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QUEEN BETTE

QUEEN BETTE

By Diana Simmonds Review Posted on March 2 2015

QUEEN BETTE, G.bod Theatre Company, Old 505 Theatre and Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras at Old 505, 25 February-15 March 2015. Photography by Richard Hedger - above and right: Jeanette Cronin as Bette Davis as Elizabeth I.

Many have remarked on Jeanette Cronin’s ability, when she so fancies, to channel silver screen goddess Bette Davis. This is the germ of director Peter Mountford’s original idea, but as has been said here before and often: an idea is not even half the battle, it’s what you do with it that counts. 

What he and his star have done is to create a three-dimensional, fully realised woman in a richly fascinating story that plays out over a tantalising one hour solo show. They weave a together the story of young Ruth Elizabeth Davis of Massachusetts with that of the adult actress-superstar Bette Davis of Hollywood, and the role she played twice: Elizabeth I in The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex  (1939) and The Virgin Queen  (1955). And of course, there was 1950’s All About Eve, as well as scores of others.

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MAN OF LA MANCHA

MAN OF LA MANCHA

By Diana Simmonds Review Posted on February 28 2015

MAN OF LA MANCHA, Squabbalogic at the Reginald Theatre, Seymour Centre, February 25- March 21 2015. Photography by Michael Francis: main - the company with Tony Sheldon; right: Marika Aubrey and Tony Sheldon. A gallery of Michael Francis’s production images is on the stagenoise.com Facebook page.

The images and ideas that live inside the head of Jay James-Moody mean that the rest of us, sooner or later, become privy to wondrous and heart-wrenching sights and sounds. This time he has taken the hoary old warhorse from 1965 (when it already seemed like an ancient) and refashioned it into a thrilling, inspiring and emotionally resonant night in the theatre.

James-Moody’s key stroke of genius in getting this production off the ground was to secure Tony Sheldon – Broadway and all-round worldwide musical megastar – for the central role of Don Quixote/Miguel Cervantes. The old man of untarnished dreams and pure heart must convince and pull our hearts in the same upward if seemingly impossible direction if we are to believe. Sheldon can do that – who could forget the weary strength and sweetness of his Bernadette in Priscilla, the trans woman who seeks nothing more than the love of a good man?

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AS YOU LIKE IT

AS YOU LIKE IT

By Diana Simmonds Review Posted on February 26 2015

AS YOU LIKE IT, Bell Shakespeare Company at the Playhouse, Sydney Opera House, 25 February-21 March 2015, then touring to Canberra and Melbourne. Photography by Rush: above - Tony Taylor, Gareth Davies, Zahra Newman; right: John Bell, Gareth Davies, Kelly Paterniti, Zahra Newman.

Rosalind is one of the great and most fun roles for a female in Shakespeare – substantial, central, full of comedy – and also a demonstration of the attraction of androgyny to men and women alike. In Shakespeare’s day she was played by a boy, dressed as a girl, pretending to be a young man, with all manner of frissons going on under the ruffles. And in this 21st century production, directed by Peter Evans, one is led to expect at least a whiff of sexual ambiguity: the poster and program cover imagery suggest it with Zahra Newman in a  tux, black bow tie, slicked-back pompadour, sexy smirk and pencil moustache. But no.

 
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KILL THE MESSENGER

KILL THE MESSENGER

By Diana Simmonds Review Posted on February 19 2015

KILL THE MESSENGER, Belvoir and the Balnaves Foundation at Belvoir St Theatre, 18 February-8 March 2015. Photography by Brett Boardman: above - Lasurus Ratuere; right: Nakkiah Lui and Sam O’Sullivan.

The power of Nakkiah Lui’s semi-autobiographical work is that as well as her own contention that its central theme is institutionalised racism, with all that implies in the Australian context, it is universal and can also be seen as an indictment of institutionalised class conflict.

Liu is a bold and apparently fearless adventurer when it comes to playwriting and performing, although as she says at one point when the character Nakkiah is astride her lover Pete (Sam O’Sullivan), it’s all very well to write a sex scene when you think Miranda Tapsell is going to be playing you...

The most effective element of Lui’s short play (70-80 minutes depending on laughter) is that it’s leavened with lots of laughs. That makes the underlying anger and bewilderment easier to take and therefore easier to digest and follow. There is nothing like unrelenting rage to make it impossible to connect with an audience and to turn off even the most well-intentioned, and Lui adroitly avoids that.

 
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The Giants - Perth Festival 2015

The Giants - Perth Festival 2015

By Diana Simmonds Feature Posted on February 18 2015

THE GIANTS – in Perth and reported by Catherine Dennison. Photos: from the ABC’s online news bulletins.

Apparently Sydney Festival wanted The Giants to visit, but the state government wouldn’t assist with the necessary funds, so they’ve been in Perth instead – with state and private funding provided by a more imaginative bunch of purse-strings-holders. 

According to news reports, the visit of the puppets to Perth International Arts Festival is estimated to have been seen by 1.4 million over the weekend and WA Tourism’s Evan Hall reckons they brought about $5millions-worth of spending to the city. Even better, he says, “I think the mood that was generated by The Giants just showed what a fantastic city it is to have a good time in...It’s events like this and some smaller scale events that really do turn the lights on and make the city active.”

And here’s the point of view of one of the people in those crowds that turned Perth CBD into a joyous place: CATHERINE DENNISON, who writes...

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SUDDENLY LAST SUMMER

SUDDENLY LAST SUMMER

By Diana Simmonds Review Posted on February 18 2015

SUDDENLY LAST SUMMER, Sydney Theatre Company at the Drama Theatre, Sydney Opera House. photography be Brett Boardman.

A full review of the production – which is brilliant and not to be missed – is in Limelight magazine and can be found at this link… http://www.limelightmagazine.com.au/live-reviews/review-suddenly-last-summer-sydney-theatre-company

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