Tag: Louise O’Dwyer

REVIEW: La Mama Theatre Presents THE PLAY’S THE THING

The Bard has a lot to answer for

By Beth Cregan

Take one young, intense actor (Louise O’Dwyer) totally committed to perfecting her craft (she’s earnest in that ‘bring own thermos of tea and sandwiches’ kind of way!) Add an experienced, caffeine-powered matriarch (Maureen Hartley) who’s been around the traps. She’s seen it all but more importantly, she knows it all too! Mix in a tired theatre director, (Peppa Sindar) who would love her job, if it wasn’t for the damn actors.

The Plays the Thing

Cast all three characters in a performance, add a misplaced techie and an absent writer to take the flak and you have the makings of a playful drama set in the theatre world. From hilarious warm-up exercises to well-worn power plays, The Play’s The Thing shines the comic spotlight on what happens when words (and egos) collide. Thankfully, despite the conflict and constant coffee breaks, Shakespeare wins out in the end.

Clever writing and superb characterisation create this dialogue-driven drama. Set at La Mama’s Theatre, the close proximity of actors and audience help create the ‘fly on the wall’ intimacy that works so well for this comedy. Louise O’Dwyer and Maureen Hartley pair beautifully in this play and their strong characters certainly bring the script to life. Defined in opposition, their need to control ‘their patch‘  keeps the tension tight. Peppa Sindar as the Director skillfully balances the energy between them. Mind you, her character could circumvent a fair amount of the drama by stepping up to the plate a little sooner, but then we’d miss out on some classic and memorable scenes like Dwyer’s vocal warm-ups and Hartley’s demonstration of physical theatre.

This talented cast of actors not only earn the audience’s laughter, but they work seamlessly to perform a multi-layered, complex play within a play. Written and directed by Brenda Palmer, you won’t need any inside knowledge of the theatre world to enjoy this performance. You’ll recognise these characters anywhere.

The Play’s The Thing is playing at La Mama Theatre from February 20 – March 2, 2014. Tickets available online at http://lamama.com.au/summer-2014/the-plays-the-thing/

Advertisements

Review: UNCLE VANYA by Hotwire Productions

An engrossing interpretation of a modern masterpiece

By Anastasia Russell-Head

Chekhov’s works, like Shakespeare’s, serve to unite humanity and human foibles across time and continents.

More than a century after Uncle Vanya was first penned, and on the opposite side of the globe, we’re still dealing with the same stuff – complaining about our lives, falling in love with the wrong people, allowing ourselves to be irritated and manipulated by our relatives, and falling victim to paralyzing inaction.

Director and adaptor Laurence Strangio brings the characters in this play slightly out of history, and makes their plight poignantly relevant to today by, as he writes in the program notes, not feeling “bound by historical accuracy”.

Although ostensibly the characters remain in nineteenth-century Russia, the language and idioms are not forcibly “historical”, but fall naturally onto twenty-first-century ears – drawing the similarities through time rather than highlighting the differences between then and now.

A superb ensemble cast portray the quirky characters with relish, from the hyperbolic gravitas of Peter Finlay’s Professor, to Bruce Woolley’s dry and proudly eccentric Dr Astrov. Although not always the most convincing member of the cast, Sarah Ranken brings a quiet strength and pathos to the character of Sonya, especially in her moving speech at the end of the play. Notable mention must also be made of Richard Bligh and Louise O’Dwyer.

The sumptuous set makes use of the full width of iconic theatre space fortyfivedownstairs, drawing the audience into the action, and feeling almost like we’re inside an isolated night-time country house alongside the characters. All it needed was an open fireplace to complete the illusion! A couple of sight line issues and passages in which characters deliver lines to the back wall are very minor flaws.

Although not by any means a short play (allow three hours, including interval) this production kept my attention throughout, made me laugh, nearly made me cry, and certainly made me think about what it is to be human and to construct a life. In the words of Uncle Vanya, “to start a new life… where to begin?

MAY 16 – JUNE 3 

Fortyfivedownstairs

45 Flinders Lane

Tuesday – Saturday 8pm

Saturday matinee 4pm

Sundays 6pm

Tickets: $38 / $25 / $15 school groups

Bookings:  03 9662 9966 / fortyfivedownstairs.com