Saturday, 15 June 2019

When The Light Leaves review

Imagine you’re a 34-year-old man with a job that while you might not love, it allows you to live the happy life you lead. What you do love however is your boyfriend and the house that you share. You have dreams of travelling the world together. Now imagine getting diagnosed with terminal cancer. What happens next? In Rory Godbold’s first play When The Light Leaves, this becomes a reality for one person who needs to make one of the most tragic – and controversial – choices of his life.

When The Light Leaves non-linear narrative consists of numerous shifts in time and perspective that allows for the story to be told with significant care and development. Fortunately, the cast that has been assembled is more than able to meet the challenges of this production, especially Tomas Parrish who plays Dan, the aforementioned 34-year-old. He displays great ability to equally highlight Dan’s resolve and fear and in switching from being broken and pained to carefree and hopeful. Leigh Scully elicits a touching sincerity as Liam, Dan’s boyfriend, as he finds himself in denial of the future that is facing the couple. Together with Parrish, the relationship they present on stage feels like it has a genuine history and with a deep felt connection between them.

Monday, 10 June 2019

Drive review

In 2007, NASA astronaut Lisa Nowak, embarked on a 14-hour drive to confront her ex-partner's new girlfriend. When apprehended by police, they discovered a wig, a BB pistol and ammunition, pepper spray, an 8-inch knife and a hammer in her car. This was clearly not intended to be a friendly visit. Drive, a new Australian work by Rebecca Meston, looks to explore not only what causes a woman who seemingly has everything to have a complete breakdown and become enveloped by revenge, but also to contemplate the expectations that are placed on women by society to play certain roles.

Unfortunately, Drive is unable to live up to the excitement of its origin and spreads itself far too thin as it attempts to make a commentary about the various factors surrounding this event. The production is too cold and distant in allowing the audience to understand our protagonist's frame of mind, and this comes mainly from the writing and the direction. Considering that Nowak wore adult diapers during her drive to prevent any unnecessary stops, Meston's script has no sense of urgency and is void of any tension and suspense. Sasha Zahra's direction is too focused in theatricality and not from a connection or emotional response to the story.

Saturday, 1 June 2019

THEM review

Unless you've lived through a war, it would be near impossible to understand the thoughts and feelings of those who have survived one. However, in Samah Sabawi's THEM, the audience is presented with an intimate exploration of five people who are caught in a war zone in the Middle East and the decisions they must make to simply stay alive.

Leila and Omar (Priscilla Doueihy and Abdulrahman Hammoud) are a young married couple with a baby, facing the agonising struggle of either leaving their village to become refugees for potentially the rest of their lives or staying put and seeing what eventuates. Omar's friends, Mohamad and Majid (Reece Vella and Khishraw Jones-Shukoor), each have their own issues to deal with as they plan their own escapes. The arrival of Salma (Claudia Greenstone), Omar's sister, who had made some questionable choices during the war, provides hope and despair for these people, which could ultimately lead to her own undoing.

Wednesday, 29 May 2019

LOVE review

We all love and we all want to be loved. It’s tough to live without it but in Patricia Cornelius’ compelling new play LOVE, the idea of the difficulties of loving and living is explored in its rawest form. The story centres on three disenfranchised youths (Carly Sheppard, Tahlee Fereday and Ben Nichols) all struggling to find a connection with one another, even if that means more heartache and pain in the long term.

Cornelius has crafted a simple story of people trying to determine who they are but with a tragic layered complexity to how everything unfolds, the production has the audience completely invested in Annie’s narrative and eager to see how things will end for her. It’s incredible witnessing Cornelius create poetry from such brutal and violent language and how the rest of the creative team brings this vision together.

Sunday, 26 May 2019

The Three Graces review

Climate change, gender equality and the role of women in society all come together in Laura Lethlean's The Three Graces. Manifesting as a water fountain that has been turned off, three goddesses come together to voice their distress and opinions of where the world is heading and whether or not it's too late to work towards change. 

Madelaine Nunn, Candace Miles and Anna Rodway play Aglaia, Thalia, and Euphrosyne, collectively known as The Three Graces who were regarded to possess the essence of beauty, charm and grace. The three actors are dressed in various black jumpsuit-like outfits that echo peploi that The Three Graces would have worn, but also suits the characters they play in the contemporary scenes. While the three are adept with the material, the performances sometimes feel too exaggerated with big, expressive movements and dialogue that is awkward and unnatural.

Tuesday, 21 May 2019

Happy-Go-Wrong review

The sparkle in Andi Snelling’s eyes is evident throughout Happy-Go-Wrong and I’m not referring to the glitter she is wearing. Snelling was born to be on the stage, so it’s disheartening that chronic illness has kept her from doing this for a number of years. However, this is all changing with her new show that has her opening up about how it feels to not be able to do the thing you love and what it has taught her about life.

In Happy-Go-Wrong, a French angel (because why not?) named Lucky has come from Cloud Nine to seek out Snelling and offer her some guidance and perspective. These scenes are interspersed with Snelling's skilful use of spoken word, physical theatre, clowning, and music to express how being diagnosed with a chronic illness has impacted her. Snelling finds a marvellous balance between humour and sadness that allows the audience to comprehend the seriousness of her illness but not to leave them all wallowing in misery.

Monday, 13 May 2019

Bitch On Heat review

Bitch on Heat is the story of Pandora, the first woman on Earth. It begins with an over-the-top electrifying opening as a figure fights to be unleashed to the world, paired with booming dramatic music and lightning visual effects. It sets the tone for Leah Shelton’s high camp performance art exploration of women, sexuality and gender through a series of interconnected vignettes that reinforces the creative genius that she possesses.

Shelton appears in a full body rubber sex doll costume that leaves you feeling disquieted at the images it stirs up. While the big open mouth and blonde wig allude to space adventurer Barbarella, your mind can’t stop from visualising the murderous Leatherface from the Texas Chainsaw Massacre films. It’s a fitting reminder to the intention of the work in highlighting women's sexuality but also the violence they endure in its various forms. Shelton fleshes out these ideas through gloriously camp humour, including one moment where that of being a good woman is linked to being a good dog with some perfectly timed and highly expressive panting.