Darlinghurst Theatre 2008 Season Launch

Darlinghurst Theatre Company director, Glen Terry, underestimated the charm of his self-deprecation. "I’m probably not the most articulate or funny guy to be doing this", as he gently presented the bumper January-July season, which served its purpose, in whetting one’s theatrical appetite.

(That the assembled were well-plied with none-too-shabby sparkling wine and spanokopita did no harm in making the laughter a little louder and free-wheeling; the promise of a souvlaki bbq, with all the trimmings, served to whet the somatic appetite.)

First cab off the rank is the very promising ‘chamber musical’, ‘Hello Again’, ingeniously adapted from Schnitzler’s ‘La Ronde’ by Michael John LaChiusa; a musical chairs, pass-the parcel, daisy-chain of time-travelling (across decades) fornication.

Sex, of course, isn’t necessarily intimacy, which is key to appreciating the piece. That this was originally conceived and written at the precise turn of last century, as a satire on Viennese society, takes nothing whatsoever away from its prophetic understanding of the here-and-now: it seems Shnitzler was a regular, anthropological Nostradamus, only moreso.

Hopefully, this version won’t provoke the riots and obscenity charges the first did, in 1921. (On the other hand, it’d be publicity money can’t buy!)

By all accounts, it sounds worth attending for the music alone, which draws on various eras for inspiration and is expertly seen to by Geoffrey Castles. Other than that, you’d better have your Guarana and Red Bull, ‘cause you’re in for 10 very physical dalliances in one short evening. Moreover, it’s underwritten by WAAPA and bolstered by the indie pedigree of Gaiety Theatre, which you might well know for, say, the super-successful ‘Fit To Be Tied’.

You won’t have to wait long in breathless anticipation, either: Hello Again says hello, again, this coming Wednesday, January 30!

The masterful Neil LaBute, of whom gun director Toby Schmitz is an avowed apostle, endows us with what The Guardian described as “one of those rare pieces of theatre when you hear the audience gasp”; which despite the atrociously awkward, clunky English, makes the point well.

‘This is How it Goes’, in its Sydney debut, is set somewhere in middle America, that vacuous heartland of mindless, mannered, face-saving morality, wherein stock jock, Cody, and former cheerleader, Belinda, are trying desperately to join the dots of their marriage, but are further thwarted by the re-appearance of a shadow. LaBute gleefully opens Pandora’s box, prising out denial, to show us, among many other things, how pliable our values are; or, at least, can become. Challenging stuff, featuring the likes of Wayne McDaniel.

Men, Love & The Monkey Boy outdoes the promotional images attached to its predecessors, foregoing sensuality and suggestion in deference to full-on phallic symbolism (pick-up a programme and you’ll know what I mean). Written by Caleb Lewis, almost inarguably one of our hottest playwriting properties, primatologist, Phillip, is his vehicle for exploration of our uncomfortably close behavioural links to our ape cousins. Stinging satire!

Chris Johnson gave as good a performance as any I’ve seen from him in touting his latest: LA LA Land, a merciless take on Aussies in Hollywood. Given his proven propensities for, shall we say, extracting the pith from our sub-cultural idiosyncrasies, we should be in for a rollicking, if slightly uncomfortable, ride.

Director (and extraordinary actor) Nicholas Papademetriou closes a career circle with Pulitzered Paul Zindel’s acclaimed, Tony-winning ’70s play; like Schnitzler’s, a prescient one. Only Zindel could weave a tale so seamlessly, with threads of humour of tragedy of roughly equal length. Pure gold promise.

Alan Ball once wrote a mildly successful film: American Beauty, which sunk its voracious teeth deep into the American dream (a la La Bute). He went on to write a mildly successful television series; Six Feet Under? Get the picture? Here are four of his bitingly funniest one-act plays, wrapped-up as ‘Ball Game’. Co-produced by the aspiring and inspiring, exotic and erotic Nicole da Silva, who also stars.

And that’s just the first half of the year!

For further information: www.darlinghursttheatre.com

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