BU21 is a fucked-up version of Friends that never quite works, except for the women (Time Out Sydney)

image-2“An individual’s relationship to trauma and terror is complex, situational, and personal. BU21 attempts to delve into the aftermath of a terrorist attack on London from six points of view; all characters are members of a small support group for victims. Three men, three women, tea and biscuits – as one character jokes, it’s like a fucked-up version of Friends.

Ana (Jessica-Belle Keogh) has been burned to the point of paralysis and struggles with the scope of her injuries; Alex (Skyler Ellis) loses his girlfriend and best friend at the same time; Thalissa (Emily Havea) finds out through Twitter that her mother has died; Clive (Bardiya McKinnon) must face the unexpected death of his father, with whom he had a rocky relationship; Floss (Whitney Richards) saw a man die in front of her, after he fell from the sky into her backyard; and Graham (Jeremy Waters) starred as the media’s first eye-witness soundbite (think: this guy)”…. READ MORE

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Sydney Festival 2017 Cabaret: new narratives to the fore (Daily Review)

tomboysurvivalguide_jamiewilliams-8549-768x451“Three women appear to float above the stage. They’re dressed like angels; like three heavenly figures from a Renaissance painting. They talk about poo problems.

Women in Jetsons-style jumpsuits tell us we’re in a safe space away from the crushing world of political despair, ringmasters to a circus cabaret of absurdity and metaphor.

A trans performer speaks breathlessly about long-ago crushes on beautiful women. Behind them, a band of tomboys play ‘Crimson and Clover,’ the song rising like curlicues of smoke around the artist.

Wesley Enoch’s Sydney Festival is shaking up the dominant cultural narrative and giving us oft-overlooked perspectives. These three shows – Ich Nibber Dibber, Tomboy Survival Guide, and Retro Futurismus – grapple with memory and history, deliberately filtering past, present and future though still-marginalised lenses” …READ MORE

Peaches Christ Superstar is defiant, queer, perfect (The Guardian)

3826In Heaven on Their Minds, the first number of Jesus Christ Superstar, Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s smash-hit rock opera about the last days before the crucifixion, Judas tells us, If you strip away the myth from the man / you will see / where we all soon will be.

This line seems to demand an excavation of not just the myth of the church but also of musical theatre excess. Peaches, the queer performance artist and rock star, has done exactly that in her defiantly stripped-back, serious interpretation of the show: a one-woman epic titled, of course, Peaches Christ Superstar… READ MORE

Katie Beckett’s Which Way Home is like a re-animated photo album (Time Out Sydney)

imageIn August last year, The Australian ran a cartoon by Bill Leak that represented a sickeningly dominant cultural narrative about Indigenous fathers as drunk, neglectful, and dismissive.

There was public outcry after the cartoon was published, but Leak’s central conceit still made it into a national newspaper and was roundly defended by its creator and the publisher. Australia can be damningly, casually racist, particularly when its white population is allowed to speak – with authority – for other cultures.

All the more reason to get along to Which Way Home, Katie Beckett’s 2016 father-daughter road-trip play, having its Sydney premiere at Belvoir for Sydney FestivalREAD MORE

Mother’s Ruin: a cabaret about gin & women, my two favourite things (Time Out Sydney)

I gave it five stars.

image“If you don’t think a cabaret that quotes 18th century lawmakers can be hot as fuck, then you haven’t seen Mother’s Ruin: A Cabaret about Gin.

Gin is one the most politicised drinks in the world: Government-sanctioned propaganda blamed it for British madness and destruction, and its most common mixer, tonic water (which contains the malaria remedy quinine), was used as both a weapon and tool of African colonisation.

But gin’s history is also closely tied to women’s rights. It wasn’t men that were driven to madness and infanticide in the famous ‘Gin Lane’ print that helped usher in the Gin Act, curbing the drinking of the English poor. The men were all over in the accompanying ‘Beer Street,’ perfectly healthy and happy. It was the women who were depicted as ill, mad and lost to gin.

Society has never liked a woman who drinks…”READ MORE

Prize Fighter is an essential new Australian play (aussietheatre)

32054905041_da31aee271_z-350x219Every minute of Prize Fighter, the acclaimed playwrighting debut by Future D. Fidel, is essential.  At only 65 minutes in length the play, now at Belvoir after a strong season at Brisbane Festival, is a fight for life.

Isa (Pacharo Mzembe), a refugee newly settled in Australia, is a boxer training for a national title and Bill Haylock’s set keeps us perpetually in the boxing ring, no matter where we are – training, fighting, or back in the Congo, where the horrors of Isa’s past are never too far from his mind. With money and a title finally under his belt, Isa will be secure in Australia; then he can really focus on finding his brother, from whom he was separated as a child…. READ MORE

Cheek by Jowl/Pushkin Measure for Measure: interesting, but a play we should all retire (Time Out Sydney)

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“…With its punitive views on women’s sexual life and morals without nuance, Measure for Measure seems like it’s missing the essential complexities of modern life and a bad fit for contemporary programming.

But it’s easy to understand why Sydney Festival artistic director Wesley Enoch would bring this show to Australia for his first festival season – it’s a deconstruction and reinvention of a classical work that is not entirely dissimilar to the adaptive spirit in Australian theatre practice, with elements of physical theatre, dance, and black comedy that are both challenging and familiar. There’s an elegance to this pared down work: its 110-minute running time moves quickly even without an interval, and the beginning of the piece, which sets up the political dynamics of the play and the world in which it takes place through silence and movement, is clever and striking…. READ MORE 

Ladies in Black means well but isn’t a good musical (The Guardian)

5760Mid-century Australia: a time when men were gruff, women could work (but only until they had children, and forget about going to university), and post-war European immigrants and refugees were finding new homes, and new ways of life, in the antipodes.

And, of course, people across New South Wales would flock to Sydney for a proper shop at David Jones in the CBD, with its marble staircase and staff of chic women dressed in black.

This is the essential DNA of Ladies in Black, a new musical by Carolyn Burns and Tim Finn based on Madeleine St John’s 1993 novel The Women in Black. A study of the women working in Ladies’ Cocktail Gowns at the fictional Goode’s department store, it’s a staunchly Australian musical with Aussie accents, a few ‘strewths’, and punchlines about escaping your troubles in Wagga… READ MORE

There’s no room for cultural cringe in Nick Enright’s Summer Rain (Time Out Sydney)

image-3It’s a wonderful musical theatre story, full of songs that capture something ineffable and essential about country Australia. But it’s hard to decide if these are reasons are enough to see New Theatre’s roughshod and strangely lifeless production, directed by Trent Kidd.

While the second act is in much better shape than the first – its funny moments actually land, though the show’s more serious moments still get short shrift – the damage done in Act One can’t really be undone (especially not for the people I saw leaving at interval).

Kidd seems to be fighting a battle against the show’s embrace of the real and recognisable; his actors treat bush slang like it’s an exotic language, and though the lines are written with a natural ease, they feel tortured in the ensemble members’ mouths. There’s no room for cultural cringe in Summer Rain, but it’s everywhere in this production…. READ MORE