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!!


Love It !- Metamorphoses

The new play at The old Fitz, Metamorphoses, is spellbinding. A tribute to love ( and a feature of Mardi Gras) it fashions a Tony award winning play based on Roman mythology into a luxurious banquet of story telling, movement and visual effects. It is a unique piece of theatre that I need to see again.

The director, Dino Dimitriadis, is always sure footed, but this piece demonstrates a creativity rarely seen. His choice of cast, and the way he uses gender in the parables depicted, enlivens and enlarges our appreciation of some very well known but previously two dimensional myths. The synergy of voice, movement, lighting and sets is extraordinary and completely captivating.

It is an ensemble cast, and every performer contributes beautifully to the production. The young actress Zoe Terakes must be mentioned because, as an actress who just completed her H.S.C the maturity and depth of her performance is astonishing. Her performance of Eurydice is mesmerising. David Helman is just exquisite in his physical performance but also proves to be a sensitive actor.

There are only a few tickets left for this season, and anyone with a passing interest in theatre- and especially not vanilla flavoured theatre – must not miss Metamorphoses.


Gripping and Funny….a must see at KXT

‘Night Slows Down’ is currently on at the Kings Cross Theatre, written and directed by an extremely talented NIDA graduate, Phillip James Rouse. This play conveys the horror of a dystopian world where racism is de rigueur and the desire for short term profit ( on the part of the government) is so unbridled that a whole city could be wiped out. But Phillip cleverly focuses on one family to tease out the intricacies of this problem. This play is just so cleverly written, incorporating flashbacks as well as forward narrative, and is both compelling and humorous. Tension is sustained from the opening sentence and the ending is perfect.

I generally state that a play’s success is ninety percent on the shoulders of the actors. These three actors are superb. Danielle King is an actress whom I have seen across many genres, always convincing, always creating  complexity in her characterisation. She is so good that one can almost forget that one is watching a play. She is in wonderful form here. Johnny Nasser who plays her husband is perfectly cast and does a marvelous and sensitive portayal.  Andre De Vanny, ex Melbourne, did a fine job in the play Swan Song and also in ‘ Of Mice and Men’ for Sport for Jove, but in this play he is brilliant. His portrayal of Seth, a brutal nasty punk whose right wing sentiment enables him to do very well politically, exudes charm and sincerity even as he oversees social horrors. He shows us very clearly just how these political situations can happen. Bravo!

The set and lighting are extraordinary and frame the dystopia perfectly. There is such detail in the wall panels and the lighting bordering the stage is perfect to encase the action. It is impossible to understand just how this wonderful entertainment  can be offered for such a tiny price at this theatre. If you have never been the the KIngs Cross Theatre, then start with this play. If you love theatre do not miss this diamond!