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Showing posts from January, 2019

REVIEW: Madame Nightshade’s Poison Garden by Anna Thomson

Chaos, anarchy and death. There’s nothing comforting or tranquil in Madame Nightshade’s garden. But what is the cause of all this trouble? How and why has nature turned against us?
Beatrice welcomes us to the garden, a comforting, neighbourly invite to begin with. A vine of leaves curls across the back of the stage, across the wall, along the floor. There’s a bin for compost and a rake to one side.
A stack of crates looms like an altar. It’s adorned with vegetables. Two large bunches of celery. Some cucumbers and a pair of carrots; yellow squash and a long red chili. A set-up for a market or something altogether deadlier?
Beatrice has an alter ego she transforms into. Marie Antoinette with a shocking pink beehive hairdo; this is Madame Nightshade – and she’s here to kill.
Soon we understand that the tranquility we’ve observed so far is a mask hiding some terrible truths. Nature has its own defense mechanisms already, but with over-consumption gripping the world and climate change wr…

REVIEW: The Legend of Queen Kong by Sarah Ward

There’s a star field and a band and a crawl of yellow text and we recognise these things, these elements, from our memories and our lives and our pop culture. These are helpful touchstones as The Legend of Queen Kong: Episode II – Queen Kong in Space begins.


Kong is immortal and has already lived for millennia; born from a dead ape and a volcanic eruption. Kong is taking us on a trip through the universe and into the future, leading to exquisitie revelations and existential crises.
Queen Kong is a new show from performer Sarah Ward, best known for the character of Yana Alana. But this Queen of the Earth, singer of rock songs, isn’t a simple character creation. It’s a creation myth. It’s as much about the Big Bang – an orgy of male Gods, as it is about the music we have put out into the universe.
Music is central, though. Queen Kong is the lead singer of a band, the HOMOsapiens, and the show is a concert and cabaret and a strange kind of storytelling. I was witness to a spectacle; a m…

REVIEW: Newk! The John Newcombe Story by Kieran Carroll

It’s 2014 and Australian tennis legend John Newcombe is turning 70 and all the greats of the sport are arriving at his place for a barbeque he doesn’t have to cook for once. Old friends and players he’s coached are here to celebrate – and Newk is ready to reminisce over a glass of Chinzano, his body liberally sprayed with Aeroguard.
Comedian and comic actor Damian Callinan has grown Newk’s iconic moustache for the role and he’s perfectly cast as the laid-back champ, whose glory days are long behind him. Callinan is warm, funny and charming in the role.
Playwright Kieran Carroll has done a good job digging deep into Newcombe’s life, tracing his career from high school tennis player to Grand Slam champion. There’s a lot of interesting detail about the Wimbledon boycott of 1973 to the story of how he met his wife to an interview with Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show to an advertisement for Newcombe’s How to Play Tennis album from K-Tel.
After a while, the roster of names that Newcombe …

REVIEW: Low Level Panic by Claire McIntyre

Claire McIntyre’s 1988 play about society’s objectification of women is a three-hander set in a share house, full of the drama and conflict of living with strangers who are almost friends and the struggles of knowing the right thing to feel when even your housemates tell you to toughen up.
Mary (Gabrielle Sing) is concerned about the nudie magazine she’s found in the bin. Jo (Phoebe Taylor) wants to enjoy life, but often retreats into fantasies about rich men and lorry drivers. Celia (Jessica Martin) seems shallow, oblivious to what is really going on in the house – swanning through life, to Jo’s dismay.
Thirty years from its first performance, Low Level Panic still feels vital, if very much of its time. As much as this production uses the props of 2019, some of the realities the play depicts feel dated. It’s not that the truth of objectification has changed, but being concerned about softcore girlie magazines in an era of internet-wide pornography casts Mary as a bit more naïve than…