Friday, October 31, 2014


Belvoir's Wild Duck (after Ibsen) is garnering praise and more praise in London, not exactly an easy gig.

It played here a few years ago, and we missed it. I was determined not to let the also much admired new production of The Glass Menagerie slip through our fingers, and fortunately scored some great seats in the centre block, not yet mindful that the side seats have some restrictions.

We saw a thing of delicate and fragile beauty, almost transparent with wafting gauze, wisps of smoke, shadows and corners, windows and curtains, in subdued colours and with monochrome video projections onto side screens where close ups and lingering moments of exquisite beauty added a dimension of almost hypnotic quality as illusion's truth was increasingly exposed. It's like watching a beautifully shot 40's black and white film while the live version is slowly played out on a soundstage which itself could all but disappear with the next thunderclap, and everyone with it.

The lovely thing for me about this production (and we were both seeing the play for the first time, really) was the love that somehow was managed to be infused into the characters whose sometimes achingly sad inadequacies were nonetheless driven by what was thought in another's best interest. No freaks here; just frail humans.

I especially liked Rose Riley's Laura/ Rose.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014


We go to the theatre on and off, mostly picking the eyes of a season for the big names, or plays of particular interest. I've only intermittently subscribed, and then to Belvoir and Sydney Theatre Company. We struggle with so much on (town and country, two orchestra subs, big Hayes Theatre fans, this and that, travel and work, at home and not). And I am on mailing lists of many theatres and companies (Seymour, State, and Carriageworks all doing really interesting stuff).

So, here's how to get it right, and in this instance I'm talking about Sydney Theatre Company.

First, send an email with the season details announcing renewals, dates etc noting New (non-renewing) Season ticket sales commence Oct 14

Next, have a good season ~~

     *  at The Wharf, The Opera House, The Sydney Theatre 

      * with names like Robyn Nevin, Cate Blanchett, Jaqueline Mckensie, Richard Roxborough, Hugo Weaving, Susie Porter, Geoffrey Rush (with Neil Armfield)

      * with playwrights like Chekhov, Tennesee Williams, Beckett, Chekov, Dorfman, Shaw, Woolf, Shakespeare

      * and the hapless non-subscriber just knows waiting till next year means missing out or poor seats or inertia taking over

Then, send a second email announcing that starting at 0900 the next day the recipient will be able to get priority season tickets a week in advance of the public, and that at 0900 tomorrow morning you will get another email which will allow access to early bookings. And telling you to get ready and think about what and when. Which you do. 

Come the morning, the email arrives. You're ready with diary marked to avoid clashes and busy weeks with other subscriptions. But the worry is that you'll get lousy seats and off nights, or something beyond your control as you get sucked into the system, or mystery seats which will arrive next January months after they've got the money.

Have a waiting room, a holding page which will let anxious finger tips stay on the website when it is busy then let you into the booking pages when they free up. Which I didn't need cos I took the dog for a walk and cooled my heels.

Let it flow and be obvious, such that the season is before you, and so you give it a go, only to find out that for each selected play, you can choose any night, AND SELECT SEATS FOR EACH PERFORMANCE, and easily navigate from night to night looking at seating, and once chosen, move onto your next choice, nights and seating again all self-select and on, and on, six times (the minimum for a sub and the maximum for us). And, did you know that:

You get an hour to do all this, everything saved, step by step, nothing crashed, nothing lost, and you think this is

Easy, easy as, because two days ago it was too hard, and now you have good seats for great shows on nights which work, except that you have to pay, but wait, there's

Pay in installments - four installments with a single $10 installment charge. 

Well, you got me Sydney Theatre Company. Well done.


The Wood Ducks (Chenometta jubata) are mating.

Australian Wood ducks are dabblers, not divers  - spending the day mostly pottering around and the nights feeding on crops and grasses. They're more than satisfied with a small water resource, like our little dam. While essentially herbivores, I have read they are good value as spider eaters.

Coupling is thought to be permanent and both male and female care for the ducklings.

Mr Duck is slightly larger (appearances otherwise are zoom or cropping artifact), with a handsome bronzy brown head and neck, a speckled breast and wonderful black stripes down a soft grey body.

Mrs Duck gives a more general speckled appearance with the head and neck the same soft grey as the main body, with just blushes of brown. Again, there are distinctive back stripes though the contrast is lessened by the slightly darker body.

The happy couple are never far apart.

(click to enlarge)