Monday, October 31, 2016

THE EIGHTH WONDER - Sydney Opera House - The Opera

By Alan John and Dennis Watkins - Music by Alan John
Concept and Scenario by Dennis Watkin- Libretto by Dennis Watkins and Alan John
Conducted by Anthony Legge - Directed by David Freeman
Designed by Dan Potra - Choreographed by Andrew Hallsworth
Lighting Design by Trent Suidgeest- Sound Design by Tony David Cray
Video Design by Marco Devetak
Sydney Opera House Forecourt until 5th November 2016

Reviewed by Bill Stephens

The timing could hardly have been better following on the findings of the National Opera Review, because if any example were needed, it would be difficult to surpass this production as a compelling demonstration of Lyndon Terracini’s professed commitment to innovation and new technology in the presentation of opera, and Opera Australia’s ability to rise to the challenges.

“The Eighth Wonder”, now rather confusingly retitled “Sydney Opera House – The Opera” was premiered in the Sydney Opera House in 1995, and revived again in 2000. The opera encapsulates many of the real events, and personalities involved in the construction of this flawed, but much-admired masterpiece. It also contains a second plot which provides the human element, telling of a talented young singer with an ambition to sing in the opera house, but torn between her teacher’s advice to sacrifice all to further her career overseas, or to marry her fiancĂ© and continue her career in Australia.
Capitalising on the experience gained staging the Handa Opera on the Harbour events, Opera Australia has conceived this magnificent new production on an epic scale, presented in the open air, on the monumental forecourt steps of the Sydney Opera House itself, with the building itself looming over the production, a character in its own right.
A major innovation which makes this possible is the introduction of personal headphones for each member of the audience. These headphones allow the singing and orchestrations to be heard with stunning clarity. They also allow effects like the buzzing of blowflies, or the crackling of the barbecues cooking to be integrated into the soundscape. While some may need to reconsider their coiffures, it’s an idea which works brilliantly.

David Freeman’s masterful direction allows both storylines to flow clearly and compellingly, sweeping the opera along in a way that is absolutely captivating.

Adam Frandsen - The Architect

Though referred to in the cast list as The Architect, The Premier, The Politician and The Queen, anyone with even a passing knowledge of the real events will have little trouble in identifying the real life characters on which the roles are based. Clever use of actual historical photos and video create the impression of watching a documentary as actual incidents are recalled.
Alan John’s score is richly atmospheric, dramatic and tuneful. Anthony Legge’s conducting carefully delineates the lush orchestrations, soaring duets and rousing choruses, while the headphones insure that none of Dennis Watkins amusing lyrics, written in the Australian vernacular, are lost.

Don Potra’s design, enhanced by Trent Suidgeests impressive lighting design, provides plenty of spectacle without dwarfing the performers. The six large stages, shaped to resemble the tiles which cover the opera house sails, glide gracefully back and forth across the steps of the vast forecourt, allowing the opera to flow seamlessly. 

Clever use of props, video projections, both realistic and cartoon, projected onto giant blow-up backgrounds, and bold, colourful costumes, capture the period and locales as varied as construction sites, a suburban backyard barbecue, offices and even the royal yacht Britannia. 

Stacey Alleume as Alexandra Mason 

The singing through-out is spectacular, especially from Danish tenor, Adam Frandsen, who makes a memorable Opera Australia debut with his passionate singing and acting as The Architect. He receives strong support, from Martin Buckingham, (The Premier), David Greco (The Engineer), Samuel Dundas (The Politician) and Adrian Tamburini (The Maestro).

Stacey Alleume succeeds superbly as the young soprano torn between her husband and her career ambitions, while Michael Petruccelli as her unsupportive young husband and David Parkin as her ocker father, both create memorable characterisations. Gerry Connolly provides some laugh-out-loud moments with his well-honed turn as a rather dowager queen.

Gerry Connelly as The Queen 

“The Eighth Wonder” celebrates an achievement of operatic proportions.  Opera Australia has created a production that does both the opera and the achievement proud. Although site- specific, it’s a production which should be relished by as many Australians as possible. Hopefully this season will be the first of many revivals to allow that to happen.
                                                Images by Prudence Upton. 

This review also appears in AUSTRALIAN ARTS REVIEW .

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Faith Healer by Brian Friel

Colin Friels as Frank Hardy
in Faith Healer
Photo by Brett Boardman
Faith Healer by Brian Friel.  Presented by Belvoir at Belvoir St Theatre, Sydney, October 26 – November 27, 2016

Director – Judy Davis

Set Designer – Brian Thomson; Costume Designer – Tess Schofield; Lighting Designer – Verity Hampson; Composer and Sound Designer – Paul Charlier

Performed by Colin Friels – Frank Hardy; Alison Whyte – Grace Hardy; Pip Miller – Teddy.

Reviewed by Frank McKone
October 29

Frank Hardy – Fantastic Faith Healer Francis Hardy, One Night Only – begins his story without telling us about his ending. 

Grace Hardy – he said mistress, she says wife – tells her story without her ending, of her life with Frank, yet without making the end of his life known, if indeed it has yet ended at all.

Teddy – manager of artistes extraordinaire, so he says – tells his story of Grace and Frank.  His own story has not yet ended.  He knows her ending, but even he does not make Frank’s ending clear.

Then Frank, now apparently after his end, tells his story with some more embellishment.  He obviously ends, but still we are not told exactly what happened.

Maybe it’s all a story of Irish blarney.  You kiss and polish the blarney stone while you tell fantastic stories, mostly about what you wish would happen.  This wasn’t mentioned in the play, but it’s what the play is about.

From our point of view it’s all about listening, and trying to work out what’s blarney and what’s not – except that the whole, the perhaps bigger, question is whether all art is just blarney – or not, as the case may be.

The three actors have clearly been directed by her excellency Judy Davis down to the very last aaargh! of their characters’ lives, but in the end – or in their ends – or even my end, there wasn’t enough beginning to make the play as significant as others seem to want to make it.  Davis makes a fair attempt in her Director’s Note, quoting Brian Friel saying “I certainly think we’re a maimed people in this country [Ireland, that is]”, that it’s about ‘issues of identity, of the importance of a sense of place, of foreign conquest, and of the damage done when one’s destiny is out of one’s control’, and concluding with ‘another quote from Friel may be helpful: “I gave up my study for the priesthood out of conflict with my belief in paganism.”

Well, perhaps, but I honestly think Brian Friel couldn’t match his sort-of confrere, Samuel Beckett.  This is because Beckett created, and knew he was creating, an original form of drama, a new genre in the aburdist line.  Friel’s story-writing is apparently ordinarily naturalistic – and so the possibilities remain rather ordinary – while Beckett created metaphors redolent with interpretations.

This doesn’t mean that Faith Healer isn’t quite watchable – the actors are very good at naturalism after all – but there’s not the poetry I need.  Maybe that’s my version of blarney.  You might well feel differently if you kiss the stone. 

The Wharf Revue – Back to Bite You

Drew Forsythe, Phillip Scott, Jonathan Biggins
in Back to Bite You The Wharf Revue 2016
Photo by Hon Boey
The Wharf Revue 2016 – Back to Bite You, written and created by Jonathan Biggins, Drew Forsythe and Phillip Scott, performed with Paige Gardiner (originally with Katrina Retallick).  Sydney Theatre Company at Wharf 1, October 19 – December 23, 2016.

Musical Director – Phillip Scott; Lighting Designer – Matthew Marshall; Sound and Video Designer – David Bergman; Costumes – Scott Fisher and Nick Godlee; Wig Stylist – Margaret Aston; Video Artist – Todd Decker;  Music Tracks – Andrew Worboys.

Reviewed by Frank McKone
October 29

Someone told me they were disappointed that no sitting Prime Minister appeared in this year’s Wharf Revue.  But Malcolm Caesar was spoken about in such glowing or scathing terms by so many Senators in Ancient Rome AD 2016, that we did not need to see him in person to know all about him.  The Treasurer “didn’t come to bury him, but to praise him”.

On the other hand, perhaps the Revue Creators simply could not find anything funny about him to present.  While on the third hand, they had no difficulty presenting Antonius Abbottus doing a fandango fan dance in red budgie smugglers, now banished to the isolated island of Warringah.

As always Drew Forsythe was absolutely remarkable in every role, as was Jonathan Biggins, both live and on video; Phillip Scott played the grand in every impossible style from Dave Brubeck to Gilbert and Sullivan; and Paige Gardiner was wonderful all the way from Juliana, the experienced vestal virgin, through a West Side Story conservative illegal Mexican horrified at Donald Trump, to a terrific characterisation of Hillary – who nearly forgot to mention the other minority group: Women!

The meeting Georgie Brandis called to negotiate terms with Pauline Hanson (Forsythe) and Jacqui Lambe (Gardiner) – she called him Georgie – was a great example of political and other types of innuendo, one of the best among a lengthy series of skits taking us all the way from the Shakesperean politics of Ancient Rome, through the less than enlightening politics of the Australian Parliament (Brandis had to explain to Pauline that she had been in the Green House last time – before she went to jail courtesy of Tony Abbott – but now she is in the Red Senate, but the House isn’t Green now that M Caesar has a one-seat majority), and finally on to the American shenanigans of Bernie, Hillary and Donald.

This historical perspective gave this year’s Revue an intellectual depth, with satirical finesse (and terrific use of video) which makes it one of the best.  Unfortunately I didn’t get to see Katrina Retallik, but Paige Gardiner was certainly a very fine performer as actor, dancer and singer, fully up to the mark required by the Wharf Revue tradition.

What will change when the US election result is announced I can’t guess, but it could well be worth another trip to Sydney to find out.

But in the end the most powerful episode in this year’s Revue was not a black satirical piece, but the warm, loving, wonderful visit from Heaven by the ever shambolic but so erudite Bob Ellis.  Not to be missed – yet how much do we miss him.

And so it goes….

Friday, October 28, 2016

Antigone by Sophocles, adapted by Damien Ryan

Andrea Demetriades as Antigone, William Zappa as King Creon
in Sophocles, Antigone adapted by Damien Ryan
Antigone by Sophocles, adapted by Damien Ryan.  Presented by Sport for Jove and The Seymour Centre at Canberra Theatre Centre Playhouse, October 27-29, 2016.

Damien Ryan: Writer and Director; Terry Karabelas: Director.

Reviewed by Frank McKone
October 27

It may seem a bit far-fetched to compare Damien Ryan with the Ancient Greek Sophocles, but.... 

Of course, the idea of writing three plays tracing the myth of the accursed House of Labdacus was entirely Sophocles’.  The story shows how Oedipus became King of Thebes (Oedipus Rex), why he was banished by his successor Creon and settled in the village of Colonus near Athens where his “soul was received into the blessed abodes...” (Oedipus at Colonus), and finally how Oedipus’ sons, Eteocles and Polynikes fought – Eteocles defending Thebes while Polynikes allied with the Argives to attack.  When both were killed – they killed each other – and Creon was once more in charge, he decreed that only Eteocles would receive proper burial rites, while the body of Polynikes “should be left in ignominy, un-wept and unburied, upon the plain where it lay.  Penalty of death was promulgated against any who should defy this order; and the voices of the city, whether in consent or in fearful submission, were silent.”  [Sophocles: The Theban Plays trans. E F Watling]

Antigone shows the final collapse of the House of Labdacus, as the two daughters of Oedipus – Antigone and Ismene – and Creon’s son, Haemon, defy Creon’s order.

I’m guessing that the words of the Chorus, the people of Thebes, stimulated Damien Ryan to seek a way to show how modern Sophocles’ thinking was, at the time when Athens was experimenting with a new form of government – rule by the people.  With Creon still in power as King, they say to Antigone:

An act of homage is good in itself, my daughter;
But authority cannot afford to connive at disobedience.
You are the victim of your own self-will.

Here is the essence of the politics in the play, as Ryan notes in the Program: The theme of the individual conscience struggling against the power of judicial law and the state is eternal and inspirational.  The loss of political balance into extremism and groups that kill for their own moral or religious law is terrifying.

But Ryan has cleverly not done as many other directors have done in recent times with Shakespeare.  He has not transposed the play into some modern place, though the stage set looks eerily like this week’s news pictures of Aleppo, but he has written into the dialogue mention of modern weaponry and human rights violations as if Thebes is one of the cities we know, like Mosul or Raqqa, or indeed Aleppo today.

Then he has done the most daring adapting by writing in what Sophocles might have thought of, but couldn’t quite go there: Ryan’s Creon announces that “tomorrow” we will have democracy, saying that he and his family will stand down from kingship to become ordinary citizens like everyone else.

The edict of the death penalty concerning burying the body of Polynikes legally remains in force, of course, and Antigone does her deed that very night – before tomorrow comes.  And dies before Creon heeds the voice of the people to release her from prison.

Yet the strength of this production is not just in the twists and turns of argument about government: Damien Ryan has brought the personal story of Antigone, her sister Ismene and her lover Haemon to life in a way that could never have been presented on the great outdoor theatre in Sophocles’ Athens.  We see and hear them speak to us directly in scenes additional to Sophocles’ descriptions by messengers in the original script.

Ryan writes: Tragedy’s intention is to remind us we are alive.  And indeed his writing and directing has brought Sophocles to life in this remarkable production of Antigone.

The success of this production also relied very much on casting, set design, sound design and lighting.

Casting Andrea Demetriades as Antigone, Louisa Mignone as Ismene, Joseph Del Re as Haemon, Anna Volska as Tiresias – the seer who so severely criticises Creon’s actions, William Zappa as Creon, Deborah Galanos as Creon’s wife Eurydice, and Fiona Press as the Leader of the Chorus made a brilliant team – all except William Zappa (for obvious reasons) doubling as members of the Chorus along with Janine Watson, Thomas Royce-Hampton, Marie Kamara and Elijah Williams, who also played respectively the Sentry, the Soldier (and live percussionist), the young Boy and the older Boy with critical messenger roles.

Such quality casting and grouping emphasised the sense of community in the people of Thebes, enhanced by the use of song and Greek language shouts for action, of acclamation, of concern, drawing us into their culture and involving us emotionally in their lives.  Terry Karabelas’ work shone through the production, as did Scott Witt’s choreography.

Sets and costume design by Melanie Liertz, working with scenic artist Rosalind McKelvey Bunting, took us exactly into a city almost destroyed by years of warfare, even down to graffiti, with a mood to match in Matt Cox’s lighting and Bruce Halliday's sound design.

This is a production not to be missed, with a run after Canberra at Riverside Theatre, Parramatta, November 9-12.  Well worth the drive. 

Thursday, October 27, 2016

LOVE SONGS -Kate Ceberano and Paul Grabowsky

Street Theatre, 23rd October 2016.

Reviewed by Bill Stephens

Those attending the first of two sold out performances in the Street Theare by Kate Ceberano and Paul Grabowsky in the expectation of hearing superb music-making by two consummate artists were not disappointed.

A mini-mutual admiration society in which Ceberano, flashing her famously engaging smile, undertook the narration to immediately set an intimate, informal tone. Grabowsky was content to do his talking through his piano.

It was obvious that both artists revelled in the talents of the other, as they set about exploring the possibilities of the songs, often challenging the other, as inspiration hit. At one point, when Grabowsky appeared engrossed in a series of brilliant variations, and Ceberano struggled to find her way back into the song, she laughingly confessed to the audience, “I haven’t a clue where he’s at!” 
Grabowsky of course was quite aware of her plight, and was relishing the opportunity to tease her.

Kate Ceberano is a brilliant singer, not afraid to use gestures to heighten an effect.Grabowsky’s inspired accompaniments provided the opportunity to savour her ability to go straight to the heart of a lyric, play with timing, or respond to a moment of vocal inspiration.  Grabowsky, for his part clearly inspired by her imaginative and secure vocalising, provided beautiful settings containing often dense contrasting chording which might have rattled a less secure singer.

Neither pure cabaret nor jazz concert ,  “Love Songs” turned out to be a hybrid collection of seemingly disparate songs, old and new, chosen by Ceberano and Grabowsky, to comment on notions of love in all its manifestations, to which they applied their exquisite interpretive talents to expose unexpected insights.

Thus when Ceberano softly crooned Ewan MacColl’s “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face”, as a parent holding a new-born, the effect was surprisingly powerful and moving. Equally surprising was her bluesy interpretation of Johnny Mercer’s “Skylark” as sung by a tipsy mouse.

A romantic medley of French songs commenced with Ceberano singing Piaf’s “La Vie en Rose”, in French, through a Sate inspired introduction, before seguing into English versions of two Michel Legrand songs, written  for the film “The Umbrellas of Cherbough” – “The Windmills of Your Mind” and “I Will Wait For You”.

Another medley began with Ceberano's haunting rendition of "Alfie" and then merged two other Burt Bacharach/Hal David songs , “This Girl’s in Love With You” and “What the World Needs Now” with Joni Mitchell's “Both Sides Now”, to provide an affecting tribute to the late Cilla Black.

A lush, over- the- top rendition of “Where Do I Begin” became a playful, tongue-in-cheek nod to Dame Shirley Bassey, and even Streisand was referenced with a cheeky version of “The Way We Were”.

At ninety minutes, without interval, the program was generous and among other highlights in the eclectic repertoire was a sublime version of Leonard Cohen’s “Suzanne” and a lovely song by Megan Washington. However, their audience was in no hurry to let them go, demanding, and receiving, three encores.  

This review also appears in AUSTRALIAN ARTS REVIEW.


Written by Willy Russell
Directed by Denny Lawrence
Christine Harris & HIT Productions
Q Theatre, Queanbeyan to 29 October

Review by Len Power 26 October 2016

‘Educating Rita’ by Willy Russell is familiar to many people through its 1983 film adaptation with Michael Caine and Julie Walters.  It was first a two character stage play presented by the Royal Shakespeare Company in London in 1980.

Uneducated Susan (who initially calls herself Rita), signs up for an Open University course in English Literature as a break from her humdrum work and home life.  Sparks begin to fly immediately between her and her assigned tutor, Frank, a middle-aged, alcoholic career academic.

Colin Moody gives a realistic performance as the disillusioned and bitter Frank.  While presenting an unhappy and abrasive character, Moody never loses the audience’s sympathy.  It’s a finely judged performance.

Francesca Bianchi as Susan/Rita is a delight right from the start.  The actress is in complete command of a character who changes with her increasing knowledge and confidence.  She has a great sense of timing with the comedy lines and projects a endearing warmth as well.
Francesca Bianchi and Colin Moody in 'Educating Rita' (photo: Canberra Times)

On a practical and simple set designed by Jacob Battista for Frank’s office at the university, director, Denny Lawrence keeps the dialogue-heavy show moving at a swift pace.  Scene and costume changes are deftly handled.  However, the second act wig worn by Francesca Bianchi was a poor choice, obscuring her face at times in key scenes.

This is a delightful play which has stood the test of time and seems as fresh as when it was first written.  The opening night audience had a good time with it and so did I.

Len Power’s reviews are also broadcast on Artsound FM 92.7 ‘Artcetera’ program from 9.00am on Saturdays.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Joe Cinque's Consolation

© Jane Freebury

As stories go, the story of Joe Cinque is at the very least alarming. A young Canberra man who was guilty of nothing more than an excess of loving tolerance towards his live-in girlfriend, and it cost him his life. 

The end of their affair is a cautionary tale, a revelation of the dangers that are inherent in taking too much responsibility for others, as Cinque did for his loved one’s health and wellbeing. It reveals at the same time the dangers of community taking too little. 

Were Joe Cinque’s Consolation not based on a true story, we might dismiss it as another dark chapter of suburban malaise, a toxic mix of the bizarre and the banal. If only it were not true.

This first feature from Sotiris Dounoukos, a graduate in law turned filmmaker who was studying in Canberra at the time of Cinque’s death in 1997, is a principled exploration of events leading up to the night he was killed. Dounoukos and his team, including co-writer Matt Rubinstein, have been brave to tackle this daunting project from the recent past with many stakeholders, including the families of principal characters, who are still very much alive.

There is much to praise here. The screenplay by Dounoukos and Matt Rubinstein, that sounds pitch perfect. The performances are uniformly really good, especially Maggie Naouri's take on Anu Singh, by far the most complex role in the film. The direction is restrained yet skilful, negotiating the many shoals on which melodrama so often founders. Overall, the film is a credit to all involved, including the young actors, who besides Naouri, are relative unknowns. 

In addition to the challenge of providing a portrayal of Singh, the law student who injected Cinque with lethal doses of heroin after she had rendered him comatose with a potent sedative, the film explores the vexed question of responsibility. There were people who were aware, like Madhavi Rao, Singh’s close friend, of plans afoot, or just vaguely aware,. There were dinner party guests, there were dealers, there were enablers. Were they somehow in thrall to Singh? Did they ever imagine that events could transpire as they did? Community duty of care is one of the key questions the film puts to its audience. 

The circumstances of Cinque's death have denied his family closure, and responsibility for it has remained in law at least a somewhat open question. Just as Garner’s book Joe Cinque’s Consolation raised questions about the way his death was dealt with in court in 2004, the film Joe Cinque’s Consolation asks the audience to review and reconsider.

While it is difficult to see the film as an adaptation of Garner’s work, to which Dounoukos was granted the rights, film and book are certainly complementary and can be experienced back-to-back. The film version of events leading up to the death can then be followed by Garner’s personal account of the court proceedings that dealt with it.

There are sensitivities and pitfalls aplenty to manage, but Joe Cinque’s Consolation emerges as a very fine film indeed. It is nuanced, respectful, subtle and it makes the inexorable progress towards a death foretold really powerful. 

It shows how it was possible for Cinque to die in the way that he did, answering my first question. My second question relates to the way it was dealt with in court, but that remains unanswered. 

I became a resident of Canberra in the same year that this 26-year-old engineer died. It was the same year that the implosion of the Canberra Hospital took place, another bizarre event that is incidentally referenced in the film as well. The city of Canberra and its environs are revealed in the many location stills interspersed through the tightly observed drama. These shots open it out, asking how a city could carry on regardless as a young man lay dying. It is something we can all ask ourselves.

Although it inevitably shares space on the big screen with chick flicks and the domestic noirs with femme fatales now in vogue, Joe Cinque’s Consolation, is never in any danger of being trivialized by the demands of entertainment.  It is too serious and intelligent and nuanced for that.

4 Stars

Sunday, October 23, 2016


Written by Larry Kramer
Produced by Nikki Fitzgerald and Jarrad West
Directed by Karen Vickery
Lighting design by Roni Wilkinson
Presented by Everyman Theatre
Courtyard Studio, Canberra Theatre Centre until 29th October

Reviewed by Bill Stephens

Larry Kramer’s searing play about events surrounding the emergence of AIDS epidemic in New York between 1981 and 1984 is given a compelling production by Everyman Theatre.

Largely autobiographical, the play is based on Kramer’s own experiences as a gay activist, and his fight to secure funds for research into the disease. While the names are different, the characters represent those in Kramer’s circle at the time.

Karen Vickery’s direction of the play is masterly. Presented against a stark white background covered with the names of those who have died of AIDS, with just the addition of some items of furniture, moved into position by the cast when required, relying on Roni Wilkinson’s spare lighting design to indicate changes of locale and time, Vickery’s direction focusses the attention squarely on the text, and the skill of her actors, to obtain maximum effect, carefully creating an atmosphere of mounting panic and desperation in which her characters grapple with the inexplicable,  Vickery has drawn remarkable performances from her accomplished cast, as they unflinchingly portray the layers of conflicting emotions and motivations.

Will Huang (Felix Turner) - Jarrad  West (Ned Weeks) 

Jarrad West, in one of his best performances to date as Ned Weeks, the character based on the real-life Kramer, manages to generate sympathy for the charismatic, driven soul, so secure in his belief of his view of events that he alienates even those closest to him, including his doomed lover, the New York Times writer, Felix Turner, played with affecting sincerity by Will Huang.

Jordan Best also gives a striking performance, as Doctor Emma Brookner, the only female character  in the play, who, having been stricken with a virus herself, although not the one that’s the subject of the play, goads and tantalises Ned, before becoming his strongest advocate.

Robert deFries, impresses with his strong, sympathetic depiction of Ned’s loyal brother, Ben, who battles his own reservations and ambitions in an effort to acquiesce to Ned’s constant demands for unconditioned loyalty and financial support.

As Ned’s loyal friends and campaign supporters, Michael Sparks as an insecure older gay, and Riley Bell, younger and more flamboyant, both offer thoughtful, resonant performances which contrast neatly with the strongly drawn characterisation of Christopher Zuber as Bruce Niles, initially Ned’s supporter, but ultimately his rival when he takes over the Presidency of the organisation Ned has set up to fight the epidemic.

Teig Sadhana, and Christopher Carroll, both undertake dual roles, in small, compelling cameos.

Will Huang (Felix Turner) - Jarrad West (Ned Weeks) 

Thankfully, authorities did heed the voices of those early activists and many who followed them, and with knowledge, much has been achieved in the education of the most vulnerable. Extensive research has resulted in successful treatments, so that AIDS is no longer the death sentence it was when this play was written.  Never the less, this production of  “The Normal Heart” is a potent illustration of the way humans react when faced with an incomprehensible peril, and a timely warning against complacency.