Magazine article The Sondheim Review

Making the Point, Digitally

Magazine article The Sondheim Review

Making the Point, Digitally

Article excerpt

Making the point, digitally

Q Theatre presents first professional staging of Sunday down under

REVIEW BY PATRICK CONLAN

There have been quite a few productions of Stephen Sondheim's Sunday in the Park with George in Sydney, Australia, by semi-professional groups, amateur societies and drama students. Celebrating its 30th anniversary in Penrith (60 miles west from Sydney) this year, the Q Theatre Company has as its home the new Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Centre. With its March 2007 production, they have laid claim to being the presenter of Australia's professional premiere of Sunday.

Producer and director David Hollywood assembled a first rate production team, with musical director Greg Crease fine-tuning a note-perfect orchestra. Their performers rose to the challenge. Tyran Parke and Amie McKenna were splendid as George and Dot. Some years ago, Tyran had performed in a workshop of Sunday at the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA) in Sydney.

It's difficult to single out the excellent ensemble performers (whose names would not be familiar to TSR readers), but it was delightful to see Buster Skeggs (Old Lady/Blair Daniels). Buster recently returned to Australia after 30 years in London. In 1964 she was in the original Australian production of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.

Natalie Gamsu (Nurse/Harriet Pawling) performed in a recent production of Putting It Together in Sydney, as did Barry Langrishe (Boatman/Charles Redmond). Jennifer Peers (Frieda/Betty) has appeared in Merrily We Roll Along, and Luke Joslin (Soldier/Alex) has Assassins among his credits.

The most impressive aspect of this production was its staging in a thrust amphitheatre. As audiences entered the theatre, George's "blank canvas" greeted them. At the rear was a wall of white - angling in to the wings on either side were two more large white panels. A raised, slightly inclined, wide platform in stage centre was white, with its edges painted in colors. In front and along the edges of this platform, the floor was "blue-blue-blue-blue" with some splashes of other colors at its extremities. To the right, towards the front of the stage was a single bench seat. Shortly before 8 p.m., George quietly wandered in, sat on the bench and began sketching. Soon the auditorium lights dimmed.

When it came time for the painting to fill the stage, a three-projector data-screen system, suspended from the lighting framework above the audience, came to life. …

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