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Sydney University Dramatic Society

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by Gary Yeates (subscribe)
Baby booming freelance travel writer, blogger and photographer, Gary Yeates is now temporarily nesting back in his home town Sydney and pretending, albeit unsuccessfully to live a Gen Y life. His blog site; www.thegreyglobe.com
Published March 25th 2014
Theatre at bargain basement price


The Sydney University Dramatic Society (SUDS) is responsible for producing undergraduate theatre at Sydney University. In the bowels of its cosy Cellar Theatre, SUDS punches out some 15 productions annually.

Two such recent outputs, "Quack" and "6 Characters in Search of an Author", are cleverly linked in a quirky co-production.

First up and there's nothing like a good old fashioned zombie romp to lure the patrons to the theatre box office. Right on cue, Australian playwright Ian Wilding's Quack sees the living dead commence to devouring a 19th century mining town and the residents are not happy Jan.



On the surface, the production reads pure zombie gore but simmering just below are rich layers of satire. Love, ambition, jealousy, hope, greed and dodgy health care all receive a guernsey in this bloody spoof.

The opening scene's dialogue kicks off Victorian plumb in mouth but enter the town's financial big wig in scene 2, none too content about his recently transplanted kangaroo testicle, and the vernacular takes on an earthy contemporary edge. Read: no dearth of the F and C bombs.



The principal characters reflect the eclectic ethos of the script. The innocent virgin (Mellissa McShane) desperate to escape the clutches of a dusty mining town. The protective mother (Geneva Gilmore) who seems to think there's nothing that can't be remedied, even the prospect of flesh eating zombies, by a nice cup of tea and a cushion. The mining tycoon (Alex McGowan) equally concerned with his questionable manliness as he is for lining his own pockets. Then of course the 2 doctors (Alexander Richmond and Nick Welsh) going hammer and tong with converse philosophies on pragmatic health care. Throw in a love sick zombie (Meg Mclellan) and the list of characters is enigmatic defined.

This play may look Victorian era but the subtle political digs are all 21st century. Was an Emissions Trading Scheme really such a hot topic in the 1850s?

Quack is a giggle a minute fun fest but one snippet of advice: try and secure a seat beyond the front row. Things can get morbidly tactile down at ground zero. Either that or wear a raincoat.



Second cab off the rank and how blurred do you like your theatrical lines? If a tussle between reality and fiction is your drink of choice then look no further than "6 Characters in Search of an Author".

This 1920s play by Italian playwright Luigi Pirandello has been quirkily rebooted by the SUDS team to suit their own stage creations. As the cast of Quack go about their rehearsals, the session is gatecrashed by a family of 6 with their own story to tell but no production team or venue.

The further the production romps along, the more faded the sense of reality. Goodbye real world, hello fantasy. Or is it the other way around? There is a plot here, a life philosophy 101 sewn into the tragic story of a dysfunctional family. However, the real candy for the audience is the battle between illusion and reality. That plus the clever reworking from Pirandello's 1920s Italy to Sydney University 2014.



The performances in both plays are suitably slick. Sure there were a couple of absolute minor faux pas but the actors were capable enough to subtly paper over any glitches. There are no second takes in live theatre and given the dialogue heavy burdens of the father (Sam Brewer)and step-daughter (Zerrin Craig-Adams) in 6 Characters in Search of an Author, to find criticism would pedantic in the extreme. These are all young actors with the glint of passion, hope and ambition in their eyes, not to mention a fair dollop of talent.

If you enjoy bang for your buck, this is the best value $10 you will ever fess up from your wallet. Quack and 6 Characters in Search of an Author are 2 fun-filled nights out. You could easily just attend one or the other but SUDS have congenitally joined the pair at the hip. Thus it would would be committing a disservice to yourself to forfeit either.

For the time being, SUDS are operating out of Studio B directly behind the Footbridge Theatre in the Holmes Building. Come along and support grass roots theatre in Sydney. At these prices you can't afford not to.
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*Gary Yeates was invited as a guest
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Why? Raw theatre at the grass roots for a bargain basement price.
Website: sudsusyd.com
Where: Studio B behing the Footbridge Theatre, Sydney University in the Holmes Building.
Cost: $3 to $10
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