Tag Archives: Roundhouse Theatre

All My Sons (Arthur Miller)

Roundhouse Theatre, WAAPA

reviewed by Neville Cohn


All My Sons

‘All My Sons’ 3rd Year Acting / WAAPA Production (2015) / Photography © Jon Green 2015 – All Rights Reserved

Arthur Miller’s All My Sons comes across with implacable, near-overwhelming intensity, a tour de force with young actors giving proof of significant potential.


Tom Healey’s direction holds – indeed rivets – the attention throughout and despite the actors’ youth, they give characterisations that more often than not are close to the emotional epicentre of each part. Miller spares neither players nor audience in a play that brings us face to face with families in self-destructive mode. Its intense reality does not so much attract the attention as rivet it.


All My Sons

‘All My Sons’ 3rd Year Acting / WAAPA Production (2015) / Photography © Jon Green 2015 – All Rights Reserved

Healey’s guiding hand ensures there isn’t a weak moment in this production by 3rd- year acting students at WAAPA.


In essence, the play, set in the early aftermath of World War II, is about the corrosive, devastating after-effects on two families of faulty warplane parts causing the deaths of 21 pilots in training exercises over Australia.


Guilt, subterfuge, regret, emotional devastation, self-delusion and self-destruction are the currency of Miller’s masterpiece – and invariably, the actors rise to the challenge.


Bevan Pfeiffer is particularly effective as Chris Keller who has survived the war –  and Brittany Morell, entirely persuasive as Chris’ hysteria-prone mother who insists, against all the odds, that her elder son, a war pilot, is still alive. He isn’t but it would be unfair to intending theatre-goers to reveal what is one of the gut-wrenching climaxes of the play.


Arthur Miller provides an inspired dissection of ordinary Americans who find themselves in a devastating emotional maelstrom.


In a convincing characterisation as the ethically challenged Joe Keller, Chris’ father, Andrew Creer comes up trumps – but in visual terms he looks too young. Skilled makeup could well have resolved this issue.


Stephanie Panozzo gives a touching performance as Anne Deever  – and  Hoa Xuande is impressive as George.


Cameron Routley’s lighting design is consistently effective; so, too, is Sallyanne Facer’s set design of a typical US backyard. Music, however, was far too loud and overwhelming in a negative sense.

The Cripple of Inishmaan (Martin McDonagh)


WAAPA  Roundhouse Theatre

reviewed by Neville Cohn


This production is as refreshing as a cold shower on a hot day.


A cast of 3rd-year WAAPA acting students embraced Mc Donagh’s play with relish.


Director Patrick Sutton has done wonders in securing memorable responses from his youthful cast – and while lilting accents did not always sound entirely convincing, the actors breathed often engagingly raucous life into the play.cripple photo stitch


In a nutshell, the story revolves around the eponymous hero – Billy Claven (played with very real understanding of the role by Felix Johnson) – who is seriously handicapped, lurching pitifully about the stage. He comes across as a gentle, likeable soul who, notwithstanding his disability and perhaps intellectual limitations, goes through life with a touching grace. His idea of a good time is to watch cows in the fields. To the surprise – and chagrin – of some of the townsfolk, Billy auditions successfully for a projected cinematic role. He is also doted on by two ageing spinsters who run a very modestly stocked general store.


Rushing about the stage tirelessly and loudly is Michael Abercrombie who seems positively to delight in playing the garrulous gossip Johnnypateenmike. This blabbermouth is the perfect foil to Rose Riley’s Mammy O’Dougal, Johnny’s nonagenarian, whiskey-sodden, bedridden mother whose awesome alcohol intake would surely kill off lesser mortals. Her cackles and astonishing imbibing brought the house down.


Cecilia Peters does wonders as Helen McCormick, altogether persuasive in conveying the character’s startling lack of grace and more than a hint of rebellious violence.

And there’s a touch of tragedy to Oscar Harris’ Babbybobby, whose wife has died of TB.


Cripple Stephen HeathThere’s not a dull moment in this engaging and often touching romp. Not the least of the pleasures of this production is the quality of its ensemble, the interplay of the protagonists; it lifts the performance well above the ordinary.


Simeon Brudenell’s lighting design is consistently effective.

English Eccentrics: an Operatic Entertainment (Malcolm Williamson)


Libretto: Geoffrey Dunn, based on the book by Edith Sitwell



WAAPA classical, vocal and music students



Roundhouse Theatre, WAAPA

reviewed by Neville Cohn


Few English writers have been as astute and convincing in writing about eccentricity as the remarkable Edith Sitwell whose own oddness certainly qualified her for the role.


Perhaps because she herself lived so improbable a life, her chronicles of absurd behaviour have the ring of truth.  And Australian-born Malcolm Williamson, clearly inspired by Sitwell’s catalogue of the bizarre behaviour of others, wrote a score that splendidly complements Geoffrey Dunn’s libretto based on the Sitwell book..


In a work such as this, the text is pivotal to an appreciation of the opera. Absolute clarity of pronunciation is crucial in a libretto beautifully constructed to introduce the opera-goer to an extraordinary pageant of very strange people who range from the engagingly daft to the barking mad.


The work unfolds with impressively smooth momentum.  On this point, the production scored impressively; there was about the performance a fluency, indeed buoyancy, which made experiencing this work so agreeable. And deployment of often large numbers of performers onstage at any one time – with players descending a staircase here or processing or recessing between  stage and foyer  there –  made this production a fascinating way to pass an afternoon.


But diction was often unclear – and in a work such as this where distinct articulation  of words is of pivotal importance, this was an irritating, indeed maddening, drawback. Perhaps this could have been avoided by flashing the texts onto screens at opposite sides of the stage as is often done when operas are sung in foreign languages.


Some of the singers, though, sang with impressively clear diction, not least Paul-Anthony Keightly as Philip Thicknesse. This was a delight, with Keightly producing a stream of mellow, finely pitched sound with every word as clearly stated  as one could ever have wished it to be. Matthew Reardon’s diction, too, was beyond reproach – and Elena Perroni was a delightfully over-the-top Princess Caraboo. Clint Strindberg did well as Beau Brummell. But the diction of a vocal quartet, rather like a Greek chorus with crazy hairdos, needed much greater clarity.


Bobbi-Jo’s costume designs were a delight. Eleanor Garnett’s lighting design was consistently effective.


David Wickham presided over events  from the piano,  coaxing splendid responses from his forces and negotiating the often cruelly demanding piano part with unassuming virtuosity.  A small instrumental ensemble was much on its mettle, not least Chris Dragon (clarinet) and Hannah Gladstones (bassios pianooon).