• 13 Mar 2010 /  Random

  • 10 Mar 2010 /  Random


  • 09 Mar 2010 /  Random

    This is a test

    who is this idiot?

  • 08 Jan 2010 /  Random



    “Hi Nick – I let the porridge spill over this morning thinking about your show.”

    Thus was my innocuous email to songster Mr Nick Christo the morning after I saw his delightful, delectible, delicious homage au Frances Faye: The Fabulous Frances Faye in Australia. That’s Faye I am talking about – the Fabulous. Don’t get me wrong I was being literal – referring to real oats on the real kitchen stove. As I stared out the window in my smoking jacket, fag hanging from my lips, and digging around for a leftover slurp through old grog bottles littering the kitchen bench.  

    Frances & her Friends

    “I know a guy named Joey
    Joey goes with Moey
    Moey goes with Jamie
    And Jamie goes with Sadie
    And Sadie goes with Abie
    And Abie goes with Davy
    And Davy goes with Howard
    And Howard goes with Charlotte
    And Charlotte goes with Shirley
    And Shirley goes with Pearly
    And Pearly goes with Yetta
    What a drag, what a drag
    I’m not mad
    I’m too hip to get mad….”

    (From one of her classic songs: Faye would add lines depending on who was in the audience with whom…)

    Not wild oats! Sown or otherwise. To quote that other soft bird, Doris Day, ‘No siree!’ Though of course I had been to the show the night before, this being the morning after, and I may well have been infected by Ms Faye’s penchant 4 innuendo – and straight up dirt talk. If I came across that way it was not intended – no siree.

    Okay…shake it out….settle down…shut the window and get back to my usual ‘cool’ persona. As they say in the classics – if it’s so hot in the kitchen etc – like fried chicken – tell ever’one ’bout it. Yessir! If ever I saw fried chicken on stage it would have to be Nick Christo as Frances Faye – you just want a bucket full and get your fingers all greasy.

    Anyway who said I don’t like show tunes? or showgirls/boys for that matter? I do – I just like good ones! So I was very pleased when I was guided by a colleague into Nick Christo’s celebrated cabaret act. It’s had seasons wide and far over the past couple of years, between Christo’s other work – like playing the Hungarian voice expert for the AO in My Fair Lady. And right now it’s playing varying nights at Downstairs Belvoir until 14 February.

    Nick Christo (right) as Zoltan Kaparthy with Richard E Grant (Prof Higgins) in the AO's My Fair Lady

    Let’s get it straight up like a decent martini. This is no drag act: Christo creates his Frances Faye, the witty hardbitten showtuner who started life in an Al Capone Speakeasy, staying a bloke true-blue and wearing a decent black suit. His lyrical tenor voice and unfortunate looks sets him apart from the original Faye, sure. But he clearly grooves this marvellous American cabaret artist’s raw energy and sassy wit. He can do high notes and low notes, slow ones and fast ones, he can mix em up – just likeFrances. He can also stand still. And just when you think you’ve seen it all – he can shimmy!

    I think he's taken - lol


    I don’t know how to write about this kind of show. All I know is it was fun, and Christo is right across his subject and her material. There are three bandsmen – piano, drums and horn. All hot. And between songs and cheeky patter is a very neat history of Frances Faye’s visits to Australia – noteably to the Sydney niteclub Chequers which also guested Debbie Reynolds and Sammie Davis Jnr in its heyday. What’s really good about this show, as well as some excellent singing, is the precise characterisation of Faye – her essence – without excess. Her inner camp if you like. Bisexual and knowing, Faye carved out a new place in entertainment that was urbane and city-slick. She was the original dame who had been around. She could hold it back, and she could belt it out. Christo can too.

    The likeness is uncanny

    For Christo to transform this wild card from the entertainment industry into a ‘straight aces’ act is some feat. Yep, this guy is talented and you should get down to see him before he gets so famous you can’t afford the tickets – or be stuck in zed row behind a big hat behind a pillar in Carnegie Hall.

    PS: You want to know more about Frances Faye – where else – go to Camp David!

    PPS: Or more on Christo and this show – where else –  go to Bryce Hallett!



  • 04 Jan 2010 /  Random
    Neil Armfield's Dad

    Mr Armfield

    Theatre is born at the intersection between the actor/audience relationship and time/space. This year as a resident of Surry Hills/Strawberry Hills – aka Belvoir Street precinct - I will be living in 2010 (time) in 2010 (postcode/space). Actors – I am your audience. Bring it on! To celebrate my return to this site after suich a long break I thought I might broaden the creative brief this year by framing my theatre attendence with a little more about daily life in 2010. I am sorry you can’t have the nitty gritty – my private life is way to colourful to publish online, well sometimes it is. And sometimes just like theatre it is way too boring! But hey I am getting into my photography and so I thought I would launch the year with my first ever serious paparazzi shot. I go to to see The Book of Everything tomorrow night. But I crashed the opening a couple of nights back so I could mill with a-listers (ie familes with kids in this instance). So many people were there – but from a photojournalist’s point of you, one with an eye for theatre history – this picture speaks 4 itself.


  • 22 Dec 2009 /  AUTOBLOGRAPHY, Random

    Dear James,

    Please remember to start writing on your website again soon. For starters you are seeing Tot-Mum at STC Wharf on Wednesday night and surely you will have a response to that. Also the Sydney Festival starts very soon and PR have given you tickets to some very interesting shows - the Hamlet, the Pirandello etc…

    And also you should have a look over what you have seen this year – 2009 – and repeat yourself – people love reading that sort of stuff that while they are eating their xmas lunch.

    Annabel Lines @ Cliffhanger: Photo by William Yang

    Annabel Lines @ Cliffhanger: Photo by William Yang

    Trash Vaudeville@Cliffhanger: photo by William Yang

    Trash Vaudeville @ Cliffhanger: Photo William Yang

    What about the pix from the Cliffhanger party you had? Where are they?

    Christa Hughes sings Lilac Wine @ Cliffhanger: Photo William Ynag

    Christa Hughes sings Lilac Wine @ Cliffhanger: Photo William Yang

    Paul Capsis sings Perfect Day @ Cliffhanger: Photo by William Yang

    Paul Capsis sings Perfect Day @ Cliffhanger: Photo by William Yang

    Okay well there are a few

    Promise I will be back up and running soon……


  • 12 Dec 2009 /  AUTOBLOGRAPHY, Random

    News is the site is mostly fixed – almost all fixed thanks to the profound endeavours of Mister Larry H – thankyou so much – and all we did was meet at the Sydfest launch – what a nice guy – a postmodern day hero!

    That is the good news.

    The bad news is that I am in the middle of writing a Platform Paper – 16,000 words approx – daunting , exciting and time consuming – so not sure how much time I can devote to this site for a little while until most of that is done. Since the site has been down for so long now it may be only a dribble until new year – tho I will try ot put up some pix of the silly party I had a few weeks ago which had some nice guests in an intersting spac e- and some fab performing artistes whose contributions merit noting down for posteriority !!

    We’ll be back and at it eventually


  • 12 Dec 2009 /  Random

    okay so we can take a category

    can we put up a photo and caption properly? let’s see

    Glitter & Fluffy

    Glitter & Fluffy


  • 06 Nov 2009 /  Random



    Alfred (Tom Wren), Borghejm (Gareth Davies) & Rita (Shelly Lauman) in Hayloft's The Only Child

    Two fascinating shows of late at Downstairs Belvoir
    ,very different in origin or presentational style. The Only Child (finished a few weeks back) came from Melbourne’s Hayloft and was directed by Simon Stone, who has attracted attention in Sydney for his Spring Awakening (which I did not see) and more recentlyThe Promise (which I quite liked but was received less enthusiastically by others). The Only Child, a near complete rewrite of Ibsen’s grey-skied Little Eyolf, was a big hit. Deservedly so. The original is a very gloomy play about a crippled boy who drowns by accident leaving recriminating parents struggling to cope. In this version, the re-creators cut to the chase: not only is the drama very stark as it is played out, for once in local Indie theatre, the stakes are genuinely high. Audiences not only went for quite a ride: we ended up in a very different place.


    Tears from heaven: Alfred is lost

    I’ve been talking of late about the need for crucial choices and vital decisions. Here the grief-stricken husband, Alfred (Tom Wren) chooses to do nothing, taking to the bath (water) rather than the bed – which is a very significant action in itself. I’m not spoiling things (since the show has gone) in reporting that, by the end, not only is he up and dried; but he and the suffering wife/mother, Rita (Shelly Lauman) are magnificently reconciled. Also on stage are Alfred’s half-sister Asta (Anne-Louise Sarks) and a family friend Borghejm (Gareth Davies). The four performances were very good. Rough around the edges, the whole production was. But effectively so: being so sharp-edged in its impact.


    Shelly Lauman with Anne-Louise Sarks (Asta) in rehearsal

    It was good drama and big drama! I am not the only one to think so. Below are clips from reviews, more posted on Hayloft’s website.

    The Only Child ranks among the best of this year’s independent theatre productions.” – Jason Blake, Sydney Morning Herald

    “Good theatre has already started to emerge from the independent sector. But this production, directed and written by Simon Stone with Thomas Henning, sets the standard even higher. 9/10″ – Nicholas Pickard, Sun Herald

    “I loved it. I loved The Only Child. It is a confident, aesthetically assured, devastatingly performed production by a young company under the restless direction of Simon Stone.” – Mark Rogers, The Perf


    Brother and half-sister: it's getting a bit close

    For once, the commentariat rose to the occasion. What I would like to add is that people who didn’t like The Promise complained that director Stone missed the grave implications under-pinning the text. No real sense of the starvation, loneliness and sacrifice that tosses these three young Russians about on a sea of limited hope in the aftermath of World War II. While the actors were praised and admired for their ‘solidarity’, was there more to this (very foreign) text: quite likely. The opposite can be said of Simon Stone and Thomas Henning’s reworking of Little Eyolf. They do grab Ibsen’s themes by the throat in their ‘modernised’ version. There was a daring originality to the production too.

    is a very different, if equally fascinating beast. Here we have a contemporary script, from a French Canadian translated by the gifted Caryl Churchill. All sounds very foreign, but the subject matter and means used to explore it are discernibly global. Perhaps to Outer Mongolians or unfound tribes still wandering the Simpson Desert this pert and vivid essay on the psycho-social effects of global celebrity on the masses set in a Convenience Store may appear unfamiliar. But to the rest of us – from Bahrain to Bondi – I think this play would make sense.


    Bliss: out of the fridge and into your mind!

    Let me share a traveler’s anecdote. I was in the volcanic town of Rabaul (now under ash) on the island of New Britain in 1988. I was enjoying a bit of fast nite-clubbing – once a week in the local kung-fu club – bouncers on the door and everything. Even though the Islanders at the time barely shared a TV satellite dish between them, when Kylie Mongoose’s ‘I Should be So Lucky’ hit the turn-table (more likely tape deck) six lovely local lasses got up and reenacted the entire video by rote, to the delight of the rest of us who were mightily impressed. Also, everywhere you went around Rabaul at that time the fashion statement was a lap-lap (sarong on a guy) or t-shirt with an image of Sylvester Stallone in one of his super-heroic roles. I still have one such item: yet here when I wear it out to STC First Nights people don’t get the outfit. In Rabaul, you raised eyebrows if you weren’t wearing Stallone! It was like what the FCUK!

    Back to Bliss. We start with a four people opening the store. The characters have no names but are played by Krew Boylan (younger female), Libby Fleming (older female), Matt Hardie (younger male) and Simon Corfield (older male). But we quickly focus on the well-being of the young female staffer, played by Boylan. Director Shannon Murphy elaborates in a print media interview:

    xx Brett Boardman

    Going places: Matt Hardie, Simon Corfield & Libby Fleming: Photo Brett Boardman

    “Much of the story emerges from the mind of character the Oracle (Boylan). We are actually watching the production through her mind. In a way the Oracle is the Celine Dion character in the sense that she moves from being the girl at the supermarket to being Celine Dion who becomes the victim because she has the miscarriage who then becomes the daughter who the family come to visit, which then becomes a domestic violence case who then . . . ”

    Murphy laughs at this point because the plot is indeed maniacally convoluted, deliberately so: with a view to making a point. Loneliness, fantasy, alienation, submerging of ‘the real’, celebrity, new technologies and mass media are all components of the Rubik’s cube that is living in today’s society.  The fact that director, design team and cast manage to colour-code this many-faceted dramatic object into shape is a credit to them all.  What we have is a world where day-to-day life is deeply infected with the manipulation of the ‘fantasy of celebrity’; where what we think is going on, and who we think people are, rapidly slips like mercury between our fingers.


    Krew Boylan's character has her 'Dion' moment: and it's very good

    The young female staffer, obsessed with everything Celine Dion, basically enters the life of the pages of one of the celebrity magazines for sale. In this design one such magazine with Celine Dion sits in the rack. Once she has entered that world, the other staffers morph – initially into Dion’s people, but later the family of the kind of tragically ill child, and herself morphs into a victim of sexual abuse. Both ideal ‘feel-good’ story fodder for a mass-market magazine of this type. It is a point well made by the writer, and brilliantly built to the ‘pattern of action’, the structure of the play: that such disparate realities merge into a single ‘sack-of-snakes’ meta-narrative capable of entirely overwhelming the mind of the sensitive and impressionable main character.


    What the ...Celine is about 2 give birth!

    Justin Nardella’s nifty set and apt costuming work hand-in-hand with Verity Hampson’s massive lighting plan to create deft shifts in reality – as the unraveling story requires. Vigour, wit and deftness are the features of Shannon Murphy’s impressively capable direction

    I have to brag I saw Celine Dion perform before she was famous – in Sydney launching her debut album. Voice was okay – but so nothing as a personality. That, in hindsight mayt be the secret to her success – as it may explain Buble and Jonas Bros. They are such blank spaces, we can write across them whatever we went.

    Bliss is currently playing Downstairs at Belvoir. Well worth a go see.

    PS: Spellcheck changed Minogue into Mongoose without my permission – who am I to argue?

  • 05 Nov 2009 /  Random
    This is Our City in Summer

    This is Our City in Summer: Climb Aboard

    After the media launch yesterday morning of the 2010 Sydney Festival, I want straight across the road from the Seymour Centre and jumped into the swimming pool in Victoria Park and did some laps. The fitness training starts NOW! I’ve attended a lot of arts festivals, but can’t remember one where I wanted to see sop much in one program. In her first program for Sydney, Lindy Hume reminds us that she sure loves theatre – with heaps of fabulous stuff in our core area of interest. But also plenty to tempt in other areas – music, talks and dance, etc.

    Not only is Hume the Festival’s first arts practitioner to curate – a highly regarded opera director! But also the Festival’s first woman to take the helm! Drum roll.  With Josephine Ridge as General Manager and Sarah Wilson heading up Media, we have a team of ladies here who could well harness the resources to save the world from climate change. Not sure if they are actively helping in that regard in January 2010, however, given the number of hot acts they have booked.

    Take Your Time: Cool off at the MCA

    Take Your Time: Cool off at the MCA

    Apart from what looks like some superior specific artistic choices at the big end the programing, Hume also continues with the best established from the past. Immediate predecessor, Fergus Linehan’s massive inner-city street party, the free Festival First Night, is expanded thanks to more support from NSW State Government and Sydney City Council. It will be put together this year by Mr Large Scale Nigel Jamieson. We also see a return of the low-priced About An Hour. Meanwhile the 2010 Festival deepens links with Parramatta and Cambelltown; and establishes a new Inner-West hub around Sydney University (a new sponsor), including the Seymour Centre, Carriageworks and Enmore Theatre.

    Tempest: Without a Body - one of a number of works of the Pacific region

    Tempest: Without a Body - one of a number of works from the Pacific region

    Readers of this site will be inspired to hear that iOTA is fronting Spiegeltent activities  – Smoke & Mirrors – under the artistic direction of Craig Ilott. A new add is Scope – a series of artists’ talks and seminars including a Keynote event titled Crisis, Catharsis and Renewal where speakers (including members of the public) will be able to pitch in with their thoughts on what lies ahead. This is where the thinking part of Sydney Uni pitches in, as well as offering up its magnificent Great Hall (where other Festival events will take place). There are also some new links being formed with artists from the Pacific region. There are the usual Domain concerts of various sorts and the Ferrython, but let’s get down to niche interests.

    Six Characters finds a Festival

    Six Characters finds a Festival

    Big theatre events include Thomas Ostermeier’s Hamlet from Berlin’s Schaubuhne – the Berlin connection with Sydney (after Kosky and Andrews) is deepened. There’s what looks like a fascinating production of Pirandellos’ Six Characters in Search of an Author (one of my favourite plays) from UK’s Headlong; and a rare opportunity to witness Stravinsky’s Oedipus Rex & Symphony of Psalms, directed by none other than Peter Sellars – one of my favourite stage directors. His Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress, which I saw in Paris some years back, remains up there with the best music-theatre productions I’ve seen.

    Frank Woodley as Candide in Optimism

    Frank Woodley as Candide in Optimism

    Australian theatre productions include director Michael Kantor’s version of Candide, Optimism starring Frank Woodley; and Urban Theatre Projects (UTP) new show, The Fence. Watch out for more on the evolution of this production on this site. Meanwhile look up on the Festival website for more on dance and other forms. But jumping off the page is Happy as Larry, a new piece from choreographer Sean Parker, whose This Show is about People attracted a lot of attention last year. Also appearing in the About an Hour series this year is Oedipus Loves You from Pan Pan Theatre Ireland. It looks like fun.

    Oedipus Loves You - About an Hour of Incest

    Oedipus Loves You - About an Hour of Incest?