Tag: Nadine Garner

REVIEW: MTC Presents THE WEIR

Spectacular veteran cast share a drink

By Christine Young

The Weir takes place at a country pub in the south of Ireland where a handful of locals have taken refuge on a cold, windy night, though there’s no doubt they enjoy a regular tipple regardless of the weather. The stage in the Arts Centre’s Fairfax Studio is aptly decked out as a cosy pub with a bar for gossiping and a hearth for conversations from the heart.

MTC THE WEIR photo Jeff Busby

It’s clearly an important meeting place for local bachelors of a certain age who gather for a bit of ‘craic’ (conversation) which is central to the Irish psyche and way of life. The Weir is true ‘slice of life’ theatre: the audience eavesdrops on a conversation between the publican Brendan and locals Jack and Jim who are soon joined by Finbar and the mysterious newcomer Valerie.

The cast of MTC’s (Melbourne Theatre Company) production is impressive and all are veterans of Australian stage and screen: Nadine Garner (Valerie), Peter Kowitz (Jack), Finbar (Greg Stone), Jim (Robert Menzies) and Brendan (Ian Meadows). You may not recognise all their names but their faces are familiar from recent ABC programs such as Janet King, Doctor Blake Mysteries and The Moodys.

So the casting is excellent, the acting is brilliant, and the setting is just right. But the play itself is slow going and this reviewer found the first half, well, boring. It’s quite possible that I missed the whole point but it seemed to me that the initial conversations and stories were so pedestrian that they weren’t very interesting. Even naturalistic theatre needs some contrived excitement to propel a play’s narrative.

The play only began to pique my interest when Nadine Garner as Valerie delivers a heart-wrenching monologue which becomes the ‘psychological moment’. From this point onwards, the characters begin to speak authentically and drop the bravado.

That said, there are plenty more learned people than me who have given The Weir high praise. The play was Irish playwright Conor Mcpherson’s breakthrough script in 1997-98 and it won several prestigious theatre awards following its premiere season in London.

It’s not my glass of brandy … but it is wonderful to see some of our finest actors treading the boards together.

Venue: Arts Centre Melbourne
Date: Until 26 September, 2015
Tickets: $49-$119
Booking: www.artscentremelbourne.com.au

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Review: ASSASSINS at fortyfivedownstairs

Musicals can be deadly…

By Bradley Storer

‘Everybody’s got the right to their dreams!’ With these deceivingly sunny words we are drawn into the grim world of Stephen Sondheim’s Assassins, a dark twisted carnival in which the murderers of history exist in a fantastical purgatory.

Assassins

The sinister message of the show is that these are the natural by-product of the American Dream – the malevolent reflections of the frustrated search for happiness, looking for fulfilment in the only way left.

Mark Dickinson as John Wilkes Booth brings a sonorous baritone and combination of Southern and Satanic charm to the role, quietly commanding every scene he enters.  Nadine Garner is pitch perfect as Sarah Jane Moore, one of the two ladies who attempted to kill Gerald Ford, and her scenes with Sonya Suares as Lynette Fromme are a comic delight. The rest of the cast deliver solid, if not outstanding, performances. Nick Simpson-Deeks as the strolling Balladeer unleashes a strong mellifluous tenor in his songs, but lacks the charisma that a character embodying the American Dream, in my opinion, should have – whether this is accidental or a directorial decision to demonstrate the hollowness of this concept is open to debate.  Simpson-Deeks does a far better job as the dual role of Lee Harvey Oswald, which makes it disappointing this character only has the chance to appear in one scene.

Director Tyran Parke is to be commended for his direction of the show, and his vision shines through strongly in the assassins’ individual songs and scenes – but in the big group scenes which bookend the show I felt the staging was static and a little awkward, in particular the scene in which the assassins en masse turn against the Balladeer lacked the menace and danger of mob mentality that I was looking for. I felt this was a problem with the production overall – although Parke and the cast do a fantastic job of humanising the characters and mining the comedic potential of the material, it feels as though ultimately it lacks the edge necessary to make the show truly exciting.

DATES: 10 – 21 April 2013

VENUE: Fortyfivedownstairs, 45 Flinders Lane, Melbourne

TIMES:    Tuesday to Saturday 7.30pm, Sunday 5pm, Wednesday matinee 1.30pm

ADMISSION: Gala opening night $49, Full $39, Concession $29, Group 8+ $35, Preview $25

BOOKING: 03 9662 9966, www.fortyfivedownstairs.com