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Corey Ignace reviews Mademoiselle for Laneway Magazine

See the review in its original context here.

Michael Dalley’s newest work, Mademoiselle, was the most vulgar, crude and amazing display of comedic theatre I’ve ever seen. Dalley and Paul McCarthy embodied two sparkly, overdressed, flamboyant man-servants that had the crowd in stitches from beginning to end.

Heading down into fortyfivedownstairs, I had no idea what to expect, the promo description of ‘gothic camp’ meant I was in for something unique to say the least. I got my tickets, grabbed a wine and headed in, ushered by a lovely older man to our seats. The audience, which was very ranged in age, gender and level of flamboyance, filled every seat. All we could see from the performing end was a small podium with a toilet in the centre. Lights dim and I’m anticipating a small time, pleasant little show… how wrong could I be? I suppose the toilet should have been a give-away.

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Lucy Graham reviews Mademoiselle for Stage Whispers

See the review in its original context here.

Mademoiselle is a whirlwind of political incorrectness. Michael Dalley’s witty hour-long script had the packed audience in Flinders Lane laughing and gasping in its assault on the “lower middle-class”.

Michael Dalley and Paul McCarthy feature as two effeminate man-servants of a certain Mademoiselle, who get creative in her absence in “an orgy of ridicule” and “a litany of abuse”. The irony of their relentless and superior sneering is that it’s dished out at the expense of their own social class, even as they attempt to position themselves apart from it.

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Farce stabs a rich vein

Liza Power
The Age

AS A satirist, Michael Dalley has made a career of taking the mickey. Middle-class values, real estate agents, the nouveau riche, his closest friends and acquaintances – nothing is out of bounds. ”I could make a cabaret about the Labor Party or Family First,” he jokes over coffee, ”but it would be too easy and pointless. It’s more interesting to pick apart what you’re supposed to hold sacred.” Better still to do it in a slick, mordant, wildly witty way, which is of course precisely what Dalley is renowned for.

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Preview: Mademoiselle

Tessa Hayward
City Weekly

Michael Dalley is a self-confessed control freak. He has written, stars in, produces and directs the upcoming gothic music theatre revue, Mademoiselle.

Dalley (pictured above right) and Paul McCarthy (above left) play two valets, or butlers, who are left alone for the evening when their boss unexpectedly goes out. “They decide to use it as a chance to let out all the oppression that has been holding them in,’’ Dalley says. ‘‘They don’t like each other very much. They feed off each other and end up ridiculing each other and putting each other down quite a lot.’’

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Richard Watts reviews The McNeil Project for ArtsHub

See the review in its original context here.

Hailed in the 1970’s as Australia’s answer to Jean Genet, prisoner turned playwright Jim McNeil was destroyed by the very fame that saw him released early from a 17 year jail sentence. Without the strict routine of prison life, McNeil’s violent alcoholism soon got the better of him, and he never wrote again. He died in 1982, aged 47.

The McNeil Project at Melbourne’s fortyfivedownstairs, features two of Jim McNeil’s one-act plays: The Chocolate Frog – a relatively simple work – and the altogether darker, more complex The Old Familiar Juice.

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Cameron Woodhead reviews The McNeil Project for The Age

See the review in its original context here.

**** 4 STARS

IMPRISONMENT and modern drama have an intriguing relationship. Arguably the first audiences to ”get” Beckett’s Waiting for Godot were the inmates of San Quentin, in the famous 1957 jailhouse production. These men were living at the sharp end of the fiction that we’re all at liberty to act rationally in our own self-interest: they knew the ways in which we’re radically unfree.

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Andrew Fuhrmann reviews The McNeil Project for Time Out

See the review in its original context here.

**** 4 STARS.

According to the quotable G.K. Chesterton, all slang is metaphor, and all metaphor is poetry. By this memorable formula, along with sailors and Cockneys, few subcultures can claim to be as poetically fecund as prison culture. Both The Chocolate Frog and The Old Familiar Juice, one-act plays currently being presented as a double bill at fortyfivedownstairs, are fine examples of this.

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Chris Boyd reviews The McNeil Project for The Australian

See the review in its original context here.

MALCOLM Robertson’s connection to Jim McNeil and his celebrated prison plays dates back to 1971, when Robertson conducted drama workshops at Parramatta jail, then directed the first professional production of The Chocolate Frog for Q Theatre.

Two years later, he directed a double bill of it and The Old Familiar Juice for the Melbourne Theatre Company.

These one-act plays combine well. The polemic of the first, which, on its own, might seem naive and too bluff, is counterbalanced by the finesse and tight focus of the latter.

Four decades on, Robertson plays The Chocolate Frog absolutely straight. Thanks to its archaic slang, its references to “the permissive society” and the Latin mass, the play is a period piece. But, if anything, it stands up better now than it did when previously presented in Melbourne in the late 1980s.

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The Prose of a Con

Raymond Gill
Life & Style, The Saturday Age

DOUG Fields, 55, works night shifts managing an outer-Melbourne supermarket, so he would seem to have scant connection with a fascinating chapter in Australia’s theatre history.

Fields is the eldest of six children of the late Jim McNeil, who is known in the theatre industry as a playwright whose talent burnt bright and fast in his small output of plays from the early 1970s, including The Chocolate Frog and The Old Familiar Juice, both of which are having a rare production at fortyfivedownstairs from next week.

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Prison playwright Jim McNeil's inside jobs get a fresh outing

Rosemary Neill
The Australian

THE Melbourne media christened Jim McNeil the laughing bandit because he was often amused at how easy it was to hold up a TAB or pub at gunpoint.

The serial offender would chuckle to himself, even as he was carrying out his weapon and a bag of loot.

McNeil was many things: armed robber and cop shooter; husband, wife basher and father; raconteur, recidivist and violent alcoholic; underage lover of a brothel madam, prison homosexual and charismatic womaniser. He was an unlikely arts sensation, but that’s precisely what he became after he started writing plays behind the high sandstone walls of Sydney’s Parramatta jail in the early 1970s.

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The Marvelous Wonderettes

The Marvelous Wonderettes takes you to the 1958 Springfield High School Super Senior Prom where we meet the Wonderettes, four girls with hopes and dreams as big as their crinoline skirts! As we learn about their lives and loves, we…

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From the talent behind sell-out success Urban Display Suite - prepare for Mademoiselle. Michael Dalley and Paul McCarthy are overdressing and overacting as they storm into fortyfivedownstairs for a champagne cocktail of wit with an extra dash of bitters! A…

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Broadway World reviews The Burlesque Hour

See the review in its original context here.

Finucane & Smith’s GLORY BOX is the latest incarnation of The Burlesque Hour, the Australian cabaret that has gone on to redefine – defy even – the genre around the world.

Sexy, twisted, and at times very moving, I find myself requiring multiple adjectives to capture the essence of this show. I could add funny, confronting and slightly un-hinged, and I’d still only describe a portion of what happens when this GLORY BOX is opened.

In an underground salon of red lanterns and intimate tables, co-creator Moira Finucane’s opening act sets the tone as she devours an apple so ferociously that I might still be removing pieces from my hair. For the uninitiated this might be the moment where any expectation of a traditional burlesque experience is also demolished. And from here the delights unfold!

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Snakes alive! It's the Eve of seduction

The Age
Mark Ellis

Christos Tsiolkas enjoys the serious and playful sides of burlesque.

THE Queen of Burlesque, Moira Finucane, is also the Queen of Adjectives. As she enthuses about her new show, a tumbling cascade of P.T. Barnum superlatives collect at our feet.

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774 Drive, ABC Radio, reviews Far Away

Sian Prior reviews Far Away for Culture Club, 774 Drive, ABC Radio

See the review in its original context here.

If…you want to be surprised, even a bit disturbed by a visit to the theatre – try ‘Far Away’, a play that’s on at 45 Downstairs in Flinders Lane, written by the award-winning English playwright Caryl Churchill. I’ve been thinking about this play ever since I saw it last weekend. Churchhill is known for her non-naturalistic approach to theatre – she’s a political playwright…politics in the broader sense of power and the uses and abuses of it. The play is divided into three different scenes and as the first one opens, we see a child who has woken up in the middle of the night approaching a woman in a kitchen. We learn the woman is her aunt and the child gradually reveals that she’s just witnessed a deeply disturbing scene outside in the garden. There’s been violence and blood and the child is trying to make sense of it all. And the aunt is trying to first of all explain what the child has seen, but then – we realize – she’s trying to cover up what’s been happening. We see the world from the child’s perspective as she tries to understand adult behaviour that, on the face of it, is simply terrifying. We’re in moral quicksand as the aunt keeps changing her story. What IS going on out there in the garden shed? – we never really find out.

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The McNeil Project

FOUR STARS- THE AGE- read the review FOUR STARS- HERALD SUN- read the review Three walls. A roof. A floor ... And thick black iron bars. The McNeil Project presents two of Jim McNeil’s best-known plays penned in the Parramatta jail…

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See Juliet's side of the story – Stephen Russell interviews Zoey Dawson for Melbourne Weekly

Stephen Russell
Melbourne Weekly

A CLASSIC tale of doomed romance, Romeo and Juliet is usually performed with Romeo as the protagonist. But a new all-woman production of The Most Excellent and Lamentable Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet at fortyfivedownstairs puts Juliet front and centre, focusing on her attempt to navigate through the perils and pitfalls of high-octane teenage dreams.

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A Little Room

It’s the 3rd of February again and Miss Place, Betty and Lana sit quietly, sipping their shiraz. Slowly and methodically the floor begins to shift, revealing the moss and mud below.  A tall crab apple tree pulls out from cupboard…

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Time Out Melbourne interviews Zoey Dawson

Time Out Melbourne

Time Out Melbourne interviews Zoey Dawson – see the article in its original context here.


Actor and director Zoey Dawson presents an all-female production of Romeo and Juliet at fortyfivedownstairs, sharing the space with an all male production of Henry IV.

How did you come to this play?
I’d never seen a production that was really concerned with Juliet herself. Romeo and Juliet usually come as a couple. I wanted to yank them apart and just look at what happens to her. The fact that she meets a boy at a party and four days later she kills herself. What is that?

This production emerged out of an honours year project, is that right?
That was in 2010. I’m calling it an extensive development period. Before then I wasn’t so keen on it, really. But after I was assigned to it at university, and read it through, I was like, shit, this is a 13-year-old girl, and yet it’s part of this great romantic mythology.

I thought, OK, so my cousin is 13, and she’s obsessed with Twilight. I look at her, and other 13-year-olds, and I think: she is a child. How did this romantic mythology build up around a child? That was where it started, when I realised Juliet was 13.

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Michael Griffiths salutes Madonna, on Cabaret Confessional

Cabaret Confessional
by Lena Nobuhara

Interview: Michael Griffiths salutes Madonna – see the article in its original context here.

Adelaide born, WAAPA trained, Sydney based performer Michael Griffiths made a sensational cabaret debut at the 2011 Adelaide Cabaret Festival with In Vogue: Songs by Madonna. He premiered the show to sold-out crowds and pulled off a compelling performance as the pop diva – without wigs, costumes or an accent. The show was such a success that he is about to take it to Melbourne, New York and Sydney. As Michael gets ready for the tour, he chats to Cabaret Confessional about his hit show he calls “Madge Unplugged”, his collaboration with a cabaret wunderkind Dean Bryant and his thoughts on cabaret.

Michael will be starting a tour diary just before he kicks off the 2012 Midsumma Festival season in Melbourne. Watch this space and follow his adventures as he gives us an insider look at the In Vogue: Songs by Madonna Tour!

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Leggings Are Not Pants

Raw, raucous, and beautiful, Leggings Are Not Pants shows that there are no boundaries to gender identity, but there are to lycra. A pole show with a twist on the sexy, this is for anyone who has not come out…

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The Burlesque Hour: The Glory Box

Finucane & Smith, purveyors of the seductive, subversive, and electrifying are back...and this time they’re opening Pandora’s Box! Get ready for the unleashing of the wild ones led by a jaw-dropping Moira/Medusa in the anarchic, erotic and unforgettable THE GLORY…

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Theatre People interviews Barry Dickins

"...the play is written as mantra and freefall poetry mixed with the remembrance of dream dialogues ..." Theatre People interviews Barry Dickins, writer of Whiteley's Incredible Blue.

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To Dad With Love reviews 'The Dollhouse'

To Dad With Love reviews 'The Dollhouse' 'While it is adapted to a contemporary context, Schlusser’s production is faithful in form to Ibsen’s play. More importantly, his staging of this 19th century classic holds a mirror up to the society…

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Review: Skin Tight on Australian Stage

This review of Skin Tight was written by Penelope Broadbent for Australian Stage. See it in its original context here.

The term ‘emotional journey’ is liberally used (and misused) in many aspects of modern culture and in the performing arts it is a promise to the audience that is rarely fulfilled. On hearing, reading, or using this term, many of us cringe. This is a great shame because every so often there comes a work that really does take its audience through a range of emotions or to varying “places” of emotion, as they follow its story, characters, and mood. Skin Tight, a predominantly New Zealand production at fortyfivedownstairs, achieves just this, and it does so in a most intriguing fashion.

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Prodigal: Interview with The Age

Midsumma hosts return of the Prodigal sons
By Michael Dwyer
January 18, 2011

The award-winning home-grown musical is back 11 years after its debut, writes Michael Dwyer. Please see full article here.

DEAN Bryant gets the coffee. Mathew Frank’s eyes roam over the heavily postered wall of the Balaclava cafe. ”Look at all the musicals,” he says. ”Where did they all come from?”

The answer is mostly from overseas, on a wave of commercial revivalism whipped up by Wicked, Chicago, Jersey Boys et al. But if there’s a note of home-grown satisfaction in the Melbourne stage composer’s tone, it’s deserved.

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Cameron Woodhead full review: Duets for Lovers and Dreamers

This review of Duets for Lovers and Dreamers was written by Cameron Woodhead and first published in The Age on Tuesday 23 November 2010. The full review is now published on Behind The Critical Curtain. Please see it in its original context here.

This shimmering suite of short scenes appears to take guidance Walter Pater’s well-known maxim: “All art constantly aspires towards the condition of music.” A chamber piece composed in an elusive key, it bends every instrument of the theatre into ephemeral harmonies where love rises to meets death, and memory imagination.

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