Sunday 29 April 2012

Australia Day, by Jonathan Biggins, April 26, 2012 ****

Melbourne Theatre Company & Sydney Theatre Company co-production
Playhouse Melbourne Arts Centre, April 26 to May 26, 2012
Reviewer: Kate Herbert
 Geoff Morrell  in Australia Day, MTC

IF YOU WANT SOCIAL SATIRE and some huge laughs at the expense of­ – well – just about everyone in our sun-drenched country, Jonathan Biggins’ Australia Day is just the ticket.

In a smallish, coastal Aussie town, six members of the local Australia Day Planning Committee meet to plan a memorable Australia Day with citizenship ceremony, children’s choir, sausage sizzle, SES display, 20-20 cricket match and other cliché activities.

What can go wrong will go wrong and everything does go wrong, which provides a rich source of comedy for the skilful cast playing recognisable Australian types who cannot even agree on what kind of sausage to barbecue.

The ambitious, self-serving mayor (Geoff Morrell) stumbles to manage conflicts arising between bleeding-heart, Green council member, Helen (Alison Whyte), and Wally (Peter Kowitz), the conservative, bigoted, country Aussie who resists multiculturalism or any change in his hometown.

Robert (David James) is just a good bloke who wants the celebrations to run smoothly, Marie (Valerie Bader), a CWA member, struggles to understand Twitter and Facebook and Chester (Kaeng Chan), the perky, young teacher, makes a joke of every racist comment about his Vietnamese heritage.

The belly laughs of the opening scene arise from the Australian slang and behaviour as well as the clash of ideologies and potted political rhetoric.

Saturday 28 April 2012

The Girls In Grey, by Carolyn Bock & Helen Hopkins, April 25, 2012 ***

By The Shift Theatre with Theatreworks
Theatreworks, April 25 to May 13, 2012
Reviewer: Kate Herbert on April 25, 2012
Stars: ***
Olivia Connolly, Helen Hopkins, Carolyn Bock in The Girls in Grey

THE GIRLS IN GREY IS A THEATRICAL TRIBUTE to the nurses who tended our Anzacs during World War One and, fittingly, it opened on a cold, rainy Anzac Day.

Writers, Carolyn Bock and Helen Hopkins, both capable, compelling actors, developed this script from research and the diary accounts of women who served during World War One in Egypt, The Dardanelles and The Somme.

Although these courageous women did not carry weapons, they worked in hospital units near the Front and suffered the horrific psychological trauma and physical illnesses typical in war zones.

The script uses dramatised self-narration, poetic imagery and commentary to illuminate the experiences of three nurses (Bock, Hopkins, Olivia Connolly).

The episodic, non-naturalistic and didactic style of the play is commonly used in community and political theatre and draws on Brechtian principles of theatre, allowing us to step back from the emotional stories and personal anguish of characters and observe their experiences dispassionately.