat is your favourite swear word?
Cunt. (Sorry, mum. Sorry, Sister Bernadette.)

What are you wearing?
Trackies and ugg boots. The Blacktown uniform. But I’m at home so it’s OK.

What is love?
A well timed cup of tea comes pretty close.

What was the last show you saw, and how many stars do you give it?
We’ve just had a baby, so my brain has gone to pudding. But I’m sure whatever it was, I enjoyed it.

Is your new show going to be any good?
Yes. I almost wish I wasn’t in it so I could see it myself. Almost. (Please don’t fire me).

Megan O’Connell‏ is appearing in The Motherf**ker With The Hat, from Darlinghurst Theatre Company’s 2014 season.
Show dates: 19 Sep – 19 Oct, 2014
Show venue: Eternity Playhouse