Monday, 22 August 2011

Lizard On A Brick

A short poem I have just writen

A small,curved
Thin line of dappled black on silver calligraphic ink
It poses momentarily on the hot brick
You can see it breathe in and out
Admire its long sinuous neck , the knobby gripping toes
A sudden tail flip
And in the blink of an eye
It vanishes between the cracks .

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Blood Wedding

I reviewed this for artshub as well

Blood Wedding

By Lynne Lancaster ArtsHub | Saturday, August 13, 2011
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Photo: Brett Boardman  
Blood, love, destiny and death are central to this gripping, passionate production, directed by Ian Sinclair and drawing heavily on what Lorca called ‘duende’ (the dance with death).
A very handsome young man (The Groom – Kenneth Spiteri) announces his intention to marry. His intended (The Bride – Sophie Ross) is good, modest and hardworking, so why does her name feel like a rock in his mother’s face? Why is she plagued by a feeling of anxiety and foreboding? Was there a past between The Bride and the dashing Leonardo (Yalin Ozucelik) who is now married?
Entrenched tradition and history throb through this tiny community – the Mother (Leah Purcell) is haunted by ghosts from the past and the would-be bride is tempted by a phantom of her own. Hidden wounds, and secrets and regrets from the past are unearthed in this intense tale of thwarted love, desire and heartbreak. We see the explosive results of repressed passion and how society has the power to stifle individuality and love, with an overwhelming emphasis on honour and the family name.
The setting is still very much Lorca’s hot, dusty AndalucĂ­a – with stirring Flamenco guitar by Andrew Veivers and terrific singing and dancing by the ensemble – but with some Australianisms creeping in and a hint of the Outback.
Written by Lorca in the 1930’s this is part of a trilogy (the other parts being Yerma and The House of Bernada Alba). At times the new translation by Sinclair is extremely fiery, passionate and earthy; at others it soars lyrically in love passages – in yet others it is weirdly Surrealist, especially in the second half. The raw, hoarse passion of Flamenco echoes throughout.
In Act Two, in the strange woodland scenes, sometimes the text soars to mythical, elevated poetry – but I wondered about the somewhat stilted, refined yet oddly staccato delivery of the ominous, masked woodland creatures, and the tense atmosphere of pre-ordained Greek tragedy.
The cast is outstanding, with fabulous ensemble work and fine performances all round, but Leah Purcell dominates as the embittered, grieving, rigid Mother. As her son, the Groom, Spiteri is tremendous and Ross as the Bride is excellent. We see and feel her embarrassment at her first meeting with her prospective mother-in-law when she is inspected like a horse. Holly Fraser’s double role as an young innocent girl and the vampirish, malevolent Moon is terrific. (In her heavily padded and cloaked costume as the Moon she could be mistaken for a Medieval Madonna ). Zindi Okenyo as Leonardo’s unfortunate wife, now trapped in her marriage with one child born and another on the way, is excellent, as is the terrific Lynnette Curran as the Servant/Neighbour/Woodcutter.
Rufus Didwiszus’ set is stark; basically bare and white with some tables and chairs and an insect repellant. The woodland effect in Act Two was marvellous. You can see the Goya and Surrealist influences throughout the show. There are looming shadows in the villagers’ lives, as Damien Cooper’s lighting eerily illustrates.
In Act Two it sometimes felt as if there were two plays, one ‘real life’, the other that of the surrealist woodland creatures, but they merged powerfully. The death and destruction are portrayed in a stylized, ritualistic manner, Kabuki- like, with red thread.
All turns on a small knife “that barely fits in your hand”. A haunting, explosively powerful production that ends on a cry of anguish. As The Mother says “I have a madness that comes from not screaming”.
Rating: Four stars
Blood Wedding
By Federico Garcia Lorca
Translated by Iain Sinclair
Director: Ian Sinclair
Set Designer: Rufus Didwiszus
Lighting Designer: Damien Cooper
Costume Designer: Luke Ede
Composer/Guitarist: Andrew Veivers
With: Danny Adcock, Lynnette Curran, Holly Fraser, Julia Ohannessian, Zindi Okenyo, Yalin Ozucelik, Leah Purcell, Sophie Ross, Toni Scanlan, Kenneth Spiteri
Running time: Two hours 20 (approx) including interval

Songs for Nobodies

I reviewed this fabulous show for artshub .It is AMAZING .

Songs for Nobodies

By Lynne Lancaster ArtsHub | Monday, August 15, 2011
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Photo: Jeff Busby  
Directed by Simon Phillips, this one woman play was written by Australian playwright Joanna Murray-Smith specifically to showcase the extraordinary talent of Bernadette Robinson. It is very funny in parts, with a biting wit (one character describes another as having “the imagination of a paperclip”) but also very poignant and moving.
The premise is the presentation of five wonderful monologues by ‘nobodies’; insignificant women all from different walks of life and nationalities who tell us the stories of their brushes with fame.
There’s the ladies’ cloakroom attendant who fixes Judy Garland’s hem; and an unrecognized singer working as an usher at the theatre when Patsy Cline catapults her onto the stage to perform backing vocals – on the day of Cline’s untimely death. A junior journalist, annoyed at having to write banal, trivial articles, struggles to make her interview with Billie Holliday work. A frightfully prim and proper British librarian tells us about her annual trip to pay homage to Edith Piaf, who saved her then-teenaged father, imprisoned for joining the French resistance. Finally there’s the nanny who dreams of marrying into luxury but realizes that it hasn’t brought Maria Callas much happiness.
Robinson wears a classic ‘little black dress’ with a tailored jacket throughout. The jacket is sometimes draped, removed, shrugged on or held on to, to distinguish between scenes and characters. Each character has their own favourite drink (whiskey, scotch ,tea) and distinctive physicality. A blackout helps separate each monologue as well. But it is Robinson herself whose phenomenal acting and vocal range truly differentiates each character.
She ranges from lilting Irish to sharp American twang, crisp British accent and Parisian French, among others. She segues seamlessly with amazing control, changing tone and accent to bring to life each ‘nobody’ and the beautiful voices of the singers they idolize, from the husky, smoky blues of Billie Holliday (‘Strange Fruit’, ‘Ain’t Nobodies Business If I Do’) to the dark velvet of Callas’s soprano (an aria from ‘Tosca’). Robinson’s Piaf gives you goosebumps (‘Non, je ne regrette rien’) and her Judy Garland (‘Come Rain Come Shine’) and somewhat brighter, lighter sounding Patsy Cline (‘Crazy’) are jaw dropping .
Andrew Bailey’s somewhat art nouveau/art deco set is designed in drab grey. There is a tiny kitchenette on one side, stairs with platforms on the other. A screen (sometimes with images of snow) discreetly hides the fabulous band lead by Ian MacDonald. Special mention must be made of the very cool hot jazz saxophone in the Billie Holliday segment.
Poignant, enthralling and bittersweet, this is mesmerizing, magical theatre. The tumultuous standing ovation at the end was more than richly deserved. See it.
Rating: Four and a half stars
Songs For Nobodies
By Joanna Murray-Smith
Starring Bernadette Robinson
Director: Simon Phillips
Assistant Director: Gary Abrahams
Musical Director: Ian McDonald
Set and Costume Design: Andrew Bailey
Lighting: Kerry Saxby
Sound Design: Tony Love
Presented by Duet Entertainment
A Melbourne Theatre Company Production
Running time: 90 mins (no interval)
Sydney Opera House
August 4 – 19

Friday, 12 August 2011

Windmill Baby - Belvoir Street

Windmill Baby

This great show was reviewed for artshub - here's what I said :  
By Lynne Lancaster ArtsHub | Saturday, August 06, 2011 Email this article
David Milroy’s Windmill Baby – an enchanting, enthralling, one-woman show – is already regarded as an Australian classic. Hugely warm, witty and big hearted, it premiered in Perth in 2005, winning the Patrick White Award and many others. Despite touring internationally, it has never been seen in Sydney, until now.
Maymay, the storyteller of the show, is an aging Aboriginal woman who has returned briefly to her old camp on the cattle station where she once lived. But, as for many Aboriginal men and women, life was not at all easy in those post-war yet pre- referendum days spent working for ‘the boss’ and ‘the missus’ in almost feudal social structures.
As Maymay hangs out the (now bone dry and red earth-stained) washing for ‘the missus’ on the twisted wire clothesline, she chattily remembers the season of love, joy and revenge that tumultuously swept through the outback station, resulting in tragedy and sudden ruin.
Maymay has internalized her thoughts for decades. Now she briefly has the chance to complete all the unfinished business in unfolding tales of courage, spirit, strength, love, tenderness and loss. There is also singing, and an almost dreamlike story of love, pumpkins and potatoes.
Roxanne McDonald (Yibiyung, Parramatta Girls) is brilliant as Maymay in this very demanding solo work. Her sometimes world weary face can be transformed in a flash, transforming from tired and lined to glowing with childlike mischief and delight. She enters quietly in a crushed white a-line dress buttoned down the front, a floral floppy sunhat, and a basket containing water bottle, sandwich and mobile phone. Her 11 characters in the show range from Maymay herself to ‘the boss’ and ‘the missus’; Maymay’s husband Malvern; the crippled gardener, Wunman; various Aboriginal elders; even Skitchem the dog.
In her portrayal of Wunman there is a hint, perhaps, of Olivier’s Richard III, yet his green-fingeredness and prolific veggie garden is symbolic of happiness and life at the mission. The lecherous Skitchem is a hoot. As Maymay says, love does funny things to a woman.
Kylie Farmer (last seen wowing audiences in The Sapphires) makes her magnificent directorial debut in this new Belvoir Downstairs production. The production design is quintessentially Australian, evoking the dusty landscape via a ramshackle collection of bungalows and a station home caught in a long drought. Ruby Langton-Batty’s wonderfully evocative set grabs us from our entrance with the red ochre dust of the Kimberleys, rusty corrugated iron fences, a battered old bed frame, various rusty pails and wash tubs; and a long stick that morphs from a cane to a crutch to a rifle. Very Nolan, or should that be Namatjira?
Christopher Page’s lighting is gloriously atmospheric and the depiction of the rotating windmill is fabulous. When a helicopter flies overhead at one point in the show, we can hear, feel and smell it.
This is a love story about defying society’s conventions, and a story of heroism and tragedy that fails – or does it?
Four stars
Windmill Baby
By David Milroy
Performed by Roxanne McDonald
Directed by Kylie Farmer ( Kaarljilba Kaardn)
Set and Costume Designer: Ruby Langton-Batty
Lighting Designer: Christopher Page
Composer and Sound Designer: Michael Toisuta
Assistant Director: Jada Alberts
Dramaturg: Irma Woods
Running time: 75 mins (approx) no interval
Belvoir Street Theatre, Downstairs
July 28 – August 21