Sunday, 18 February 2018

Strangers In Between






Wil King and Guy Simon in Strangers in Between 

STRANGERS IN BETWEEN
THE REGINALD , THE SEYMOUR CENTRE  FEBRUARY 2018
Part of the Mardi Gras festival this play by Tommy Murphy as beautifully directed by Daniel Lammin showcases an extraordinary cast .
Tommy Murphy's gay coming-of-age play was written over ten years ago , and before perhaps his best known work Holding the Man.His most recent play is Mark Colvin’s Kidney which premiered last year. Strangers in Between has recently been revived in London and although much has changed since the play's premiere, it is still extremely relevant reminding us of the major  challenges and harassment that can be experienced by LBGTI youth . It is a delightful mix of wisdom and naivety not often seen in portrayals of gay life.  
The minimalist set design by Abbie-Lea Hough consists of plain walls , a glittering nightclub like silver fringed curtain and a bathtub. Lighting design by Rob Sowinski is most atmospheric and effective.
Strangers in Between follows Shane (Wil King), a naïve young man who has fled to Sydney from a rural town , away from his family’s rejection and the threat of homophobic violence , and ended up in King’s Cross. Shane discovers a new totally different world where he is free and feels safe and accepted .
In Kings Cross, Shane, naïve , edgy and impractical , encounters two men – Peter and Will-  who will mentor and look after him ( how to use the laundromat , where to buy coathangers and what sort of wine chardonnay is for example , let alone how to use the till and organise change at the bottleshop where he has a job) .
It is a splendid ‘three- hander’  tremendously acted ,which is vibrant very poignant and moving and with some witty dialogue. The characters have great depth and there are unexpected twists.

Shane encounters the handsome , but emotionally rather icy and aloof  young Will, ( Guy Simon) , a work colleague of  his and from whom Shane catches a sexually transmitted disease.
We also meet the older Peter, ( Simon Burke) who is kind , generous , accomplished , sardonically witty and he avuncularly decides to look after Shane. We see Peter’s compassion and yet fragile vulnerability. Burke is splendid in the role and just when one begins to question his motives and actions Burke uncovers a sensitivity created by a past of hidden regret and ache in a beautifully nuanced , elegant performance .
The tone of the second half is darker as Shane has to confront his harsh , rigid , homophobic , vicious brother Ben , insistently menacing , their shared fractured past and his medical condition. The simple addition of a red checked shirt delineates the difference between Will and Ben and Guy Simon is terrific as both .
Will King as Shane shines – he is endearing , puppyishly energetic and enthusiastic , combines apprehension and invigorating wide eyed innocence  , boyishly charming , sixteen claiming to be  nineteen and one minute asking about refrigerating honey and the next most awkward , embarrassing , intimate ,questions about sex all with a desire for life and experience that is so typical of adolescence. The scenes between Shane and Peter are very moving .
Wild funny and tender this is a magnificent production that captures the search for belonging and the story remains relevant and sparkling.
Running time – 2 hours including interval
Strangers In Between by Tommy Murphy is at the Reginald  at the Seymour Centre 14February  - 2 March 2018

Director: Daniel Lammin
Producer: Cameron Lukey
Co-Producer: Andy Johnston
Cast  Simon Burke  Wil King and Guy Simon

Friday, 9 February 2018

Alice In Wonderland at Parramatta


This was brilliant!  Loved it



http://performing.artshub.com.au/news-article/reviews/performing-arts/lynne-lancaster/alice-in-wonderland-255028

LYNNE LANCASTER

A wonderful contemporary Australian reworking of the much loved classic – joyously adapted and updated.
Alice in Wonderland
Image: Alice in Wonderland at Sydney Festival 2018. Photo by Clare Hawley.
Don’t miss this marvellously contemporary reworked version of Alice in Wonderland as part of Sydney Festival at Riverside Theatres Parramatta. It’s not just for children (although, yes, they were enthralled) it’s also for adults who were giggling at the wry wit, and warm humour of the play. Alice in Wonderland is not only a whole lot of fun, it also has an important message for young people – about following your dreams.
Darwin-based playwright Mary Anne Butler has adapted the 150-year-old Lewis Carroll classic and made it Australian. It's contemporary yet respects the original text. Words and phrases like ‘existential crisis’ and ‘DNA’ are placed in context within the dialogue, in a way which doesn’t feel patronising to the children in the audience.
The production is excellently directed by Cristabel Sved and led by Dubs Yunupingu as Alice – the first time the role has been played by an Indigenous woman, while the small cast of four energetically and enthusiastically bring Wonderland to life, incorporating straight drama, puppetry and dance.
Melanie Liertz’s set design – a children’s playground in heightened colours, parts of which shift and revolve – is bright and bold. The playground also allows for playful depiction of familiar story elements, such as Alice following the White Rabbit ‘down the rabbit hole’ by sliding on a blue slippery-dip. Costumes and props are extremely detailed.
Steve Toulmin’s vibrant soundtrack includes bells and chimes as well as foley effects. Matt Cox’s lighting is complementary and most effective. 
The feisty Yunupingu is magnificent as Alice, a girl who just wants to play AFL but is hampered by the boys’ reactions (and those of the coach) and having to deal with the frustrations of society’s gender expectations. There’s a soft toy white rabbit lying lonely and melancholy on the floor when Alice enters the room, but she is oblivious – she is busy being annoyed by her long hair ribbon and restricting yet elegant outfit. She can’t even raise her arms properly because the jacket is too tight. The rabbit enchantingly comes alive, steals her hair ribbon and entices her into an exuberant, magical world of constant change and delightful interpretation.
At times Alice delivers monologues, speaking directly to the audience and calling for their support while experiencing her adventures. At other times she is confused ad bewildered. As the story unfolds we follow her change from a rather unhappy girl to a far more self-confident person – no longer neat and in shorts rather than a dress.  
The ensemble have a wonderful rapport and Alex Packard, Ebony Vagulans and Drew Wilson, who play all the other characters, all have their scene stealing shining moments. Packard as the dancing White Rabbit who wants to be the first Rabbit Ballerina is joyously captivating. Wilson’s dramatic menacing Queen of Hearts, bold in red and with a flamingo umbrella, challenges our traditional expectations of the role, and his little sleepy Dormouse is extremely cute. Vagulans’ spaced out and philosophical Caterpillar is terrific.
The grinning Cheshire Cat is represented by various floating, separated, illuminated parts and glowing claws. The Mad Hatter (here with a green and gold hat) is pompous, abrupt and rather bad mannered, peppering Alice with riddles and not allowing her enough time to answer at the tea party. Some of the roles are delineated by eye-catching headgear constructed of geometric sculptures. I especially enjoyed the colourful geometric butterflies and the duck.
The central sustained visual metaphor throughout the show, which Butler and Sved emphasise, is Alice’s sudden changes in size after consuming the various magical ‘eat me’ and ‘drink me’ props, ranging from potions in a plastic water bottle to yummy chocolate that grows on a tree. These delectable mutations represent an examination of Alice’s own awkwardness and feelings of change as she tries to integrate society’s imposed ‘proper’ standards and ideas as to how a girl ‘should‘ behave. Her socially imposed prim and proper femininity is juxtaposed with her dreams of playing AFL.
The changes in size are delightfully shown through creative stagecraft. When Alice becomes tiny, there is puppeteering of charming little dolls of Alice and other ‘small’ characters, such as the mouse unfortunately caught up in the flood of Alice’s tears. In the beginning, when Alice changes and grows larger the effect is achieved via simple manipulations of her clothes to appear too small; when she eventually becomes truly gigantic this is indicated by using long collapsible ducting tubes in the same pattern as her original stockings, attached to giant oversized sneakers, thus creating the appearance of enormous stilt-like legs.
A contemporary and local version of Alice in Wonderland with an Australian twist – this is excellent family fare and the adults will love it too. It also makes you think. Go on, treat yourself. Can you believe six impossible things before breakfast?
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Alice In Wonderland
Executive Producer: Michael Sieders
Adapted by Mary Anne Butler
Director: Cristabel Sved
Production Designer: Melanie Liertz
Sound Designer/Composer: Steve Toulmin
Lighting Designer: Matt Cox
Production Manager: Damion Holling
With Dubs Yunupingu as Alice, Alex Packard, Ebony Vagulans and Drew Wilson
Parramatta Riverside
5-27 January 2018 as part of Sydney Festival
FIRST PUBLISHED ON 

Tripelpunkt



http://www.sydneyartsguide.com.au/tripelpunkt-2/





TRIPELPUNKT: BONNIE CURTIS PRODUCTIONS IN ANNANDALE


Bonnie Curtis Projects have just brought us TRIPELPUNKT their latest production at Annandale Creative Arts Centre. It is a triple bill which includes a reworked version of Girls Girls Girls which was premiered last year.
Is This Making Scents?, the haunting and hypnotic opening work , choreographed by Kara Peake, is an exploration into the effects that scent can have on the mind and body. It has a cast of four who are on stage and already in action as we enter. The church like atmosphere of the venue is retained – two rows of candles create an aisle, the audience is in chairs or cushions either side. It begins in silence with the quartet of dancers on the bare stage curling /unfolding their arms like meditative priestesses of some ancient ritual .
The dancers are in flared black trousers with side splits and wear green tops. Peake’s choreography ebbs and flows, with sinuous entwinings and a sculptural line. At one point the dancers engage the audience by scattering rose petals.There are sculptural held balances and intriguing partnering ( the quartet split into two pairs , sometimes mirroring the choreography in unison ) and rolling floorwork. There are some demanding lifts and intriguing partnering and a sense that one of the four is an outsider who has become transformed.  Very effective use is made of shadows.
Next came Vogelsang created by Bonnie Curtis with a barefoot cast of nine. It pupports to examine how females connect/disconnect with their bodies, other bodies and the space around them? How does the process of a lead to the destruction and transformation of this connection/disconnection? The relationships between bodies and space form, evolve, disintegrate and transform .
The cast wore black leggings with green , blue , white or black tops . At some points there was fascinating use of shadows and the lighting was most atmospheric at one point a glorious orange -gold wash .  Choreographically the work was demanding and included ensemble sculptural writhing , slow elegant falls , balletic crossed hands ,difficult lifts and interweaving duos and trios .
After interval came the reworked version of Girls Girls Girls , which explores the experiences of modern Australian women, parading their deepest, darkest thoughts and insecurities on stage. While providing a detailed intimate and personal experience, the lines between audience and performer are blurred as the work examines body image and self worth of women today.
Our MC was Melinda Penna . As we took our seats in the reconfigured space, the audience discovered the cast in assorted positions in the auditorium and were invited to drape them in various items as found in bags at the entrance. The cast became animated soft sculptures, with scarves, glasses, hats , a horse head mask and other assorted elements of clothing . Under all this the cast wore pink long sleeve tops, pink stockings with garters and short shiny purple skirts. Completing the ensemble were frilly underwear and a pink jewelled collar.
The cast eventually rose and moved onstage in slo mo, to pulsating throbbing electric ‘underwater’ music, removing most of the items which the audience had draped them with.A sequence followed on the allure of the hidden with a sinuous, exotic duet. Four dancers are ‘caught’ in an overlay of pink stretchy fabric and have rolling floorwork .  They are haunted by what seems to be a bride who has been driven from the group , her oversized tissue becoming the veil of her outfit cloaking her costume.
Other highlights included Kara Peake, wearing a doll like mask, in a solo commenting on body image where she frantically blew up balloons as breast implants ( to ‘In the Hall of the Mountain King’ by Edvard Grieg ) which was then followed by the other dancers doing the same – to ‘Ne Me Quitte Pas’ ( If You Go Away)’ , the balloons at times like cigarettes .
This led to a mock fashion shoot with photographer, people holding fans, dancers taking selfies etc …which culminated in the return of our emcee and the ‘ beauty pageant’ section with each of the dancers in character ( for example a surfer babe ,a vegan) answering various questions.
The evening concluded with the winner of the lucky door prize raffle being ‘married’ by Penna to one of the contestants and then, to an edited version of Satisfaction by Benny Benassi, a brash cheeky, sexy, strutting finale where the dancers posed in tableaux at the end unhappily pulling at their bare midriffs implying that they consider they are too fat- which they are not!
Bonnie Curtis Projects [Facebook] in Tripelpunkt  played at the Annandale Creative Arts Centre,  2-4 February 2018.

Sorting Out Rachel at the Ensemble



Here's my thoughts for Artshub


http://performing.artshub.com.au/news-article/reviews/performing-arts/lynne-lancaster/sorting-out-rachel-255100

YNNE LANCASTER

A searing analysis of family relationships.
Sorting Out Rachel
Image: Natalie Saleeba and Chenoa Deemal in Sorting Out Rachel, Photo (c) Heidrun Lohr.
Sorting Out Rachel is the latest play by iconic Australian playwright David Williamson. In this world premiere production, Williamson once again reminds us of his reputation as one of Australia’s most masterful storytellers. In this play he provides us with incisive and witty text commenting on society. He delves into issues such as families; legacy; hidden relationships; entitlement, and making reparation with previous relationships.
On one level, Sorting Out Rachel is a moving, acerbic and very contemporary analysis of intense, intimate family dealings. Other big issues also loom and could possibly cause chaos as Sorting Out Rachel examines belonging and privilege, unacknowledged guilt, separation and disparity.
Tobhiyah Stone Feller’s set design is simple elegant and fluid, including some wonderful atmospheric video and accompanied by Christopher Page‘s wonderful lighting. The set is basically a grey household wall with two doors and assorted props (photos, chairs, the rug on the floor and the like).The disparity between the various elements in Bruce’s family’s lives is perhaps indicated by the way the major upper part of the wall is decorative and expensive looking while there is plain grey below the white rail.
Image: John Howard and Chenoa Deemal in Sorting Out Rachel. Photo (c) Heidrun Lohr.
When the play begins the first person we meet is Tess (Chenoa Deemal) waiting impatiently at a waterside café. The person she is expecting is late. Just as she becomes fed up and is about to leave, Bruce (John Howard) arrives. He is gruff and jovial but Tess has organised the meeting to raise important issues and will not be discouraged. 
Bruce is Tess’ father, he supports her (to a certain extent) but does not acknowledge her. Tess is the daughter of Bruce’s abruptly ended, long term, secret liaison with Tess' mother Amy, a Murri woman who ran his household. What Tess demands from the now widowed Bruce, and her hard-line stance on it, will impact not only this millionaire’s life but that of his other, acknowledged daughter Julie (Natalie Saleeba) and her family. Particularly Bruce’s granddaughter, Rachel, who is roughly the same age as Tess. Tess also therefore becomes the springboard for Bruce to ponder his enormous wealth as a chance to do good for the community and also helps us consider the many layers of the cultural divide we confront.
Jenna Owen as Rachel is an explosive teenager – stressed out, perhaps overly histrionic and intense as she completes the HSC. We can see some of her parent’s mannerisms (Julie’s stance, Craig’s rather wacky sense of humour) and also Bruce’s mannerisms in her. She is also excellent at manipulating her parents to get what she wants.
Image: Natalie Saleeba, Jenna Owen and Glenn Hazeldine in Sorting Out Rachel.Photo (c) Heidrun Lohr. 
John Howard plays Bruce with assured command. Bruce’s thoughts begin to turn to his stressed daughter Julie, her social climbing husband Craig (Glenn Hazeldine) and his granddaughter Rachel who takes after him quite a bit. We see Bruce’s narcissism – his blustering ruthlessness and financial savvy that made him a fine business tycoon interposed with some of the regrets he now has as he ages.
Natalie Saleeba is terrific as stressed Julie, played with enormous grace as she finds her inner strength and deals with her wayward daughter. She feels she is a terrible mum and has a great unnecessary feeling of guilt. As Julie, Saleeba emotionally travels the biggest arc of the play and her transformation when it eventually occurs is greeted by cheers and applause. Julie accepts advice from Bruce to deal not just with Rachel but the problems of her marriage.
Glenn Hazeldine as Craig is suave, charming with an oily veneer and unscrupulous yet forgivable. He is a bit of a dreamer and always seems to have schemes that are far too obvious, yet he is always ready to twist situations to the best advantage for himself.
Image: John Howard, Natalie Saleeba and Glenn Hazeldine in Sorting Out Rachel. Photo (c) Heidrun Lohr.
Given the enormous amount of money involved, Sorting Out Rachel is not an ordinary Australian story. The intense scenes depicting fracturing relationships, where family members plot and scheme over the massive inheritance would echo with many.
It is also a ‘father knows best’ story where Bruce intercedes in his daughter Julie's life, and manages to turn it around. There are many issues and layers giving the audience plenty to pause on and consider.
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Sorting Out Rachel
By David Williamson
Ensemble Theatre 19 January -17 March 2018
Playwright David Williamson
Director Nadia Tass
Cast includes Chenoa Deemal Glenn Hazeldine John Howard Jenna Owen Natalie Saleeba

Cella at Carriageworks


A most intriguing performance


http://dancemagazine.com.au/2018/01/at-sydney-festival-cella-looks-at-wonder-of-the-human-body/


Carriageworks, Sydney. 
18 January 2018.
Eloquently, elegantly and passionately performed, Cella is haunting, powerful and hypnotic. The work, intricate and fluid, is based on the concept of the cell, the dancers at times splitting and performing in unison, at others glowing in astonishing solos. Cella focuses on biology and the extraordinary human body, and the boundaries are unclear. 
'Cella'. Photo by Prudence Upton.
‘Cella’. Photo by Prudence Upton.
Music by Huey Benjamin acts as a counterpoint to the movement, and there is striking, glowing, atmospheric lighting by Karen Norris, which at one point is blinding but mostly delicate and subtle. At times, there is lots of theatrical haze and the most effective use of silhouette. 
As we enter, Narelle Benjamin and Paul White are slowly rolling and exploring space on the floor. Both Benjamin and White are luminaries of the Australian dance world. Benjamin is a multi award-winning choreographer with a special interest in the perceptiveness of her body. White has been based in Germany since 2011, where he’s been performing with Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch, one of the world’s most influential dance companies. In 2017, Cella had its first developmental showing in Germany. Both dancers are in casual clothes and barefoot. Their bodies sculpturally arch like felines as they move. We see how their bodies create and form writhing patterns, blending and separating in and out of symmetry and unison as they circle. 
'Cella'. Photo by Prudence Upton.
‘Cella’. Photo by Prudence Upton.
Benjamin and White both feature in brief but astonishing solos and display great physical stamina. Undulating, rippling arms are contrasted with fractured, ballet-like port des bras and sharply bent elbows. There is a sequence where both dancers have crossed legs and beautifully flexed feet, perhaps evoking merpeople.     
Supple backbends and headstands are included, as is a concentration on the Graham-like use of rise and fall and attention to the transfer of the weight of a foot.
'Cella'. Photo by Prudence Upton.
‘Cella’. Photo by Prudence Upton.
Benjamin has a contortionist-like solo drawing on her yoga background. Her petite form apparently defies gravity and how the body usually works, appearing almost to turn inside out. She also climbs and entwines around White’s tall, well built muscular form.
White has a rippling solo, almost as if he is Adam breathing life into Benjamin. Their intimate pas de deux is dazzling. They create complex intersecting images, enfolding, joining together and separating.
'Cella'. Photo by Prudence Upton.
‘Cella’. Photo by Prudence Upton.
At one point, White paints Benjamin’s arms in blue ink; toward the end of the performance, she paints his body, emphasising all the various veins and muscles.
Cella is a mediation on the wonder of the human body and natural forms.  
By Lynne Lancaster of Dance Informa.

Backbone



This was amazing with a full house standing screaming ovation at the end 


http://www.sydneyartsguide.com.au/backbone-riverside-parramatta/

BACKBONE: RIVERSIDE THEATRES PARRAMATTA

Adelaide-based Gravity & Other Myths is directed by Darcy Grantand stuns in their new show BACKBONE at Riverside Theatres Parramatta, a mesmerizing blend of physical theatre/circus /acrobatics . It is a virtuoso performance of rigorous discipline , super-elite physical acrobatics . The company has been previously nominated for Helpmann awards.
There is a hugely warm ensemble feel yet a lot of it has a trancelike contemplative feel : the ‘Zen of circus’ perhaps ?  The cast use buckets to spread earth – not just on stage but pour it on particular ensemble members.  At times I was perhaps reminded of Cloudgate Dance or possibly Pina Bausch company performances . There are also sections with long poles and martial arts like moves.  Humour is also included (the funny dancing Knight in armour for example).
There is no set as such , the stage is stripped back to the walls. The futuristic atmospheric lighting by Geoff Cobham is magnificent , with haze and diagonal shafts of light for example. The music as performed live by Elliot Zoerner & Shenton Gregory includes everything from romantic piano and percussion to throbs ,humms and burbles adding counterpoint to the action.
The curtain rises to reveal stillness and silence on stage.  All the props costumes and cast are laid out ready to spring into action . As their first scene the cast enthusiastically assemble the set , shifting clothes racks etc. Costumes are mostly assorted comfortable casual wear , the suit of armour quite incongruous (and requiring much strength to wear it).
BACKBONE is about almost superhuman fluidity, flexibility and strength . From acts of demanding precision ,agility and strength the show proceeds in various vignettes to competitions and displays that test the performers strength and endurance. There are almost impossible feats of twisty tumbling and pyramid balancing as well as trapeze like jumps ,throws and catches. One cast member balances for an entire scene, another remains holding his arm out for the length of a different scene.
Highlights include a sequence where one of the cast – Jascha Boyce in a grey suit – holding a rock , staring intently at the audience , is passed around the ensemble , seeming oblivious while performing various acrobatic feats.
Mieke Lizotte has a balancing sequence and at one point it is as if she is a dead warrior or gladiator draped on the poles . There is a sequence where almost all the ensemble form a human pyramid , wearing the buckets over their heads. The choreography includes Martian arts/ capoeira, the reverse caterpillar and flying drop kicks, which while defensive and dangerous are performed with warmth and joy . There are no harnesses or safety nets so the sense of possible danger has us on the edge of our seats at times and sometimes you shake your head and blink going did they actually just really manage to do that ?
The final scene is an act of endurance the ensemble stand in a line competing to see who can hold a stone in front of them the longest . BACKBONE shows us the freedom of strength and agility and the dazzling beauty of the extra fit human body performing almost impossible feats.
BACKBONE  runs at Riverside Theatres Parramatta 16-21 January 2018 as part of the Sydney Festival.
Acrobats: Martin Schreiber, Lachlan Binns, Jascha Boyce, Jacob Randell, Lewie West, Lewis Rankin, Joanne Curry, Lachlan Harper, Jackson Manson, Mieke Lizotte '
Musicians/Composers : Elliot Zoerner & Shenton Gregory 
Director: Darcy Grant 
Stage & Lighting Designer: Geoff Cobham 
Producer: Craig Harrison 
Creative Associate: Triton Tunis‐Mitchell





The Daisy Theatre

A fabulous performance here's my thoughts for Artshub


http://performing.artshub.com.au/news-article/reviews/performing-arts/lynne-lancaster/the-daisy-theatre-255038



LYNNE LANCASTER

Puppetry with existential angst; not for the easily offended but incredibly moving and powerful.
The Daisy Theatre
Photo credit: Prudence Upton
Canadian puppet maestro Ronnie Burkett had the opening night audience eating out of his hand with his extraordinary production, The Daisy Theatre, as part of Sydney Festival.
Burkett has been running his Theatre of Marionettes for 30 years, performing all the puppetry and voices himself. In The Daisy Theatre no two performances are the same, as some 40 characters lurk backstage: a ramshackle cast of assorted drunks, loudmouths, misfits, various faded divas and artistes of dubious repute, who appear according to Burkett’s whim and the atmosphere of each performance. (At one point the audience gets to choose which of three divas makes an appearance in the spotlight.)
Burkett’s attention to detail is astonishing, his skill incredible. At first The Daisy Theatre has a somewhat cursory, improvised feel that hides the sensational talent and smooth scripting underpinning the show. There are lots of references to vaudeville and some of the vignettes parody opera, music hall, Las Vegas and French cabaret. At times we forget Burkett is there because the puppet characters are so alive.
The production itself unfolds in a series of entrancing vignettes. One of the main characters is the enchanting, wingless fairy child, Schnitzel, who is accompanied by an abusive minder called Fritz. Fritz and Schnitzel have a discussion about left/right politics but all Schnitzel wants is his wings back.
A highlight comes when Schnitzel climbs the curtain (enthusiastically cheered on by the audience) to confront Burkett about his Creator-like bias and request his wings back. The audience sighs in empathy when poor Schnitzel is cruelly regarded by Burkett. Schnitzel’s appearance at the end brings everything full circle and his closing monologue is full of exquisite pathos.
Dressed in a stunning white and silver Erte-like outfit, Miss Esmee Massengill is an aging theatrical diva who insists the audience cheer, stomp and whistle when she makes her appearance (we do, most enthusiastically). She naughtily performs on the bare chest of one of the volunteers as well as demanding mouth to mouth.
Other characters include the foul mouthed Rosemary Focaccia, a frenetic, Italian-American lounge singer with a gravelly and smouldering voice; Randy Rivers, with her smoky jazz vocals; and the vibrant Woody Linden, a ventriloquist’s dummy, whose eyes can no longer move because his almost expired human companion, Meyer Lemon, can’t move all his fingers anymore. When Meyer falls asleep, poor Woody has an existential crisis – is there life for him after Meyer? What is he going to do if Meyer dies?
Also featured is an overlong, somewhat rambling monologue by Mrs Edna Rural, an aging farmwife from Turnip Corners, and Jesus Christ Himself even makes an appearance that may or may not constitute the Second Coming. He provides a witty if risqué line of Jewish humour, including the fact that he ‘hates Easter with a passion,’ and delivering the 11th Commandment: ‘Don’t be an arsehole’.
Costumes – especially those of the divas – are glorious and incredibly detailed, dripping with fringes, boas and pearls. Some of the most astonishing puppetry occurs when Burkett’s characters manipulate other items – like burlesque artist Miss Polly Wiggler raunchily disrobing, or another character using a Zimmer frame. Audience participation is also featured, with a couple of audience members conscripted as ‘volunteers’ to help with two of the acts.
Parts of the show are bawdy and risqué and could potentially be regarded as offensive by the sensitive; certainly there is plenty of strong language, as befitting certain characters. However, the satirical production is a superb mix of the dark and bleak combined with the lyrical and poignant; an examination of the philosophy of life and art and the magic of the theatre.
This is a thought provoking, revue-style production, not a ‘traditional’ puppet show, and while certainly not for children it is incredibly moving and powerful.
4 ½ stars out of 5
The Daisy Theatre 
Ronnie Burkett Theatre of Marionettes
Marionette, Costume and Set Design by Ronnie Burkett
Music and Lyrics and Sound Design by John Alcorn
Production Manager & Artistic Associate: Terri Gillis
Stage Manager: Crystal Salverda 
Associate Producer: John Lambert
Marionettes built by Ronnie Burkett
Costumes: Kim Crossley
Puppet Builders: Angela Talbot, Gemma James-Smith, Marcus Jamin, Jesse Byiers, with Gil Garratt and Martin Herbert
Shoes and Accessories: Robin Fisher & Camellia Koo
Marionette Controls: Luman Coad
Majordomos: Robbie Buttinski & Daisy Padunkles
Running time: Up to two hours

The Reginald at The Seymour Centre
13-27 January 2018 as part of Sydney Festival