Menu Sian Prior

Writer, Broadcaster, Singer, MC & Teacher

Flying Sheep and Talking Washing Machines [November 28]

As a tragic fan of Handel, I’ve been looking forward to Opera Australia’s 2008 production of Orlando which opened at The Arts Centre last night – and I was not disappointed. Soprano Emma Matthews was a suitably glamourous Angelica, and her voice is simply perfect for this Baroque repertoire – creamy, agile and powerful enough to carry to the top balcony of the vast State Theatre. Mezzo soprano Dominica Matthews (any relation?) was also in fine form as Orlando, the unrequited lover torn between love and war. I almost believed she WAS a man, especially when she allowed herself to sound less than beautiful in attacking certain key phrases in the second half of the opera, when Orlando is going stark raving bonkers. But when beauty and clarity of vocal line was required, she always delivered.

The real star of this production, though, was the set design. Delightfully playfully post-modern, it encompassed a huge, fragmenting map of the world (which also served as a series of ‘doorways’ worthy of a Feydeau farce), a giant telex machine, an even more giant desk lamp, and innumerable life-sized plastic sheep which rolled across the stage, leant up against a desk and even flew through the air. Bravo to set and costume designers Kimm Kovac and Andrew Hays for imagining it all – and then finding a way to make it happen. Orlando is on until December 13th.

And at the Carlton Courthouse this week i’ve seen the La Mama production of Cynthia Troupe’s new play Care Instructions. Part Beckett, part Gertrude Stein, part C.S Lewis, it features a talking frontloader (courtesy of video footage of a Liz Jones monologue projected onto the door of the washing machine – hilarious) and three women in large laundry bags, reciting, dancing, singing and laughing their way through a text about – oh i dunno – washing, worrying, wondering, wishing, and that spiteful spindle from Sleeping Beauty. Clever, funny, absurd, and yet also somehow strongly feminist (for this audience member, anyway) – a great combination.

If you’re reading the A2 section of The Age tomorrow (Saturday 29th November), keep an eye out for the print version of my Lingua Franca essay about platitudes.

And only twelve more sleeps till the opening of Shane Warne The Musical, directed by Neil Armfield and written by (and starring) the amazing Eddie Perfect! Be there or be out for a duck.