Showing posts with label The Old Fitzroy Theatre. Show all posts
Showing posts with label The Old Fitzroy Theatre. Show all posts

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Lies, Love And Hitler - Review

Review originally posted at
Venue: Old Fitzroy Theatre (Woolloomooloo NSW), Apr 15 – May 3, 2014
Playwright: Elizabeth Avery Scott
Director: Rochelle Whyte
Actors: James Scott, Doug Chapman, Ylaria Rogers
Image by Katy Green Loughrey

Theatre review
Romance and art are not usually complementary; theirs is a fraught relationship. Art conventions are concerned with all that is deep in the human experience, and romance pursues something that is often inane and fleeting. Elizabeth Avery Scott’s script however, manages to place romance in its centre, and through themes of ethics, politics, history and religion, tells a story that is engaging and intelligent.

Scott’s structure for Love, Lies And Hitler discusses the nature of ethics, and unpacks perennial questions that we face in every ethical dilemma. A parallel is drawn across time and space, between a university lecturer’s love affair with a student, and a German theologian’s involvement in the plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler. The stakes are different, but our thought processes are intriguingly similar when determining right from wrong.

With topics like capital punishment, sexual harassment and Nazism put in focus, the play’s solemnity is inescapable. Director Rochelle Whyte handles the play’s dark sides with sensitivity and reverence, and her skill in introducing seamlessly, the apparition of Dietrich Bonhoeffer from 1945, into scenes at a university in modern day Australia is commendable. Less effective are her interpretation of the script’s moments of levity. These are frequently hurried through, and jokes are neglected, resulting in a show that feels heavier than necessary.

Ylaria Rogers plays Hannah and Hermione, displaying great efficiency and simplicity with both characters. Rogers places emphasis on moving the plot along swiftly, and telling her parts of the story clearly, but her portrayals would benefit from greater complexity and presence. James Scott is a very dynamic Paul Langley. His charisma quickly connects him with the audience, and we enjoy the tenacity in his performance, which is confident and thoroughly considered. There is however, a deliberateness to his style that can at times make his character seem less than authentic. Bonhoeffer is played by Doug Chapman, who has a subtle and naturalist approach that contrasts strongly with the other actors, and consequently, and ironically, helps him leave the greatest impression. Chapman provides a healthy counterbalance to the production with his restraint, which is also a quality that keeps us engrossed.

Stories about genocidal persecution and Hitler never dry up. They also never fail to fascinate. Love, Lies And Hitler is a show that entertains and enlightens. We think about our individual ethical boundaries and moral structures, while it seduces us with love stories past and present, and a surprising brand of romance that does not patronise.

Saturday, 12 April 2014

A Moment On The Lips - Review

Review originally posted at
Venue: Old Fitzroy Theatre (Woolloomooloo NSW), Mar 4 – 22, 2014
Playwright: Jonathan Gavin
Director: Mackenzie Steele
Actors: Beth Aubrey, Sarah Aubrey, Claudia Barrie, Lucy Goleby, Sonya Kerr, Ainslie McGlynn, Sabryna Te’o
Image by Katy Green Loughrey

Theatre review
A Moment On The Lips is a play about the relationships between seven women in Sydney. Entangled as spouses, lovers, friends and sisters, they navigate a multitude of complex discordances, all of which are familiar and reflective of our personal lives. Jonathan Gavin’s script interweaves issues from personal and social spaces, with themes like ethnic and sexuality discrimination, converging with family and professional lives.

It is a tricky work to direct. The play seems to be about “first world problems”, so while we relate to the emotions being portrayed, there is a lack of gravity that makes the characters’ circumstances seem somewhat trivial. Mackenzie Steele succeeds in extracting passionate performances from his cast, and some of the tearful and emotional moments are excellent viewing, but the action always seems a little detached. The scenes are short, resulting in a fast-paced show that is entertaining and thoroughly engaging, but this also presents a challenge for creating depth in scenarios and personalities, making empathy difficult to establish.

Sabryna Te’o’s naturalistic portrayal as Bridget is a stand out in the cast. Her performance is a reactive one, which allows her to connect well with the other women. The importance of an actor who emphasises listening over speaking is demonstrated well here. The quality of understated authenticity Te’o brings to her role is refreshing. Ainslie McGlynn is a very funny actor. Her comic ability is truly excellent, giving a jolt of excitement whenever she appears to light up the stage as Anne. Her interpretation of mental illness is well handled. MGlynn loves to entertain, but takes care to give her character a sense of dignity through her multiple break downs. Lucy Goleby as Rowena is memorable in a scene where she confronts her homophobic sister. It is the single most powerful moment in the show, and a real visceral treat.

We are reminded several times, that “it is the little things”. The play wants us to realise not just the importance of relationships but also the subtleties within them. The things we say to each other may seem fleeting, but the words that sit a moment on our lips have effects that last beyond any intention. The destruction that comes from thoughtlessness can often be unpredictably severe. Relationships are hard, but it only takes a little care to turn love into a thing of nourishment.

Monday, 25 November 2013

Sydney Shakespeare Festival: Measure for Measure - Review

Measure for Measure
SYDNEY SHAKESPEARE FESTIVAL at the Old Fitzroy Theatre presented by Sydney Independent Theatre Company.
Directed by Richard Hillar
Reviewed by Ben Oxley
An eye for an eye?

Shakespeare's Measure for Measure tells of the fate of Claudio (Alexander Spinks), who is arrested by Lord Angelo (Nick Hunter), the temporary ruler of Vienna, left in charge by the Duke (John Grinston) who pretends to leave town but instead dresses as a friar to observe the goings-on in his absence.

As it is set in nearby Kings Cross, it made me think of the political shenanigans of recent times, although the players are not imprisoned. Consider also these same players had given King Lear the night before.

Hunter plays Angelo as strict, moralistic, and unwavering in his decision-making; he shows us a self-deceived bigot. No need for any former premiers here.

Claudio is arrested for getting Juliet (Hailey McQueen) his lover pregnant, before they were married. Although they were engaged and their sexual intercourse was consensual, Claudio is sentenced to death. Tough call.

Aiding and abetting are Pompey (Kieran Foster) and Elbow (Jasper Garner Gore), with lively delivery and well-maintained comic capers. The male and female minor parts were well handled, especially by Leo Kingsford-Smith and Hailey McQueen.

Isabella (powerfully portrayed by Danielle Baynes), Claudio's sister, is about to enter a nunnery when her brother is arrested. When she hears of her brother's arrest, she goes to Angelo to beg him for mercy. He refuses, but suggests that there might be another way. He propositions her, she is shocked and immediately refuses.

Claudio learns of these events, and agrees to his sister's intervention at first but then changes his mind. Isabella then intercedes for her brother with a visiting friar, the Duke in disguise. This could be done more convincingly perhaps by using a hood.

The second half opens in medias res with a karaoke competition, which Mariana (Amy Scott- Smith) gives a clever segue into the drama.

The Duke forms a plan by which Isabella will agree to have sex with Angelo, but then Mariana will go in her place. The next morning, Angelo will pardon Claudio and be forced to marry Mariana according to the law.

The Duke returns in his usual clothes, saying that he will hear all grievances immediately.

It is Isabella's story that the Duke pretends not to believe her. If you are confused, the ending will help you, as in all good finales we have resolution, or do we?

from 20 Nov to 21 Dec 2013