Sunday, 20 April 2014

Lies, Love and Hitler - Review

If you fancy going to the theatre this week? Go and see this. Earlier this year Wittenberg played at the Old Fitz and now Lies, Love and Hilter. Both plays are intellectually stimulating and entertaining at the same time.
Lies, Love and Hitler is not set in WWII, and for the most part has little to do with Hilter, it has more to do with Dietrich Banhoeffer who, as you will learn was a double agent during the war and tried to bring Hitler down.  The play is set in a University, Dr Paul Langley has been studying Banhoeffer's life and work for a very long time. So long that he sees visions of him. Bonhoeffer helps Langley through his inner conflicts, particularly through a moral dilemma which he finds himself in when he falls in love with one of his students, Hannah. 
The play starts by giving the audience a moral dilemma, by posing the question would you kill Hitler? It immediately grabs you and brings you into the play.
The acting is superb with only three actors - James Scott 'Langley,' Doug Chapman 'Detrich Bonhoeffer' and Ylaria Rogers 'Hannah' & 'Hermione' (Bonhoeffer's fiance). Ylaria and James manage to switch in and out of German accents with ease.
The play is written by Elizabeth Avery Scott who is an Australia writer and holds a Master of Arts Practice in Scriptwriting from Charles Sturt University. The play was shortlisted in 2009 for the prestigious Rodney Seaborn Playwright's Award. All I can say is I would like to see what won that year!
This production is only on until 3 May so get your tickets now, you will be sorry if you miss this one.

Strictly Ballroon - Review

Strictly Ballroom has all the razzamatazz of a musical and more. Right from the moment you enter the auditorium you are entertained. It doesn't matter where your seats are you are surrounded by the glitz and glamour of a ballroom venue.
Before the show gets underway the audience is given their dancing pairs to cheer for. This is a great idea as you feel part of the show, immediately.  The singing, acting, dancing, set, costumes, lighting, sound, direction, production were all brilliant in my opinion. The costumes and set design are under the direction of award winning Catherine Martin, who has for a long time collaborated with Baz Luhrumann the Director and Co-writer. Luhrumann originally co-wrote Strictly Ballroom as a short play, before turning it into a film and now the musical.
My only criticism of the whole show was that the opening number or couple of numbers did seem a little cheesy and over the top. However, this did not effect my overall enjoyment of the night. So, what is the story? Well there is nothing unusual. One of the dancers, Scott Hastings played by Thomas Lacey comes from a dancing family but he puts them to shame by not dancing the "correct steps" and loses the competition. His partner walks out on him, so he has to find a new partner. Fran played by Phoebe Panaretos, wants to dance but has little experience, however she persuades him to secretly train her to be his partner. Of course his family are also trying to find a new partner for him and set him up with Tina Sparkle, one of the best female dancers around. Now he has the dilemma to dance with Tina the traditional way or Fran and take dance in a new direction. Fran in the meantime feels shunned and Scott ends up at her parents house and learns how to dance from the heart from her father.  Of course it all comes good in the end and Fran and Scott dance their way and fall in love!
Thomas is an amazing dancer and Phoebe's voice brings the house down. The two together are electric.
You may think that this musical will be more enjoyed by the female audience, however you will be wrong, many men will enjoy it too, don't be fooled by the title it is not lots of ballroom dancing.  It is very funny and it is very Australian!
It is certainly worth the money so book your tickets now and go and see it.  

Saturday, 19 April 2014

New Hampton Venue Launch - Review

Reviewed by Regi Su
After a long time under construction, the Hampton Court is back in action as the New Hampton! The bar aims to bring The Rock to Kings Cross in an attempt to revitalise the area and offer a sense of suave class to Sydney's entertainment district. The New Hampton really does this.

Original timber beams give the venue cozy character, while sandstone walls feature and set the scene as something akin to Australiana. Original stained glass windows beside lazer cut steel images of cockatoos and kookaburras adorn the walls. The images are backlit with an amber glow, aiding the warmth of the place and hinting at a celebration of heritage and history. Australian folk songs are framed beside indoor palms, giving the rustic vintage feel a modern swing. It's inviting and it's comfortable. For the first hour or so of the launch, a bush band fiddled, while an accordion kept the scene upbeat, accordingly. This seemed fitting, just as the pulse of a techno DJ did later on during the launch. The New Hampton caters to anyone and while there is a theme to the venue, it seemed to be more of a homage to the building's heritage. This gives the bar room to be whatever you'd like it to be.

The bar boasts an enticing selection of liquor to soothe the palate. We were greeted with Rum and Raisin Old Fashioned, and Vanilla Kisses. The Rum and Raisin Old Fashioned was so smooth, full-bodied and fruity, while the Vanilla Kisses cocktail was like a festival of fairy floss and splendor. My partner and I enjoyed these cocktails and ventured to try the Lychee Rose Martini; dare I say, a tantalizing concoction that reminded me a little of a High Tea garden party. The staff were friendly and their cellar extensive.

Canapes were served with promises of flavour explosions. Bite-sized morsels of tastes that shouldn't mix in theory, but did as well as old favourites. Pulled Pork Gallete, Watermelon with Olive and Fetta, Duck Liver Parfait, Wild Mushroom Arancini, Smoked Salmon Asparagus and Labne, Tomato Consommé and Crayfish were served, to name a few. This finger food was trendy, tasty and on vogue. They truly were delicious. If their canape selection is any reflection of what the New Hampton restaurant offers, you're in for a treat.

As a venue, the New Hampton is laid back, smart casual elegance, where beautiful people can roam a beautiful club. It's sexy sophistication in the heart of the Cross.

Construction of the Human Heart - Review

Reviewed by Nathan Finger
Construction of the Human Heart (2007) is Australian playwright Ross Mueller’s exploration of grief. It features two playwrights who are trying to write a play about two playwrights who are trying to write a play. This description probably already has a lot of people rolling their eyes – ‘yet another self-aware play about theatre, like we need that.’ Mueller’s play starts out looking like it is going to be another extended navel-gazing exercise. But then something different happens.

This isn’t a play about theatre, per se. Yes, it is self-aware, but it’s about something much more genuine: it is a study of the grieving process. Actors Michael Cullen and Cat Martin play two characters who are only ever referred to as Him and Her. The couple are a playwriting duo who have recently lost their only son, Tom, to some unspecified disease or accident. The play they are attempting to write is their way of coping. ‘I make up stories about him’, she says, stories where he is still alive and well. This is all they have, this is their coping mechanism. Together they relive and rehash the past, recreating the moments when they were happy and whole. It’s the only thing that keeps them going, but it cannot block out the pain of the present, nor adequately substitute the past.

As far as plot goes this is pretty much it. But the draw card for this production is the performances. Cullen and Martin have a real chemistry on stage. They both manage to capture that ever so slightly pretentious, faux-intellectual quality of the would-be, brilliant playwright. But behind this front they both allow the gut-wrenching grief they carry to slowly leak out, and we witness their struggle and gradual collapse. Indeed the two have been brought to breaking point and we get to see the conflict that arises between them brought on by the pain. They are obviously a couple that love each other dearly, but the loss of their son has placed a tremendous strain on their relationship, and even at the close of the play we cannot tell if they will be able to weather the tragedy. To see two actors allowing themselves to be totally vulnerable on stage is rare and moving treat.

Construction of the Human Heart may not be a play for everybody. Director Dino Dimitriadis offers up an empty stage, two chairs and pages of typed script, made to resemble the most basic of rehearsal spaces. The dialogue can be a little overly flowery in places. But there is a genuine and tragic story about what grief does and how people struggle to live with it to be told. There may not be a lot of plot, but this play more than stands up on the strength of its performances, which are well worth the trip in to see.

Construction of the Human Heart is playing at the Tap Gallery until the 3rd of May. For more information see:

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

After Easter - Review


After Easter
Reviewed by Ben Oxley

credit: Factory Space Theatre Company

After Easter
Written by prize winning playwright Anne Devlin
Directed by Roz Riley

(12th April to 3rd May, 2014)

Greta is protesting. Meanwhile, her husband is cheating. And her family thinks she’s just a little bit crazy.

Perhaps they’re right. After all, she is having visions, despite being an atheist. But they aren’t much better off. One sister is married, unhappily. The other won’t marry at all. Their brother is married to his art. Their cousin is married to God. And Dad’s dead, but he still has a lot to say.

A journey to the heart of an unravelling family – with a little fishing and shootin’ along the way.

Directed by Roz Riley
at the Star of the Sea Theatre, Manly
Fri & Sat 7.30 evenings, and Sun 3pm matinees, 12-13 April, 25-27 April & 2-3 May
Tickets $35/$28 from or 94391906

Cast: Mitchell Cox, Ciaran Daly, Eilannin Dhu, Imogen French, Laura Gailbraith, William Jordan, Celia Kelly, Karoline Rose O’Sullivan and Ros Richards.

This is the first play of Factory Space’s 2014 season, which will span three productions. This is the 14th year of professional productions for the Factory Space Theatre Company – and the fifth as resident company at Star of the Sea. And a fine theatre it is too.

The general vision is often both comic and dark. The vision is also a feminist view of women asserting themselves over men. Note to self: why are there so many Irish men at the pub?

Throughout, the visions come to Greta, sometimes disturbing the action, sometimes not. The Flynn family tears itself apart by the time the children grow up. The parents lived a lie, staying together out of commitment rather than passion.

Consequently, the sisters have a negative vision of their family’s way of life. The mother, Rose, beat some of the children. Rose’s life is a struggle but motherhood empowers her and because she is conventional and hard-working she feels her life is successful. Greta's mental stress, a suicide bid and breakdown are due to her childhood and marriage disenchantment.

The performances are strong, focussed and riding the emotional wave of the drama. Karoline Rose O'Sullivan maintains an innocent charm as Greta, creating sibling tension with Aoife, played by Celia Kelly and the bossy Helen (Eilannin Dhu).

Sister Bethany struggles to deal with Greta's visionary gift, proving an unhelpful guide to spiritual understanding. Manus (Ciaran Daly), the young fiddler and Ros Flynn (Ros Richards) give us the remaining family, at pains to reconcile to the impending loss of Michael, their father.

The play is optimistic in the sense that it is a search for identity by the main character Greta and her sisters. Eventually Greta’s search for security, love and the understanding of her own identity overcome the pain.

The final scene shows Greta returned to serenity and blissful motherhood as she tells her baby a fairytale. This affirms the good in her life; the mystery is restored.