Tag Archives: Old 505 Theatre


11 Apr

Responsibility has gone out of fashion. Too many of us aspire to be victims.

And the truly marginalized? Perhaps we can pretend the competition is good for them.

Because unbridled capitalism is good, isn’t it? (It’s like a synonym for democracy, right?)

In Trade we follow the fortunes of a dodgy investment company. Manipulate the share price and buy or sell at the right time. And, when one deal goes spectacularly wrong and squillions are lost, it’s time to point the finger. Who is responsible? The fund manager has a golden parachute (literally and hilariously.) Sure, she does time… white collar time. In the meantime, the rest of her team reinvent themselves. Capitalism can be ethical, can’t it?  Greed is Good, that’s from the Sermon on the Mount, isn’t it?


Devised by the ensemble (Melissa Hume, Mathias Olofsson, Dymphna Carew, Alison Bennett and Alicia Gonzalez) and with words by Melissa Lee Speyer, this is sharp, very entertaining theatre.

Director Alison Bennett and movement director Dymphna Carew create a visual space that’s fun and fluid, evocative of a world where funds slip away, ethics slip away. “No risk. No reward.”

Performances are both precise and playful. Trade is very funny.

And wonderfully pointy. Just when you’re comfortably smug in your superiority to these coke-addicted high-flyers, you’re reminded: where, exactly, does your interest, your superannuation, come from?

There was a time when the question was not Who am I? but What is to be done? Exciting, vibrant and new, theatre like this takes me back, and can take us all forward.

Paul Gilchrist


Trade by Hurrah Hurrah

at the Old 505 Theatre until 15 April

tix and info here

A Period Piece

23 Mar

The title is a pun.


It’s one of the things we’re not allowed to talk about. Ok, my modality is too high; it’s one of the things we’re reluctant to talk about.


Because it’s a bodily function? Because it’s related to sex and reproduction? Because it’s female?


One of the best skits in this revue-style production has two men in a gym bragging about their periods; whose is the biggest, whose is the most painful. It’s glorious satire in the if-men-could-have-babies-abortion-would-be-a-sacrament vein.

Another wonderful skit posits a female astronaut – calm, cool, strong, and clearly the best candidate – who’s rejected from the space program because where are they going to fit to all those tampons. “Don’t make us have to say it,” she’s told.

Created by Carissa Licciardello, Gretel Vella and the company, there’s some absolutely wonderful comic writing in this snappy hour long piece. The performances by Julia Robertson, James Wright, Matthew Lee and Julia Christensen are comic gold. And original songs from a three piece band (Mikaela Atallah, Hannah Cheers and Clare Hennessy) create a satisfying texture and provide plenty of giggles.

Of course, everyone is dying to know what this male writer thinks about menstruation. Why is menstrual blood so problematic? After all, there are few healthier ways to lose blood, and we seem to have little problem soaking our screens with the more violent manners of doing so. Is it because the natural cycle of menstruation is a reminder (one of many, and, yes, a reminder to us all) that we are not superior to the earth, but of it?

Paul Gilchrist


A Period Piece

produced by Glitterbomb

at Old 505 until 25 March

Tix and info here here

Hero and Companion

3 Feb

Yes, I’m a fan of new work. And of writer-directors.

Some might find my tastes a little unusual. After all, theatre is one of those strange art forms where the norm seems to be that you do other people’s work, preferably once it’s already been done by someone else. (Of course, there are reasons for this: many understandable, few admirable.)

Hero and Companion is new work by writer-director Erica J. Brennan. It’s exciting and experimental, full of beautiful imagery, both visual and linguistic.

The two pieces are explorations of fear and anger.


Photo by Reef Gahaa

The Hero Leaves a Tooth is a comedy of manners, set in a world where women have grown forbidding teeth in their vaginas. It’s a type of revenge fantasy. Set in a dining room amongst friends, it suggests that the potential for violence and fear that underscores sex, especially for women, is found not only in extreme circumstances but in the everyday.

Companion Piece tells of a woman who visits a watch shop for a repair, but it’s she herself who needs mending. If Hero suggests anger, this suggests that anger needs extraction.

These pieces value imagery, risk taking and a seductive resistance to clarity. They brim with metaphor, but rather than ponderously signifying, these metaphors invite reflection. Rather than snapping shut, like a set of teeth, the world opens up.

Brennan has surrounded herself with a quality team. Jake Nielsen and Matthew Predny have written two cracking opening numbers, which effectively introduce the vibrant theatre to follow. The design team (Camilla Turnbull, Ester Karuso-Thurn and Liam O’Keefe) do work that is attractive and effective.

Performances are generally good, especially the pitch perfect energy of Cat Martin and Victoria Greiner in Companion. Each piece has a show stopping monologue, each performed brilliantly – by Pollyanna Nowicki in Hero and Shauntelle Benjamin in Companion. It is in these set pieces that Brennan’s writing most shines.

Hero and Companion is presented as part of the Old 505 Freshworks season. The Old 505 should be congratulated for this, and for their ongoing commitment to new work.

Paul Gilchrist


Hero and Companion by Erica J. Brennan

Old 505 Theatre til 5 Feb

Tix and info here

Rats (Dirt)

31 Oct

I’m sitting in a park. In a few hours I’ll be in a theatre, but now I’m outside. It’s a magnificent spring day, the sort of day that makes you think God has bought herself a new Photoshop suite and is having some fun. The green of the trees and the blue of the sky vie with each other in brilliance. I’m not alone in my enjoyment: children play in raucous excited groups; parents gather in twos and threes and fours, chatting, smiling, laughing; and older people sit quietly, sunning themselves in the warmth. This park is in Hurstville. Demonized recently by Pauline Hanson, the suburb is the epitome of a gloriously diverse Australia.  It is difficult to picture a more beautiful scene: the trees, the grass, the flowers, the sky, the children, the howitzer.

Yes, tucked away in the corner of the park is a howitzer. It sits on a pedestal, but there is no plaque. It’s a veteran of I don’t know which conflict. The children are oblivious to it. Why is it here?

A few hours later I’m at the Old 505. It is the premiere performance of a new Australian work. I know many of the cast and the writer director. I’m excited about the show and I’m not disappointed. Chris Huntly-Turner has created a piece that’s ambitious, energetic and engaging. It’s an exploration of the experience of Australians during the siege of Tobruk in the Second World War. There are two plays in repertoire; Dirt, which explores the experience of the men at the front, and Moonshine, which explores the experience of the women at home. Tonight is Dirt.


Photo by Liam O’Keefe

It’s the story of Little People caught up in Big History. (These men are not in a park in Hurstville in 2016.) The division of Rats into plays dealing with the male and the female experiences reaps fascinating dividends in Dirt. These men face real current danger, but what are the expectations from home? And are they real or imagined? Why are we here? To do our duty? And what, exactly, is that?

I’ve never been a fan of World War Two. (Neither were most of the people who fought it.) It lends itself too easily to simplistic readings. Like some children’s book, the enemy seems too clearly bad, and we seem too clearly good. Every sabre rattler evokes WW2. But Huntly-Turner and his terrific cast and crew do a great job in exploring the treacherous nature of the terrain.

Our duty, whatever that may be, is difficult to map. But we will attempt to connect our suffering, our sacrifice, our sins with something larger. We will try to make sense of them.

And so a howitzer sits in a park in Hurstville.

Paul Gilchrist


Rats (Dirt) by Chris Huntly-Turner

fledgling theatre company

Old 505 Theatre til Sat 5 Nov




Tue 25 October 7pm, Thu 27 October 8pm, Sat 29 October 8pm, Tue 1 November 8pm,Wed 2 November 8pm, Fri 4 November 8pm and Sat 5 November 6pm


Tues 25 october 7pm, Wed 26 October 8pm, Fri 28 October 8pm, Thu 3 November 8pm and Sat 5 November 8pm

Dot Dot Dot

19 Nov

New work! Thank God. And a big thank you to Gareth Boylan and the Old 505 for presenting it.

Dot Dot Dot by Drew Fairley is a murder mystery set in fin de siècle Australia. It’s a rollicking yarn with terrific performances and some beautiful set pieces. (In particular, one of these pieces is a very amusing, suspense building scene between two policemen, played wonderfully by Gerard Carroll and Matt Abell-King.)

The Crime genre often derives its appeal from its exploration of three concepts: Truth, Causation and Fear.

Truth: Whodunnit? In Fairley’s play we seek a murderer, the infamous ‘Noah’, a psychopath who kills people in pairs; two school girls, two policeman, two theatre critics (OK, maybe not the last pair – which only proves Noah is disturbed – but you get the idea.) But who can lead us to the Truth of the murderer’s identity? There’s the media, with a media baron portrayed with fitting smugness by Carroll. There’s a medium; a sideshow clairvoyant and raconteur played with a fascinating mix of fear and guile by Natalie Venettacci. And there’s the delusional dope addict, played as an intriguing battle between strength and vulnerability by Lucy Miller. But, Truth is a slippery fish; a product of the ocean it swims in…….but more on that later.


Causation: the Crime genre needs connections. Actions must clearly lead to consequences which must lead clearly to other actions. The Crime genre does not do Random. The horrors of Life are not denied but rather made sense of – at least, on one level. This tidying up of the rough edges of Life probably accounts for much of the genre’s popularity. It also makes possible one of its most attractive features: the complicated plot. Fairley’s script delivers, with a plot which is both complex and intriguing, but ultimately crystal clear. Director Gareth Boylan weaves together beautifully the many moments, characters and locations.

Fear: this third in my trifecta of Crime might appear to contradict the second. But, of course, Fear is the disease for which apparent Causation is the cure. It is the exploration of Fear and the environment it creates (the sea the fish swims in) that lifts this play from its genre roots. Fear allows us to be manipulated. I suspect Fairley set the play at the eve of Federation to suggest that Fear is a congenital disease from which this country suffers. He could have further explored the idea that the historical Federation was indeed a direct result of Fear: the states decided to band together because of the illusory threat of the ‘Asian hordes’ that would supposedly overrun this tiny outpost of European civilization. He might have explored that idea……but his target is more contemporary than the fear mongers of the past.

Veronica Kaye

Dot Dot Dot by Drew Fairley

at Old 505 Theatre til 28 Nov

Tix and info here