The Theatre of Mardi Gras: A Grapeshot Compilation

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The Pride by Alex Kaye Campbell
Review by Cameron Colwell

The Pride, showing at the Darlinghurst Theatre, is based on an interesting conceit: One set of actors plays two stories, both in London, but one is set in the 1950s and one is set in the modern day. Both deal with homosexual love. In the past, we have a love triangle between children’s author Oliver (Kyle Kazmarkiz), his illustrator Sylvia (Geraldine Hakewill), and her husband, property seller Philip (Simon London). In the present, we have journalist Oliver, his dear friend Sylvia, and Oliver’s ex, Philip, who Oliver is fighting to keep back, struggling with an addiction of sex with strangers.

There’s a lot about history, here, but it’s a casual relationship more than a serious one. Present Oliver’s sex addiction is tied to a need to submit to his oppressors, and he squabbles with whether or not to go to a Pride march, while in the past, Oliver and Philip’s longing for one another is forbidden, and achingly felt with a deftly controlled series of sidelong glances and painful pauses in an oppressively proper 1950s London. An unexpected scene of violence in the middle seems shocking during, but in retrospect comes across as vulgar and unnecessary.

There’s also a lot of philosophising amongst the banter, which is touching to begin with, but a certain strain of repetition in the script eventually renders it schmaltzy and over-earnest. The political points of the play are, unfortunately, conceptualised to the point of blandness: “Remember the battles,” present Sylvia tells Oliver, but the play doesn’t seem interested in examining them in a large scale.

While it may seem mellow and unchallenging, and despite its veneer of struggle, is far more brilliant dealing with the personal than the political, The Pride‘s heart, humour, and sheer magnetism of its lead’s chemistry make it well worth watching.

Rating: 7.5/10

Event Dates: Friday 5th February – Sunday 6th March 2016
Event Times: Tuesday – Saturday 8pm, Sunday 5pm; Wed Matinee on 2nd March at 11am, Sat Matinees on 27th February & 5th March at 3pm (NB: No 8pm performance on Sat 5 March)
Venue: Eternity Playhouse, 39 Burton Street Darlinghurst NSW 2010; Box office: 02 8356 9987
Running Time: 2 hours & 40 minutes with interval

Ticket Prices: 

  • Standard – $45.00,
  • Concession & Groups (8+) – $38.00,
  • Industry*  – $35.00
  • Under 30* & Preview – $30.00
  • *Available Tue, Wed & Thu only
  • A $2 booking fee applies per ticket for online and phone bookings

The Girlie Show by Wayne Tunks
Review by Angus Dalton

The-Girlie-Show

It’s 1993. Madonna is coming. The gays and girls of Sydney are at fever pitch. The Girlie Show opens as five young superfans line up outside a city ticket outlet to secure front-row spots to Madonna’s first Australian tour. From the moment they start bickering about which album is the most iconic, this play is boiling over with energy. Watching this friendship group form, fall apart, and then come back together again as we get to know the backstories of each character is really enjoyable. The group dynamics are fantastic and the best scenes are when they’re all crammed into one bedroom together, babbling and bouncing with exhilaration over their mutual adoration of the Material Girl.

It takes bravery to write stories that, at face level, are fairly cliché – the country-kid coming out story, the 16-year-old spiralling out of control, the girl asked to become something she’s not to get a record deal. But for some reason, perhaps due to the incredible warmth and dynamism the cast brings to the show, these stories dodge becoming stereotypical and come off as entirely authentic.

Writer and director Wayne Tunks also has two main acting roles, playing both the dickhead Catholic father and, in a lovely twist of expectation, a completely sweet and caring dad to the openly slutty and insolent 16-year-old Sam. Tunks has created a great, vivacious piece of theatre that showcases a talented young cast.

The Girlie Show is exactly like I imagine a Madonna concert to be: there’s singing, there’s dancing, it’s really fucking fun, sexually charged and above all, utterly entertaining.

Rating: 4/5

Event Dates: Tuesday 9th to Saturday 13th February 2016 (Edit: running until the 20th of February)


Review by Angus Dalton

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The Whale orbits around Charlie (Keith Agius), a 600-pound man effectively trapped inside his apartment in small-town Idaho. He works as an online essay writing teacher, a perfect occupation for a man barely able to heave himself off the couch. In and out of his cloying apartment come Liz, his best friend, who both tries convince him to get healthy, yet enables his addiction to food by bringing kilos of KFC and donuts. Elder Thomas (Alex Beauman), a 19-year-old Mormon missionary, bursts in on Charlie watching something on his computer that would have most other missionaries bolting tail between legs, regardless of their religion. But he’s determined to persevere in spreading his church’s word. Somewhere along the way comes Ellie, the long-estranged daughter of Charlie who he reaches out to in desperation as his weight threatens to crush him. Chloe Bayliss’s portrayal of the toxic-tongued teenager left mouths hanging open, both because of her blisteringly good performance and the thought, holy shit, did she actually just say that?

The Whale’s genius lies in the synergy between its fast, laden dialogue, the brilliant cast, a cinematic score and a detailed set, realistic down to the live goldfish bobbing around in a fluorescent tank. It’s tempting to call The Whale a tragi-comedy, but the story is far too real and complicated to be reduced to that label. What it can be called is a stunning, charged, unmissable piece of theatre about losing faith in your religion, your family, and yourself, and finding it again in the faces of those you love most.

Rating: 4.5/5

Event Date: From 2nd February to 4th March 2016
Event Time: Tuesday to Saturday 7:30pm, Sunday 5:00pm
Venue: Red Line at the Old Fitz Theatre, 129 Dowling St, Woolloomooloo, NSW 2011
Running Time: 120 minutes with interval
Ticket Price: $40 Adult, $35 Concession, $30 Previews & Cheap Tuesday

 

 

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