Constellations

What might have been or what could have been – this play is a series of conversations between Roland (Sam O’Sullivan) and Marianne (Emma Palmer) as they meet, fall in love, separate, stay together and contemplate the possible death of one them. Their conversations are repeated and replayed in each scene, sometimes with the roles reversed, all in a choose your adventure style and each time with a different ending. Marianne is a physicist fascinated by string theory, quantum physics and the whole of the “multiverse”, where there are seemingly endless permutations. Sam is a beekeeper making organic honey on the rooftop of a city apartment block. Their universe creates myriad of options as to how their lives may or may not turn out. Like Sliding Doors, each scene folds in on itself, presenting a new fork in their life together. At certain moments it can be intensely irritating but that seamlessly evaporates as you are reminded of the fragility of life, the luck of circumstances and the random happiness that can occur. Simple and elegant direction by Anthony Skuse allows the complex script by Nick Payne, riddled with variations and rewrites of life, to be at the heart of this work. At just under 80 minutes, this is like a beautiful yet complicated equation with recurring variations and poignancy.
Eternity Playhouse Burton Street Darlinghurst

Brothers Wreck

Directed by Leah Purcell, this is a play about an indigenous family in Darwin written by indigenous playwright Jada Alberts starring an all indigenous cast. But it could be about any family anywhere. At its heart it is the story of how a senseless tragedy affects a family, the guilt and denial they suffer and how their love for each other strengthens the family. Opening with the the tropical heat of Darwin pervading the fibro & louvred window house, Adele (Rarriwuy Hick) wakes to the awful sight of family member Joe having hung himself the night before. Adele’s cousin Ruben (Hunter Page-Lochard), was with Joe but too drunk to notice what was about to happen nor to take any action. Jarrod (Bjorn Stewart) Adele’s boyfriend, cuts Joe down from the laundry ceiling where he has hung himself with Ruben’s fishing net. This senseless death hits Ruben hard and he drinks and smokes heavily, fuelled by his sadness at having done nothing to stop this death and potentially provided the method of death. To add to the misery the family is suffering, Adele’s mum (Ruben’s Aunt) is dying. Aunty Petra (Lisa Flanagan) drives up from Alice Springs to see her sister – and to try and help Ruben, now on parole and refusing to see his Aunty in hospital, who has looked after him sister his mother Lou died when he was a child. Ruben is required to see a counsellor, David (Cramer Cain), as part of his parole conditions but he finds it a waste of time. Ironically David’s experience of having one of his school students die by hanging, and his own feelings of helplessness at this tragedy, gives him a great understanding of Ruben’s guilt and pain. The performances are superb and the writing is as if you are listening in on this family’s conversations – although there are a few moments where the playwright is speaking rather than the character. Belvoir Street Theatre

The Young Tycoons

The first generation acquires it, the second builds it and the third – destroys it and never deserved it. So says the fathers (and loyal staff) of two junior media magnates (magnatinos?) from rival media families, as they play out their entitled lives and dubious business decisions in the face of intense media scrutiny and public interest. There is no mistaking this is based on the story of James Packer and Lachlan Murdoch’s ill fated venture into Onetel, as the generational power was transitioned from canny old world media fathers to their less than savvy sons. The House of Vogler, a media empire built around network prestige is run by Ted Vogler (Laurence Coy), a rough and brutish man who gets his way through bullying, even into the pants of his son’s fiance Sally Kilmartin (Paige Gardiner). Vogler’s son Kim (Edmund Lembke-Hogan) is out to prove to his father that he can be trusted to build his fathers empire even further. Buying shares in new tech Lorcacorp for $1 billion which soon sink to be worth less than a million, is however a shattering beginner’s mistake. The House of Warburton, a rival operation, is run by media king, Liam Warburton (John Turnbull) and which presents a more urbane approach with its interests in global publishing. Warburton’s son Trevor (Andrew Cutcliffe), with the Harvard education polish, is also out to impress his father and cuts the grass of long term Warburton company man Donald Mayes (Terry Serio) as Trevor takes over the top job with his father’s blessing. With girlfriend Sherilyn (Gabrielle Scawthorn) by his side, he is the measure of success, albeit with a minor dint in the family fortune due to the much smaller investment in Lorcacorp that Warbuton took. An entertaining foray into the lives of the Australian rich and shameless, where the scenes are played out almost as 30 second grabs in front of a wood panelled set which goes from boardroom to beachhouse with each scene subtitled like a newsflash. Through the eyes of the average punters, PA for Kim Vogler Kylie Strauss (Briallen Clarke) and business journo David Grolsch (James Lugton), the demands and vices of these young tycoons are revealed for their ugliness and sadness. A dark comedy written by CJ Johnson and directed by Michael Pigott. 2 hours including interval. Eternity Playhouse Darlinghurst

Eight Gigabytes of Hard Core Pornography

Don’t be concerned about the title. It refers to the workplace misdemeanour that lands the character of Steve Rodgers (He) out of a job for downloading. Driving this very open and raw play by Declan Greene is the incredibly strong desire for human connection in all of us. Two broken and flawed people meet through an internet dating site. Fat, ugly, old and stupid is how they feel about themselves. Neither is particulary redeeming in any way- they are just ordinary people in the workplace with sad lives. He is in a loveless marriage unable to communciate with his wife and in a dead end job. She is a single mother working double shifts as a nurse to pay off her credit cards but spending more than she will ever bring in and dodging the bill collectors. Somehow they connect and find a moment of desire and love. Fleeting as it may be, it is a moment of human connection that sustains them. Superbly directed by Lee Lewis, this is yet again another rivetting Australian story by Griffin Theatre. Tickets $49 /$38 On till 14 June SBW Stables Theatre 10 Nimrod Street Kings Cross

Cruise Control

A new type of Love Boat! David Williamson’s latest play takes three couples NY Jewish couple dentist Sol and socialite Sally Wassermann (Henri Szeps and Kate Fitzpatrick), pompous British duo Richard and Fiona Manton (Felix Williamson and Michelle Doake) and wealthy but bogan Aussie couple Darren and Imogen Brodie (Peter Phelps and Helen Dallimore) – and throws them together on a cruise that is not stopping anywhere. Forced to have dinner with each other every night for 7 nights, the initial pleasantries between the couples soon wear off and sexually predatory behaviour starts. The couples marriages are under the microscope and who is trying to sleep with whom. A series of one liners flow from the characters and the amorous advances of Richard Manton are just a “classy type of slither” and Sol Wassermann has penned a “dental thriller” which editor Fiona Manton is forced to read. Most of the action is around the dinner table and in respective cabins. The characters are mostly caricature in nature but the story rides the waves and is sad and funny in equal doses. Singing waiter Charlie (Kenneth Moraleda) reminds the audience that this is a cruise of the haves – and he is a have not, with his family in the Phillipines whom he sees for only 2 months a year. Directed and written by David Williamson, it may not be as slick as it could be but it is an amusing story with lots of LOL moments. Just over 2 hours with an interval, the plays steers a steady course to an unsurprising but fair ending.

Ensemble Theatre Kirribilli. On till 14 June

Pinocchio

Beware kids, be good to your parents and don’t run away otherwise you may go home with a few nightmares about the wicked child stealing Stromboli (Paul Capsis)! The children’s classic story by Carlo Colladi of the little wooden boy Pinocchio (Nathan O’Keefe) made by the toymaker Gepetto (Alirio Zavarace) has been given a good shaking up with lots of modern twists!. Pinocchio is not content to be the much loved wooden boy child of his singe parent dad Gepetto and instead has to play class clown, demand expensive sneakers and then rebel and run off to explore the world, breaking his fathers heart in the process. Along the way he meets Foxy (Luke Joslin) and Kitty Poo (Jude Henshall) who are also seeking money, power and fame. They all fall into the clutches of the evil powerbroker and child stealer Stromboli and end up on his Playland island where they realise that money, power and fame are perhaps not all they are cracked up to be and honest friendship and love are to be truly cherished. This is a dark story with dangers lurking behind every part of the wildly revolving set (Jonathan Oxlade). Directed by Rosemary Myers and co written by Myers and Julianne O’Brien, this show has EVERY thing but the kitchen sink! Digital imagery (Chris More), revolving stage, a fulcrum, delightful puppetry of the illuminated cricket conscience, groovy music and songs with subtle and not so subtle adult references!. At just over two hours (with an interval) it is a fairly long time for kids and parents to invest but it is worth it and it is definitely for the 7+ group. Tickets $40-$70. Drama Theatre Opera House

The Government Inspector

This is so clever. It is like a hall of mirrors, each one reflecting back into the other so you don’t know what is real. And there there are the lawyers and layers of irony. The story loops in and out and neatly ties up at the end – perfect. In late 2013, director Simon Stone was notified that the play he had intended to direct, The Philadelphia Story, was not out of copyright and the estate of its co-author Ellen Barry, had written refusing to grant permission for Belvoir to stage it (especially given the intended reworkings). So, Stone decided to present Nikolai Gogol’s The Government Inspector. But as Stone and his cast looked at that play, they realised that there were a number of similarities between what had happened to them over the Philadelphia Story and the plot of The Government Inspector particularly the arrival of a letter that causes great panic and uproar. What you see at Belvoir is an acting out of the story of The Government Inspector but in the context of not being able to get their play on stage. There are misunderstandings, mistakes and reflections that are not what they seem. From the moment this play starts, it is hilarious. The actors play themselves and there is so much paying out on each other (and Simon Stone) that it comes close to the bone in many areas. Written by Simon Stone and Emily Barclay, it stars Mitchell Butel, Greg Stone, Robert Menzies, Fayssal Bazzi, Gareth Davies, Eryn Jean Norvill, Zahra Newman. Music composed by Stefan Gregory and set design by Ralph Myers. So tight and beautifully written and so funny.

Clybourne Park

Having won a slew of awards (2012 Tony Award, 2011, Pulitizer award, 2011 Olivier Award), this play by US playwright and actor Bruce Norris was always going to be a sell out in the Ensemble season. For a play set in downtown Chicago, its universality is extraordinary and that comes down to its excellent writing. The exploration, the savouring of words and expressions by characters is quite glorious – the celebration of the semantic. In the late 1950’s, Russ (Richard Sydenham) and his wife Bev (Wendy Strehlow) are packing up and moving out of their family home after many years. Their son hung himself after the Korean war in an upstairs room and they have never gotten over it. They want out of that house and are happy to sell it to an African American family – not welcome in the neighbourhood – as many of the neighbours will attest who visit Russ and Bev to voice their concerns. Karl (Nathan Lovejoy) and his deaf wife Betsy (Briallen Clarke) try to persuade Russ, in a very falsely polite and clearly racist way, that such occupants will bring the tone of the neighbourhood down as well as the house prices. The local minister Jim (Thomas Campbell) is even in on the attempt to cajole Russ out of this clearly hasty and unwise decision. A NIMBY attempt in the late 50’s. No one caring how obvious and obnoxious their behavior is, especially to the “coloured” housekeeper Francine (Paula Arundell) and her husband Albert (Cleave Williams). Fifty years later, the same lounge room of Russ and Bev’s house (now owned by Steve (Nathan Lovejoy) and Lindsey (Briallen Clarke) is the setting for an interminably long and overly politically correct meeting where the nimbyism arises again – this time the tables have been turned. Russ and Bev’s decision 50 years ago to sell their house to a “coloured” family triggered a sale of other houses in the area and the once white middle class neighbourhood became a close knit African American community handy to the down town area of Chicago with affordable houses. Now, decades later, the yuppies are moving in, wanting to be close to town and gentrifying the neighbourhood, with its lovely heritage homes and potentially kicking out the black community to replace it with a white middle class neighbourhood. The community consultation is held to discuss the objections to Steve and Lindsey’s DA for the house they have bought – Russ and Bev’s house, and from an African American family. Everyone is keen to hear the other’s viewpoint but no one really wants to change position. This is an invasion of the whites into the African American community even though half a century earlier the opposite arguments were being used to block the African American’s purchasing the houses in the white middle class neighbourhood. The room is thick with irony at how racism, political correctness and property values intersect decades later- in exactly the same way. Directed by Tanya Goldberg, this play requires concentration and is a fascinating exploration of the characters that make up the two communities in both acts. Stick with it and enjoy how the full circle turned in this neighbourhood. Ensemble Theatre. ( Extra performances scheduled for The Concourse Chatswood)

The Pride

Recording a voice message has never been funnier. Bruce (Brendan Ewing), the man about the house, brings his wife Linda (Adriane Daff) a new answering machine as a present and together they sing a cutesy couple message into the phone and then wait desperately for a call to have the message played. This is no usual couple – these are lions (wearing hot onesie lion costumes!). Director and devisor Zoe Pepper of Side Pony Productions was intrigued by the similarities between the behaviour of lions and humans and has set this play in Bruce and Linda’s den – where they are expecting some new cubs (although the disturbing opening scene showing Bruce wringing the necks of some baby cubs seems at odds with Bruce’s new fatherly joy). The domestic bliss is soon rocked by the arrival of new neighbour James (Russell Leonard), a young virile lion keen to help out his neighbours with their renovations. Handier than Bruce, he sets about wallpapering the lounge room, to Linda’s delight as Bruce has been faffing about with the renovations for ages and Linda’s sisters Louise and Miranda are due to arrive and where will they sleep! Bruce’s pride won’t let him acknowledge the help that James can give and the inevitable showdown ensues. There is funny and witty dialogue but it could do with a bit of a boy prune and sharpening up towards the obvious ending. The all singing all dancing lion trio with dark shades and all the right grooves is a crack up!

When and where: Evenings at 8pm till 5 April at Bondi Pavilion

Ganesh versus the Third Reich

Tackling the Nazi’s and the Indian God Ganesh in the one play and having it performed by a majority of intellectually disabled actors from the Geelong based Back to Back theatre group is truly something to behold. This is quite simply extraordinary theatre. This is the story of the elephant headed Ganesh who is requested by his mother Parvati to travel to Germany from India to meet with Hitler and reclaim the ancient symbol, the swastika, from the Nazi’s. But this is a play within a play as the action stops and the actors gather to discuss how the play is going, what they should do, rehearse bit from it and regularly challenge (or accuse) the audience on whether they are watching the performance because of the intellectually disabled actors – some freak porn or is it legitimate theatre. The work was conceived in 2008 and finally performed in Melbourne in 2011. It has travelled all around the world and finally in2014 has come to Sydney at Carriageworks. Directed and devised by Bruce Gladwin, it stars many of the regular ensemble Simon Laherty, Mark Deans, Scott Price, and Brian Tilley- each with a varying degree of intellectual disability. The humour throughout the script is funny and also at times very sharp as the disabled actors taunt each other about their varying levels of impairment “Mark, you will have to speak, Hitler was a great orator” says Simon to Mark Deans whose natural speech is difficult to understand. Luke Ryan is not intellectually disabled and is cast as Dr Mengele, the Nazi surgeon fascinated by disabilities and oddities within the human race- and the Indian God Vishnu. It is ironic that Luke as a very good looking and well built man, plays a character so flawed and imperfect – as well as the perfect God. In Carriageworks large bay area, the set (Rhian Hinkley) is sparse but with many layers of long plastic curtains that are dragged across the stage and lit from differing angles to create mystical backdrops, a train ride through Swiss mountains, a fertile forest in India, a burnt out Berlin with battered Brandenburg Tor. The music (Johann Johansson) is used to full effect to accentuate the varying moods. If you have ever seen the work of Back to Back (Super Discount, Small Metal Objects) you will be simultaneously humbled yet be laughing at the incongruous humour within the work. This is theatre that makes you feel alive, uncomfortable and uplifted – all at the same time.