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REVIEW - THE HOMOSEXUALS, OR ‘FAGGOTS’

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Griffin Theatre, March 22. Until April 29
Declan Greene’s new play starts promisingly - hilariously, actually - with gay couple Warren (Simon Burke) and Kim (Simon Corfield) in direct address mode, recalling a work schmooze gone wrong.
While attempting to wine and dine a party of Yahoo execs in a moribund Kings Cross, Kim steers the party into an English theme pub, the only place open after 10pm. To their horror, the menu features that Northern British staple of minced offal and onion: the faggot.

Great offence is taken. There is screaming. A dish is thrown. Warren has a flaming row with the chef. “Stupid dyke,” he concludes.
Greene abruptly drops that scene (and the mode of address), leaping ahead to the evening of the Mardi Gras parade, which Warren has made unsustainably busy for himself by lining up a secret photo shoot with a Jewish male model (a suitably ripped Lincoln Younes). Kim comes home early. Unlikely explanations are offered. Doors are slammed. Secret compartments are trigg…

REVIEW - CONSENSUAL

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New Theatre, March 19. Until April 15
British writer Evan Placey’s blackboard jungle drama tackles issues of sexual consent, ethics and power in unapologetic in-your-face style.
Two characters occupy its centre: a high school teacher, Diane (played by Lauren Richardson), and a former student, Freddie (Paul Whiddon).
Freddie, whom Diane hasn’t seen in five years, is an unwelcome blast from the past. When she was a teaching assistant, aged 22, she and the 15-year-old Freddie, the emotionally needy product of a dysfunctional family, got close. Very close.
Now working in a bank, Freddie claims Diane groomed him for sex. Diane, who is pregnant, married to tax department lawyer Pete (Benjamin Vickers) and trying to navigate a rowdy group of teens through the minefields of sexual ethics and behaviour in the digital age, doesn’t remember it that way at all.
Legally speaking, Diane has no wriggle room. She has broken the law. But without excusing her actions, Placey shows how blurry the lines can b…

REVIEW - CRIMES OF THE HEART

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Old Fitzroy Theatre, March 17. Until April 8
Why Beth Henley’s late ’70s sudser, and why now? I‘m not sure the actor-producers behind this show could give a hard and fast answer beyond something like, ‘I think I/we would be great in this’.
Leave your pesky whys and wherefores at the door, then, and enjoy this kitchen sink tragicomedy for what it is: an opportunity for young actors to do the laughter-and-tears thing in exotic accents, put the stuff learned in Larry Moss acting classes to use, and maybe get noticed doing so.

A moderate Broadway success in its day and last seen in Sydney at the now defunct Marian Street in 2001, Henley’s play is the story of three sisters reuniting in lil ol’ Hazelhurst, Mississippi, in unhappy circumstances.
The staidly reliable eldest sister Lenny (Laura Pike) has just celebrated a lonely thirtieth birthday with a candle jammed into a broken cookie. Birthday wishes come with the news that her beloved pet horse has been fatally struck by lightning.
Middle s…

REVIEW - MDLSX

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Bay 20, Carriageworks, March 16. Until March 18
Elements of autobiographical performance and fiction collide in this visceral work created by Italy's Motus Theatre and its star, SilviaCalderoni.
Interspersed her fractured monologue with self-triggered bursts of music – a hipster playlist featuring The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Vampire Weekend, R.E.M. and The Smiths –MDLSXencourages its audience to blend the life stories ofCalderoniwith a fictional "Cal", the intersex subject of JeffreyEugenides' novel Middlesex.

Donning and shedding a variety of costumes as she goes,Calderoniperforms more to a mini-video camera than to the audience, images from which are instantaneously projected onto an oculus-like screen.
She dances, plays with disco lights, recites and writhes on the floor. At times it's like watching a post-punk peep show. Elsewhere, it's akin to spying on a hyperactive teenager recreating pop videos in the bedroom mirror. Either way, for an uninterrupted 80 minutes,C…

REVIEW - THE LADEN TABLE

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Kings Cross Theatre, March 15. Until March 25
Six writers. A cast of 12. Nearly three years in the making. The Laden Table is one of the most ambitious and logistically complex efforts you’ll see in an independent theatre this year.
“Two houses, both alike in dignity,” is how Shakespeare described the parental sets of his Romeo and Juliet. It applies here, too, in this modern day story of a love affair that dares to cross social and religious lines.

The Fishmans are eastern suburbs Jews. The Ka’adan family is western suburbs Muslim. On this evening, the Fishmans are attending to the ritual of Yom Kippur, the Ka’adans to Eid.
They occupy the same table in director Suzanne Millar’s staging but exist in separate spaces. Neither family knows anything of the other beyond the all-encompassing generalities held by the elders present: Muslims are not to be trusted; Jews are not to be trusted.
What neither family knows is that a link exists between them, one forged by Ruth Fishman (Jessica Pa…

REVIEW - CALAMITY JANE

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Hayes Theatre Company, March 10. Until April 1
This could have been a glib exercise in buckskin camp. Among other things, Calamity Jane, the stage musical spun from the 1953 Doris Day movie (and an earlier stage play), certainly leaves itself wide-open to easy send-up.
But this production – a very fine and funny one that playfully addresses the shortcomings and datedness of Ronald Hanmer and Phil Park's book – is perfectly poised between irreverence and respect.


Using a few old sticks of furniture and drapes, designer Lauren Peters converts the Hayes into a passable evocation of a Wild West saloon. Welcome to the Golden Garter, the one place in Deadwood, South Dakota with just a little bit of class. Heck, it's probably the only joint in town with a spittoon.
It's here we meet the lovelorn, square peg Jane (Virginia Gay), who, when she's done fantasticatin', is dispatched to far-off Chicago to acquire the services of showgirl and cigarette card pin-up Adelaide Adams…

REVIEW - RICHARD 3

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The Playhouse, Sydney Opera House, March 1. Until April 1

This Richard III is probably the most anticipated production of a Shakespeare in Sydney since a showboating Kevin Spacey brought his Sam Mendes-directed Old Vic staging of the play to the Lyric Theatre in 2011. This Bell Shakespeare production directed by Peter Evans is a less kinetic affair, and its Richard leaves fewer teeth marks in the scenery. But it's every bit as compelling for its all-eyes-on-me quality. Adapted by Kate Mulvany, who also plays the title role and does so brilliantly, the play occupies a single space, a highly polished, reproduction-furnished gentlemen's club of the old-school variety (an Anna Cordingley design). A dumb waiter delivering food, drinks, knives and the occasional severed head appears to be the only connection with the outside world. Long years of peace have created a ruling dynasty cut off from reality, focused on internal politics and self-medication.Evans has largely dispensed with …