what’s on sydney

Project Five, Volume Eight

 

As if it held the heartbeat of the city, Darling Harbour pulses with life. The night shimmers over the water in the warm spring breeze, and the Village Green is abuzz with festivities. Project Five (Volume Eight) brings to us it’s month-long celebration of community and the arts. This annual exhibition runs through October, showcasing talent from aMBUSH Gallery.

 

Project Five is Australia’s longest running street-art project and has raised over $100 000 dollars for Australian not-for-profit organisations.

 

The exhibition is open to all in Sydney, and is expected to draw big crowds, as the exhibition boils down to an auction at the end of the month, which raises money for charity. This year’s nominated charity is the Monkey Baa Theatre Company in the Darling Quarter, a fantastic cause that shines a spotlight on creative endeavours in drama and musical theatre for young people.

 

This is such a vibrant celebration of the arts, with a charity cause that warms the heart. What I admire most is that the exhibition is interactive too, engaging the community by holding art workshops for kids, and by live-painting demonstrations of some of the artworks that will be displayed for auction. Watching the artists paint life-sized images of the surreal, the imaginary and the abstract was just a real treat. And the buzz around the event felt like an inspiring environment in which to let creative juices flow.

 

Contemporary street artists Georgia Hill, Brett Chan, Kaff-eine and Shida painted their respective artworks to the beats dropped by a live DJ, and the crowd had a real energy about it. One of the paintings on the opening night was covered in children adding to the painting and making it theirs. I think this is a great initiative. The exhibition offers free kids workshops that run throughout the school holidays and for the rest of the month. I’d be interested to head down to the auction at the end and see what other creative touches have been added to the exhibtion.
What a truly wonderful celebration of the arts! For more information on registering for workshops, visit Project Five’s website.

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Bistro Remy at The Langham

The Langham, Sydney introduces its new upscale neighbourhood bistro; Bistro Remy. Nestled in The Rocks, The Langham is just a short walk from Barangaroo and Walsh Bay, providing a chance to slow the pace outside of the hustle and bustle of Sydney’s CBD. The relaxed bistro sits beside the luxury hotel’s Palm Court, best known for its Afternoon High Tea, and while Bistro Remy is a new addition to The Langham’s culinary scene, it offers the same calm, laid-back atmosphere. 

Bistro Remy sits at ground level, and cocoons you from the pulse and movement of the city behind french shutters. The restaurant is gloriously light and open, and the marble and ivory palette adds a soothing, relaxed feminine touch to the bistro. But don’t be fooled by the ambience; the menu packs flavour and vibrancy, adding fresh twists to traditional bistro meals. 

Chef Dave Whitting designed a menu that is a gastronomic delight, showcasing his background in french technique. While the dishes seem quite simple and familiar, Whitting has focused on the detail, showcasing Australian produce and championing the succulent flavours of each ingredient. What’s more, the menu has been designed in collaboration with sommelier Matt Herod, to create a thoughtful wine list to accompany the meal.

We tasted an array of entrees, from Black Ash Tortellini to Heirloom Beetroot dishes; each with a unique twist, balancing flavours that may be surprising, but truly work together. The Pink Snapper Ceviche is a perfect example of this, served with jalapeno, buttermilk, radish and parsley oil, a combination that was light and zesty. In fact, although Whitting is french trained, the dishes served didn’t have the heaviness of cream or butter, rather they were fresh and playful reinventions of old favourites. 
The Souffle was particularly memorable, as it was twice-cooked and light in texture, oozing with gruyere cheese, yet had base notes of depth from added veal stock. I must also mention the show-stopping house smoked Mt Cook Alpine salmon, which for me was a real treat. This delicacy was so simple, melt-in-your-mouth, and served with a dill creme, fennel and lemon.

Of all the classic mains to be tempted by, it’s hard to choose one. I chose the Blue Eye Cod Fillet with artichoke, ginger and black garlic, which was particularly delicious. The cod fillet was unadulterated and succulent, teaming nicely with intense flavours like artichoke and garlic. Even the sides were a textural delight, with a crumbed crunch added to oven-baked broccoli, and buttery mushrooms. The meals are full-bodied and unique in their balance of flavours. While simple, there was a lot going on on the plate, which only enhanced to the culinary experience.

By this stage, dessert was just opulence. The Creme Brulee can’t be missed, as it celebrated the flavours of banana and maple with toffee, caramel and walnuts. The silken brulee was comforting with maple and caramel, and soothed by the banana. The Valrhona Chocolate was a little too decadent for me, experimenting with chocolate puff pastry and a rich, dark chocolate sorbet. In the fruit department, the Parfait with cassis and champagne had a sharp zing, a zesty end to a rich meal. 

Bistro Remy at The Langham is a break from the ordinary, situated in the heart of an international city. The menu harnesses vibrant flavours with elegance, promising a little indulgence with every bite. ​

ATYP presents, “The Big Dry” at The Ensemble

There is nothingness, no water, no people, no food, there is nothing. Sand blasts have caused the big dry, and the few people that are left must find a way to survive. The Big Dry is a poignant tale about strength and resilience. It poses the hard questions; what is good? In a dystopic situation, are you a bad person if you compromise your morals?

The Australian Theater for Young People (ATYP) present this to us with such passion and emotion. Rory Potter, playing George, is just a shell shocked older brother, who needed to grow up too soon.  His innocence and vulnerability are masked by the defensive shield he uses to protect his brother.  Rory is strong, a loud presence on stage and he is so tense. The story seems to be determined by him and flow through him. His brother, Beeper (played on the night by Jack Andrew), is just a kid, and brings enthusiasm and energy to an otherwise desolate place.

These boys have a striking dynamic. The superficial sibling rivalries are balanced with bursts of maturity and humanity, especially when we meet a new character, Emily, played by Sofia Nolan. Sofia is fire. She acts through her whole body, from a menacing smirk to a defensive compliment.  Her character is damaged and wounded, but Sofia plays her like a crow, eyes darting, cautious in the shadows and electric.

Inviting to the audience to suspend their disbelief is no mean feat, but the production team set the stage early on in what I thought was an unsettling beauty. Streams of warm amber light shroud the only set- someone’s home, a kitchen perhaps, and everything is covered in dust. The air is thick and the small space of The Ensemble immediately becomes part of The Big Dry. We get swept up in it, we immerse and thus the tale of these young survivors becomes all the more emotional. Richard Sydenham’s various roles include our opening character;  Rabbit Man. He speaks in verse as if it were his mother tongue and adds to the eerie nature of the scene.

This performance from ATYP at The Ensemble truly is profound.  It’s a beautiful exploration of self preservation, and the tension throughout  builds only in the characters and their interactions. It’s evocative and rich with talent, as these young actors play physically and emotionally demanding roles. I recommend it to all, even just to see such a distinctly Australian play. Adapted by Mark Kilmurry and directed by Fraser Corfield,  this play rings true.

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Image credit:  http://ensemble.com.au/plays/the-big-dry

Two Gentlemen of Verona

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Normanhurst Uniting Church Musical Society put their best foot forward in the Shakespearean jazz-rock musical; “Two Gentlemen of Verona”. The plot takes wild twists and turns and we get pulled along this torrent of comedic miscommunication. Proteus loves Julia, while his best friend Valentino loves Sylvia. A basic premise becomes complicated when Proteus travels to Milan to see Valentino,  and falls in love with someone other than his beloved Julia- and thus hilarity ensues.

The plot is as predictable as any Shakespearean comedy, but since we’re immersed in the moment, every plot twist is a shock. NUCMS did well to surprise us, directing actors to make use of the audience space and interact with us. With a live band and frantic characters, the actors carried the mayhem with great enthusiasm and energy. Suddenly he’s in love with her, suddenly someone is pregnant,  suddenly there’s a betrayal, and all placated by a Greek Chorus-esque ensemble.

This musical seems like such fun. The organised chaos gave the production a live excitement. Charmian Fauvet’s performance of Julia was beautiful. Her vocals are so sweet and she glows in the spotlight.  Although in a miasma of entanglement, Fauvet presents a love-lorn Julia with such passion. Jessica Knight’s portrayal of Sylvia was fresh and effervescent. With light footed dance numbers and lyric-heavy vocals, Knight played a love-torn damzel with life and colour.  The chorus, were like shadows, slipping on and off stage only to propel the plot and play with the characters. Cupid and his helper also had a role to play, meddling with everyone like a puppeteer.

This musical was silliness and comedy gold. A fun night out for the family.

For more information,  visit: http://nucms.org

Lodge Tapas, Lane Cove

Tonight’s menu:

For refreshment:
Creme Brulee Martini
Apple Liquorice Gin Sour

For dinner:
Beetroot cured Salmon with pickled vegetables
Double Cooked Pork Belly With Baby Granny Smith Apple Puree, Apple Chip And Calvados Apple Served With Grilled Canadian Scallop With House Made Vegetable Chips
Chargrilled Haloumi With Shallow Fried Tofu And Grilled Vegetable Sugo
Zucchini Fries With Zatar & Crunchy Garlic Aioli

For dessert:
Dark Chocolate Fondant with Double Cream
Lodge Aussie Mess; Lemon Lime curd with lime meringue, lime jelly and mixed summer fruits.

As you approach Lodge Tapas, you’ll see alfresco seating, reminiscent of the cafe culture in Europe. People lounge there, overlooking the flow of the arcade. The relaxed atmosphere is in stark contrast to such a bustling location- I went there for dinner, but I could definitely envisage this venue abuzz around happy hour, or with the brunch crowd. Yet, Lodge Tapas runs at a slower pace, and sets you at ease with it’s open seating and welcoming staff. The hospitality is warm and friendly, personable but not too intrusive. The staff seem very passionate about the restaurant.

Lodge Tapas has such an interesting balance, as it caters to every need. There is a glow of sophistication and elegance, in the restaurant and the menu, but at the same time it’s very family friendly. Offering ‘kids eat free’ deals, this place is so accommodating to the whole unit. It’s hard these days to find that balance- a place that will suit the kids, a place that will suit the adults. This venue really knows its clientele. There are breakfast options, light lunches and after school deals. But at night, the Lodge pulses with an undeniable vibrance. While quite relaxed, the restaurant feels very awake.

Dinner at Lodge Tapas is a culinary experience. If you decide to eat on a weeknight, you may get have the option of choosing Mexican flavours, but aside from this, the restaurant boasts a Modern Australian fusion. And the meal really is delightful.

My partner and I sampled a cocktail each- Creme Brulee Martini, and an Apple Liquorice Gin Sour. From these simple selections, we found creative twists and a lot of love. The Creme Brulee Martini was delicious, like an ice cream. The Gin Sour was heavy on the aniseed, and we later learned that they infuse their gin in-house. The attention and time invested in each element of the menu was just astounding, and we later discovered this after perusing the tapas menu.

The tapas menu, or entree menu, has such a range.
The beetroot cured salmon with pickled vegetables was fresh and smoky, a lovely appetiser that tantalised the tastebuds with twists of salt and sugar, having been cured with fresh beetroot.
The zucchini fries with zatar and crunchy garlic aioli was a fun reinvention of a classic shareplate item- a must have on any tapas night.
The double cooked pork belly was simply divine. This dish is deceptively simple and a real treat. It’s simple in that tastes like home, and yet there was so much detail and energy put into the dish, with the smoothness of coconut and duck fat, and hints of chinese spices and salt. The apple and scallop elements add a light sweetness that really compliment the plate.
The chargrilled haloumi is unadulterated flavour, with shallow fried tofu that is crispy on the outside and silken on the inside. The bed grilled vegetables were the tastiest of morsels, adding  Mediterranean nuances.

I saw what others ordered and was desperately jealous to try them, but I’ll have to come back. The head chef, ex Aria chef Kyoung Sub Cha, has designed a unique menu that he says allows him to focus on the art of food. The richness of flavour really shows a love of food, in a relaxed atmosphere. I felt quite comfortable with the family friendly nature of the restaurant, and was delightfully surprised by the quality of food.

We finished our meal with a decadent and rich Dark Chocolate Fondant, and a Lodge Aussie Mess. A delicious ending to a great night. The Aussie Mess seemed like a fusion of deconstructed pavlova and an Eton Mess and it was light, fluffy, sweet and delectable. I had a wonderful dinner at Lodge Tapas, and I would recommend this unique experience to anyone, looking for a casual meal throughout the day, a couple’s dinner, or a family treat.

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Beetroot cured salmon

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Lodge Aussie Mess

The New Theatre presents; THE CHERRY ORCHARD

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Based on the play by Anton Chekov, “The Cherry Orchard” is brought to life at the New Theatre.  Under direction from Clemence Williams, the production uses David Mamet’s rhythmic stage play to explore the complexities of the human condition. We are presented with a cast of characters who have such strong needs and desires, and yet, their unquenchable thirst remains unfulfilled.

Chekov can be very difficult material to work with, and yet the New Theatre made this tale accessible.  The stage, being three levels into the living room of a country house, was expertly designed to draw us into their domestic sphere. The audience is invited to be a part of their menial existence, and in doing so, we identify with the characters; their loves and losses. The set managed to put everything in context, so Chekov became a story of human emotion and tension. The complexities of life’s mysteries and frustrations then became our own, as I for one forgot I was watching a play, and began immersing in the trivialities before me.

The production added an interesting element to the tale;  the live music created by ambient guitar and atonal vocals seemed like an experiment in synergy and pacing. I found the music was an effective addition to the immersive experience, as the tale took on a dreamlike surreal quality. My partner, however found the vocals to be distracting at times. I think there was a good effort made to achieve a balance between the tension of the story and the creation of atmosphere. The music was able to remove me from the story in order to immerse in the production.

As well as through music, the play creates a certain energy through the physicality of the actors. At times, the characters were reminiscent of Russian clowns, and at other times, the characters were realistic and natural images of ourselves. Both types of characters challenged the audience to an introspective reflection about their relationships with each other. The ensemble is stellar in their command of the stage, particularly Cecilia Morrow’s portrayal of Dunyasha, and Nicholas Papdemetriou’s portrayal of Firs. Traditionally clown parts, these characters added added extra dimension and whimsical flavour to an already complex tale.

I really enjoyed this production from the New Theatre. It was thought provoking and beautiful, with an abruptly absurd ending. Go to get lost in a Russian winter.

Image credits: http://newtheatre.org.au/season-2016/the-cherry-orchard/

Georgy Girl, The Musical

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I grew up to the sound of The Seekers. Although not from the swingin’ sixties, my parents played The Seekers and their glorious harmonies would echo through the house. ‘Georgy Girl, The Musical’ showcases the hits of The Seekers, while weaving a potted biography of their rise to stardom. The musical is more of a tribute to the music and the band, rather than traditional musical theater. 

We get closer to Judith Durham (Pippa Grandison) as she navigates the breezy heights of fame and glory at such a young age, and the sacrifices she had to make along the way. The show gives her more focus, so we come to understand how she chose to break from the group and pursue her own interests. What’s more, the show helps us understand how she managed to maintain her girl-next-door approach during a time when then London was a buzz with Beatles-mania. The Melbourne folk quartet managed to keep their own aesthetic and their own sound while climbing to the top of the charts. The Seekers were a genuine and authentic Australian band who made it, on talent and perseverance. 

The production really gives them justice. It would be hard to boil down a fifty year career into a two hour stage production, but it was a real hit. With comical commentary from Ron Edgeworth (Adam Murphy) we’re taken on a wild ride, through the technicoloured sixties and the horn rimmed BBC studios. The costuming was so fun- prompting comments under breath that “I remember having those boots, I had a pair of those!” The ensemble gave such physical performances, it was difficult not to be swept up in the hype of the time.

The cast brought life to the production.  The energy of the ensemble really lifted the biographical tale and gave it a bounce. The real stars, however, were The Seekers. Phillip Lowe, Mike McLeish and Glaston Toft (as Keith Potger, Bruce Woodley and Athol Guy) were a phenomenal combination. Together, their harmonies were sublime, and their renditions of hit favourites were show stopping.  Pippa Grandison’s performance of Judith Durham was exceptional. Her voice carried the harmonies in The Seekers,  and really shone when she performed solo tracks. The opening number of act two was a real ‘wow’ moment- her vocals are precise, controlled and so powerful.

The cast really made this musical something special. They brought back the sixties and gave The Seekers a voice to private aspects of their public career. While the musical is a trip down memory lane for some, it was was a great moment of discovery for others like myself, who are unfamiliar with the story behind the band. It’s also a chance to stir up feelings of Australian pride for a group of talented musicians who we can call our own.

The State Theatre are dropping prices for the final performances of ‘Georgy Girl, The Musical’ and I think it’s definitely worth going to for a genuinely fun night out.