Peepshow, Newcastle Theatre Company

LIVING ROOMS: The apartment-dwellers of Peepshow, which is being staged by Newcastle Theatre Company. Picture: Noel Grivas
LIVING ROOMS: The apartment-dwellers of Peepshow, which is being staged by Newcastle Theatre Company. Picture: Noel Grivas

PEOPLE, especially those who live in apartment blocks, often know little about their neighbours, only hearing them occasionally engaged in conversations. And the increased use of mobile phones has largely changed the way people interact.

Comments people made to members of England’s Frantic Assembly theatre company about having virtually no contact with those living near them led the group to commission playwright Isabel Wright to develop a play called Peepshow which offers glimpses into the lifestyles and views of people who live in close proximity but have little interaction.

The play is being staged by Newcastle Theatre Company at its Lambton venue from July 14 to 28, with Pearl Nunn as director. English-born Nunn came across the work while doing an acting course in London and found it very engaging. It has rooms of four apartments side by side on stage, and switches between them.

The play’s residents are all in their mid-to-late 20s and going through very different problems.

George (short for Georgina, and played by Allison Van Gaal) can’t stop drinking beer and is virtually drunk and fragile all the time, with her behaviour increasingly wearying partner Ben (Carl Gregory). Sharon (Bridget Barry) and Richard (Ben Louttit) are outwardly enamoured, but, as they make love to loud rock music, Sharon can’t help thinking about a downstairs man she is attracted to. That man, known as Loner (Roger Ly), because he lives by himself, is enamoured of a woman he sees doing sexy dances on his mobile phone and hopes to me her. Sarah (Belinda Hodgson) has moved in with friend Kate (Milly Lambert) and is concerned that Kate is attracted to her never-seen brother.

Peepshow has won praise for being moving and having amusing moments.

The play has background electronic songs and music by British duo Lamb and the actors occasionally get to sing them live. 

Bridget Barry said that her character, Sharon, is very much like the girl next door. 

“She’s clean and organised, and loves singing, but her boyfriends come and go. She wants a bit more stability in her life,” she said.

Carl Gregory sees Ben as having a tough time in looking after George. “She’s a party girl who never grew out of that and they increasingly clash,” he said.

Peepshow has a charity performance on Friday, July 15, at 8pm, with the official opening on Saturday, July 14, at 8pm, and a 2pm Sunday matinee on July 15. The show then can be seen on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday at 2pm, until July 28, plus a 2pm matinee on Saturday, July 21.

Tickets: $33; concession $27.  Bookings: 4952 4958; newcastletheatrecompany.com.au.

COMING SHOWS

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show

Cessnock Performing Arts Centre, July 11 at 12pm and 2pm. 

Bookings: 4993 4266.

THIS lively 50-minute version of popular children’s stories by Eric Carle has the four cast members bringing the characters from the title story, The Artist Who Painted A Blue Horse, Mr. Seahorse and The Very Lonely Firefly brightly to life using 75 magical puppets created by New York's Puppet Kitchen. A stage production for children aged one to seven, it captivates with its clear storytelling, fresh, bright design, and simple but inventive staging. The show was so popular in a 2015 tour that included Newcastle’s Civic Theatre that it has been remounted for playing to more audiences, with CPAC being the Hunter venue. The show includes sequences such as a tiny baby caterpillar popping out of an egg and demanding food. And accompanying adults will have as much fun as the children. Tickets are $20 and $60 for a group of four, with children 3 years and under free on the knee.

Burlesque The Circus

Lizotte’s, Lambton, July 14

 Dinner from 6pm, show 8.30pm

Previous editions of this Newcastle show bringing together performers from Birdcage Burlesque and Circus Avalon have sold out and this one almost has a full house. The adults-only show has an engaging mix of burlesque, dancers and circus acts. Patrons have a choice of dinner and show ($86) or show only with a bar menu ($44). Bookings: 4956 2066.