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FIVE PROPERTIES OF CHAINMALE

FIVE PROPERTIES OF CHAINMALE

By Diana Simmonds Review Posted on April 18 2015

FIVE PROPERTIES OF CHAINMALE, Arts Radar in association with Catnip Productions and Hope Productions with Griffin Independent at the SBW Stables Theatre, 15 April-9 May 2015. Photography by Simon Cardwell: above Jeremy Waters, Briony Williams and Dominic McDonald; right: Alan Lovell, Jeremy Waters and Dominic McDonald.

The website description of Nicholas Hope’s new play is both useful and not. On the one hand, it apparently tells you what to expect – 

“Five men. Five worlds. In a seedy London hotel room, a trendy gallery in Oslo, the cafés of Adelaide, the streets of coastal Sydney and the waiting room of a criminal court, modern man grapples with his crumbling reflection. Five Properties of Chainmale presents five variations on the theme of contemporary masculinity with not a bromance in sight. It is an excavation of the male mind across generations and time zones.”

And on the other hand, it doesn’t. Having experienced the 70+ minutes allegedly described above, one might be even more baffled than if you’d not read the precis. Or not, or maybe, or something. Who knows.

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ORPHANS

ORPHANS

By Diana Simmonds Review Posted on April 17 2015

ORPHANS, Old Fitz Theatre, 14 April-9 May 2015. Photography by Marnya Rothe: above Andrew Henry, Danny Adcock and Aaron Glenane; right: Andrew Henry.

In under six months Red Line Productions has injected new life and credibility into the Old Fitz as a centre of independent theatre excellence – with the emphasis on “excellence”. This continues with the choice of Lyle Kessler’s 1983 play about brothers Treat (Andrew Henry) and Phillip (Aaron Glenane) and the broken-down lives they lead in a broken-down terrace house in Philadelphia.

This is the rough end of an elegant city that long ago fell on hard times and its omnipresence in the playwright’s psyche is reflected in the way it subtly impinges on the two young men. Abandoned as children by their father and then orphaned by their mother’s death, Treat “works” as a petty thief to provide for his younger brother. From their basement dwelling they have managed to stay beneath the welfare radar to reach something resembling adulthood, although their reality is as skewed as if they were still kids playing at being grown up. 

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THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING MIRIAM

THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING MIRIAM

By Diana Simmonds Review Posted on April 16 2015

THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING MIRIAM, Glen Street Theatre, 15-19 April, Sydney Opera House 21-26 April 2015 and touring. Photography by Gavin D Andrews: above and right - Miriam Margolyes.

Director and script writer Peter J Adams dreamed up the tongue-in-cheek title for this delightful entertainment. Fortunately it won out over the star’s more modest choice of “An Evening With Miriam Margolyes”. Nevertheless, she begins the show with a self-deprecating reassurance that she’s not a bit important or particularly noteworthy, and then spends the next two hours making a liar of herself.

At 73 going on 74, Margolyes is an actress whose career on stage and film here, in Britain and the USA could be tagged variously as “renowned”, “household name”, “extraordinary” and – definitely – “unique”. She is one of the funniest comic actors, one of the more heart-rending dramatic actors, and one of the most characterful of character actors. And her ear for dialect, accent and mimicry is famous – although few will have heard her “do” Dame Maggie Smith until this show. It’s razor sharp and falls within an anecdote that’s as affectionate yet acidic as you’d expect of the Downton dowager countess.

 
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DEATHTRAP

DEATHTRAP

By Diana Simmonds Review Posted on April 15 2015

DEATHTRAP, Darlinghurst Theatre Company at the Eternity Playhouse, 10 April-10 May 2015. Photography by Helen White; above - Sophie Gregg and Andrew McFarlane; right: Georgina Symes and Drew Fairley.

Director Jo Turner wants to make entertaining theatre that people really want to see – not such a common ambition when you think about it. And in his search for plays that fit the bill he came across Ira Levin’s great success from 1978, Deathtrap.

It was nominated for the year’s Tony for Best Play, but actually didn’t win. What did? Da by Hugh Leonard. And the other nominees were Neil Simon for Chapter Two  and The Gin Game  by DL Coburn. So why has Deathtrap  gone on to become the “longest-running comedy-thriller on Broadway’? 

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ENDGAME

ENDGAME

By Diana Simmonds Review Posted on April 8 2015
ENDGAME, Sydney Theatre Company at the Roslyn Packer Theatre, opening night 7 April- to 9 May 2015. Photography by Lisa Tomasetti: above - Hugo Weaving and Tom Budge; right: Sarah Peirse and Bruce Spence.
 
In 2013, the cast of STC's Waiting For Godot  waited in vain for fabled Hungarian director Tamas Ascher to arrive and take charge of rehearsals. He was unwell and, at the last minute withdrew, giving STC's artistic director Andrew Upton approximately ten minutes' notice to take over. The result was a triumph for him and actors Hugo Weaving, Richard Roxburgh, Luke Mullins and Philip Quast.
 
There were some churlish types however who whispered that Upton was somehow merely the beneficiary of Ascher's phoned in instructions via associate Anna Lengyel: that the production surely wasn't really  his work…was it? The doubters should now be eating a large serving of humble pie if they were at the first night of Upton's latest adventures in BeckettWorld.
 
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BETTY CHURCHER 1931-2015

BETTY CHURCHER 1931-2015

By Diana Simmonds News Posted on March 31 2015

Better Churcher was one of the true greats of Australian art and culture. She wanted people to understand and share her own passion for art and she achieved that through her work first as an educator and as Director of the National Gallery of Australia; through her two ABC TV series, Take Five and Hidden Treasures. And, more recently, with her two volumes of sketches of her most-loved great works from around the world published as Notebooks, in which her own always-downplayed talent as an artist became clear for all to see and enjoy. In everything she did, she was a great communicator. 

Born Elizabeth Ann Cameron in what was then a semi-rural part of Brisbane, her keen eye for nature and beauty is evident in a memory she recalled for Robin Hughes in the Australian Biography project interviews. She described a creek that formed the boundary of the family home:

“...it was the most magical creek. It was one of those lovely little creeks that had crystal clear water and that green, cow cropped grass going right up to the edge.

“And every now and then, a little bit of, ah, the bank would break away and become a little island, topped with this lovely little pad of green grass. I used to sit on that, and just watch the water run by and dream, and that was really probably one of my favourite spots.”

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