February 2010

After the interval

Two men shift a pile of rocks from one side of the stage to the other, over and over, again and again. An act so illogical, so tedious, so boring that you almost forget who made these men shift the rocks, and why they are made to do it; to break their humanity, to lose our attention. It’s a theatrical dare to see who will get bored first: the men, the actors, or the audience. It reminds us that dying in a concentration camp could be tedious, as well as horrific. A process of quotidian tasks that becomes more difficult, until, mentally or physically, you can’t do them can’t do them anymore. And however many ways the two men keep themselves strong, their captors try to weaken them, pit their own humanity against each other. What is remarkable is that each man chooses his own death, and until that moment there is still humour and pathos and lust and the suspense that comes from hope. And afterwards – still hope.

Focus Theatre & B Sharp
by Martin Sherman
Directed by Pete Nettell
Venue: Belvoir St Downstairs Theatre, 25 Belvoir St, Surry Hills
Dates: Thursday 18 February – Sunday 14 March, 2010


In this mirror of a diary, Christopher reveals a few frank glimpses of himself. The rest is posing.

Christopher Isherwood, Christopher Isherwood

Finally he realized that he wanted to describe his life as he had lived it. What inspired him was the commentary he could make on it, not the melodrama he could make out of it. Certainly, he would fictionalize many episodes in order to simplify them and thus reveal their essence; a changeover from fact to fiction often begins with the weeding-out of superfluous details. But he could tell his own lies; he didn’t need a Paul to tell them for him. That would merely put his fiction at a double remove from fact.

Christopher Isherwood, Christopher and his Kind

That Face is a collision of influences. Salinger. Albee. Greek myth. Tennessee Williams. As playwright Polly Stenham said: It’s, like, just practically ripped off, you know? But has Stenham borrowed and made it all her own?  Found a synergy in the modern day setting of middle-class family dysfunction? Or is That Face an awkward pilfering of other texts?


Waking up begins with saying am and now. That which has awoken then lies for a while staring up at the ceiling and down into itself until it has recognized I, and there from deduced I am, I am now. Here comes next, and is at least negatively reassuring: because here, this morning, is where it has expected to find itself: what’s called at home.

But now isn’t simply now. Now is also a cold reminder: one whole day later than yesterday, one year later than last year. Every now is labelled with its date, rendering all past nows obsolete, until – later or sooner – perhaps – no, not perhaps – quite certainly: it will come.

Fear tweaks the vagus nerve. A sickish shrinking from what waits, somewhere out there, dead ahead.

But meanwhile the cortex, that grim disciplinarian, has taken its place at the central controls and has been testing them, one after another: the legs stretch, the lower back is arched, the fingers clench and relax. And now, over the entire intercommunication system, is issued the first general order of the day: UP.

A Single Man, Christopher Isherwoood