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BWW REVIEW: Sydney Theatre Company Returns To The Live Performance Stage with Classic Storytelling For The World Premiere of Angus Cerini's WONNANGATTA

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WONNANGATTA

BWW REVIEW: Sydney Theatre Company Returns To The Live Performance Stage with Classic Storytelling For The World Premiere of Angus Cerini's WONNANGATTA

Friday 25th September 2020, 7:30pm, Roslyn Packer Theatre

The world premiere of Angus Cerini's WONNANGATTA kicks off Sydney Theatre Company's return to the stage post the pandemic lockdowns that crippled the arts industry. Under the direction of Sydney Theatre Company's Resident Director Jessica Arthur, the value of the arts is reinforced with a captivating piece of pure storytelling for a socially distanced, COVID-19 safe audience in the Roslyn Packer Theatre.

BWW REVIEW: Sydney Theatre Company Returns To The Live Performance Stage with Classic Storytelling For The World Premiere of Angus Cerini's WONNANGATTAAngus Cerini has an award-winning record of writing Australian stories that rely heavily on the art of spoken word storytelling to transport the audience and WONNANGATTAs no exception. Drawing on the true story of the mysterious and still unsolved murders in late 1917 and 1918 of remote East Gippspland Wonnangatta Station's manager Jim Barclay and cook come general hand John Bamford, Cerini shares a version of the story shared by nearest neighbor Harry Smith (Hugo Weaving) and Riggall (Wayne Blair), a construct the other characters that accompanied Harry during the searches for the missing men. Cerini picks up the story when Harry, who lives a day's travel away from Wonnangatta Station, returns with Riggall to find that the property has been undisturbed since Harry dropped off the mail a month before.

BWW REVIEW: Sydney Theatre Company Returns To The Live Performance Stage with Classic Storytelling For The World Premiere of Angus Cerini's WONNANGATTADesigner Jacob Nash's 'floating' sweeping arc of rough edged 'decking' has Harry and Riggall on their toes physically leaning into the story whilst also presenting as a link to the early 19th century timber flooring of the homestead and the dangerous slopes of the nearby Mount Howitt where the men find themselves in the search for answers. Fog and Nick Schlieper's lighting design add to the mystery and suspense particularly when panic sets in when Riggall becomes separated from Harry due to the alpine shifts in weather. These sparse visual elements are complemented by Stefan Gregory's composition and sound design that includes birdsong and emotive tones while more immediate 'sound effects' are presented by the two performers.

BWW REVIEW: Sydney Theatre Company Returns To The Live Performance Stage with Classic Storytelling For The World Premiere of Angus Cerini's WONNANGATTAThe relative simplicity of the staging combined with Jessica Arthur's direction that pays close attention to pace ensures that Weaving and Blair are able to conjure up images that enable the audience to go with them on the journey. At times there are noticeable verbal stumbles that interrupt the cadence of the work but for the most part, Weaving and Blair create captivating and compelling characters that tell a story with humor, suspense, mystery and ultimately the need for other people.

BWW REVIEW: Sydney Theatre Company Returns To The Live Performance Stage with Classic Storytelling For The World Premiere of Angus Cerini's WONNANGATTAFor audiences missing being able to gather and experience live theatre, Sydney Theatre Company have sound measures in place to protect the audience, artists and employees and the reduced capacity management at the Roslyn Packer Theatre generally makes you feel safe with the odd exception of those that fail to follow the mandatory masks at all times rule as people are still apparently challenged as to how to wear a mask. There is temperature testing at the entrance, directions to head directly to seats without mingling in the foyer and the unsold seats are strapped up to reduce the possibility that people will change seats and potentially put themselves closer than regulations to other patrons. Weaving and Blair's performance is such that it doesn't matter that the theatre is less than half empty (this capacity is changing on 1st October) as it feels like they are telling you the tale personally rather than addressing a gathering.

https://www.sydneytheatre.com.au/whats-on/productions/2020/Wonnangatta

Photos: Prudence Upton

BWW REVIEW: Sydney Theatre Company Returns To The Live Performance Stage with Classic Storytelling For The World Premiere of Angus Cerini's WONNANGATTA



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