Sunday, 30 November 2014

Beyond Desire

Neil Rutherford Productions

In its short existence the Hayes Theatre Company has established a reputation for staging small scale musicals.

'Beyond Desire' is their latest presentation. It is an Edwardian musical mystery whose plot is a mix between Shakespeare's 'Hamlet' and E M Forsters 'Maurice'.

This quite busy production with a cast of eight and a small orchestra has its moments and is not without interest but in my opinion needs plenty of work. A fairly languid pace for much of its length gives way near the end for an almost ludicrous speeding up of the action. The production also needs significant work on its sound design. The orchestra battles with the cast for prominence from the outset. As a consequence it is difficult to make out the lyrics of the early songs when the characters are being introduced and the plot established. Undoubtedly the overloud piano playing is one reason for some cast members shrieking their songs.

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Lincoln Place - two weeks on

The Lincoln Place development two weeks on from the previous post;

29 November

compared with the earlier photo;

14 November

Not a huge difference on the face of it but there has been a lot of activity and some very large equipment on site at various times in between.

We received notification from the Council during the week of an application to vary the development approval for a period leading into Christmas. Basically the developers want permission to start earlier in the morning and to work longer hours including the already approved morning hours on Saturday. That's a surprise.

There is no activity on site this Saturday morning although they already have a limited approval to perform their work. Did someone obtain an injunction preventing work? Seems unlikely. Maybe it is just too nice a morning to be working?

Friday, 28 November 2014

I've experienced better weeks

It has been an unhappy week.

The untimely death, days before his 26th birthday, of cricketer Phillip Hughes following an awful injury whilst playing cricket has shocked and gripped many Australians in a way rarely seen. It might be difficult for overseas readers who have heard this news and who are not in cricket playing countries to understand the extent of the general distress being expressed but Hughes somehow embodied so much of how Australians see themselves and see their heroes. The news of his passing upset me as it did so many others.

Phillip Hughes

The outpouring of grief around the world has been astonishing. This claim is not just hyperbole. On radio just minutes ago I heard that there have been 98,000,000 'views' around the world of photos on Instagram of cricket bats being displayed to mark Hughes passing. That's NINETY-EIGHT MILLION clicks on the internet in ONE day. Amazing.

Perhaps my emotion is amplified by another awful loss virtually simultaneous with that of Hughes. My volunteer co-worker of eight years at the Nursing Home, Da, passed away this morning little more than 12 hours later than Hughes after suffering a massive stroke on Wednesday morning also only a little more than 12 hours following Hughes' injury.

Da had been in good health, was only 67, ate healthily, exercised daily and simply was the last person I would imagine to be near the end of her days.

Both deaths reinforce the point; make the most of every day. Don't take life for granted, don't procrastinate about following your dreams and don't put off to another day telling your loved ones how much they mean to you. You may never get that chance.

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Men, Women & Children

Set in Austin, Texas 'Men, Women & Children' focuses on the students of high school and their parents to show how they engage in their communication and relationships in the world of 21st century technology. Given that the teenagers are developing their sexuality porn sites, sexual thought and activity all figure prominently.

The frank nature in which this material is presented, whilst not quite hard core is nonetheless confronting for some as evidenced by a number of walk outs at the session I attended. Although less than two hours in length its slow moving style makes it seem longer.

I think it is quite a good film and probably advisable viewing for the parents of early/mid teen children but it will be uncomfortable viewing for many.

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Two Days, One Night (Deux jours, une nuit)

In 'Two Days, One Night' a factory worker (Marion Cotillard) spends a weekend visiting her sixteen coworkers to persuade them to vote against receiving a sizeable bonus in order that she may save her job.

It is a simple film with Cotillard in nearly every scene, the camera following her from residence to residence as she battles her health, uncertainty and embarrassment in this weekend task. The film feels a little bit padded with some longish dialogue free scenes that don't always advance the plot.

This would be a very slight film except for Ms Cotillard's nicely understated performance and a climactic dilemma that provides a poignant finale.

Friday, 21 November 2014

Streets of Paddington

Inner Sydney suburb Paddington was a downtrodden area, out of fashion, when I was growing up in the 1950/60s but the suburb has long since been reborn as fashionable, trendy and expensive.

Thankfully many of the older residences have survived the rebirth largely intact.

Jacaranda tree in flower

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Paddington Reservoir Gardens

The Paddington Reservoir operated as a water reservoir for the eastern suburbs of Sydney in the latter years of the 19th Century. It was decommissioned in 1899 and for most of the 20th Century was a facility for motor vehicles including a service station until the service station subsided partially into the cavity below it in 1990. The damaged service station remained blocked off and the site unused for the next 18 years until a restoration of the reservoir and the reopening of the site as public gardens in 2008.

It is unusual space being below street level but the gardens, built on the former water chambers, draw a lot of attention from passers by and provide an oasis of calm alongside a very busy thoroughfare.

Gateway to the Eastern Chamber
Former Western Chambers
Eastern Chamber sometimes hired for fashion photo shoots, events, etc
Busy Oxford Street goes unnoticed in the Gardens
Sunbather enjoys the calm

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

My Old Lady

In 'My Old Lady' Kevin Kline travels to Paris to claim an apartment he has inherited from his father's estate only to find he is unable to sell the place because of a French law which entitles the former owner and now resident, Maggie Smith, occupancy of the home for life.

The casting suggests that the film is a comedy and whilst there is the occasional humorous moment this adaptation of a stage play is mostly a drama and I'm afraid a rather dull one at that. I did not care much for the characters and the dialogue heavy film, betraying its stage origins, is redeemed only by the glimpses of Paris; images that rarely fail to delight.

Neither Ms Smith playing a more subdued character than her roles of the past decade nor the usually reliable Kristin Scott Thomas can save this dull piece.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

The Drop

A barman and the bar owner are confronted with crime elements who use the bar as a collection centre for the money proceeds of their activity.

'The Drop' is an unusual crime thriller in that it is mostly talk and very little actual crime; at least very little that is depicted visually. Based on a short story, which probably partly explains the general lack of specific action, this is nonetheless a surprisingly tense film. Not until near the end do you feel that you have the full picture of the plot and all the while you have an uneasy sense that something terrible is about to occur.

Tom Hardy is excellent as the intriguing barman and James Gandolfini is typically solid in this, his final, film role.

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Lincoln Place

For the twenty-four years that I have lived in my apartment building two adjacent parcels of land have remained undeveloped. With a maintained covering of grass, some attractive perimeter trees and no fencing the two land parcels have provided a discreet park for the local community. Occasionally neighbouring children have kicked a football around or played impromptu games of cricket in the informal park.

Then last year Woollahra Council notified that a development was planned for the joint properties. Six full floor apartments will be constructed across two buildings. This week a chain fence appeared around the land parcels and then on Thursday a bulldozer started to rip up the lovely grass topping and what lay beneath it. At some point the trees were also removed but unobservant me didn't notice their absence until yesterday.

Here is a photo of the state of construction, or rather at this stage the state of destruction, as glimpsed from my dining room.

The development is named, rather grandly, One Lincoln Place after the tiny Cul-de-sac that will be its address. One parcel of land is visible in my photograph and the second is immediately to its right but obscured by the eastern wing of my building.

There is a compatibly grand website to promote the project. You might find it interesting if only for its tempting photographs of the community in which I live.

If I have sufficient discipline and memory to follow up, I intend to post occasional photographs to report progress with the build.

Friday, 14 November 2014


'Pride' depicts events in Britain during the year long miners' strike in 1984/85 when a small number of gays and lesbians provided support for a town of Welsh miners and brought together two disparate groups of individuals.

There are real characters depicted in the movie as the end credits make clear but I imagine some of the day to day events portrayed are a dramatic device. The movie is a little long and it is pity some of its length wasn't devoted to providing more explanation of the context of the strike and the intense passions and violence that arose in the dispute. This would be largely unknown to a younger audience unfamiliar with the history who otherwise might not appreciate the significance of the challenge both 'sides' faced in finding common ground.

The film is somewhat manipulative and predictable eliciting sympathy from the audience but I have to admit that it produced a very emotional response from me. Step back another twenty years to the 1960s and the young character Joe (George MacKay) was for all intents and purposes, me. That was me, with my sexuality concealed, growing up at home under my parents control and effectively leading a double life. I never developed a political streak however.

Although the film doesn't completely shy away from the nastiness of the times I feel it does portray events more rosily than I'm certain that they were, nevertheless I think this is an excellent movie.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Henry V

Bell Shakespeare Company

I have to admit I generally shy away from Shakespeare plays which, aside from a couple of his more famous works, I find difficult to follow for two reasons. First, I know little of the plots of these other works and second I've always had difficulty focusing on his language and therefore generally find myself losing my concentration completely.

It would not have been my choice to see 'Henry V' of which I knew nothing but My suggested that we do so following rave reviews for this production by the Bell Shakespeare Company. I'm glad that she did.

An ensemble of mostly young performers, ten names all unknown to me, provide a vibrant and brilliantly performed play in the setting of a classroom under siege during the blitz of Britain. The staging, with its wonderfully choreographed movement is simply magnificent.


Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Daylight Saving

Darlinghurst Theatre Company

This is a revival of Nick Enright's play 'Daylight Saving' in which a power couple's relationship comes under scrutiny and stress from past and current associations on the night that daylight saving comes to an end.

This is an excellent production of the play which extracts the full mix of drama and humour from the work.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Miracle City

(Hayes Theatre)

'Miracle City' is a spoof on those US evangelism programs that populate free to air television in Australia just before dawn many days but especially Sundays in which a beaming and impossibly happy family take it in turns to reveal the 'true light' and tout for money to finance some grand scene or other in the name of the Lord. Behind the scenes the family members battle with their own demons and dark secrets.

This is a brisk production at the Hayes Theatre which adds to the impressive reputation the fledgling boutique home for musical theatre is gathering. It is an energetic piece of entertainment, with some terrific gospel style singing but the ending is a little weak.

The play is a revival; the original staging was in 1996.

Saturday, 8 November 2014

90 Seconds in Sydney

Andrew posted a travel video about his city of Melbourne which made me wonder what equivalent video has been produced about Sydney.

Well, here it is;

Not bad, although it is out of date with the monorail shown in the opening moments now completely dismantled.

Friday, 7 November 2014

Only 14 years late.....

A previous State government promised we would have a Travel Card in this state in time for the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. That never transpired.

The current Government has finally introduced the card which since last Monday has been available to Seniors and Pensioners.

My card arrived in the post today.

My Opal Card

I've activated in online and might use it tonight for the first time when I go to the theatre.

Thursday, 6 November 2014


Matthew McConaughey leads a probe into deep outer space in search of a new planet for humankind as planet Earth slowly dies in an environmental dust bowl.

You probably don't have to be an astrophysicist nor an expert on the theory of relativity to enjoy 'Interstellar' but it might help your understanding of the scholarly dialogue and concepts that are packed into this ambitious and long film.

I floundered a few times keeping up with the plot and yet for the most part I was able to work out the gist of what was portrayed.

This imperfect but very interesting film I suspect needs several viewings for improved understanding. Subtitles probably wouldn't go astray either as the dialogue is not easy to follow.

Monday, 3 November 2014

Calpurnia Descending

(Sydney Theatre Company)

'Calpurnia Descending' is by Sisters Grimm, the working name of collaborators Ash Flanders and Declan Greene, whose work involves gender switching and devoted spoofs of classic 1940/50s Hollywood movies.

In 'Calpurnia Descending', a young aspiring and ambitious out of town actress meets a former star who it is generally believed died ten years earlier and the two find themselves battling for the limelight in a new Broadway production.

The play has echoes of the movie classics 'All About Eve' and 'Sunset Boulevard'.

The opening scenes are traditional stage fare then midway through the performance a screen covers the stage, concealing the performers from view and the action continues, movie like, on the screen with different camera angles, close ups etc. The black and white images are reminiscent of 1940s film noir. Later still, the screen action takes a new turn with all manner of computer wizardry and a 1960s hallucinogenic style.

Ash Flanders and Sandy Gore switch genders impressively whilst Paul Capsis, an old hand at the switch, is more overwrought by comparison.

There is quite a bit of funny stuff in this but also a few flat spots and unfortunately also some juvenile antics. I believe this is at least the second production of the play and no doubt it has undergone a lot of tweaking but it still seems to me to be packed willy nilly with all manner of ideas that could benefit from pruning and refining.

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Everybody talks about the weather...

...but nobody does anything about it.

That saying - or words to that effect - is a saying I recall from my childhood. It wasn't really intended as a comment on climate in those days; rather it was one of those popular truisms used in general conversation. Nowadays that saying seems more significant than a mere truism and a reflection on our Governments that appear more sanguine about climate issues than is the case elsewhere.

I believe that the month just ended was Sydney's hottest October on record. If yesterday is an example then November 2014 may be headed to the same record. Yesterday's first day of the month reached a fairly blistering 37ºc (98.6ºf) highlighted late afternoon by an old fashioned Sydney southerly 'buster' (well, south-westerly buster) which brought thunder, lightening and rain all of which passed over the city in less than twenty minutes to be replaced a brilliantly clear blue sky and more comfortable temperatures.

This morning is far cooler thankfully. The world as viewed from my apartment this morning looks very inviting. Here are a a couple of snaps.

Looking north-west
Looking north-east