Sunday 9 June 2024

Julia review

12 years ago, Julia Gillard delivered a speech that was voted as the most unforgettable moment of Australian TV history by Guardian readers. The "misogyny speech" was a heart pounding 15-minute parliamentary address by Australia's first and only female Prime Minister. In Julia, playwright Joanna Murray-Smith entrancingly brings to the stage pockets of the former Prime Minister's life, from when she was an 8-year-old child to her formative years and her ultimate ascension as Prime Minister of Australia while centering on this world famous speech.

Murray-Smith has done an exceptional job in not only showcasing these specific episodes of Gillard's life, but putting them together where the narrative can flow and build organically. While these may be stories that we know - like the barren fruit bowl and the infamous outcome of her professional relationship with Kevin Rudd - hearing them here, together, you begin to comprehend the enormity of abuse and harassment Gillard faced during her term as Prime Minister.

Tuesday 4 June 2024

Ghosts review

In Henrik Ibsen's Ghosts, a family tries to move forward after the death of its patriarch, but there are secrets and scandals, that unlike the recently deceased, will not stay buried for long. This recent adaptation by writer Jodi Gallagher adds an Australian atmosphere to the proceedings allowing the drama unfolding to feel more urgent and sordid.

The design elements all support this Australian environment particularly with Steven Mitchell Wright's set design, with events taking place within the skeleton of a two-storey house that still manages to symbolise wealth and privilege. It is utilised well by Wright, who also serves as director, in the way the characters interact with it, climbing through it, peering through windows and even standing on its roof. Ben Hughes' subdued lighting and Leahannah Ceff's hypnotic composition and sound provide highly successful methods in drawing us into the narrative.

Saturday 1 June 2024

Multiple Bad Things review

In Back to Back's new work, Multiple Bad Things, three employees in a warehouse spend their day putting together an ambiguous structure. As they complete this task, they take part in conversations and present behaviours focusing on inclusion, equity and diversity.

As you walk into the theatre, you are instantly captivated by Anna Cordingley's set design. Erected like a triptych, a computer workstation is positioned on one side, with numerous animal figurines decorating the entire desk. On the other side rests an inflatable flamingo float. In between the two are a variety of gold-coloured pipes and tubes in a half-finished construction that dominates the stage. Cordingley's aesthetic skill extends to the costuming of the cast, with Simon Laherty, Sarah Mainwaring and Scott Price appearing in distinctive orange uniforms and Bron Batten dressed in pink, looking like she's just stepped out of a Barbie movie.

Monday 27 May 2024

Enter an alluring bachanalian world with new immersive experience, When Night Comes

With much anticipation, Broad Encounters' new immersive experience is coming to Melbourne next month. After the record-breaking and award-winning production of A Midnight Visit and the recent, equally captivating Love Lust Lost, Broad Encounters are back with something different, something wilder, and something more rousing than ever before.

We spoke with the minds behind this upcoming theatrical adventure with co-creators and directors, Kirsten Siddle, Mike Finch and Scott Maidment.

 When Night Comes appears to be Broad Encounters' most ambitious and exciting project to date. Promising a unique, multi-sensory and intoxicating performance with theatre and cocktails, When Night Comes invites people into a tempting, intimate soiree with visions, sounds, smells, tastes and feelings to be met via its cast of sublime characters.

When Night Comes was born from an earlier work by Broad Encounters over two years ago, A Journey Most Unusual. "This was also for small groups only where they journeyed within a fantastical world where the senses were indulged and ignited," Siddle tells me. "I’ve often contemplated Hedonist and Dionysian philosophies and wanted to explore this more deeply in something that argued for sensorial pleasure and delight, both physiological and those of a magical and intuitive nature. Like much of our former work, When Night Comes, aims to be an escape from the ordinary, and an evening of marvellous extraordinary."

Wednesday 22 May 2024

The Last Word review

Imogen Whittaker likes to have the last word. In her cabaret The Last Word, and as she closes out her 20s, Whittaker reflects on that crazy little thing called love and the relationships she's had in her life.

Whittaker is an engaging storyteller and within the first few minutes of the show, her captivating charm hits every corner of the room. She finds great segues as she moves from song to song without having them feeling shoe-horned in. She's clearly thought about the structure and the purpose behind every little heartache she shares with us. She maintains a strong rapport with the audience and the repeated callbacks and pop culture drops create an atmosphere of familiarity, warmth and vulnerability in the room.

Tuesday 21 May 2024

Share House: The Musical review

Living in a house share is a rite of passage for most people. It is the period of your life where you must look after yourself and do all your own cooking, washing and shopping, while navigating the trials and tribulations of getting along with who you've chosen to live with. Share House: The Musical is built on the success of Jude Perl's 2017 comedy-cabaret Roommates: The Musical, but now there's a 15-person orchestra and four actors joining Perl on stage as she tries to negotiate the dramas of living with others and the issues that arise from that.

Isabelle Davis and Anita Mei La Terra play Perl's housemates with Davis taking the role of the harsh Jane who has been friends with Lucy since high school, and La Terra being the super positive Alice, who is the new addition to this house. With the dynamics changing due to a third housemate, all three are forced to question whether this arrangement will work for them. The three actors, especially Perl, dazzle with their vocal performances and while all songs are enjoyable, the songs they sing together are extremely fun.

Sunday 19 May 2024

360 ALLSTARS review

360 ALLSTARS is a circus show that brings the urban streets into the theatre. With acclaimed international performers, a thumping live soundtrack, and animated projections and lighting, it promises to be a phenomenal evening of groundbreaking circus. Sadly, this show may have to rethink its title as while the artists are talented, this spectacle offers nothing exciting or unique to make it stand out among the rest.

There is a lot of filler in this production with individuals introduced and re-introduced a number of times and having the audience cheer - or scream - them on. The acrobatics are impressive and clearly require a high level of skill and strength, but they are tediously one-note where it seems like they have just one trick up their sleeve that is repeated. Yes, this might be aimed at children and families, but it doesn't mean that the same level of craft in adult circus should not be applied here, particularly as there are many Australian independent circus troupes doing this incredibly well.