Kryptos, an artwork at MONA, by Brigita Ozolins

Concrete, concrete render, steel, aluminium, gold, lead, mirror, LED lighting, cuneiform artefacts, soundtracks x 3. Viewed in May 2012.

Brigita Ozolins brings MONA’s eponymous “old” and “new” together in Kryptos, an enchanting, multi-faceted and surprising installation commissioned by David Walsh. The work sits on the second of the three basement floors that make up the museum, and its plain unmarked doorway is easily missed by those who are hurrying towards the more infamous pieces covering sex, death and shit, such as the artificial digestive system of Wim Delvoye’s Cloaca Professional.

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Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (Belvoir St Theatre 2013)

Belvoir St Theatre, Sydney, 31st March 2013

Director Simon Stone follows up on last year’s controversial adaptation of Death of a Salesman with this energetic production of the Tennesee WIlliams classic Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.

This production stars Ewen Leslie (Dead Europe) as Brick and Jacqueline McKenzie (Sex With Strangers) as Maggie, the troubled couple at the heart of the play. Big Daddy, Brick’s father, is played by Marshall Napier, a last-minute substitute for Anthony Phelan.

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Contextual Review of “Happiness”, by Katharine Susannah Prichard

“Happiness” is a story told from the perspective of an elderly Aboriginal woman, focusing on the relationship of both settlers and native people towards each other and the land in outback Australia. Katharine Susannah Prichard was a founding member of the Communist Party of Australia and her novel Coonardoo is regarded as one of the first realistic and detailed portrayals of Aboriginal people in Australian Literature (Burchill). Prichard’s Marxism included a sense that human well-being depends upon our relationship to the earth (Barker 43), but it is her vitalism which is the most apparent influence in “Happiness”.

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Contextual Review of “Short-Shift Saturday”, by Gavin Casey

“Short-Shift Saturday” is narrated by a mine worker named Bill, who has moved to a gold mining town for work during the Great Depression. Casey writes from Bill’s first person perspective, providing a sympathetic view of the protagonist and demonstrating the negative social effects of the Depression on working people. The story was first published in 1937 following the Depression, but clearly reflects on Casey’s own experiences working in the Kalgoorlie goldmines during the Depression era, where despite widespread unemployment across Australia, the mining industry remained prosperous (Robertson 438). “Short-Shift Saturday” is a definitive example of social realism in Australian literature in this period, with Casey focusing on the harsh realities faced by Bill, his inability to cope, and the growing distance between him and his wife, thus exposing a wider social crisis.

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A Book Lover’s Review of Wuthering Heights (2011 Film Adaptation)

The 2011 film adaptation of Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights, starring Kaya Scodelario as Catherine and both Solomon Glave and James Howson as Heathcliff, has finally made it to Australian cinemas. In some respects, this is a difficult novel to adapt to screen, and certainly it only succeeds by dropping the overtly literary device of the framing multi-layered narration of Nelly and Lockwood, the latter not even appearing as a character in the film.

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