No Plain Jane

Theatre reviews and musings (mostly) from Adelaide

Tag: Accidental Productions

Adelaide Critics Circle Awards 2011

The 2011 Nominees for the Adelaide Critics Circle Awards.  Recipients in bold 5.12.11

Individual Award 

  • Guy Barrett for the RBS Morgans International Piano Series
  • Tamara Lee, actor, That Face (
  • David Mealor, director, Buried Child (State Theatre Company of SA)

Group Award 

  •, The Eisteddfod
  • Soundstream Collective
  • State Opera of South Australia, Moby Dick
  • State Theatre Company of SA, Holding the Man

Emerging Artist of the Year 

  • Robert Bell, actor, The Pillowman (University of Adelaide Theatre Guild)
  • Charles Sanders, artistic director, Early Worx
  • Nigel Tripodi, actor, A View from the Bridge (University of Adelaide Theatre Guild)
  • Alex Vickery-Howe, playwright, Molly’s Shoes (Accidental Productions)

Independent Arts Foundation Award for Innovation 

  • Chris More, video and set designer, The Girl Who Cried Wolf (Windmill Theatre)
  • Jason Sweeney, sound designer, Three Sisters, The Eisteddfod
  • Adam Synott, animation and sound, Side To One (Craig Bary and Lisa Griffiths)

Visual Arts Award: Amy Joy Watson

Individual Award – Amateur Theatre 

  • Megan Dansie, director, The Pillowman (University of Adelaide Theatre Guild)
  • David Roach, actor, Red (Independent Theatre)
  • Russell Starke OAM, actor, Breaker Morant (Therry Dramatic Society)

Group Award – Amateur Theatre 

  • Therry Dramatic Society, Breaker Morant 
  • University of Adelaide Theatre Guild, A View from the Bridge 
  • University of Adelaide Theatre Guild, The Pillowman 

Lifetime Achievement Award: Barbara West

Some  quick questions: why are two amateur actors nominated in the “professional” categories?  What exactly was innovative about More’s video/set and Sweeney’s sound?  (I didn’t see Synott’s work.)  Are there not enough visual artists in Adelaide to make a nomination list?  Why is the State Opera credited with Moby Dick, but not co-creators the Dallas Opera, the San Francisco Opera, San Diego Opera and Calgary Opera?  Why is Windmill credited with The Girl Who Cried Wolf, but not original production company, the Arena Theatre Company? 

Three Days, Five New Local Plays

Last week ended up being quite the week for new local playwrighting!

Wednesday I made my way down to the Bakehouse to see Molly’s Shoes, which I did not enjoy, and you can read my review of here at Australian Stage Online.  I would also like to draw your attention to the commenting form there, rather than here, if you have things to say.

Thursday I went across town to the Director’s Hotel to see Duende Presents: PLAY OFF!, where three local short shows battled it out for further development and a spot in the 2012 Fringe.  It was a great event, they packed out the upstairs space in the hotel, and everyone had a fun time just celebrating theatre.  My affections were drawn between The Fortitude of Samuel Clemens by Caitlyn Tyler, directed by Dee Easton, for its humour and “fringyness”; and Helen Back by Elena Carapetis, directed by Nescha Jelk, for its power and particularly the performance of Jacqui Phillips.  After three nights of audience and industry votes, the pick of the event was The Fortitude of Samuel Clemens, so look out for that work (or perhaps another work from the team?) at next year’s fringe.

Friday I hung out in a rehearsal room of the Adelaide Festival Centre, where I was invited to a moved reading of Little Borders by Phillip Kavanagh, directed by Corey McMahon, which was a fantastically powerful piece in which Elena Carapetis (demonstrating way too much talent for just one week) blew me away.  I owe the playwright an email of thoughts, but that’s it in a nut shell!

A Catch Up and Newsey Pieces

  • Having been almost completely obliterated by the Festival season, I was one of those lucky people who found work getting more intense post-Fringe than during it, hence the overall lack of posts bar some catching up re-posts from other sources.  Outside of work work, I spent five days working for the Come Out Festival as a delegate host, which was one of the most inspiring and satisfying art experiences I have had perhaps ever.  To spend five days surrounded by artists and programmers and administrators, seeing theatre for children with children, is incredibly gratifying.  I saw some truly incredible work (and, yes, a few terrible pieces), including two works which completely changed my outlook on everything: Hans Christian, You Must Be An Angel a theatre installation unlike anything I’ve ever experienced, by Teatret Gruppe 38 from Denmark which was filled with more magic and joy than can possibly be explained:And Thick Skinned Things by Dutch group Stella Den Haag, a curious monologue about a woman who “belongs to the legion of the uncomfortable.”  Nora lives alone, struggling with everything, even her garbage bags, until she finds comfort in the way the man next door lays down his garbage bags:

    Can you find comfort
    in the way a person puts his garbage outside
    I would wonder desperately
    Can this be?

    Until one day, he is gone, and all that Nora can do is run into the forest, and dig herself a labyrinth: “I am a mole. I speak softly.”  It was in this play by Hans van den Boom, about sadness and loneliness and isolation, under a masterful performance by Erna van den Berg that I actually found an incredible peace and calmness and started to repair myself from the extreme tiredness of the season.

  • ActNow Theatre has a new Artistic Director in the form of director/writer/actor/administrator/friend Sarah Dunn, and with the help of publicist Sophie Bruhn, they are starting to conquer social media.  I did my Arts Admin Traineeship with Sarah, and I am greatly looking forward to raking her over the critical hot coals seeing what she comes up with. They will be revealing their new logo and officially welcoming Sarah to the fold May 13.
  • Edwin Kemp Atrill, the former AD for ActNow, will be stepping over to the University of Adelaide Theatre Guild taking their inaugural Artistic Director Grant, which is a brilliant initiative for emerging directors in this city.  2011 has already been programmed for the company, so we will possibly have to wait until next year to see what stamp Edwin puts on the company.
  • In May, Adelaide’s independent theatre companies are starting to emerge from the post fringe drought.  This week, opens The Eisteddfod by Lally Katz.  Katz is one of the most produced playwrights on Australia’s main-stages this year, with world premieres playing at Malthouse, Melbourne Theatre Company, and Belvoir Street, and if you are interested in Australian playwrights and/or female playwrights you should be making an effort to see this show. Coming up later in the month, Accidental Productions will be presenting a new work by Adelaide playwright Alex Vicory-Howe, Molly’s Shoes from the 20th, and also from May 20 Tutti are presenting One directed by Daisy Brown, who you may remember from my rave of Ruby Bruise.
  • And for something a little different from what I usually write about: to catch some Adelaide theatre actors on the big screen, and see why my job became more crazed post-Fringe, the Mercury Cinema will be screening the best South Australian films of the last year on May 6 – 8, with the South Australian Screen Awards announced May 13.

Review: The Lesson

Arriving eager and keen to start her first day of lessons, the young pupil (Elizabeth Hay) has dressed herself up nice and smart for the event. Wanting to sit for her Doctorate (“both of them”, she insists), she finds herself under the tutelage of the increasingly manic Professor (Guy O’Grady), and, well, it is written by Eugene Ionesco, so I guess you can suppose sitting for her Doctorate never happens.

I have tooth ache! Photo Ben Galbraith.

With costuming (Ben Galbraith) setting the production in the 50s, Nescha Jelk’s production of The Lesson is in many ways a traditional reading of the text. But it is the casting and direction of a young Professor– not only cast young, but played at the actors age, which gives this production its added level of intrigue. When he disparagingly glares at his maid (Chrissie Page) and announces “I’m older than 21!” you get the idea that he in fact just turned 22 and is relishing in the fact that he is a big boy now.

Written as an elderly man, a closer approximation to how we perceive a professor to look, the casting of O’Grady creates the image of a young man who is clearly very bright, but always molly-coddled, creating a socially isolated man who has ideas above his worth. One gets the idea that this man never had any friends at school; and perhaps that is why he is so bright – if you whittle the hours away in the library, there is no one to notice you don’t have any friends.

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AdlFringe Diary 2: Week Minus One

I’m going with the adage slow and steady wins the race, and so have only seen five fringe show so far.  Of course, I say only five, and then think about how the Fringe actually opens tonight, so perhaps you’re not convinced.

In the warm up week, I’ve spent some lovely afternoons and nights in the Garden of Unearthly Delights, which had their opening last Tuesday.   While the top end of the Garden seems to have become a bit garish and gaudy with the almost overwhelming scale of arcade amusement rides, this doesn’t detract from the open lawns and lit trees and dancing Dutchmen of the Eastern End.  Garden reviews have been written for Stevl Shefn and His Translator Fatima, The Wau Wau Sisters Are As Naked As The Day They Were Born Again!, Nothing Is Really Difficult and Cantina, with Songs To Make You Smile rounding out the five (twitter lengthed review: A lovely show with a lovely voice, but a tad repetitive and narrow for those who didn’t grow up listening to songs from that era).

I’ve also spent two nights at two launches: Accidental Productions launched their fringe program at their lovely new Hutt Street Fringe venue CitySoul, and the launch of the Coopers Urban Garden Experiment which Nexus has set up in their courtyard, creating a gorgeous piece of greenery within the brick and concrete jungle which is the Lion Arts Centre of my second home.

Because I was in the Fringe Parade last year, I remember quite clearly the less than delightful 40-odd-degrees it was that evening.  In retrospect, it perhaps seems better than today’s rain.  Chookas to all for opening; hope you don’t get too wet!


Reviews: The Event and The Good Doctor

With more plays on at the Bakehouse Theatre on Angus St this week than at the Festival Centre, I reviewed two of the plays that were on (with the third being one I saw at the Fringe). Wednesday night was The Event, directed by Daniel Clarke, and Thursday was The Good Doctor by Accidental Productions.

It was really a quite surreal experience, watching The Good Doctor the day after seeing The Event.  I feel as if I am quite tuned in to directorial and actor’s choices under normal circumstances, I can understand the technical side of theatre while being swept away by the emotional side, but in this case every choice, every moment, every moment was seemingly amplified:  a play about the technicalities of theatre completely transformed my way of experiencing another piece.

This review of The Event originally appeared on

The Event is a curious thing to write about on paper. So simple, so purely a derivative of theatre, it does seem like an extraordinarily strange job, to be a stranger, a professional observer, who sits in the audience and listens to the words written by a man in order to go home and write my own words in response to those words.

There is a stage, empty. There is a pool of light and in it stands a man. The man is an actor, the man is Nick Pelomis. But of course we’re not supposed to know that. To us he is just a man. And the man stands on the stage and speaks to us the words he memorised by another man, John Clancy. But we shouldn’t know that either. For weeks, the man on the stage read and spoke the work of the writer, and another man, Daniel Clarke told him how to say the words and how to stand and how to act. Just another thing we shouldn’t know, that should be obscured by the magic of the theatre.

And while The Event doesn’t introduce us to these particular people, it does introduce us to the curious curiosities which is theatre, drawing back the curtain of artificiality and narrating what exactly it is that makes a piece of theatre. The lines, the direction, the measured movements and the repeated choice, that manipulative change in the lighting: the performance of the thing.

With your attention brought to be so closely focused on the rehearsal, on the deliberate choice in every movement, every move the man makes is questioned: is this a choice? Is this rehearsed? Is this how he has done it before, will do it again? Or did I catch a moment of spontaneity? That couldn’t possibly have been rehearsed, that was here and now. Wasn’t it? Was it?

This is a testament to Pelmois and Clarke that even when constantly told this is theatre and this is not real, you buy into the character presented. I know, you say to yourself, that the play they are talking about is invented, but since this man is talking about that play, this play is real. Surely?

The counter to this, of course, is the audience becomes hyper aware to each stumbled word, each slight flub: ah, a mistake! I caught it! Under Pelomis’s hand there may be few victories in this game, but they become much more amplified than under any normal circumstances.

Clancy’s script succeeds the most when it is talking directly about the acting process and the audience (and the reviewers in the audience). At times, when steering away from this most elemental form, the primary message of the piece can get a bit lost, as the man goes into deeper reflections on theatre and society and the play stalls. But when it is at its best The Event is a side-achingly funny and clever look into stagecraft.

One which will probably never let you look at a man, standing in a pool of light on stage, in quite the same way again.

This review of The Good Doctor originally appeared on

A sneeze on the back of the head of General Mikhail Brassilhov in the theatre doesn’t turn out well for Ivan CherdyakovPeter Semyonych, seducer of women, attempts to show us how to sleep with a man’s wife, by using the husband to do the deed. Mrs Schukin is hardly impressed with the fact her husband was fired after five months of being unable to work, and she expects something to be done about that.

Funny and light-hearted amusement, The Good Doctor is modern American playwright Neil Simon’s take on the classical Russian works of Chekhov, as the Writer takes us through a series of sketches of his writings.

The further director Hew Parhman (forced to make a guest appearance on opening night as the cast missed their opening cue) and the five-person ensemble push the humour and clowning, the more successful the play becomes. Andrew Pantelis has a tendency to give too much reverence to his lines, particularly in the role of the Writer, but loses some of the stiffness as the play progresses.

Working in the small and inflexible Studio Space at the Bakehouse Theatre with limited sets and lighting the play truly rests on the shoulders of its cast. All actors need to work on development of their characters: including creating a bigger distinction between roles that doesn’t rely on simply changing accents, a rather inexplicable choice.

Regardless, the production belongs to Kyle Kaczmarczyk and, at times, Eddie Morrison as they demonstrate their ability to find the extremities of the comedy in Simon’s text. From the awkward and gangly physicality ofKaczmarczyk, to the overbearing or nervous energy of Morrison the biggest laughs are brought.

While the production has some shortcomings and the youth of the ensemble shows, ultimately it achieves a night of jovial and farcical entertainment. One hopes that through a dedication to creating self-produced works, the artists involved in companies such as this are only going to grow.

Daniel Clarke presents The Event by John Clancy.   Directed by Daniel Clarke.  With Nick Pelomis.

Accidental Productions present The Good Doctor by Neil Simon.  Directed by Hew Parham.  With Andrew Pantelis, Emily McMahon, Lucy Markewicz, Eddie Morrison and Kyle Kaczmarczyk