Brand Spanking New Week 2

Nine plays ranging from dialogues a few minutes in length to virtual one acts feature in this second week of new writing. As with the first week there were some hits and misses although the overall standard of acting was stronger than in week one.


 Brand Spanking NewNew Theatre, Sydney
Friday 5th November 2010 (Week Two)

 
Nine plays ranging from dialogues a few minutes in length to virtual one acts feature in this second week of new writing. As with the first week there were some hits and misses although the overall standard of acting was stronger than in week one.
 
The Locals was an enjoyable duet of monologues loosely linked about two women’s perceptions of Redfern. It was a tour de force for both Arabella Macpherson as the woman in love with the quirkiness of her suburb and Kellie Jones the woman distributing pay back to men. Both performances were strong and vibrant and Scott Selkirk’s direction enhanced the theatricality, making this one of the stronger offerings of the night. The writer Alana Valentine may have chosen to present the juxtaposition of viewpoints as a whole but the pieces felt more like two separate elements.
 
Extra Curricular featured a cast of 8 women (Kelly Anderson, Persia Blue, Lib Campbell, Mel Firbank, Belinda Jombwe, Camelia Mowbray, Alannah Roberston and Georgia Woodward) all playing teenage school girls. The story is gradually revealed through the girls’ answers about a missing fellow schoolgirl. It’s clear there is a secret the girls are hiding and this is cleverly unfurled by writer Suzie Miller, although the eventual climax is somewhat rushed. Fischer directs the cast well with attention to action and mannerisms with the ensemble clearly portraying the personalities within a school girl clique.
 
The Pursued, the Pursuing, the Busy and the Tired by Tim Spencer was a nice short piece set at a party. A couple of people (Peter Buck Dettmann and Lucy Goleby) are rather awkwardly placed in the position of making small talk with some surprising revelations. Supple’s simple direction suited the ambience of the frank and sometimes funny, sometimes poignant nature of the writing.
 
A Walk in the Park by Donna Abela (directed by Vanessa Hughes) highlighted how we can catastrophise a simple action like going to the park and how negatives can impact on others. Emma Jones played the friend or relative who wants to go to the park and Libby Ahern was the person offering all the risk scenarios of doing so, which become more and more elaborate until her friend eventually turns on her.
 
The Reunion, written by Ian Wilding, was directed with stylized and sometimes staccato action by Dominic Mercer. Two couples (Lucy Goleby, Sean Ohlendorf, Emily Morrison, Salman Shad) are reflecting on fifty years since school and the various major milestones in their lives. The time periods jump from present to past displaying the tensions in the relationships and the course their lives have taken. The ‘Brave New World’ has not lived up to expectations. Wilding tackles a number of themes, some working better than others within the convoluted action.
 
Apples and Onions by Alison Rooke was like a one act play with the characterizations the crux of this drama/comedy. Madeleine Jones was beautifully naturalistic and charismatic as the girl who wants to stay in the small country town and put down roots -open a café called Apples and Onions. Rhys Wilson plays the boy who wants to realize his dreams of adventures in the big city.  Essentially it was a story about letting go- of others and dreams and but covered some of the same ground repeatedly.  Director Heath Wilder wisely centered the work on the relationship and emotions involved.  
 
HereNowThenThere by Catherine Zimdahl skillfully explores the territory of torture and persecution. Kenneth Moraleda plays the person explaining that he can keep his inner spirit intact, no matter what happens to his physical body. Directed with style and perspicacity by Jane Eakin, the person imprisoned is often mirrored by his persecutor (Matt Young) to interesting effect. The aftermath of the effects of torture on psyche and emotions is also well covered through the man’s relationship with his cat.
 
Atomograd by Caleb Lewis was the strongest play of the night, having a clear and lucid plotline, interesting characters, and funny dialogue well realized by actors Melissa Matheson and Kate Skinner. It’s Chernobyl where the characters are sick of living “a half-life” like the uranium which surrounds them. One of them comes up with a clever solution for compensation which involves exporting boars to Germany. Directed with a good sense of timing and frivolity by Nick Curnow this was an entertaining piece of theatre.
 
The Importance of Being Earnest Dragons by Alli Sebastian Wolf yet again bastardises Wilde’s immortal script, this time introducing dragons into Bunburyisms. The eating of Aunt Augusta held promise, but then the action directed by Scarlett McGlynn stagnated and finished with a rather odd little dance and devouring of the lovers by numerous dragons. The ensemble (David Adlam, Richard Cox, Sarah Hodgetts, Corinne Marie) seemed to enjoy themselves. Perhaps a fitting piece of fluff with which to end the season.
 
Until November 6, 2010
Bookings: New Theatre 1300 306 776

 

Anne-Marie Peard

Anne-Marie spent many years working with amazing artists at arts festivals all over Australia. She's been a freelance arts writer for the last 10 years and teaches journalism at Monash University.

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