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May 4, 2008

City News

May 10, 2008

REVIEW BY LINDA DANIELE

La La Land is billed as an “an unashamedely excessive comedy about Aussies in Hollywood.” Written by Christopher Johnson and directed by Mark Piggott, its story is a fairly familiar one, so fortunately the script approaches this conventional plot in unpredictable and refreshing ways.

“Going to Los Angeles for the first time, Australian actors and directors almost all return with the same story – that it’s overwhelming and can be quite brutal,” says playwright Christopher Johnson. “To me, that naiveté is great grounds for comedy – the innocent abroad, the minnow thrown in with the sharks.”

The innocent abroad in La La Land is Aussie writer and director Terry Swanton. Having gained art-house kudos for his small Australian independent film, he is summoned to Los Angeles by Jimmy Fleishberg, the greatest independent movie producer in Hollywood.

Jimmy has big ideas for Terry’s new screenplay, and La La Land proves to be a crazy place. Nutty foreign directors, egotistical cult-ridden movie stars, drug dealers with three-picture development deals and abandoned Aussie TV actors are just part of Terry’s sometimes absurd journey into the dream factory known as LA.

La La Land is told with pace and verve by an interesting ensemble of actors, including Sean Lynch as the budding but naïve and corruptible Aussie thrown into the maelstrom of Hollywood and Sam Smith, as his starry-eyed actor friend.

Drug-and-booze-fuelled egomaniacal movie producer Jimmy Fleishberg is brilliantly played by cult NZ actor Ian Watkin, whose recent stage work includes A Midsummer Night’s Dream for Company B Belvoir and The Tempest for Sydney Theatre Company.

Drew Fairley gives a suitably over the top performance as the renowned, boozy auteur Moors Van der Pelt and theatre newcomer, Markus Hamilton, makes an impressive debut.

Octavia Barron Martin, whose theatre credits include STC’s production of Influence, the films Looking For Alibrandi and The Honourable Wally Norman, shines in her three character roles.

Christopher’s last play at Darlinghurst Theatre, The Young Tycoons, had sell out seasons in 2005 and 2006. His short films have been seen in over thirty international festivals and won four international awards.

La La Land
Darlinghurst Theatre Company
19 Greenknowe Ave Potts Point
Until May 24
$25-$30
Bookings: http://www.darlinghursttheatre.com or 8356 9987

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