Tag Archives: St Century

Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1913)




Nova Ensemble dir. David Pye



Somerville Theatre, UWA campus

reviewed by Sophie Sax-Lehrman


Have there ever been so many people at one time on the campus of the University of Western Australia? Certainly, the citizens of Perth turned out en masse on Friday evening for LUMINOUSnight with literally tens of thousands swarming across the campus to savour the delights of a range of free entertainments to mark the 100th anniversary of the founding of the UWA. 

A capacity audience attended a screening at the open-air Somerville Cinema of Carl Laemmle’s silent movie version of  Robert Louis Stevenson’s Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, a tale that has inspired a host of moviemakers. 

Why this movie when there are so many others to screen? It was a clever choice as the film dates from 1913, the same year as UWA’s founding. And giving a 21st-century slant to it, we listened to a specially commissioned music score by two of Perth’s most committed exponents of new music – David Pye and Lee Buddle – performed by the Nova Ensemble. 

Here were the antique (the film) with the brand new (the music) – and how finely they meshed. Nova was very much on its collective toes with Pye presiding over events. All praise for the skill with which the instrumentalists co-ordinated with cinematic action. Time and again, there was splendid integration between on-screen action and the accompanying music which for the most part enhanced mood. This was fascinating fare; I savoured every moment, especially King Baggot’s portrayal of both Jekyll and his ghastly alter ego. 

Baggot’s  Mr Hyde is fascinating, his transformation startling, reducing his height to striking effect by hunkering down, then scuttling and lurching about like some monstrous, malformed spider. An almost flat black hat added to his bizarre appearance, in striking contrast to his portrayal of Jekyll as a compassionate and thoroughly decent doctor. 

Laemmle’s movie makes for disturbing viewing in quite another sense as one realises that the entire cast, including many children, and those behind the cameras, are long dead. But through the medium of cinema, they are all, in a way, brought back to life to once again reach out to a fascinated audience a century on. An exception was a cinema-goer nearby who with astonishing indifference to the annoyance he was causing many, had a loud and largely pointless conversation on his mobile phone.


This is a movie I’d very much like to see again. True, it shows signs of wear, the image occasionally scratched, blurred, stained or bubbled but in a curious sense this underscores its great age and makes viewing it all that more fascinating.

Sam Atlas gave a delightful introductory talk.

Complexions Contemporary Ballet


His Majesty’s Theatre, Perth

reviewed by Deanna Blacher

 Complexions - group shot lr





Complexions Contemporary Ballet would have been a largely unknown quantity in this part of the world before its opening night on Tuesday. But anyone coming away from its first performance at His Majesty’s Theatre is unlikely ever to forget it – and for all the best reasons.


Led by co-founder and principal dancer,  Desmond Richardson, (who will surely join the ranks of the great American modern dancers of the 21st century) astounded, astonished  and inspired this reviewer. Complexions reveals a strikingly different world of dance, in which hitherto unknown levels of technical accomplishment become the norm.


These extraordinary bodies are poetry in motion. What distinguishes them from so many other good dancers is that their technique, all encompassing as it is, remains the servant of their musicality, passion and artistry.


Dwight Rhoden, the company’s founder and resident choreographer, could hardly be better served by these very special dancers. Their training allows them to convey the illusion of honey in their limbs, rather than bones, especially the hips. They meet every technical and interpretative challenge head on, sailing through the most complex of  dance vocabulary with the nonchalance of mastery.


Highlight of the evening was Desmond Richardson’s unprogrammed solo, Moonlight, which comes across as a distillation, a summing up, as it were,,of everything the company stands for and is.


Superhuman control, phrasing, timing, passion, originality and an ability to draw and hold the attention of the viewer add up to memorable dance theatre  in which the whole is greater than the sum of its constituent parts.


The opening ballet – Moon Over Jupiter  – to music by Rachmaninoff was for me the most intriguing and satisfying of the works performed on opening night.


Athleticism and sheer virtuosity, especially in some very innovative solos and pas de deux , gave this work an edge that was highlighted by the exposed lighting rig in a  design by Michael Korsch.


Notwithstanding a view that a bigger stage was needed for the playing out – and appreciation of – the complexities of these splendid choreographies, this production succeeded at every level, especially in the manifold ways in which the music was interpreted, to highlight the various strengths and differences of the dancers. They are made to work as a tightly knit unit, but retain their individuality.


An exposed lighting rig featured in all the presentations and seemed to surmount the technical limitations of the theatre’s stage without difficulty, thus adding immeasurably  to the worth of each choreography .


In so many-splendoured an offering, it would be invidious to single out individuals for special mention – but it would be ungracious not to mention Patricia Hachey who shone in everything from Rachmaninoff to Billie Holiday and U2, displaying a versatility that was  breathtaking.


I noted with interest that the company has in its repertoire the works of other choreographers apart from those of its founder, Dwight Rhoden.


Apart from occasional lapses in timing and a sometimes too-loud and distorted sound track, this will be an evening that will be remembered long after the applause dies away.


Can we hope for a return visit of this very special company to give us an even broader view of their artistry?