Welcome to 2006

It’s Sunday night and I’m struggling to find something interesting to watch on television, so I thought I’d update my diary, the first time since arriving home from Lismore. Upon reflection I enjoyed some aspects of going home for Christmas and didn’t enjoy others. I didn’t enjoy the heat and I still find Lismore a little boring, but it was great to see my family and to chill out for a while.

I also took the time to time in Lismore to read a few interesting books. Most noteworthy were The Perfect Glass Of Wine and The Dismissal, books about two of my favourite subjects – wine and politics – but I also read a few other books probably not worth mentioning.

Since arriving back in Sydney, it’s all been work, work, work, especially with the Central Coast bushfires on New Years Day. That said, I had a great fun night with Michaela last week, ending in dinner a terrific Mexican place on Riley Street. The Sydney Festival season has also begun, which means lots of socialising.

Last night I went to the Opening Night of the Sydney Festival which, I have to say, looks pretty good this year. Ahead of the party, I went to see Twelfth Night performed in Russian (with surtitles) by an all-male cast. Although you may have needed to re-read that sentence, it’s all true. At the Sydney Festival Opening Night Party, I overheard a conversation in which one person – a journalist I think – described it as “challenging”.

In fact the play was an absolute joy to behold on so many levels. The direction was excellent. There was never an occasion where I thought the actors over or underplayed their roles and they always seemed at ease with the work. The comedic timing was excellent with the final words of the play garnering a huge belly-laugh from the audience. One of the other particular highlights was the incorporation of music played live on stage by the actors, often drawing upon 1930s-style tango-style arrangements. I found it to be genuinely exciting theatre to watch.

Although I noticed a fair number of people left at intermission, those who remained were given a terrific second half, giving the cast an enthusiastic round of applause at the end. I think the audience really appreciated the efforts the actors had clearly undertaken to make sure their work was understood by an audience which, largely speaking, didn’t speak Russian. My friend Colin also observed “they look like a nice group of blokes” and I think most of the audience agreed.

In his opening night speech, Festival Director, Fergus Linehan acknowledge it was Russian Christmas. Much less controversial than his speech earlier in the night when we were asked to acknowledged the passing of Kerry Packer which received a muted response at Twelfth Night and boos at the Anderson Project. The party, as always, was great fun, though, with the exception of Cate Blanchett, celebrities were a little light on the ground. Mind you, I did see someone who looked like a younger Paul Keating who kept smiling at me throughout the night. I don’t know what to make of that (or maybe I do?).

Wandering home I noticed the Nativity Scene is still outside St Mary’s Cathedral. It’s a lovely scene and if you’re in Sydney over the next little while it’s well worth going to have a look at.

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