Female of the Species – Review

Hunters Hill Theatre (HHT) has done us the great pleasure of putting on ‘The Female of the Species’, performed on Wallumedegal Country at Club Ryde, this wonderful Australian play is a must-see. I cannot recommend this show enough, I sat down with no idea what to expect and enjoyed an afternoon of laughter thanks to HHT. I really encourage you to book your tickets now @ Hunters Hill Theatre - don’t say I never do anything for you!

'The Female of the Species’ was first performed in 2006 and the play has aged like a good bottle of wine, with 2022 representing the perfect time to enjoy playwright Joanna Murray-Smith’s Political Satire. The show is inspired by a real-life event, in 2000 Germaine Greer, a controversial Feminist Author was held at gunpoint by a 19 year old. Murray-Smith uses this jumping-off point to explore the sometimes taboo theme of feminism and the contradictory and complicated relationships people have to Feminism, as well as motherhood, parasocial relationships, and so much more. These themes are presented with such a wonderful sense of humour and the plot is ridiculous in just the right way, I laughed the whole time.

The show is brought to life by an ensemble of 6 passionate actors led by Director Jennifer Willison. Catherine Porter brings her character to life with ease, the melodramatic Margo opens the show with profanities and lets you know what you’re in for. Bettina Girdler tackles the wild card role of Molly, and Tonia Davis has the joyous task of bringing the exhausted Tess to life, both outrageously fun characters. Bryan is played by Anthony Slaven who has a cheeky little musical number that the audience just went mad for and the Hilarious Dan Ferris entertains with his wonderful portrait of Frank. I would say that Theo is the hero of the show and Michael Richmond is delightful in the role. Director, Willison utilises every inch of the stage, and the cast feels in sync with each other. There were so many little moments in the background or during characters' interactions that made me laugh out loud.

This production reminded me of how magical theatre can be. You’re transported to an early 2000s country cottage, Jennifer Willson is double-billed, Directing and Set Design, and props to Ross Alexander and Christopher Hamilton who constructed the set. You only see Margo’s living room but the layout of the room was done so well and felt so familiar that one can picture the rest of the house. A special shout of for the special effects - I am certain Casey Moon-Watton had fun organising them. All of the behind-the-scenes work was so well executed, it just let the show come to life, and the whole creative team should be celebrated for their work.

I just adored ‘The Female of the Species’, and found so much joy in experiencing some wonderful live theatre. If you want to see Political Satire done right, head over to Club Ryde and catch Hunters Hill Theatre’s production of ‘The Female of the Species’, but be quick as there are only a few shows remaining:-

Friday, 24 June 2022 @ 7.30pm
Saturday, 25 June 2022 @ 2pm & 7.30pm
Sunday, 26 June 2022 @ 2pm
Friday, 1 July 2022 @ 7.30pm
Saturday, 2 July 2022 @ 2pm & 7.30pm
Sunday, 3 July 2022 @ 2pm

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Dark Stories – Opening Night for To Hunt a Killer – 1st April 2022

With opening night for To Hunt a Killer fast approaching, I thought it an excellent time to provide a glimpse of the shows to expect in season 2022 alongside our regular schedule of True Crime Tours.

To Hunt a Killer
Murder Foretold
The Haunting
Millennial Vampire

I hope there'll be something to suit your taste with a mix of action, mystery, and supernatural fun.  Tickets and show synopses will be available from mid-April.

In the meantime, please take a look at our TikTok channel. We regularly release one-minute true crime stories, which I hope you'll look at and comment on.

And here's one for the Mum's coming for Mother's Day in May.  Which one of these pictures best represents your Mum?

That's all for now.  Would love to hear your feedback and suggestions, and do feel free to make special requests.

Stay safe, and best wishes for the upcoming Easter Holidays.

PS - for a few minutes of fun, why not test out your level of True Crime Trivia expertise with these True Crime Quizzes. 🙂

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84 Charing Cross Road – Review

On Sunday, I had the pleasure of seeing the Hunters Hill Theatre production of '84 Charing Cross Road' at Club Ryde. This production is the first time HHT have performed in their new venue, a quaint space with great acoustics and a snazzy lighting rig.

I walked in knowing nothing of James Roose-Evens play, '84 Charing Cross Road' and walked out enchanted by the story. The tale follows American writer Helene Hanff who is in search of obscure classics and British literature and writes to a little book shop in London requesting some titles. The play is a back and forth between Hanff in New York and the Marks and Co staff at 84 Charing Cross Road London, with antiquarian bookseller Frank Doel being the primary contact. I was charmed to find out that '84 Charing Cross Road' is based on a true story. In 1970 Helene Hanff published a novel of the same name chronicling her 20-year correspondence with Doel and the other staff at the London book store.

Taking the lead as Helene Hanff is Liz Grindley, she portrays the brazen author with ease and style. Her accent is impeccable; I can't imagine the actress without the distinctive, classic New York sound. Opposite her is Ross Alexander as Frank Doel, who is well cast in the role as the British bookseller. Alexander plays Doel as reserved and mild, which reads as quintessentially British and contrasts Grindley nicely. Kimberlea Smith is very sweet as Cecily Far, one of Doel's co-workers. And rounding out the cast is Suzan Mozell, who covers two roles. She is adorable as Megan Wells Doel's other co-worker but shines as Maxine, a fabulous, socialite, American actress and friend of Hanff's.

Director Maggie Scott described the play as a 'Love Affair' between Hanff and the bookshop, all its staff and London, which is so wholesome. I felt like they prioritised fun in the direction of the show, and I appreciate that. I was smiling the minute the show started; Grindley won me over immediately as she welcomed me into the world. During Act One, I felt moments when the comedic timing seemed rushed, but I was pleased to see this was not the case after intermission.  Act two was joyous; Grindley came back on stage and found a rhythm that better honoured the playwright's hilarious script and won big laughs from the audience.

Wayne Chee made magic happen with the set and lighting. The stage was split down the middle, one side Hanff's New York apartment the other the Marks and Co bookstore in London, both sides were distinct yet stood side by side in harmony. The attention to detail was beyond reproach. I really appreciated the subtle difference in light between New York and London. All the books in the show were covered in white which was an excellent creative choice. Props were handled by Coralie Fraser, who I assume was responsible for the tedious task of covering all the books. Penelope Korths was the costume designer and covered two decades with only two outfits per character. The classic, well-tailored ensembles they chose worked brilliantly and told me so much about each character as soon as the actor stepped on stage.

I enjoyed my time at 84 Charing Cross Road; it was such a treat watching a relationship slowly develop between Hanff and the book store staff. My favourite part was finding out that Hanff at one point wrote fictional murders for television; we love TV shows about murder here at Dark Stories! Hunters Hill Theatre's  '84 Charing Cross Road' is a delightful true story with an ending that made me tear up!

You won't be travelling to London or New York anytime soon, so treat yourself and do both in one trip to the theatre! 84 Charing Cross Road plays at Club Ryde till July 4th with performances Friday night, Saturday matinee, Saturday night and Sunday matinee.

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A Return to Normalcy

2020 AD has undoubtedly been a tough year, and we all could do with a little escapism.

Having faced down the threat of a pandemic - it's time to to get back out there and enjoy some good old fashioned entertainment.

This is where Dark Stories comes in. Aside from running regular Crime Tours, we like to dabble in the occasional theatre production.

To help return life to something akin to normal, we've dusted off one of our favourite shows. Yes, we're dipping our toes in the water, and we're going to run a series of one night only shows in those towns in which our crime tours operate:- Maitland, Sydney, Brisbane and Newcastle.

So without further ado; to help you take your mind off the troubles of the world, we invite you to join us and learn How To Survive a Zombie Apocalypse.

For one night only in Sydney, Newcastle and Maitland in October; let us find out how much you have learnt during the pandemic and up your game to the next level of expertise. After all, a plague is one thing, but what if the next pandemic comes with zombies. You need to know what to do.

To facilitate your survival, the first thing you must do is book into this show. With social distance seating, many litres of hand sanitiser, and several bottles of Vitamin C tablets, you will be well-stocked to get through the night unscathed.

Register your interest to attend on the Dark Stories website, with no upfront payment required right now. Just add your name to the waiting list. Once we are sure enough of you want to survive the zombie apocalypse, we'll touch base with you to finalise your order.

This could be your last chance to learn these essential survival skills.

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