h

Arts Reviews

Posted 23 Jun 2015 @ 12:05pm

Enda Walsh can seem at times like the third McDonagh brother. Like them, he’s a regular purveyor of the blackly comic interspersed with explosive bouts of violence.

 

But unlike the London-raised McDonaghs, the Irish don’t consider Walsh a fraud. And he isn’t: quite apart from his national bona fides, Walsh is a substantial playwright, capable of being both flinty and poetic. One...

Posted 23 Jun 2015 @ 11:52am

Dino is a Swedish immigrant living on the outskirts of Oslo. Following a stint in rehab for alcohol, she’s squatting in a sharehouse with a group of fellow Swedes, having fled a harsh economy in their homeland.

 

Looking for work, she befriends former tennis-pro-cum-restauranteur Steffen, who has her babysit his two daughters. As a relationship blossoms between the two, the...

Posted 18 Jun 2015 @ 9:39am

Kylie Coolwell’s debut takes place in the James Cook building, in Redfern’s walk-ups, where the playwright has lived for the past six years. It’s a domestic drama set in a single apartment, though it feels more expansive than that.

 

Renée Mulder’s set is crosshatched; interior and exterior at the same time, and encompasses a kitchen, living room, two bedrooms and exterior...

Posted 16 Jun 2015 @ 12:03pm

Bertolt Brecht’s Mother Courage And Her Children is set amid the breakout of World War II, following the story of Courage and her defiance in pulling her family through the war.

 

Directed by Eamon Flack, the Belvoir production begins with Mother Courage and her three children, together and content. She gives each child a virtue – silence, wisdom and honesty – which she believes...

Posted 10 Jun 2015 @ 10:33am

A black romantic comedy: it’s a rare kind of genre blend, but this Italian stunner actually manages to pull it off with barely a hitch.

 

Expansive and playful, but nevertheless rich with history, The Mafia Kills Only In Summer is a fascinating effort from writer, director and star Pierfrancesco Diliberto (AKA Pif).

 

Since the moment of his conception, Arturo’s...

Posted 5 Jun 2015 @ 9:00pm

Overturning the Bollywood stereotype that is familiar to most Western audiences, Sunrise instead captures the essence of Hollywood noir and throws it into the light. Dressed in algae greens and neon blues, it follows police inspector, Joshi, as he hunts the elusive shadow of a man. No, not a man, but the embodiment of child trafficking in Mumbai.

 

Somewhere in the city, a girl...

Posted 5 Jun 2015 @ 9:00pm

The tragic life of British soul queen Amy Winehouse, who died from alcohol poisoning in 2011 at the age of 27, is the subject of a new documentary by BAFTA-winning Senna director Asif Kapadia and commissioned by Universal Music.

 

Kapadia grew up in the same North London suburb of Camden where Winehouse lived, and felt compelled to tell the story behind the gifted artist who...

Posted 4 Jun 2015 @ 8:00pm

Slow West begins with a shot of the stars. A teenage boy, a stranger to the new world, lies on his back pointing a gun at the constellations. Stars bulge out as he mimes blowing them away.

 

It’s a fitting introduction to a film of cosmic delicacy: a fairytale in the guise of a black comedy in the guise of a Western, in which the grandeur of the landscape seems to mock the petty...

Posted 4 Jun 2015 @ 12:00am

Thomas Vinterburg’s reimagining of the Thomas Hardy classic Far From The Madding Crowd is the latest in a recent rash of literary classics being brought to the screen. As with all such adaptations, there is an unavoidable tension between either remaining faithful to the original novel, or updating it for a contemporary audience, with Vinterburg walking a fine line between the two in telling...

Posted 26 May 2015 @ 12:16pm

This production of Summer Of The Seventeenth Doll marked the play’s 60th anniversary, and honoured the play as an integral part of the Australian canon. Brought to the Glen St Theatre by South Australia’s State Theatre Company, the production went for a realistic take on a classic work.

 

Olive is awaiting the arrival of her beau Roo and his buddy Barney, sugar cutters who stay...

Posted 20 May 2015 @ 3:51pm

There’s nothing more ubiquitous on Australian stages and screens than teen angst. The latest addition to the cycle is debutant playwright Julia-Rose Lewis’ Samson, downstairs at Belvoir after premiering at Brisbane’s La Boite.

 

The play revolves around three friends mourning the death of a mate. The cast is a suitably politic cross-section of multicultural Australia: a black...

Posted 19 May 2015 @ 12:38pm

In the pursuit of truth and justice, Woman In Gold fails to deliver where so many others have torn out our hearts and broken our tear ducts. It feels as though director Simon Curtis was shooting for the determination and righteousness of such classics as To Kill A Mockingbird, Mr. Smith Goes To Washington and A Time To Kill, but was wrangled back by a Hollywood safety net. The result? A flat,...

Posted 19 May 2015 @ 12:20pm

Having left his former career as a banking and finance lawyer to pursue comedy full-time, James Smith made the challenging move from Sydney to Manhattan to try to make it in one of the world’s great comedy meccas.

 

Within a month of landing in the US, Smith had secured his first paying gig. Five years later, he was performing at the renowned Comedy Cellar between Chris Rock and...

Posted 19 May 2015 @ 12:09pm

It’s a truly heartbreaking moment when one of your favourite acts cancels their show citing “unforeseen circumstances” as the cause. Personal speculations begin to arise, and after browsing the interweb for answers, it becomes even more heartbreaking when it emerges, after noting that said band’s Friday and Saturday evening shows haven’t yet sold out, that the lack of sales may be that...

Posted 19 May 2015 @ 11:58am

The House Of Ramon Iglesia is the first play written by José Rivera, whose work is seldom performed in Australia. Director Anthony Skuse sensitively untangles the financial and emotional problems seeping out of a migrant Puerto Rican family living in Long Island. This MopHead production staged at the Old Fitz Theatre – which seems to be putting on an unofficial season of early ’80s American...

Posted 19 May 2015 @ 11:44am

The finance sector just before the Global Financial Crisis sets up a promising premise. Inspired by the fate of French trader Jérôme Kerviel, the Hurrah Hurrah theatre company has staked out fertile soil for its black comedy, Trade.

 

Created by Alison Bennett, Dymphna Carew, Naomi Livingstone, Alison Windsor and Cheyne Finn, Trade dips into the smorgasbord of comic possibilities...

Posted 19 May 2015 @ 11:31am

I hate the police – I always have. For some reason, whenever I see a cop, I’m overcome with an uncontrollable feeling of guilt and anxiety – I have visions of me fleeing flashing lights, the taser and the inevitable knee in the neck.

 

For the record, I’ve actually never committed a crime, and I guess I would hate the police even more if I was arrested leaving work,...

Posted 19 May 2015 @ 10:54am

It’s a tale that’s been passed down across the ages. The story of two brothers who have lost the big roller disco championship every year. Despite their passion, and one of them having robot legs, they can’t ever seem to beat the ethnically ambiguous Matthews twins.

 

What’s the pair to do but explore the challenge through a metaphorical South American parable? Only this lesson...

Posted 13 May 2015 @ 9:00pm

Oh, what a day, what a lovely day! 36 years after the vengeful copper first took to the deserted roads of Victoria’s post-apocalypse, Mad Max is finally back on our screens. It may have languished in production purgatory for nearly ten years, but Mad Max: Fury Road has an undeniable force and style that draw attention from its surprisingly flawed construction.

 

The titular Max (...

Posted 13 May 2015 @ 10:16am

British in-yer-face darling Philip Ridley tends to attract the best and the worst in young theatremakers. His violent, provocative plays cater to those who see straight to the emotional complexities at their core, as well as those merely seeking notoriety.

 

There are definitely moments of the latter in Mad March Hare Theatre Company’s production, but director Claudia Barrie’s...

Posted 12 May 2015 @ 2:30pm

The traditional notion of magic was literally stripped away as The Naked Magicians, Mike Tyler and Christopher Wayne, bared all at The Concourse in Chatswood. This wasn’t a show for children or those easily shocked. As Magic Mike said himself, “If you’re offended by R-rated material, please take this opportunity to fuck off.”

 

I can assure you that this was no illusion; these...

Posted 12 May 2015 @ 1:54pm

All Jeff Green wants is to make us smile, and funnily enough he’s accomplished it by analysing his own pursuit of happiness. In a brand new show, and for one night only as part of this year’s Sydney Comedy Festival, Green examined his own feelings of contentment, joy and pleasure with (at times) outrageous but mostly hilarious results.

 

With three working bars at the venue,...

Posted 12 May 2015 @ 1:46pm

We’re all aware of the folklore and mythology of The Wizard Of Oz – however, this production doesn’t exactly offer what it says on the tin. Director Adena Jacobs presents a dark and twisted world of grotesque characters, drenched in symbolism.

 

Dorothy enters a stark, concrete set from a Perspex box in the corner of the stage to find a dead witch. Stealing her ruby shoes, she...

Posted 6 May 2015 @ 12:37pm

The Sydney Opera House Playhouse became a hub of wonderment as master mentalist Lior Suchard took to the stage. The Israeli entertainer is known for being a psychic to the stars, and as his pre-show video suggested, has freaked out the likes of Larry King, Barbra Streisand and the Backstreet Boys.

 

Suchard jumped straight into singling people out and although the audience was...

Posted 5 May 2015 @ 11:37am

What’s most refreshing about Animal/People is its focus on the theatrical experience. This is not the bums-on-seats kind of programming that plagues contemporary Sydney theatre, but raw, glistening poetry with deeply engaged design. Though not the most exhilarating production you’ll see this year, it is a sign of great things to come from all involved.

 

Two voices emerge from...

Posted 5 May 2015 @ 11:26am

Ex Machina feels like something otherworldly. It balances so many dramatic elements alongside so much human emotion that it feels more like a dream than a film.

 

It all starts with Caleb Smith (Domhnall Gleeson), a coder working for a playboy software progeny, Nathan Bateman (Oscar Isaac). He is tasked with testing the AI of an ultra-top secret machine called Ava (Alicia...

Posted 5 May 2015 @ 11:10am

You have to be careful with Ross Noble, lest you find yourself suddenly transformed from a hapless audience member into a punchline so surreal you’ll spend the following days desperately trying to remember who you originally were.

 

Similarly, woe unto those who arrive once the show is already underway, and will find themselves mocked mercilessly. In fact, from the moment you...

Posted 28 Apr 2015 @ 12:26pm

Forget linking this performance to its rich and foreboding parent, Finnegans Wake: simply providing a summary of Riverrun is a Joycean enough task to keep all but the most cloistered bibliophile awake at night.

 

This beguiling production is not so much a retelling or recreation of James Joyce’s (in)famous text as much as a fiercely emotive response to a story which has clung to...

Posted 28 Apr 2015 @ 12:10pm

When you are The Moon, you can pretty much guarantee you’re going to sell out a room.

 

From the moment you amble past the splendid trimmings of the State Theatre to your seat (I swear, the statuary changes shape while no-one is looking), that ‘alabaster retard’ himself is hovering above stage, amping our anticipation for the surreal and placing us firmly in the landscape of The...

Posted 28 Apr 2015 @ 11:49am

During the dying days of Nazi fascism, French playwright Jean Anouilh wrote Antigone, his own version of Sophocles’ fifth century tragedy.

 

The play has become one of the more enduring metaphors for the Nazi regime, depicting a revolt against rigid power structures and immovable policies. However, the script is also imbued with the existential debates of Modernism, revolving...

Pages