Sunday, 20 April 2014
If you fancy going to the theatre this week? Go and see this. Earlier this year Wittenberg played at the Old Fitz and now Lies, Love and Hilter. Both plays are intellectually stimulating and entertaining at the same time.
Lies, Love and Hitler is not set in WWII, and for the most part has little to do with Hilter, it has more to do with Dietrich Banhoeffer who, as you will learn was a double agent during the war and tried to bring Hitler down. The play is set in a University, Dr Paul Langley has been studying Banhoeffer's life and work for a very long time. So long that he sees visions of him. Bonhoeffer helps Langley through his inner conflicts, particularly through a moral dilemma which he finds himself in when he falls in love with one of his students, Hannah.
The play starts by giving the audience a moral dilemma, by posing the question would you kill Hitler? It immediately grabs you and brings you into the play.
The acting is superb with only three actors - James Scott 'Langley,' Doug Chapman 'Detrich Bonhoeffer' and Ylaria Rogers 'Hannah' & 'Hermione' (Bonhoeffer's fiance). Ylaria and James manage to switch in and out of German accents with ease.
The play is written by Elizabeth Avery Scott who is an Australia writer and holds a Master of Arts Practice in Scriptwriting from Charles Sturt University. The play was shortlisted in 2009 for the prestigious Rodney Seaborn Playwright's Award. All I can say is I would like to see what won that year!
This production is only on until 3 May so get your tickets now, you will be sorry if you miss this one.
Sunday, 27 October 2013
Reviewed by Nathan Finger and Sydney AbbaNow playing with the Sydney Independent Theatre Company is Robert Allan’s new play, An Ordinary Person (2013). This is a refreshing piece of theatre: it tells a genuine and by turns touching story, with Allan taking the issue of victimhood as his springboard. At the opening we meet Aggie and Topher, an old married couple who are set in their ways and comfortable with each other. However, they aren’t without a veiled past. Aggie became pregnant at the age of 14 and was made to give up her daughter for adoption, the story being that Topher had forced himself upon her. Only now, at the age of 35 has their daughter, Louise, sought them out as part of her own healing process. There are a couple of twists in this play so one wouldn’t want to give any of it away. Needless to say, there are some well-crafted and nuanced characters in this piece who have and continue to make difficult life decisions, though they genuinely attempt to be the best they can be, particularly Topher.
This play is making an important statement on what it is to be a victim. It explores how victimhood defines us and how we deal with it, for almost all of the characters have suffered in their past. We can ignore and repress these feelings, but this doesn’t lead to healing; we can make a fetish out of our suffering, but this only locks us into the past and prevents us from living. In the end, Aggie proves that the only way forward is to accept what has happened and recognize what that means for you, but ultimately to let the past be the past.
Cherilyn Price plays Aggie Reynolds, the mother that would never be. Aggie barely copes with loss and it affects her courage in life. In performance Price gives us Aggie’s struggle and is clearly a strong presence on stage. Her daughter Louise (played by Mel Dodge) similarly struggles with a traumatic past. In fact, she defines herself by it. Louise attends everything from support groups and healing centres, to meditation and stone sculpting, all in an effort to finally ‘deal’ with her past. Dodge gives us this ‘love-to-hate’ character, and is a wonderfully tight screw in every scene.
Across town is Carla Nirella whose character Fiona is caught in a deadend relationship with Nathan. Nirella was impressive for producing a nicely measured performance. She showed us the complexities of a long term but tumultuous relationship, where leaving threatens to abandon. Nirella continued to show us how hard this woman struggles to breathe in a partnership that has come to surround her life.
The stand out for the evening was David Jeffery playing Topher. Jeffery arguably produced the most complex character, harmonizing the multiple layers within the man. He presented that instantly recognizable Australian bloke, whilst at the same time negotiating the deep set repression that haunted his character. It was a difficult task which he more than pulled off, producing supple performance.
This is a nicely crafted story, and Allan has a knack for the nuts and bolts scene work, whilst maintaining his broader theme. This is one of the best productions at SITCO this year and well worth the trip in.
An Ordinary Person is playing with the Sydney Independent Theatre Company until the 16th of November. For more details see their website: www.sitco.net
Wednesday, 18 September 2013
The play is directed by Kylie Bonaccorso and as she says in her notes she spent quite a bit of her childhood staring into a fish bowl watching the relationships and interactions between her fish. So, when she read this she immediately related to it. The play is about the relationship between two characters, the wealthy well connected employer, Ms Asquith (Sarah Farmer) and her secretary, Miss Riverton (Hailey McQueen). At the start of the play it is obvious that Ms Asquith is the dominant character. Then slowly you learn that not everything in Ms Asquith's life is as good as the she makes it appear. She maybe well connected but she is divorced and her own son wants little to do with her, leaving her all alone on a Friday night. She invites Miss Riverton to spend the night with her tippifiying her vulnerability. Over a glass or two of wine the tables begin to turn as Miss Riverton reveals her darker side. Ms Asquith is completely spooked and suddenly sees everything in a different light including the music. To round the play off though Elaine May ends the evening with Ms Asquith back to her domineering self but you are still left with just that slight doubt that things in the future could go horribly wrong.
The production itself is very simple. It all takes place in Ms Asquith's office. The only time there is music is during the evening where the most innocent classical pieces take on sinister undertones. Even the lighting is very subtle there is one point where the stages is darken and that is it. The most outstanding part of this production is not only the dialogue but the two actors. Sarah's performance reminded me of Reese Witherspoon in Legally Blonde. Her facial expressions told much of the story without Sarah actually having to speak. Hailey also played her role to perfection. The two together seemed very comfortable as if they had really been working together for years.
For the Sydney Fringe this was a quality show and one that I think most people would enjoy.
For more information and tickets head to www.sydneyfringe.com
Friday, 2 November 2012
The play opens with all the characters on stage in the rain when a fish falls from the sky. It is 2039 and fish are very rare. Gabriel York played by Alex Nicholas picks it up and decides to cook it for his long lost son Andrew Price, played by Jacob Thomas. Gabriel has some regrets about his life and dysfunctional family, it is similar to Henry Law, also played by Alex, he left his family and a son called Gabriel, back in the 60's. Gabriel York, like Andrew goes to find his father, he travels to Australia to follow a series of postcards his father sent. Gabriel meets Gabrielle York and they fall in love. Gabrielle has a had a trouble family life which as it turns out is linked to Gabriel. Confused?
Ok let's start again Elizabeth Law and Henry Law had a child Gabriel Law. Henry Law disappeared to Australia. Gabriel Law went to Australia, met and fell in love with Gabrielle York, they had a child Gabriel York who had a son Andrew Price. What I have missed out is that you see Gabrielle York later in her life with her new partner Joe Ryan! The play, amongst all this does look at the way people cope or don't cope with the tragedy in their lives, it also skimming looks at the effects of Alzheimer.
The staging is well done so it is not confusing at all when you are watching. The use of a calendar on the wall assisted with the continuity too. The movement within this peice and staging was very slick.
As this was an opening night their were a few nerves, the first act in particular was rather slow and as the story doesn't pick up until the second act you did feel the hardness of the seats. Some of the dialogue in the first few scenes was rather stilted. However, as the play hit the Second Act the story picked up along with the pace. Nerves had calmed a bit and all seems a little more polished.
The staging particularly the rain was very good, not so good if you need the bathroom, do make sure you go before you take your seat!
The direction by Julie Baz was very good, as was most of the acting, I particularly enjoyed the performances by Christina Falsone (Elizabeth Law, younger), Erin McMullen (Gabielle York, older), Alex Nicholas (Gabriel York and Henry Law) and Rebecca Scott (Gabrielle York, Younger).
When the Rain Stops Falling is playing at the Sydney Independent Theatre in Newtown, Tuesdays to Saturday until 17 November for more info click here.