No Plain Jane

Theatre reviews and musings (mostly) from Adelaide

Tag: Steve Francis

Review: The Splinter

This mother and father have much to be thankful for. Their daughter Laura, just four years old, has come back after who knows what she went through in the last nine months. She’s not talking. She’s taller. Harder somehow. But she’s back. That’s all that matters, isn’t it?

Until the questions start to pop up. Why isn’t she talking? Why does it appear she doesn’t remember who her parents are? Why does it all seem just a little off? For the mother this is easy: her daughter has returned, they can move on with their lives. For the father, it is not. Questions, doubts, apprehensions become bigger and bigger, until they are all he can see.

You can never return home, the saying goes. So when a lost child returns home, what home could they possibly be returning to?

The Splinter is a deliciously spooky play from writer Hillary Bell and director Sarah Goodes. In the intimate space of the Wharf 1 Theatre they have created a haunting work in which the world within the play, the world of the theatre, and time all seem to be stretched and played with. Although just 75 minutes, the world of the play seems to slow time: the unease of the play enveloping.

Read the rest of this entry »

Review: This Year’s Ashes

This Year's Ashes Production Shot: Ellen and a one night stand.  This is not her place.

Forming a new relationship can be a funny thing.

Perhaps they’re a friend-of-a-friend.  Or a friend-of-many-friends.  You’ve heard their name in conversations, over rooms, seen them comment on facebook status updates, anonymously followed them on twitter.  You’ve heard great things.  Or the curiously intriguing I’d be interested to hear your thoughts.

So you jump on a plane to Sydney, walk through the streets (with a detour by the Harbour – so much water is remarkable and incomprehensible), with one hand on the Maps app on your phone, trying to find the hidden theatre you’ve never been to before.  You find it, a darling little shack of wood, sticking out on a corner, double doors open looking out onto the small suburban street.  You grab your ticket and program (the script, no less!) and a glass of wine, and sit down and watch the shinny procession of glizty dresses, tendered dos, and high heels walk their way through the foyer: this is not the audience you’d expected to be sitting in.

Okay, so maybe this is just a little bit specific to my own relationship with This Year’s Ashes. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: The Book of Everything

With special guest reviewer Aria Noori, aged 11.

"You're a very special boy, you know." (Whittet and original cast member Yael Stone as Eliza.)

The Book of Everything review by Jane Howard, aged 22

It is the summer of 1951, and we are in Amsterdam, Holland, Europe, Northern Hemisphere, Earth, Solar System, Galaxy, Universe, Space.  We have a birds-eye view of Thomas Klopper (Matthew Whittet) aged nearly ten, and his book of everything.  Pappa (Pip Miller) says all good books are about God, but Thomas isn’t quite sure what his book will be about yet.

Thomas sees things that other people don’t see.  In his imagination, he sees terrible hailstorms in the Amsterdam summer; he sees tropical fish, his favourite guppies, in the rivers and canals.  In his house, he also sees things that aren’t seen outside those walls: he sees his father hit his mother (Claire Jones).

Based on the book by Guus Kuijer, The Book of Everything is delightfully funny, heart-warmingly touching, and heart-achingly sad.  It is brave theatre; theatre for children, about children; theatre which at times is hard to watch.  More sad than it is scary, Richard Tulloch’s adaptation tackles some big issues: domestic abuse, questioning and redefining faith, protofeminism, unlikely friendships, lasting effects of World War Two, love.  It is certainly a piece for older children, and one that saw many shielded eyes, but through the sadness seeps through an undeniable bravery, the strength that children can find in themselves, the happiness that is waiting for them. Read the rest of this entry »