A Superb Effect

I often review plays at the Old Fitz, because the quality is just so good. I looked forward to seeing this play, which explores themes of mental health and the chemistry of love, particularly because I had seen the play a few years ago at STC. The STC piece was astonishing for its lack of charm and energy and became quite dreary in the second half. I wondered back then whether it was the play or the staging, and this performance proved that the play is wonderful and engrossing if directed and performed well.

Andrew Henry, a remarkably talented actor,  directs this play and his judgement is perfect. He has used actors in the two main roles who are completely convincing and extremely charismatic. Their energy carries the themes and the action explodes around them. I had not seen Emilie Cocqueral or Firass Firani on stage before but I will certainly be following their theatrical careers. The other  two actors playing  psychiatrists, Emma Jackson and Michael Nasser, are very experienced stage actors and their performances are very fine indeed.

The set is another masterpiece of design, and the lighting is superb. It is almost impossible to believe what can be achieved in this theatre, the hottest independent venue in Sydney.

Most importantly, this play is  very very entertaining! Although the themes are very serious and important the theatrical experience is buoyant and exciting. It is a real triumph and should not be missed. In fact, it would be the perfect play to see if you were not really into theatre…I do not think anyone would fail to succumb to the effect.

The Best Month Ever

In the last week I have seen two plays- The Time Machine at NIDA and The Flick at the Seymour, and both are best in their own class. Acting of such deliciousness, and the perfect marriage of direction and production is rare to experience once in a year- much less twice in a week.

The Time Machine is based on the H.G.Wells novella. It is a one man show performed by Mark Lee who tells the audience of his experience in the future, but in fact performs the adventure so convincingly that one can picture the scenes and creatures he describes. Mark Lee, whose most famous screen role is probably ‘Gallipoli’ is one of the finest stage actors I have ever witnessed. His vocal range, dramatic flexibility and luminescence on stage are jaw dropping. To have 70 minutes of his performance is like a three Michelin starred degustation.

The Flick is equally exquisite. The Pulitzer prize winning play by Annie Baker uses naturalism; this style does require patience on the part of the audience. This style also provides tremendous rewards because the characters are conveyed completely convincingly.One of the story lines involves Sam, the older worker who is in love with Rose. He eventually tells her in a  particularly poignant scene  which is powerful because of the time we have spent getting to know the characters. Jeremy Waters is superb as Sam. I have seen him in many plays and he is a ‘must not miss’ performer. In this demanding role he is able to create a remarkably complex and interesting character, and he has such charisma that one is willing him to be successful.  His co-stars are also very impressive, Mia Lethbridge as Rose, Justin Amankwah in his stage debut and Matthew Cheetham .

The staging of ‘The Flick’ is a masterpiece. The Seymour stage has been transformed into a cinema, and above the seating is the projection booth, from which we are given the impression of movies being projected between scenes. Wall light sconces seem to have been plucked from real cinemas and the set is completed with gaudy carpeting running across front of stage.

And of course, credit must be given to the director, Craig Baldwin who is an expert in this genre and has enabled the cast to deliver performances which are spectacular.

Both these plays two weeks to run and both deserve sell-out crowds.