Saturday, 2 June 2018

PUFFS review

I am not a Harry Potter fan, and I say that having never read the books or watched the movies, but the story of a boy wizard and magic spells have never interested me. That is, until I saw PUFFS or Seven Increasingly Eventful Years at a Certain School of Magic and Magic. Set during Harry and friends' time at said school of magic, PUFFS focuses on another student who was around at the time of Harry's reign, Wayne, and his friends who had been assigned house Puff, the house that no one really wants to be assigned.

Written by Matt Cox, PUFFS is littered of Harry Potter references and in-jokes, and while some of them went over my head, if you are at all familiar with the tropes of such stories, then you will still find yourself laughing along. Cox isn't just making cardboard cutouts of fantasy stories in his play, but creating fully fleshed out characters with motivations and desires that you find yourself supporting wholeheartedly. This is done so carefully and considered, that you don't realise how emotionally attached you are to the characters until the final genuinely suspenseful scenes.

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

fluttering hearts // thinking machines review

Forest Collective has been creating works focusing on contemporary classical music since it was founded in 2009. In their latest performance, fluttering hearts // thinking machines the company collaborated with queer artist Addison to consider how technology and our emotions intersect and what the impact of modern living has had on our interactions and relationships with others.

Joining Addison on stage was an orchestra of ten Forest Collective musicians: Nick Yates, Kim Tan, Vilan Mai, Nathan Juriansz, Clare Gorton, Nikki Edgar, Bec Scully, William Elm, Trea Hindley and Ryan Williams. The intimacy of the venue at Abbotsford Convent gave us the opportunity to watch every musician - led by conductor Evan Lawson - playing their instrument and be mesmerised by how each one would lose themselves to the music. The trombonist who closed her eyes and was swept by the music, the flutist who tapped her foot to the beats and the accordionist who used his entire body to play their instrument was enchanting to watch. In turn, it allowed us to give ourselves over to the performance and be taken on our own journey and reflection of love and loss.

Saturday, 26 May 2018

Her Father's Daughter review

It's been just over 120 years since Hedda Gabbler was introduced to the world in Henrik Ibsen's acclaimed play of a young woman searching for her personal freedom with devastating results. While it remains a classic in its own right, writer Keziah Warner has taken this story and transported it into a contemporary setting with Her Father's Daughter.

Performed in the Prahran Council Chambers, it is initially the perfect setting to reflect the lifestyle that Hedda and her husband have. The difficulty with performing in the chambers, while appropriately opulent, is that none of these 'rooms' create an atmosphere of being in someone's home and as such you are unable to believe in the world being presented.

Despite this, director Cathy Hunt utilises the spaces to allow for constant movement and action from the cast that prevents them from being enveloped by the adornment and furnishings of the rooms. She ensures there's a familiarity with the way in which the actors interact with the environment but the final scene had a few issues with blocking and the tension between Hedda and Brack could have gone further in exploring the intensity and gravity of the events leading up to that moment.

Monday, 21 May 2018

DE STROYED review

In The Second Sex, French feminist writer Simone de Beauvior asked what is a woman? In DE STROYED, actor Jillian Murray and director Suzanne Chaundy use de Beauvoir's words to present a thoroughly engaging work that explores what it means to be a woman but also what it means to love and to age. 

It took months for Murray and Chaundy to read through de Beauvoir's work and create their story. Eventually the script was sourced from eight pieces of de Beauvoir's writing including The Woman Destroyed and The Age of Discretion. One can only imagine the difficulty of finding the right material for the story they wanted to tell. However, the hard work has paid off with this remarkable production.

Friday, 18 May 2018

Society review

Circus for adults comes to Melbourne in the form of After Dark Theatre's Society, a circus-cabaret set to the free-spirited vibe of New Orleans. Suitably taking place in the Melba Spiegeltent, there are plenty of acts that delight and impress audiences.

Eight talented artists appear throughout the show and they work extremely well as an ensemble and in supporting each other. The standout routines include Jacinta Rohan with her unsettling contortionism, Mathew Brown's skilful straps numbers and Alyssa Moore impresses the audience with a high-risk performance on the Russian Bar.

Tully Fedorowjtsch is also a highlight with his acts, including the fast spinning of two water-filled bowls and barely sending any drops into the crowd, and his balancing/spinning of a giant cube frame.

Sunday, 13 May 2018

Canine Choreography - Next Wave Festival review

Since 2009, Dances with Dogs has been approved by the Australian National Kennel Council as an official sport in Australia. That's right; dog owners perform fully themed, costumed and choreographed dance numbers to music with their canine counterparts. Presented as part of Next Wave, Canine Choreography takes a number of dog owners and their pets and has them recreating award winning Dances with Dogs routines while highlighting the relationships and bonds we share with dogs.

Creator Danielle Reynolds interviews a number of dog owners, including some from the Dances with Dogs community. There is a slight Best In Show mockumentary feel throughout as people gush over their pets and the seriousness in which competitive dog dancing is discussed. These moments prove to be the most entertaining and unfortunately this is where the problem with Canine Choreography lies.

Saturday, 12 May 2018

Jupiter Orbiting - Next Wave Festival review

As you enter Jupiter Orbiting, creator and performer Joshua Pether is nervously decorating a table with Lego blocks, coloured paper and animal figurines. It feels like we are watching the preparation of a child's party, however with the rest of the stage empty and dark, there is trepidation in the air.

Using a science fiction narrative, this performative piece explores childhood trauma and grief, which Pether juxtaposes with scenes that are equally representative of innocence and naivety. From a distance, the coloured pieces of paper used at the beginning of the show resemble crushed origami cranes, a symbol of hope.  There's even contradiction in its title, alluding to the 12 years it takes for Jupiter to complete its orbital period. This could easily be the age that Pether is portraying, one that is full of liveliness and zest, yet the planet itself is desolate and void of any life.