The Cherry Orchard

January 17, 2018 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Plays, THEATRE, WRITING & LITERATURE |

Chekhov’s great sad comedy premiered in Moscow on this day (17 January) in 1904.  A devastating satire on the necessity to change and its collision with people impervious to change, it is the first great 20th century play, hugely influential in its grand theme of entropy (and we add, with as much modesty as possible, that the broken, reverberating lute string terminating Acts II and IV – “The distant sound is heard, as if from the sky, of a breaking string, dying away sadly” – inspired the champagne cork trope in The Varnished Culture‘s short play, Jenny Had it Coming.)    …

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Lettice and Lovage

October 12, 2017 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Plays, THEATRE, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS |

(By Peter Shaffer) (Directed by Angela Short) (Adelaide University Theatre Guild, 11 October 2017) Though he is better known for his darker pieces, Peter Shaffer had a big hit in the 1980s with this droll dig at the decline of modern standards, and the often opaque ways of the Heritage Mafia, subjects close to The Varnished Culture‘s heart.  Once again, Shaffer sets rational Apollo in opposition to romantic Dionysus, this time to richly humorous effect. Miss Lettice Douffet is a tour guide at “Fustian House” in Wiltshire, an ancient pile so dreary and unremarkable that it wouldn’t even get a page in…

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Three Tall Women

August 10, 2017 | Posted by Lesley Jakobsen | THEATRE, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS, Uncategorized |

(By Edward Albee) (Adelaide University Theatre Guild premiere, 9 August 2017) Albee’s slices of New England life, where families light up and tear each other down, succeed on the whole because he was a master of exteriors that demonstrated the angst within. With this unsatisfactory work of his later period, however, he is working from within and as such the play never catches fire. An act of ‘exorcism’ to help the playwright debride the memory of his domineering adoptive mother, the first part has a bedridden old lady (aged 92? 91?) attended by her former self and misunderstood by her younger…

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1984: the Play

May 24, 2017 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | THEATRE, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS |

(Her Majesty’s Theatre, Adelaide, May 2017) (Based on an adaptation from George Orwell by Robert Icke and Duncan Macmillan) THANK YOU NOTE: First, The Varnished Culture thanks the folks at Her Majesty’s for their courtesy. TVC had bought tickets for a Saturday show, foolishly overlooking it was a matinee and missed the show. After some phone calls, full of contrition and abashment, TVC was allowed to present at the box office, and, with a little grovelling, to exchange redundant tickets for a Monday night performance. It wound-up with better seats! Again, thank you guys! It is greatly appreciated. And what a…

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Henry V (Bedlam Version)

May 7, 2017 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | THEATRE, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS |

Henry V (Adelaide University Theatre Guild, 6 May 2017) (Directed by Megan Dansie) “Diagnostic criteria for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder include a history of exposure to a traumatic event that meets specific stipulations and symptoms from each of four symptom clusters: intrusion, avoidance, negative alterations in cognitions and mood, and alterations in arousal and reactivity.” (DSM-5). This is some way from the Welsh soldier Fluellen’s reference to Henry V by analogy to Alexander the Great: “in his rages, and his furies, and his wraths, and his cholers, and his moods, and his displeasures, and his indignations…” Henry Five turfed his buddies like Henry Eight did…

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