• 01 Oct 2009 /  Reviews

    Andrea Mantegna's Agony in the Garden, circa 1460

    Gethsemane is that bit in the story when Jesus wanders around an olive grove asking for a sign from his Dad that he is on the right track – but only gets silence for an answer. It requires Jesus to decide on his lonesome whether to give in to his weaker impulses or forge on – whatever the personal price. Meanwhile his loyal mates and brothers remain snoozing until Judas arrives and Jesus steps up to his fate: what he knows is the ‘beginning of the end’.

    And so it is for British Home Secretary Meredith Guest (Sarah Peirse), who – in David Hare’s new play Gethsemane – decides to weather whatever personal trials and tribulations may lie ahead for an out-of-fashion concept – ‘the greater good’. Read the rest of this entry »


  • 30 Sep 2009 /  Reviews



    Julia Ohannessian (Constable). Brett Stiller (Manman), Ursula Mills (Maria Feletti) & Takhi Saul (Inspector Pisani) in the STC Residents' Accidental Death of an Anarchist

    Two very good productions of a political nature have been playing in Sydney these past few weeks so I am surprised the entire fabric of our lives in this city has not been utterly transformed.  How I would love to announce that as a consequence of these works – one at STC, the other at Belvoir – Sydney had been transformed into a United Arts Workers Utopia. Sadly both works explore the difficulty of social change no matter how hard some people try. Sadly Accidental Death of an Anarchist is at the end of its run and I don’t know how difficult it is to get a ticket to Gethsemane.

    Accidental Death of an Anarchist is a blast of cruelling satire originally created by and for Dario Fo, an artist of supreme virtuosity and activist commitment. It’s the first ‘show-and-tell’ of The Residents, the new troupe which has replaced the Sydney Theatre Company’s Actors Company. Read the rest of this entry »


  • 24 Sep 2009 /  Reviews

    Every morning for more than a week have gone to my desk as usual to write a new post and I’m not finished by the time I have to go off and do other things. Normally that’s fine because I often spend more than a day on one piece. But the unfolding hours have usually included a new show in the evening which has tempted me to revise or toss out the draft so far. So I am cutting my losses and just going to scribble a very few words about a couple of Indie productions I have seen of late; so I can move on to Gethsemane at Upstairs Belvoir and Accidental Death of an Anarchist at STC Wharf Two.

    Bondi Dreaming is quite a nifty Indie production playing at The Seymour Centre Downstairs as the second in this year’s BITE series – which picks up some of the better shows from the previous season and gives them a second run. Read the rest of this entry »


  • 11 Sep 2009 /  Reviews, Videos


    “I don’t want realism. I want magic.”

    Blanche DuBois

    I hope I am the only person who feels this way for the sake of the STC, and all involved in A Streetcar Named Desire: but I thought this to be one of the most unimaginatively directed productions I have ever seen. So Liv Ullmann is one of the greatest screen actresses off our time – and indeed I genuflect to her work in so many truly great films, especially those several masterpieces by Ingmar Bergman. She has also directed for the screen and performed on stage in a number of celebrated roles including two Ibsen classics – Nora in A Doll House (1975) and Mrs Alving in Ghosts (1982); and even as Mother Courage (1986). But, so far as I can ascertain, she has never directed for the stage – and it shows.

    Read the rest of this entry »


  • 07 Sep 2009 /  Articles


    this is a silly preview in advance of some reporting on my trip away to Trundle for Bushtucker Day with the Big hART project GOLD.  Why these pix? Well, I have a new phone with a camera in it – and I was trying it out. These just happen to be the photos left over after deleting most – that didn’t have my thumb on them etc. So totally random. I few abstruse clues as to the town, its look and character. By no means a representative sample however

    This is the staircase of the famous Trundle Hotel.


    Read the rest of this entry »

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  • 27 Aug 2009 /  Reviews
    I can see my place from here

    'I can see my place from here!'

    Back at home – I live in in the ‘projects’ surrounding Belvoir – life is as per usual. Though one of my pussy cats died. He was a real sweetie and I loved him heaps. But I am getting a new one: instead of Amos & Andy, very soon I will have Amos & Dandy. Lots of photos of domestic bliss anticipated as the new boy sorts out his status with ‘he who has been here from the very beginning’.

    I forgot to tell you, a few weeks back, how I saved our block of flats from burning down. The Vietnamese man on the ground floor enjoys a little tipple and Read the rest of this entry »

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  • 24 Aug 2009 /  Articles

    A colleague sent me this article – which further explains why Barrie Kosky feels more at home in Berlin than here.

    Outrageousness, Herr Director, Is a Tough Act to Follow


    (New York Times, 14 January 2007)

    Frank Castorf's production of Kokain (2004)

    Frank Castorf's 2004 production of Kokain

    WHEN the director Frank Castorf was being considered
    to head Berlin’s second largest state-owned theater in 1991, the cultural powerbroker Ivan Nagel urged the German Senate to take a risk on him and his politically minded troupe, saying, “In three years they will either be dead or famous.” Mr. Castorf got the job, and the following year he opened at the Volksbühne, or People’s Theater, with a series of brash productions. Under his direction, actors ignored huge portions of the classical texts they performed, stripped naked, screamed their lines for the duration of five-hour productions, got drunk onstage, dropped out of character, conducted private fights, tossed paint at their public, saw a third of the audience walk out as they spoke two lines at an excruciatingly slow pace, may or may not have induced a theatergoer to drink urine, threw potato salad, immersed themselves in water, recited newspaper reports of Hitler’s last peacetime birthday party, told bad jokes, called the audience East German sellouts and appeared to but did not kill a mouse. After their first season the prestigious magazine Theaterheute (Theater Today) named the Volksbühne Theater of the Year.

    Mr. Castorf and his troupe were famous.

    Read the rest of this entry »

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  • 23 Aug 2009 /  Reviews
    Peter Carroll and John Gaden

    Peter Carroll (centre) and John Gaden (right) ready to party in The Bacchae - part three of Kosky's The Lost Echo.

    What I have posted on this site so far about Herr Kosky’s Poppea has been a tease, apart from the link to Ms Croggon’s brilliant review. But I do have a little bit of straight talking of my own to do. I held off writing something, not only because I was daunted: but also because I was booked in to meet with La Barrie for a short conversation and I thought it might be good to wait until after that. Some of you know I have been asked to write a Currency Press Platform Paper on the ‘life and times’ of the STC Actors Company – not due out until April next year. And I have decided the way I wanted to do this is talk to as many people who were involved in project as I can and find out what the experience it had been like for them. I am guessing varied responses. So far I have spoken with Benedict Andrews and Robyn Nevin – both of whom were wonderfully open and insightful with their memories and opinions. And now I have the voice Kosky digitalized and ready to be uploaded.

    In my preparation I got a chance to relive The Lost Echo by way of a video recording in the STC archives. Kosky’s work continuously folds back on itself, ideas and images return in Ovid-like permutations on a regular basis. But, I noted, the connections between The Lost Echo and Poppea are particularly striking. Read the rest of this entry »

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