Monday 21 February 2022

Louder Is Not Always Clearer - UK/AU Digital Season ***1/2


UK/AU Digital Season (16 minutes) By OnPar/Mr & Mrs Clark 

Based on the theatre production by Mr and Mrs Clark

Digital version: Written & Produced by Gareth Clark & Jonny Cotsen; Written & Directed by Toby Cameron

Live streamed & available to watch until 31 March 2022

Reviewer: Kate Herbert

Stars: ***1/2

NB: The show is accessible to D/deaf, hard of hearing and hearing audiences through the use of English, British Sign language and creative captions.

L- R: Anita Reynolds, Francesca Dimech ,Jonny Cotsen, Russell Daniels - still pic from video

Louder Is Not Always Clearer is a diverting and illuminating 16 minute online piece based on the theatre production by Mr and Mrs Clark is a treat.


It begins with Jonny (Jonny Cotsen) at a dinner party with a small group of guests and friends. We experience the dinner through Jonny’s eyes – well, actually, through his ears because Jonny is Deaf although he wears hearing aids, uses both sign language and spoken language and lip-reads like a demon.


A dinner party may be fun for the others, but for Jonny it is a trial because most of the guests, apart from his friend Sally (Anita Reynolds) are almost totally unaware that the ambient clatter and chatter of the dinner table is a muted cacophony for Jonny and that they need to face him when they talk.


Jonny salvages the evening for himself by sloping off to ‘get beers’.  He then takes us on a snapshot tour of his experiences in a hearing world. This includes dancing at a nightclub where he can feel the bass, picking up a girl in a bar, the scariness of having sex with the lights out so that he can’t lip-read, his speech lessons, a video chat with Mum and his karaoke song.


The short work may be a little preachy by the end, but it is an eye opener for anyone who feels challenged or awkward with the Deaf. Jonny make really bloody clear that he is Deaf not stupid! So don't treat him like an idiot.


Available to watch until 31 March 2022  


By Kate Herbert



Jonny Cotsen as Johnny

Anita Reynolds as Sally

Russell Daniels as Wally

Francesca Dimech as Kelly

Lois Drago as Abbey

Gareth Clarke as Speech Therapist

Kevin MCurdy as Military Man

Judith Cotsen as Mum

Sammi Dunn  Karaoke BSL Interpreter

Dancers: Linzy Na Nakron, Patrik Gabco, Lukas Gabco



Digital version: Written & Produced by Gareth Clark & Jonny Cotsen; Written & Directed by Toby Cameron

Based on the theatre production by Mr and Mrs Clark

Saturday 19 February 2022

An Unforgivably Brief History of Australian Theatre with Dr. Rob, La Mama ***1/2


Created and performed by Robert Reid

At La Mama Theatre,  until Sun 20 Feb 2022

Live streamed (show recorded on 18 Feb 2022.)

Reviewer: Kate Herbert (review of recorded show)

Stars: ***1/2

90 minutes

Robert Reid, An Unforgivably Brief History of Australian Theatre, pic from recorded show


Robert Reid, AKA Dr. Rob, delivers his entertaining, quirky, mischievous and wildly informative solo performance / lecture at a machine -gun pace, peppered with Aussie theatre jokes and topical and historical references that the impeccably informed audience at La Mama gets in the blink of an eye.


An Unforgivably Brief History of Australian Theatre is just what it says on the packet – a potted history of Aussie theatre. But the difference between Dr. Rob’s version and any other whip around the topic in a lecture theatre near you, is that it includes plenty of previously ignored, omitted or unknown facts, events, companies, artists and theatrical disasters. All of those make this a charming, witty and surprising performance.


Accompanied only by his trusty PowerPoint with photos, info and witticisms

Dr. Rob divides our Australian theatre history into five easy pieces, sorry, eras:

1.     First Nations era – performance prior to colonisation

2.     Convict era – performance by transported convicts

3.     Actor manager era – featuring the spread of physical infrastructure

4.     Professional Commercial era

5.     Government subsidised era


The first two eras – First Nations and Convict – are eye-openers for most of us as many or most of the history has been hidden or lost. What follows in eras 3,4, and 5 is the evolution of theatre based on the English model and imported with the colonists, settlers, incomers and interlopers.


Australia struggled to find its own voice but, eventually, our homegrown theatre veered away from its early cringing and kowtowing to England. New plays, writers, producers, companies, directors and modes of creating and staging theatre emerged almost every decade of the 20th century. There are too many to list here.


It takes Dr. Rob a rapid-fire 90 minutes to cover the entire chronology and he barely touches the surface. He apologises for omitting anything or anyone west or north of Melbourne and Sydney. Never fear! Dr Rob is willing to tour and create a show tailored to your region!


The tragedy is that, in the last era of government subsidised theatre, Australia’s enormous growth and evolution in the theatre is now waning as savage government funding cuts continue to decimate the theatre sector. The wholesale closure of theatres for almost two years of the Pandemic, suggests Dr. Rob, may have sounded the death knell for government subsidised theatre in Australia.


What will the next era bring? Who bloody knows! What we do know and Dr. Rob. insists, is that Australian theatre workers will not be stopped. We’ll rise up again and produce something worth seeing, doing and achieving – something of which we can be proud.


All hail the Australian theatre!


By Kate Herbert


Watch the recorded show here:

Friday 18 February 2022

ADAM, National Theatre of Scotland, Digital, 18 Feb 2022 ****1/2



Written by Frances Poet, by National Theatre of Scotland (NTS) UK/AU digital season

Filmed at Rockvilla, National Theatre of Scotland (NTS). Live streamed through Sydney Opera House: available until 6 March 2022

Reviewer: Kate Herbert

Stars: ****1/2

 Adam Kashmiry as Adam

The opening image of Adam is horrific. A young woman unstraps the taut bindings that flatten her bosom, then holds a knife under one breast. Is she about to self-harm in a ghastly act?


Adam is a compelling, challenging and poignant play inspired by the life of Adam Kashmiry and written by Frances Poet. (What a delicious name for a playwright.)


The play depicts the alarming and disturbing experiences of Adam – played by Kashmiry himself in this production – a young, trans man who wrestles with gender identity in his homeland of Egypt where he was born a girl. When he flees to the UK on a tourist visa, he claims asylum as a transgender man, but the asylum process is almost as fraught as his life in Egypt.


This theatrical production, directed deftly and sensitively by Cora Bissett and Louise Lockwood, is filmed specifically for digital consumption, so it combines the best of both screen and theatre. It has the passion, lyricism and immediacy of theatre and the visual dexterity of screen.


It is as if female Adam, played by Yasmin Al- Khudairi (this character is listed as ‘Egyptian Adam’), flickers on and off with male Adam, both on screen and in the real world. The two parts of the self exist both separately and in the same moment, same body, same soul.


The play flashes back to Adam in his family home in Egypt, with his adoring mother, Maryam (Myriam Acharki), calling him ‘Princess’ and his father rejecting him when Adam does not behave like a girl should. We witness Adam as a female, being kissed by a girl who loves women, and Adam, dressed as a boy, being assaulted by a group of men. He could not speak the truth or become the man he wanted to be in that conservative world.


His experiences after claiming asylum in Scotland are distressing, particularly when he is interrogated vigorously and brutally by an Asylum Claim Official (Neshla Caplan) who doubts his transgender status. Later, he is visited by a Mental Health Nurse (Stephen McCole) who speaks gently, but is unable to help Adam get the testosterone that he believes is the solution to his problems and will ensure that officials believe that he is genuinely transgender.


Perhaps the most moving scene is the final choral song on a digital screen filled with 140 trans and non-binary individuals from across the globe. They sing, “We are just ordinary people, extraordinary people.” it is both energising and heartbreaking.


Good luck and good life Adam.


by Kate Herbert

Tuesday 15 February 2022

The Comedy of Errors, ASC, online 15 Feb 2022 ****


The Comedy of Errors by William Shakespeare, by Australian Shakespeare Company

At Botanical Gardens until 19 Feb 2022. Live streamed until 20 Feb 2022- Paid view via this link

Reviewer: Kate Herbert

Stars: ****

This REVIEW of online stream of the production is published only on this blog . KH

The Comedy of Errors ASC 2021-22- Credit_Ben Fon


Glenn Elston’s boisterous, mischievous outdoor production of The Comedy of Errors, Shakespeare‘s comic play about mistaken identities, is littered with bawdy jokes, slapstick, pratfalls, and gaudy, masked clown characters.


The farcical narrative is a tangled web about two pairs of twins who are mistaken for each other with madcap results. When Antipholus of Syracuse (Peter Houghton) arrives in Ephesus with his servant, Dromio of Syracuse (Syd Brisbane), their lives intersect with those of Antipholus of Ephesus (Hugh Sexton) and Dromio of Ephesus (Thomas Pidd), leading to giddying complications and confusion.


Elston’s production is a rowdy romp, full of broad buffoonery, grotesquery and physical comedy that is frequently violent – nobody is seriously hurt but almost everyone is battered and bruised, limping or squealing.


This versatile and talented cast appears to have had a riotous time creating this production and their delight in performing in half masks in the zany, knockabout style of Commedia del’Arte is palpable.


The two Antipholuses, although different in temperament, are dressed alike, wearing enormous orange floor mops/clown shoes and Adriana (Elizabeth Brennan), Antiophulus of Ephesus’ wife, spirals into hysteria about her dual-personality husband.


Meanwhile, the Dromios are also dressed alike so that the raunchy, rotund and lusty serving wench, Dowsabel, cannot tell which is ‘her’ Dromio.


Adriana and her sister, Luciana (Madeleine Somers, gad about hilariously on roller skates – yes, roller skates – with ridiculous results.


This is a vivid and vivacious production that is ideally suited to an outdoor, summer location in the Botanical Gardens. It finishes its current summer season on Saturday 19 February 2022, but it will surely make a return.


by Kate Herbert


Director Glenn Elston 

Designer Greg Carroll

Choreography Sue Ellen Shook

Music Paul Norton

Costumes Karla Erenbots



Duke Solinus of Ephesus Kevin Hopkins

Egeon of Syracuse Dion Mills

Antipholus of Syracuse Hugh Sexton

Antipholus of Ephesus Peter Houghton

Dromio of Syracuse Syd Brisbane

Dromio of Ephesus Thomas Pidd

Angelo Tony Rive

Balthazar/Pinch Fabio Motto

Officer Ruben Francis

Adriana Elizabeth Brennan

Luciana Madeleine Somers

Dowsabel (Nell) Claire Duncan

Courtesan Anna Burgess

Emelia Maverick Newman