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Vestibulum purus. Duis nec odio. Praesent sed nulla ac nibh luctus bibendum. Pellentesque fringilla, leo et rhoncus porta, turpis nulla sollicitudin ligula, et varius ipsum lectus eget ligula. Donec diam.


Panel 1

Maecenas placerat lacus sed lectus. Quisque lorem tortor, gravida sit amet, ornare a, interdum id, urna. Suspendisse massa est, dictum eu, vestibulum et, ultricies id, dolor. Vivamus turpis est, auctor et, imperdiet tincidunt, sodales vel, nisl. In hac habitasse platea dictumst. Nunc ligula. Integer tincidunt nibh eget lacus. Proin porta sem ac turpis. Mauris iaculis enim id neque.


A Test Panel Thingy

It's quite a lot of trouble editing this. Could be more than it's worth.


Panel 3

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Vivamus porta tortor sed metus. Nam pretium. Sed tempor. Integer ullamcorper, odio quis porttitor sagittis, nisl erat tincidunt massa, eu eleifend eros nibh sollicitudin est.


Panel 4

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Vivamus porta tortor sed metus. Nam pretium. Sed tempor. Integer ullamcorper, odio quis porttitor sagittis, nisl erat tincidunt massa, eu eleifend eros nibh sollicitudin est. Nulla dignissim. Mauris sollicitudin, arcu id sagittis placerat.


Panel 5

Vestibulum purus. Duis nec odio. Praesent sed nulla ac nibh luctus bibendum. Pellentesque fringilla, leo et rhoncus porta, turpis nulla sollicitudin ligula, et varius ipsum lectus eget ligula. Donec diam.


Sunday, May 06, 2007

Spiderman 3

The Spiderman movies are great fun, with fleshed-out characters and exciting CGI. However the more I think about it, the more I feel it may have worked even better as a TV series, in the way that Heroes, Lost and Battlestar Galactica have succeeded in bringing big-budget ideas to the small screen.

Don’t get me wrong, Spiderman 3 is a great view, and ensures the franchise remains the best of the recent superhero film outings. But at almost three hours long, and with multiple story arcs and character developments, it’s left me wondering whether cinema is the right medium for superheroes. Certainly the special effects look good; but in the modern era of large plasma and LCD screens, they would look good in the lounge room as well.

Tobey MacGuire returns as Peter Parker, the self-described nerd who moonlights as New York’s friendly neighbourhood Spiderman. Life is good for Peter – Spiderman is universally popular; he’s doing well at college; and he’s still with the love of his life, Mary Jane (Kirsten Dunst). But as always, pride comes before a fall, and it’s not too long before Peter has to face an old enemy in the shape of his friend Harry – who returns to avenge his father’s death from movie one, having taken over the role of the “Green Goblin” – and a new one, in the shape-shifting form of Flint Marko, aka “The Sandman”, a petty crook who accidentally gets zapped by a de-molecularisation machine (as you do), and can now turn his body into sand. Thrown into the mix is an alien symbiot called Venom - a parasite which first infects Peter (becoming “Black-Suited Spiderman”), before taking over the body of Eddie Brock’s – Peter’s new rival photographer – when Spiderman rejects it.

Confused? We also have Gwen Stacy (Bryce Dallas Howard), the Chief of Police’s daughter who’s also a classmate of Peter’s and Eddie Brock’s girlfriend; J. Jonah Jameson (J.K. Simmonds), the newspaper editor and Peter’s boss who’s still trying to discredit Spiderman; and let’s not forget Mary Jane herself, whose acting career has hit the skids but her superhero boyfriend seems too busy to bear. Oh yeah, and Aunt May (Rosemary Harris) is still around to dole out words of wisdom, and to try to put the breaks on Peter’s anger when they find out Uncle Ben’s real killer (from movie one), turns out to be someone different – someone who just happens to have strayed in front of a de-molecularisation machine….

With all these stories, Spiderman 3 needs to be 170 minutes long, and while the onscreen action barrels along, and the non-action pieces keep you interested, you do still feel it from time to time – hence my proposition that the Spiderman franchise could have worked well as a TV series, with time enough to explore. Another reason is that the movie changes tone several times – including a bizarre but hilarious screwball comedy routine that shows just how the Venom suit is affecting Peter Parker. Those who know a young person afflicted by “emo” disease will snigger at the fact that Peter seems to turn into one every time he dons the black suit.

The performances are solid, with MacGuire impleccably playing the nerd whose pride makes way for a big fall, and Dunst the conflicted and disillusioned actor. James Franco turns an amnesiac Harry into a wonderfully sympathetic character – a true hero by film’s end. The two new villains – Thomas Haden Church as Flint Marko/Sandman and Topher Grace as Eddie Brock/Venom – are both fantastic. And as always, geek favourite Bruce Campbell turns in another stellar cameo appearance.

The action sequences are extremely well done; but the CGI highlight is when the Marko, having been reduced to a pile of sand, first tries to gather himself back into human form to stand up, walk, and wrap his fingers around a locket containing a picture of his beloved daughter. It’s a very human moment in a completely constructed shot. There’s a bit of all-American bravado – but with Raimi, you can never quite tell how much of it is tongue-in-cheek. The end satisfactorily closes the first “trilogy” of Spiderman stories, but leaves it open enough to future films. Above all, it insists upon the redemptive power of forgiveness, something which Raimi probably feels in this day and age, which could all use a lot more.

Spiderman 3 then is another fine piece of superhero work; and while it will be a long time before superheroes fade from our cinema screens, it will be interesting to see how long it will be before more pop up on TV. “Look out! Here comes… ?”

Monday, April 23, 2007


It seems many cinema-goers and movie reviewers have been trying to read too much into 300. The film - based on Frank Miller's graphic novel of the same name - is NOT an allegory about contemporary right-wing politics, nor is it an excessive demonisation of contemporary Iran. It is a big, somewhat silly, often gory, but beautifully shot popcorn movie. Those who think otherwise are simply thinking too much. Sure, it's not one to take Granny to, but if you're keen for big screen arse-whooping thrills and spills with plenty of spectacle and man muscle on display, then this is the flick for you.

Leonidas was the legendary King of Sparta who led a heroic band of 300 elite soldiers against the mighty invading army of the Persian king Xerxes. Historically, Xerxes' had anything from 20, 000 to 5 million soldiers at his disposal at the Battle of Thermopylae. But Leonidas' stand -at a narrow passage known as the Hot Gates, alongside 300 highly-trained warriors - was enough to hold them off until reinforcements from the rest of Greece arrived to send the Persians packing.

First of all it must be said that criticising 300 for not being historically accurate is as useful as bagging Mad Max for not presenting a realistic view of the future.* Some academics don't even believe that the Battle of Thermopylae happened. It was supposed to be around 480BC after all, so it's not like we can watch the edited highlights. It's best to take this film as a version of the powerful legend of the 300, in itself simply a ripping good yarn about men standing together to fight off a would-be conqueror.

Like Sin City before it, 300 yet again attempts to recreate Frank Miller's comic-book style in feature film form. Readers of Miller's 300 tell me it's very accurate, but as someone who had never read the graphic novel, I was intrigued by the film-making style anyway. It's epic and bold, full of washed-out, almost sepia colours, slow and quick edits, and a focus on the superficial: the buff, gleaming bodies of the Spartans; the movement of air under the soldiers' capes and rain buffeting the coast; the clinking of the god-king Xerxes' elaborate jewellery; the spatters of blood as the oncoming Persians get repelled by the 300. It's a film that revels in its machismo, its chest-beating war cries - and makes no apology for it.

Scottish actor Gerard Butler plays Leonidas, and much fun has been made of the fact he seems to shout every line: "This. Is. SPARTA!". "SPARTANS!" etc. He's a solid male lead, but let's face it, this movie is not about the plot, or the characters', or the dialogue. It's a war movie, and everything is presented in as simple a way possible - from the opening explanation of how Spartan boys are trained to become warriors, to the mechanics of the battle, and the Queen Leonidas leaves at home (Lena Headey), who must convince a sceptical city-state to send reinforcements to the Hot Gates, while dealing with one of Leonidas' more slippery advisers (Dominic West). The performances (including a surprisingly buff David Wenham as Leonidas' trusty friend and the narrator of the story) are as good as you would expect from actors working against a green screen with very little built environment.

This is a film all about images - and the digital effects are breath-taking in some sequences. The battle scenes are gory, but the fighting is choreographed like a ballet, in another tribute to the physicality of the soldiers. The god-king Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro) arrives in a wonderfully over-the-top chariot, borne on the shoulders of hundreds of his slaves. He's at least 2.5 metres tall, and is dressed like Boy George after an accident with a piercing gun. He promises riches and power (and a fair few nearly naked women) to those who would join him; the steadfast and righteous Leonidas is stinging in his eventual rebuke. There's also battle elephants, rhinos, ninjas, grenades and a parade of psychopathically violent freaks thrown in to take on the Spartans. That's when you know historical accuracy really doesn't matter much in this version of events.
300 is certainly not the best historical action film ever made, but it is an interesting visual experiment and experience, and a big silly beat-em-up movie when right beats might - and should be enjoyed as such.

*And as far as historical anachronisms and inaccuracy go, let's look no further than last year's Marie Antoinette, which played hard and fast with recorded events, not to mention gaily throwing in contemporary references. While it received its share of negative press, it was nowhere near the level that 300 has encountered. May one venture to suggest that the film critics' darling Sofia Coppola directing may have had something to do with that? Meow - saucer of milk to the blogger!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Reign Over Me

It is a truth, universally acknowledged, that comedians who become famous in comedy movies will eventually want to do dramas. Jerry Lewis, Eddie Murphy, Jim Carrey - you know what they say about the "funny" man who's crying on the inside.

The latest comedian to stretch his dramatic chops is Adam Sandler, best known previously for playing rather "simple" characters in such teen-friendly comedies as Billy Madison, The Waterboy, Big Daddy and Little Nicky. (Although I must admit to being a long-time fan of the aggro golfing movie, Happy Gilmore). His last film, Click, attempted some drama, but that fell somewhat flat with audiences, who were expecting Sandler's character to spend the whole 90 minute running time using his powerful remote control to freeze-frame jogging women so he could ogle their heaving bosoms. That's what the advertising suggested, anyway.

Reign Over Me appears to have learned a lesson from Click, and has been marketed as a drama from day one. It's a step in the direction of drama for Sandler, but there's still too much inadvertent "funny-ness"to really hit home as a serious piece. It also suffers from being far too long, having yet another tedious support role for a woman, and for giving equal weight to the story of the other main character, played by Don Cheadle.

Sandler plays Charlie Fineman, a former dentist whose wife and three daughters died in one of the planes that hit the World Trade Centre on September 11, 2001. Faced with such an enormous trauma, Charlie's reaction was to switch off, quit work, never talk about his family, and even regress to a younger, pre-family version of himself. We enter Charlie's life through Don Cheadle's character Alan Johnson - and Charlie's former roommate at dental college. Alan has a loving family and a good practice, but an unfortunate habit of attracting crazy but beautiful female stalkers, and a growing mid-life crisis. His wife Janeane (Jada Pinkett-Smith in a cardboard cut-out "wifey" role) and two daughters are great, but he yearns for the lost freedom and silliness of his younger days, which he rediscovers through Charlie.

The main problem is a man approaching middle-age and feeling a bit of ennui in no way equals the tragedy of a man losing his entire family in the most infamous act of terrorism in recent times. Writer/director Mike Binder seems to have decided that telling a story solely from Charlie's perspective would be hard for the audience to relate to. Fair enough. But the focus on Alan and his family takes away from the magnitude of Charlie's situation. It also adds to the length of the film, which was always going to be long, because you can't just magically fix someone like Charlie, who's been out of his mind for a good five years. At 124 minutes, it isn't even that long, but it feels like it due to the numerous buddy scenes, which lead to psychologist scenes, which lead to courtroom scenes, and so on.

That's not to say there are no good moments: Cheadle is a great actor, and his performance here is testament to that; and Saffron Burrows - a rail thin former model - is surprisingly entertaining as his crazy stalker with problems of her own. Liv Tyler is a bit wide-eyed and vacant as psychologist Angela, but she conveys a good sense of understanding and caring. And Sandler himself has some nice little moments - especially the inevitable scene where he breaks through the fog and talks about his family and what happened to them for the first time. However he's incapable of escaping the raspy, sometimes slurry speaking style that so defines his "simple" characters from those movies listed above. It may be why a group of teenagers sitting up the back at my screening kept guffawing when really it wasn't the time or place. There certainly are moments of comedy, and Sandler has some funny lines, but there's a lot more going on with his character, and with the movie in general and tossing out gags doesn't seem to do it justice.

In summation - a solid attempt at a drama that's sold a bit short by trying to keep fans of Sandler's comedies happy. Let's not even get on to Jada Pinkett-Smith's role of the "good but nagging wife at home".... good to see Hollywood writing complex and intelligent roles for women, isn't it?

Thursday, April 12, 2007

The Lives of Others

Quite possibly the best film I've seen so far in 2007 (even though it was officially released last year), and thoroughly deserving of its Oscar for Best Foreign Film back in February, The Lives of Others (Das Leben der Anderen in its native German) is a beautifully written, expertly acted and wonderfully shot dramatic thriller, that marks a stunning debut from writer/director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck.

The film is set in early 1980s East Berlin, with the secret police force known as the Stasi at the height of its powers. Almost everyone is either under surveillance, or informants. One of the Stasi's best spies is Gerd Wiesler (Ulrich Mühe), a man who can best be described as blank. Tall, thin, expressionless, dressed only in drab grey, Wiesler is a master inquisitor assigned to surveil prominent playwright Georg Dreymann (Sebastian Koch), and his actress girlfriend Christa-Maria Sieland (Martina Sedeck). Dreymann is actually one of the few writers loyal to the DDR, but when the Minister for Culture Bruno Hempf (Thomas Thieme) becomes interested in Christa, he orders Wiesler's boss Anton Grubitz (Ulrich Tukur) to dig up some dirt to get Dreymann out of the way.

The film follows Dreymann and Wiesler, one blissfully unaware of being watched, but increasingly concerned with the repression of life on his side of the wall; the other becoming, for the first time, interested and touched by the creative world his quarry inhabits. Wiesler's life is bland: his flat is the worst kind of Communist bloc chic; he fills his evenings with simple meals and visits from prostitutes. In contrast, Dreymann and Sieland's flat is full of love, warmth, music, books and, as it turns out, inevitable subterfuge. It's hard to talk in detail about too much more, as one of the joys of this film is watching the watcher, and the little things he does to change his own path as well as his subjects'.

The performances all round are wonderful - Ulrich Mühe in particular. His character seems to be made out of ice and steel. yet he manages to communicate the gradual softening of his heart with only his eyes - a tear on hearing Dreymann play a beautiful piece of Beethoven; a gentle look at a child while sharing an elevator ride. It sounds cheesy, but Mühe plays it so well - you really do end up cheering for this ostensibly "bad" guy, especially by film's end.

The Lives of Others is quite lenghty at 139 minutes, but even though its pacing is relatively slow, you're never bored. Each scene has its place, each line of dialogue has meaning and relevance, each shot has a purpose. Director von Donnersmarck understands how to build tension without the need for the big bang Hollywood special effects: he lets his camera linger over people's faces, bodies, grey skies, Trabant cars - everything. The overall effect of this technique is to create a true atmosphere: you get the sense of events unfolding over months; you get to intimately know the characters and therefore understand their motivations. They are not heroes, nor villains - they are simply everyday people living in a time made more extraordinary by its very ordinariness.

The Lives of Others is in limited cinema release, so grab a chance to see it on the big screen while you can. It's a rich moviegoing experience that will make you sad, happy, distraught, but overall inspired that their are filmmakers out there bringing beautiful stories like this to life.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Becoming Jane

Jane Austen novels - and the subsequent films and TV series based on those novels - are truly "porn for women". If a woman doesn't long for a tall, dark and handsome man to stare broodily at her but act like a stuck-up bastard before passionately and surprisinly declaring his undying love in the most perfect example of Regency language, well - she's obviously misplaced her second X chromosome.

With so much affection for Austen's witty examinations of late 18th/early 19th century manners and society, it was inevitable that one day a film and/or TV series would shift focus from her characters to her actual life. Becoming Jane is the result, and although it makes Austen's younger years considerably more exciting than they probably were, it reflects the author herself's work in being well-constructed, and endlessly charming.

Becoming Jane is actually based on a book called Becoming Jane Austen, which posed the theory that Jane - who was famously denied the happy-ever-after endings of her heroines, dying a spinster - once had an "understanding" (relationship probably being too strong a word) with an Irish lawyer named Tom LeFroy when both were 20 years old. LeFroy went on to be Governor of Ireland and named his daughter Jane. Enough proof for author ???, and the subsequent filmmakers, to sex up the story and claim Austen did have personal experience of matters of the heart, which she later drew on in her novels.

The first half of the film is simply hilarious. If you like a bit of 1795-era humour like me, you'll also be cracking up laughing as other cinema-goers wonder what the hell you're on. Anne Hathaway is, in true Hollywood style, far prettier than Austen was (remember Greer Garson as Marie Curie? Female chemists have been living with that legacy for years), but she works her American tongue well over the sparkling English dialogue. She's matched by the devlish charms of James "I'm in every second movie now" McAvoy as LeFroy, a roguish pugilist who lives by the good graces of his rich judge uncle (Ian Richardson). Their initial dislike predictably turns into an attraction, then an alliance, before crumbling under the weight of personal responsibility.

Where this movie falls down is in its second half, with the road towards the unhappy ending unfortunately pitted with melodramatic potholes. The cast of British stalwarts - including Richardson and the indomitable Maggie Smith as a Lady Catherine de Burgh-matriarch - seem wasted in one-dimensional roles. Julie Walters is great, but her performance could be swapped with Brenda Blethyn in last year's Pride and Prejudice and nobody would notice. And while it has moments that inspire you to clasp your hands to your chest and sigh, such as LeFroy's inevitable declaration of love for Jane, the characters are not quite as dynamic as the ones Austen herself created. An irony really, but real life is never quite as interesting as fiction.

If anything, this movie's a potent reminder of just how lucky we Western gals are these days. Sure, wearing empire-line muslin gowns and going to country balls looks appealing, but the corseted nature of not just women's bodies but their freedoms and desires certainly doesn't. It's a good movie to see with your girlfriends, or your Mum. I would also recommend it to men if they want to score points with their ladies.

As a final note, I'd just like to point out the ridiculousness of drawing comparisons (as many other reviews have done) between the character of LeFroy and Mr Darcy from Pride and Prejudice. LeFroy is more like a Wickham or a Willoughby (from Sense & Sensibility) than a Darcy, which shows perhaps where Jane's own preferences lay, or at least why her characters end up rejecting lively roustabouts in favour of the broody but honourable types. Now that I've made that point, I'm off to buy my partner a frock coat and a cravat, and convince him to spend several hours staring broodily out a window.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Hot Fuzz

If you've never heard of Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, chances are you're not a twenty-to-thirty something geek. The pair - along with writer/director Edgar Frost - are the current wunderkids of cult British comedy. Their style of playing straight for the biggest laughs began with the TV sketch show Big Train (which this reviewer is still trying to track down on DVD), continued with the freaky-geeky sitcom Spaced, and reached international fame with rom-com-zom Shaun of the Dead, a loving parody of zombie films, told from the point of view of your average, ordinary computer nerd just trying to get to the safety of his local pub.

The trio's follow up is Hot Fuzz, another loving tribute, this time to small-town English murder-mysteries (ala Agatha Christie), but more particularly to Hollywood cop buddy films, such as Point Break and Bad Boys (heavily and hysterically referenced in the film). Pegg plays Nicholas Angel, a brilliant and highly-trained young police constable sent packing from London because his skills are showing up the rest of the squad. All of a sudden he finds himself a sergeant in the middle of Sandford, the kind of quiet little village favoured by Tidy Town judges worldwide. In fact, Sandford is facing its annual Tidy Town evaluation when weird and gruesome accidents begin happening. It's up to Angel - and his new partner Danny Butterman (Frost) - to work out whether the accidents are just that - unlucky accidents - or something far more suspicious.

The premise of something sinister lurking behind the quaint village facade is hardly new, but it's the Shaun of the Dead formula of mixing absurdity with straight delivery, topped with a healthy measure of OTT violence that brings life and great laughs to the concept. Pegg and Frost are decent actors too, and they're buoyed by a who's who of British character actors - cameos by Bill Nighy and Steve Coogan, a wonderfully sad-eyed Jim Broadbent as the local police chief who wants a quiet life, and Timothy Dalton as a fantastically smarmy local businessman who always seems to be a step ahead of the police.

Central to the film is the relationship between the honest, upright superstar Angel, and the tubby, Cornetto-chomping Danny, who yearns for big-city action but experiences it only through his enormous collection of crap Hollywood blockbusters. Danny is the son of Broadbent's police chief Frank Butterman, so his story arc becomes more interesting as he learns some painful truths about the town, and is forced to make the required "tough choice".

The film is quite horrendously violent, with the "accidental" deaths coming about in increasingly brutal ways. After what could be legitimately called a slow beginning, the film's final 45 minutes is an orgy of violence in the best cinematic tradition. But for those on the squeamish side, it always remains video-game violence - realistic, but not real. There's plenty of blood, but the victims always get up again. It's a parody after all, and the constant references to famous action film sequences and jokes about the genre keep you laughing even when cringing. My only complaint would be the film's ending does suffer from a spot of the Peter Jacksons - in that it seems to have several endings. But again, they're parodying the genre, so it's hard to tell if that's a fault in the editing room or was planned all along.

Pegg, Frost and Wright say they try to make films that they themselves would want to watch. It's a simple theory, but it's amazing how often it seems to be forgotten in Hollywood. Let's hope Britain realises what geniuses they have in the trio, and prevent them being lured away by the bright lights of Tinseltown. It won't be to everyone's taste, but if you're a comedy fan, Hot Fuzz is a joy.

Note! Cate Blanchett actually has an uncredited cameo role in Hot Fuzz, which just proves how similar Australian and British comic sensibilities are. See if you can spot her!

Sunday, March 18, 2007

The Heartbreak Kid

Gawd, what is it with female teachers fancying their male students? What on earth can possibly be attractive about a 17-year-old boy - apart from those things that perhaps, a 15-year-old girl might find intriguing? It certainly confuses me - having seen Notes on a Scandal and now the Brisbane Arts Theatre's production of The Heartbreak Kid ( the first show of their 2007 "Early Week" series), I'm still none the wiser. However, I can say this is a decent production, and worth a look if you like Australian plays. Richard Barrett's cultural coming-of-age story is probably best known as the Australian film starring Claudia Karvan and Alex Dimitriades. Having never seen the film, nor the TV spin-off show Heartbreak High, or even a previous production of the play, I'm in no position to provide comparisons - which could be fortunate or unfortunate, depending on where you're coming from.

The Heartbreak Kid tells the story of Nicky (Keil Gailer), a 17-year-old boy of Greek heritage, who develops a crush on his new teacher, Christine "Papa" Papadoupolis (Belle Reid) at an inner-Sydney high school. Papa is only young herself (22 or 23), and seems to appreciate Nicky's fine form, especially when he's playing soccer. But as a teacher, any kind of relationship is obviously out-of-bounds, so Papa has to cope with tutoring classes of unwilling students for their HSCs, all the while fending off Nicky's puppy dog advances and her own feelings. That's really about all of the plot I can tell you; not because I'd be giving the rest away, but because there really isn't that much else to talk about - there's no real subplot despite some promising starts with Nicky's parents having a lotto win and a subsequent fight he has with his friend Steve (Nick Trenthan) and cousin Con (a show-stealing Shayne Grieve), which never gets fully resolved.

Director Kat Kiorgaard has obviously relished the play's 80s setting. The costuming and soundtrack in particular are excellent, although I got the feeling that perhaps a little bit too much attention had been paid to the musical choices. The device of linking a song's lyrics to the scene just played was clever to begin with, but as the drama escalated, I felt it undermined some of the on-stage tension, particularly when some of the songs made the audience laugh. The play certainly had its light and humourous moments, but sometimes it felt like a comedy with bits of drama thrown in, rather than the other way around, which I believe was probably what the playwright intended. This was exacerbated by the stirling efforts of the supporting cast, who - though hilarious and well-acted - really were just comic relief. Only Daren King as Graham, Papa's concerned fellow teacher, brought any kind of gravitas to his role.

For the most part the pacing was consistent, although a scene in the first half where the boys get ready for a night out while listening to some hard rock went on for a bit too long, as did the subsequent scene in the nightclub. The set - fitting in as Early Week shows must with the Main House stage set-up - was very well used, and the lighting appropriate.

Without a doubt the best scenes were the moments between Papa and Nicky, as the young teacher struggles with her feelings and responsibilities, and the teenager puts on all the bravado his hormonally-supercharged body can muster. These are nice dramatic pieces - Reid and Gailer should be congratulated (although as one audience member told me afterwards: "They need to keep their volume up!").

The play aims to tackle the struggle immigrant Australian families face to "fit in" with the rest, and while there are cursory nods to this (Nicky and Con's attempt to get a school soccer team going, Papa has parents who want her to get married and have babies ASAP), they're never explored to the depth that might give greater understanding to the reasons why Nicky and Papa are attracted to each other. I believe the film goes into this in more detail; which would make sense, with film obviously having the luxury of time and space that theatre lacks.

Overall though, this is a well-told tale of misplaced feelings of love - even if I personally have no idea how such feelings could exist in the first place!

Production seen: Sunday 18 March
Running until 3rd April.