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The Norman Conquests Ensemble Theatre 2018/2019

As for this thrilling production, the performances are a joy to behold. I viewed all three shows on a single day, and by 9 o’clock the actors were into their 5th or 6th hours on stage, yet still full of vigour……..Danielle Carter as Sarah is a tower of strength, a backbone of power in these shows; she disappears completely into the character.

At times this production highlights how much has changed for the better since the 70s, and conversely how much remains the same (and perhaps how much further there is to go). I recommend you get along to these shows for a night of good feeling and fun.  4 ½ stars

Arts Hub – Oliver Wakelin

This revival, directed by Mark Kilmurry, is bright and bubbly, a compelling jaunt back in time that is surprisingly resonant…….The characters may sound like the past, but they are made to feel current, by an excellent, and tireless, uniformly captivating cast  

Suzy Goes see – Suzy Wong

This Mark Kilmurry-directed production is a cut above, with Ayckbourn’s somewhat heightened portraits coming across as fleshy and fully human. The personal impact of all that soul-sapping niceness and emotional obfuscation is beautifully relayed.

Jason Blake SMH

Director Mark Kilmurry has assembled an ace cast 

Frank Hatherley – Stage Whispers

THE NORMAN CONQUESTS, are three plays: TABLE MANNERS, LIVING TOGETHER and ROUND AND ROUND THE GARDEN, by Alan Ayckbourn, written in 1973. They are famously recognised as one of many masterpieces from this author who has written some 82 plays and is still writing.

 These three plays have the conceit of happening all at the same time, just in three different spaces. The first in the Dining Room. the second in the Living room, and the third in the Garden. Each play can stand independently and the entertainment hilarity is extremely rewarding. See all of them and the compound knowledge they you acquire about what is happening in the other spaces doubles and then trebles the comedy reward. They can, by-the-way, be seen in any order. 

 Directed by Mark Kilmurry, the plays are beautifully revealed and 'hum' along with all the confidence of a well oiled machine. The dramaturgical skill of the comic and dramatic formula of the writer's cleverness is immaculately understood. Mr Kilmurry has also selected a wonderfully accurate group of actors who have created real, vulnerable people, and who then, instinctively, have let their comic instincts stretch to the needs of the writing for it to reward the audience with six hours of blissful laughter, and an ultimate identification of compassion for these hapless, ordinary people, who, if we dare to contemplate, are much like ourselves and our extended families, extended or close.

 Danielle Carter is the 'roaring' engine of this machine, and the neuroticism and self-possession of her Sarah drives and buoys the action. Ms Carter creates a wonderful energy while acknowledging the complexity of the frustrations of Sarah's predicament

 This company of actors will, each, reward you, undoubtedly. Go see why Mr Ayckbourn is so revered. Highly recommended

Kevin Jackson’s Diary – Kevin Jackson

 This is a good, tight play with a fast-paced story and believable characters…. Danielle Carter superbly plays the role of Sarah. In stark contrast to Annie, she is confident, self-assured, and very class-conscious……. I recommend catching this production if you can. Table Manners delivers on laughs, cast performances, and entertainment.

Absolute Theatre by Paul Kiely

Casting is important for any play’s success, but especially so for The Norman Conquests. Director Mark Kilmurryis both smart and fortunate enough to have assembled the very best for this tricky production and also get the best out of them.

 The Norman Conquestsis one of Alan Ayckbourn’sgreatest achievements, not only because of its extraordinary intricacy of plot and telling, but also because of what it said – and continues to say – about men and women, what it is that makes us laugh or cry or be furious, and also about family. It’s also a great achievement for Mark Kilmurryas director and for the company of actors who effortlessly handle the huge undertaking, including the home-made wine and deckchairs which are unusual props for straight up comedy gold. Recommended.

Stage noise by Diana Simmonds

The work is brilliantly executed with incredible performances that capture the humor of the often-relatable bickering family and also the ridiculousness of the physicality of the situations that arise.

 The cast assembled, which cover all three stories, work wonderfully together and utilize the intimate space to optimum advantage, knowing that little gestures and pointed looks will easily be captured by the audience. Kilmurry blends in the absurdity of real life which in combination with the various personalities leads to moments of ridiculous physical comedy

 THE NORMAN CONQUESTS is an enjoyable and intriguing theatre experience particularly if you have the time to catch all three shows and revel in the added amusement of watching the puzzle pieces fall into place. A fabulous mystery that explores human nature and family dynamics as relationships are tested, patience stretched and promiscuity pondered whilst the need to belong is proven to be eternal.

Jade Kops BMW Review

Kilmurry has gathered a fine cast and directs them to plumb the hurt, frustration and pathos beneath the comic surface……… The cast is terrific, their characters becoming ever more believable and understandable as the plays progress.

Jo Listen, The Daily Telegraph

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FURY. 2018. Red Stitch Theatre

Carter is magnificent as Alice, spiky and pleading and utterly convincing

Time Out, Time Byrne.

 “We’re your punishment. And your ours” Play defining words from a mother looking on with baffled despair at an unapologetic son accused of defacing a mosque. From one of Australia’s most acclaimed playwrights, Red Stitch Actors’ Theatre's description of Joanna Murray-Smiths’ Fury as, ‘a scintillating, often hilarious and profoundly provocative work,’ feels somewhat understated for failing to mention “Seat flinching discomfort.”  Parent against Parent against Teacher against Mother against Father against Child and all possible combinations against social expectations of class and decency, Fury leaves us like a troubled jury playing witness to unsettling clashes of unfolding revelation. With exploration of conscience and propaganda, this is a sharply observed, clever and disturbing drama. Deftly staged on Chloe Greaves well pitched design, directing duo Brett Cousins & Ella Caldwell have pushed their cast to ensure the pulse of Fury never falls below rapid. Joe Petruzzi and Danielle Carter are well cast to hover between love and contempt. Scratching at themselves and each other to source blame, we see a well-connected portrait of a marriage traversing self-interest and the magnitude of legacy

Melbourne Reviews Fury | Red Stitch Actors Theatre DOUG KNIGHT 07 JUNE 2018

The production boasts a strong ensemble performance. Petruzzi and Carter are sharply credible as rich, inner-urban Guardian-istas, their anguish and their prejudices, their resentments and vulnerabilities – and the patina of moral vanity about them

 Cameron Woodhouse, The Age

Fury is a provocative and brilliant work with some powerhouse performances. Alex First, The Blurb

  

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E- Baby. 2016. Ensemble Theatre

The Ensemble Theatre’s second last show for 2016 is set to leave audiences excited about what next year may hold after an interesting and fabulously performed production of ‘E-Baby’ by Jane Cafarella. The show follows two women – one, a mother of two who is eager to share the joy of motherhood with others, and another, whom after eighteen rounds of IVF and eleven years of failed attempts has turned to surrogacy as a final attempt at having her own child. As they each struggle with their place in this new relationship, with their husbands and with the changes – or lack thereof – in their bodies, the pair each must learn to appreciate the other for what she offers but also accept her for her weaknesses. What ensues is an interesting story of a relationship that is gradually becoming more common in the 21st century, and yet still remains largely under-represented – that between a woman and her surrogate. 

On Scawthorn and Carter’s performances, all there really is to say is that both of these women displayed a level of skill and a mastery of their craft that it seems is too rarely seen on this stage. Both women are actors I hope to see grace the Sydney stages soon – I’ll definitely be seeing whatever they are in next based on the caliber of their work in this show.

This show is definitely worth seeing! It hasn’t got the glitz and glam of many of the other shows currently gracing the Sydney stages, however, it offers so much more in its wonderful execution of a beautiful story and its masterful actors at the helm. Get tickets before this one sells out. 

The Blitz Magazine by Carly Fisher

 The well-meaning if uptight Australian lawyer Catherine (a brilliantly skittish Danielle Carter) lives a privileged life in London with her younger architect husband. But after 11 years of trying for a baby and rounds of increasingly traumatic IFV, she still cannot conceive.

It’s lucky then that Carter and Scawthorn bring such life to their roles. Both are utterly believable – in equal parts loveable and frustrating – and the heartbreak, when it comes, is visceral.

The Guardian

Carter as perfectly coiffed and sleek Catherine gives a polished performance. Her agony and desperation is well observed without being gratuitous. Both give empathetic, insightful and moving performances.

Theatre Now Alana Kaye

 It is the performances by Ms Carter and Ms Scawthorn that are so personably secure, so empathetically contrasted, drawn with humour as well as head-butting ideological battlements that, essentially, keeps at bay too much carping about the relative suspense-comedy that we are given. The actors are a disarming and charming coupling. They draw us irresistibly into the situation that the Playwright and Director offers and, cumulatively, one is well satisfied with an entertainment that is cathartic as well as, lightly, educational.

I had a very satisfying experience. I recommend the journey.

The Blurb Magazine Kevin Jackson

E-Baby is a very rare theatrical beast: a two-handed play by women, starring women and about issues that affect women viscerally. Indeed, another such production doesn't readily spring to mind.

This play offers great writing by Jane Cafarella, brought to life by two powerhouse actresses, Danielle Carter and Gabrielle Scawthorn, led by another outstanding woman, director Nadia Tass. And the men in the characters' lives, well, they were so peripheral as to be almost incidental

This is a play about hope and trust and how two women who would otherwise never have crossed paths are connected by a surrogate pregnancy.

Each character is finely drawn, three-dimensional and fully realised, right down to the handbags and accessories. Catherine, portrayed by Carter, is a globe-travelling lawyer who presents as a classic type-A personality; ambitious, driven and used to ensuring she gets what she wants thanks to organisation, preparation and determination. So when it comes to having children and finding nature uncooperative, the tools she relies on in every other aspect of her life come into play here too.

The Music by Fiona Cameron 

It’s hilariously funny (especially when it comes to Catherine’s obsessive ideas), bitter sweet, topical and raw. The characterisation is clever, well developed and multi-layered. It’s economic in having only two characters, but with plenty of mentions of both women’s spouses written into this comedy.

Alt Media ( MS) 

I found E-BABY to be a very engrossing  night in the theatre. The play gave so many insights into a world which I, and I suspect many others, know precious little about.

The piece worked excellently well as a drama. The characters were brought to life so well by the two actresses  and there was plenty of tension generated as the outcome hung in the balance right up till the very end. 

Sydney Arts Guide, David Kary

It took a little bit of thought but I eventually realised that the answer to my question of what was the secret to the success of e-baby lay in the name of one of Ensemble’s recent productions — The Casting Couch.

Director Nadia Tass’s choice of Danielle Carter and Gabrielle Scawthorn to play out this contemporary and poignant two-hander was inspired.

Carter is spot-on as Catherine, the successful, humourless, formality-driven London-based Australian lawyer who desperately wants the child she can’t carry herself.

I doubt Catherine could make love to her husband until all conditions and possibilities were rigorously documented. All crossed and dotted exactly as appropriate, and heaven-forbid if there’s an urge for spontaneity.

Scawthorn plays perfectly the role of Nellie, the young Massachusetts woman who accepts cash payment to carry Catherine’s child, hand it over soon after birth, then exit the scene.

She’s naive. Her life experience has been less than worldly. Her outlook may be simple but she isn’t stupid and at least she has a heart and a pulse.

Catherine’s law firm has a branch in New York, so there is plenty of face-to-face contact but experiences are mainly shared through more modern devices such as mobile phones, texts and Skype.

You know that there wouldn’t be a play in this if it was all smooth sailing and everything fell perfectly into place — and so it doesn’t.

To talk too obviously about the traumas would require an equally obvious spoiler alert, so I won’t go there.

But I will say that the two women do encounter plenty of speed humps on their journey, and that Director Tass does a fine job in bringing Jan Cafarella’s provocative, dilemma-laden work to the Ensemble stage in Kirribilli.

And special mention must go the production’s AV Designer, Christopher Page, for constructing on-stage systems that worked a treat and provide the reality necessary without ever coming across as clunky.

Oz Baby Boomers John Rozentals

e-baby is a two woman show. Danielle Carter plays Catherine and Gabrielle Scawthorn plays Nellie…and what a team they are. Perfectly cast, they are beautifully complementary with completely contrasting personalities, able to unite through this deeply personal experience. Together, their comic timing is idyllic. They have the audience eating out of the palm of their hand and have a gorgeous rapport. Carter is efficacious and immaculately put-together as Catherine, with a desperate longing to be a mother. Scawthorn is haphazard and effervescent as Nellie with a relatable disregard for the absurd health tricks and tips levelled at mothers. But overwhelmingly, she has a desire to do something important. As a Catholic woman, this is a fascinating seesaw of altruism and the religious weigh-in to the moral and ethical debate.

Tass’ direction is flexible in navigating the emotional crevasse of this story and performances by Carter and Scawthorn are divine. When an audience is effortlessly made to think, laugh and cry, a slice of the human experience is shared – what more could you ask for.

Upstaged Reviews Emily Richardson

My Zinc Bed. Ensemble Theatre. 2015

 An achievement of the play is the painting of several layers in each character, no one is discarded as a “worthless drunk” to use Hare’s words from the play, but rather each person is immensely significant to another through their entangled relationships. The actors bring unique warmth to their roles, allowing the audience to perceive their strengths and weaknesses as a person. This can be difficult to achieve when the audience is dubious about the decisions the characters are making, however Kilmurry’s direction allows the audience to empathise with the characters’ positions.

O’Sullivan takes a compassionate approach to this role so that the audience is rooting for Paul, desperate for things to work out. Danielle Carter performs as Elsa and has a similar effect on the audience despite her provocative ways and tainted past. It is wonderful when an audience has a vested interest in a character’s wellbeing, a testament to the actor’s ability to suspend their disbelief and become totally immersed in the emotive qualities of the character.

Upstaged Reviews-Emily Richardson

Superb performances benefit David Hare’s all-talk no-action three-hander about addiction

As Elsa, Danielle Carter is a brittle mix of neediness and aloofness, with a sensuality that is ever present but never overwhelming.

Time Out Sydney 

This is a worthy enough play flattered by exceptional acting in a compassionate production.

John Shand, SMH

Mark Kilmurry’s direction is interested in all the philosophical content of the text, and succeeds in making his play a relentlessly thoughtful one, while maintaining a dramatic tension that keeps us engaged throughout. Characters in the play are not particularly likeable, but their experiences are readily identifiable, and Kilmurry ensures that their exchanges never fail to fascinate.

There are breathtaking performances to be found in the production. All three actors demonstrate a thorough understanding of text and characters, and their interactions are consistently powerful. Every line is delivered with the sizzle of subtext and mystery, and we are seduced into worlds of imagination and reflection.

 Danielle Carter’s part requires her to display extraordinary inner complexity and also to portray the somewhat customary femme fatale with a forceful allure, both of which she performs with tremendous impact

Suzy Goes See

MY ZINC BED, by award-winning and provocative playwright David Hare, made its debut at The Royal Court Theatre, London, in 2000. Its carefully crafted eloquence and finesse continues to attract audiences.  Mark Kilmurry’s current production is vibrant and funny with an appropriate underlying sadness throughout.

Danielle Carter creates an intriguing and exotic character in Elsa.  It is easy to see why both men are in love with her.

This is a thought-provoking and intriguing play, well worth seeing.

Sydney Arts Guide

The three performances are mesmerising individually and together.

Danielle Carter more human than vamp (as written) in the director’s reading, she is able to maintain her position between the two men with clarity and credibility throughout.

Stage Noise, Diana Simmonds

It is a superbly written and punctuated piece of theatre that has the audience rolling with laughter at one moment and feeling prickly and raw at others. And with an exceptionally talented cast assembled by Artistic Director Mark Kilmurry, that subtlety and strength is ‘made believable’ in their hands.

Is it a subtle sexuality that Carter plays, and perhaps less suggestive than Hare’s text, but one that tends to build credibility and greater tension in Else’s feelings for both men.

Rating: 5 out of 5

ArtsHub Australia

Directed with particular passion by Mark Kilmurry, this three-hander by David Hare delivers a handsome and unexpected punch.

Danielle Carter was born to play Elsa. Silkily attractive, she remains aloof and mysterious throughout, handling Hare’s often-opaque dialogue with aplomb.

Stage Whispers

The direction is sensitive, with a light touch and the acting is superb with bravura performances from all three of the cast . Hare’s erudite beautifully scripted play is at times cuttingly witty and at others searingly passionate and revealing. Structurally the play is basically a series of conversations.

The scenes between Paul and Elsa crackle with intensity. Danielle Carter as Elsa is stunning. She is head of a large charity organization and beautifully blonde and elegant. She seems strong , confident and captivating , a mix of alluring femme fatale and complexity – yet in reality is vulnerable , she hides a couple of secrets and anxiously bemoans the fact that she can’t give Victor children .

A splendid production with glorious performances .Thoroughly recommended.

Lynnes Theatre Notes

Danielle Carter oozed an initial confidence that purposefully and gradually allowed the vulnerability of an addicted personality to filter through her character’s portrayal.

She was dynamically stylish, alluring and compelling.

 The Culture Concept Circle

Danielle Carter is enviably alluring as Victor’s wife, and manages to find complexities in her character that weren’t necessarily written in the text. It seems that her marriage to Victor is based more on sympathy than love, and Carter manages to find the balance between victim and femme fatale perfectly.

Theatre Now

 

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Richard the Third.  Ensemble Theatre. 2014

The fine-boned Danielle Carter plays Queen Elizabeth, a woman surrounded by aspirant repos and a sworn nemesis of Richard. Carter’s carriage and clarity makes her a very fitting queen

Daily Review, Lloyd Bradford Skye

 

Danielle Carter’s portrayal of Queen Elizabeth is enigmatic and very strong. Her impressive presence is utilised effectively, and the solid stillness in her performance contrasts and stands out from a busy production. Carter’s scenes of confrontation with Kilmurry are especially dynamic. The chemistry and timing between both actors are phenomenal, forging moments of gold for fans of high drama……..Kilmurry is a leader of fabulous talent. His show is brilliantly put together, and everyone he enlists is showcased marvelously.

Suzy goes see, Suzy Wrong

Danielle Carter of the exquisite alabaster skin was tremendous as Queen Elizabeth and Prince Edward.

Sydney Arts Guide, Lynne Lancaster

There are excellent performances too from the supporting cast, particularly Danielle Carter and Toni Scanlan as Queen Elizabeth and the Duchess of York respectively, both left with nothing after sacrificing husbands, brothers and sons to the bloody power struggle between the houses of York and Lancaster.

Stage noise, Polly Simons

Danielle Carter shines as Queen Elizabeth, mother of the ill-fated boy princes…….Arts Hub, Martin Portus 

Danielle Carter as Queen Elizabeth is anguished and tormented and brings a sense of darkness to the stage….Samesame MatthewD’Silva

Danielle Carter's innocence and grief fill the stage with energy…..SOYP

Danielle Carter’s Queen Elizabeth is a frizzy-haired lion, every inch the she-wolf Shakespeare wrote, and more than a match for Richard……The Spell of Waking Hours

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The Gingerbread Lady. Ensemble Theatre. 2012

 Carter plays the vain, self-absorbed Toby with excellent pace and immaculate timing. She carries off the flamboyance of her character well, especially in an over-the-top, self indulgent tantrum. She is funny and appealing.

Stage Whispers - Carol Wimmer 

 The exquisite, beautifully elegant Carter gives a magnificent performance as Toby, who is always conscious of her beauty and femininity, and uses it to great effect to look after herself.

Arts Hub - Lynne Lancaster

As the self-obsessed and self-deluded ageing beauty Danielle Carter is great fun, delivering very much a show-stealing performance in her hilarious monologue

Oz Baby Boomers - Geraldine Worthington

Tamblyn Lord's Jimmy and Danielle Carter's Toby hit their stride, both delivering some truly great comic scenes with their on-stage breakdowns

 Daniel East MC Reviews

 

Danielle Carter is a delight as her best friend.

 David Kary Sydney Arts Guide

 

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My Wonderful Day.  Ensemble Theatre. 2011

Danielle Carter has the unenviable task of having to arrive at full stretch very late in the piece and be a hard-nosed but wisecracking bitch into the bargain. She does it beautifully and is very funny.

Stage Noise - Diana Simmonds

 

Danielle Carter is hysterical and captivating… She knows how to command the space and boy does she know comedy!

 SameSame By Matt D'Silva

 

Using the clever conceit of role reversal to accentuate the ‘Oh My God’ factor of his play, Ayckbourn ensures that never has deplorable – and plain silly – adult behaviour seemed more juvenile than here, viewed through the eyes of a sensible and perceptive child. That ‘child’ is Ugandan born Belinda Jombwe, a young woman in her 20s. She is at the centre of a fine cast: Mark Owen-Taylor as Kevin, Shareena Clanton as Laverne, Matilda Ridgway as Tiffany, Danielle Carter as Paula (outstanding) and Brian Meegan as Josh.

ABC Blog - Jenny Blain

There’s the house’s owner Kevin ( Mark Owen- Taylor) – a rambunctious “minor TV Celebrity” whose tempestuous wife Paula ( Danielle Carter) has just walked out because she suspects Kevin is banging his dippy secretary Tiffany ( Matilda Ridgway).  And there’s Kevin’s dithering, somewhat pathetic but kindly mate (Brian Meegan).

All Four are wonderful characters beautifully played.They carry more baggage than a freight train but, in the end, they’re quite likeable – and that’s a testament to the quality of the acting.

Oz Baby Boomers John Rozentals

 

Danielle Carter makes a strong late play appearance as his feisty wife

 SMH Jason Blake

Danielle Carter makes a major impression with her scene where she catches her husband out

Sydney Arts Guide

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Absurd Person Singular. Ensemble Theatre. 2009

 Danielle Carter carries the middle section with a virtually wordless yet riveting performance as a drug-addled wife who is unknowingly thwarted in successive suicide attempts by her drink guests. It would be so easy to caricature the part,or go over the top into farce but she doesn't and it's a bleakly funny delight to watch.

 Diana Simmonds - Stage Noise

  The actors have their moment, while Giblin and Carter shine. Carter is poignant as Eva Jackson, who moves from zonked, suicidal misery to newfound confidence.

 Sunday Telegraph

 

The high points were Danielle Carter as Eva, poker faced portrayal of her bland suicide attempts in the second act

 Stage Whispers