Make Contact

Contact is a cafe/restaurant in Crown St Woolloomooloo, and the decor carries the theme of communication with various old fashioned telephones etc on shelves. It is an attractive looking eatery but it is special for two reasons.

Firstly it offers a ‘digital detox.’ In keeping with the theme of contact it offers diners a reward for handing over their toxic mobile devices, which are stored in tiny lockers until the end of the meal. Integrative doctors are always harping on about the  dangers of excessive time spent on portable technology so this concept resonates with me. Apart from the EMG issues the long term damage to our hippocampus from the excessive stimulation from social media sites is only starting to become apparent. Any break from this is welcome! Markus Strauder, the G.M ,has a vision and I really commend him for this.

Secondly the food is sensational. Healthy, fresh and creative the chef  Marco Giuliani is really masterful. The celeriac I ate last week was spectacular ( and this is not an easy vegetable to turn into a masterpiece), and the calamari was the most tender I have ever experienced. Slow cooking features strongly here, as well as traditional Italian methods.

This restaurant/bar is unique, and best of all the night out is actually beneficial for your health!


Long Live the King!

King of Pigs , at the Old Fitzroy Theatre is a world premiere. The playwright, Steve Rogers, is a multi award winning playwright and he utilises his tremendous skill in creating a play which is compelling, entertaining and very very important.

The theme is domestic violence and the many ways in which men excuse themselves for behaving violently and creating generational  violence.  The play comprises a series of scenes which create several different stories simultaneously. This is performed so ably and directed so exquisitely that it has perfect flow.  Seamless.

The female roles are played by Ella Scott- Lynch. She is a very well known actress, NIDA trained, who has worked across all genres of performance. She is brilliant, she really is every woman. The male cast member are all excellent and beautifully cast. Mick Bani as the ‘could have been’ rugby player makes his stage debut, and the director should be particularly commended for this casting. As the son, Thom Blake, just eleven years of age, is also a treat to watch- I have seen him previously in Sport for Jove productions. He alternates with Wylie Best and I will be seeing this production again so will catch the other youngster’s performance.

The biggest praise must be reserved for the director Blazey Best. There is no theatre award that she has not won, and she really is a gift to the Australian stage. This is her directorial debut, and it is difficult to believe because the direction is so good. The play’s strength lies in the tight line she draws between excessive sentiment and inadequate emotion to depict very confronting material. This piece is a winner on every level, and I predict it will be multi award winning when this years plays are judged.

There are only a few tickets left for most of the sessions- and the Fitz has a habit of selling out- so book immediately.

 


Delicious Dresden

The current play at the KXT ( KingsCross Theatre in the KX hotel) is  astonishing. It is a new Australian play  by Justin Fleming not burdened in any way by the need for an ‘Australian’ theme. It is broadly about the life of Richard Wagner- a larger than life creative genius- intersecting with moments in history from  the twentieth century. However, it is vastly more creative ,witty and deep than I can convey without spoiling some plot twists.

In the role of Wagner is the charismatic Jeremy Waters.  He is really glorious in this role and enables us to see the complexities of Wagner’s personality, in particular his vulnerability. He has some of the wittiest lines and delivers them with perfect timing. I have to add here that if Jeremy waters is in the cast of any play, it is a money back guarantee that the piece will be excellent. I have not missed anything that this hardworking performer has been in, and his versatility is unparalleled.

The other cast members are terrific and most play a variety of roles. Thomas Campbell is a brilliant actor who has been ‘highly decorated’ in the independent theatre world.( Sydney Theatre Awards for Best Actor) . He  has a real comedic flare, as do Ben Wood and Dorje Swallow in their various roles. Yalin   Ozucelik has the difficult task of playing Adolf Hitler in the one role that is not comedic and does an excellent job, avoiding parody and sentimentality. The one female role, of Cosima Wagner is played with a lovely etherial quality by Renee Lim.

With such a clever and entertaining play, and wonderful acting,the other aspects- lighting, sets ,costumes and music become an embarrassment of riches. They are handled with wonderful effect and brought together by director Suzanne Millar. Suzanne is the creative director of Bakehouse and as such curates plays for the KXT. She really does a great job- this year is the best year ever. We Sydneysiders are so lucky to have this venue providing quality theatre.

I really loved this play on so many levels. First an foremost it is deliciously entertaining!! There is only one week left so do not miss this world premiere!


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.


Astonishing

DNA is on at the KXT, under the direction of Claudia Barrie. She is a very well respected director who has garnered much critical acclaim, and this must surely be her best work yet. This piece is a very dark, very tense thriller  but also manages to be very funny,    providing an insight into the tortured minds of a group of marginalised British teens . The eleven strong cast has been directed to provide a level of acting excellence that I cannot recall seeing previously. Every cast member pulls off perfect timing and acting that is spellbinding. Some of the casts are well known in independent theatre- Jess-Bell Keogh was stunning last year in ‘The Slut’ at the Old Fitz, Alex Beauman was in one of my favourite plays of 2016- The Whale, also extraordinary, and Bardiya Mckinnon was recently in the magical Metamorphoses. Others are well known in film, such as James Fraser, but the  cast members are all accomplished and talented.

I cannot imagine better theatre than this. There was a big crowd this evening, so don’t delay.. and do not miss this theatrical high water mark.


The Wolves…Frances Mcdormand would be proud

The Wolves is the new play at The Old Fitz produced by Red Line. It has a cast of nine talented actors, all female, a wonderful director Jessica Arthur and a very satisfying set, designed by Maya Kemp. Considering Frances’ call for more female employment across the spectrum of creative jobs in film/theatre, she would be delighted with this production, which is all female, but missing none of the muscle and energy that one might attribute to a male creative team.

This play is about female adolescence in middle America and covers a myriad of issues spoken with voices from a variety of cultural and socio economic backgrounds. It is honest and raw and very entertaining. There is alot of choreography which works particularly well and gives the piece tremendous energy. The direction is faultless. This cast has no weakest links, but I have to mention Zoe Terakes, whom I have seen in three plays over six months, including her award winning performance in View From The Bridge. It is hard to believe that such a young actor can be so accomplished.  She has very few words in this play but her character is captured beautifully. Her facial movements are astonishing.

So get tickets if you can.. The Old Fitz has served such an amazing series of winners that tickets are impossible to purchase once the season takes off!!