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THE ALIENS

THE ALIENS

By Diana Simmonds Review Posted on August 31 2015

THE ALIENS, Outhouse Theatre Co at the Old Fitz, 27 August-19 September 2015. Photography by Rupert Reid, above: Jeremy Waters, James Bell and Ben Wood; right: James Bell.

At just 34 Annie Baker is one of those rarities in American (and world) theatre: a rapidly rising and successful female playwright. First produced in the US in 2014, The Aliens  is her sixth play in six years and she has already won Drama Desk and Obie awards. In short, she can write for the stage. And she has a quirky sense of humour that’s fed by a sharp ear for language, both everyday and high flown.

Jasper (Jeremy Waters) and his friend KJ (Ben Wood) have taken over the grotty backyard of a cafe somewhere in small town Maine. Jasper, a thirty-something loser who makes smoking a cigarette an act of barely suppressed violence, says little – and actually says nothing very loudly and for an extremely long time in the emotionally incendiary opening sequence. However, when he insists on reading aloud from his half-written novel it is surprisingly and genuinely eloquent.

 
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MATILDA THE MUSICAL

MATILDA THE MUSICAL

By Diana Simmonds Review Posted on August 30 2015

MATILDA THE MUSICAL, Lyric Theatre for some months - book now for a Christmas treat. Photography by James Morgan, above: the company and right Bella Thomas.

After a longer run of previews than a lot of independent theatre seasons, the musical Sydney has been waiting for had a lot of hype to live up to. Those previews did two things, however, and that was obvious on the official opening night. First of all, the buzz that’s been generated had become audible all over the city and second, the show was so beautifully run in, it had every chance of living up to expectations. And it did. It does. It will.

Matilda the Musical  is that rare thing: a show that’s genuinely for all the family. It’s not a kids’ show with a few blue-tinted jokes thrown in for the grown-ups and neither is it a fun show for adults that will also do for the kiddywinks. Rather, the story, lyrics, characters and outcome are sophisticated, truthful, tough and funny in ways that any child will recognise and any adult will remember from childhood. It’s altogether remarkable and brilliantly realised.

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EVERYTHINGS COMING UP ROSES

EVERYTHINGS COMING UP ROSES

By Diana Simmonds News Posted on August 27 2015

Sydney Theatre Company has a new Artistic Director: Jonathan Church (above right) pictured with his executive director at Chichester, Alan Finch. Photograph: Johan Persson.

Mama Rose finally reckoned that ev’rything’s coming up roses …Well we can hope so anyway. 

Have been mulling over the announcement and social media twitter-frenze on August 25 that a new artistic director has been appointed to Sydney Theatre Company. It seems like reasonably good news in that Englishman Jonathan Church comes with a record and pedigree that STC probably needs right now.

 
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THE BLEEDING TREE

THE BLEEDING TREE

By Diana Simmonds Review Posted on August 13 2015

THE BLEEDING TREE, Griffin Theatre Company at the SBW Stables Theatre, 6 August-5 September 2015. Photography by Brett Boardman: above - Shari Sebbens, Paula Arundell and Airlie Dodds; right: Paula Arundell.

Angus Cerini’s 2014 Griffin Award-winning play tells of both a dream fulfilled and an unfolding nightmare. In just over an hour of brutal and beautiful poetry, revenge and redemption, laughter and horror, Paula Arundell, Shari Sebbens and Airlie Dodds weave a dark web around the unsuspecting viewer.

They are the mother and two daughters whose lives have been made violently, unspeakably miserable for as long as they can remember. The perpetrator is the man of the house, a drunken bully whose rage at his own inadequacies has aways been taken out on them. Except on this night when, without prior consultation, each of the women take a hand in ensuring he will beat and rape them no more.

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THE PRESENT

THE PRESENT

By Diana Simmonds Review Posted on August 9 2015

THE PRESENT, Sydney Theatre Company and UBS at the Roslyn Packer Theatre, 4 August-19 September 2015. Photography by Lisa Tomasetti: above - the company, right: Richard Roxburgh and Cate Blanchett.

Making theatre without the best possible script is akin to building a house without foundations: it may work temporarily but before the night is out the wobbly structure will come crashing down. It’s what happens when anyone attempts to stage in its entirety Anton Chekhov’s first and for long unknown play Platonov, otherwise known as The Play Without a Title.

Written when the playwright was just 20, it was an enormous pile of paper that, if played out in full, would sprawl across five bewildering hours. It was turned down by the Maly Theatre for whose star Maria Yermolova he wrote it and it disappeared into a bank deposit box and was not discovered until years after his death.

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SEVENTEEN

SEVENTEEN

By Diana Simmonds Review Posted on August 6 2015

SEVENTEEN, Upstairs Belvoir at Belvoirs St, 5 August-13 September 2015. Photography by Brett Boardman, above: Anna Volska, Maggie Dence, John Gaden, Peter Carroll, Barry Otto; right: Barry Otto.

Playwright Matthew Whittet, director Anne Louise Sarks and the cast (all the above plus Genevieve Lemon as the peskiest of younger sisters) have combined to produce a most joyous, poignant, honest and exhilarating way of spending 90 minutes. 

It’s the day – into the night – in which a bunch of kids finish high school and launch themselves into the world as adults. Well, not adults exactly, except that at 17 you mostly don’t know that except when you do when it all feels terrifying and exciting and bewildering in equal measure.

 
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