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Film & Theatre Reviews Hits and misses on the silver screen and the bareboards around town.

David Whitney as Henry IV

Set within the context of a seedy London boarding house, the play is about a poet being forcibly drawn from his isolation into the petty squalor of his downstairs landlords’ squabbles. It’s clear that White wrote with beautiful poetry, however I felt the production I saw on the night somewhat clouded the playwright’s exceptional writing. What annoyed me about Rouse’s rendition was the sense of overproduction that came from the play’s soundscape. Every moment was overlaid with grim, crackling white noise, spooky chimes or the sound of wind rushing into a void. Unfortunately, the play felt over-thought – Rouse clearly aiming for a strong vaudevillian aesthetic, which clashed with the squalid suburban theme without adding the necessary juxtaposition or paradox needed for true absurdism.

To be honest, things didn’t get off to a good start. While it was clear that this was going to be a fairly rockin’ rendition of Shakespeare's Henry IV (parts one and two) with a lone guitarist getting things started before being joined by a drummer, the opening moments of Bell Shakespeare’s Henry 4 offered a couple of worrying signs. There was some fairly lame raucous acting and a bizarre inclusion of a stripper, who seemed without purpose other than to invite the worst criticisms of how to present one of Shakespeare’s near womanless texts. Thankfully, however, once designer Stephen Curtis’ Union Jack of milk crates was destroyed shortly after, things improved. Despite its title, the play is really about the life and times of Prince Hal (Matthew Moore). At the start of the saga, he’s hanging out with drunkards, avoiding any of his responsibilities to the throne. By the end of the three hours, he’s transformed into an emotionless monarch and it’s this journey that provides half the focus of this production. The other half is Falstaff, Hal’s tutor in mischief, played with glee by John Bell who also adapted and co-directed the work with Damien Ryan. It’s clear that Bell engineered the show to put Falstaff relatively front and centre and thankfully his performance lives up to the stature (although he occasionally gets lost in his accent making him hard to understand). Moore is likeable and lively as Hal, but in some major moments he fails to live up to the grandeur of the language. David Whitney plays the eponymous Henry IV with an appropriate mix of cutthroat politician and sad sick man, but it’s really the supporting cast who provide much of the production’s energy. Yalin Ozucelik treats the language as his own, Nathan Lovejoy brings skill and comedy to all of his many characters and Wendy Strehlow’s Mistress Quickly is a riot. Simon Binns ■ Theatre

THE HAM FUNERAL Until May 25

Henry 4 photo by © Lisa Tomasetti

It’s been a secret dinner party fear of mine that somebody would engage me in a conversation about the late Australian writer Patrick White. Apart from a half-hearted attempt at reading his novel Voss, I’ve sadly been lacking in education about our country’s only winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature. And for all the critical acclaim White’s received as one of the most important novelists and playwrights of the twentieth century, I must admit that it came as a surprise to find my most recent consideration of his work – or one particular rendering of his work – less than flattering. I won’t deny that director Phillip Rouse’s production of White’s The Ham Funeral currently showing at New Theatre remains true to the play’s themes

The performances themselves were strong and consistent. Lucy Miller as the frenetic landlady could have carried the entire play herself; such was the impressive strength of her performance. Disappointingly I found Rob Baird, who plays the young poet, pseudo narrator, upsettingly irritating. I don’t think it’s his fault, however. He’s been directed to deliver a monologue of subtext and interior thought in a kind of gleeful yell.

first draft group show

PICS :: TL

Until May 26

of death, dangerous sexual innuendo and the deteriorating human condition, but will confess that in my opinion it doesn’t reach its full theatrical potential.

24:04:13 :: First Draft Gallery :: 116-118 Chalmers St Surry Hills

The Ham Funeral is a play about life and all its grim drama. This production may have obscured the message somewhat, but the beautiful set and committed actors certainly shouldn’t be disregarded. Patrick Lenton ■ Film

IRON MAN 3 In cinemas now Iron Man 3 is a classic blockbuster superhero movie. There is a battle between good and evil, a huge CGI budget, out of this world technology, awesome gadgets and many a jam-packed action sequence. What sets this film apart from other Marvel Studios flicks, however, are excellent performances and an ability to poke fun at itself. Robert Downey Jr really does make this film; his portrayal of protagonist Tony Stark, AKA Iron Man, is eminently likeable, charismatic and very funny. The film details Tony’s battle against the super-genius terrorist, the Mandarin (Ben Kingsley). Although the content isn’t particularly new, the film is successful in raising some important points about our inherent compulsion to put a face on terrorism – something that is particularly fascinating in the context of the fantastical superhero genre. Iron Man 3 employs the usual flawed logic typical of superhero films; one moment our protagonist can’t get a hold of a single suit and the next he has a myriad to choose from.

art battles australia

PICS :: TL

HENRY 4

At the heart of the arts Where you went last week...

25:04:13 :: Name This Bar :: 197 Oxford St Darlinghurst

nic benzina

PICS :: TL

■ Theatre

Arts Snap

26:04:13 :: LoFi/TheStandard :: 3/383 Bourke St Darlinghurst

Iron Man 3 marks the return of director and writer Shane Black to major blockbuster film and alongside co-writer Drew Pearce, he creates a blackly comic and self referential tone in the screenplay, which really gives this film an edge. Tony’s charismatic demeanour clashes against his constantly malfunctioning new suit and he’s also been left with an anxiety disorder from The Avengers. These details add a lot to the character and humour of the film.

Arts Exposed

The 3D and special effects are impressive, but the film really draws its strength from its characters. Tony spends as much time out of his suit as he does in it, which leads the film to create fight choreography outside of the usual repertoire. Gwyneth Paltrow’s Pepper Potts is welcome relief from the overtly sexualised action heroines of recent times, such as Black Widow and Catwoman, and the young Ty Simpkins provides a spirited and witty sidekick as the child genius Harley. Iron Man 3 is a lot of fun and will appeal to long time fans and newcomers alike.

Jeff Wall is recognised throughout Jeff Wall, The Destroyed Room, 1978, transparency in the world as one of the most light box innovative and influential artists of our time. His work is based on first hand observations of everyday situations and incidents that are reconstructed with a cinematographic approach. Currently on display at MCA, Jeff Wall Photographs showcases 27 major works produced between 1978 and 2010 including illuminated colour transparencies in light boxes, black and white and colour prints as well as smallscale photographic observations. One of Wall’s most striking and best-known works, The Destroyed Room (1978), is on display among other highlights including A sudden gust of wind (after Hokusai) (1993) and more recent works such as Knife throw (2008) and Boy falls from tree (2010).

Emma McManus

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What's in our diary...

Jeff Wall Photographs May 1 – July 28/ Mon – Wed & Fri – Sun 10am-5pm, Thu 10am-9pm MCA, 140 George St, The Rocks

BRAG :: 511 :: 06:05:13 :: 21

The Brag #511  

SYDNEY’S HOTTEST INDEPENDENT WEEKLY STREET PRESS Hitting the streets with the best music, culture and events, every Monday. This week: Local...

The Brag #511  

SYDNEY’S HOTTEST INDEPENDENT WEEKLY STREET PRESS Hitting the streets with the best music, culture and events, every Monday. This week: Local...

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