Monday, 30 April 2018

Still Point Turning

(Sydney Theatre Company)

'Still Point Turning: The Catherine McGregor Story' relates this story of the Australian Trans Woman who reached the heights as a Political Staffer, Cricket commentator and as an Officer in the Australian Army, marrying and fathering two children before transitioning after years of gender dysphoria.

The play is based on hours of interviews with Cate and depicts the extraordinary highs and lows of her life.

Beautifully staged and performed.


Saturday, 28 April 2018

Last Flag Flying

Three Vietnam veterans accompany the body of the deceased Iraq War veteran son of one of them across the United States ahead of the funeral service.

'Last Flag Flying' echoes a similar set up in 1973's 'The Last Detail' but with less effect. The acting generally is fine but the plot points are a little too coincidental and the tempo a little too slow.


Friday, 27 April 2018

The Flick

Sam is a cleaner at 'The Flick', an old style single screen movie theatre located somewhere in Massachusetts and when the play opens he is training new starter Avery in the cleaning procedures. It is a repetitive, sometimes unpleasant, task; a fact made clear in scene after scene. It is a job with limited prospects other than an unlikely promotion to projectionist, a position which Robyn achieved over the longer serving Sam.

The dead end nature of their working lives is relieved slightly by their shared love of cinema and a secret low level defrauding of the box office revenue.

At almost three hours this is a lengthy play, punctuated repeatedly by the longest of pauses turning the play into an endurance test. Nonetheless it is surprisingly humorous and despite its length maintained my interest throughout. Would the play be just as effective, even more so, if it were half the length? I don't see why not.

Well acted but bring a cushion.


Thursday, 26 April 2018

Carry on Doctor

I was a patient of Doctor H for more than twenty years. I selected him from his advertisement in a gay newspaper as I preferred to have a doctor who would not be judgemental about my sexuality. Younger readers (if there are any) may not realise that homosexuality was illegal when I was younger and not something you could readily reveal to your Doctor thus exposing your health management to misdiagnosis or similar through absence of essential and possibly relevant information.

Anyway, I was quite satisfied with Doctor H as my GP but a couple years ago he decided to make a major change in his life departing his practice and moving overseas, apparently indefinitely. Doctor C took over Doctor H's practice. Doctor C seemed a good replacement but I learned that he was managing three separate practices across Sydney and would only be available at my location on Fridays. I wasn't happy with this limited opportunity for face to face consultations and so, after thinking about it for all those months, I decided to seek another practice nearby.

Just two blocks away is a trendy looking practice and it has about a dozen GPs to choose from. 'Which one do you want to see?' the receptionist asked when I enquired about signing up with them. I didn't know; I hadn't researched that part. I referred to the GP biographies on their website and identified three preferences with the mix of health interests and specialities to suit my needs. Of the three I dismissed Doctor M as an option. Oh yes, he is the most handsome of the group - good looks always makes me feel better, no matter how ill I might feel - but I recognised him as a celebrity television doctor and...well... they have other celebrity related issues on their mind. Despite the eye candy possibilities I reduced the choice to two. Doctor B and Doctor D. The former offered limited days of consultancy whilst the latter offers the widest availability. So Doctor D it will be.

First appointment made for next week.

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

The Children

(Sydney Theatre Company)

Rose (Sarah Peirse) surprises Hazel (Pamela Rabe) arriving unannounced at her isolated home. Hazel is home alone waiting for her husband Robin (William Zappa) to return from feeding their cows.

As 'The Children' unfolds - with a surprising amount of humour - we learn that the house is close to an exclusion area around a damaged nuclear facility closed off following an earthquake and tsunami. Rose, Hazel and Robyn share a past both personally and professionally and while their meeting might focus thoughts on memories the real issue is who is responsible for the effects of that past on the future. Is it them; or their children?


Monday, 23 April 2018

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

At the end of World War 2 author Julia Ashton (Lily James) travels to the Island of Guernsey in the English Channel to learn about 'The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society'. She uncovers a tale of civil resistance against the wartime occupying German forces and a tragic secret romance.

Quirky Britishness yet again but a cut above others of this genre.


Sunday, 22 April 2018

Truth or Dare

A group of college students from California spend their Spring break partying in Mexico where they get drawn into a deadly game of 'Truth or Dare'.

It is not only the characters who find themselves trapped in this B-Grade thriller predicament. The writers seem unable to extricate themselves from the dilemma too.


Inconvenient timing

The battery in my car key is approaching the end of it's life; methinks. Why doesn't this ever happen at the time my car is due for servicing? Very inconvenient.

Saturday, 21 April 2018

Blogger; oh Blogger

Oh Blogger you are driving me mad. This morning I had to sign out of then into my Google account in order to make a comment on Andrew's blog and then immediately had to log into my Google account again to get into my own Blog.

Too many 'this device is not recognised' messages for my liking and anyway; what does that mean? I know what the words mean but why is this happening? I haven't purchased any new devices for a couple of years so why, all of a sudden, is Blogger treating me as a stranger?

Friday, 20 April 2018

I’m decayed

I’m very diligent about attending the dentist for a check up every 6 months or so. I don’t want my teeth to fall into such disrepair that I would need dentures. In recent years, despite my dangerously sweet tooth, I have maintained good dental hygiene and not needed any new fillings. Unfortunately the last check up brought an end to that. The X-ray revealed ‘some decay’ in a tooth. Worse still the decay was awkwardly located in a tooth which itself was in an awkward position.

The work was done yesterday. Forty minutes in the chair, two needles and what felt like a tunnel load of equipment clogging my mouth. Apparently the decay reached below the gum line Dr U informed me in a menacing tone.

Thursday, 19 April 2018

Ready Player One

'Ready Player One', a Steven Spielberg film, is one longish big screen computer game. Set in a grim looking virtual world the young hero (Tye Sheridan) sets out to find three keys that will lead him to a prized target. This is the puzzle set by the Virtual Game's deceased creator (a creatively youthful and nerdy Mark Rylance far removed from his usual Shakespearean roles).

Ben Mendelsohn, making a name for himself as a film villain, takes on the arch enemy role.

Virtual heaven for technology geeks.


Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Going Down

Sydney Theatre Company
Natalie Yang is a published writer. Still in her twenties, her autobiographical account heavy with steamy details of her sex life, has sold copies in the big city but isn't to the taste of the readers in rural Australia who prefer the work of her rival Lu Lu Jayadi.

Natalie's ambitions are central to 'Going Down' and her rivalry with Lu Lu is the plot focus of this one act play which has its moments. Bawdy and energetic Catherine Davies certainly gives everything but her character Natalie is a bit of a one note irritant.


Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Sunday, 15 April 2018

Sydney Ferries

Victor Chang, named after the late Heart Surgeon, on the Circular Quay - Watsons Bay service

Saturday, 14 April 2018

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

A night at the opera on the harbour

The stage ahead of the performance of La Boheme
Andrew kindly invited me to accompany him and his partner R to La Boheme; this year's Opera on Sydney Harbour. (It wasn't a Freebie; I paid my way.)

As with each of these Operas on the Harbour the emphasis is on spectacle rather than a traditional production of the works.

In this case the setting is updated to the 1960s culminating in 1968 following the Paris student riots. This re-setting worked reasonably well to my mind.

Apart from the primary aim to make a profit and I imagine that Opera Australia hopes these annual productions bring a new audience to Opera and apparently surveys indicate that the audiences by the harbour include significant numbers of first timers. I wonder whether they become repeat attendees and, more importantly, start to attend productions during the Opera season? In the Andrew's and R's case I believe they enjoyed the spectacle - albeit in some discomfort on the hard plastic seats - as one-off event but are not won over to becoming regular attendees.

The company taking its bows at the conclusion of La Boheme.


Monday, 9 April 2018

The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui

Sydney Theatre Company
This adaptation of Bertolt Brecht's 'The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui' sets the events in a contemporary Australia with the gangster/standover merchant Ui infiltrating and terrorising the Greengrocers industry.

The staging reminded me of a Guy Ritchie movie. Cameras film the production flashing the images on a huge screen across the backstage. Each scene is introduced with captions describing the location and the characters involved and the bullying style is reminiscent of Ritchie films.

Hugo Weaving is outstanding as Ui.


Thursday, 5 April 2018

The Hydro

Photos from a day trip to the nearby Blue Mountains; in particular the Hydro Majestic Hotel where as a child, more than 55 years ago I spent a number of holidays with my mother and grandmother. The hotel seems have gone through various boom and bust periods. I believe it is currently under foreign ownership.

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

The Death of Stalin

'The Death of Stalin' depicts what happens amongst the leadership group when the Soviet Union's supreme leader passes away in 1953.

The events are presented as a black comedy which works well in early scenes where a concert is repeated before a bewildered and disinterested audience but is less successful when the action turns to mindless murder and supposedly comical jockeying amongst pretenders to the leadership succession.


Tuesday, 3 April 2018

Pacific Rim: Uprising

I should have taken more notice of the poster. For some reason I thought that 'Pacific Rim: Uprising' was about some type of natural disaster - an earthquake or Tsunami or the like - and I quite enjoy images of well known landmarks crumbling before the might of acts of God. Says something about me, I suppose.

But this film is a sequel to 'Pacific Rim' which apparently was about war between humans and sea monsters.

I don't know what the original film was like but presumably to warrant a sequel it must have done well at the Box Office. It couldn't have been worse than the sequel could it?

Set some thirty or so years later 'Pacific Rim: Uprising' is also about war between humans and some type of monsters. Plot is minimal, dialogue is incomprehensible and acting standards are low. There are occasional glimpses of Sydney, Shanghai and Mount Fuji.

I was bored within minutes of the start. The pre-teenage boys, in the majority of the audience at the session I attended, gave it weak applause at the end.


Monday, 2 April 2018


In August 1944, months following the D-Day landings, Allied forces are descending upon occupied Paris. The Nazi's Military Governor is preparing to carry out Hitler's orders to destroy the city before abandoning it.

'Diplomacy' is based on these events. John Bell is the General who finds himself in a last moment battle of minds with the Swedish Consul General played by John Gaden.

A very nicely depicted lesser known moment from the the latter days of World War 2 in Europe.


Sunday, 1 April 2018

Red Sparrow

A Russian ballet dancer, faced with a career ending injury, is recruited into intelligence training and is tasked to track down an informer to the Americans.

'Red Sparrow' is a slow moving thriller and mystery. Despite its length and its occasional scenes suggesting extreme violence and even though I lost track of some of the plot points I found the film quite intriguing.