Archive | November, 2012

Into the Mirror

25 Nov

Each of us is in the process of becoming.

And that’s glorious.

And frightening.

So we attempt to define ourselves; to have something, in all the flux, to hold on to.

But, in our definitions, we tend to look backwards. We base who we are on who we’ve been.

And we were born male or female. In all the confusion of life, that’s one certainty. To be held tight.

Photo by Pat Carter

But, of course, it’s not. We are all both woman and man. In each of us is all of us.

Life is the tussle between certainty and potential, between security and possibility. Yesterday’s claims fight Tomorrow’s hopes, forever in the battlefield of Today.

Into the Mirror tells the story of a woman transitioning to a man. Shelly Wall’s script is thought provoking and sensitively explores this courageous choice.

Wall directs, drawing strong work from her cast. Penny Day as Kendall in the process of transitioning captures a fragile confidence. Helen Stuart and Amber Robinson give beautifully nuanced performances.

In this tale it is Kendall’s daughter who struggles most with her mother’s choice. Why won’t people just stay in the boxes we put them in? Oh, they will. One day. And we’ll desperately wish it otherwise. For only the living are maddeningly irrepressible.

This production is a beautiful plea for acceptance. For a truly open society, it’s theatre we need to have.

Veronica Kaye

Into the Mirror

King Street Theatre until 16 Dec

The Venetian Twins

17 Nov

Ah, colour and movement! Give it to the groundlings. Provide it for the plebs. Combine it with a scrap of bread, and it’s enough circus to keep the masses content.

And what’s so bad about that? Does joy have logic? Does delight need depth? Does fun require an arc? The Venetian Twins is joyous, delightful and fabulous fun! It’s great to see a play that’s seriously that – ‘play’ful.

And now I get serious. (Oh, Veronica, you can be such a bore. Admittedly, you never rain on a parade, but must you always over think them?)

Mistaken identity is a common old dramatic trope. Because they saw far fewer stories than us, earlier audiences were quite thrilled at the concept of representation of identity. (It’s worth remembering that some cultures are uncertain as to whether we can do it at all. Or whether we should. There have been times and places where drama has been entirely banned. If you can’t see why, you haven’t seen it done well.)

But we’ve become soaked in it. We believe it, which is just another way of saying we no longer think about it.

But it has been newish, a novelty, and so it was played with. Having just moved beyond a theatre dominated by the stock types who inhabit commedia and morality, the idea of the unique individual had not become fixed. It was the catalyst to much speculation. (And Nick Enright and Terence Clarke’s take on the original play by Carlo Goldoni retains this potential to induce wonder.)

Mistaken identity is also (clearly) a great opportunity for laughs. Jay James-Moody as the twin brothers Tonino and Zanetto gives a brilliant comic tour-de-force.  Director Mackenzie Steele’s production bubbles over with laughter and song. His whole cast is superb and the evening is a real treat for both the eyes and ears.

But laughter derived from mistaken identity can, in its own madcap way, make us question identity altogether. How different are we really? How different do we want to be? Is there really a ‘real me’ that exists outside and apart from the wild confusion of life?

Mistaken identity in theatre is the source of much comedy. In real life, it’s the source of much misery. Too often we allow our invented idea of ourselves to get in the way of genuine connections with others.

But how can we transcend this obsession with the imagined ‘me’?

Seriously playful theatre might do the trick.

Veronica Kaye

The Venetian Twins 

By Nick Enright and Terence Clarke

New Theatre til 15 Dec

Great Expectations

12 Nov

Dickens was one of the great critics of nineteenth century capitalism.

But he goes in and out of fashion. For some, his characterization is too broad, his plots too neat, and his passions too sentimental. But I pray that his message – and, yes, like any writer worth their salt, he had one – never goes out of fashion.

Loudly and clearly, Dickens said cruelty was wrong. If that seems self evident to us, we have writers like him to thank.

In Great Expectations, Dickens explored one of the more subtle forms of cruelty that capitalism engenders. Capitalism broke down many of the old class structures. In itself, this was a good thing. But its dark side was that it gave rise to a new contempt for those at the bottom of the social pyramid. If society is freer then the lower orders have only themselves to blame for their misfortune.

In a wonderful piece of irony the main character, Pip, through no effort of his own, finds himself the heir to a fortune. And it’s through the lens of his great expectations that he then views his friends and family. His embarrassment at his step father Jo, the village blacksmith and the most gentle and caring of men, provides some of the most painful pages in English literature.

Nick Ormerod and Declan Donnellan’s stage adaption of the novel captures the power of the original.

And this production by bAKEHOUSE Theatre is fast paced, funny and very moving. Director John Harrison marshals a terrific cast and brings this magnificent story to life.

At uni, I was made to read Great Expectations twice. At 19 I was left cold. At 22 I thought it the funniest book I’d ever read, and one of the saddest.

This production is utterly accessible and a great introduction to a literary giant who saw further than many of his contemporaries.

May we all be blessed with his vision.

Veronica Kaye

Great Expectations

ATYP til 17 Nov


4 Nov

Words. I like ‘em.

And writer Stephen Vagg uses them gloriously.

Built on the conceit that the sidekick phenomena found in rom-coms is often repeated in real life, Vagg’s Sidekicks is a very funny, very engaging piece of theatre.

Director Louise Alston’s simple production wisely allows the language to do its magic. And actors Emily Rose Brennan and Dan Ilic are superb; their understated delivery is a real delight.

In the movies, the sidekicks often speak more intelligently and imaginatively than the heroines and heroes

Is this true in life?

Is language the opposite of action?

There’s certainly an enormous prejudice in our culture towards this belief. ‘Actions speak louder than words.’

But volume isn’t everything. Give me subtlety any time. Through it we’ll build a richer world.

The play suggests we should stop accepting the role of sidekicks. We should let go of our self doubts and live an authentic fully-engaged life.

I think it’s a great tragedy to believe that, somehow, we’re doing good when we relegate ourselves to second place. We fool ourselves we’re being humble, when we’re just being irresponsible.

The world will be made with us, or without us.

So, all you fast talking deep thinking sidekicks, step forward!

Veronica Kaye


Old 505 Theatre til 18 November

When the Rain Stops Falling

1 Nov

Andrew Bovell’s When the Rain Stops Falling is a beautiful play.

Inspiring in its reach, it joins in story characters from across three generations and two continents. It’s a symphony to human connection. It’s about connections we can’t avoid and so must keep in good repair. It’s about children running from parents, parents running from children, and the futility of running.

Julie Baz’s production wonderfully brings to life the joy and sorrow of these human connections. Her cast does a magnificent job. Alex Nicholas and Christina Falsone’s scenes are brilliant.  Both Rebecca Scott and Erin McMullen brought me to tears more than once.

It’s about now that I always point out I don’t write reviews.

Reviews are our revenge on theatre. (And not just when we dislike it; after all, even 5 STARs is rather parsimonious, considering how many stars there actually are.) In answer to the beautiful multiplicity of theatre, reviews offer a stern monotone. Which is why no-one takes them too seriously. Which is why I don’t write them. (They’re like trying to catch starlight in a jar.)

We need to find other ways to respond to art other than mere evaluation. And I suspect the best responses won’t be written ones at all.

I suspect the best response to When the Rain Stops Falling is to be grateful that art can offer such powerful reminders – and then to act upon it.

Because we’re all in this together.

Veronica Kaye

When the Rain Stops Falling

til 17 Nov, Sydney Independent Theatre Company