The heat hasn’t gone out of Sydney’s summer theatre just yet. Here are some recommendations to get you off the couch and into a theatre.
Delta Sierra Juliet
It’s one of Australia’s enduring aviation mysteries. On October 21, 1978, pilot Frederick Valentich disappeared over Bass Strait after radioing Melbourne air traffic controllers that his Cessna 182L – registered VH-DSJ – was been shadowed by something “not an aircraft” flying some 300m above him.
Plane and body were never found, which led investigators unable to determine the cause of Valentich’s presumed death.
Created by Darcy Green, Jackson Used and Elliot Vella, Delta Sierra Juliet is centred on Reginald Taylor, a Cape Otway man who took a photograph of a strange object in the sky the night Valentich disappeared. Believing it to be connected to the disappearance, Reg grows obsessed with solving the mystery and bringing the truth to light. Featuring the use of headphones to create an intimate atmosphere, Delta Sierra Juliet touches on grief, paranoia and isolation and the kind of thoughts that germinate in the absence of hard facts.
The Wolves kicked plenty of goals at Belvoir last month. Now it’s time for the local code to shine.
In Fierce, Melbourne Jane e Thompson asks the question: what would happen if a female player made the draft pick for the AFL?
Lauren Richardson stars as gifted athlete Suzie Flack. Footy runs in her blood. Her dad was a legend of the sport and she plays as hard as he did.
“I wanted to pit Suzie Flack against the men, because we are pitted against men,” says Thompson. “This work is not a case for women competing against men in sport; rather it seeks to reposition our view – not of what’s possible, but what’s imaginable.”
Fierce debuted in Melbourne in 2018. “Thompson has worked a clever thought experiment into an attractive, sophisticated play where the complexities of gender brush against the purest love of the game,” wrote The Age’s Cameron Woodhead.
Janine Watson directs this Sydney premiere. Read more here.
Monty Python’s Spamalot
From One-Eyed Man Productions, the collective brain behind Calamity Jane, comes the Sydney premiere of the musical adaptation of the classic British film comedy Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
An unlikely Broadway hit (it ran for more than 1500 performances), Spamalot pits King Arthur (Cramer Cain) against cows, killer rabbits, and the snotty French in an effort to claim the legendary Grail.
Richard Carroll’s production sees a diverse, cross-gender cast of heroic/foolish actors (and their assistant stage manager) embrace the home-made spirit of the original movie and the Monty Python TV series, enlisting the help of some carefully-chosen backdrops, a CD player, and a large dose of meta-theatrical humour.
Who stole Harpagon’s money? The old miser has a theory. He’s so universally hated that it can only be “everybody”, and he insists the police arrest the entire town.
Part satire, part farce, Moliere’s The Miser is rebooted in verse form by playwright Justin Fleming in a production featuring actors who have distinguished themselves in previous Bell Shakespeare productions – Sean O’Shea, Jessica Tovey and Michelle Doake among them. But the draw card here is erstwhile company leader John Bell, whose recent stage appearances (in the STC’s The Father and the Ensemble’s Diplomacy) have been pretty damn impressive.
West Side Story
This year, in a break with tradition, HOSH isn’t a 19th Century grand opera. It’s the very 20th Century West Side Story, the Broadway musical theatre classic composed by Leonard Bernstein with lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, based on the Romeo and Juliet story.
You’ve probably seen the movie. You know some of the songs by heart (Maria, America, I Feel Pretty and Tonight). You may have seen the stage show. But chances are you won’t have seen the Sharks and the Jets battling for a slice of prime Sydney waterfront before.
Inspired by the controversy over the Western powers’ embrace of remotely controlled predator drones, George Brant’s play tracks a USAF pilot as she is forced to eject from her dream job flying in “the big blue” and is parachuted into a windowless bunker in Nevada and the drab, ethically murky realms of remote warfare.
Written for one performer (Emily Havea in this National Theatre of Parramatta, Dominic Mercer-directed production), Grounded eloquently questions the limits of power, the shifting boundaries separating the real and the virtual, and society’s acceptance of near constant surveillance.
Jess and Joe Forever
Belvoir’s bargain-priced 25A season got off to a cracking start with Tuesday. We’re betting it will continue in the same vein with the Sydney premiere of UK playwright Zoe Cooper’s story of a city girl and a country boy.
Jess is upper middle class, staying with her parents at their rural getaway. Joe comes from rural, hardscrabble background and yet, though their lives and prospects couldn’t be more different, they form an unbreakable bond.
Shaun Rennie (The Rise and Fall of Little Voice) directs. Nyx Calder and Julia Robertson feature.