Tag: David Passmore

REVIEW: Hoy Polloy Presents THE SEAFARER

Award-winning play a tough sell

By Margaret Wieringa

Sharky has returned to his blind, alcoholic older brother Richard just before Christmas. For a change, Sharky is not drinking. On Christmas Eve, they have several visitors and a card game takes place, with only Sharky aware of just how high the stakes truly are.

The Seafarer - Photo Credit Fred Kroh

fortyfive downstairs was an excellent space to house Richard’s lounge room, the only set of the performance. The wind gushing down the laneway and the old floorboards added ambience to that created by the old furniture and dim walls (although so many of Guinness and other Irish brand alcohol posters seemed unnecessary to set the scene).

Overall, the play dragged. The script by Conor McPherson has been nominated for a variety of awards including the Laurence Olivier and several Tony awards, but it felt very long and repetitive and, at times, boring. There were several times when it was necessary to get Sharky and Mr Lockhart alone, but the way the other characters were removed from the scene was clumsy and obvious.

It is a script with a lot of dialogue, which can run the risk of losing crucial dramatic silences. There were some attempts to create these moments, most notably from Sharky, whose near silence in the second act is a big change from his verbosity in the first, but it seemed far too contrived. And somehow in all of these weighty moments, the heavy truths that are to be revealed are lost, and the emotional lows were unclear.

The mismatched ages did create some confusion as to why these five people were in a room together at all, but despite the terrible drunken staggering, the somewhat average Irish accents and a rude audience with phones ringing several times (even during crucial scenes), each of the five actors had moments that worked really well in the performance. As Ivan, Adam Rafferty had a few lovely incidents of storytelling portraying a character who can wax lyrical and dig himself into the odd hole. Mr Lockhart, played by Michael Cahill, gave an excellent description of the hell that a man can feel, while David Passmore captured the jovial edginess of Nicky, and Geoff Hickey and Barry Mitchell were able to show the challenges of a strained relationship between brothers with much regret and pain in their history.

Venue: fortyfive downstairs, 45 Flinders Lane, Melbourne
Season: 30 July – August 10
Tickets: $33-$38
Bookings: 9662 9966 or http://www.fortyfivedownstairs.com/buy-tickets/?event=seafarer

 

 

 

Review: OBSERVE THE SONS OF ULSTER MARCHING TOWARDS THE SOMME

A brave war effort in theatre

By Anastasia Russell-Head

This new Melbourne production of Frank McGuinness’ iconic play Observe the Sons of Ulster Marching Towards the Somme visually transports us to another place and time.

From the moment we entered the theatre space at the Brunswick Mechanics’ Institute and were confronted with a mist-shrouded cross-shaped catwalk-style stage, the somber palette and earthy textures of World War I set the mood very effectively.

Telling the story of eight young Northern Irish soldiers who are thrown together by circumstance, and who must navigate their own fears and prejudices, this play is compelling in its subject-matter but yet left me strangely unsatisfied. There were some fine performances from the ensemble cast, who bravely took up the challenge of the Irish accents, and Dan Walls is to be commended for his portrayal of the subversive Kenneth Pyper. Nicholas Brien also showed depth and sensitivity as the young blacksmith David Craig.

The play itself is a little heavy-handed – as The Guardian’s Michael Billington writes, McGuinness puts an “excessive emphasis on an apparent Ulster death-wish”. The shortcomings in the script, coupled with perhaps some lack of subtlety in direction, prevented this story from fulfilling its potential to be truly moving. Lighter comedic moments really hit the mark, however, evoking genuine laughs from the audience, and providing a bitter-sweet counterpoint to the main plot.

Visually and spatially this production is quite successful. Having the audience in the round gives visual depth and interesting angles from which to view the action, and I enjoyed the surprising moments of intimacy which this offered. This stage layout is of course much more challenging for sight lines and lighting – a challenge that was generally met very well.

Hoy Polloy has taken the challenge of a tough ensemble play – a work not without its flaws – and has produced a solid production supported by an excellent cast of young actors. If you want to see the next generation of leading men strut their stuff, this is the show to see.

Featuring: Nicholas Brien, Angus Brown, Karl Cottee, Kevin Dee, Mathew Gelsumini, Tosh Greenslade, David Passmore, Ian Rooney & Dan Walls

Season runs until 13 August, 8pm Tue to Sat

Mechanics Institute Performing Arts Centre (cnr Sydney & Glenlyon Rd, Brunswick)

$30 /$24/$20 Tue

Bookings www.trybooking.com

 Enquiries 9005 6734