Sweet Phoebe by Michael Gow

What happens when all the controls, checks and balances we shape a relationship through counselling and hard work to keep the peace are thrown out of whack by the introduction of a new element in your lives?

Melt down that is what!!!

This hilarious, fast paced relationship farce, played in about 20 short rapid fire vignettes, shows how such fine micro management of one’s marital relationship can lead to disaster and heartbreak.

Linda Cookson as interior designer Helen and Anthony Bradshaw, an advertising executive Frazer, play an organised and self-controlled couple who have found themselves in a place of mutual support and comfort after years of working through their relationship when their friends ring to ask if they would mind looking after their Rottweiler, Phoebe, for 8 days.

Frazer is quite miffed when Helen decides, without discussion or consultation to look after Phoebe whilst their friends head off for some relationship counselling Helen has been advising for some time. The first crack in their self-defense armour.

He is not happy about babysitting the dog, but all that changes after Frazer decides to take the dog for a walk. Almost enraptured by the experience he enthuses Helen to join him on a walk and they both rapidly fall into the joy of having a dog in their lives and a sense of other purpose, their insular lives opened to new friends they meet in the dog park and the absolute joy they both seemed to gain from this distraction in their otherwise predictably organized lives.

The pace quickens up after Phoebe does a bolt on Frazer as he distractedly leaves the front door open to go back for his wallet. When Helen arrives home Frazer’s panic peaks and they spend the next 4-5 days endlessly wandering the streets and parks, distraught and panicked to point of breakdown of all their finely tuned self-discipline apparatus leaving their careers and their relationship in shambles.

Director Meredith Fuller has created a highly entertaining, very dark comedy that will speak to many of us on so many levels about the traps of life.

Both Linda and Anthony are superbly on song with their performances, the hysterics caused by their breakdowns and her explosive monologues were superb and we also get taste of Anthony’s baritone brilliance when he sings his darling a love song.

Relief for their angst was finally found with the arrival of the ‘old man’ played by Brian Walsh as he appeared with Rottweiler Atticus, who played the role of Phoebe superbly, such control, such presence…for a dog…haha

Get along, it is a hoot!

The Epicentre Upstairs Theatre – “epicentre is the calm point inside disturbance” – is a new and exciting little theatre in Caulfield.

Helen – Linda Cookson
Frazer – Anthony Bradshaw
Old Man – Brian Walsh
Phoebe – Atticus
Director – Meredith Fuller
Stage Manager – Kate Watson

Assistant to Director – Amanda Reeves

Theatre Hand – Julian Zilinskas

Sweet Phoebe

 

AN EGG-CELENT NEW ADDITION TO TOORAK

GRANGE ROAD EGG SHOP

Toorak welcomes a cheeky new resident with the launch of Grange Road Egg Shop, a bright eatery with a bold attitude courtesy of the team who brought us popular Southside cafes Denis the Menace and St Edmonds.

Along with business partner Damon Glover, the Wilkinson Group has opened the doors to the 97-seater venue at 1 Grange Road, serving contemporary Australian cuisine for breakfast and lunch.

Perfectly timed for the warmer months, Grange Road Egg Shop’s design evokes a breezy, holiday feel, drawing inspiration from the sophisticated infrastructures of old school Miami and the vibrancy of Bali’s Shady Shack, thrown in with a hint of Californian glamour.

Enlisting the talents of DB Architecture, the design aesthetic pairs vibrant pastel furnishings from Fritz Hansen, with a custom installation by street artist, Deams, and a pleasing colour palette of yoke yellow, shell pink and duck egg blue.

Housed in a Tudor style, heritage listed building; the design team at DB Architecture couldn’t help but re-appropriate some of the imperfect surfaces of the simple egg. Lavish lighting fixtures, signature curves and textured crackles are seen throughout, with greenery provided by living plants to soften the design fabrication.

Connecting the historical building’s exterior, a striking Tudor timber façade sits inside the contemporary café. The platonic patterning to the bar face and glimmering artwork by Deams reference this Old English envelope.

Visitors to Grange Road Egg Shop will enjoy a menu designed by Yotam Ottolenghi alumni, Aleksander Nitecki, with highlights set to include risotto, garden peas, asparagus, goats curd, soft herbs and crumbed veal, cherry tomatoes, grapefruit, radish, frisee, fennel, endives and mint, served alongside a range of shakes, fresh juices and sodas, including peach and maple or a rhubarb spritz.

Creative consultant, Adam Wilkinson, says the goal is to serve “food that makes people happy”, with the menu embodying a come one, come all philosophy, welcoming everyone from the health-conscious to the wildly indulgent.

Grange Road Egg Shop is open from 7am-4pm Monday to Friday, 8am-4pm on weekends.

Windows

Huso and Esme’s story is a disturbing one, two young kids brought up in poor homes, friends by default and living vicariously by viewing the lives of families around them, peeking through windows of their houses.

Played in the round with 8 chapters that the characters take us through, these teenagers whose routine is living in poverty, Esme, dirty and discarded, her story of abuse unfolds.

It is a tough play, so real in all its pain but left us with a glimmer of hope. The story is based on real events, Fin Fletcher as Esme is a glorious survivor whilst Huso, Zachary Kazepis has also a very strong performance as her caring play mate.

As the play finished the audience sat there stunned, but as the lights rose on the two actors after the last chapter the audience broke into a feverish applause.

Written by Ayse Bayramoglu

Directed by Lloyd Jones

Translated by Bilge Gulturk Loro

Performed by Anna Priestly and Zac Kazepis

Image by Zac Kazepis

Feverishly Daunting Performance

The Fever

James Wardlaw’s performance in The Fever at La Mama is a driven monologue that left me feeling terribly feverish myself.

Sitting in the front row of La Mama Carlton facing a stark white stage I felt the full force of this relentless almost 2-hour denunciation admonishing the values of middle class society and the random unsettling eyeball to eyeball connection the actor made with me and other audience members, uncomfortably dragging us directly into the dilemma many of us own.

Almost 2 hours of non-stop demanding, relentless, evocative tearing down of the ideals of our elite Western, market riven ‘democracy’, of our righteous self-belief in the right to rule, abuse, disenfranchise the lesser within personal reach.

Director Tom Healy 25 odds years after Wallace Shawn wrote and performed The Fever draws the plays relevance to our current society that is brimming with more parasites than we can count and reflects on us the bitter deception and pain we cause through self-indulgence and greed.

Written by Wallace Shawn
Performed by James Wardlaw
Directed by Tom Healey
Set design by Dagmara Gieysztor
Lighting design by Bronwyn Pringle
Stage Manager: Jess Keepence
Image by Dagmara Gieysztor

February 22 – March 5
Wed 6.30 | Thur – Sat 7.30pm | Sun 4pm 
Approximately 90 minutes

La Mama Theatre
205 Faraday Street, Carlton

$25 Full | $15 Concession
Available via www.lamama.com.au or 9347 6142

The Way Things Work Wonderfully Spotlighted

The Way Things Work

What a brilliant start to Red Stitch’s 2017 season, The Way Things Work is an exceptional 2 handed maelstrom of men behaving poorly brought on 3 thunderous curtain calls!

The Way Things Work thrilled me to bits, having been in newspaper game for so long so many of the references and the life realities presented rang so true me. I found myself belly laughing along with everyone else but also found myself loudly chortling at some of the darker mentions that seemed to quiet the majority of the audience, lucky me eh?

Set in a stark white stage these three vignettes on truly the way things work, the era of plausible deniability and alternative facts, the lies, deceit, depravity and desperation that roams the halls of power and our somewhat sickly society so adeptly nail the sad and sickeningly ‘cookie cutter’ personalities/behaviour that is most common nowadays.

Democracy dies behind closed doors…

Corruption stalks every level of our society and too often better judgement is blackmailed by the ‘do the right thing mate’ sense of irresponsibility the iconic idea of ‘mate-ship’ brings with it when used as a weapon or lever.

I could feel, hear and almost smell the palpable fear streaming from every pore of Joe Petruzzi as bent Minister Patrick Barlow collars his ‘mate’ department head Dench, Peter Houghton in a ‘Yes Ministerial’ squirrel grip over a looming Royal Commission enquiry.  

Barlow knew he was doomed and the desperation of his entreaties to Dench culminate in a scene that sits the audience bolt upright with its timing and dramatic potential consequence.

Parts 2 and 3 explore some other intriguing ideas about the values of secret men’s business held by some males in this country, the story lines are pumped along by Russell Goldsmith’s tarnished triumphal toned sound track and the brilliant use of the stage and costumes to perfectly set the scenes, also designed by Aidan Fennessy.

The pace does not let up, I was engaged and committed throughout, best you experience this yourself.

Aidan Fennessy masterfully and thoughtfully directs Petruzzi and Houghton in a deep and delightful dissection of Aussie male behaviours, the shallowness of the pretend mateship that is expected as a given.

This Victorian Premiere show runs until March 5th – simply a must see 5-star masterful piece of contemporary theatre.

By Aidan Fennessy

Directed by Aidan Fennessy

Featuring Joe Petruzzi and Peter Houghton

Set and Costumes: Aidan Fennessy

Lighting: Matt Scott

Sound: Russell Goldsmith

Production and Stage Manager: Shae Attril

http://redstitch.net/season2017/

Sad Digger Mad Mary Illuminates Taboo

Sad Digger Mad Mary

Many men who returned from what was called The Great War, WWI, were shattered individuals that ‘humped their blueys‘ into the bush to find solitude from a society that they can no longer integrate back into. Although this story is based on WWI more modern references interwoven suggest to me the more universal story of the terrible state in which we leave our forgotten warriors to struggle with alone.

This story is hilariously dark and breaks through the archetypal stoic character of the returned ANZACs as Tom Hall’s plays the ever-busy Digger in his bush camp, beautifully authentic design Anastassia Poppenberg, with his companion Bluey, a red healer – hilarious prop humour – and his billy tea.

Tortured by dreams of his mate who he lost in the war, a terrible, somewhat unimaginably horrible existence in the trenches where men found love and comfort sometimes amongst their brother in arms, a taboo that often was dealt with in extraordinarily brutal and demeaning manner when found out.

Digger’s life is about to change with the Poppinesque appearance of mysterious, crazy therapist Mary, also played by Tom Halls, who slips seamlessly between Digger, Mad Mary and an mc/announcer, faultlessly directed by Yvonne Virsik.

Digger finds some comfort and starts to regain his perspective with the timely intervention of Mary and somehow the healing begins.

Our collective consciousness about the events of war and the shame and horror perpetrated on our young men that are sent to war to fight for King and country is so often glossed over in heroic vestige that the uncomfortable truth is glossed over so often…this play breaches the lines to bring light on what was a lonely and painful reality for thousands of young Australian males.

Lest We Forget.

La Mama Courthouse

3-5 February 2017

Written and Performed by Tom Halls

Directed by Yvonne Virsik

Produced by Anastasia Ryan

Designed by Anastassia Poppenberg

Lighting Design by Jason Crick

The Happy Prince rules at La Mama

The Happy Prince
The Happy Prince

The Happy Prince – a brilliant start to La Mama’s 50th year!

The Happy Prince is the opening show in the celebration of La Mama’s 50th year of theatrical excellence at the original playhouse in Faraday Street Carlton.

The La Mama Carlton stage served well as a stark background to this gripping, provocative performance. The 2 protagonists had me spell bound from the moment the stage was lit, so raw, honest, and literal, the intimacy of the La Mama Carlton stage drew me immediately into the story.

This fable of selflessness, love and friendship between the weeping, bejewelled golden statue and the jaunty little swallow has been told many times since written by Oscar Wilde as an entertainment for his children more than a century ago.

I really do not want to say too much about this play, who am I to dissect Oscar Wilde, be prepared to be mused. I found this extremely pleasing version of the story, slightly abridged to such good effect. Director Stephen Nicolazzo has done a marvellous job!

Oscar Wilde would be well pleased to know his work was presented in such a way at such a time in our society…the performances by Janine Watson and Catherine Davies blew me away.

The Happy Prince is for the watching, the engagement, the raw vitality that these two performers bring to the stage as they envelope us in this timeless story during this two-handed master work.

A must see for not only Wilde fans, The Happy Prince will be being performed until January 29th.

Performed by Janine Watson and Catherine Davies
Directed by Stephen Nicolazzo
Designed by Eugyeene Teh and Katie Sfetkidis
Sound by Daniel Nixon

January 18 – 29
Wed 6.30 | Thur – Sat 7.30pm | Sun 4pm 
Approximately 60 minutes

La Mama Theatre
205 Faraday Street, Carlton

$25 Full | $15 Concession
Available via www.lamama.com.au or 9347 6142

Sundays Roast at La Mama’s 50th Birthday Premiere

Sunday's Roast La Mama

I wandered back into Carlton last night to review Sunday’s Roast, La Mama Courthouse’s opening night in 2017 and the beginning of a very full La Mama calendar in its 50th year.

Keep your eyes open for all the events La Mama are presenting this year to celebrate this milestone, Sundays Roast was a great way to kick off!

The La Mama Courthouse stage was set in a 3D stylised Aussie bungalow type home, I loved the way Nick Casey used the various levels to give us a distinct feeling about the average family home. The players use all this space in a wonderful flow so that as the play continues you start to visualise the space as a home. Very clever use of the various smaller parts of the set as almost separate stages whilst looking through the standard family action happening visually in front of the action.

It is a family that at this gathering seems to have sex solidly on its mind! When the pregnancy test resurfaces, it makes for some very funny moments as it dawns on the family they may have a new sibling on the way.

Opening scene is Ruth Katerelos as Campbell family matriarch Felicity in an obvious dither waiting for the results of a pregnancy test, which gives her a result that she was dreading, but with no time to think about it she discards the test into a waste bin in the bathroom and hurriedly goes to answer the door, you see she has her whole brood, 2 daughters and a son with their respective partners.

Pat Moonie plays the son Michael, engaged to Melanie, Lee McClenaghan, whilst still pondering his own sexuality. It is a complex relationship, Melanie is older than Michael and the pending marriage appears a case of codependency and denial.

The oldest daughter Emily, a very strong performance by Jennifer Monk, is having a difficult time in her relationship with partner Andrew, played by James Rosier, and the extra pressure brought to bear with the various ‘moments’ during the night. Their relationship brings some of the funniest moments in this wonderfully hilarious play.

Andrew gets in trouble with Emily after having skived off into Bonnie’s bedroom to share a joint with her…and weird her out only like brother’s in law can…and then there is an awkward ‘Dutch Oven’ incident…very funny.

Whilst some discussion bears around Michael’s sexuality it is Bonnie, Felicity’s youngest child, Shanon Kulupach, that is about to introduce her lesbian girlfriend, Rhiannon, wryly played by Lucinda Barratt…Bonnie announcing though that she is but 60/40 bi sexual, and Rhiannon assuring she’s 100% lesbian – ha, a bit of a running joke towards the end of the play. For all the stress Bonnie felt about coming out the family took it in casually, one saying that they thought if anyone Michael was the one to come out as gay.

Mum has explained early that she has met someone but no one was expecting her ‘baby dad’ to introduce himself in the manner he does, hilarious! Russell Williamson nails the part of Felicity’s suitor Graham. The hilarity that ensues on Graham’s arrival and the plays momentous finale cracked me up.

As each scene closes the stage goes dark but the familiar hubbub of family life was heard through the changes, this wonderful cast used the space provided to evoke some very familiar familial nuances that most can easily relate to.

Sunday’s Roast is a wonderful romp into the exquisite realities of sharing and caring in family life. Writer and director Tim P Driver deserves the applause that this fantastic piece brought at its all too soon ending.

Written and directed by Tim P. Driver
Assistant Direction Samantha Cunningham
Performed by Ruth Katerelos, Jennifer Monk, Pat Moonie, Shanon Kulupach,
James Rosier, Lee McClenaghan, Lucinda Barratt 
and Russell Williamson 
Designed by Nick Casey
Image by Eadie Testro-Girasole


When – January 18 – 29

Times – Wed 6:30pm
            Thurs – Sat  7:30pm
            Sun 4:00pm

Where – La Mama Courthouse

Tickets Info – Full $25 Concession $15

Phone Booking – 03 9347 6142

Running Time – Approx. 80 min

lamama.com.au

Anti Hamlet – hilariously, insanely obscene, cool

Anti hamlet - Sarah Walker Photography

antihamlet

What a Ride! The New Working Group and Theatre Works present Anti Hamlet by Mark Wilson. What immediately stood out for me was how the stage was used, I loved the technique that allowed a full circumnavigation of a central stage for all the performers, and they were coitanaly putting it out there butt naked and wanking on stage, nyuck, nyuck! The 3 Stooges like slapstick, what a laugh, or was it a turkey slap to our modern-day wannabe rulers?

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I love Theatre works productions, opening night oysters, yum, but there is always meatier stuff to get one’s teeth into.

Must say I missed Yorick btw, but this resonance of historic document of those that would rule is blatantly portrayed in all the organ sucking reality of modern politics.

Transposing our current leadership dilemma against the age-old bard’s Danish court and its various turmoil, missed loves and recrimination, the play is an unnerving mockery of Australia today, and I must admit the rawness and literal stripping down of the Oz political geography and guides us as to how the depravity of how this appendage sucking bunch of the ruling elite marries in so well to the timeless story of the Prince of Denmark.

anti_hamlet

Mark Wilson certainly has a bold and brazen approach to his writing and direction and his acting is just something else, not sure if my jaw has ever dropped quite like it did in some scenes.

A Freudian, Oedipusian  romp where Hamlet foils his life against the advice of the father of psychoanalysis analyst Sigmund Freud, an hilariously mooted performance by Brian Lipson, who floats in and out of the plot and indeed life during the length of this outrageous mélange.

Ophelia’s, Natascha Flowers, sad fawning to an obviously disinterested Hamlet who is happily about having it off with other blokes on set, almost every other cast member, even ‘porques’ his mum…it is a very ‘Strine’ accent for a bard’s tome! I suppose she represents a haunting regale to sensibility until she also goes nuts.

Marco Chiappi’s Claudius nailed the arrogance of particularly our current right wing political leaders and the character Edward Bernays also was scarily real in his, what I saw as an, expression of US demagoguery and commercial colonialism.

anti-hamlet

Gertrude played by Natasha Herbert was such a hoot, representing a tired nation that is being screwed and buggered from all sides by internal discord and foreign interference. Gawd save the Queen! A powerful performance amongst a circus of ideas.

I felt for the noble Horatio, Marcus McKenzie, until it all got down and dirty – this is a very highly charged yet totally warped experience that the squeamish might avoid, but if you are brave enough you will certainly leave the theatre shaking your head at what just transpired and totally entertained by this of Hamlet’s slide into madness.

Bent as it is I like it a lot and had 5 oysters after the show

Duration: 120 minutes, includes interval
Warnings:
 Recommended for audience 16+ years. This show contains confronting themes, strong sexual content, nudity, frequent coarse language, smoke effects and cigarette smoking

Artistic Team
Writer/Director: Mark Wilson
Associate Artist: Olivia Monticciolo
Producer: Mark Pritchard
Cast: Marco Chiappi, Natascha Flowers, Natasha Herbert, Brian Lipson, Marcus McKenzie, Charles Purcell and Mark Wilson
Set and Costume Design: Romanie Harper
Lighting Design: Amelia Lever-Davidson 
Sound Design: Tom Backhaus

Visit New Working Group website

Robert Zucco

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Making light of and shining light on human tragedy is an equation that this play displays in raw swages.  

I must congratulate La Mama for partnering with Alliance de Francaise, such an awesome space in the cellars in the Alliance’s Grey Street St Kilda mansion. It is such a hive of art and culture and the use of this space for theatre and performance art is genius.

The background story to this play is a true story focusing on the deaths of Robert’s parents and police and the very personal insight into the relationship he had with one of the victims of his reign of terror.

It is the story of a serial killer who somehow speaks to us all about the human condition in a terribly non-flattering way.

Ben Schumann’s portrayal of Zucco was chilling, yet so humorous, he reminded me very much of a young Malcolm MacDowell and Robert De Niro and the whole drama unfolds in a dungeon like space surrounded by the audience, an experience you must have, so real, so violent and so sad.

Such a different theatre experience for me, and there was a raffle…La Mama are such a special bunch of creatives.

‘Killers never do look like killers. Killers go for quiet little
strolls in the crowd just like you and me..’

 

It was a thrilling show that had me spellbound, the action was unrelenting and the use of scene introductions added that almost painful sense of suspense as to when this story will resolve.

Spatial designer Efterpi Soropos had the Alliance cellar moodily lit and created such a believable effect on the changing each scene’s apparent set.

Robert was an escape artist from the asylums, prisons and consciousness of anything we think normal, something happened to him and out came a narcissistic, self-absorbed psycho killer. Scarily real, Schumann thrashed his character out in raw bloody insanity.

The final scenes are exquisitely directed, but from scene one you didn’t know what was going to happen next and there were 15 scenes set to explain this tragic life – a microscope and reflection on the dysfunction within our society.

There were so many flawless performances from the cast and many taking on several roles, Elizabeth Thomson, her portrayal of a wealthy mother with a brat child, entranced yet comically demeaning and I found that when Zucco shot her child there was a disconnect.

Although I laughed very loudly with the actors in one scene and there were many humorous moments during the play I found some moments where things became a little uncomfortable, very dark humour that occasionally just missed the mark. I’d like to see this again towards the end of the season to see how the ensemble settle into this difficult plot.

Emina Ashman plays the cherished youngest sister in a dysfunctional family, who falls into Robert’s dangerous charm. Her family’s obsessiveness about her being special is well played out by surly father Matthew Molony, her nagging sister, Belinda Misevski (who also plays as one of 3 prostitutes in a scene with Alice Bishop and Elizabeth Thomson) and over enthusiastic brother, David Kambouris, also as a ‘comically’ bearded mother of the young girl drive her towards Robert Zucco for a tragic result.

Written by Bernard-Marie Kolte’s

Translated by Martin Crimp

Directed by Alice Bishop

Performed by Emina Ashman, Alice Bishop, Michael F. Cahill,

David Kambouris, Belinda Misevski, Matthew Molony,

Elizabeth Thomson and Ben Schumann

Spatial design by Efterpi Soropos

Roberto Zucco continues its season at Alliance Française, 51 Grey Street, St Kilda until November 13th.

Show starts at 7:30pm

Information and Bookings: www.lamama.com.au

Inspired by the true-life story of Italian serial killer, Koltès’ comic brutal masterpiece was his last play, written in 1989. Koltès is a playwright of rare genius who alleviates the bleakness of the human condition with humour and tenderness but never shies away from truth-telling. The translation is by well-known British playwright Martin Crimp who has become almost as famous for his excellent translations of French plays as he is for his own original work, which is regularly performed on British stages and
around the world.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roberto_Succo

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