12 September 2015
Wild Rice for The Brisbane Festival
Last night I had such a wonderful evening. I set off to see the visiting production of 'The Importance of Being Ernest' from Singapore. It was the first play I have seen this year that I did not know anyone in the cast, but by evenings end I had met them all. As everyone says it is the perfect play, full of wit and language that excites the brain. Oscar Wilde is one of the great treasures of the English Language and one of my idols. Although I have seen it on stage before and many filmed versions it was like watching it for new although I could probably recite most of it from memory. The cast said they could hear the audience anticipating the dialogue. There was so much laughter throughout, but I tend to try and hold back because the words are not to be missed and are exquisite ornaments to be fully appreciated.
One of the great additions was the string quartet from the Qld. Conservatorium (not them in the picture below) who played several pieces of Bach Mozart Haydn and Boccherini etc. before the play began while the cast handed out cucumber sandwiches to the audience and leading in to Act Two from the interval with a glorious Bach solo cello prelude. The all male cast was so fitting and I tended to forget that the women who continued to have female pronouns and male costumes were in fact men. A little like the device Visconti and Fellini use of placing a camera in the scene to remind you that it is cinema they played with vocal registers and dropped now and then to show a bit of testosterone to bring back awareness of the maleness of the characters and this gave particular poignancy to modern political and sexual discussions here and also in the even more conservative Singapore society.
Ivan Heng formed this company Wild Rice back in 2000 and he also did the design after Beadsley, and played the magnificent Lady Bracknell with panach and such fabulous outfits. You can see a great video chat with Ivan below. What a charming man he was to talk to. I have so much to say, like how stunningly beautiful is Gavin Yap as Cecily and how charming his personality as the young ward, Absolutely hilarious and wonderful both on and off stage was Chua En Lai who played Lady Bracknell's daughter Gwendolen and just fantastic and truly outstanding was Hossan Leong as the prim and somewhat forgetful Miss Prism who is the cause of all this comedy. Never lose your Handbag. Mischief will be afoot and Oscar Wilde's invention is one of the great classics of the English Stage and throughout the world.
Gavin Yap and Chau En Lai
After the show we retired to the Russell St Wine Bar and it was there that we cought up with all the cast and chatted and drank with them for an hour or more before popping over to Arcadia again for more Red Wine and Gluten Free Donuts and even more friends. They loved being here and now that this relationship with Singapore has been created with the festival I and they hope to see them back and also theatre cooperation would be wouderful. I certainly mentioned people and festivals they should look at etc. Now to add all this to my blog tomorrow with even more photos.
p.s. I got some kisses.
Many years ago I saw a memorable production with the legendary Ruth Cracknell, Geoffrey Rush and Gordon Chater. This one went down in Australian theatre history.