Wednesday 26 June 2019

Wake in Fright opens 26 June 2019

Wake in Fright opens at Malthouse Theatre, tonight, 26 June 2019
This is not a review.
I am not reviewing it but her are some pics. KH
Zahra Newman, pic Pia Johnson

Zahra Newman, pic Pia Johnson

Monday 17 June 2019

Rudy & Cuthbert, June 15, 2019 ***1/2

by Toby Blome and Zelman Cressey-Gladwin 
Southbank Theatre, The Lawler, until June 22, 2019 
Reviewer: Kate Herbert 
Stars: 3&1/2
L-R_Toby Blome and Zelman Cressey-Gladwin_Pic by Phil Erbacher
The two bumbling clowns in Rudy & Cuthbert blunder about in wide-eyed, childlike incompetence like children trying to be grown-ups.

In the classic clown tradition, they never achieve their goal, which, in this case, is to stage a production of the dramatic courtroom drama, Twelve Angry Men, an absurd and inevitably doomed ambition for only two actors.

Rudy (Toby Blome) and Cuthbert (Zelman Cressey-Gladwin) are startled to discover their audience already seated and waiting for the play to start, despite the performers not having finished rehearsing (or even started?) and having no set. Every actor’s nightmare!

Using mostly silent, physical comedy and parody, peppered with rudimentary dialogue, the hapless Rudy and Cuthbert embark on a series of ill-fated tasks, including constructing a tiny table (without an allen key!), carefully positioning toddlers’ pink chairs, auditioning audience members, and playing gung-ho, He-Man stage technicians. Even changing costumes causes chaos.

Directed by Ellen Cressey, Blome and Cressey-Gladwin are a warm and charming duo as they collaborate and compete, support and undermine, make mistakes and apologise, and engage directly but gently with their audience through gesture and comic facial expressions.

Undaunted, they continue to muddle through with the bewildered attitude and misplaced confidence of kids unwilling to admit they are way out of their depth.

This duo follows the clown heritage of Chaplin, Keaton and Australia’s own Lano and Woodley and Los Trios Ringbarkus. (Note the family resemblance to Neill Gladwin from Los Trios.)

The production could benefit from greater exaggeration or heightening of some comic business and perhaps more intense complicity between the characters and with their audience.

Ultimately, Rudy & Cuthbert is an engaging, sometimes enchanting short show that highlights the joyful idiocy of clowns. This duo thrives on audience reaction so a full house is optimum. Bring your friends.

by Kate Herbert

Tuesday 4 June 2019

THEM, until June 9, 2019 ***1/2

By Samah Sabawi, presented by La Mama Theatre
At La Mama Courthouse, until June 9, 2019 
Reviewer: Kate Herbert 
Stars: ***1/2

THEM Priscilla Doueihy & Abdulrahman Hammoud by Justyn Koh
THEM, Samah Sabawi’s warm, moving play set in an unnamed Middle Eastern country, is a welcome antidote to common images of the Middle East as a region beset with terrorism and violence.

In these troubled times, portrayals of the Middle East and its refugees are often ill-informed at best, and negative, or even hostile, at worst.

Sabawi’s intimate story emphasises her characters’ humanity and vulnerability as they negotiate life-changing decisions of whether to stay or leave their war-torn city and risk their lives to reach a safer place.

Abdulrahman Hammoud brings playful naiveté and hopefulness to Omar, who uses gallows humour to make light of the daily bombs that devastate his family’s life.

As Omar’s wife, Leila, Priscilla Doueihy embodies a mother’s desperate need to seek safety for her infant son, no matter the risks.

Sabawi challenges the audience with moral issues facing Leila, Omar, his sister, Salma (Claudia Greenstone), and their friends, Mohamad (Reece Vella) and Majid (Khisraw Jones-Shukoor), both of whom prepare to escape using the U.N. ‘safe corridor’.

War breeds ethical dilemmas, and Omar’s choice to adhere to his moral code and not accept his sister’s ‘tainted’ money, may prove to be his downfall.

The characters’ humour, despite their dire circumstances, reminds us they are just like us – but trapped in a war zone. There but for the grace of God...

With a capable cast, Bagryana Popov directs this production with sensitivity and commitment, depicting Sabawi’s characters with compassion and occasional light humour.

Popov injects music – a signature of her directorial style – with a full-throated chorus by the male actors, and a pianist (Nahed Elrayes) who provides musical scene links.

The sense of urgency in scene changes, while initially interesting, eventually interrupts the narrative flow and could be streamlined.

THEM is a play with heart that compels us to sit up and listen, suspend prejudices and feel the anguish of these characters fighting to survive in a city shattered by senseless war.

by Kate Herbert
Abdulrahman Hammoud, Khisraw Jones-Shukoor & Reece Vella pic by Justyn Koh

Written by Samah Sabawi
Directed by Bagryana Popov
Set and costume design by Lara Week

Abdulrahman Hammoud -Omar
Priscilla Doueihy -Leila
Claudia Greenstone- Salma
Khisraw Jones-Shukoor, -Majid
Reece Vella -Mohmad  
Nahed Elrayes -Piano