Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Ruthless - Review

Ruthless the Musical is playing at the Seymour Centre until 5 July.

If you have never heard of this musical don't worry this is an Australian Premiere! This is a little surprising as it  opened off-Broadway at the Players Theatre on March 13, 1992 and closed January 24, 1993 after 342 performances. It was also nominated for several awards and Joel Paley won  a Drama Desk Award for outstanding lyrics.

The cast for this production has some of Australia's finest woman with many decades of experience - Katrina Retallick, Meredith O'Reilly and Geraldine Turner, so as you can imagine the singing was superb. Katrina played Judy Denmark, and it was a truly outstanding performance, especially in the opening scenes as the 1950's blonde bimbo Mommy! Tina Denmark played by Madison Russo again she played the perfect star brat! Understandably, she was rather nervous on the opening night as were a few of the others, but I think as the season goes on they will relax into their role some more.  I think the actual set had something to do with the flow of the play too. Obviously, during rehearsals they would have practiced on a flat stage; but the set has a revolving platform to change the scenes.  This was a good idea and did provide a stage within a stage, however, there was quite a step up which didn't help the choreography and general movement.  The costumes and the actual set furnishings were excellent good, again particularly for the 1950's scenes and the hats!

The music was very good, no large chorus songs but certainly a few tunes that the actors could sink their teeth into and show off their singing talents. The music was live and on the whole very good, I did think that the keyboard player and pianist were out of sync a few times and it was a pity that the staging didn't allow us to see them all.

The story of Ruthless is about the cut throat world of musical stardom. Tina wants to be a star and will do anything to get that leading role. Her mum, Judy is the dutiful mum but feels something is amiss in her life, other than her husband. Sylvia St Croix is a manager and wants to manage Tina, she again is a Ruthless character that will do anything to make it big. Lita Encore, is Judy's adoptive mum is a critic and she sing a really great song all about why she hates musicals! There are a couple of other woman's characters but the plot is simple. Tina kills to get the main role, Judy turns her in to the police and becomes a star herself. Tina then "reformed" comes home to find her world has changed and .....  well I don't want to spoil the end!
What I did want to know was, what happened to Judy's baby?

For more information and book your seats - Seymour Centre

Photo credit: Blueprint Studios

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Album launch of Matty B's Philosophical Bogan - Review

Reviewed by Regi Su
Thursday night saw the album launch of Matty B's Philosophical Bogan, a stand up show of hilarious comedy coming from the renowned Matty B.

The Friend in Hand, Glebe, was the perfect setting for a comedy set. I don't often frequent the pub, so I wasn't really aware of the Thursday routine that is A Mic In Hand- an opportunity for amateur stand up comedians to showcase their work. The Friend In Hand hotel is a quirky, offbeat pub steeped in old timey Australiana. It has the full regalia, such as mannequins in wet suits, a wall of car registration plates and complete with George, the resident Cockatoo. The Friend in Hand is a place of unique character, warmth and has an inherent sense of Australian dry, sarcastic humour anyway- so it only makes sense for the hotel to boast a live comedy night.

The line up of comedians were great. For an amateur presentation, the presenters gave all they had- some presenting successful one-liners bam, one after the other, others from an international stage with reflections on travel and Australia. The most memorable comedians managed to dish out representations of modern society with uncanny accuracy and hilarious logic. These esoteric outlooks on life left the audience massaging their cheeks from laughing too hard.

The headline act, Matty B, served his unique perspectives on life with the side dishes of dry, black humour and fragmented existentialism. His act was aptly named Philosophical Bogan and I highly recommend his act to anyone interested in stand up comedy. His humour is based in reality with real life experiences as he astutely draws attention to their inherent flaws and mocks them with dry comic timing. At other times, his experiences are so unique and esoteric that you can't help but laugh at the level of ridiculity and outrageousness in each situation.

A great night out, I recommend both A Mic In Hand and Matty B to all.

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Shadowland - Review

Shadowland is touring Australia, it is an international theatre sensation from America, presented by Pilobolus. Pilobolus was founded in 1971 and since then has toured 64 countries with their 115 pieces of repertory.  Shadowland is a stunning work that combines, dance, music, puppetry and illusion.

It is a story of a young girl who longs for independence but at the moment she is only free in her dreams. When she falls asleep her dreams take her to a strange land the other side of her bedroom wall. A land of shadows and strange creatures. Just like when you are dreaming sometimes it is good and sometimes not so good.  Some of the scenes are comical with crazy chefs that try to cook her,  she falls in love,  she is turned into a dog, and another she is teased and taunted to name just a few.

The music is composed by David Poe and it is amazing. It is quite varied and seems to be a mixture of Pink Floyd, Gong, The Beetles and probably many more.  It is available on itunes if you want to have a listen.  If you are not impressed by the music well you can't help to be impressed by the dancing and choreography.  The dancing is so fluid and the dancers are so light on their feet you can barely hear them and they are so majestic you would think that Lauren Yalango who plays the lead role is a light as a feather. The way she moves and is moved by others is astonishing, particularly at the beginning of Shadowlands as they rock her.  The pieces uses very few props with the actors making the furniture, animals, vehicles, plants etc.
The way the shadows are constructed and even the dog. I have tried to do this and it is not easy and after a few minutes (though it might have only been seconds) my arm ached! Shadowland must be a strain on the some dancers as a few had their knees strapped.  It would have taken a lot of rehearsals and commitment to get the precision between all the shadows and their interaction.  There is no digital trickery in this work is it all bodies and light.

I have never seen a work like Shadowlands before, if you don't normally like dance pieces, this is not the norm and really brings so much more to the stage.

Shadowlands plays for 90 minutes with no interval, it is playing now at the State Theatre until 20 June before moving on to Canberra, Perth and then Adelaide.

For more information visit their website -

Tuesday, 17 June 2014


I was born in 1979, and primarily my introduction to comedy came through cassette tape recordings that Dad would play in the car. I was given no visual, just a stream of consciousness that came from one lone voice on a stage, with the only other stimuli being the sounds of audience reactions. For years, I didn't even know what people like Rodney Rude or George Smilovici looked like, I just knew their rants, their jokes and their potty mouths.

There’s something special about listening to comedy when you haven’t already come to a conclusion about the performer based on their appearance, mannerisms or the type of setting you’re about to watch them in. It’s kind of like seeing a movie when you haven’t seen the trailer - you haven’t already formed an opinion against which you’re going to measure the experience.

That’s a long-winded way of saying; I like listening to audio comedy. Also, the accessibility of it means that more and more comics, from no names to big names are recording albums and podcasts, and finding a voice online.

I just had the pleasure of listening to a guaranteed future big name, Matty B, in his debut album, ‘Philosophical Bogan’.

Now, I’ll confess at this point, I know Matty, as I am a fellow comic, but in sitting down to listen to this album, I tried to approach it as though I was that young kid again, listening to George Smilovici or another cassette or record of the day, hearing the jokes of a stranger for the first time without being distracted by visuals.

One thing is astoundingly clear, when you are consuming comedy like this, your focus is on the strength of material and how well it can transcend the limitation of being communicated to only one of your senses. And listening to the album confirmed one thing that I had already strongly expected, Matty B is one of the best joke writers in the country, and by the sounds of it, this relative newcomer is only just getting started.

Recorded at The Oriental Hotel in Newcastle, where Matty grew up, and has an unmistakable fondness for, ‘Philosophical Bogan’ gives us insight into Matty’s creative mind and his unique takes on; Newcastle, drug use, drinking, his dad, bogans, Aldi, getting a coffee, shouting from cars, and fence security, just to name a handful of topics.

Saturday, 14 June 2014

Winter - Review

Reviewed by Erica Enriquez
Venue: Old 505 Theatre – 505, 342 Elizabeth Street, Surry Hills. Runs until 22nd June 2014, 8pm Wed-Sat, 7pm Sun.  Tickets are $28/$18, bookings essential.  Doors open 1/2 hour prior to performance start time
Playwright: Jon Fosse
Director: Jonathan Wald
Actors: Susie Lindeman, Berynn Schwerdt

Theatre review
It’s amazing what can be said with very little dialogue, and even more intriguing what can be conveyed with the little dialogue presented. In Winter, writer Jon Fosse shows the audience the tragic, desperate, sometimes timid but always tense relationship between a man and a woman who shouldn’t have come together at all.

If you’re a fan of Fosse’s work, this one won’t disappoint – it’s perfectly in keeping with this Norwegian playwright’s stylized, almost bare-bones portrayal of two people in the midst of a clandestine affair (although, aren’t all affairs clandestine in the beginning, until it becomes just like any other relationship needing maintenance?).

When relationships are interpreted in film or theatre, the characters speak of their feelings for each other, whether good or bad, in often flowery, rambling prose, as if words cannot contain the depth of their emotions. In Winter, that same scrambling-for-the-right-way-to-say-it type discussion is pulled off with dialogue you almost imagine saying yourself in that situation – stilted, confused and sometimes anxious, as if every sentence uttered is fraught with fear of saying the wrong thing. Fosse’s script felt as if it was written like song lyrics, in that they were delivered like verse and chorus. Under Jonathan Wald’s direction, Susie Lindeman and Berynn Schwerdt as the despairing couple pulled it off well.

Lindeman’s character will resonate with many, particularly women. She is at once vulnerable, yet coy and a little quirky at times, and she’s fascinating to watch. Opening scenes show her as an almost coquettish vixen type, but as the play moves along (there’s only an hour of it, so it moves along nicely) you see another side of her character, one that demands not only affection but also respect.

By the same token, Schwerdt’s character is the one you think you know and recognize, but just like Lindeman’s character, he is also the party in the affair who needs attention too. They play off each other perfectly, one minute Lindeman is demanding, “I’m your woman!” to which Schwerdt responds with an infuriating, “Yes”, and just when you think you have decided on a side to stick by, Schwerdt is trying to find a reason for this whole mess, “I waited for you!”

Minimal set design and indeed the cast of two really bring out the struggle of these two characters trying to discuss what they are, and who they are to each other. Sometimes it takes away the white noise that plays in the brain when thrashing out relationship matters, and other times it is just white noise, highlighting the bewilderment that comes with relationships. Winter looks at how we communicate within our relationships, regardless of who’s giving it validity, or even how we meet and come to be in certain people’s lives. It’s about coming in from the cold, stripping off your bulky coat and laying all out on the table (or hotel bed).

Monday, 9 June 2014

Not Quite Cabaret 2014

Not Quite Cabaret has returned on a Friday night to the Exchange Hotel Balmain. It is a great way to end a busy week, with a glass or two, good food and a belly full of laughs. T

he Exchange Hotel in Balmain is full of character, though on Fridays you will see a few unusual characters too. Tucked away in a candle lit room, you can enjoy a meal while watching Not Quite Cabaret. As the title says, it is not cabaret but the room is set with tables and chairs, there is a small stage where you will enjoy six different short sketches. All the sketches in this season are very funny and very well written. Those of you who have been before, this is some of the best of the best.

TV Gold, Sushi Wushi Woo, Darth Vader, Crush, Renegade and World War 2. Unlike previous years there is only one interval, but after the interview is a double whammy of World War 2, these sketches have been an audience favourite for many seasons. They revolve around two airman who are certainly not the brightest in fact one of them has little knowledge that he is even in a war and has inadvertently bombed Britain by mistake.

There are four actors for the whole night, so yes, they play multiple characters. To make a night like this work you do need a strong cast who can quickly adapt in and out of roles. Jasper Garner Gore, Brinly Meyer, Fabrizio Omodei and Lara Lightfoot gave a first class performance all directed by Gary Boulter. Deborah Bradshaw the producer of Not Quite Cabaret has a very hands on approach and greets and seats all the audience members and warms everyone up with a filthy dirty joke.

Not Quite Cabaret is a fun night out, for more information -

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