Eurovision 2021 (Rotterdam)

May 25, 2021 | Posted by Lesley Jakobsen | LIFE, Modern Music, MUSIC, THEATRE |

The Varnished Culture had night sweats and knotted stomachs awaiting the return of the Eurovision Song Contest. On ice in 2020 due to something or other, we had only Will Ferrell’s lovely tribute to sustain us for a year. Even now, Covid’s ugly head reared and “prevented” the Australian contingent from attending Rotterdam in person. This perhaps caused Australia’s offering, “Technicolour” by Montaigne, to fall at the semi-final stage, which is patently unfair and unjust. Still, Eurovision is the byword for dazzling, iridescent mediocrity, so there we are. Our points system, you’ll recall, rates each song on ‘real world merit,’…

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Hamilton – The Musical

(Directed by Amy Campbell, Lyric Theatre, Sydney, 2021) (Reviewed by Margo Jakobsen) Masked-up and entering the Sydney Lyric Theatre in an orderly fashion, I was eager to see if the musical justified the buzz. Some already knew, a couple of fans wearing period costumes of their own. Others were clearly familiar with the moments. For example, a cry went up at the ‘immigrants get the job done’ line and Brent Hill’s crassly, juvenile King George, made a popular and delicious contrast with the rawest emotions of Chloe Zuel as Hamilton’s wife, Eliza. The play ended with her enigmatic gasp. Amazing…

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A Midsummer Night’s Dream

March 4, 2021 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | MUSIC, Opera, OPERA, THEATRE, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS |

(Opera by Benjamin Britten) (Directed by Neil Armfield) (Adelaide, 2 March 2021) “Lord, what fools these mortals be!” That’s what the impresario said about staging The Dream, one of Shakespeare’s wisest, wittiest and most surreal plays, full of beautiful poetry, but a nightmare to stage, invariably a disaster. Britten saw that it would make for better fare as a short opera, although the singing parts are eccentric (and the overall effect, flipping the switch to matinee vaudeville, appeasingly cartoon-like – Quoth Auden: “Dreadful! Pure Kensington”). So, here, is the set, but it is entirely apt for this production, a dappled…

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Learnings from Joe Biden

November 24, 2020 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | American Politics, POLITICS, THEATRE |

As we look forward to a hilarious four years of the Biden Administration (the last 3/4ths of which will probably be completed by President Harris), it is apt to consider the wise words of a statesman whose eloquence rivals that of Pericles, Cato, Cicero, Marcus Aurelius, Asoka, Jefferson, Lincoln, Disraeli, Churchill, FDR, De Gaulle, Mandela and Obama. We’ll set aside the instances of Joe being touchy (either in a tetchy way or a creepy way) or difficult matters like his 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act that consigned millions of African Americans to life behind bars (“what I…

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Safe

August 31, 2020 | Posted by Lesley Jakobsen | FILM, THEATRE, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS |

(Written and directed by Federico Maria Giansanti of FMG, an Italian independent theatrical producer) (2020) (A one-woman performance, filmed play, link below) At an indeterminate time, in an isolated mountain hospice a young nun (Valeria Wandja) is alone, taking care of two people.  The other characters, – a man Paul (“a pure soul” who “takes a bit longer sometimes”) and a bedridden, terminally ill patient, Mrs Parker – are neither seen nor heard.  We know them through the nun’s responses to them.  The three are the final survivors of a larger community.  The nun (“Sister Daisy”, although her name is…

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