Calpurnia Descending


Hilarious camp comedy and serious Shakespearean drama mixed with 1930s melodrama are some of the diverse ingredients in the very entertaining drama CALPURNIA DESCENDING.

Ash Flanders and Declan Greene are the creative force behind the Sisters Grimm and are responsible for this anarchic mixture of live theatre and video projections.

Violet St Clair delivers a singing telegram to a faded theatre legend Beverley Dumont. Of course, Violet St Clair is an aspiring actress who stumbles across a director and a producer of a theatre that has just lost the leading lady as rehearsals are getting underway. Every cliché is joyously used in a loving tribute to New York’s golden age of theatre and the classic Hollywood films of the 1930s and 1940s.

Ash Flanders plays the naïve Violet St Clair in a wonderful performance of strength and vulnerability with a vaudevillian flair. Paul Capsis is outstanding as Beverley Dumont, in a wickedly loving tribute to a faded diva.Sandy Gore and the impressive Peter Paltos complete the excellent cast. They all have lots of fun and tell a great story at the same time.

CALPURNIA DESCENDING at times feels like classical drama. Beverley Dumont’s last performance was as Calpurnia was set in Ancient Rome, as is the new production of Julius Caesar that they are rehearsing. Consequently the appearance and speeches have a classical aesthetic but then it jumps to 1930s New York and the video sequences include late nineties computer game animations. It is an entertaining and diverse mixture of live theatre and projections. It probably would have been preferable to have more of the live theatre and less of the screened material but that is only a minor quibble. The drama and humour carry the production regardless of the format.

The technical side of the production is very impressive. Excellent work by designer David Fleischer, lighting designer Katie Sfetkidis, AV designer Matthew Gingold, sound designer Jed Palmer and animator Matt Greenwood.

The highly recommended CALPURNIA DESCENDING is a Sydney Theatre Company production and is on at Wharf 2 until 8th November.