David Sedaris

January 20, 2020 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | THEATRE, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS |

Sedaris signing prior to curtain

(Dunstan Playhouse, Adelaide 18 January 2020) The Varnished Culture initially knew David Sedaris as the brother of Amy Sedaris, the author of the most sublimely hilarious hospitality book of all time, I Like You. David has shot ahead of his precocious siblings through sheer output, and a rather endearing sensibility. Open one of his books at random – Calypso, say, or the funny-sad Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk (we’ll never try to be rude about Jazz again), and you can see a humour that is gentle and yet sharp, generous and yet angry.  (In Calypso, he recounts how his partner and he…

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Morning Wars

January 19, 2020 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | POLITICS, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS |

(aka The Morning Show) (Various Directors Apple TV+, 2019) As Bert Newton once said, “Morning TV? Surely Death is next.”  The Varnished Culture staff are owls, not sparrows, so we’ll take word of mouth that morning news shows offer relentless cheer, soft items, group-think and bonhomie – but deep nastiness off screen.  “Morning Wars” starts and ends as conventional soap opera, but of certain high standard. The proven anchor team – Mitch Kessler (Steve Carell) and Alex Levy (Jennifer Anniston) is rent asunder when Kessler – playing every philanderer confused by the #MeToo paradigm, or perhaps just Matt Lauer –…

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Patrick Melrose

January 16, 2020 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | FILM, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS |

"We've taken Aqaba."

(Directed by Edward Berger) (Showtime, 2018) Patrick Melrose is a poor little rich boy with issues.  Why does he abuse substances so spectacularly?  Why such a jaundiced eye towards Mummy and Daddy? Why the failed relationships, the ferocious anger, the lurch at self-destruction? Well, we do find out. Edward St. Aubyn’s five novel-trajectory of Patrick’s story is compressed into 5 hour-long episodes, starting with a catastrophic journey to New York to collect father’s corpse and get on the junk.  Benedict Cumberbatch has a lovely time as Patrick: he’s flip, witty, manic, and sad. As we whizz, so very briskly, through…

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John Wegner – Abschied

January 13, 2020 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | MUSIC, Opera, OPERA, WAGNER |

John Wegner AO (16 January 1950 – 17 November 2019) The great Australian Heldenbaritone, John was born in Germany and came to Australia at the tender age of 5.  He started working life as a teacher, but became involved in amateur musicals in his spare time. This led to a choral part in Meistersinger for Australian Opera, and he later joined the company (initially as a Bass) at the behest of Richard Bonynge. Eventually, he became a prominent Wagnerian, here and across Europe: inter alia, Klingsor in Parsifal,  Wotan in the 1998 Ring in Adelaide (and at Düsseldorf), Telramund in…

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Elegy for Miron

December 31, 2019 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | LIFE |

Miron (28 October 2000 to 14 December 2019) There was no corner of our house Not under his regal command; Of the dozens dead, no mouse Ever did escape as planned, He ravaged the rodent underworld And waged a ceaseless war on string But mostly spent his work-day curled And drowsy, disdained anything. A sullen cloud would billow in, Announcing the hour in which to dine; We would watch, all in a spin To hope he would declare as fine His meal, and after yawn and stretch He left the plate, drained of desire, And goose-step’d, claws unsheathed to fetch…

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