Saturday, 23 September 2017

The HIV Monologues

(Sydney Fringe Festival)
Four monologues linked by characters is the structure for 'The HIV Monologues'. Limited performances have been staged as part of the Sydney Fringe Festival an independent arts festival staged around Sydney each September.

The four characters are HIV sufferers and their carers and they discuss life with the illness. This is a more entertaining 75 minutes than that synopsis might suggest.

The four performers - Les Asmussen, Daniel Ross, Edward Skaines and Bishanyia Vincent - are to be commended.

✮✮✮

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Dinner

(Sydney Theatre Company)
'Dinner' is a play and a different work from the film 'The Dinner' which I saw and commented on a few days ago.

In 'Dinner', Paige (Caroline Brazier) is hosting a dinner to celebrate her husband's newly published philosophical book. But Paige has other intentions beyond celebration and it isn't long before the dinner and her guests enter hellish territory.

There are some very funny moments in this play. I like Brazier's acting style and she is in good form here. Aleks Mikic, a newcomer to me, is very impressive as an uninvited guest and is an actor to watch out for.

My main problem with this play is the number of problematic staging decisions. There are unexplained pauses, a strange stage intrusion, odd sound placements and sightline shortcomings.

✮✮½

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

The Project


It has been decades since I visited a television studio and I can't recall the last time I saw a program being filmed nor even remember what that program was. I suspect the last time was way back in the 1950s when my parents took me to see Captain Fortune; a children's show that was broadcast live on Saturday mornings.

Last weekend a friend arranged for three of us to be in the audience of 'The Project'. This is a popular news, current affairs and comedy program which has been screened every weeknight for years out of Melbourne which has now added a Sunday edition which is screened out of Sydney.

Although the show is presented 'live' it is interesting to see how they seamlessly blend pre-recorded material with live conversation. I was particularly impressed by the extent to which the panel members spent time chatting with the audience directly during the plentiful advertisement breaks and again at show's end. It was an enjoyable evening.

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Victoria & Abdul


Queen Victoria takes an unexpected interest in an Indian prison ledger keeper much to the concern and distaste of members of the Royal family, the Royal household and her own advisors.

'Victoria & Abdul' makes no pretence to be an accurate representation of the meeting and connection between the Monarch and the very much 'alien' commoner. Judi Dench is her usual appealing self as she expertly balances a playful and sympathetic underside to the unhappy, unapproachable Queen.

The film occasionally drifts into predictable over the top moments but it remained entertaining to me throughout.

✮✮✮½

Monday, 18 September 2017

Sydney's Harbour Bridge

This Government produced video about the construction of Sydney's Harbour Bridge has some fascinating images from 1920/30s Sydney.

Sunday, 17 September 2017

The Dinner


'The Dinner' opens with a voiceover. A man is speaking about which parts of history interest him. Voiceovers turn out to be a feature of this film either as streams of consciousness or indications of mental health.

The setting is a faddish dinner in an expensive and pretentious restaurant. A setting of 21st century Western civilisation that contrasts with the moral dilemmas including racism, violence, human disregard and health which preoccupy the two couples that have met at the restaurant for dinner. The events that concern the individuals are revealed slowly and at times obliquely. In that respect the film is hard work and be warned that the ending is left completely open.

Although Richard Gere is given top billing it is Steve Coogan's character that is central to the film. The performances are excellent. I always love watching Laura Linney and she does not disappoint here.

This will be one dinner that is not to everyone's taste. A knowledge of the American Civil War; in particular the Battle of Gettysburg, would be an advantage.

✮✮✮½