Saturday 23 March 2024

KATE HERBERT Arts Weekly 3MBS Sat23MARCH 2024




In this radio spot, I talk about how to watch theatre at home online. 

I discuss National Theatre At Home and its array of recorded NT productions, past and present available to rent or on subscription; MTC Digital which still has some recorded productions; and La Mama on Screen; and Sydney Opera House free recorded shows and talks.

I also mention Andrew Scott in Vanya for NT Live.

Friday 22 March 2024

London Assurance REVIEW NT at Home ****1/2


London Assurance by Dion Boucicault adapted by Richard Bean, National Theatre at Home

At National Theatre at Home online by subscription

Reviewer: Kate Herbert

Stars: ****1/2

National Theatre at Home: You can subscribe for $18.95 per month or subscribe for the year. You can rent many shows individually for $14.95 for 3 days.


This review is published only on this blog. I’ll present a radio review on Arts Weekly on 3MBS on Sat 23 March 2024. KH

Official London Assurance Trailer | National Theatre Collection - YouTube
Fiona Shaw, Paul Ready, Simon Russelll Beale, Michelle Terry, image supplied online


London Assurance is a rollicking, sure-fire comic hit that is running on National Theatre at Home. It’s the 2010 stage production of Richard Bean’s superbly updated and wacky version of Dion Boucicault’s rather ordinary 19th century play which Bean transforms into a comic masterpiece. Most of the best lines are Bean’s or the cast’s own ad libs and Nicholas Hytner’s deft and decorative direction heightens the absurdity.


It boasts a magnificent cast, with Simon Russell Beale and Fiona Shaw being the alarming and remarkable highlights in this broad farce that is riddled with disguises, mistaken identities, absurd love affairs, much confusion and running in and out of doors.


Beale is hilariously high camp and foppish as Sir Harcourt Courtly as he paces, primps and poses around the stage in a decidedly flamboyant and omnisexual style. My favourite line of his is, “ My wife ran off with my best friend,” followed wistfully by, “and I miss him.”


The 57-year-old Sir Harcourt goes to the country home of his friend, Max Harkaway (Mark Addy), whose 20-year-old daughter has arranged to marry. Sir Harcourt’s deceptive and dissolute son, Charles (Paul Ready) arrives with his new dodgy friend, Dazzle (Matt Cross), at the same country house and of course falls madly in love with said daughter. His father recognises him as his son. So of course, Charles, claims mistaken identity and must return as the bookish, timid and chaste-minded version of himself that his deluded father knows and loves.


The next highlight is Fiona Shaw, as Lady Gay Spencer, who Shaw plays as a horsey, galloping, goofy country lady who, true to her name, thinks everything is hilariously gay, including pretending to seduce old Sir Harcourt at the behest of his son.


This production at two hours, gallops along and it’s just one unbelievable, idiotic episode after another in a farce for the ages.


by Kate Herbert





Cool: Nick Sampson

Martin: Richard Frame

Charles Courtly: Paul Ready

Richard Dazzle: Matt Cross

Sir Harcourt Courtly: Simon Russell Beale

Squire Max Harkaway: Mark Addy

Pert: Maggie Service

James: Simon Markey

Grace Harkaway: Michelle Terry

Mark Meddle: Tony Jayawardena

Lady Gay Spanker: Fiona Shaw

Mr Adolphus Spanker: Richard Briers

Mr Solomon Isaacs: Junix Inocian

Doctor: David Whitworth

Servant: Mark Extance

Servant: Prasanna Puwanarajah

Doctor's daughter: Fiona Drummond

Doctor's daughter: Laura Matthews


Music Director /Accordion: Ian Watson

Fiddle: Sophie Solomon

Double Bass / Tuba: David Berr


CREATIVES Director: Nicholas Hytner

Designer: Mark Thompson

Music: Rachel Portman

Sound Designer: John Leonard

Lighting Designer: Neil Austin

Textual Revisions: Richard Bean

Choreographer: Scarlett Mackmin


Saturday 9 March 2024




In this radio spot, I review The Hate Race by Maxine Beneba Clarke with Zahra Newman,  MTC. I  talk about Yentl at Malthouse and Nick Tolhurst tells me about the show I missed, Eat Your Heart Out by Shift Theatre at La Mama Courthouse.

Friday 8 March 2024

Trans Woman Kills Influencer online REVIEW 9 Mar 2014 ***


Trans Woman Kills Influencer by Dax Carnay

At La Mama Theatre On Screen: Online Season: Feb 13 - Feb 27, 2024

Reviewer: Kate Herbert

Stars: *** (3)

This review is published only on this blog. I’ll present a radio review on Arts Weekly on 3MBS on Sat 10 March 2024. It is a review of the live production On Screen. KH

Image by Darren Gill supplied. Cast names not provided.

Trans Woman Kills Influencer, by Dax Carnay, tells its story from the perspectives of the four characters, until finally reaching its denouement after 70 minutes.


The title of the play is certainly an attention grabber, and the premise has dramatic potential, which is fulfilled to some degree in parts, and most effectively in its final scene.


Denise, known as Dee, is a trans woman who manages the advertising campaign for the evidently straight, male influencer, Alejandro, who, for some reason, is promoting a feminine hygiene product.


Dee’s colleague and frenemy, Jen, is frustrated and angry that Dee took the senior position in the agency that Jen believes she deserved. The fourth character is Dee’s shrill and high-camp personal assistant.


The narrative unfolds in sections, each presented from the perspective of a different character. Each character’s view generates stereotypes of the other characters in their story. 


For example, Jen is represented as angry, aggressive and vile from the others’ perspectives. In her own version, she is milder, reasonable and more genuinely distressed when she tries to explain why she believes a man who has become a woman is just another man who is taking a high-level job from a woman.


Part of the story is told in video projections of TV interviews or  stylish Vlog and influencer posts. All the characters are American, placing this story firmly on another continent that is notorious for its melodramatic and over-acted soap operas, which are echoed in this production.


Some of the potential drama and authenticity of the story is lost because of the hysterical behaviour of characters in particular scenes.


However, Trans Woman Kills Influencer is certainly a novel and catchy idea.


by Kate Herbert


Written By Dax Carnay

Directed by Emmanuelle Mattana

Performed by Dax Carnay, Khema De Silva, Vateresio Tuikaba and Ryan Henry

Stage Direction by Finn McLeish

Set and Costume Design by Filipe Filihia


Content Warnings: Violence, Hate Speech, Haze, Strobe, Blood, Use of Replica Weapons

Yentl, COMMENT (not Review) until 17 March 2024


Written by Gary Abrahams, Elise Esther Hearst & Galit Klas, based on Isaac Bashevis Singer’s short story 

Malthouse Theatre and Kadimah Yiddish Theatre

At Merlyn Theatre, Malthouse until 17 March 2024

Reviewer: Kate Herbert

As I did not see the second half of the production, I cannot review this but I will make a comment.

It is published only on this blog. I’ll mention it on Arts Weekly on 3MBS on Sat 9 March 2024. KH

Amy Hack & Evelyn Krape_photo Jeff Busby

Yentl is an adaptation of Isaac Bashevis Singer’s original Yiddish language short story. Parts of the dialogue are delivered in Yiddish with surtitles, which adds a layer of authenticity and eccentricity.


It tells the story of Yentl (Amy Hack) a young woman who wants to be a Jewish scholar, but is not permitted because of her gender. Religous study is the preserve of males.


Yentl studies in secret with her father but she must change plans when he dies. Dressed in man’s clothing, and with the encouragement of a mischievous, at times, wicked Dybbuk (Evelyn Krape), she goes on a journey to a distant town where she meets a young man who introduces her to a Yeshiva - a traditional Rabbinical school - where she becomes a scholar and a favourite.


The production is visually compelling and boasts a talented and versatile cast.


Krape balances the comic and the grim as the Dybbuk, scuttling about the stage like a demented creature. Amy Hack is passionate and credible as young Yentl as she wrangles her secret life.


Directed by Gary Abrahams, this production draws on the styles and forms of Yiddish Theatre, Polish theatre, cabaret and a range of other styles to weave its narrative. The design is almost monochromatic on stage, with actors in white face and black-and-white costumes with splashes of colour.


There is more to say about the production but, to quote the Dybbuk, there are three weddings, only one of which lasts, and Yentl’s life becomes more and more complicated and messy.


by Kate Herbert

Wednesday 6 March 2024

The Hate Race REVIEW 28 Feb 2024 ****1/2


Adapted by Maxine Beneba Clarke from her memoir, Malthouse Theatre

At  Beckett Theatre, Malthouse until 17 March 2024

Reviewer: Kate Herbert

Stars: 4&1/2

This review is published only on this blog. I’ll present a radio review on Arts Weekly on 3MBS on Sat March 2024. KH

Zahra Newman & Kuda Mapeza, image supplied

Zahra Newman is a force of nature in The Hate Race, commanding the stage and populating it with a parade of characters from the life of the woman at its centre, Maxine Clarke. The Hate Race is adapted from Clarke’s memoir about her childhood in Australia when she was exposed to racism and micro-aggressions because of her skin colour and heritage.


Newman is an exceptional and charismatic performer, impeccable in her telling of the story, and she skillfully embodies characters from Clarke’s life, including her British Afro-Caribbean parents, teachers, best friends, worst enemies, and assorted bullies, transforming herself and transporting us to the world of Maxine’s childhood.


Although this is a solo performance, Newman is not alone on stage, but is accompanied by the magnetic Kuda Mapeza, who cannot simply be described as a singer or musician; she uses her voice and instruments to create not only song and music, but the entire environment and atmosphere that surrounds Newman’s characters.


The direction, by Tariro Mavondo and Courtney Stewart, is inventive, imaginative, sleek and deft, while Clarke’s stage adaptation of her novel is spare and swift-moving, avoiding incorporation of tracts of prose and making the text theatrical and accessible to an audience. The use of self-narration by Newman as Maxine captures the intimacy and authenticity of the memoir.


As the child Maxine, Newman reveals episodes of her being bullied by boys on bikes and by students in playgrounds, making friends with white students, being called ‘Blackie’ and being told she is ‘brown’, which seems to be the only characteristic that other children could identify in her, despite her intelligence, competence, and fascinating life stories.


The most compelling and transformational moment was Newman’s jubilant description of Maxine’s victory at her final school debate. Her escalating energy, joy and delicious sense of triumph was thrilling. This scene brought tears to my eyes as she honoured her father, her heritage, her politics and her own conscience, exposing the entrenched subjugation of people because of their race or colour.


by Kate Herbert 


 Performed by Zahra Newman (actor) & Kuda Mazepa (musician)


Directed by Tariro Mavondo and Courtney Stewart