Monday, 15 December 2014


A few months ago I wrote a review for that for some reason dropped off the site.  Since I am trying to keep links to all my reviews accessible online, I am posting it here, so I can link back to this post.


‘Bombshells’ by prominent Australian playwright Joanna Murray-Smith is a fast paced, witty series of monologues from six different females characters, ranging from frantic stay at home mum, to confident teen, and aging widow. The characters of Meryl, Tiggy, Mary, Theresa, Winsome and Zoe, were all played by Christen O’Leary. As often seems to be the case in this kind of show, the character’s lives all interact at some stage, albeit briefly in some cases.
‘Bombshells’ showcases O’Leary’s stunning versatility. Not simply through the addition of singing and dance to the spoken monologues, but through her characterisations, from accents to body language. Each character was distinctly different, brought to life by O’Leary’s significant talent. Some of the characters were more ‘real’ and allowed the audience to really empathise and connect with the performance, however. ‘Meryl’, for example, presented a non-stop, almost hysterical internal voice monologue of the thought processes of a stressed and anxious suburban mother. O’Leary barely took a breath during this entire scene, and her performance captured the nature of the sometimes irrational and cruel inner voice that we have all experienced in times of stress. ‘Tiggy’s’ presentation that highlighted the unlikely similarities between raising cacti, and relationships, was heartbreakingly intense and ‘Winsome’s’ monologue, in contrast to the others, was calm and dignified, while dealing with concepts of loss and loneliness, and joy in the unexpected. The characters of ‘Mary’, ‘Theresa’ and ‘Zoe’ were more stylised and less ‘real’ – it was harder to get lost in their story, particularly Zoe, where her stage persona and subsequent vocal performances were somewhat distracting from the individuals actual story. This was definitely more about how the characters were written than O’Leary’s portrayal however, which was consistently impressive.
Some aspects of the set design and staging were a little confusing. The set was relatively simple, consisting of a small dressing room-like area, with a traditional theatre lit mirror and a rack for costumes on stage right, a photographic seamless white backdrop in the centre and an armchair on stage left. Several photographic studio lights were also placed around the stage.  The show began with O’Leary seated in the armchair and appearing to be learning her lines, reading a script and running over and over (and forgetting) what turned out to be the first few lines of the first monologue, before drifting off to sleep. Once the first character monologue began, I kept expecting that the relevance of that opening would be explained, but the concept was never touched upon again. The appearance of the set as a photographic studio was also not explained, other than that each monologue ended with a flash, and a photograph of that character would appear on the backdrop. It was unclear why ‘Meryl’ had a series of ‘photos’ taken throughout her monologue – that didn’t happen again with the other characters. Having not seen a performance of ‘Bombshells’ before, I would be curious to know how much of this staging related to the script, and how much was David Bell’s directorial input. This staging appeared to draw attention to the artificiality of the theme – to highlight the ‘performance’ aspect, rather than allow the subtle connections between the characters to drive the story. The ‘dressing room’ effect did provide an ideal location for O’Leary to create each character, with minor costume, makeup and accessory changes. A single item of clothing for each scene was used successfully to create a distinct character.
Sound and lighting was minimal, but used to good effect. As well as the photographic flash effects, the lighting was used to create an interesting shadow effect during ‘Mary’s’ dance scene and to highlight ‘Zoes’ cabaret style performance, and sound was used to accompany several musical components of the monologues, and to provide additional characters, such as the teacher announcing ‘Mary’s’ talent show.
The script itself was highly entertaining, with lots of laughs, particularly during the ‘Mary’, ‘Tiggy’ and ‘Winsome’ monologues.  This may have related as much to the stronger relationship the audience felt with those characters, as it did to the actual comedic content of those scenes.

‘Bombshells’ was both amusing and thought provoking, and the energy and commitment that Christen O’Leary brought to each character was amazing. A very worthwhile way to spend an evening – playing at The Malthouse Theatre until the 28th.

Saturday, 31 May 2014

New beads...

Thought I would just post a few pics of latest things I've been working on. A lot of them have already sold, which is a bit exciting! :)

Cider tasting - Reviews

Last night I had the privilege of spending a relaxing, enjoyable evening with some lovely ladies, some of whom I don't get to see all that often. Our theme for the evening was cider tasting - inspired by the wealth of flavoured ciders now available on the market, with wild and wonderful flavour combinations, most of which we had never tried. Everyone brought a few bottles of unusual cider, and we started working our way through them. It ended up being a night of very responsible drinking, as we only made it through 6 small bottles for the 4 of us in about 5 hours, but it was a great night. We decided we should document our cider tasting adventures - there is bound to be a sequel post in the not to distant future, as there are several bottles left in the fridge, or taken home by the girls - maybe I should get them in as 'guest bloggers' to tell us about the ones they took....?

So, on to our reviews.  First we tried the Old Mout Passionfruit Cider. We found it very easy to drink, "a good starter". The passionfruit flavour wasn't as strong as we expected, and we weren't sure if that was due to other flavours competing (we were eating cheese, dip, kabana etc) or the cider itself.  It wasn't overly sweet, but went down very easily.  The labeling is also not very enticing - doesn't scream 'pick me, pick me!'

Next up we tried the Koppaberg Blueberry and Lime Cider. It immediately became the favourite and remained so for the next few bottles. Again, not overly sweet, very smooth, with a good flavour balance - the sweet balanced nicely by the slight tartness of the lime. A really lovely drink! Some of the girls thought the label design was a bit masculine - they might not have picked it off the shelf on impulse.

Moving on, we tried the Sidra del Verano Apple, Blackcurrant and Cranberry. This was also a very pleasant drop.  The cranberry flavour was dominant (even one of our number who doesn't like Blackcurrant at all enjoyed this). Again, not overly sweet (which can be an issue with flavoured ciders) - and we thought the packaging was 'classy'.

Next up was the Cheeky Raskal Apple and Guava. This was very different - quite bitter, this is not a flavour for the sweet tooth. We found it necessary to make sure we 'cleansed the palette' before and after this drink - the bitterness tended to linger.  We were divided on this one - 2 of us enjoyed it, and 2 found it much too bitter and the aftertaste unpleasant. By this stage we all agreed the Blueberry and Lime was still our favourite.

We eventually moved on to the Herrljunga Strawberry and Vanilla. This was bumped to first place for most of us, 2nd for others. very sweet, but not cloying, the Vanilla flavour was "a delightful addition". The flavour lingered pleasantly on the palette.

Finally we departed from the cider, and tried Strawberry Hard Ice Tea. Drinkable for non tea drinkers, but with a discernible tea flavour. Similar in flavour to the strawberry and vanilla cider, but without the crisp bite you get with cider, and a little less sweet overall. We all found it immensely improved with the addition of a slice or squeeze of lemon.

We ended the night by individually ranking the flavours...

It was a fun night trying all the new flavours, relaxing, eating good food in good company - thanks ladies!

Friday, 2 May 2014

A Fresh Start

The last few weeks have seen a resurgence for me on the creative front. For the first time in a couple of years, I have been making beads regularly, and enjoying the process. I made 65 beads over the school holidays (probably a day or two's work for my full time beadmaking friends, but a big deal for someone who has made 10 in 2 years). I torched almost every day the second week of the holidays. I usually get about 2 hours in before my joints start to seize up or I get bored or frustrated, so as soon as it wasn't fun anymore, I stopped.  This has allowed me to make several full sets as well as experiment with new designs, so now I am preparing for an online 'trunk' sale in a couple of Facebook groups.  I have also had a couple of individual sales on FB, although I admit I am struggling to get comfortable with pricing regarding postage, bead style and complexity, quantity etc.  A lot of beads are being sold in those groups, and I still can't work out why something will sell and something else wont. I've been told for years that I under price my work, but when I added to the price to subsidise the $14 postage from Oz, sets don't sell.  I'm thinking maybe really large sets would help solve that issue.... so postage is a fraction of the worth. The advantage of FB as a sales venue is no fees for relisting, so there is much less stress involved in the process.  If I sell a handful of piece in my trunk sale, I'll be a happy camper!

So, I've finally said goodbye to this set this week - they were on the cover of a beading magazine here in Australia several years ago.

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Return to Paradise...

This week we are back in Port Douglas after around 10 years, maybe a bit less. It is one of our favourite Australian holiday destinations. It was always fairly low key and relaxed, with a bit of a Seaside village feel. It has definitely grown, but is not too much more built up, which is lovely, and so many of the same businesses are here - such as the apartments we are staying in and our favourite company for snorkeling on the reef, Wavelength. . Friday was our 8th trip out with them, we estimate, and we head out again tomorrow. Fantastic service, lovely staff, great snorkel sites, yummy lunch - what more could you ask for?  

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Happy New Year! And bring on the sun!

Since I only seem to find the motivation and time to blog when I am traveling or working on a new project, I will probably be posting a few times over the next couple of weeks. I am off to Port Douglas in Far North Queensland. It is one of my husband and I's favourite holiday destinations, but we haven't been in close to a decade, so we are really looking forward to it. We also have a friend traveling with us, and I love sharing a place I love with people who haven't been, so that will be a lot of fun. Taking someone snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef for the first time is wonderful!  So, back in a few days with lots of photos!