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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Arts Theatre Cronulla

So I am finishing up my Art Critique class and I have to write a few more play reviews as well as attend and review a symphony performance. 
My friend Rowdy and his girlfriend Alex had 2 extra tickets to the theater and asked if Jon and I would like to go. I had mentioned to Rowdy the I needed to go see some plays to review. 
The theater is just in the mall near Grind cafe.
 Rowdy called and said he could not get the tickets so I had put on my lounge clothes and an overnight bag to take to Jon's. Then Rowdy called and said he was able to get the tickets. I met him and Abby and Alex at Splash where they were having a few drinks. They had a bucket of Heineken and offered me one. I did not want one but they were makin fun of me for not drinking it so I accepted. Then Rowdy said, yeah right, that I would take two sips and then give it to him or Abby. Which I did. They know me so well those sillies. So then I called Jon and asked if he wanted to come but he would have to meet us at Splash like right then. He did and he is so cute. I heart him. 
The following is my review on the play we saw that evening.
I encourage attending the Arts Theater Cronulla and supporting your local arts!!!!!!!

Sheri Partain

The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 and a Half

by Sue Townsend
Directed by Susan Geldart

Who? Local actors from Cronulla Beach, NSW Australia
Where? Arts Theater Cronulla
When? Friday, August 20th 2010 at 8 pm



I was not planning on going to the theater that evening. I met my friends at Splash, a tapas bar by the beach, for a little chat and when they invited my boyfriend and I to accompany them to the Arts Theater Cronulla I thought it would be fun. I walk by the theater almost every day and had been interested in going since I moved to Cronulla. I had not heard of the play being performed until tonight but that did not matter to me.
 The opening scene is a New Years Eve party. The location is an unnamed middle class English town and the time is the early 1980’s. Most of the main characters are present, Mr. and Mrs. Mole, Mr. and Mrs. Lucas, Adrian, Nigel, and Grandma. Pauline Mole is visibly tipsy from alcohol and is dancing with Mr. Lucas while Mr. Lucas’ wife continues to drink and stumble around stage. I felt the scene went for too long before Adrian performed his first soliloquy.
He addresses the audience throughout the play explaining the drama that is going on in the world around him. He tells the audience he is an intellectual even though it is apparent he is not very bright. He is also constantly worrying throughout the play about anything and everything but is too immature to understand the things he worries about. He is in love with Pandora, a rich new girl from school.
We find out very soon that Adrian’s mom and dad have an unhealthy relationship and fight after the party. Adrian’s mom, Pauline, has a crush on the neighbor Mr. Lucas.
Adrian’s parents neglect him, talk badly about him, and do not care much about his feelings or what is going on in his life. When they fall ill with a cold, it is Adrian who takes care of them.
 I thought the stage bed was innovative. It was not an actual bed but appeared so. It had a head board, pillows and a small bench attached. Then the foot board also had a small ledge with a blanket, so when the actors sat on the headboard and covered their legs with the blanket it appeared as though they were lying in bed.
When Pauline becomes well she neglects her household chores, becomes a feminist and begins to wear overalls. However, she still does her hair, make-up, and wears high heeled shoes.

So many bad things happen to Adrian and he is hopeless in his pursuit to become an intellectual. He decides to become socially active and joins a group called the Good Samaritans. He is assigned to take care of an 89-year-old man named Bert Baxter. Before he meets Bert, Adrian fantasizes what he will be like and imagines Bert will be an intellectual. However, the truth is Bert is a rude and filthy old man living in a dirty house with a noisy dog.
Meanwhile, a bully at Adrian’s school demands that he give him money each week. Adrian can’t pay him and because of the threats from the bully decides to get a paper route. This is an example of Adrian’s adolescence and undeveloped social skills.
By this time in the play I am already over it and ready for it to end. Then the most obvious occurred, his parents split up. Pauline moves in with Mr. Lucas while Mr. Mole eventually begins to date a woman from his work. The new woman does not do anything to help out around the house. Eventually the Mole home is filthy with absolutely no food left. It gets even worse. The electricity goes out because Mr. Mole forgets to pay the power bill and cannot afford to have it turned back on.
Then finally Pandora reciprocates Adrian’s love when he rebels against the school uniform rule and begins to wear red socks to school. When she goes on holiday to Tunisia, he calls her resulting in a very large phone bill which his penniless father cannot afford to pay.
Grandma somehow finds out that Adrian is being bullied at school. She goes and bullies the bully demanding all the money back that he took from Adrian. She gives the money back to Adrian and tells him he will not be bullied again.
When old man Bert Baxter falls ill he has to move in to a pensioner’s home where he falls in love with a lady named Queenie. The final scene of the play is their wedding.
I think the characters fit the cast for the most part. A young high school girl was cast as Pandora who was meant to be beautiful, however harsh, the actress was average at best. She also had a lisp and I was uncertain if it was her own or part of the character.
Mr. Lucas was a tall, lanky, skinny, creepy fellow who gave me bad vibes. If this was meant to be part of his character I think it fitted well but I have a feeling it was not.
Although the title of the play and plot is centered on Adrian, I feel the strongest character acting was that of Pauline Mole. In the first scene I thought everyone excluding Adrian was terrible, but she ended up leaving the best impression.
The character playing Adrian would be difficult to cast. However, the actor fitted the character so well that the fact he was actually in his 30s or 40s didn’t even matter. Adrian imagines himself as an intellectual although he is not and that actor appeared dorky and naïve like that character should.
The character of Bert Baxter was fitting at first but then began to over act and was painful to watch. He was really getting on my nerves and made me want to leave the play. This was my reaction to his over acting; however, the reaction of the audience was enjoyment and laughter. The same actor also played Scutton, the school principal, whose character only had one scene. I felt the actor did a much better job at portraying this character than that of old man Baxter.
Another actor that did not fit the character was Tennielle Willis who played Mrs. Lucas as well as the Matron. There was something off about her. I could not feel any emotion coming from the stage and I did not like her from the very first scene. She did not portray her characters well, I felt lied to, like there was an imposter on the stage.
            My favorite actor was Brett Simeon who played the Electricity board official who only made an appearance in one small scene.
Adrian’s costumes were great, his wool vest with numbers and school designs fitted his age well and the fact he thought of himself as an intellectual added to the humor.
Pandora wore the school uniform for the majority of the play. I vaguely remember she did one costume change for the party scene but it was not significant in my memory.
Adrian’s friend Nigel also changed his outfit for the party scene. He wore tight acid wash jeans paired with a dark shirt. When Adrian comments on the change in his friend’s wardrobe, Nigel responds by saying he is tired of being a Brit and wishes to be a Punk American.
I think the best and most costume changes were made by Pauline Mole. I met her after the show and commended her on speedy changes between scenes.
Themes of the play include friendship between Adrian and Nigel, Adrian and Pandora; and the failing relationship between Adrian’s parents.
A memorable quote from the play was from a song performed by Adrian to Pandora: “Oh Pandora, I adore ya”. My favorite part of the play was when it was over. I was cringing in my seat the last scene during the wedding. Bert Baxter was truly getting on my nerves and if I had a rotten tomato near my reach I would have been highly inclined to throw it in his face.  
After the play the theater hosted a meet and greet for the actors and theater patrons. They provided cheese plates with olives and crackers as well as juice drinks. This was my second favorite part of the evening.


  1. Found you while wandering the web. Following...

    hope you'll follow back

  2. It amazes me that you were attending an art critique class at the time of writing this. I sincerely hope that you did not submit this effort to your class.
    Since you have decided to criticise unpaid volunteers I believe that it is acceptable that you receive criticism for something that you are obviously not paid for, writing.
    The first part of the blog explains the story of how the narrator came to attend the performance at Cronulla Arts Theatre. It is a charming introduction explaining in detail how the narrator needed to see a play and by chance was given the opportunity. An introduction is generally used to draw us in and make us want to keep reading. I feel the writer let us down here, there were too many "and then's" and "he said, she said".
    It was only further down the page that I realised that the writer was indeed a genius in disguise, the use of primary school story writing technique was a fantastic comparison to the actors ability to play a character seemingly years younger than himself.
    When we move on to the review itself we are greeted by rambling as the narrator stumbles through the story. Again I am in awe of the writers ability to parallel the manic and sometimes turbulent youthfulness of the characters through the primary school essay writing technique.
    At this point I am on the edge of my seat, I'm drawn in and ready for the next part. Unfortunately fellow readers, I was let down. It is obvious at this point that the writer has not down the research necessary to write a review. By not being able to distinguish between character flaw and performance flaw she has unfortunately put criticism on the actors for speech impediments instead of realising that the character had a speech impediment. It was at this point that I tuned out and realised that all the beauty I had found in this piece of writing really wasn't there in the first place. It seems that the writer was not a genius as I first thought but merely a poor writer.
    The best part about reading this review was the end of it, the writer did not provide a cheese plate, literally or metaphorically.
    I hope that you have not found my review of your review to be too harsh and appreciate the fact that by using volunteers real names that you won't mind all your friends and families reading this.
    I regularly attend the Cronulla School of Arts and appreciate every thing that these great people do for the community. I hope that you continue to support the theatre and that you also work on improving your writing next time you write a review.

  3. Exactly what I thought James. This chick should stick to blogging- she is out of her depth when it comes to the conventions of writing for any other purpose. I'd be asking for a refund for the art critique course.
    I saw this play and it was fantastic,;as are all productions at this theatre. I guess for every full house there is always going to be at least one philistine in the audience ( or one cheese platter short of a cracker!)


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