13 July 2008


Malthouse Theatre and Ranters Theatre
19 July 2008
CUB Malthouse, Tower Theatre

Holiday is a meditative exploration of a world separated from the responsibility and routine of day-to-day life. It’s more weekend beach house than five star resort, but who doesn’t love a few days at the beach.

I was initially intrigued and drawn into this gentle world. Raimondo Cortese’s writing captures casual conversation with ease, Adriano Cortese’s direction is beautifully paced and structured, and Paul Lum and Patrick Moffat’s performances are faultless.  But I wasn’t taken anywhere else. Like a beach house holiday, I kept waiting for something to happen; expecting a moment that would tie the looseness of the conversations, chats and stories into something more.

I could see so much process at work that I was never really engaged, or even that interested in the characters. There were nibbles and hints that drew me back in, but never enough to give a clear understanding of their relationship with each other or make me really care. Which could well be the point of Holiday.  When men are alone, do they really have such mundane conversations?

I didn’t see the original production at Arts House, and suspect that some of the impact of the design was also lost in its transfer to The Tower. Sitting up the back, I was immediately distanced from the white box set, which would have felt a lot more intimate in the front rows. Nontheless, Anna Tregloan’s design perfectly captures the complexity, mood and humour of the work. (Tregloan’s design continues to be a highlight of every production she works on.)  The whole piece is coloured and given remarkable depth by David Franzke’s sound design. I know there wasn’t a cat scampering under my seat, but I found myself looking for it.

There are so many elements of Holiday that are superb, but I came away feeling like I should have packed a really good book to read.

This review appeared on AussieTheatre.com.

02 July 2008

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea
1927, Malthouse Theatre, Sydney Opera House, Adelaide Cabaret Festival
2 July 2008
Beckett Theatre, CUB Malthouse

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea is a cabaret treat from UK company 1927.  Part homage, part satire and all passion, 1927 have mixed their favourite genres to create something irresistible.

Imagine a silent film, complete with piano player, and the figures on the screen come to life. It is utterly delightful - as delightful as Little Julie playing homeless crack whore with a toy syringe.

The evening’s ten terrible tales were written and directed by Suzanne Andrade. Her work is marvellously macabre, but she’s just so terribly nice. (Imagine the love child of The Tiger Lillies’s Martyn Jacques and Emma Thompson.) Her descriptions of “milk moon tit driplets” and “marshmallow excrement” are as wonderful as they are wrong. Her characters are all familiar, yet so original. There are plenty of surprises, and the twins in search of a playmate simply have to be seen.   

Esme Appleton and pianist Lillian Henley join Andrade on the stage. Her stories combine with the animation and design of Paul Barrit. The interaction between the performers and Barrit’s screen is stunning.  I couldn’t imagine one without the other.

This show has understandably won heaps of awards and is happily trotting around the globe. I’m not sure how it fits with the Malthouse’s vision of presenting contemporary Australian theatre, but let’s just solve that by making the 1927 company honorary Aussies.

This review appeared on AussieThearte.com