• 06 Aug 2011 /  Reviews

    That’s not the name of the script, it’s called And No More Shall We Part. But it is a ‘say good-bye’ play. A woman has a terminal illness and she decides to put an end to it by taking (illegally) some pills. Her husband isn’t so keen, makes a bit of a fuss; but finally gives in to the idea. This is an intimate study of their last weeks – and more particularly, on a parallel time line – their last hours together. I think Holloway is one of our most interesting playwrights, and each of the plays of his I have seen so far has been just a little bit different stylistically. I was very taken by Beyond the Neck, a meditation in the form of four soliloquies on the Port Arthur massacre – ordinary folk looking back many years later. I thought this was an incredibly moving production, directed for Belvoir by Iain Sinclair,  with Holloway doing very well in get under skin of his characters. Love Me Tender was a version of the Iphigenia story from Greek mythology, directed by Matthew Lutton, also at Belvoir (with Griffin). This was a highly experimental script where the lines were not allocated to any particular characters. I thought Lutton and the cast did a brilliant job in bringing this play to life. It had great physically, was beautiful to look at, and had fantastic performances. But, in all, did not quite make sense. Well not to a lot of people who saw it. I knew the myth behind this modern version and so it was good for me. But how many among the paying public know the Iphigenia story? You did need to know the work’s mythical origins for the production to fully work. Nice try for an emerging playwright nonetheless.

    Russell Kiefel and Linda Cropper

    Here, Holloway has gone for straight up-and-down naturalism – all the way down to the umms and ahhs. While there is much to admire about this script and Sam Strong’s thoughtful production, I don’t think Holloway quite pulls of what he attempts. They are a pretty average suburban couple, nicely played by two fine actors – Linda Cropper and Russell Kiefel – who on opening night were still working on settling their performances in. They are certain to take off over this next week and the whole experience will be a lot stronger.

    The story is well organised; and carefully engineered in time and space by director Sam Strong. There are some very fine moments, as the pattern of action builds to climax and gentle resolution. It’s a slow burn and then, towards the end, the action catches fire. But Holloway loves big emotions and grand ideas. And though they are kind of there, sort of, what happens in between is barely engaging. To much trivial chit-chat – which would be fine is there was subtext. But, apart from the simple fact someone is dying, not enough lies underneath the surface of the words.  ‘Do you want a cup of tea?’ …. and …. ‘I had an affair once’ …. ‘yes I know I did too’ …. really doesn’t take us very far. What about …. ‘why do we live, my love’ or ‘you never loved me anyway’ …. just to toss in a couple of randoms.

    I should declare my hand here. I have interviewed several GPs who, at the height of the AIDS epidemic, admitted to euthanasing quite a few  patients. I know a women who used to buy the heroin for another doctor to euthanase his patients, who then used the stuff on himself. I remember several guys who I visited in their last few days before they (I knew – though they did not say) put themselves to sleep. A lot more happens in these situations, from awful to funny, that Holloway has not even begin to imagine. A play on this topic should have really knocked me around. It did not.

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  • 01 May 2011 /  Reviews

    There are many reasons to admire this new Australian play – and its production. Lachlan Philpott’s sensitive and engaging text and the bright performances of its cast being the first to come to mind. This is my first chance to come to Philpott’s writing ‘at strength’. I saw Bison at Belvoir Downstairs a couple of years back: it was okay but essentially a fairly early revived work. If the more recent Colder was anywhere near as good as Silent Disco is, I can understand why interest has been brewing.

    There is a lot of new playwriting out there, but very little of it captures today’s world so vividly and with such compassion and humour. Not just any world in this case: but that of today’s teenagers. For all the right reasons, this experience in the theatre made me feel rather old. Okay, we all know what its like to be a kid. But in today’s world? I thought I might have had some idea, but no I did not. How times have changed. Growing up has never been easy, but with so many absent and/or damaged parents, no apparent ethical framework on which to hang decisions, lots of freedom but nothing much to do with it, teenage years today come across as unreasonably tough.

    Meyne Wyatt (Squibb) with Sophie Hennser (Tamara)

    Silent Disco is on a face of it a version of Romeo and Juliet. The boy Jasyn Donovan (aka Squid), played by Meyne Wyatt, is a Koori kid who lives with his brooding auntie. His girlfriend – of several ‘weeks, days and hours’ – is Tamara Brewster, played by Sophie Hennser. Tamara lives with her uncaring dad (who in later years has come out gay), and she meets with her problematic mother on the odd occasion. The parents are mere shadows in this drama, and that’s the point. The only adults to make their presence felt are Jasyn’s older brother, Dane (Kirk Page), who partway through the play gets out of jail; and a uniquely seasoned and caring school teacher, Ms Petchell (Camilla Ah Kin).

    What happens is the stuff of school-day life, the minutiae, the ups and downs in the classroom, the yard, and the stretching suburbia beyond. The plot is built on some classic devices: the brother’s return to the outside world turns it entirely upside down, and it’s all building to the school formal – but will we get there? Can first love ever get very far? And with so much going against it? What I really like about this script is how Philpott begins with a very standard storyline (so we are on a familiar track) but builds it into life – into three-dimensionality – with such attention to detail that we really are forced to look at the world afresh. I can’t say with any authority that this is how young people today (from this particular world) think and speak. But it rang true to me; and on the night I attended, the teenagers in the audience looks to be giving the show the thumbs up.

    Lachlan Philpott

    What’s really special is Philpott’s handling of language – not just the jargon and vocabulary, but the way thought itself is organised these days. Nothing linear left in today’s world – language is mashed. And regarding the play’s title: yes indeed: who really knows what’s going inside the heads of kids these days?

    Philpott’s script has been embraced with commitment and verve from the cast. Mayne Wyatt brought himself to notice in The Brothers Size. Sophie Hennser as Tamara is particularly astonishing: the story is told mostly from her perspective, and the emotional and intellectual adventure this young actress embraces  (with such confidence) is pretty massive. Kirk Page, as the brother is sexy and threatening. Camilla Ah Kin’s compassionate optimism as the school teacher is beautiful to watch. Plus she gets a chance to ‘play up’ in one adorable scene as a local check-out chick.

    I’ve mentioned how Griffin is leading the way among the main companies in nurturing its relationship with audiences. So it’s no surprise to see artistic director Sam Strong himself posting comments on the website: “On Friday” Strong posted recently, “we had the company run of our next main season show, Silent Disco. Seeing the full work in front of its first official audience was a lovely reminder of the unique nature of new writing. In Silent Disco, Lachlan achieves three things that make new writing special. First, he reflects our contemporary world back at us. It’s refreshing to see a work so firmly located in the here and now of our very own Sydney. Secondly, Lachlan reflects that world in a way that makes us see it anew. Finally, Silent Disco transports us completely into someone else’s experience. It has been an unfortunately long time since I was a teenager but the beauty of the play (and what Associate Director Lee Lewis is doing with it) is that we all get swept up in the story of Tamara and Squid.” I totally agree.

    Kirk Page as Dane

    I can only cite a couple of slight imperfections in the writing, and I hope Philpott takes it as a compliment that the best I can do is nitpick. One is that Ms Petchell herself does not go on quite enough of a journey in her own right. Ideally we should see her too end up in a different place. And the other is that the matter of Tamara’s dad having AIDs. It’s a bit blurry in the facts area – presumably he’s living with HIV illness (only now being diagnosed) which is not the same thing. On the matter of Ms Petchell, we hardly notice because as a character she is so beautifully drawn, and thoughtfully realised by Ah Kin. Regarding the AIDs stuff, yes I know that kids today are ill informed and confused – but how the subject is handled in this play (easily fixed – next draft – a few new lines) is not helpful.

    Camilla Ah Kin as Ms Petchall

    Lee Lewis’s direction is confident and empathetic. Justin Nardella’s set is simple and groovy. Ross Graham’s imaginative lighting design a bargain for the price. Two quite new guys to the business and both definitely have what it takes. Sound design is by Stefan Gregory. Gregory has contributed to so many outstanding productions over the past few years, from The War of the Roses to The Wild Duck, it’s high time – in the very least – that I mentioned his name.

    Try and catch this show if you can: it’s what good Australian theatre today is all about!

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  • 30 Mar 2011 /  Reviews

    You must excuse me for thinking a play by an African-American writer called The Brothers Size - featuring some big mutherfukrs (characters and actors) would be about – well – how big these guys are! Nope. It’s all in the apostrophe – the one that’s NOT there. The play is NOT called The Brother’s Size or even The Brothers’ Size! Two of the men are brothers and their names are Ogun Size and Oshooshi Size. In this production, these two brothers are different sizes. Ogun, the elder, is a fairly big mutherfukr (I can say this ’cause the characters call each other ‘nigger’ and ‘mutherfukr’, etc) in the form of Marcus Johnson a Los Angelean who graduated from NIDA in 2005. The story in the play concentrates on his relationship with his younger brother, Oshooshi, who in this production is a comparatively pint-sized motherfuckr – Meyne Wyatt, a 2010 NIDA graduate of Aboriginal ascent. But a mutherfuckr nonetheless. The third actor, Anthony Taufo, is also NIDA-connected. He plays a character called Elegba who got to know Oshooshi when they were both in jail. Taufo is of Tongan origin. I think this casting of this play is cool. No need to be racially literal – it’s about being able to act the parts isn’t it?

    Marcus Johnson (Ogun) and Meyne Wyatt (Oshooshi)

    Director Imara Savage is also a NIDA connected: a graduate of the school’s directing and playwriting courses. She certainly impressed with her production of Fool For Love last year at Downstairs Belvoir. Savage says in the program notes that she was looking for play of comparable vitality, and she has found it in Tarell Alvin McCraney’s script, The Brothers Size. This is a strong, muscular poetic play, that mixes up the lyric with the violent. It draws on many sources including Nigeria’s Yoruba culture. In that animistic world which travelled to the Americas via the slave-trade, Ogun is a deity who presides over fire, iron, politics, hunting and war. Ogun here is the alpha male and he also works on cars (metal). Oshooshi is a hunter, and sometimes a solitary shaman-like figure. Here Oshooshi, on release from jail, is on the hunt for pussy and a purpose in life (I think). For that he needs a car. Elegba, is a divine messenger. Having met Oshooshi met in jail and now they are hanging out together, for better or worse – the liaison is certainly of concern to big brother and in the end it brings trouble.

    I can see that the actors, with directorial guidance, put some thought into those character underpinnings. And, given the level of experience of the cast and director, there is some very good work here from all three. The performances are very committed, physical, and – by and large – the emotional levels are pulled around effectively to fit what’s called for in the text.

    I suggest at this point go read Kevin Jackson’s review – it’s a generous (he acknowledges his NIDA connections) and informative response. It saves me space saying the same things here. What he says about the casting is interesting. He also knows more about contemporary American playwriting than I do -  and what he has to say about the playwright in relation to the great August Wilson is well worth noting (here it would be Christos Tsiolkas to Patrick White). Let me add my titbit of knowledge from the other side of the world having looked into the writings of Nigeria’s Nobel Prize-winning dramatist, Wole Soyinka. His work is informed by British and Yoruba traditions – and without being a language expert, I would suspect that if Size is a Nigerian name, it is possibly pronounced with two syllables: Si-ze. Which would have spared me the confusion cited at the top of this story. I am not suggesting that the cast here is mispronouncing the name in this production – one syllable may be all that is used in saying the name in the USA today. I just toss the thought out there – and wonder if we have any Yoruba fluent readers who might advise?

    Marcus Johnson as Ogun creates a sensitive brother. Anthony Taufa is strangely compelling in his reticence. Like Jackson I was particularly impressed with Meyne Wyatt. If this is his professional debut, we will no doubt see more of him. Wyatt is not only physically dynamic, he has a great imagination – able to live fully in the moment. As the only Aboriginal of the three black men on stage, he will likely get more changes than the other two. But let’s hope all are is given more chances – aka colourblind casting. I already know one leading director who sees a Hamlet in Wyatt one day.

    Perhaps take a look at Jason Blake’s review in the SMH. He too compliments the cast and the casting. He also has his head around the basic plot. I am grateful for that – but would like to know more about what actually happens to the characters in the play as the action unfolds. For all the nice things I can say about this production, Iwas not actually not able to follow the story of this internationally well-regarded play or ultimately judge its quality. I cannot possibly tell you what happens to the characters in any detail, beyond the most basic contours (outlined by Blake). So I have even less idea what this play is meant to be about: meaning why the author was driven to write it or why the director is asking us to watch her version.

    For one simple reason: the tendency to shout! This is a really good show ruined by its own noise. I am particularly averse to shouting in the theatre because I find it a form assault. It’s not that I a wish to avoid confronting tough themes or characters in conflict. What I mean is that anger is just another emotion which needs to be ‘acted’ – however an actor comes to that. And in our city in this era, too many actors drop the entire framework of their character and move into that I have called in the past ‘literalism’. The don’t act anger – they just are. They don’t act shouting, they just shout. The most famous shout in theatre history, remember, is silent (Helene Weigel’ s ‘scream’ in the 1951 Berliner Ensemble premiere of Brecht’s Mother Courage). In most theatre we create, there is a construction of artifice – through which we see the truth- and once established we must uphold that scaffold throughout. Not drop when when, and only when, one particular emotion comes along – anger.

    For me personally, when actors start to shout in this way a wall goes up between me and the production akin to one of the security glass panes that shoot up from the counter to protect a bank teller from robbery or assault. For all the noise, I hear little behind my piece of glass. Instead of following the story, remaining connected to the actor’s creative journey, I withdraw into questions like: why are these people shouting at us? It’s a small fault in relation to what this production achieves, but it had a big impact on my reception – or lack thereof.

    There’s no doubting Imara savage is a talented director. How exciting for a woman to be able wrestle and shape so successfully such masculine material as both Fool for Love and The Brothers Size. And she was fortunate to have a more experienced cast in Fool for Love – there is quite a lot of know-how on stage when you have Terio Serio, Alan Flower, Justin Stewart Cotta and Emma Jackson acting together. They certainly handled their fight scenes more ‘artfully’ in that production.

    I wonder what others who have seen this production think of the point I am raising. I could see from looking around me that others in the audience were having less trouble following the show. They were laughing and trembling and engaging with the work while I remained alienated. Still, even if I am a bit over-sensitive when encountering literal violence close up, I still think what I have to say – in principle – about the need to uphold artfulness remains true.Both Jackson and Blake mention how rare it is for us to see a play in this city that portrays the lives of African-Americans. And we are all delighted by the opportunity given to these actors in the way it was cast.  More please. If Imara Savage (or Lee Lewis – cited by Jackson) or anyone other director is tempted down that path I recommend looking at the plays of Nigeria’s Wole Soyinka. The masterpiece is Death and the King’s Horseman, but there are plenty of smaller easier ones.

    All photos by Giselle Haber

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  • 17 Feb 2011 /  Reviews

    Along with writing about the new shows as they start to roll out in 2011, I feel I have to catch up on a few shows from last year. And while we’re with Griffin@the Stables, I can’t go past making mention of Paul Capsis’s exquisite tribute to his grandmother – simply titled Angela’s Kitchen. Here below is pr blurb and some helpful links, including Paul talking about the show on ABC radio. See my point about how groovy Griffin is getting? The penny has dropped:  this theatre company at least understands that audiences want access to more information than what can be squeezed between the adverts in a Playbill produced program – and that for an exorbitant fee! I also feel I have to make note of this show because it didn’t get a mention at the Sydney Theatre Critics Awards in January this year. I could be wrong there, but I didn’t notice. Maybe the show came to late in the year. If it was considered and passed over, all I can say is I think my judgement is superior to that of my colleagues – ooops!

    Paul as his beloved grandmother Angela

    Angela’s Kitchen

    By Paul Capsis and Julian Meyrick

    5 November – 18 December 2010

    ‘I think about my grandparents walking along this road – And now I am here. I’m in Malta. I’m looking at absolutely everything and trying to drink it in. I feel connected. I feel like I am home.’

    In 1948, Angela left Malta. Having gathered up five children, she sailed out on the Strathnavar, leaving poverty and the war behind. Her destination: Australia. In Surry Hills, she could build a bright new life.

    If only she could first learn the language, finish shoring up their dilapidated house, find new friends, get the racist neighbour off her back and keep her son away from sly grog queen Kate Leigh’s kids.

    Back in Malta, someone else has made a journey. Making his way along Kalkara’s glistening harbourside, a young man with flowing black hair has returned to claim his past. Paul Capsis is walking home.

    A journey that begins at a kitchen table becomes a sprawling family history and a fitting tribute to a much-loved matriarch.

    Told simply and truthfully, Angela’s Kitchen is an astonishingly evocative piece of autobiographical theatre from one of Australia’s most versatile performers. For this intimate and incredibly personal new work, Paul Capsis is joined by director Julian Meyrick (October) and associate writer Hilary Bell (The Falls).

    Angela’s Kitchen reviewed in the Sydney Morning Herald

    Angela’s Kitchen reviewed in TimeOut Sydney

    Read an interview with Paul and Julian

    Hear Paul and Julian on ABC 702 (recorded 7 November 2010)

    (Part One) Paul Capsis on ABC Radio

    (Part Two) Paul Capsis on ABC Radio

    Paul as hmself - back from Malta

    I have been a long-term fan of Paul’s and consider him a friend. I remember the days when he was starting out in the 1980s, when he couldn’t get a gig on Oxford Street because he didn’t mime – goddam he used his own (incredible) voice). At a certain point Paul took a depth breath and moved from his embodiments of global divas (dead and alive) – Janis Joplin, Bette Milder, etc, to presenting songs as himself – Paul Capsis. That was not an easy segue. He also got some acting chances, most notably in the film Head On where we discovered how f&%king powerful and fearless he could be. Then along came Barrie Kosky who knows exotic talent when he sees it – he especially loves the rare birds others are too afraid to collect (Melita Jurisic being the most florid example). Capsis’s rendition of the goddess Diana in The Lost Echo was one of the highlights of that brilliant production.

    Paul Capsis in The Lost Echo

    And then in Angela’s Kitchen, at the end of last year, Paul took another step closer to the centre of himself. This was a play about younf Paul growing up and his relationship with his grandmother, surrounded by other colourful members of his migrant family. I remember Paul being tremendously upset when his grandmother died. He loved this woman and she clearly loved him. And he was sorely distressed about a fight brewing in the family over the fate of his grandmother’s house (to complicated to go into here) now she had passed on. I was walk past this one-storey Surry Hills Federation cottage nearly every day. It’s where Paul grew up, and it is such a wonderful Palace of Wogdom! Every original feature submerged under layers of turgid brown paint, amateurishly-layed tiles and aluminium window and door frames.  So definitive is the Maltese makeover I think it should be slapped with a heritage protection order from the National Trust.

    Which takes me to the play. I’ve never quite known what to make of Julian Meyrick’s work – as writer, director, dramaturg, general high achiever in the areas I’ve never dared go (given the fact that I think I am at least as smart as him). But let me put all reservations aside, if I have any, to honour him for his work with Capsis on this show. Along with what feels like a very strong contribution from writer Hilary Bell. The way the drama was put together was so subtle and effective – a beautifully crafted piece of work. As we moved back and forth from the kitchen table in Surry Hills to the street in Malta where his grandmother, Angela, grew up, a wonderful portrait of both the intimate (love) and the public (migrant life) unfolds. The use of very simple props found in the kitchen cabinet was about as artful as this kind of devising can get. Best of all, this homage to Angela was also, by implication, a self-portrait of Paul Capsis himself. Now we certainly know where he got that fire in his belly!

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  • 16 Feb 2011 /  Reviews

    I thought last year overall was pretty good, but  this one flew out of the starting blocks a week or so back with the opening of Sam Strong’s production of Speaking in Tongues for Griffin at the Stables. This is theatre at its best. But before I get to that…

    The upgrade design of the foyer is coming along. A few months ago I thought it finished and was aghast, planning to mount a protest or something. All that was wonderful about the old place had been stripped away – for what? Now I can see how the new look is coming together and is likely going to look and feel rather good. It will eventually include a coffee shop annex where writers can alongside critics – open laptops at separate tables – as some create and others demolish!

    I hear they offer more than one opening night at Griffin now: well it’s a small space and everyone wants to be there. The place is hugely on the rebound. Not just a new artistic director in Strong, but a whole new PR style – very young, fresh, interactive and light-spirited. It feels good online and even better when you walk into the theatre. If pussy cats run the STC,  then Griffin @ the Stables is a tumbling puppy. From a good litter and jumping around to play with us – its largely precinct-based inner-city audience.

    Lucy Bell & Caroline Craig

    This production of Andrew Bovell’s Speaking in Tongues kicks off Sam Strong’s first commissioned season and it makes a strong statement. The play premiered in the same venue 15 years ago, directed by the company’s then artistic director, Ros Horin. Horin premiered some important work at this theatre, and at the time Speaking in Tongues captured our attention – it was the Bang! of the mid-90s. Though more lucky, it attracted a good deal more attention.

    By way of detour – in a concern for how times have changed: can I ask how is it possible that a play as brilliant as Bang! has not been picked up by anyone? That production alone at Downstairs Belvoir last year should have toured with that exact same cast and excellent direction. If that play had appeared ten or 20 years ago it would have been famous overnight. In 2010 its passed over as a minor work. it doesn’t make sense, though I see it in part as a failure of theatre arts media coverage – such as it is these days.

    Back to another Australian play rare in its brilliant craftsmanship and depth of themes. Ros Horin’s cast for her premiere version of  Speaking in Tongues was pretty classy:  Elaine Hudson, Glenda Linscott, Geoff Morrell and Marshall Napier. And it was very well directed and performed by the standards of the time.

    But if we want evidence that we are better at making theatre these days, here it is. This production is gripping: Strong confirms himself to be one our best directors, a combination of high intelligence and evolved sensibility. And he has assembled a fabulous cast in Lucy Bell, Andy Rodoreda, Caroline Craig and Christopher Stollery. More to the point, Strong guides these actors into a kind of acting that seems to reach a new high point in our local style.

    Christopher Stollery & Andy Rodoreda

    The first 20 minutes (the bolting out of the blocks) were astonishingly good. This is a very difficult sequence technically where two couples meet in a bar (two different bars): all are married, and it just happens – unknowingly -  each is  flirting with the other’s partners. Both pairs head off for infidelity. One couple goes through with the act. In my moral world the line was crossed well before that. But as the play unfolds, the odd couple who chooses NOT to go through with the fun bit of the night tends to claim the high moral ground. They are not spared the repercussions, however, which I think is fair enough.

    The writing of this opening sequence is truly musical, as the characters talk over each other – in parallel.  Horin’s production was stylistically groovy but a little difficult to follow. In this current rendition of the opening sequence we hear every line. It makes sense and it sounds beautiful. It’s scored like a woodwind quartet: breath flowing through  differently pitched and tibred voices – execution to orchestral standard. People write about this sort of thing in the craft of acting – musicality: but here we actually get it and it’s very rare.

    This is my first review on this site since I have decided to recommit to it. After all the troubles I had with it over the past 18 months, I was seriously contemplating throwing in the towel. After some further pause and restlessness, I’ve decided to give it another go. It’s going to take a while to get my writing back into gear, and my readers back. So the build will be incremental. Here is what I might call ‘notes towards a review’. What I am saying is I am not going to write a lot here. Obviously I am recommending this show – its special. A standout and a great way to start the year.

    And I will add is: look to the acting. We seem to have evolved a laconic naturalism over the past 30 years since we started putting Australians up on our own stages. That ‘style’ perhaps has something to do with our national character, and also to do with the small spaces in which much of best work is presented. The danger when your audience is only a couple of metres away, is to over do it. And there is always the risk of choices looking predicable and obvious.

    Not so here. While all the actors here are good, I have to say something particular about Christopher Stollery. In the last couple of years this actor has found something that has lifted him into a different league. There is a lot of regular Aussie bloke stuff here: but not a cliche in sight. Stollery’s men (he plays more than one role) and their predicaments are handled with a combination of stoicism and compassion that makes their ‘ordinariness’ electrifying. I thought here we are, at last we have got to what we have been searching for.

    I mentioned opening nights ‘plural’ because ours had some special guests. Most notably, Ken and Lilian Horler who found the run-down old horse stables that become the first home of the Nimrod – now the venue for Griffin @ the Stables. We owe so much to these wonderful people, and in an era where the past is rendered so little respect, I felt an urge to acknowledge their presence. It was part of fun of the night to notice them love and laugh their way through the night’s entertainment – in the venue they founded so many years back now.

    Caroline Craig, Lucy Bell & Andy Rodoreda

    And secondly Lucy Bell on stage. To watch this actress, now a woman in full bloom, its worth remembering that as the daughter of Anna Volska and John Bell, she spent her earliest years crawling around on the floor of this theatre. the Bells were there with the Horlers from the very beginning.

    I guess what I am trying to say is that what I love most about theatre is its ability to offer regular theatre-goers like myself a sense of belonging that I feel nowhere else. That quality can wax and wane over the years when it comes to as specific venue. But right now, you can feel a big hug as you enter the Stables and its a feeling a like. I could hazard a prediction. In Sam Strong’s hand (Sam’s strong hands) the Griffin will enjoy a revival of significance. Could this city’s theatre life be on the verge of redefinition: the  duopoly of STC and Belvoir being broadened to include Griffin @the Stables as a genuine third major player. The signs are good, let’s see how we go.

    I should make one more point. Bovell’s When The Rain Stops Falling turned heads – here was a remarkable play indeed. History of course is there to be rewritten: what we now know is that Bovell wrote a play of comparable quality fifteen years ago – Speaking In Tongues. So it wasn’t just a play that indicated promise, as many of us thought at the time. It was in fact a very fine text from which to build a drama back then; and equally, almost more so, now.

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