i am a fan of human displays performed on stage.  one of my flock is a writer and has a work under development.  i don’t get to the theatre so often.  making some scratchings here about displays i witness over the next few months might prompt more attendance.  one reason may be the big difference between bird display and human display – free vs big bucks.  anyway here is the 2013 list.  if i see any good bird display i will have a chirp about that as well

the secret river (sydney theatre company).  saw this sat 2 mar 13 as part of the festival of perth (his majesty’s theatre).  tough for me to watch, but really good, first rate.  tells of the displacement and dispossession of aboriginal people along the hawkesbury river nsw in the early squatting days.  lots of pax turned a blind eye to what it meant then, we still turn a blind eye today.  what’s yours is mine and what’s mine stays mine.  ambition and desire versus morality, somethings never change, never will.  individual displays were fab, a couple of familiar faces like the villain from snowtown.  ursula yovich and miranda tapsell were top class with an ability to convey message and emotion

sympathetic cluck-clucks and understanding murmurs from the audience but i am not sure how many have a friendship or peer interaction with an aboriginal person.  principles mean nothing without action.  it is the audience therefore that relegates and demeans the show to mere entertainment.  not the way things are meant to be but it will be the reality.  among the best shows i have seen

a clockwork orange (action to the word, uk).  i think this is the final leg of their aussie tour.  sun 12 may 13 (subi arts centre).  a combo of acting, dance and contemporary soundtrack.  everyone knows the basic story.  i read the book, liked it.  didn’t think much of the film.  the real meaning of this story remains a mystery to me.  maybe that is the way it is supposed to be.  maybe this show will have it become more apparent.  let’s see, i am looking forward to this

real dobby.  i enjoyed this so much.  the story could be easily followed.  each of the scenes making up the show were clear in intent and message.  putting them together to understand the meaning remains elusive.  at least to me.  most people can agree what is wrong.  but what is right?  and when or not and to who?  who wins, who loses?  anyway the dancing was jeezny, the lead actor was horrowshow.  talented.  the famed ultra violence of clockwork orange was presented in stylised dance.  not visually confronting but highly effective.  the show kept rolling over 90 mins without an interval.  i like a show without a break, the interval seems such a waste of time, a delay of conclusion.  a pity there weren’t more pax at the show in such an intimate venue.  the audience was mixed, i would say tending to baby booms, perhaps not surprising given the vintage of the tale.  more than enjoyable.  i wasn’t disappointed

fury (sydney theatre company).  in sydney for the footy.  go dockers.  seeing this play on the same day as part of the footy festivities.  sat 18 may 13.  (wharf theatre)  a good crowd was there, tending on the senior side.  it looked like a refined bunch.  maybe because it was a matinee.  contemporary theatre is my preference.  this show is good.  in summary middle age is a penance for all the things you regret from your youth.  there is a lot of reflection about how people deal with their own restless minds and what they perceive as conflict between ‘right’ and ‘socially acceptable’.  it gets more complex when the people closest to them are trying to shape their behaviours in that person’s own image.  where does individual freedom start and stop?

i didn’t recognise any of the actors, but all the performances were strong.  demanding stuff because anger and anguish are transmitted for much of the performance.  an intimate theatre, our seats were front and centre in row a.  almost part of the performance instead of the audience.  you could certainly feel as well as see

my preference for display is theatre of this type.  if it is good there is no escape from seeing yourself into some of the roles or moral dilemmas.  we know how we would like to react.  but maybe we didn’t in similar circumstance.  it’s how we view others who cross the line and how we move on from our own transgressions that provides the pointers to who we are

the addams family (elephant eye/newtheatricals) .  more display on offer while in sydney.  sun 19 may 13.  (capital theatre).  i am a fan of the addams family.  great stuff for its vintage.  the show started in the mid 60s when i was in primary school.  my parents believed our tv set existed only for the abc 7p news, so i didn’t see any shows first time around.  over the next 50 years i probably have seen all the eps on re-run.  very funny.  let’s see how it translates to a stage musical.  it showed on broadway in 2010

translated to a lot of fun.  my friends said it would be too high brow but i concentrated and managed to follow the plot.  the cast was really good, each seemed to become their addams.  the producers got the leads spot on.  morticia displayed by chloe dallimore was a standout.  matched by john waters as gomez.  i saw him in looking through a glass onion many years ago, a really super talent.  the orchestra was tops, tight and energetic.  dancing was the main form of movement, it added to the good time.  the show entertains, the audience of 450 guess had fun.  lots of laughs from the over 50′s brigade.  perhaps remembering their own memories of the tv hit.  i think the tv show only had two seasons so it obviously stuck with a generation.  for all the right reasons

driving miss daisy  (tue 12 jun, gordon/frost, his majesty’s theatre)  we bought last minute tix, so were in the nosebleed circle.  our seats were in the front row so there was a clear line of sight to the stage.  the crowd was middling to old in age.  young audience were very sparse.  although i was familiar with the story, i hadn’t seen the film.  this caused me to ponder my expectations and reasons for attending.  was it to see the two stars angela lansbury and james earl jones?  was it to see if the stars’ performances were really astonishing?  was it to absorb the play and its messages?  back to this question after giving my impressions

the story and narrative was solid, but perhaps too polite, too generous and cheerful for the reality of the era.  this may be intentional if the story is simply meant to focus on the development of a relationship between miss daisy and hoke.  but i expect the play’s intention is to reflect more generically on post ww2 race relations in the usa.  it hinted at the racial and social divides that prevailed but shied away from being confronting.  both in narrative and performance.  is the current production directed at being a simile for the state of play in race relationships today – continuing differences in power, income, integration etc.?  lack of progress in the obama years?  i would like to think it has this in mind, but based on this performance that seems to be a stretch too far

the staging was good, providing a simple and clear palette to see what the actors had to offer.  i found some isolated pieces of the dialogue a little difficult to pick up, this probably is more about the vertical elevation of our seats than anything else.  i wasn’t convinced about the vision that sometimes rolled behind the stage, seemingly to provide historical context.  it didn’t add anything and was occasionally distracting because it was difficult to pick up the moving pictures against the backdrop

as entertainment the show was great.  the sole supporting actor boyd gaines was good, really fab, contributing a lot to building the scenes.  add two well credentialed stars, displaying their famous talents at very senior ages.  most of us would be wishing to do as well at that vintage.  their craft was frequently acknowledged by audience applause during the show and apparent adulation at the curtain call.  given the lack of youth in the audience does this suggest a celebrity culture more prevalent among baby boomers than gen x,y,z & i?  were a lot of the audience there because of reputation and a willingness to pay homage to genuine stars?  is that why the stars were there?  an open finding on these questions.  from my own perspective i think i booked because the pre-show reviews and publicity pumped up;

  • the story being powerful social commentary (i don’t think so) and,
  • the stars’ performances being great (as entertainment yes, as conduits of a social message probably not)

anyway i am glad i attended.  it entertained without any difficulty and i reached some conclusions.  others may differ.  no big deal about that

thoroughly modern millie (22 jun ecu, regal theatre)  attended the matinee geriatric session.  average age of the audience was about 92.  average age of the performers was about 19.  anyway a full house and everyone – audience and performers – had a ripping time.  the student musicians in the pit were fab, the student singing was good and the stage performers mostly managed to carry off the style of acting necessary for a musical comedy

I haven’t seen this performed previously so wasn’t familiar with the story or production treatment.  this one had good use of tap to convey mood and activity.  the sets were simple and highly effective, creating complimentary scenes to show off the talents of the performers.  there were no barriers to understanding the narrative of this rom-com.  ideal for any audience senility

i enjoyed the show and thought the overall production was very professional. so much so the start to finish time of 2.5 hours slipped away, it seemed to last for a much shorter duration.  always a good sign

day one, a hotel, evening  (29 jun black swan, state theatre centre)  i looked forward to this display.  my preference is for contemporary works.  i was very taken with fury, a play by the same playwright, joanna murray-smith, seen recently in sydney.  the matinee audience filled up most of the stalls, nobody in the upper circle.  a youngish to baby boomer crowd.  i pondered the reason for my attendance, whether it was the theme of sexual entanglement and its voyeuristic connotations or some lower morality?  don’t know

 certainly this performance moves at a rapid pace.  so fast I got lost with the characters.  my brain struggled.  who was married to who?  who did they know?  who was doing who?  etc.  it all became clear(er) towards the end, but i wonder if i was missing something?  although the dialogue was presto, it was witty and funny.  acknowledged by plenty of giggles from the stalls.  the laughter seemed almost totally derived the words, rather than the acting or delivery.  with such a splendid accomplished cast my views of the acting may seem harsh.  probably more a question mark over the direction.  it seemed to want to emphasise inter-personal tension at the expense of comedy.  roz hammond defied this trend

the set was top notch.  a bedroom farce demands plenty of scene changes to develop the surprise and tension of being busted.  the carousel stage allowed the characters to move between partners and assignations in hotels, offices, bedrooms, cafes and alley ways.  very good

although a slick production, i think the performance generally bypassed its comedic potential.  i also have some doubt about the script.  it seemed empty of a message.  maybe it is meant to be.  does it reflect an opinion of having no basis to question modern feckless behaviour?  are these things are the business of two people to be resolved by them or a different pairing?  nah, I think it should have concentrated on making cheating, busting and revenge really funny

other desert cities  3 aug black swan theatre comapny, queensland theatre company.  i should have made comment about the new state theatre centre in my review of day one, a hotel, evening  excellent place.  great theatre and stage.  good seats.  it works

this stage play made its debut in 2011 at the lincoln centre nyc.  then transferred to broadway.  nominated for a pulitzer.  this formed questions in my mind.  is this play worth the hype?  does the local version hit the heights in terms of direction, performance and set?  what is the social discourse of the play?  in no order

an excellent display.  top notch, top shelf in every way.  the narrative engages from the opening, immediately drawing you into family life.  the cleverness of the set design makes such a strong contribution to context and characterisation.  full marks to whoever designed it!

the acting performances are really good.  anguish and emotional torment are tough gigs.  every cast member carries it off.  the interspersed humour is clever and well grounded in typical adult family banter.

it doesn’t take too long for the central themes to emerge.  can the need for individuality, truth, and family relationships – how love is provided and accepted be reconciled?  and coexist?  most families face these issues at different levels and at most times, particularly as children become adult and independent in thought and conviction.  it’s what makes the world interesting.  and dangerous.  this play makes a convincing case that all elements can triumph when everyone can join the dots.  and can admit to their flaws of character.  we all have some.  family is redefined as being built on a circle of knowledge.  it allows us to reach out to others.

i thought the play to be really strong in narrative and message with the local production up to anyone’s standards.  I am glad i went

an after show dash home to watch the dockers to play their afl game