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JACK OF HEARTS

JACK OF HEARTS

By Diana Simmonds Review Posted on February 8 2016

JACK OF HEARTS, Ensemble Theatre, 31 January-2 April 2016. Photography by Clare Hawley: above - Chris Taylor, Paige Gardiner, Brooke Satchwell and Craig Reucassel; right: Paige Gardiner and Peter Mochrie

This is David Williamson’s 50th stage play and the season is heavily sold already: so get your tickets before word-of-mouth takes care of the rest, The Master has done it again. In short, Jack of Hearts is a comedy of (bad) manners that makes some acute (anti)social observations and has its audience groaning and chortling by turn in pained recognition or memory – depending on age range.

 
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THE SECRET RIVER - REDUX

THE SECRET RIVER - REDUX

By Diana Simmonds Review Posted on February 7 2016

THE SECRET RIVER - REDUX, Sydney Theatre Company at the Roslyn Packer Theatre, 1-20 February 2016, then Brisbane and Melbourne. Photography by Heidrun Lohr: above - Georgia Adamson, Madeleine Madden, Frances Djulibing and Ningali Lawford-Wolf; right: Toby Challenor and Trevor Jamieson

In 2013 a review of the world premiere season was published here – http://www.stagenoise.com/review/2013/the-secret-river

If you followed the link and read it, please be assured: this re-staging is as fine, possibly finer. (Although how would one honestly know, memory being the flawed thing it is?) Its effect on the audience seemed as profound: a rare and sustained standing ovation greeted the actors as they stood hand in hand at the end.

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REVIEWING THE SITUATION

REVIEWING THE SITUATION

By Diana Simmonds Review Posted on February 7 2016

REVIEWING THE SITUATION, Hayes Theatre, 4-7 February 2016. 

Finally catching up with Phil Scott in the return season of his one-man bio-show, co-written and directed by Terence O’Connell means discovering everything that’s already been said about it is true: it’s really good! (With an exclamation mark.)

It tells the story of nice Jewish boy Lionel Begleiter whose natural and unschooled talent for songwriting took him from grotty East End Stepney, to a 27-room mansion in Chelsea. And finally west to Acton and a poky flat above a laundrette where the heat rising from the dryers kept the ailing and ageing Lionel Bart warm in winter and sweltering in summer. He saw the funny side of all that.

 
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THE WHALE

THE WHALE

By Diana Simmonds Review Posted on February 5 2016

THE WHALE, Redline Productions at the Old Fitz, 2 February-4 March 2016. Photography by Rupert Reid: above - Alex Beauman and Keith Agius; right: Chloe Bayliss.

It’s a pity American playwright Samuel D Hunter isn’t in Sydney to see this staging of his 2012 play The Whale – he couldn’t fail to be thrilled by it. Directed by Shane Anthony, the actors – Keith Agius, Chloe Bayliss, Alex Beauman, Meredith Penman and Hannah Waterman – are a superb company and this production must surely be yet another box office and critical success for Redline.

The play is set in a shabby apartment living room where Charlie (Keith Agius) is surely killing himself with misery and junk food. He is a grotesque figure, weighing some 270kgs and scarcely able to move from the groaning sofa where he spends his days and nights. His only contact with the wider world is via his laptop and headset through which he painstakingly lectures disinterested students in an online Eng.Lit. course.

 
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SYDFEST 2016 - O MENSCH!

SYDFEST 2016 - O MENSCH!

By Diana Simmonds Review Posted on January 26 2016

O MENSCH! Sydney Festival, Sydney Chamber Opera and Carriageworks at Carriageworks – Track 8; January 22-24 2016. Photography by Lisa Tomasetti: above and right - Mitchell Riley.

For me, the revelation of this year’s Sydney Festival has been a company that resides right under my hitherto oblivious nose: Sydney Chamber Opera. This is the local outfit outgoing Festival director Lieven Bertels has said he would most like to take overseas. He also said, in another context, how marvellous it is that they produce brilliant work “on a shoestring”. 

 
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THE GOLDEN AGE

THE GOLDEN AGE

By Diana Simmonds Review Posted on January 20 2016

THE GOLDEN AGE, Sydney Theatre Company at Wharf 1, 14 January-20 February 2016. Photography by Lisa Tomasetti; above: back - Robert Menzies, Sarah Peirse, Anthony Taufa; front - Liam Nunan, Rarriwuy Hick and Zindzi Okenyo; right: Ursula Yovich. 

“Nowt more outcasten" – in the dialect of the lost tribe – could well be applied to this great play by Louis Nowra that hasn’t been seen on a Sydney main stage since its premiere production in 1987. And it’s a play that should be embraced and placed at the heart of contemporary Australian culture.

Epic in scope, imagination and themes, The Golden Age is a title of exquisite and painful irony. In a recent interview with Elissa Blake in the Sydney Morning Herald, director Kip Williams succinctly summed it up: “There is a political conversation going on inside the play – constant questions about who belongs where and why, and about the idea of a hierarchy of cultures – but at the same time there is also a theatrical conversation happening, too.”

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