LOVE, LIES & HITLER

Sydney Independent Theatre Company’s Lies, Love & Hitler written by Elizabeth Avery and directed by Rochelle Whyte is a play about sex, politics and religion. A trinity story about Dr. Paul Langley a theologian professor who closely studies the life work of Dietrich Bonhoeffer a priest during WW 2 who helped plot to kill Hitler. Dr Paul Langley slightly mad has conversations with the dead man. Falling in love with one of his students Dr Langley finds himself in a moral Dilemma that creates internal toil and conflict. Bonhoeffer and Langley discuss his options and humanities moral code. What is right and what is wrong? Where does religion fit in all of it, when both are meant to be ambassadors of religious belief and discussion.

Love, Lies & Hitler is a wonderfully intelligent piece of writing. Playwright Elizabeth Avery Scott has written a story with tremendous clarity of thought. An interesting discussion and historical reflection of events side by side with a possible modern day current circumstance. Questions you begin to ask yourself and are asked by director Rochelle Whyte about your own moral standing on public circumstances regarding figure tyrants like Hitler and how your moral compass may decide what you would do if you were these characters is a fun personal exploration. The questions raised are strong and subjective according to ones personal view and belief of the world. Director Rochelle Whyte did well in conveying this bold and meaty play within the small and quaint space of the Old Fitzroy. The immediate stakes of audience responsibility by using us as apart of the story on the get go was a wise choice considering the work is written in a real theological debating matter with a lot to mentally digest. This choice indeed assisted in drawing in the audience to feel very much apart of each step the characters took.

James Scott, playing Langley held himself strongly throughout the production with humour and a continuous feeling of contempt towards himself and his struggles. I enjoyed Scott’s performance and his ability to transition between Langley and his smaller characters.

Doug Chapman, playing Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a wonderful casting choice by Rochelle Whyte. Besides Chapman’s uncanny resemblance to the historical figure his delivery was grounded and naturalistic. A believable figment of Langley’s imagination. A strong performance from both gentlemen.

Ylaria Rogers, played Hannah/Hermione. Rogers interpretation of Hannah (Langley’s student love interest) was direct and precise, though a humorous performance when needed I felt Rogers stakes were a lot higher being the only female part of this trinity performance and therefore the expectation also was higher. Rogers characters naturally have a very different emotional current to that of her male co stars. Therefore I would have liked to have seen more light and shade in her performance. There were many an occasion where the tone of the writing clearly had changed but Rogers did not change with that tone. The relationship between Hannah and Langley and their mutual visions of Bonhoffer felt like the DNA double helix and I was wishing to see this manifest continuously throughout their journey but felt a lack of contrast from Rogers performance which at times came across a little abrupt and thin.

Overall the cast and crew came together to create a beautiful piece of interesting and compelling work of theatre they should all be proud of. The passion was not lacking, and the commitment to the art form was honouring. Lies, Love & Hitler is a marvellous theatrical encounter that is designed to be discussed afterwards over a red wine late into the night. Reminding us that right and wrong is in the eye of the beholder, and it’s not always as black & white, nor are the answers to life’s questions and struggles as easy to conclude.

Lies, Love & Hitler runs until May 3rd. Get a ticket and a bite to eat at the Old Fitzroy don’t miss out.

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STRICTLY WONDERFUL – a love note

Strictly Ballroom had its opening night last night, an audience filled with local and international Australian celebrities, familiar faces and critics alike. Just like any opening night there was buzz and excitement and an anticipation in the air so thick you could cut it with a knife.
Strictly Ballroom the musical as I predicted in my preview review is show ready on the night of opening. Baz’s directional choices in cutting micro scenes and tightening up the show with significant use of both lighting and musical adjustments has made an already great show near perfection in its execution.

In my opinion Strictly Ballroom the musical is Baz Luhrmanns bravest feat creatively since Romeo & Juliet and his most passion infused work since Moulin Rouge.

I say brave because premiering a new musical in Sydney to a Sydney audience is always a brave and risky venture. One who watches Sydney audiences very intently when I review theatre has noted it can often take a lot of convincing to engage an audience, to captivate them like a good movie, football match or cricket game naturally tends to do to Australian audiences. It never ceases to amaze me that Australian spectators watching sport have no fear of responding passionately to their cherished teams with very little thought of what others around them may think. But in the theatre a standing ovation when very much deserved is like pulling teeth. And people’s fear of being judged by other patrons often over rides their will to provide the accolade a show deserves. In saying that Strictly has had its share of standing ovations all through previews!

Baz having his name and reputation as one of, if not Australia’s most successful artists and creative visionaries of course helps. The work though speaks for itself with his reputation continuing to shine through the making of this once little NIDA project that has continued to wow and excite viewers as much now as it did back then.

Opening night met expectation, the energy and the passion from the talented cast was tangible and transferred from the stage to the audience like a love story unfolding between Baz’s vision and his audience. This production feels like a love song and like any romantic gesture if rejected the loss and fail is the potential receivers and not the givers. Depth is found when two are to rumba not just one.

Being a theatre lover, enthusiast and advocate for the craft (and a romantic) I accepted this love note and allowed it to consume my theatrical heart allowing it to overwhelm me like love does. As in the previews the highlight production number for me is still ‘I Can Fly’ Thomas Lacey tears up the stage with both his dancing and his passion assisted so powerfully musically. When the anticipated signature song ‘Love is in the Air’ starts (placed and used with genius I must say) causes a collective out pouring of returned romance from the audiences nostalgic framed expectations with open arms. Phoebe Panaretos and Thomas Lacey sealing the deal with a kiss that this is one of Australia’s iconic love stories that needs to be celebrated, respected and seen.

Like any romance you only get what you give! Every single member of the cast leads give it their all! Go see Strictly Ballroom with an open heart and you will find that love truly is in the air. A true blue Australian romantic comedy retold as it should be on stage.

To Baz, CM and the Strictly creative team you are “visionaries, visionaries”

With love Stevie Zipper

Showing at the Sydney Lyric Theatre until the 29th of June get your tickets from ticketmaster or at the venue.

REGINALD 2014 LAUNCH

Being invited to the launch of the 4th year of Reginald’s 2014 season was a real thrill. I felt like a kid waiting for Santa to open his present sack. Amongst the cheese boards and flowing champagne was a room full of esteemed colleagues and theatre enthusiasts. I was very honoured to be in the same room as them. The short but sweet reveal of the season excited my senses. I can not express my delight enough to be soon experiencing them all. Presented were both established and new works The Reginald this year is a smorgasbord of delicious varied productions. Keep an eye out and get your tickets for the below chosen few! All in association with the Seymour Theatre are as follows:

Sport for Jove present
A DOLL’S HOUSE by Henrik Ibsen
http://www.seymourcentre.com/events/event/a-dolls-house/

The Theatre Division present
RUTHLESS the musical
http://www.seymourcentre.com/events/event/ruthless/

Slip of the Tongue present
EUROPE by Micheal Gow
http://www.seymourcentre.com/events/event/europe/

Cry Havoc present
ROSALINE
by Joanna Erskine
http://www.seymourcentre.com/events/event/rosaline/

Don’t Look Away present
THE LEGEND OF KING O’MALLEY
by Michael Boddy & Robert Ellis
http://www.seymourcentre.com/events/event/the-legend-of-king-omalley/

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THE PRIDE

Side Pony Productions and Rock Surfers Theatre Company present… A bloody brilliant piece of theatre! 

Synopsis: Bruce is weighed down by his impressive mane and is struggling with the pressure of renovations and taking care of his pride. He knows time is limited, when James, his younger, stronger, more handsome neighbour, starts peering through the windows admiring his home and his family.

Review:

My expectations of this show was one of pure curiosity, my thoughts on seeing and reading what The Pride was about went straight to the TV series Wilfred. The show about a dog, a guy in a dog suit, crude cigarette smoking who wants to seduce the next door neighbours cat. I suppose this was the kind of show I had expected. And in a lot of ways that is exactly what I got. Grown ups in animal suits ( Lions in this case) being humans. The Pride though has something uniquely its own, it’s what I would called a sadistic comedy and its merit lies with in its ability to literally have you laughing one second and gasping the next. This show has so many unexpected pleasures. Brendan Ewing plays Bruce the lion of the house with the comedic twitches and timing that had me continuously referencing the likes of Johnny Depps character Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean and could also not help but reference his comedic delivery to Absolutely Fabulous characters Eddie and Patsy. Wether or not he used these comedic gestures and comedians as references I do not know, if he did they were great choices. Watching his character evolve was like watching The Shining and Ab Fab simultaneously, loving him with the notion if you were to hug him or be-friend such an intriguing character you are best to be hugging with one arm whilst holding a 45 in the other. Brendan Ewing had clearly given a lot of attention to the details of Bruce and his responses to his environment, the more he unravels and becomes exposed in his own home the more of his humanity is revealed, and though his character plays out some horrific accounts, you can’t help but have sympathy for him. 

Adriane Daff, who plays his up beat wife Linda is equally as humorous and delightful to watch, though her character was much more linear that Ewings. Her portrayal of a wife who has disconnected due to her husbands lack of follow through and manic behaviour has you questioning her mental state through out the production. Unlike Bruce, Linda doesn’t crack up gushing her inner demons quite like Bruce does. Adriane Daff had a control and an emotional state of well-being that had you feeling some form of stability that Brendan Ewings character does not provide. A well needed balance to get us audience members through not completely scathed by the experience of Bruce! Russell Leonard playing next door neighbour James was a sensation, his skill set through the use of his own choreographed dance scene with an 80’s track was really quite an astounding achievement in such a small space. Myself a dance and 80’s fanatic was entranced and gleeful, left in a haze of giddy delight! Leonard brought a layer of performance that cemented a well-balanced trio. 

Zoe Peppers directing was really brave and funtastical. Her directing choices were clear and precise leaving room for the story to evolve in ways that were over the top and electric. Brave breathing space that has been developed with great trust I could only assume that comes from a glorious concoction of collaboration from all involved. I would have loved to be in the rehearsal room with this bunch as I can only imagine what ideas went flying, (and perhaps tequila) around the room. Considering all involved chipped in on writing The Pride, the final product is one they must be so proud of. 

A real crowd pleaser The Pride closes the 5th of April, I can not urge you enough to make time to see it, it will be one you will remember and ponder upon. A show that asks for a huge amount of absorption from the audience, it will leave you wanting to either run out the theatre ripping off all your clothes and diving into the night sea. Or sit in a corner sipping out of a bottle of whiskey picking at the paint on your wall… For me it made me want to do both… I didn’t though. Instead I called a friend and woke her up to tell her all about it. And in my eyes if theatre is making you do that! It’s gotta be something sensational. GO SEE IT!Image

 

Brendan Ewing and Adriane Daff as Bruce and Linda

Playing at the Bondi Pavilion Theatre, Bondi Beach 20th March-5th April/ rocksurfers.org 1300 241 167

SACRED SHRINES

Psychedelic rock band Sacred Shrines had their debut performance at the coolest and creepiest venue in Brisvegas the Old Museum on the 29th of March. For a band who hadn’t done a gig in front off an audience before you would never have guessed, their performance was solid in every aspect from their look to their sound. Even their multimedia and other visual stimuli were fresh, retro and like their name psychedelic. I felt almost guilty that my ticket was only $15… These dudes (girls can be dudes too) though the venue was rockin’ really deserve a bigger platform Sacred Shrines is way beyond ‘the first gig’ kind of scenario (though it’s unavoidable).
They are ready for festivals and crowds of thousands, with their rich sound and poetic striking lyrics, some decent exposure would send this lot flying onto the international circuit with out a doubt. Sacred Shrines are real rockers, they know their shit, leading front man Phil and his fellow band mates Mat (drums), Chester (electric guitar), Robbie (electric guitar) and the beauty amongst the beasts Bea (keys, vocals and percussion) are all seasoned musicians with a lot of experience under their belt buckles. Sacred Shrines are not made up of wanna be rockers, you know the type who buys a Rolling Stones T-shirt but if you asked them to name or sing one of their songs or even name the members of the Stones would answer ‘ dunno just liked the shirt’. None of that bullshit here. When meeting the crew for the first time I’ll admit I felt intimidated, they all had this rock star ora that often comes with…knowing your shit! These guys are rock n roll, and are the future of this old school genre which is a refreshing splash to the face so to speak as a lot of modern day rock bands are as tasteful as dishwater who want the fast way to the top and lack anything called substance and rock n roll integrity. These guys graduate with honours from the School of Rock and their performance and tunes prove it. Excellent music and an excellent night. If I saw Sacred Shrines in a line up I’d be getting my ticket prompt, not that I’d need to cause I hung with them after this gig and now feel like an honorary platonic groupie. After drinking champagne out of martini glasses and playing old 45’s till the sun came up, (well they did, I passed out sometime around 2 am…) my respect for Rock music grew to new heights. Sacred Shrines are the real deal. Follow them on Facebook and keep an eye out for their next gig in your town.

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