'I think therefore I am.'  Descartes            'I AM THAT I AM.'  Exodus.3.        'I am what I am.'  La Cage aux Folles

30 September 2015

The Seagull Stuffed and Reanimated.

The Seagull
17 September 2015
Billy Brown Studio

All praise to Anton Chekov for a masterpiece and super praise to Daniel Evans for a relevant, gripping and exceptional adaptation. Last night I went to The Seagull. 
Back on the 24th August I went to a briefing about the new production and you can see my shiny bald spot in the photo above. How informative and inclusive are these evenings. So much more insight into the upcoming play and the processes behind the production and the approach given by the cast and creatives. Then we come to the play itself and once again Daniel has written a script and on this occasion also directed a work that is absorbing, affecting and awash with wonderful language, reference and eloquence immersed in modern colour and familiarity. He was so blessed as always to have the benefit of a set of truly outstanding actors who in this version are all given prominance. No one is left in the background and all shon so brightly last night. I heard people heaping praise on the actors, the emotional impact and on the relevance of this piece first performed October 17 1896. 
I was lucky enough to have so many people I know on facebook or at least met involved. Christen O'Leary as the loud and proud diva Irena with a hidden insecurity and vulnerability as a performer moving to maturity, Emily Burton as the young aspiring, but apparently failing actress Nina, Jason Klarwein as the pretentious self absorbed writer Trigorin, Nicholas Gell as the passionate,insecure new writer Konstantin with mother issues, Barbara Lowing as the sensational and frustrated Ilya, Hugh Parker as the unfaithful doctor, Lucas Stibbard as the forlorn, but ever hopeful Medvedenko, Helen Cassidy as Ilya's also unfaithful lover Polina and Amy Ingram as the very bitter Masha. Once again the night had an outstanding performance from Brian Lucas as he indulged with all his being in the at times joyful decent of Sorin into mental instability and death. A truly involved performance that members of the audience owned up to the tears they shed. The sexual intrigues were paramount as the relationships evolved with abandon and the discussion it holds on the nature and background of theatre, writing and the artists involved is totally fascinating for anyone interested in the arts.
Once again Ben Hughes did a brilliant job with real lighting, moods and focus and with the magic sound scape of Guy Webster the whole evening was enhanced, especially when we were left with the full cast singing a heart wrenching song which Guy had hinted at, throughout the play and fulfilled as the lights dimmed.
After the show I stayed for the meet the artists Q&A which was the icing on the cake as they revealed even more of the process and their feelings now that they are well into the season. Then for yet another glass of Red as I got to hug, shake hands with and congratulate a few of the artists involved. I was also luck enough to finally meet Tim Dashwood who was in the audience. Tim I have been seeing on stage for a few years now like most of the cast last night and their talents and versatility is one of the great blessings of theatre in Brisbane. You really must go and see this and you will have an amazing time.

Another Daniel Evans adaptation of Oedipus is found here:- 

This was the second production of The Seagull I saw this year.
The Seagull 
6th March 2015
Metro Arts
Three cheers for Kate Wild for forming a new theatre company 'Now Look Here' after working at places like The Gate Theatre and the Young Vic in London and now editing and directing Chekov's 'The Seagull' at the Warehouse space at Metro Arts here in Brisbane. What a fine cast and what a wonderful evening of theatre. Be prepared to overcome some physical hurdles manifest at the neglected Metro arts building. I was involved there in several ways with having movies, opera functions, exhibitions and meetings there around 35 years ago. It is certainly time for the government to invest a bit of money in repairs to maintain one of the few inner city arts spaces still in existence.
OK lets create a play with almost no set on a flat floor with a small number of chairs and a performance that draws you in, includes you in the action and makes you feel at home. Not just the physical environment but the actors and the activity made me feel like I was in a parlor as another guest. It was riveting. take a bunch of people, some writers, some actors going through the same traumas as today brought about by self absorption, emotional immaturity dreaming and passions on the loose and watch them mirror our insecurities, our frustrations and our blunders. There was such a strong cast and beautiful performances and several actors have seen previously like Thomas Hutchins (above) as Kostya (this is his 6th production I have seen). Thomas has magic eyes and a underlying musical resonance in his voice that is quite outstanding. Another great aspect of the evening was the choreographed light and set changes (minimal set) which became part of the performance of Kristian Šantić who played Jakov.

Macbeth Sung in the Congo

19th September 2015 Playhouse QPAC

Not often am I on my feet at the end of a production yelling repeatedly and applauding until it hurts, but last night's Macbeth by Third World Bunfight from South Africa was such a well deserved occasion. Brought here by the Brisbane Festival it was a unique experience. Take Verdi's opera and pare it down for 10 singers and the 20 piece No Borders Orchestra. Infuse it with occasional African rhythms and reset it in war torn Congo with Generals, rapes, western businessmen as the witches, brilliant animated projections and some horrifying photographs and a set consisting of two sheets of corrugated iron amazingly lit and you have a stunning and emotional piece of theatre. Then on top of this you add some amazing voices. 

Owen Metsileng as Macbeth had one of the the most powerful Baritone voices I have heard. Rich booming and just engulfing to listen to. 

The Lady Macbeth was the equally amazing Nobulumko Mngxekeza whose range seemed to go from Soprano right down through Mezzo to Contralto. Powerful, beautiful and she saved one of those great high notes for towards the end. It was dramatic and overwhelming at times when it produced the huge sound of a full chorus and huge orchestra although there were a mere 30 people involved on stage. The orchestra also played to one side on stage. According to an Italian friend the normal Italian phrasing was used but the surtitles projected on the set were translated in a more modern idion like Macbeth exclaiming "I'm fucked now'. There was a lot of that which made it so real. Huge praise from everyone I met for this most exciting and true presentation. 

After the Brisbane Festival they travelled this production on to:-
Hamburg – Kampnagel Internationale Kulturfabrik September 24 – 26
Buenos Aires – FIBA October 4 & 5
Santiago de Chile October 9 & 10

After the show I went back to the bars and stalls at Arcadia again for another drink and to mull over the evening, ran into some terribly enthusiastic audience members from Sydney and also saw Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk MP there with friends. I noticed she had also been at the Pride Fair that day so she is still making a great Queensland Premier and Arts Minister.
Three of the fabulous guys enjoying a drink at Arcadia (Brisbane Festival) after a performance. I was there several nights after going to shows. Sandile Kamle, Siphesihle Mdena and Owen Metsileng (Macbeth on the right and now a friend on facebook) .

THIRD WORLD BUNFIGHT presents the diverse works of South African artist, Brett Bailey:
theatre productions, installations, operas, house music shows, and site-specific performances.
His idiosyncratic, iconoclastic works focus a probing lens on the world we live in; in particular the post-colonial landscape of Africa, and the historical and contemporary relations between Africa and the West.

10 September 2015


10th June 2015
La Boite
Great theatre just never ceases in Brisbane. Last night I had the great pleasure of seeing one of our most outstanding actors Christen O'Leary giving her powerful all as the tragic Medea. Driven to murder as she is cornered by the immature machinations of the not terribly heroic Jason, she is for me, always a character more pitied than scorned for the horrors she enacts. 

Does she have a choice when all is lost. Jealousy certainly leads to the death of Glauce, but who's fault is it that this abandoned woman sacrifices the children. In this production I felt all fingers point to Jason. Anyway Christen is phenomenal as she always is and this year I see her twice more in 'The Seagull' being re worked by the amazing Daniel Evans and then in the musical 'Ladies in Black' music by Tim Finn.
 I just loved the wax dripped set and the enormous Candelabra centre stage which for me harked to the tree on which the Golden Fleece had hung and which was the central cause of all this misery. This was further emphasised for me when the nurse climbed into the tree to model the glittery cloak soon to be infused with poison. 
One great stroke of genius was the addition of a commenting Chorus of brilliant singing voices. After the show I was able to shake hands with Annika Hinrichs whom I had just recently seen and heard her strong beautiful voice in the Con production of 'The Coronation of Poppea' and I also had a brief chat with young brilliant baritone and composer Connor D'Netto. Connor by the way just won the  7th Melbourne International Chamber Music Competition. I just loved the music for Medea composed by Gordon Hamilton. Looking through the credits I found the lighting done by the always perfect Ben Hughes and there was costume maker Leigh Alexander Buchanan. Leaving the theatre another surprise thrill was a chat with the other two stars Helen Christinson and Damien Cassidy who played Glauce/Nurse and Jason respectively as well as the lovely Mark Sheppard who introduced the Q&A. One day I will actually be able to congratulate Christen in person. Always something to look forward to.

 A little more on Medea productions I have seen.
one With Dame Diana Rigg London 1993.
also Medea - Euripides of Sorts
Wednesday 30th October 2014 Judith Wright Centre
Students of ACPA - The Aboriginal Centre For The Performing Arts. 
That is a friend Tibian Christopha Wyles who has moved on to almost full time acting career with two extensive National tours and other works since graduating.

There arew also the Lars Von Trier film, the Pasolini film with Maria Callas, the Opera witrh Callas and a modern opera with Max Cencic all in my collection

05 September 2015

Akhenaten - Dark Future - Seph Stanek

A new modern adaptation from Dark Future with Seph Stanek from the new Broadway Bound Akhenaten The Musical, directed by Hisham Abdel Khalek.
The story is about how the pharaoh Akhenaten and his wife Nefertiti challenged the almighty power of the priests by imposing for the first time a single God over their many gods. But the struggle for power will leave many destinies shattered.

If you want more I have a page with all you want to know about Akhenaten the most interesting Pharaoh in Egyptian history and father of Tutankhamen 

The Web Site for Akhenaten The Musical

The Facebook page on this new musical.

I have been following the beautiful Seph Stanek for several years and I have another page with more information on this very sexy Baritenor who has done everything from Grand Opera to Naked Boys Singing.

04 September 2015

De Profundis

29th April 2015
Powerhouse Visy Theatre
By Oscar Wilde
Brian as the now tragic Oscar is on stage when you enter standing naked in the corner of the set. Humbled, exposed and vulnerable to the audience, the penal system and society. It is an image so cruel. An image of injustice and an image of vile persecution.
 De Profundis is awesome. Brian Lucas is stunning. I would say rush along if you have not already been, but it is sold out. Just pray that it returns again soon and if you are interstate or overseas also pray that it packs up a bag and travels. Another masterful piece of theatre grown from amazing talents that grace our city David Raymond Fenton and Brian Lucas created this from the epic letter De Profundis of Oscar Wilde. Absent is the cynical, humorous and pointed exposition of social foibles, but instead we see a Wilde stripped down to the raw.

 A man uncomprehending of the injustice thrust upon him, affronted by societies lack of understanding of his artistic temperament, heaping blame upon himself for the depths to which he has fallen. On occasions he grasps at the wit for which he is renowned, but that becomes even more tragic in a man humiliated and destroyed, but still perhaps frantically or hopelessly he imagines the occasional glimmer of hope, remembrance of kindness and gratitude to the faithful. It can be harrowingly personal and this is how it affected me. I was stunned. For the second time this week I have seen a show so brilliantly lit by Jason Glenwright with expert beautiful and poignant video design by Raymond Pittman, images by superb photographer Dylan Evans and the beautiful, but dangerous face of Brandon Dowery that reminded me of the menace of Tadzio encapsulating the angel of temptation, indulgence and death in that Thomas Mann story Death in Venice. It was great to see Brandon in the audienve the night I was there.
These are my thoughts, but this tour de force performance is so layered and dense with emotion and dialogue it may say many things to different people. If you saw it count yourself lucky. Thanks Brian and of course Oscar.

Part of a review from The Brisbane Times
'De Profundis is a staged version of Wilde's legendary letter to his lover Lord Alfred Douglas, written while Wilde was in prison after being convicted of gross indecency.
Lucas brings Wilde's memories of a great love and spiritual awakening to life in a 70 minute bravura performance which includes full frontal nudity.
"No sane person wants to get up onstage in front of people and take their clothes off," Lucas said.
"You're not going to do it unless it's something that needs to be done, and is right to be done."
He said director and collaborator David Fenton had considered the move carefully, worried the nudity could be seen as a gimmick.
"But it plays around with the idea of when we're naked, we're more emotionally exposed than physically exposed," Lucas said.

03 September 2015

Oedipus & Love by Daniel Evans

'Oedipus Doesn't Live Here Anymore'
5 June 2015
Bille Brown Studio
Qld Theatre Company
Firstly in the programme The Premier welcomes 'Oedipus Doesn't Live Here Anymore' by playwright Daniel Evans, winner of the 2014-15 Queensland Premier's Drama Award, the only one of it's kind in Australia. Daniel also wrote 'I Want To Know What Love is in which the title of a small story I submitted was mentioned much to my excitement and I have included that below. Daniel is quite brilliant and has adapted Checkov's The Seagull which is currently having a star actors run at the moment.

The lights dimmed and we embarked on a fast paced ride through the Oedipus plays, Antigone, Oedipus The King, and Oedipus at Colonus, all condensed and told through the eyes of the multiple characters, children, neighbours, school mates etc hanging around the backyards of Brisbane although it is never named specifically. Lots of fiery language, a thoroughly physical performance and just sensational and gripping writing.

The brilliance of the actors who jumped with so much passion, energy, conviction instantaneously from one character to immediately and totally inhabit another as quick as flicking a page was breathtaking. Ellen Elizabeth Bailey, Emily Burton, Joe Klocek and Toby Martin were as committed a group of actors as one could imagine. Moments to cringe, moments to gasp, times to cry and oh so many times to laugh. The evening was magic. Daniel's script is simply outstanding, the actors are nothing short of brilliant, Jason Klarwein' s direction was inspired and gripping to the core and the lights and sound/composition scripted and managed to the millisecond by Daniel Anderson and Justin Harrison lifted the play to epic proportions across the vast space of the Bille Brown stage/floor in front of the huge graffiti mural and the face of Sophocles with his glowing eyes spread across the entire back wall. You just must go and see it. It is so bloody good you will cry if you do not. 
Of course after the really enlightening Q&A at the end of the show there was much shaking of hands, spilling of wine and general partying with the cast and creatives. I had a brilliant and fabulous time and thank everyone and the Queensland Theatre Company for mounting yet another local work pouring forth from the genius minds and talents of Brisbane theatre scene. And thanks to my most darling cousin Michelle Boyd who always takes my theatre whoring photos as I rush around hugging the talented.
Written by Daniel Evans
After: The Theban Plays by Sophocles
Duration: 1 hour 30 minutes | No interval
Director: Jason Klarwein
Designer: Jessica Ross
Lighting Designer: Daniel Anderson
Sound Designer: Justin Harrison
Dramaturg: Louise Gough

Cast Includes: Ellen Bailey, Emily Burton, Joe Klocek and Toby Martin

The earlier play by Daniel Evans 
'I Want to Know What Love Is'
September 2014

Based entirely on anonymous stories, I Want To Know What Love Is is a theatrical work made in response to the fragments of love, yearning and heartbreak submitted by the general public via the specially-built website wewantyourlove.com.

You are invited to bear witness to the love stories of strangers – some epic, others fleeting – as we ask some hard questions about the heart: What have you done for love? Is yours the greatest love story never told? Who, or what, do/did you love? Why? Is love science or poetry? What does love look/smell/taste like? What is the ultimate love song or lyric? Was there ever a time when love just wasn’t enough ...

I Want To Know What Love Is throws a spotlight on long-buried thoughts, stories, crushes and conquests as secret confessions are transformed into magnificent declarations centre stage. This is a celebration of the ordinary made extraordinary. This is for you. 
 A brilliant night at the theatre with both the legendary veteran actor Carol Burns and the young sensational Tom Cossettini blending some special magic amongst the thousands of Rose Petals that poured from everywhere. It made for a simple idea but quite lavish image.
Director: Daniel Evans
Designer: Kieran Swann
Cast Includes: Carol Burns, Tom Cossettini, Caroline Dunphy and Amy Ingram
Created and devised by: The Good Room (Daniel Evans & Amy Ingram) with Lauren Clelland, Caroline Dunphy & Kieran Swann
Lighting Designer: Jason Glenwright
Composer/Sound Designer: Lawrence English

My Bit
This is a link to the page on here of the little story of an interlude in Europe the title of which Daniel used in the play. I was so thrilled when I heard Tom Cossettini utter those words 'The Boy With The Green Umbrella' I made friends with both Tom and Daniel at a later stage and have met and thanked each for that thrill for me.


16th April 2015
Conservatorium Theatre
By G F Handel
Brisbane Baroque Festival
Brisbane Baroque, in collaboration with the Göttingen International Handel Festival, presents an opera in three acts by George Frideric Handel to a text adapted from Apostolo Zeno’s Faramondo

Handel composed forty-nine works for the opera stage before turning his attention to the oratorio form. Faramondo was his thirty-ninth. Premiered at the King’s Theatre, London, on January 3, 1738 with the great castrato Caffarelli in the title role, it was given eight performances and was not revived until 1976. More recently, this late masterpiece has received a memorable concert performance in Geneva in 2009, recorded for CD, and a fully staged production in Gottingen in 2014. It is this acclaimed production that comes to Brisbane.  Re-staged by Glasgow-born, Australian trained director Paul Curran, it will form the centrepiece of the first-ever Brisbane Baroque festival. The dazzling young international cast includes singers from Ireland, the Ukraine, the United States, Great Britain and the Netherlands.

Perhaps it’s the plot (which as opera plots go is among the most complicated - even more complex than that of Verdi’s Il Trovatore) that kept Handel’s late masterpiece out of the operatic repertoire for almost three hundred years. But recent revivals have clearly shown the composer at his inventive best, as he poured out a cascade of his most explosive and expressive arias. Ignoring the historic setting, director Paul Curran has given the feud between two sixteenth century families a modern Mafioso twist. Think Scorsese, de Niro and Pacino.

At the time I wrote:-
Faramondo -You have one last opportunity to see this thrilling, ravishing and musical gem on Saturday night. Last night I had the pleasure of being totally enveloped in three hours and forty five minutes of sublime singing in Handel's newly revived opera. I am a little familiar with the piece as I have the relatively recent recording with Max Emanuel Cencic in the title role and including Philippe Jarousky and Xavier Sabata. Last night Faramondo was sung so amazingly by Jennifer Rivera. The whole cast were just brilliant, but I have a deep love of the countertenor voice and was knocked out by the vocal agility, drama and humour of Christopher Lowrey's alto as Gernando and the extreme delicacy and beauty of Tai Oney's pure soprano countertenor voice as Adolfo. 
Christopher returned to Australia to sing in Sydney with Pinchgut Opera a couple of months later.The dramatic power and vibrant tone of youngish Melbourne baritone Jeremy Kleeman was so stunning. Jeremy is now a finalist in the Australian Singing Competition this year. I would love to praise them all but these three singers are fb friends and I treasure the idea that I can follow them as their careers travel. It was also such a pleasure that I could watch another local friend Michael Nunn acting his heart out as a variety of non singing characters. 
What a fine a daunting sound there was from the Orchestra of the Antipodes and lead violin and another friend Brendan Joyce who is a force of nature playing in this orchestra and also lead of The Camerata of St. John'sand will also be playing as lead with the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra and The Australian String Quartet this year. The friends I went with have been on the phone already today to continue rejoicing in what happened last night. A truly memorable performance and another highlight of the Brisbane Baroque festival which has got off to a start in such spectacular fashion. I was so excited last night that after the show I immediately fronted up to the festival organiser Leo Schofield AM to grab his hand and thank and congratulate him for bringing this here and also for giving me the opportunity to hear and meet my favourite singer in the world Max Emanuel Cencic on Sunday evening.
The Brisbane Baroque production of Faramondo, which played just four performances in Brisbane’s small Conservatorium Theatre won five Helpmann Awards including one for friend Christopher Lowrey and also Best Opera.

Friends doing it solo. Josh, Dash and Matthew

Josh RH Daveta
17th April
Powerhouse Visy Theatre
I have seen Josh in Boy & Girl twice, met him in foyers at his shows and others and he is a force of nature. Charismatic, talented and a star.
 Put a boy in a fluffy pink onesie, add oodles of stage presence, charm, a touch of naughty and a truly remarkable voice and you have the uber talented Josh R H Daveta. Last night his show Teenage Dreams was a celebration of the pop diva as channeled by Josh and his brilliant accompanist, friend and backup singer Luke Volker who can really play with that piano. There is more to do in that bed and doona than just dream. 
Great to see some surprise appearances which I will keep secret because I don't want to spoil the fun for those going to the final show tonight. Do rush along. Once again a fabulous show brought to us by Troy Armstrong. I seem to be going to them all.

I Might Take My Shirt Off
Dash Kruck
14 February 2015
Powerhouse Theatre
Melt Festival
 Dash has been extraordinary in so many productions I have seen and in this he let loose  his one man show.
From the promos: -
It’s Lionel’s first time. You won’t be too rough, will you?

From the mischievous mind of one of Queensland’s favourite actors, Dash Kruck (A Tribute of Sorts), this is the story of Lionel and the reluctant world-premiere of his debut cabaret show; a musical evening of sex, booze, boys and mythical beasts.

Matthew Mitcham
Twist and Turns
6th February 2015
Powerhouse Theatre 
Melt Festival

Matthew Mitcham's
Twists & Turns

On the 23 August 2008, a young Australian athlete made Olympic history. Coming from 30 points behind, and on his final dive, he scored 112.10 to shock himself and the diving world and rob the Chinese of a full sweep of Olympic diving gold medals. 

On that day Matthew Mitcham OAM became Australia's first male diving Olympic gold medallist since 1924, and the only diver ever in Olympic history, to produce a perfect 10 point score from all judges – winning the 2008 Beijing Olympics 10m platform title.

Grinning with pride from front pages around the world, there was no hint of the personal demons that had led this supremely talented young dynamo to quit diving less than two years before his famous win at Beijing.

Joyously out and proud as an openly gay man, Matthew was a role model for his courage both in and out of the pool. Yet the crippling self-doubt and shadow of depression that had plagued him all his life forced him into premature retirement, at one point reduced to circus diving to earn money. 

Even after Beijing and being ranked No 1 in the world, those closest to Matthew could not guess that beneath that cheeky, fun-loving, exterior he was painfully aware of how easily it could unravel.

Matthew has recently released his autobiography Twists and Turns, which reveals a life behind the international spotlight that has been plagued by low self-esteem, anxiety and depression, panic attacks and repeated self-harm as a teenager, leading on to drug abuse. He has also struggled with issues relating to his sexuality, being one of few Olympians to compete at the event as openly gay.
Based on his book of the same name, and told with the honesty and courage he is admired for, this live production of Twists and Turns is an inspiring story of a true champion – in and out of the pool.
Away from the diving pool Matthew is a talented singer and musician, who invites you to share the highs and lows of his incredible life through theatre and song, along with a few surprises, a bit of foot tapping and loads of inspiration, in his first solo show.

Commissioned and produced by the Melbourne Cabaret Festival and directed and co-created by Nigel Turner-Carroll, this extraordinary cabaret show has been scripted by multi-award winning London cabaret star Spanky under the musical direction of Jeremy Brennan (Jersey Boys).
After meeting Matt for the first time.

02 September 2015

Max Emanuel Cencic

12 and 13th April 2015
Concert Hall QPAC
Brisbane Baroque Festival
Joy to the world. This is me below being so happy meeting Max Emanuel Cencic on Sunday evening after the most stunning concert of the music of Johann Adolph Hasse he gave us with the remarkably brilliant Camerata of St. John's. under the direction of the quite astounding lead violin Brendan Joyce. 
 The reviews as expected were universally glowing in praise of the superstar Max and the exquisite chamber orchestra that is a treasure of this city of Brisbane. I was so thrilled to see live and be up front to experience the beauty, control, range and power of my favourite voice in the world. 
I am right down the front.

After the concert I managed to meet Max as you can see and I was so obviously pleased. As if that was not enough I returned to the Concert Hall the following day to once again sit dead centre front row while Max engaged in an hour long converstion with classical music guru and radio/TV presenter Christopher Lawrence. There have been questions in my mind for a long time about details of Max's career and he managed to mention every one I had thought about including confirming that he had visited Brisbane and this hall 25 years ago when he was in the Vienna Boys Choir. Thank you Max for singing for me and I guess the other couple of thousand people.
Me meeting Max.

A great review note by note of the concert

Max through the ages

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...