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Families.  Like it or not, you’re stuck. Like honeycomb to teeth, you’re stuck with memories, stories and questions that remain forever unresolved. Last year, we glimpsed into Paul Capsis’ Maltese family tree in another one-man show Angela’s Kitchen at the SBW Stables Theatre. This year, in an intimate Old Fitzroy Theatre, we are welcomed into the home of Lloyd Beckmann Stitz – beekeeper, cordial host and grandfather to performer of the play, Tim Stitz. Through the science of bees, Lloyd takes us through his life, especially the bits that are too sticky to battle through.

Once you’ve entered the Lloyd world, there’s really no need to be shy. Help yourself to the bikkies and pretzels. Wine or beer? It’s up to you. Cozy up and soak in Lloyd’s warmth. A taste of honey on your lips, smell of talc in the air, sight of floral lamp shades, sound of Lloyd’s excitable voice and a squeeze of your shoulder whenever the old man comes around to tell you his bee tale. These are all part of the Lloyd Beckmann sensory tour package.

Just leave the big, red chair empty. Because when the going gets tough, that’s where the hardy man slumps. A slump so unnatural to this sunny Queenslander, he pushes his woes deep down. Be it death, disease or bankruptcy, “you gotta stop that thing up there,” he says pointing to his temple. “You gotta keep smiling.”

Tim Stitz’s portrayal of his grandfather on stage is uncanny. His verbal rhythm, inflection and whistle combined with a hurried limp only an Aussie battler with a godly work ethic can pull off, plus an endearing incessancy to spell out words transforms Stitz the actor into older Stitz, the character. Just watch the audience’s body language change. No longer are they in a theatre – they are respectful, attentive and polite in the presence of grandfather Stitz.

Don’t fret too much if you are not a big fan of “interactive theatre”. Lloyd is kind and you can easily fade into the dark back seats if you wish, but if you want to sample some of Lloyd’s famed honey and paw paws, pull up a stool, drop your chin on your palms and lose yourself in grandpa’s story.

Memories, stories, nostalgia and mystery. You’ll never know the full narrative of your family but like Stitz’s final recording of his grandfather’s actual voice, you’ll never stop replaying it. (Published in Time Out Sydney, July)


 Until Jul 25, Old Fitzroy Theatre, cnr Cathedral St & Dowling St, Woolloomooloo, $21-$33, 9365 3848, rocksurfers.org

A Bridgett Jones-esque accountant, Justin Bieber and a teasing plastic bag are just some of the characters you will meet at Bare Boards Braveheart. After a rave review for Toy Box by none other than yours truly, masterminds of subtlenaunce theatre company Paul Gilchrist and Daniela Giorgi are back. This time, they’ve cleared the stage for a slew of talented writers, directors and performers in a festival of solo performances.

The BBBH experience begins with the venue itself. An unassuming Drill Hall set against spectacular views of the Sydney bridge at Rushcutters Bay is a pleasant surprise for those not familiar with the place. Then, there is complimentary hot tea and coffee or wine by donation followed by blankets in baskets if you’d like to rug up during the performance. So far so good. I get the same cosy feeling after a hot towel and a packet of peanuts aboard a Singapore Airlines flight.

View from Rushcutters Bay

All six plays were charming but with short plays/stories/films, there’s always the issue of completion. How best to tell a story or convey an idea within a short period of time and in this case, with just one actor. Some of them missed the mark but as a whole festival, in its entirety, the six plays worked. The Line We Draw (pictured above) written and performed by Skye Loneragan was one that ticked all the boxes. Clever story and a great use of space and minimal props. It’s story time and the children (the audience) are in for a miseducation (Lauryn Hill style) and bitter truths about a little thing called life.

Unsex Me (pictured just above) felt incomplete but I found out later that, it is. The feature version will play later in the year at Riverside’s Theatre’s True West. So, does that mean it’s a teaser? If it was, I’d have preferred less of the haphazard lighting sequence and more of Nick Atkins’ brilliant acting.

Now, to be completely unfair to the rest of the plays… From a Great Height will tickle, Sharks Can Smell Fear will make you feel, It’s Ok to Ask will get you thinking and So It’s That of Quest may require your participation.

For a measly $15, this is a fabulous night of theatre.

 Until June 25, The Drill Hall, 1C New Beach Road, Rushcutters Bay, 7pm, $15, subtlenuance.com

“When you want something to be there, you’re willing to overlook anything that does not agree with that.”

– Rel Shulman (Creator and cameramaN, Catfish)

If you haven’t alreadyswitched  your Facebook settings to private, I suggest you DO IT NOW! This film was absolutely compelling and captivating from start to finish. Catfish is not based on but IS a true story about an unsuspecting New Yorker who thinks he’s hit the jackpot of love. Photographer Nev’s story is filmed by his brother and friend. The story…

A young girl Abby, a fan of Nev’s photography sends him beautiful paintings of his work. They become Facebook friends and soon after Nev’s found a Facebook family in Abby’s (apparently very hot) mother, (super hot) sister, father, musician brother, cousins etc. Nev forms a friendship then a relationship with Abby’s sister Megan. She’s an actress/musician/artist. He is almost in love. She’s his perfect girl… until he discovers that the MP3 songs she posts on her profile page claiming to be hers are ripped off from YouTube performances.

From this point on, the story takes an unexpected turn, one you’ll never see coming. The promo poster for the film says, “Don’t let anyone tell you what it is”. So, I won’t.

There has been controversy over whether Catfish did actually happen or if it was all made up. To get a better sense of this, I urge you to watch the extras on the DVD where the boys talk about their experience. To be honest, it could very well staged. Doesn’t change the fact that it was a darn good movie.



Hmm… How do I put this? How can I express my feelings in a proper fashion?

OHMYGOD! I LOVE THE FILM ROPE. IT’S LIKE ONLY THE BEST HITCHCOCK MOVIE EVER. EVER!

Can you tell I’m going to be biased? I can’t help but compare Ian Sinclair’s Rope to the Hitchcock screen version in 1948 (originally a play by Patrick Hamilton written in 1929). The story is simple but malevolent. Two university students kill a fellow student, simply because  they can.  Then they invite guests for a dinner party around the body. Can they get away with murder?

In the first few minutes, Sinclair’s version shocked me and I was intrigued by the new level of darkness he’d injected into the play. Unfortunately, this was not translated throughout.

However, a strange series of events rendered that Wednesday night, June 15 to be exact, into crisis management mode. This actually revealed how dexterous the actors truly were in the face of theatre mishaps. A curtain rail came hurtling down as it was drawn. A boo boo that was quickly covered up by one of the performers. Then, a very visible monster of a cockroach was stamped to death by another performer just before a dialogue about murder. Excuse my French but that was fucking cool!

Final shows on tonight and tomorrow night. Despite my Hitchcock rant, the actors are fantastic and the set design, simply fabulous ma’dear! Go see it!

P.S. Special shout out to the bartender for cooking up that amazing mulled wine!

The Hitchcock Trailer

Until tomorrow Jun 25, Bondi Pavilion, Bondi Beach, 8pm, $25-$33, rocksurfers.org

I saw Kitty’s live stand-up gig Charming & Alarming late last year at the Sydney Opera House and she is a riot. And you can tell I’m totes on first name basis with her because I interviewed her last year as well. Read the Komi & Kitty interview here. Wow, that sounds like a Japanese animation. As for the Happy Endings bit, you’ll be glad (or not) to know that’s the name of the hottest comedy venue right now in Sydney. It’s cosy, intimate and you can see every zit, sweat droplet and untrimmed nose hair of whoever’s on stage. Good times! Kitty is supported by Lindsay Webb and Sam Bowring.

July 9, Happy Endings Comedy Club, 145 Brougham St, Cnr William St, Kings Cross, 8 & 10pm, $25, 9300 9060, happyendingscomedyclub.com.au

Dylan Moran’s one-night show for Just For Laughs Festival

(Sep 1. Not in July but get in early. These tix will sell out!)

UTSpeaks: Clearing the Cloud (Jul 19)

Good Food & Wine Show (Jul 1 – 3)

Rocks Aroma Festival (Jul 31)

Cirque du Soleil (Jul 27 – Aug 5)


Movies don’t get any better than this.  Get Low is a clever little story about the very idea of storytelling. And hey, it doesn’t hurt when you have brilliant actors like Robert Duvall, Bill Murray and Sissy Spacek telling that tale. As funeral director Murray whines about going out of business, “What do you do when people just don’t die,” in walks Duvall’s Felix Bush with a wad of cash to buy a funeral, for himself.

The catch? Bush, the recluse, has been living in the woods away from civilization for 40 years. Rumours have it that the man had murdered in cold blood and even possesses special powers. So Bush’s idea of a living funeral where he wants people from all over town come tell a story they’ve heard about him seems not just morbid but ludicrous. But thanks to Murray’s “genius”, seats are sold for the funeral show like lottery tickets to win Bush’s isolated plot of land when he’s actually passed.

Get Low builds like the perfect three-course meal towards a sweet ending where Bush tells the most compelling story – the real story about his life. There is a very simple truth I took away from this film – no one’s life is ever lived without having an effect on others, even if more than half of it was in seclusion. And that’s why in 2011, we are watching a movie which is loosely based on a real-life Felix Bush who lived in Tennessee in the 1930s. Hakuna Matata people – life, death and a whole bunch of beautiful stories in between and beyond. Get Low is highly recommended.

Release Date: 26 May

Don’t mean to brag but remember when I said, right here in this blog, that Kristen Wiig was meant for great things. (Click here for proof) Well this is it! Everyone will truly experience the Wiig humour… and it is bloody wicked. Bridesmaids is not a lame chick flick where women in their 40s pretend to be in their 20s. These are real besties with real wrinkles who talk and joke like actual girlfriends who’ve known each other their whole lives.

I am so happy Saturday Night Life ladies Maya Rudolph and Kristen Wiig finally made a movie. Bridemaids is a little bit like the female Hangover (and the boys will love this too, I promise). I’ve seen these girls on SNL and they are hilarious and this movie has finally done them justice. They are paving the way for really cool chick flicks with awesome laughs unlike the terrible ones we were inundated with last year (Bride War, 27 Dresses, Confessions of a Shopaholic etc).

There are some surprising cameos by Matt Lucas and Aussie actress Rebel Wilson. TV series The IT Crowd‘s Chris O’Dowd plays Wiig’s love interest and he is charming – not in an icky over-tanned Gerard Butler way, thank god! (The Bounty Hunter). Plus an unexpectedly funny Jon Hamm (Mad Man’s Don Draper) who was also on SNL (video below).

Last but not least – I am SO HAPPY Jennifer Aniston will no longer rule the chick flick genre.

BOYS AND GIRLS – I DEMAND YOU TO WATCH THIS FILM!

This trailer does not do the film justice.

Release Date: 16 Jun


Whoever said inflatable harem pants are the look for the season? Buy one-off deigns at The Finders Keepers Markets and look like you. This will be an indoor market with stalls by over 60 local designers and artists, plus live music, food and drinks. The perfect weekend cave. Don’t forget to bring lots of cold hard cash as there are no ATMs at CarriageWorks. Click here to check out artist profiles.

Fri May 20, 6-10pm, Sat May 21, 10am-5pm. CarriageWorks, 245 Wilson Street, Eveleigh, thefinderskeepers.com

GASLAND

Would you drink your tap water if it catches on fire? This is a real life Erin Brockovich (well, yes that film was based on a true story about the life of a real woman) tale shot by an unassuming theatre director. He gets a little curious after he’s sent a letter by a gas company offering him $10,000 for permission to drill for natural gas on his land. And what follows is a series of unsettling truths told by innocent citizens with a sense of humour only the truly helpless can pull off. Gasland won Best Documentary Feature at the Academy Awards earlier this year.

SOMEWHERE


You’ll either love this or hate it, and I loved it. For those of you familiar with Sophia Coppola’s earlier film Lost in Translation will probably be better prepared with what to expect. This film is about a hugely successful actor (Stephen Dorff) going through the motions until his 11-year-old daughter (Elle Fanning) comes to stay with him. The first scene in this film is just brilliant and sets the tone for the film oh so perfectly. Somewhere is slow-moving, sometimes claustrophobic and lingering. Coppola’s made emptiness poetic. This is Entourage minus the entourage and you’ll get what I mean when you’ve seen the film.

P.S. Elle Fanning has an ethereal beauty about her that takes this film to another level. That underground pool scene is just perfect.