Showing posts with label New Theatre. Show all posts
Showing posts with label New Theatre. Show all posts

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Why Torture is Wrong, and the People Who Love Them - Review

Why Torture is Wrong, and the People Who Love Them written by Christopher Durang is playing at the New Theatre until 28 June. This is an intriguing play. I don't know why Christopher chose the title but I expect it will put a few people off seeing it. It does have a dark side to the play and there is some violence but most of the torture is mental torture and some part of the play you can feel the tension rising in the characters. Christopher has, I expect, taken ideas from the insecurities we have now in the world after 9/11, but also the film The Hangover and just like The Hangover there is a lot of humour in the play.
Felicity (Ainslie McGlynn) wakes up in a strange apartment in bed with Zamir (Terry Karabelas). She has no recollection of the night before. Zamir wakes up before she can creep out and informs her that they are married. Felicity immediately wants an annulment but Zamir intimidates her and implies that he has a violent past so, she had better watch out. He wants to meet her parents Luella (Alice Livingstone) and Leonard (Peter Astridge). She talks to her mother first, saying that she suspects her husband to be a terrorist. In comes Zamir and puts on the charm but when Leonard appears the mood changed as Leonard and Zamir end up head to head, each threatening the other. As the play progresses it is apparent that Luella can only cope with life and her marriage by escaping into the world of Theatre. To her daughter she just seems a little mad but in reality she has be tortured for years by Leonard, not necessarily physically though it is implied but more mentally as he controls her. Leonard has a secret butterfly collection which he won't let anyone see. As his wife and daughter suspect he doesn't have a collection of butterflies, but belongs to a secret society who has been put together to protect the nation from terrorists. Leonard calls on Hildegarde (Romy Bartz) to help him get evidence on Zamir. Unfortunately, Hildegarde misinterprets a meeting Zamir has with Rev Mike (Ryan Gibson). Rev Mike married Zamir and Felicity and just happens to make porn films too. It all turns out very badly for Zamir, but Falicity doesn't like the outcome so asks to go back in time to make the play have a different outcome. There are several bizarre moment in the play.
The play was very well produced. The staging was thoughtful with one section revolving, so the scene changes were swift. All the actors were superb particularly Peter and Alice. The Director's notes talks about the Australian asylum seekers and their treatment in the detention centres. But, this link is tenuous as Durang deals more with peoples prejudices and misinterpretations, hence the title Why Torture is Wrong. I would relate the story more to women who are in abusive marriages and people who are accused of being terrorist when they are not. The play was nothing like I imagined though it had an underlying darkness, Durang wants to make the comedy to come through without making light of the serious issues. Whether he achieves this I will leave it to you. For more information and booking visit - Credit to read: Photographs © Bob Seary

Friday, 11 April 2014

To Kill A Mockingbird - Review

Review originally posted at
Venue: New Theatre (Newtown NSW), Mar 18 – Apr 19, 2014
Playwright: Christopher Sergel (from the novel by Harper Lee)
Director: Annette Rowlison
Actors: Khadija Ali, Katy Avery, Claudette Clarke, Sarah Carroll, Teagan Croft, Cheyne Fynn, Steve Donelan, Christine Greenough, John Keightley, Dave Kirkham, Kai Lewins, Craig Meneaud, Hudson Musty, David Ross, Donna Sizer, Lynden Jones, Peter Maple, Ryan Whitworth
Image by Bob Seary

Theatre review
Harper Lee’s book was published in 1960, and has since become one of the most popular novels in modern times. Its central theme of social injustice remains poignant and the depiction of its characters’ courage to oppose them, is no less powerful half a century later. New Theatre’s staging is mindful of the story’s significances and director Annette Rowlison’s work pays reverence to our collective memory of To Kill A Mockingbird, whether in the form of book, film or theatre.

Rowlinson’s rendering of the American South in the 1930s has a charming and sentimental beauty. There is a joyfulness in watching children play outside, and neighbours going about their daily business on their porches and front lawns. The trio of child actors, led by Teagan Croft as Scout, bring magic to the stage with their undeniable talent, and Rowlinson’s ability to create chemistry between these vibrant children and their adult counterparts is central to the success of the show. In fact, the show only falters in the court scenes where the children are not in prominence.

Atticus Finch is played by Lynden Jones with great integrity. The subtlety in his performance is an intelligent choice for a character that audiences know so well. There is no need to explain who Atticus is. He takes into account our familiarity, and saves his dramatics only for a handful of emotional scenes. Jones’ most heightened moment happens in the courtroom, and his powerful delivery rescues that scene from being otherwise slightly low on energy.

The support cast is uniformly strong. In fact all actors bring something special and each have memorable moments in the production. Katy Avery as Mayella Ewell transforms her simple role into a riveting one, and the intensity at which she attacks her part is a highlight. Claudette Clarke’s Calpurina is grounded and tender. She has a relaxed confidence that is very enjoyable. Sarah Carroll plays Maudie Atkinson, who is the Finchs’ neighbour and our narrator. She brings an air of upbeat optimism that is comforting, and also provides an effective voice of reason that is a crucial mechanism of the plot.

Boo Radley’s appearance towards the conclusion can be tricky to handle, but Rowlinsons’ artistic sensitivity shines through and the scene is a triumph. A moving crescendo is delivered, and the moral of the tale is brought home. It is impossible to not love To Kill A Mockingbird. We have all experienced ostracism, and we have all witnessed discrimination. Boo Radley lives in all of us, and to see him materialise and lovingly depicted on stage, is profound.

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Privates on Parade - Review

Privates on Parade was written in 1977 by Peter Nichols and the music by Denis King.  It is a hilarious English farce.  If you didn't know it was written in the 70's it wouldn't take you long to realise that it isn't a contemporary play/ musical.  The major clue is the politically incorrect language used in much of the play.  However, it is very funny and the music is great.
This production is at the New Theatre and is directed by Alice Livingstone.  I saw the preview and it was amazing. The thought and detail that has gone into the production, makes it a very well polished show.  The audience is entertained just as the British troops would have been, this is before the actual show starts. Then, you meet the entertainment corps of the British army posted to Malaya.  Private Steven Flowers arrives; he is quick to tell the rest of the group that he is not a Bum Boy as he is informed that some of the men are.  There isn't much of a story, a bit of a love story between Flowers and Syliva and a rogue Sergeant-Major Reg Drummond.  It does touch on the issues of the acceptance of homosexuality and multicultural marriage by society in the 70's.  But generally it is just a bit of fun, full of singing, dancing and bad jokes.  It is one of those shows where you feel you really are being entertained without putting in the effort to enjoy it, you can just sit back and be swept away.

The New Theatre quite often amazes me with their sets. The stage was transformed into a stage! Yes that may sound a bit strange but normally the New Theatre has a performance space which makes it very flexible. Towards the back of the stage was the shower block, which it is so well executed that you don't realise that is what it is until the men strip off and take a shower. The play does contain nudity, cause language and smoking!  Looking at the photo's has also reminded me of how good the costuming and props were, again they were brilliant, very well thought out and very detailed. The music is live with Piano/Keyboards John Short
Drums Gina Schien.
Privates on Parade is part of the Mardi Gras festival and plays until 8 March, go and see it you won't be disappointed. 

Photograph © Bob Seary

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Short and Sweet Dance Gala Final 2014

Reviewed by Marie Su
On Sunday, February the 2nd, we were promised a Gala event of Dance at the New Theatre in Newtown. I attended the 7.30pm showing and was happy to be watching the grand finals of Short and Sweet Dance. The 14 presentations of dance talent, mime, inspired choreography, precision timing and often abstract musicality, were engaging, puzzling, humourous, witty, relevant and emotionally connecting. Well done, I say, to all the participants, mentors and organisational and technical support. You pulled off a great night of entertainment and gave the audience food for thought.

I enjoyed Joseph Simon’s work in “Familiar Strangers”, as did the audience. He connected with us by using his muscle tone to express an artistic message about Celebrity.

“And Then Patterns” was an interesting piece which was well rehearsed. The four dancers, Georgia, George, Ivey and Michael, communicated well with each other in an expressive way, which gave us a well-integrated piece of dance/movement.

Jay Bailey and L.C Beats collaborated well in an enjoyable, playful performance about birds. Their beat-boxing provided rhythmic expression of emotion and heartbeat, in some sections, while at other times, there were witty, amusingly clever representations of some of ballet’s more recognisable icons. The audience responded well to the tongue-in-cheek mockery as well as the highly skilled ballet moves.

“No Fungus, No Tree” began slowly but subtly and clearly developed to show why Sean Marcus and Anna Healey were worth co-recipients of the Choreography Award at this year’s Gala. Both performances reached an expression of symbiotic movement through rhythm and balance which received much appreciation from the audience.

The four dancers of “Nyunga” drew on contemporary ballet skills with an urban edge, which affords an audience a wider perspective. Indigenous dance forms connected with storytelling in an abstract way, rather than a heavily traditional way. The cyclical synchronised moves worked well with the lighting to convey the dancer’s insights and appreciation of all the sun means in our world. Well done to Thomas E.S Kelly and his co-dancers, Taree, Caleena and Phil, for an enjoyable performance.

Harrison Hall, winner of the Outstanding Male Dancer Award, certainly showed us how powerful energy can be represented in a concept piece with remarkable skill. His work was unique, yet referenced modern forms, as he communicated his ideas on light, shadow and darkness in a precision piece. He took over the theatre space in a controlled representation, conveyed by muscle tension, arm movement, lighting and a clown costume. The audience too, were gripped in the tension he created; a formidable talent was exhibited here.

“Sink or Swim” was a fun piece to end the first half of the program. There were four mermaids who became a dance chorus line and, a young woman involved in a cathartic display. This amused the sometimes stunned and often confused audience. Many people appreciated the dramatic mime techniques and hilarity acted out. This piece showed creative and innovative uses of props and costuming.

Friday, 31 January 2014

Short and Sweet Dance

Reviewed by Regi Su
Photos by Scott Gallagher
The Short and Sweet festival has expanded beyond theatre and cabaret into dance and this week, I saw the Short and Sweet Dance heats at the New Theatre in Newtown. The Company C heats showcased 12 dance performances to a full house. The quality of each performance and the variation from dance to dance had me pleasantly surprised. I did enjoy myself and I think choosing a People’s Choice to go onto the finals this Sunday will be difficult. Personally, I tend to value the performances that are thought-provoking, insightful or they tell me a story. In other cases, the dance itself was enough to captivate me.

1. STRING was beautiful and artistic. As a video, it focused on Black and Whites, lighting, movement and the human body. The bio reads that the piece was a collaboration between fashion photographer Konstantin Kochkin and Australian dancer Joseph Simons. The fashion photography element really came through, it was a very beautiful piece.
2. TESSELLATE was a contemporary, street art pop piece that told a story, with clever visual aids and elements of hip-hop. Three talented dancers testing the themes of Innocence, Confidence and Maturity.

3. WE STEP focused on the lines of the body with the stage washed in golden lights. A contemporary piece exploring themes of birth and exploration, exploration of the body and movement, testing the boundaries of the body. For me, it was memorable and beautiful. A little bit reminiscent of the recent production of Frankenstein at the National Theatre in London. The rebirth of a human, exploring the movements and functions of a body. Oddly stunning.

4. NO, I WOULD NEVER was a clever little piece of experimental performance. Blending audio confessions of people, whose initial reactions to various situations are just downright wrong. The sole dancer and choreographer, Hayley Raw, was exceptional in her literal storytelling. The performance seemed to be a collaboration of mime, dance and movement, as she reacted to each tone, nuance, background noise in the audio clips. It was eclectic, esoteric and incredibly memorable.

5. SEPTEMBER was a really wonderful dance. Professional use of lighting and costuming made the entire performance rather effective. There wasn’t an underlying story, but the dance was really beautiful to watch. The chorography focused on lines and synchronicity, silhouettes and shadows. It was stunningly visual as all the dancers were connected.

6. MAY I PLEASE was a whimsical frivolous look at the pull and grasp of temptation. Incredible use of props and colour, the piece had elements of humour and was very creative. The dancer, Mariana Parazio, gave everything to her performance. It made me question whether the piece was as simple as yearning for an endless supply of jelly beans, or whether it had an underlying message about temptation.

7. FROM HERE was fierce look into conformity and rites of passage. It seemed like a blend of contemporary, hip-hop and pop & lock. It effectively told a story as each person became a character and each character contributed to the company. Very effective.

8. THE FEAR OF… was a performance about phobias and was to the standard of Rock Eisteddfod. I found it chilling, scary at times and that’s a real testament to the choreography and performers. A special credit to the dancer who opened the piece for really setting the scene. From contemporary dance to high-intensity tap, the performance was symbolic and successful in conveying it’s message.

9. VANISHING POINT was symbolic and very artistic. With lots of trust movements, explorations of the self and an awareness of the space, the piece included visuals that were highly effective.

10. SALT seemed to me to be a social commentary. Very thought-provoking, this experimental piece was eclectic and very interesting to watch. The choreographers were the dancers and their synchronicity was impressive.

11. /LU:P/ was an incredibly clever piece using knowledge of environment, space and connection to the audio track. The dancer/choreographer was exceptional in her fluidity and movement. The synopsis states “a cyclical process that we are always experiencing- within each loop, different information is revealed”. I understood exactly that from the piece.

12. SWINGDANCIN’ finished the night with a bang. Vibrant energy and overwhelming enthusiasm had the audience in the palm of their hands. Over thirty dancers on stage performed a blend of classic swing, jazz, hip-hop, Fosse Charleston and the jitterbug. The synchronicity made it a visual spectacular and it was a great way to end the night.                                                               

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Short and Sweet Cabaret

Reviewed by Heidi Lockwood
Nestled in the urban suburb of Newtown is the new theatre which, for 2 weeks (week 1 from January 8th 11th and week 2 from January 15th to 19th), is playing host to the Short and Sweet Cabaret: a series of over 40 different eccentric 10 minute theatrical productions.

Music, reminiscent of moulin rouge, played whilst the theatre filled with well dressed couples sipping on champagne, arty 20-somethings drinking bottled beer and groups of women clinking their wine glasses whilst nattering about the week's events. The mix of age groups and social classes made for a refreshingly diverse audience; proving that this production can appeal to anyone. The new theatre was a hive of activity even before the performance had begun, and then, show time.

Acts such as 'Harldy the Portrait of a Lady' performed by Cienda McNamara, 'My Jesus Year' by Alison Eaton and 'Harry and Liz' by Charlotte and Evan Kerr all exuded the former adjectives. Whether humorously bitching about Nicole Kidman, ingeniously projecting an honest representation of the life of a 33 year old women, or charming the audience with their sweet brother-sister all-singing all-dancing act, each of these performances shone for their incredible voices, comedic presence and believable onstage personas.

Other performances, such as 'Wags' and 'A Date with Dali', however lacked this polished professionalism. While the prose of the Wags' poetry was cleverly constructed and relevant to modern culture, their singing abilities appeared mediocre in comparison to the powerful voices of others including Narelle Yeo and Maryann Wright.
A Date with Dali was a peculiar (and oddly sexual) modern interpretation of a clown, and while not to everyone taste, was certainly not boring!

Short and Sweet cabaret is a fun, modern and free-spirited production, featuring some extremely talented people whose love of performing and admiration of the stage is conveyed from beginning to end. Those who want to experience an abnormal yet exciting cabaret, and merely want to be entertained for an evening, should most certainly book tickets now for Short and Sweet's second week of production.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Jerusalem - Review

Jerusalem by Jez Butterworth, an English writer and a very English play.  Being English myself I really enjoyed this play, but don't worry,  you don't have to be English to enjoy this.
The play is all about sex, drugs and rock n roll, well almost! Johnny 'Rooster' Byron is a ageing gypo living in his old family home in some local woods, in the heart of Wiltshire, UK. His place is the local hangout for young teenagers and other hangers on who have their own issues. Rooster is drug dealer, who drinks vodka for breakfast. Which is why he is so popular with some of the locals as the party is always on. It is St Georges Day and there is a huge local fair, thus giving them all even more excuse to get wasted. There are many great funny drug fuelled scenes. Rooster in particular tells some very good tall stories, or are they? There is a serious side to the play. Rooster is being evicted by the local council the day after the fair, so this is the end of an era!
The set is great, particularly how it works in the first act. Look out for the addition of some cheeky gnomes in the second act.
The cast were all excellent and so was the direction by Helen Tonkin. It was a thoroughly enjoyable night. Another great at the New Theatre.
Jerusalem plays at the New Theatre until 14 September.

For more information click here.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Enron - Review

Reviewed by Marie Su
My companion and I are of an age to remember the original scandal involving the Enron Company in the USA exposed in 2001 and so were many of the audience members of the New Theatre in King St, Newtown. Lucy Prebble has written an insightful play; 'Enron', which unfolds the build up and eventual unraveling of the Enron Energy Company. This financial fiasco lead to company executives, workers, traders, investors and financial planners and yes, even the Lehman Brothers (as underwriters) into one of the greatest sharemarket debacles of recent memory.

'Enron' is a salutory example of how hedging works in the sharemarket. It tells how rolling on debt, while not obviously illegal at the time, involves the loss of a moral compass. Insider trading huge payouts to executives and striving for profits that are not based on real productivity, create a bubble that is bound to bust.

My thanks to Lucy Prebble and the New Theatre for raising these issues and explaining then clearly; GFC's and sub-prime mortgage crises are, unfortunately, quite modern concerns for us, so this play is very relevant.

Matt Young, as Jeffery Skilling, portrayed the creative genious of a man with the understanding that if the law hasn't kept up with his financial strategies, then the government had employed inept lawyers. Mr Young was clear, persuasive and manipulative in his very effective performance. He was ably assisted by Nick Curnow as Andy Fastow, in his creative reboxing (Babushka doll-like) of debt and, his relegating of failing subsidiary companies in the form of Raptors ( cat-like women kept in wire, red glowing cages, waiting to be fed with debt). So, from this description it can be gleaned that the New Theatre production of 'Enron' was itself quite an imaginative and creative feat.

The staging, costuming, sound and lighting all assisted the very capable ensemble of fifteen actors (taking on sometimes seven roles each) in telling their quite complex tale. My special vote of appreciation goes to the two Lehman Brothers, (played by Gareth Cruikshank and David Todd). The audience appreciated their input.

Especially if audience members don't remember the Enron situation historically, this play is one where audience members certainly need to listen for intricate explanations and motivations, as well as insider humour. Audiences were also reminded that office politics involves sexual activities that could have been left to the imagination.

'Enron' shows at the New Theatre from the 4th-29th of June.