Saturday, 20 January 2018

Spectrum - Midsumma Festival review

Uncovered Circus returns to Midsumma Festival with their new show, Spectrum. While last year's show, Uncovered, explored homosexuality and first time encounters, this time round, director and performer Dave Coombs has broadened the scope looking to highlight the experiences of the rainbow that creates the LGBTQIA+ community. 

Spectrum begins with an intriguing opening act with Liam Dunner on the aerial straps. It's an arresting routine with the rest of the cast standing either side of him, gradually placing a row of coloured bottles centre stage in recognition of the rainbow flag, thus firmly establishing the intent of this show.

The range of acts that follow showcase the skills these up and coming circus performers have worked hard on refining. Spectrum asks a lot from its cast and while there are a few mishaps here and there (this is circus after all), they deliver some exceptional moments. Adam Malone displays incredible control and speed with his acrobatic hula-hoop act, and his head-balancing act on the Washington trapeze to Tinashe's "Bated Breath" can easily be considered to be Spectrum's heart stopping moment.

The song selection is integral to a circus such as this in heightening the emotions and experience being presented. Zoƫ Marshall and Nicole Pienaar's aerial hoop act to Abra's "Thinking of U" is a great example of a song working alongside their intimate choreography and vulnerable body language and expressions to create a clear and affecting story. Regardless of where you sit under the LGBTQIA+ umbrella, the stirring response to Marshall and Pienarr's act is a universal one.

Friday, 19 January 2018

Lucky: Songs by Kylie - Midsumma Festival review

She's been an Aussie darling from the moment she graced our television screens in April 1986 as Charlene Robinson on Neighbours. Since then, Kylie Minogue has become an international icon with a string of pop songs, and Melbourne is now fortunate enough to celebrate her in a tribute performance with an intimate look at her life and career.

In Lucky: Songs by Kylie Michael Griffiths is Kylie and recalls her early beginnings, failed romances and moments that cause her to question her mortality. One of the most appealing aspects of the show is that Griffiths doesn't dress like Kylie or 'act' like Kylie, rather he just is Kylie and it's fascinating how quickly you can easily accept this. In his white fitted shirt and black trousers and shoes, there are no hot pants or big curly blonde wigs in sight. It adds depth to the show and the defining moments of Michael Hutchence's death and Kylie's cancer battle, become even stronger.

Sunday, 7 January 2018

A Midsummer Night's Dream review

Nestled within the Royal Botanic Gardens, The Australian Shakespeare Company present William Shakepeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. This outdoor performance is the perfect way to spend a Melbourne summer evening enjoying a picnic with friends, surrounded by nature and being thoroughly entertained by the hijinks these Athenian residents and fairies find themselves in. 

For those unaware, the plot follows the marriage between Theseus, the Duke of Athens, and Hippolyta, the Queen of the Amazon. However their marriage is put on hold when Egeus announces he want his daughter Hermia to marry Demetrius, despite Hermia wanting to marry Lysander and Hermia's close friend Helen being desperately in love with Demetrius. Within the forest that these young lovers find themselves, Oberon, the King of the Fairies attempts to put Titania, the Queen of the Fairies, under a magic spell. Of course, things don't go quite according to plan and just who is supposed to be in love with who becomes one confusing and chaotic romantic comedy.

Saturday, 6 January 2018

The Unbelievables review

Magic, circus, live music and dance come together this summer at Arts Centre Melbourne with The Unbelievables. The variety show presents world-class performers that will often leave audiences captivated by what they are seeing in this two-hour live extravaganza.

Roberto Carlos Aguilar's juggling is an absolute highlight of the show and to have had him on stage for even a few more minutes would have been amazing. At times juggling with his mouth - yes, his mouth - this was one of the most thrilling acts of the evening, with Aguilar reaching speeds and variations that you rarely - if ever - get to see.

Aleksandra Kiedrowicz is mesmerising with her aerial performance and the accompanying musical rendition of Des'ree's "Kissing You" by Emi Secrest is a breathtaking moment, as is any musical number with Secrest. Sos and Victoria Petrosyan's Guinness World Record breaking act of 16-costume change illusions in two minutes will leave you gobsmacked, trying to figure out exactly how it is done.

Friday, 5 January 2018

A Simple Space review

Having seen circus troupe Gravity & Other Myths perform Backbone at Melbourne Festival last year, there was much anticipation about seeing their debut show, A Simple Space, during its return season to Melbourne. While both shows exhibiting incredible creativity and skill, it's the absence of any elaborate concept and design that were present in Backbone that allows A Simple Space to blow you away.

The show is stripped off most props, lighting effects and other elements with only a black mat roughly four metres wide and six metres deep set up on stage. With our attention ultimately glued towards the seven acrobats, they work with the only thing that's left: each other. They demonstrate surprising feats on what the human body is capable of, through a variety of acts. At one point, one performer jumps on bodies lying on the floor, the gap getting bigger and bigger with each successive jump. The highlight though, comes during the 'swinging' act with two people swinging another between them by their hands and feet. The speed and various ways in which this is executed is almost beyond comprehension.

Tuesday, 26 December 2017

Top 10 TV Shows of 2017

I spent a lot of 2017 watching a variety of TV shows from a broad range of genres and in my need to always finish what I start, I never "quit" a TV show until I finished its entire season - regardless of how bad it is or how much I hate it. But with the bad comes some utterly brilliant ones, so I decided to list my top ten TV shows of 2017. 

If you're not up to date with the season, read with caution as some spoilers may be revealed.

1. The Leftovers - season 3

In December, I went back and re-watched the entire series one episode per day. As I write this, I am two episodes from finishing the series again. The basis of the show is that on October 14 2011, 2% of the population disappeared. The show begins three years later but the emphasis is not about what happened to those 2%, but what happened to the one who stayed behind, the leftovers.
The Leftovers is a beautiful exploration of hope and faith and the struggle to keep them, and it is, without a doubt, one of the best TV shows I've ever seen. While it might not have been a hit in the ratings, the writing and the performances from every single cast member - most notably Carrie Coon - are the finest you will ever see. Max Richter's music is phenomenal and never have I had such emotional responses to a score before.
Also, it's pretty cool that the final season takes place in Australia and a couple of my friends got to share scenes with Coon.  

Saturday, 23 December 2017

Top 10 Shows of 2017

Another year of some unforgettable theatre and live performances comes to an end, and what a year it has been, managing to get to a respectable 200 shows. Not quite sure how I stayed sane in doing that, but there you go. 
Naturally I kept a list of all the shows I saw and below I present my top ten of 2017. If I reviewed the show then a link to the review is also provided.
2018 is shaping out to be the time of innovative and exciting theatre, so make sure you go and see some of it. While it's nice to make a night out of seeing some big name performers and shows, remember to also support your independent theatre makers and venues where some shows can cost you as little as $15 per person.

Here is my list:

1. Angels In America
- review

Grant Cartwright and Dushan Philips. Photo Credit: Sarah Walker
What an epic seven-hour production this show was. Tony Kushner's Pulitzer Prize winning work, Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes was performed at fortyfivedownstairs under Gary Abrahams' brilliant direction.
Abrahams brings together a remarkably talented ensemble of actors to tell this story, which despite being set in the American 80s still has extreme relevance and prevalence today regarding social stigma of homosexuality and AIDS.
Some of the strongest performances of the year were present here including those from Simon Cornfield, Grant Cartwright, Emily Goddard, Helen Morse and Dushan Philips, with the evocative sound and lighting providing greater insight into the minds and thoughts of the various characters.
Also, can't not mention how amazing that wooden four-poster bed was by how it was utilised and what it represented during the show.
If there were an award for best use of a single prop, this would be the winner.

Put simply, Angels In America was a gripping, powerful and affecting theatre at its best.