INTERVIEW: NATIONAL THEATRE OF PARRAMATTA’S WAYNE HARRISON

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Hakawati is a Sydney Festival show that allows you to be swept away to an Arabian night in Western Sydney. The show is a celebration of food and stories and is inspired by an Arabic tradition where storytelling is combined with breaking bread. This event will have its world premiere at the El- Phoenician restaurant in Parramatta. We at the AU Review talked to the show’s director and organiser, Wayne Harrison AM to learn more about Hakawati, the National Theatre of Parramatta and an event where a meal can offer much food for thought.

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Can you briefly describe what your role is and how long you’ve been working in the theatre?

I had my first job in the theatre when I was seven, performing in a J C Williamson’s musical. I led a double life as a student and a thespian until I ran away from Melbourne University to join a circus. I thereafter became a journalist, a dramaturg, and a theatre director – I’m combining all three to create Hakawati, although the circus may be in there somewhere.

Can you briefly describe the premise behind the show Hakawati?

It’s ‘food and food for thought’.

Why do you think people should come and see the show Hakawati?

I hope it will be entertaining, maybe enlightening – and the El-Phoenician (Restaurant) food is exceptional. The format is: first course / followed by story / second course / story / third course / story / fourth course / story.

Hakawati is inspired by the tradition of story-telling and breaking bread as well as celebrating food, music and the telling of tales. What sorts of stories can people come to expect at this show? Will participants be encouraged to share some stories of their very own?

The stories will be contemporary with a ‘1001 nights twist’ – a bit of magic realism and generational conflict, with a cameo from the odd celebrity (appearing in words only). I’m sure the concept will generate a lot of audience stories, but at this stage the format only allows for the four official story-tellers to tell their tales.

Hakawati is all about food and stories. If you could invite any three guests to dinner (living or dead) who would they be and why?

Rogan Poulier, who was my best friend at school – he was of Sri Lankan descent, taught me a lot about telling stories in a different way, and never had a problem with my double life; Jacki Weaver, who’s always good value at a dinner party; and my mother, who never really forgave me for swapping uni for the circus – this might make up for it, a bit.

Is the Hakawati Sydney Festival live event related to the novel of the same name by Rabih Alameddine? Or do the two just use similar approaches to their art?
No, the Sydney Festival event is not related to the excellent novel. It has a crossover, in that it also concerns itself with parents and children – but we are grounded firmly in Granville south with a quick visit to Kellyville (where there’s a magic lamp).

You directed the Hakawati show at Sydney Festival. What is involved in directing a show like this one? Does this show actually have a script or is it improvised?

There are four scripts – one for each Hakawati, though the fourth story is a bit of a group effort. The direction for this sort of show is all in the casting, i.e. finding four actors who can sustain complex story-telling, create all the characters, set the various moods, find the humour and the other emotional moments, take us all on the journey, invite the audience to help tell the story. I can help in this, too, but it’s mainly the actors.

Can you briefly tell us about the National Theatre of Parramatta (NTofP)? Is there anything else relating to this theatre company that you’d like to plug?

NTofP is “putting the nation on stage”, helping tell a few stories that might not necessarily get a guernsey (or look-in) elsewhere. It’s also like a door, one that new talent, or individuals new to the theatre, can knock on and enter.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell the readers of The AU Review about Hakawati or any other upcoming events?

Well, the stage version of Felicity Castagna’s award-winning The Incredible Here and Now is coming – life and death on the streets of Parramatta and beyond – and David Williams’ Smurf in Wanderland – a take on what happens when a Sydney FC supporter frequents Western Sydney Wanderers’ footy matches. Both are NTofP productions.

Photo credit: Luke Stambouliah

Hakawati has its world premiere at the El-Phoenician Restaurant in Parramatta from January 11 – 21 as part of the 2017 Sydney Festival. For more information and tickets please visit: http://www.sydneyfestival.org.au/2017/hakawati

Originally published on 21 December 2016 at the following website: http://arts.theaureview.com/interviews/wayne-harrison-talks-about-staging-an-arabian-night-in-western-sydney/

Visit The Au Review’s homepage dedicated to the arts at: http://arts.theaureview.com/

DVD REVIEW: THE FAMILY LAW

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For too long, Australian TV shows have been white-washed and white bread but a series like The Family Law looks poised to change all of that. The SBS dramedy feels authentic in its depiction of the Law family living in Queensland in the nineties. The show has real heart and it will make you laugh and it’s no surprise that it has become a swift favourite among viewers.

The program is an adaption of writer, Benjamin Law’s 2010 memoir of the same name. The TV series was also co-written with Marieke Hardy. It uses some of the vignettes from Law’s memoir where he describes growing up as a gay, Asian kid in Australia. The TV show also fashions it all into a cohesive whole by making it seem like it all took place over one long, hot Australian summer.

The six-part series is mostly told from Law’s perspective. He is a creative, enthusiastic and well-meaning middle child who is close to his large family, especially his mother. Here, Law is played by the well-cast, Trystan Go, whose acting credits include the theatrical production, The King & I. But one character’s star shines the brightest out of the Law family and that is Ben’s mother, Jenny (played by the wonderful, Fiona Choi). Jenny is the family matriarch and a rambunctious, eccentric and colourful character. Jenny can be inappropriate at times and a no-nonsense and kind woman at others. She also has no filter and has by far, some of the funniest lines.

The Law family also includes the hard-working father, Danny (Anthony Brandon Wong (who plays a villain in several Matrix films)). Danny is thrown-out of the Law house and is forced to sleep at the restaurant he owns. There are also Ben’s four siblings- Candy (Shuang Hu), Andrew (George Zhao), Tammy (Karina Lee) and Michelle (Vivian Wei). The show is a warm, relatable and amiable one that focuses on Ben’s teenage life- from aspirations of fame and entries into school talent quests, to his parent’s wedding anniversary and marriage break-up to family Christmases, engagements and visits from friends.

The special features are interesting and include a trailer as well as a series of featurettes where there are interviews with Law, the actors and director, Jonathan Brough  (It’s a Date, Sammy J & Randy in Ricketts Lane). It is fascinating to learn that the production team went to great lengths to make the setting feel like a cosy, lived-in family home. Law referred to it as a “lasagne of shit” and this is particularly obvious in the mountains of laundry and family bric-a-brac. It’s also nice to see the real members of the Law family meeting their counterparts (they make a cameo in episode one which is lovely and rather funny).

The Family Law is a fun, Australian family show that expertly straddles the lines between drama and comedy. The show has some funny moments but it also doesn’t shy away from depicting some real drama and emotion. In all, this is a long-overdue program about a dysfunctional Asian family that everyone can enjoy thanks to its rich tapestry and depiction of modern Australian life that is full of off-beat irreverence and colourful shenanigans aplenty.

Originally published on 5 March 2016 at the following website: http://www.impulsegamer.com/the-family-law-dvd-review/

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INTERVIEW: DIRECTOR DENNY LAWRENCE TALKS ABOUT ALL MY LOVE

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Henry Lawson and Mary Gilmore are two famous, Australian writers. But what people may not realise is that the pair were also lovers and secretly betrothed. This information has only come to light in the couple’s surviving letters and in Gilmore’s memoirs and forms the basis of a new play titled, All My Love. It’s a show adapted for the stage by Anne Brooksbank and promises to be an intense and tragic love story.

The AU Review sat down with All My Love’s director, Denny Lawrence to talk about the play, Australian history and famous couples from yesteryear.

Can you briefly introduce yourself? How long have you been working in the arts industry?

I started as a child actor in theatre and did some television in early adolescence. Then I applied to NIDA out of high school and after my time there worked as an actor in theatre and television before starting to direct in theatre. After a few years, I decided to move into directing film and television, so I applied to AFTRS and was accepted. Since graduating I have worked in all three media as writer, producer and director.

Can you briefly describe All My Love?

This is a poignant story of two of Australia’s iconic literary figures: Mary Gilmore and Henry Lawson and their little-known secret betrothal.

All My Love tells the untold love story of two famous Australian writers, Henry Lawson and Mary Gilmore. Does the show feature many quotes from their actual, individual works? Are there any famous ones in particular that you’d like to discuss for us?

They were both so prolific it was hard to include very many of their poems (let alone Henry’s short stories) but writer Anne Brooksbank has cleverly used some of Mary’s poems as a kind of ‘sub-text’ in the narrative and it is especially evocative to hear the passion Mary expressed in her work.

Why do you think audiences should come and see All My Love?

The story is historically significant yet quite relevant to a contemporary Australian audience. It is great getting to know more about these highly regarded cultural figures – and most of all to experience their relationship, which continued throughout their lives until Henry’s premature death.

Do you have a favourite scene in the production? What’s it about and why did you choose this one?

There are so many but perhaps one favourite is the scene where Mary and Henry meet after he has been away at the West Australian goldfields and she believes (wrongly) that he has not written to her. It reveals the key turning point in their relationship – and the tragedy of their never getting together. Anne has written it with tremendous insight, as well as humour. Henry’s weaknesses come out, so he is seen as more than just the great artist: he was also a flawed man.

Do you have a favourite piece of text or a favourite quote from either Lawson or Gilmore? Why did you pick this particular one?

Again, there are so many – but possibly this piece of Mary’s that so well sums up her strength of character, her stoicism:
Never admit the pain
Bury it deep,
Only the weak complain,
Complaint is cheap.
Cover thy wound, fold down
Its curtained place,
Silence is still a crown,
Courage a grace.

The show stars Kim Denman (Neighbours) and Dion Mills (It’s A Date). How did the actors prepare for their roles?

They both did a massive amount of research. I think they each read everything their characters ever wrote! They also read historical accounts of the time, and Kim was able to listen to some extensive radio interviews that Mary did late in her life, which were a great help to her.

All My Love sounds like a sad romance tale. If you could invite any couple from history to dinner who would it be and why?

What an interesting question! And another one about which it is hard to be selective. I have actually co-written a play about the weekend that Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier had Marilyn Monroe and Arthur Miller to stay. That would be a great dinner!

The play is taking place at Parramatta’s Riverside Theatres. The suburb itself was in the news fairly recently because they had found some historic relics buried there. Does the location of the play have any sort of impact on the show? Does it produce better performances in the actors?

Parramatta is one of the few places in Sydney that still has some sense of history. I know that both Kim and Dion are keen historians and will react to that find with interest. As to affecting their performance, I think it is all about responding to the live audience as they enter the imagined world we have all created together. That is the great thing about theatre.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell The AU Review about “All My Love” or any of your other upcoming projects?

My next two projects are both for HIT Productions: Educating Rita, starring Colin Moody. Great play, great actor. And then I direct Always Patsy Cline – about another real person, the wonderful Country singer of the title. I believe that show will be playing at Riverside.

Originally published on 12 February 2016 at the following website: http://arts.theaureview.com/interviews/all-my-loves-denny-lawrence-talks-about-the-tragic-relationship-between-writers-henry-lawson-and-mary-gilmore/

Visit The Au Review’s homepage dedicated to the arts at: http://arts.theaureview.com

EVENT REVIEW: FINE FOOD AUSTRALIA

Fine-Food

Fine Food Australia is the nation’s largest food service tradeshow. In 2015 the event was held at Sydney’s Olympic Park. Across four days, chefs, cooks, bakers, students, bartenders, waiters, food technologists, consultants, baristas, butchers, managers, sales people and owners of food-related businesses, were given the opportunity to network, form new business relationships and discover market and industry trends. It was a show where people were coming together to appreciate and celebrate a mutual love of food.

This year the tradeshow had partnered up with the Royal Agricultural Society to host the Royal Award winners and a ‘talk ‘n’ taste’ stage where individuals were on hand to run through the processes they completed in order to win their prestigious award. Dairy brand Bulla, was also a platinum sponsor which played host to renowned chefs, Kirsten Tibballs, Marike van Beurden and Anna Polyviou, who demonstrated the art of making sweet and decadent desserts like chocolates, éclairs, brownies and tarts as well as some great dinner ideas.

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The show had panels allowing visitors to “ask the experts” questions as well as product demonstrations and stalls which hosted everything from catering equipment, technological items and point-of-sale solutions, through to international food favourites and the best in meat, seafood, dairy, drinks, bread, confectionary and other items. Another drawcard from the event was the culinary art competition where chefs had competed to make things both mouth-watering and visually sumptuous.

The day also had some fun mascots and characters. At Superbee they had a dancing Santa and a Beezebo (think of a large gazebo for keeping bees) and Petey Pie celebrated our national food by posing for selfies. Miss Jay Jay celebrated our local beef industry and her decorations were determined by who was ‘The Archibull prize’ winner, which was won by from North Lakes high school. The cow’s design was fabulous and appropriated artworks by Picasso, Chagall and Warhol, to name a few. There were also contests like the ‘Great Australian Pie Competition’ and ‘Nestlé’s Golden Chef’s Hat Award National Final’.

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There was an abundance of great food and drink on offer at the festival, but here are our top five:

1. Choco Barocco – is a Queensland based company where a designer, sculptor and pastry chef craft amazing 3D chocolate art masterpieces. These include souvenirs of Sydney and Melbourne, indigenous art creations and even the Mona Lisa, just to name a few. The sky is the limit for creating these wondrous delights which taste delicious too.

2. Sienna Desserts – this Sydney based business offers delicate cakes and fresh, modern desserts which are to die for. They’re light and flavoursome and will melt in your mouth (especially the flourless passionfruit and coconut slice).

3. Chulpi – a toasted corn maize from Ecuador. These crunchy corn kernels are versatile little parcels of golden goodness and can be used in a number of different recipes, whilst also making a tasty snack on their own. Yum.

4. Tea Tonic: – These teas are fit for a princess (Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge actually sampled this variety at the Royal Easter Show on her recent visit). The teas are fun, healthy and exceptional, and are the brainchild of founder and herbalist, Lisa Hilbert.

5. Vege Farm – This is a group offering soy-based vegetarian and vegan products. Some of the range includes black pepper steak and blue ribbon fish. This is bound to be a big hit amongst people who are conscious about not eating meat, but do not want to compromise on taste and nutritional elements.

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Fine Food Australia was an informative and enjoyable event where participants learnt a lot about the food industry and new efforts being made to allow and compensate for food allergies and intolerances, etc. The trade show covered the full gamut of different things from talks, to interactive demonstrations, samples, stalls and more. This delightful show left patrons hungry to know and experience more about the wonderful wide world of food.

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Originally published in October 2015 at the following website: http://www.theaustraliatimes.com/magazine/gourmet/issue/310/#25

Visit The Australia Times’ homepage at: http://www.theaustraliatimes.com/

LIVE REVIEW: HOODOO GURUS’ BE MY GURU, EVOLUTION REVOLUTION @ THE POWERHOUSE MUSEUM (22.05.2015)

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The Hoodoo Gurus’ retrospective Vivid event, Be My Guru, Evolution Revolution, was an extraordinary, multimedia concert experience from no ordinary band. A rotating lineup of the eight past and current members of the Hoodoo Gurus (save for new recruit, Nik Rieth) rocked up a storm at the Powerhouse Museum, toasting to a frenzied and fun-packed 28 years.

The concert was held in the temporary exhibitions hall (which did wreak some havoc with the acoustics) and some exhibits had been set up about the band, including vintage guitars belonging to Dave Faulkner and Brad Shepherd, and Rick Grossman’s precision bass that he used with the Gurus as well as Divinyls and Matt Finish. There were also posters chronicling every one of Faulkner’s bad haircuts, as well as VIP passes, setlists, signed memorabilia, vinyl, CDs, clothing and two dinosaur figures from the Stoneage Romeos era.

For the two-hour show itself, songs were played mostly chronologically and with limited introduction. Stoneage Romeos and Mars Needs Guitars! got the most airtime, but the Gurus – laidback and cool – made the whole set seem so enjoyable and effortless. Songs like ‘Arthur’ and ‘(Let’s All) Turn On’ saw the guys acting like young rebel rousers and trading dirty blues riffs. The exuberant pop of ‘Like Wow – Wipeout’ and ‘What’s My Scene?’ whipped the crowd into a frenzy. ‘Bittersweet’, meanwhile, seemed both vibrant and apt, as this was the last chance fans would have to see the retiring Mark Kingsmill at the drums.

The diehard fans were treated to rarities like ‘Snake Shake’, while the newer ‘Crackin’ Up’ was electric. But the most spine-chilling energy came when all eight members – Faulkner, Shepherd, Kingsmill, Grossman, Roddy Radalj, James Baker, Clyde Bramley and Kimble Rendall – joined together for three encores. Despite the difficulties with the venue, the whole show was like being on an out-of-control nostalgia train. In the end, Vivid Sydney proved to be the right time for the Gurus’ trip through history.

 

Originally published on 25 May 2015 at the following website: http://thebrag.com/music/hoodoo-gurus-powerhouse-museum

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THEATRE REVIEW: THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW @ THE LYRIC THEATRE, SYDNEY

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Welcome to the jungle. No, welcome to the camp science experiment that is The Rocky Horror Show. The play debuted in London in 1973, made it to Australia in 1974 before it was a cult movie favourite the following year. Now over forty but certainly not fat or fired, this show is still flirty, fun and fabulous, darling. In fact, it could be several decades younger.

Richard O’Brien’s rock musical favourite is currently playing in Sydney at the Lyric Theatre for a limited run. It sees the Helpmann Award-winning Craig McLachlan reprising his role as Frank-N-Furter. It’s one he originally performed back in 1992 before reprising it again last year and by gosh, he’s still got it. Kristian Lavercombe is also reprising his role as the caretaker, Riff Raff and he brings a certain frenetic quality to the role that was originally performed by O’Brien.

The story follows the wholesome and adorable couple, Brad and Janet (Stephen Mahy and Amy Lehpamer (Dirty Rotten Scoundrels)) who are newly engaged. They take a car trip so they can tell their tutor the good news but they get a flat tyre and are stuck in a bad storm. They enter an eerie castle in the hopes of using the telephone. But after crossing the threshold into pleasure, there’s no going back. In Frank-N-Furter’s funhouse they’re treated to a strange sexual awakening thanks to the eccentric host and his band of crazed oddballs including Magenta (Jayde Westaby), Eddie (Nicholas Christo) and Columbia (Angelique Cassimatis). There is also Frank-N-Furter’s creation, the dopey but loveable Rocky who is played by Brendan Irving and who looks just as good as Ryan Gosling did in Crazy, Stupid, Love.

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Craig McLachlan steals almost every scene and is absolutely magnetic as Frank-N-Furter. The film screenings and production have always encouraged the audience to participate and it is here that McLachlan really shines. He’s never shy to break lines and add a quip or joke in order to tease and purr at the audience. Dressed in his black corset, high-heels and fishnets he is absolutely gorgeous and always manages to find the right balance between hamming it up and playing the cheeky transvestite who is quick with the wit, double entendres and innuendo.

The Rocky Horror Show draws its inspiration from B-grade science fiction and schock horror films. These ideas are particularly evident in the second act where the night at the funhouse descends into madness and strange revelations are made about the different players’ identities. This act isn’t as good as the all-killer, no-filler and energetic first half, which is paced perfectly and has the right amount of narrative, music and exquisite choreography.

One of the biggest draw points to The Rocky Horror Show are those classic songs. Tonight the favourites “Time Warp”, “Sweet Transvestite”, “Touch-a Touch-a Touch Me” and “Science Fiction/Double Feature” were among the highlights. In the case of the former track, it was all about camp glitter and being loud and proud while the latter was a softer and more subtle nod at the music from the 1950s. The rock band were tight and raucous although there were some sound issues where the group drowned out the lyrics. This was particularly the case with narrator, Bert Newton’s mic as he was tried to give instructions during the “Time Warp”.

This latest adaptation for the outrageous, exciting and much-loved The Rocky Horror Show was nothing short of excellent. From the stunning costumes to the dancing and singing which were so big and joyous you couldn’t be blamed for wanting to join in and shout it all from a mountain range to just about everything in between. This was one pleasurable journey into the garden of earthly (and extra-terrestrial) delights. So let your hair down, leave your inhibitions at the door and enjoy the ride with some sweet transvestites through sass, seduction and sex. It’s the most fun you can have with your pants on.

 

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Originally published on 16 April 2015 at the following website: http://www.theaureview.com/arts/reviews/the-rocky-horror-show-lyric-theatre-sydney-performances-through-june-7th

Visit The Au Review’s homepage at: http://www.theaureview.com/

DVD REVIEW: OLIVE KITTERIDGE

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Olive Kitteridge is part curmudgeon and all chameleon. The difficult high school teacher is caustic and thorny as a mother and wife living in a bleak town in Maine in the seventies and eighties. The mini-series is a slow, nuanced affair that contains as many layers as an onion. It’s something that will keep you on your toes and give you lots of food for thought thanks to its being a realistic study of some ordinary lives.

The series is an adaptation of Elizabeth Strout’s book who is also a co-writer of the series along with Jane Anderson. Olive Kitteridge is directed by Lisa Cholodenko (The Kids Are Alright) who dubbed the story a “traumedy”. It’s a serious drama peppered with dry humour and is often like a Lionel Shriver novel crossed with Larry David’s Curb Your Enthusiasm. Olive Kitteridge was initially a set of short stories about tragedy, love, pain and loyalty but the episodes are surprisingly cohesive in their earthy tones and overall outlook.

Frances McDormand stars as the eponymous character and is absolutely brilliant (she also doubles as an executive producer along with Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman). The story is told largely from Olive’s perspective and it shows her relationships primarily with her sappy and romantic pharmacist husband, Henry (Richard Jenkins) and the fractious association with her no-nonsense son, Christopher (John Gallagher Jr. plays the adult Christopher). There are other interesting characters here too, like the young widower, Denise Thibodeau (Zoe Kazan). Olive receives her with contempt after she goes to work in Henry’s pharmacy. There are also some great cameos from Bill Murray and musician, Martha Wainwright, who plays a lounge singer.

The series looks at 25 years in Olive’s life and is every bit as intelligent as it is real. This means the mundane and ordinary are often celebrated (just like the English TV series, The Office). These moments are combined with Olive’s one-liners, zingers and opinions as well as other anecdotes and events that colour and reveal a lot about the characters. The series is mature and full of intriguing people, not least Olive who believes she is depressed (the show begins with her contemplating suicide and holding a gun).

Olive Kitteridge has some flaws but it is well-meaning in its human exploration of small-town life. This social commentary may have some cynicism and misery but it is also entertaining. This understated show may prove a hard slog or challenge for some viewers but if you can see parallels between yourself and Olive or other people you know you should be pleasantly surprised.

 

Originally published on 22 March 2015 at the following website: http://iris.theaureview.com/2015/03/22/tv-dvd-review-olive-kitteridge-usa-2014/

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DVD REVIEW: SCOTT DOOLEY – DEBUT

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Scott Dooley’s Debut is a “Stand-up comedy film”. It’s not strictly a recorded version of his live show nor is it an in-depth documentary of his travels. In Debut Dools offers us an account of his life spent on the road, performing stand-up and doing promo spots and above all, making people laugh.

Dools’ debut film is an interesting concept and a rather strange beast in that it threads together many different elements. In some ways this makes it similar to his live show, which is very down-to-earth, casual and high energy. At times Dooley’s comedy seems similar to Wil Anderson’s in that it is occasionally clever, sometimes crude and often revels in poking fun at others (as well as reserving a fair slab of time for self-deprecation).

The highlights of Dooley’s live show are: his describing a funny Craigslist advertisement from America that is similar to the “Here’s Looking At You” personals column in MX Australia. There’s a funny and snarky letter to Vodafone (found in the Extras) as well as a sex scene/story written by his naïve but clever eight-year-old cousin. Another family member of Dooley’s that’s very funny is his grandma, Dawn “Little” Fenton. She offers up great pearls of wisdom and her advice for living in New York is: “Never tackle any one for any reason”. Seriously.

Debut also features some great cameos including: Lehmo, Matt Okine, Alex Dyson and Des Bishop. Dools used to work at Triple J and Nova radio but he now lives in New York. His musical tastes still reflect the former station however, as the soundtrack includes music by: Illy, Eagle & The Worm, The Medics, Thelma Plum and Dune Rats, among others.

The DVD also includes additional bonus features like extra jokes from his live show. There is also a mock interview full of one liners from his co-presenter on The Green Light Boys podcast, Angus Truskett. The trailer for the DVD rounds out a reasonable set of additions to this set.

Scott Dooley is at his best when he finds the right balance between scripted material and some quick-fire ad-libbed lines. His comedy film, Debut is an odd beast in that it cannibalises a few genres to fashion things together into one handy package. But that said there are some very funny moments from this engaging and average every day man who still connects with people even when he’s simply complaining about feeling old, single and in his dirty thirties.

 

Originally published on 22 February 2015 at the following website:http://iris.theaureview.com/2015/02/22/comedy-dvd-review-scott-dooley-debut-australia-2015/

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DVD REVIEW: GIRLS SEASON 3

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Girls isn’t a glamorous show and in many ways that’s what makes it feel so brutally honest and real. In the third season the characters are the most fully developed and realised versions of themselves to date. It’s also one that is full of the kinds of stories and things that will challenge, enthral, frustrate and entertain viewers, and do so in the most visceral way possible.

The fourth series of the show recently debuted overseas but this ramshackle third series has only just been released on DVD. Once again it is predominantly written and directed by the series creator and star, the uber-talented, Lena Dunham. And like the previous two seasons, it once again follows those four idiosyncratic, young women through various episodes that feel very much inspired by or rooted in real life.

In this season Marnie Michaels (Allison Williams) is heartbroken and reeling from her break-up with long-time boyfriend, Charlie Dattolo (Christopher Abbott). She will wind up forming a few different romantic attachments over the course of these 12 episodes and find herself in a very similar place to the season premiere by the end of it all. Shoshanna Shapiro (Zosia Mamet) cuts loose after her break-up with Ray Polansky (Alex Karpovsky). She will revel in her freedom but her master plan will also unravel spectacularly.

The interesting, Jessa Johansson (Jemima Kirke) has a harder edge this season, especially when she enters rehab. She will go to some very dark places as she tackles substance abuse and forms some unlikely friendships. Hannah Horvath (Dunham) meanwhile, attempts to live with her OCD while struggling with her relationship and the notion of success and what that actually means.

The season sees the gals and the attractive male characters like Ray, Hannah’s boyfriend- Adam Sackler (Adam Driver) and Elijah Krantz (Andrew Rannells) all along for the bumpy ride, which also includes an introduction to Adam’s unhinged sister (Gaby Hoffmann). The story lines include a road trip, a beach party, a reunion, a Broadway debut and an untimely death. These all come to a head in the season finale where a world of possibilities are left open for the next series to take up and explore.

The third season includes guest appearances from the likes of Rita Wilson, John Cameron Mitchell, Richard E. Grant, Patti LuPone, June Squibb and Louise Lasser. The DVD set includes six audio commentaries with the cast and crew as well as shorter “Inside the Episode” segments like the previous series. In the latter, Dunham is interviewed and gives brief descriptions of the ideas and writing process for a particular episode and this combined with scenes lifted from that show.

Girls is a TV show where viewers will find the characters utterly relatable or too vapid for their taste. As it stands, this articulate and clever series remains as deep and sharp as ever. There are many thought-provoking and provocative moments that make things feel fresh and entertaining. It also means that even the most bizarre and narcissistic scenes come with a huge side order of reality and insightful lessons that we can all draw things from.

 

Originally published on 16 January 2015 at the following website: http://iris.theaureview.com/2015/01/16/dvd-review-girls-the-complete-third-season-usa-2014/

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LIVE REVIEW: THE DRUMS & THE UPSKIRTS @ THE METRO, SYDNEY (30.11.2014)

TheDrums

 

The Drums should be renamed “The Suns” because this sums up their music to a tee. Their reverb and hook-soaked indie pop music was a real treat for the Sydney dwellers battling a case of impending Mondayitis as well as battling Spring-time rain en route to the Metro on Sunday night. After a solid set boasting tracks that were old, new and in between, there were more than a few youngsters wanting to go surfing or do some other fun activity shortly after.

The support for the evening came courtesy of Sydney quartet, The Upskirts. They attracted a good-sized crowd and won the audience over with their brand of dreamy but punchy psychedelic rock music. The highlight of their set was the final track, “Minds A Burden” which saw some Brit-pop inspired guitar pop with psychedelic fringes going off on extended tangents coloured by moon beams and a riff that was not too far removed from Tame Impala’s “Half Full Glass Of Wine”. In short, sublime.

The Drums reminded us that they’re from New York City, not just in sound and spirit but in visual appeal. Lead singer, Jonathan Pierce said they were originally concerned that after being missing from our shores for a few years they would be forgotten. And while it was true that the Metro was only half full, the audience that were there were a devoted and enthusiastic bunch, lapping up the pair’s bouncy pop music.

The boys began their set in almost darkness as they played two new songs, “Bell Laboratories” and “Let Me”. The latter definitely showed a change in the band’s sound as the music had a much deeper and fuller feel. This made for a grand wall of sound built from synths, guitar, bass, drums and the other bleeps and blops they managed to fashion and employ.

“Me & The Moon” was an early favourite with its sharp, catchy synth line and repeated catch-call of “Forever”. The following song, “Days” saw the bass feature too prominently in the mix. This overshadowed what is normally a good and slightly rockier song by the band. Some new numbers followed before “Book Of Stories” was met with cheers after the opening chords were played and this enjoyment only increased with “Best Friend”. The latter is a quintessential Drums’ song that sees an upbeat vibe coupled with dark lyrics and it’s an interesting and youthful combination that helps you forget and drown all of your troubles.

In “Money” Pierce lamented about poverty and had more than a few people relating to his tale. After a while, though, some of the songs did have a tendency to blur into one another. The effect was like a long-lasting, Hawaiian sunset that was thoroughly enjoyable but there were definitely some moments that seemed to coast off and away. The encore was a different story and where some of the best renditions of the evening occurred.

This part of the night was exclusively reserved for The Drums’ older songs. There was the bouncy “Forever & Ever Amen”, the sheer bliss of “Let’s Go Surfing” and the cheekiness of “Saddest Summer”. If we hadn’t felt like we’d bonded earlier than we certainly had by this point. The Drums’ had ultimately produced some toe-tappingly good pop music that shone like a beacon through our collective complaints about modern life.

The Drums’ Sydney set list:
1. Bell Laboratories
2. Let Me
3. Me & The Moon
4. Days
5. I Can’t Pretend
6. Kiss Me Again
7. Book Of Stories
8. Best Friend
9. Money
10. U.S. National Park
11. Book Of Revelation
12. I Need A Doctor
13. I Hope That Time Doesn’t Change Him
14. How It Ended
15. Wild Geese
____________
16. Forever & Ever Amen
17. Let’s Go Surfing
18. Saddest Summer
19. Down By The Water

 

Originally published on 1 December 2014 at the following website: http://www.theaureview.com/reviews/sydney/the-drums-the-upskirts-metro-theatre-sydney-30-11-14

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