Sunday, July 31, 2016

Twelfth Night, or What You Will

In rehearsal L to R:
John Howard, Anita Hegh, Peter Carroll, Emele Ugavule, Nikki Shiels, Anthony Phelan, Lucia Mastrantone

Twelfth Night, or What You Will by William Shakespeare.  Belvoir, Sydney, July 27 – September 3, 2016.

Directed by Eamon Flack

Designers: Set by Michael Hankin; Costume by Stephen Curtis; Lighting by Nick Schlieper; Composer – Alan John; Sound by Caitlin Porter; Movement by Scott Witt.

Cast: Peter Carroll; Anita Hegh; John Howard; Lucia Mastrantone; Amber McMahon; Anthony Phelan; Keith Robinson; Damien Ryan; Nikki Shiels; Emele Ugavule.

Photography by Brett Boardman

Reviewed by Frank McKone
July 31

For the first time, I feel I now understand Twelfth Night as a unified work.  I’ve tended before to think of the twins, disguises and love story as one element alongside the story of the drunkards and their malicious treatment of Malvolio.  Eamon Flack explains in his Director’s Note and achieves in action on stage a central focus on the observation that Feste, the professional Fool, discusses directly with us: that ‘what is, is not’.

This philosophical conundrum turns Shakespeare’s play into a mad metaphor for what was going on in his society, as the Puritans began to establish their influence (which later led to violent revolution, and the establishment of our modern representative democracy, no less); while we see the same nonsense happening today, such as having people stand for seats in Parliament or even for the Presidency of the United States while claiming they are not politicians.

Most of the time what Olivia calls ‘midsummer madness’ is tremendously funny to watch, and this production takes every opportunity to make us laugh at the enjoyment of acting the absurdities of the plot.  Yet, as the two look-alike brother and sister are seen by everyone together for the first time, laughter changed in tone as we saw a serious state of confusion take over all rational thought.  What they thought was, was not, and what they thought was not, now was.  Though fortunately quickly resolved by the right people kissing each other, the happy ending still had an edge – just a touch of insecurity about the nature of the human condition.

Theatrically this took the play to a higher level of excitement and satisfaction which grabbed the audience who clapped and cheered in sincere appreciation for a job enormously well done.

So having gone to the theatre with some doubts about watching just another Twelfth Night, I left with a joyful feeling and no doubts about this production.  Even any little worries about my human condition have faded into the mental background for now.  That’s the power of good quality art, which certainly is, rather than is not.  


By Giuseppe Verdi
Conductor: Renato Palumbo
Director: Matthew Barclay –based on an original production by Moffatt Oxenbould
Set Designer: Peter England
Costume Designer: Russell Cohen
Lighting designer: Nigel Levings
Presented by Opera Australia
Joan Sutherland Theatre, Sydney Opera House until 13th August 2016.

Opening night performance on 26th July reviewed by Bill Stephens.

George Patean as Simon Boccanegra 

Because of its convoluted libretto dramatizing aspects of 14th century Genoese history to  reflect the political turmoil surrounding the unification of Italy occurring at the time Verdi was writing Simon Boccanegra,  its rich, evocative and emotional score was largely unappreciated by the audiences who attended its performances in 1857, and the opera flopped.

Fortunately, more than two decades later, his publisher persuaded Verdi to revisit and rework the opera, and a new, more palatable version, was premiered in 1881. It is this version which Opera Australia is now presenting in this first revival of the production originally staged by Moffatt Oxenbould as part of Sydney’s Olympic Arts Festival in 2000, but now given a “new take” by Matthew Barclay.

The Libretto still takes some working through, but, Barclay’s staging keeps the action uncluttered, straight-forward, and carefully paced to allow plenty of space to savour Verdi’s   stunning vocal and orchestral treasures, sung by an outstanding cast under the assured direction of acclaimed Verdi conductor, Renato Palumbo.

Peter England’s’ imposing dark, moody set, superbly lit by Nigel Levings,  together with and the brilliant reds, greens,  blues and golds of Russell Cohen’s splendid swirling greatcoats, keep the eyes pleasured.

Natalie Aroyan (Amelia Grimaldi), Diego Torre, (Gabriele Adorno), Giacomo Prestia (Jacopo Fiesco),
George Petean (Simon Boccanegra)  

When this production was first unveiled in 2000, reconciliation had particular resonance. Moffatt Oxenbould sought to highlight this in his production of an opera rich with the emotion of Italian unification and dealing with reconciliation between enemies, families, classes, political parties and individuals. In this first revival of this production since then, this approach feels just as relevant.

Rather than embroiling his characters in the complex politics of 14th century Liguria, Oxenbould set his production in Verdi’s own time, in an abandoned and decaying seaside amphi-theatre complete with a vast sweeping staircase, through which the sea can be glimpsed. An Italian community has gathered to re-enact a story from their past, and the prologue begins solemnly with costumes being unpacked from huge trunks and handed out to the actors who will play the various roles.

Opera Australia has assembled a cracker of a cast for this revival. Among the outstanding male voices, Romanian baritone, George Petean, making his first Opera Australian appearances, is perfectly cast, in the title role. As well as his rich, warm tone and handsome presence, Petean has the necessary dignity and gravitas to be totally convincing in his projection of the sincerity of characters’ feelings for his daughter, Amelia, and his passion for the unification of Italy.  His singing of Boccanegra’s plea for brotherhood and peace, “Plebe! Patrizi! Popolo!” provides just one of many vocal highlights.

Diego Torre (Gabriele Adorno), George Patean (Simon Boccanegra), Natalie Aroyan (Amelia Grimaldi) 

In the role of Gabriele Adorno, Boccanegra’s intended assassin, who is also in love with his daughter, Amelia, Mexican tenor, now Australian citizen, Diego Torre, gives a brilliantly sung, passionate performance. His thrilling Italianate tenor soars over the orchestra in the ensemble scenes, and blends superbly during the duets, especially in the final quartet which draws the opera to a close.

Italian bass, Giacomo Prestia plays Jacopo Fiesco, the grieving father of Maria, who had borne Boccanegra a child.  Maria had died before she and Boccanegra could marry, and the child had strangely disappeared.  Verdi stipulated that he wanted a bass who could comfortably get the low notes. Prestia certainly has no trouble fulfilling those requirements, and his duet with Torre, “Propizio ei giunge...” in which Gabrielle Adorno tells Fiesco that he loves Amelia whether or not she is a Grimaldi, is another of those vocal highlights.

Natalie Aroyan as Amelia Grimaldi
Perhaps the big surprise on the opening night of this season of “Simon Boccanegra” was that the role of Amelia Grimaldi, who turns out to be Boccanegra’s daughter and Jacopo Fiesco’s grand-daughter, was sung, superbly, by Opera Australia principal, Natalie Aroyan, instead of the much anticipated Italian soprano, Barbara Frittoli, who had actually begun rehearsals but then had to return home due to urgent family circumstances.

It will surprise no one who saw her charming portrayal of Micaela, in John Bell’s recent production of “Carmen”, to learn that Aroyan, who had stepped into the role at short notice, sang magnificently and gave such an assured performance, that few in the audience would have realised that this was her role debut in the part.

Warwick Fyfe is outstanding as Boccanegra’s scheming friend, Paolo Albiani, who was instrumental in Boccanegra’s rise to power, in the hope of eventually marrying his daughter, Amelia.  Thwarted in his plan when Amelia falls in love with Gabriele Adorno, Albiani poisons Boccanegra, before he himself is executed. Adrian Tamburini provides excellent support to Fyfe as Albiani’s off-sider, Pietro.

Being a Verdi opera, “Simon Boccanegra” offers great choral set-pieces. The council scene which ends Act 11, and the moving finale in which Boccanegra succumbs to Albiani’s poison after the wedding of his daughter to Gabriele Adorno, who he anoints as his successor, are up there with his best.

Adrian Tamburini ((Pietro), Warwick Fyfe (Paolo Albiani),.

All images by Branco Gaica

This review also appears in Australian Arts Review.

OUR land people stories

Bangarra Dance Theatre.

Canberra Theatre 28th to 30th July.

Reviewed by Bill Stephens

Fresh from its successes earlier this week dominating the dance section of the 2016 Helpmann Awards, Bangarra Dance Theatre is now presenting its newest program, “OUR land people stories”, in the Canberra Theatre, where its long and loyal association with Canberra audiences who have watched its development almost since its inception 27 years ago, was evidenced in the warm reception given to this program at its opening performance.

For the last 25 of those years, Stephen Page has been at the helm of the company, which he   has led by example by creating a succession of remarkable dance works which have won it world-wide recognition for its powerful telling of indigenous stories through the medium of contemporary dance.

“OUR land people stories” follows in that tradition in that it consists of three separate works, one created by Page, and the other two by dancers performing in the company, which tackle disparate aspects of the indigenous storyline. All three works feature striking set designs by Jacob Nash, superb textural costumes by  Jennifer Irwin, and stunning lighting design by Matt Cox.

Bangarra Dance Theatre in "Macq" 

Photo by Wendell Teodora

Jasmin Sheppard’s work, “Macq” focusses on a non-indigenous historical figure, Governor Lachlan Macquarie and his involvement in a massacre of aborigines at Appin in 1816. Performed to an evocative soundscape by David Page, his last for the company, the work begins with a beautifully-lit tableau of women shielding, we learn as they eventually separate, a young woman, (Nicola Sabatino), grieving, pieta-like, over the lifeless body of a man (Leonard Mickelo).
The young woman wraps herself around the man’s body desperately trying to reanimate him. This poignant scene suddenly dissolves into a jolly picnic, given by Macquarie, (brilliantly danced by Daniel Riley), for the local aborigines, following which we see Macquarie and an aboriginal man, (Beau Dean Riley Smith) arguing over territory in a strikingly realised scene performed around a long table.

Employing her facility for strong imagery, with a confident choreographic style, Sheppard’s depiction of the horrible events which inspired the work, ends on a note of hope rather than accusation, inviting the viewer to reflect on the repercussions of this little-known moment of history.

Bangarra Dance Theatre in "Miyagan" 

Cousins, Beau Dean Riley Smith and Daniel Riley explore their own complex Wiradjuri family ties in the second work, “Miyagan”.  This work is abstract, affectionate , mysterious and joyous, involving the entire company in often luscious, close-to-the-ground, sweeping choreography which is a joy to watch, and no doubt, to dance.  A catchy score by Paul Mac provides plenty of changes in tempo and mood, and Jennifer Irwin’s costumes include emu feather hoods which suggest both mysterious ancestral spirits and flocks of cheeky birds. Integral to the work are Jacob Nash’s amazing sculptural feathers which increase in number as the work progresses until the entire cast is enclosed in a beautiful lyre-bird habitat.
Bangarra Dance Theatre in "Nyapanyapa"
Photo: Jhuny Boy Borja

The final work, which occupies the entire second half, is a stunning, mystical creation by Stephen Page entitled “Nyapanyapa”, inspired by the paintings of Nyapanyapa Yunupingu. The set design by Jacob Nash includes huge blow-ups of Nyapanyapa’s paintings, which are abstract depictions of events which have occurred in her life, and as each painting appears out of the darkness, these events are translated into dreamlike images by the dancers.

The first of paintings recalls an event when Nyapanyapa almost lost her life when she was gored by a buffalo. In this sequence Waangenga Blanco conjures up a frightening image of a buffalo with huge horns strapped across his shoulders. Nyapanyapa herself is vividly interpreted by Elma Kris, who provides a compelling connecting link between each of the sequences.

The entire company rapidly change characters and costumes as they portray an endless succession of bush apples, lost Wendys, seashells, nibblets, and soul spirits with complete conviction in a continuous flow of mesmerising sequences which include an especially beautiful passage involving smoke sticks. Once again, Stephen Page demonstrates his mastery of the choreographic style he has developed over the years which has become the indelible signature stamp identifying Bangarra Dance Theatre from all others.     

Bangarra Dance Theatre in "Nyapanyapa" 

Photo by Jhuny Boy Borja

This review first published in CITY NEWS on 29th July 2016


QL2 Dance
Choreographed by Sara Black, Kristina Chan, Adam Deusien and Alison Plevey
The Playhouse, Canberra Theatre Centre to 30 July

Reviewed by Len Power 30 July 2016

‘Connected’ is 2016’s flagship performance project for QL2 Dance’s Quantum Leap ensemble which consists of 32 young dance artists aged 13 to 26.  In this program, three dance works were presented, all linked by the theme of ‘connection’.

The first item, ‘Act of Contact’, was choreographed by Sara Black.  The work explored the connections we receive through our skin.  This was a finely realized work clearly showing many aspects of tactile behaviour individually and between people.  It produced pleasing groupings of dancers moving with confidence and there were interesting almost mechanical-type connections displayed as well as the human connections.  The music by Alisdair Macindoe worked perfectly with the action onstage.

‘Infinite’ examined natural connections in how we live, breathe and embody nature.  It was choreographed by Kristina Chan with good music by James Brown.  This highly original work displayed a strong understanding of theatrical presentation as well as dance.  There was good use of colour in the lighting design to heighten the atmosphere and draw focus to the action at particular points on the stage.  The sequence when small groups of dancers writhed like primitive organisms was especially well realized.  The dramatic finale was very exciting visually and aurally.

The final work was ‘All Our Might’, choreographed by Adam Deusien and Alison Plevey and looked at the connection between strength, empowerment, action and aggression.  Beginning and ending with moves similar to theatre warm up exercises, it developed into a highly dramatic work showing the good and bad sides of strength and the physical and mental impact it can bring.  The use of film produced by WildBear Entertainment added a heightened dramatic dimension to this work which was very clear in its purpose and entertaining at the same time.  Music by Adam Ventoura was particularly atmospheric and enjoyable.

The young dancers performed these works with great enthusiasm, discipline and skill, producing an entertaining and memorable program of dance.

Len Power’s reviews can also be heard on Artsound FM 92.7 ‘Artcetera’ program on Saturdays from 9am.


Written by Tim Fountain
Directed by Gary Abrahams
Performed by Paul Capsis
The Street Theatre to 7 August

Reviewed by Len Power 27 July 2016

Quentin Crisp was fond of saying that he was ‘one of the stately homos of England’.  A brave – or foolish – man, he wore his effeminacy openly and proudly between the wars in the 20th century and beyond when homosexuality was illegal and looked upon with disgust by society.  His autobiography, ‘The Naked Civil Servant’, published in 1968, brought him fame and a much applauded television portrayal of him by actor, John Hurt.  He performed his own one man show and appeared in several movies.  From 1981, he lived in New York in a filthy apartment in the East Village, never compromising his attitudes and ideals for anyone.

Tim Fountain’s play, written in 1999, the year Crisp died, focuses on a day in the life of Quentin Crisp in his New York apartment.  The play nicely captures Crisp, the man, and his highly entertaining and often spot on comments on people, himself and life in general.

Paul Capsis, who plays Crisp in this one person show, gives a superb performance.  Much younger than Crisp was at this point in his life, Capsis’s necessary facial makeup is very noticeable in the intimate Street Two theatre, but just adds to the theatricality of this man who loved an audience.  Capsis gives a highly controlled and detailed performance, bringing Crisp unnervingly to life and his fine sense of timing works wonders with the quotable quotes.  His skill as an actor shows the moving as well as funny side of this character.

The New York apartment set in all its filthy glory was well-designed by Romaine Harper.  Wigmaker, Jurga Celikiene, has helped to transform Capsis into Quentin Crisp with her brilliant wig apparently made from yak and human hair.  Sound and lighting effects added nicely to the atmosphere of the show.

Gary Abrahams has directed the show expertly, tempering the amusing aspects of the show with a darkness of the reality of Crisp’s existence.  It all works very well.

This review was first published in the Canberra City News digital edition on 28 July 2016.  Len Power’s reviews can also be heard on Artsound FM 92.7 ‘Artcetera’ program on Saturdays from 9am.

Broken by Mary Anne Butler

Broken by Mary Anne Butler.  Darlinghurst Theatre Company at Eternity Playhouse, July 29 – August 28, 2016.

Directed by Shannon Murphy.

Designers: Production – Sophie Fletcher; Lighting – Ben Brockman; Composer and Sound – James Brown.

Cast: Ivan Donato – Ham; Sarah Enright – Mia; Rarriwuy Hick – Ash.

Reviewed by Frank McKone
July 30

The story of Broken is simple. 

Ash rolls her Troopie into scrub in Central Australia, at night. 

Ham, a mining engineer on his way home to his wife, Mia, near Alice Springs, sees the skid marks and the rolled vehicle, calls for an ambulance on his CB radio, rescues and comforts Ash for the hours it takes for the medical team to arrive.  He arrives home with Ash’s dog, killed in the crash, at dawn.

But the full story is much more complex.  It is revealed as each of the three describe what they feel, physically and mentally, from the moment of the crash through to the day a year later when Ash has recovered and goes to find Ham. 

The telling is done in about an hour over microphones incorporating sound effects made by the actors, and with a background distant soundscape.  The speaking is often quiet and intense.

The most fascinating aspect of the storytelling is how the three voices are separate strands which are woven together until their three stories become one.  The effect is mesmerising, especially because of the voicing skills that these three actors display.  And the writing slowly establishes not just a plot of what has happened but an interweaving of three personalities and how they deal with their experiences.

Broken could perhaps be performed on radio, but I found watching the physical process of the speaking and the making of the sound effects live took on a theatrical life of its own and intensified the emotional strength of the work.

I have also seen an earlier play by this author, Highway of Lost Hearts, (reviewed on this blog August 29, 2014) which she has adapted for radio, and her writing has now won significant awards.  Broken  confirms  Mary Anne Butler’s valued place as an Australian playwright finding new ways of telling our stories.

Betrayal by Harold Pinter

Guy Edmonds as Robert, Ursula Mills as Emma, Matthew Zeremes as Jerry

Betrayal by Harold Pinter.  Ensemble Theatre, Kirribilli, July 16 – August 20, 2016.

Directed by Mark Kilmurry.
Designers: Set and Costumes by Anna Gardiner; Lighting by Christopher Page; AV by Tim Hope.

Performers: Guy Edmonds – Robert; Ursula Mills – Emma; Matthew Zeremes – Jerry.

Reviewed by Frank McKone
July 30

Harold is famous for the Pinter Pause, but the important question is What Happens when no-one is speaking because to do so might cause a speechless reaction?

The measure of the success of Kilmurry’s directing and, of course, the quality of the acting, lay for me in the reactions of the early middle-aged couple next to me.  They were about the age of the characters in the first scenes in 1977, and I suspect from overhearing some of their conversation that they were innocents in the woods of this kind of theatre.

They took their breaths in audibly at each moment of extreme embarrassment, laughed nervously as they began to cotton on to the layers on layers of betrayal.  Then there were silences of recognition as we finally watched Jerry’s drunken play for his best friend Robert’s wife, Emma, on their wedding day – way back in 1968.

Of course, they must have thought, all three really had known that they all had known in those earlier scenes, later dated, in the play.

Being at the Ensemble helped.  In another production of Betrayal, on an old-fashioned proscenium stage with a longish table in Jerry/Emma’s afternoons-affair flat (to display the tablecloth she bought in Venice with Robert), with a largish bar-counter for the pub scenes, as well as a round restaurant table and a full size bed for the Venice hotel and Robert/Emma’s newly-married bedroom, the play came over as very clever, almost too clever-clever.  The characters remained rather distant with all this clutter in a distant space.

In the close-up intimacy of the in-the-round small Ensemble, one felt with and for each of the three.  The reversal of time was not just a clever theatrical trick – it explained how the marriage of Robert and Emma could not continue, but also how Jerry was in the same boat – or fantasy gondola.

What I felt was really clever in this performance were the little signals. 

Jerry, later the writers’ agent, spoke poetically with real flair when drunk in 1968. Good writing on Pinter’s part, of course, but equally good acting by Matthew Zeremes.

Robert, the later hard-nosed book publisher, had always been tight and aggressive – even on the edge of violence, in playing squash and worse towards his wife.

Emma, who later escaped to run her own art gallery, was too easily taken in by these clever Oxbridge men and spent her life trying to maintain her personal strength and reasonable control of her life.

Three signals were given: when Robert made her afraid he would use violence (telling us that he really had even before Venice); when Emma briefly acted as a waitress clearing a restaurant table and then appeared in the flat with Jerry in the same apron-dress (which Jerry noted, showing how he was seeing her as a wife); and one which seemed to pass unnoticed when Jerry spoke to Emma but calling her Judith, his wife’s name.

It was this fine detail, and playing in a small space with minimal shifting of props as the scenes changed to the times and places projected on the wall, that made this production a success that I’m sure would have given even Pinter pause for thought.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Carmen by Georges Bizet

Carmen by Georges Bizet.  Libretto by Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy.  Opera Australia directed by John Bell.  Sydney Opera House, June 16 – August 12, 2016. 

Designers: Set by Michael Scott-Mitchell; Costumes by Teresa Negroponte; Lighting by Trent Suidgeest; Choreography by Kelley Abbey; Fight Choreography by Nigel Poulton.

Reviewed by Frank McKone
July 29

I wanted to see Carmen as directed by John Bell.  Could he, after such a wonderful Shakespeare’s The Tempest a year ago, strike the right note in this opera, which I have either thought of as an artificially ‘tragic’ love story or, as in one production I saw, a superficial concert of popular music.

Well, Carmen’s plot and libretto nowhere match Shakespeare, but Bell has done the trick.  Bizet’s music is far better than the libretto deserves.  Bell has clearly taken the music as his cue to finding the motivations for the characters and the emotional tone of each scene.  And so we are taken from the light to the dark; from the light-weight to the heavy.  His final scene entirely concentrates on José’s overwhelming obsession, stalking Carmen until he feels he has ‘no choice’ but to kill her. 

We only have to read the Canberra news of the recent axe murder to recognise the reality behind Bizet’s ‘romance’.  Awful though it is, Bell’s work shows how clearly this ultimate violence is never the woman’s fault.  Carmen demands her independence as all women should.  It’s the men who cannot accept women’s rights – as is too often still the situation in too many countries around the world today.

So, thank you, John Bell.  I’m glad I went to see your Carmen.

As the curtain dropped on José’s seeming attempt to rape the body, it was moot whether we should stay silent or applaud in the conventionally operatic manner.  We were not left long in suspense as the curtain rose for the call – and the applause was heartfelt and it seemed would never end in appreciation for the cast, the orchestra, the stage design: for a show that was never artifically tragic and certainly never a superficial concert.

Bell’s Director’s Note, handed out to everyone who had not spent $20 on the complete very glossy program, explains his reasoning for his updating elements of this 1875 original setting in Spain to a mythical Cuba with its down-at-heel buildings and motor vehicles - and also with the feel for the music, dance and colour of Havana.  Shifting to this imagined world of soldiers, villagers, popular heroes, criminals and rebels made me see Carmen not as some kind of romantic celebration of Spain, with Carmen an exponent of exciting flamenco. As the program explains, this became the de rigeur approach only in the 1890s, well after Bizet’s untimely death at the age of 36, only three months after Carmen opened.

But just think of what happened in the Spain of General Franco from the 1930s to his death so recently in 1975 to see how prescient were Bizet and his librettists; and then think of Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan today.  Though Bell kept to the original story of gypsies fighting for their freedom in the mountains, and the fascination with bullfighting, in his setting the story becomes a modern metaphor for the struggle for genuine democracy and human rights over the forces of terror and dictatorship.  Think of Turkey and President Erdogan right now.

So thanks again, John Bell.

Jane Ede as Frasquita, Clémentine Margaine as Carmen, Margaret Trubiano as Mercedes

Clémentine Margain as Carmen

Natalie Aroyan as Micaëla

Michael Honeyman as bullfighter Escamillo

Village Scene

Clémentine as Carmen

Friday, July 29, 2016


Written and Directed by Julian Hobba
Aspen Island Theatre Company
The Street Theatre to 31 July

Review by Len Power 28 July 2016

Julian Hobba’s ‘The Slip Lane’ starts promisingly.  Two people meet in an Access Canberra waiting room in Gungahlin.  She’s a single mum and he’s there to suggest that a road in the suburb needs a slip lane.  When she mentions that she wants the Government to investigate a mysterious creature in the paddock across the road from her house, the guy, Matthew, sees an opportunity to get to know her by offering to investigate it himself.

The creature turns out to be a multi-eyed monster that talks a lot and is full of suggestions for Matthew - at least I think so, as it was very hard to understand anything the monster was saying with the dialogue electronically processed for effect.  From that point on, the play seemed to be a satire played as a whimsical farce.  Canberra, politicians, public servants, journalists and others were targeted and the promising relationship between two people established so nicely at the beginning seemed to have less relevance as the play progressed.

According to the writer’s notes in the program, the play ‘is about how to feel at home – in our houses, our streets, our suburbs, our cities and our Universe – but most importantly in our own skin.  We ultimately cannot plan and build an individual’s contentment or the sense of connection with the people around them that is the source of their feeling of security and worth in the world.’  If that was the intention, it all got lost somewhere along the way.

The professional cast performed their roles strongly and capably but there was no-one to really identify with and no sense of involvement.  Imogen Keen’s production design was fine but the back projection dominated proceedings resulting in awkward scene changes with a large sofa and associated props frequently being taken off and then brought back on again.  The director needed to find a better way to manage this.

The back projection worked quite well with generally good choices of images and animations by Danny Wild but the monster wasn’t very interesting to look at.  Lighting by Gillian Schwab and sound by Kimmo Vennonen (except for the monster’s voice) were of The Street’s usual high standard.

It’s good to see new plays supported with major productions here in Canberra.  Sometimes they work and sometimes they don’t.  ‘The Slip Lane’ needs a lot more thought and revision to become a satisfying and memorable play.

Len Power’s reviews can also be heard on Artsound FM 92.7 ‘Artcetera’ program on Saturdays from 9am.