Siblings Michael, Rosemarie and Constantine Costi clearly don’t spend their time together bickering over the TV remote. The trio, all successful creatives in their own right (Michael is a writer, Rosemarie a composer and Costantine a director), have banded together to create a new musical based on a 1842 short story by Russian novelist and playwright Nikolai Gogol. The darkly funny story of Nikolai, a lonely St Petersburg office worker who decides to sell everything he owns in order to buy a new overcoat and change his life forever, features a Russian jazz trio live on stage and stars Laura Bunting, Kate Cheel and Aaron Tsindos, with Charles Wu (also performing upstairs with An Enemy of the People) as the tragic Nikolai.
This is a review of the original Griffin Theatre Company season of Since Ali Died. The show is returning to Griffin as part of Sydney Festival, where it will play from January 7 to 19. It will also have a short season at the Riverside Theatres in Parramatta from January 22 to 25. There’s a gap in the Sydney performing arts scene. Experimental, adventurous and frequently political performance pieces that are not quite theatre often miss out on mainstage programming and the audiences and recognition that come with it. This becomes a problem on a structural level and not just an artistic one when you consider that these ‘outsider’ works are often made by those outside the white-dominated institution of the Australian arts. Griffin Theatre Co has launched the Batch Festival to illuminate some of these critical new works that push the boundaries of theatre. These might be short one-person plays, blends of various performance styles or immersive, interactive solo experiences. If you’re bored by old plays by dead white men, then this is Sydney’s newest remedy. A bright standout on the Festival’s First Night, Since Ali Died might just prove to be the gem of the Festival. Rapper/poet Omar Musa’s new work places his hero and icon, Muhammad Ali, as a touchstone in the centre of the piece. From his interaction with Ali’s legacy spins the stories of Musa’s life, which hasn’t been the same since Ali died. He tells these as a mixture of song and spoken word, rap and banter: all consi
Look, it’s time you faced it. You’re never going to read The Iliad. Between the six seasons of Orange is the New Black available on Netflix and Game of Thrones, you’ve got better things to do with your time. But what about if you could experience all of it in one fell swoop, and have it delivered to you in a theatrical setting? That’s what veteran actor William Zappa is doing in this nine-hour adaptation of the Greek epic, which can be watched across three nights or one full day. He’ll be bringing the stories of the Trojan War, its heroes and villains, to life with three other actors at Belvoir’s Upstairs theatre, accompanied by live percussion by Michael Askill and an oud score.
This rocking play with music was a big hit when it premiered at Belvoir at the end of 2017 (read our four-star review of that initial season below), so it was a no-brainer to bring it back to be seen by an even bigger audience in 2019. Belvoir will again be transformed into a sticky pub and Ursula Yovich and Elaine Crombie will reprise their roles. The Australian theatrical canon sometimes feels like we've run the national identity through Instagram; we put the filtered, carefully curated version of ourselves on display, keeping our mess neatly cropped out of frame. But Barbara and the Camp Dogs, Ursula Yovich and Alana Valentine’s devastating new musical, rips away the strategically placed curtain of performative Australian identity to reckon with the country's true nature: an open wound, raw and angry-red. Still weeping. Barbara (Yovich) is ferocious. A pub singer with a quick wit, healthy sexual appetite and unceasing reserves of anger, she performs with her sister René (Kiki and Kitty's Elaine Crombie) and their band the Camp Dogs. Gigs can be hard to come by in the Sydney of today, the one where the few live music venues left are curfewed by lockout laws. They don’t make much money, which is suddenly an unignorable problem: their mother Jill is dying, and they need to pull together funds for a trip to Katherine to say goodbye. Barbara doesn’t want to go. She loves Jill, the woman who raised Barbara when her own mother couldn’t, but Katherine has come to represent her