Maggie Stone

maggie stone

Written by Caleb Lewis

Directed by Sandra Eldridge

A Darlinghurst Theatre Company Production

Eternity Theatre, Darlinghurst

29 September to 21 October 2018

Saw this last night. Entertaining.

A nifty look at cultural misunderstandings, altruism and the cost of genuine caring. We have two white women, a white man, a Sudanese family wanting to stand on their own feet and a Muslim mini-mart owner doubling as a doctor.

Audience enjoys it. Laughs at politically incorrect language but probably shouldn’t. Is it drama? Is it comedy? Is it Home & Away?

Opening scene terrific. Comedic but misleading. Set-up with lovely Prosper Deng trying to support his family is hilarious but then we never see him again. Wah!

I seemed to have missed vital information and spent the entire play wanting him to come back and wondering where he was and whether this was going to turn into a fascinating twisted tale. Was Amath lying?  Where was Prosper? Couldn’t believe he had left her. Had she left him? Was he working two jobs to support her? Was it all a ruse? Was he dead? But we just saw him with Maggie. He can’t be. What’s the time frame? Puzzling. And then the Kenyan. Was Prosper the Kenyan? That can’t be. Maybe it’s just me. Help, someone…

A further crucial point I found puzzling. Scene where Maggie brings loan agreement for Amath to sign and Amath looks at document and says something like: what is this? My friend thought she was surprised at being offered the loan. I thought she was alarmed. It was vital to know. Because there is a change of heart from Maggie. She decides to help these people not block them. But why?

But enough confusion. Nice intrigue in gradually discovering relationship between Leo and Maggie. And who the dude in hospital was (I thought at first it was her father…) And seeing the transformation of Benny was heartbreaking but somehow not quite believable. Maybe the attack in the mini-mart needs a rethink. Either fully naturalistic or nightmarishly surreal. It seems it was neither.

Set is busy. Do we need four painted sections on the floor supposedly representing four places? Do we need LED light sign telling us where the action is? Do we really need to be told we are now at the Deng Home? It’s all very clear. No signalling required.

Towards the end of the play, there is an over-reliance on overly-dramatic music. Benny is left sprawled on floor…we don’t need drastic light changes and metallic music to make us feel something. Or do we? I  hope not. Some aspects of this production have very TV-like staging – particular the short scenes, the unexciting character entrances and exits – hmmm.

It would have been nice if Kate Bookallil had more to do. It would have been nice to see Prosper (Thuso Lekwape) one more time (loved that guy!) And I would have loved to have seen Maggie looking as aggro and fed-up as she is in the promos!

Verdict: Clever writing, fine acting, overall look and feel not sure about.

With (in alphabetical order):

Kate Bookallil as Mahira Sadat/Doctor

Branden Christine as Amath Deng

Alan Dukes as Leo the Loan Shark

Anna Lee as Georgina

Thuso Lekwape as Prosper/Benedict Deng

Eliza Logan as Maggie

 

That’s Not Me

Directed by Gregory Erdstein.

Written by Gregory Erdstein & Alice Foulcher.

Hmmm. Great acting. Very perceptive characterisations. I want to like it. I want to support Australian Indie films. And Australian comedy. But…

Big problem. This movie is presented as the hilarious goings-on of identical twin sisters. The publicity features both twins (played by the very talented Alice Foulcher):

That's Not Me Poster

All the promos say: ‘Aspiring actress Polly is mistaken for her celebrity twin sister at every turn, and decides to use it to her own advantage.…’

Fabulous! Crazy co-incidences! Wacky scenes where one twin arrives as the other leaves! Twins swapping clothes! Twins playing practical jokes! It was nothing like that. It was the character study of A TWIN. Note: 1 (one) twin. And she turns out to be a loser. Or does she? I’m not sure. The weird thing is that the second twin doesn’t appear until the end of the movie.

I don’t know why the script editor (not blaming you, script editor) or a kindly friend or gaffer or granny or SOMEONE didn’t say:  Hey, this is a movie about twins, so shouldn’t there be twins be in it? Why is it that one of the twins doesn’t actually appear onscreen until 85 mins in? Didn’t anyone notice???

A nice character study of a confused late-twenties female but that’s not really what was promised. Such a missed opportunity.

Micro Theatre Newcastle

microtheatreIt’s on now!

From Tuesday August 22 to Saturday August 26, 16 short plays will be performed in coffee shops and an art gallery dotted around Newcastle. Intimate venues, chilly winter nights, wine and cakes and entertainment…what a great concept!

My play Do Not Touch is on at Curve Gallery, performed by Lissy Shand and directed by Pearl Nunn.

Rams

Rams
written and directed by Grímur Hákonarson

I was expecting a comedy. Clearly I misread the publicity. I was so excited to see a film set in Iceland and support the Icelandic film industry – which seems to be the entire population of Iceland based on the final credits – that I assumed it would be a dark comedy because, well, aren’t all vaguely Nordic films zany and out-of-left-field and quirky, etc, etc, etc? ramsWell, there are a couple of comic moments – one involving a bulldozer – but Rams certainly won’t send you out of the cinema chortling with merriment. It will leave you feeling: Oh. Or perhaps: Oh? It’s bleak. Intense. Sad. Poignant. And structurally very clever: the gradual disentanglement, the mirrored actions, the rescues, the journey, the salvation.

Lots of close-ups of the craggy Gummi, (Sigurður Sigurjónsson), one of two bearded Icelandic-jumper-wearing brothers, who lives in an isolated valley in the north of the country and whose whole life is wrapped up in his sheep. Crisis arrives when it’s found that one of the prize rams has a deadly and contagious disease and drastic action must be taken…

On the way to Hotel Sel for hot chocolate

Not a still from the movie. Not northern Iceland. Not a valley. And no sheep. But still, it’s Iceland so it’s vaguely relevant (c) WJL 2013

Lots to love. The simple cream-coloured buildings. The tough, all-encompassing rural life. The grumpy brother next door, Kiddi (Theodór Júlíusson), who’s a bit of a bother. Sheep running upstairs. Sheep running up hills. Love those sheep. Like curly rectangles on sticks. Dramatic sweeping shots of the farms, the roads, snowscapes, yes, but snow is not the focus until those sheep take off pursued by the two brothers and a dog into the white… The changing seasons. The Christmas candles. The bath tubs. The beautiful restrained acting to capture the bond between Gummi and his beloved sheep. And an ending that must be said is a tad ABRUPT.

A tender film.

THE END