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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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THOMAS MURRAY AND THE UPSIDE DOWN RIVER

THOMAS MURRAY AND THE UPSIDE DOWN RIVER

By Diana Simmonds Review Posted on January 18 2016

THOMAS MURRAY AND THE UPSIDE DOWN RIVER, Stone Soup and Griffin Theatre Company at the SBW Stables Theatre, 13-30 January 2016. Photography by Robert Catto: Francesca Savige and Grant Cartwright.

Quintessential Australian stories are getting a good working over at the moment – the new adaptation-from-the-novel Jasper Jones at Belvoir, the timely revival of The Golden Age at STC – and now another “new” one at Griffin from Reg Cribb

“New” because Thomas Murray and the Upside Down River was originally commissioned some years ago by Melbourne Theatre Company, fell through the cracks of management change and has languished on the “hmmm?” pile ever since. Now brought to Griffin by co-producers Pippa Bailey and director Chris Bendall aka Stone Soup, it finally has the staging it deserves.

 
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SYDFEST 2016 - THE RABBITS

SYDFEST 2016 - THE RABBITS

By Diana Simmonds Review Posted on January 15 2016

THE RABBITS, Sydney Festival and Opera Australia at the Roslyn Packer Theatre, 14-24 January 2016. Photography from the Melbourne season by Jeff Busby.

After a world premiere season at the 2015 Perth Festival through commissioning company Barking Gecko and director John Sheedy, and another outing at the Melbourne Festival, also last year, to say The Rabbits is “much anticipated” is an understatement. Expectations could hardly be higher and it’s a tribute to the work of all involved that it doesn’t disappoint in this Sydney Festival season.

 
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SYDFEST 2016 - PASSION

SYDFEST 2016 - PASSION

By Diana Simmonds Review Posted on January 15 2016

PASSION, City Recital Hall, Angel Place, 14-15 January 2016. Photography by Prudence Upton of Elise Caluwaerts and Wiard Witholt.

A festival isn’t just about larks and cocktails, it’s supposed to bring to town the kind of work and artists we are otherwise unlikely to see. And this is definitely the case with French composer Pascal Dusapin’s opera Passion. First staged in 2008 at Aix, it’s semi-staged here in a stark and minimal setting of black on black on a stage littered with beautiful and menacing shards of glass/ice (“mise-en-space” Pierre Audi).

Possibly the best and most notable aspect of the production, from the point of view of Sydneysiders, is that the Sydney Festival assisted Sydney Chamber Opera in mounting the performances and in bringing in the two remarkable principals, soprano Elise Caluwaerts and baritone Wiard Witholt

 
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