Stage

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Out & About - Stephen Romei DS SR James McCal­lum JM Deb­o­rah Jones DJ Tim Dou­glas Bronywn Wat­son Christo­pher Allen

Sense and Sen­si­bil­ity Broke­back Moun­tain think) in 2005 and Life of Pi 2012. His lat­est is Billy Lynn’s Long Half­time Walk, based on an award-win­ning 2013 novel by Amer­i­can au­thor Ben Foun­tain that has been com­pared with Joseph Heller’s satir­i­cal mas­ter­piece Catch-22. Billy Lynn is a 19-year-old sol­dier on tour in Iraq. We start with news footage of him risk­ing his life to help a wounded sergeant. Lynn is the screen de­but of English theatre ac­tor Joe Al­wyn, who is su­perb as a young man hailed a hero by ev­ery­one but him­self. His in­ter­nalised per­for­mance sub­tly but edg­ily makes us think about post-trau­matic stress dis­or­der. Lee and screen­writer JeanChristophe Castelli are faith­ful to Foun­tain’s novel.

The Fencer (Miekkail­ija) (PG) This Fin­nish-Es­to­nian co­pro­duc­tion is set in a small Es­to­nian town in the early 1950s when the coun­try has been forcibly in­cor­po­rated into the Soviet Union. A young school­teacher, while try­ing to keep a low pro­file be­cause of his past, en­cour­ages his sportsstarved pupils to train in the sport of fencing, but faces a dilemma when the school is in­vited to par­tic­i­pate in na­tional cham­pi­onships in Len­ingrad. This true story is told with con­fi­dence and pre­ci­sion, even though it some­times feels a lit­tle con­trived.

Bad Santa (MA15+) I didn’t mind Bad Santa (2003), in which Billy Bob Thorn­ton was a crim­i­nal Claus. In­deed when it ended, a bit sen­ti­men­tally, I wished he’d been even bad­der. Well, care­ful what you hope for. Mark Wa­ters’ Bad Santa 2 is up there with the worst films I’ve seen in re­cent years. Full of swear­ing, vul­gar jokes and crude sex, it’s not de­serv­ing of such tal­ented ac­tors as Thorn­ton and Kathy Bates, who plays his vile mother. And while I re­alise teenagers know more than I think they do, I wouldn’t take one to this MA15+ movie. It’s sub-ju­ve­nile.

A Flea in Her Ear Here is a mod­ern adap­ta­tion by An­drew Up­ton of Ge­orges Fey­deau’s 1907 play that re­places the scan­dal of mere adul­tery with some­thing out­ra­geous enough to serve in th­ese more deca­dent times. Si­mon Phillips di­rects this Sydney Theatre Com­pany pro­duc­tion with a feel­ing for the in­ex­orable logic that un­der­lies the ab­sur­dity of it all, and a splen­didly chore­ographed cascade of stage business, full of doors, stair­cases, se­cret cup­boards and prat­falls. We watch as the char­ac­ters’ wily plans, se­cret de­sires and out­raged re­ac­tions all lead to chaos. This is a work that ex­ploits, to great comic ef­fect, the con­stant sur­prise of hu­man folly. There is a great deal of bril­liant clown­ing in the per­for­mances. With He­len Christin­son (pic­tured). Sydney Opera House, Ben­ne­long Point. To­day, 2pm and 8pm. Tick­ets: $78-$104. Book­ings: (02) 9250 1777 or on­line. Un­til De­cem­ber 17. Speed-the-Plow Byrne) chal­lenges one of them to pitch a se­ri­ous movie in­stead. The trou­ble with this re­vival is that this cen­tral con­flict is now nei­ther new nor particularly con­vinc­ing. There is sav­age com­edy and good per­for­mances but it is hard to un­der­stand why this play needed to be re­vived. Sydney Theatre Com­pany, Roslyn Packer Theatre, Walsh Bay. To­day, 1.30pm and 7.30pm. Tick­ets: $84-$116. Book­ings: (02) 9250 1777 or on­line. Un­til De­cem­ber 17. Some­times love just isn’t enough. Things didn’t work out for film pi­o­neer Mack Sen­nett and his wildly pop­u­lar dis­cov­ery Ma­bel Nor­mand, and they don’t for the Jerry Her­man mu­si­cal named after them. Gen­uine af­fec­tion for Mack and Ma­bel’s score un­der­pins the oc­ca­sional re­vival but de­spite its hand­ful of en­dur­ing songs the show will never be more than B-list at best, and then only if it gets a stag­ing ca­pa­ble of di­vert­ing at­ten­tion from its flaws. Her­man’s score is em­i­nently hummable — songs in­clude I Won’t Send Roses and Time Heals Ev­ery­thing — but Michael Ste­wart’s book is lousy. Us­ing clumsy flash­back, it tells rather than shows and Nor­mand (An­gelique Cas­si­ma­tis) is de­fined through her pas­sion for Sen­nett (Scott Ir­win). You miss the ir­re­press­ible, free-spir­ited joy seen in Nor­mand’s films, and although di­rec­tor Trevor Ash­ley and chore­og­ra­pher Cameron Mitchell do their best to pa­per over the cracks, the piece fails to hold to­gether. Hayes Theatre, 19 Green­knowe Avenue, Potts Point. To­day, 2pm and 8pm. Tick­ets: $70-$80. Book­ings: (02) 8065 7337 or on­line. Un­til De­cem­ber 18. fault its abun­dance. Aladdin con­fi­dently con­trives a stand­ing ova­tion be­fore in­ter­val, se­cure in the knowl­edge there’ll be an­other one at the end. Sure, there’s a whole­some story some­where in here about be­ing hon­est, gen­er­ous and true to your­self, but es­sen­tially Aladdin is a su­per­charged salaam to fab­u­lous­ness. There are a halfmil­lion Swarovski crys­tals be­deck­ing Gregg Barnes’s eye­pop­ping cos­tumes, which gives some idea of the in­tense de­vo­tion to bling, and the fly­ing car­pet gives an as­ton­ish­ing “how on earth do they do that?” mo­ment. Aladdin is billed — not wrongly — as a fam­ily mu­si­cal, and young­sters un­doubt­edly will en­joy the spec­ta­cle, but this ebul­lient, know­ing mag­pie of a piece has plenty of ex­tras for grown-ups who know their show­biz. The undis­puted ace in the hand is Michael James Scott’s fourth-wall-break­ing Ge­nie. His huge num­ber Friend Like Me is a Busby Berke­leystyle ex­trav­a­ganza crammed into eight ex­haust­ing, en­chant­ing min­utes. As for Alan Menken’s score — by Ge­nie, it’s got ear­worms. With Arielle Ja­cobs as Jas­mine (pic­tured). it is far more, too, than an ab­stract concept. Time forms the ba­sis of his prac­tice. It is his life’s work. It may be, in fact, an ob­ses­sion. Miya­jima wears on his wrist a 24-hour watch, the single-handed in­stru­ment op­er­at­ing in two-hourly in­cre­ments. In this way, time seems to stand still. “This way, I never re­ally know ex­actly what time it is,” he says, smil­ing. “This, for me, is a good thing.” Miya­jima was born in post­war Tokyo in 1957 in Edo­gawa City and grew up in the Ja­panese cap­i­tal, the son of a car­pen­ter. He de­vel­oped a deep sense of his own mor­tal­ity early in life. “There was a time in my youth I was se­ri­ously ill — the most se­ri­ous ail­ment was kid­ney dis­ease,” he says. “I was made to think about life and death, and within that aware­ness I be­came drawn to Bud­dhism and Bud­dhist think­ing about the world.” Museum of Con­tem­po­rary Art, The Rocks, Sydney. Fri-Wed, 10am-5pm; Thurs, 10am-9pm. Ad­mis­sion: $12-$22. In­quiries: (02) 9245 2400 or on­line. Un­til March. Nude This ex­hi­bi­tion is a col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween the Tate Lon­don and the Art Gallery of NSW. It con­tains more than 100 ma­jor rep­re­sen­ta­tions of the nude, in­clud­ing paint­ings, sculp­tures, pho­to­graphs and prints by renowned artists such as Pablo Pi­casso, Lu­cian Freud, Henri Matisse, Louise Bour­geois and Sarah Lu­cas. Art Gallery of NSW, Art Gallery Road, The Do­main, Sydney. Thurs-Tues, 10am-5pm, Wed, 10am-10pm. Ad­mis­sion: $14-$24. In­quiries: (02) 9225 1700. Un­til Fe­bru­ary 5. He started by pho­tograph­ing the trees, then trawled the Na­tional Ar­chives to find in­for­ma­tion about the fate of the in­di­vid­u­als com­mem­o­rated. Aus­tralian War Me­mo­rial, Treloar Cres­cent, Camp­bell. Daily, 10am5pm. Ad­mis­sion free. In­quiries: (02) 6243 4211 or on­line. A His­tory of the World in 100 Ob­jects This ex­hi­bi­tion is based on a se­ries of radio broad­casts pro­duced in 2010 by the then head of the Bri­tish Museum, Neil Mac­Gre­gor. The pieces, each orig­i­nally dis­cussed in­di­vid­u­ally and in de­tail, were gath­ered to­gether as an ex­hi­bi­tion that has since toured in­ter­na­tion­ally in mod­i­fied form. The show in­cludes 43 of the orig­i­nal ob­jects. Na­tional Museum of Aus­tralia, Law­son Cres­cent, Ac­ton. MonSat, 9am-5pm; Sun, 9am-7pm. Tick­ets: $8-$20. Book­ings: 1800 026 132. Un­til Jan­uary. Mem­o­ries of the Strug­gle: Aus­tralians Against Apartheid This ex­hi­bi­tion ex­plores Aus­tralia’s in­volve­ment and lead­er­ship in the strug­gle to end apartheid in South Africa, fo­cus­ing on the con­text and time­line of the anti-apartheid move­ment and high­light­ing the mem­o­ries of those in­volved. Aus­tralian trade unions, the gov­ern­ment, sport­ing icons, mu­si­cians and many in­di­vid­u­als took part in the fight for jus­tice. Museum of Aus­tralian Democ­racy, 18 King Ge­orge Ter­race, Parkes. Daily, 9am-5pm. Ad­mis­sion: $2. In­quiries: (02) 6270 8222 or on­line.

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