Saturday 20 December 2014

Top Ten Shows of 2014

I managed to see 91 shows this year, down 31 from last year - but I blame the three weeks I spent in Peru and the three weeks I managed to watch 51 films at the Melbourne Film Festival! 
Again, it has been a variety of dance, performance, cabaret, burlesque, circus and the list continues. I do feel very lucky to be living in Melbourne, a city that has such a thriving and invigorating performing arts scene. So even if your show ranks in at 91, I would still like to give a big thank you to everyone involved with all the shows I saw and creating pieces of work for people to see and discuss.
However, this will be my list of only my top ten shows of 2014, so here we go...

If I reviewed the show on an official basis, the link to the review is attached.

1. Finucane & Smith's Global Smash Club (Melbourne Fringe Festival)
North Melbourne Town Hall

So I was in two minds about including this in my top ten because it wasn't exactly a show but rather different performances spread throughout the course of an evening at the Fringe Hub BUT when I considered them as a continuous flow of performances, I was gobsmacked and hypnotised by them. The highlight of the evening was Anna Lumb's gimp hip-hop rap in response to what art is. 

It's the third F&S show I have seen (and already got my tickets booked for Caravan Burlesque) and the variety of artists and art forms continues to be daring, bold, affecting, confronting and extremely entertaining.

Friday 19 December 2014

Flashblaks review

With their recent residency at La Mama Theatre, Ilbijerri Theatre Company, Australia’s longest-running Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander theatrical company, performed a staged reading of a new piece of work by Jacob Boehme and directed by Isaac Drandic.

Flashblaks looked at a variety of themes revolving around identity, whether it be cultural, sexual, individual or social. Boehme used three generations of women from one Indigenous family to tell this story and despite these generational gaps, the issues and struggles end in corresponding for each woman.

Monday 15 December 2014

Circus Oz's Close to the Bone review

When I go to the circus I often can’t help feeling like a child again as I watch in awe, wonderment and envy at the acts on display. Fortunately for me, these feelings continue to be felt at the Melba Spiegeltent with the current show from Circus Oz, Close To The Bone.
The first thing you notice upon entering is the surprising size of the Spiegeltent. It’s a small and intimate space, which works well from an audience member perspective because no matter where you sit, you can more or less hear the heavy breathing of the performers, see the sweat dripping down their faces, and really see the strength and flexibility on display. These are highly talented professionals who are pushing themselves to their limits, and possibly even further.

Thursday 11 December 2014

Top 10 TV Shows of 2014

Well here it is, my top ten television shows of 2014, which was actually quite easy to compile because even though I feel like I watch a lot of tv, these ones stood out so much more than any other shows I watch.
I know there will be some shows people will be surprised are omitted, but sadly I can't watch everything - although that would be great - and then there are some shows that completely and utterly bore me; hello Game of Thrones
The only annoying thing about TV this year has been the damn half season seasons. What happened to the days when the whole season was aired in one go?
Anyway, without further ado, here we go:

1. The Walking Dead (season 5)

It's an interesting choice for me because I feel like this show is very hit and miss with its plot and character development but my obsession for zombies and the stellar performance by Melissa McBride, Norman Reedus and Andrew Lincoln make this an unmissable series for me.
The quick but brutal wrap up of Terminus was definitely some smart writing and Carol going all Rambo-like was awesome. Slight lull mid-season but picked up again in the last few episodes.
In a show where characters are killed off regularly, the two deaths this half season have been very unexpected and brutal and am looking forward to the second half of the season in February.

Kindred review

Every week in Australia a woman is killed by a current or former partner. It is an astonishingly frightening statistic and yet doesn’t seem to be reported by much of the media. Produced by Goldfish Creative, Rachael Blackwood’s new play Kindred brings this issue to the surface as she explores one woman’s struggle to escape from a violent relationship.
We are introduced to this relationship between Princess (Aimee Sanderson) and Knight (Ben Ridgwell) through the eyes of Princess’ various “personalities”: the childlike Minnie (Jessica Martin), the sexual Selina (Madeleine Mackenzie), the motherly Faun (Gabrielle Sing), the wise June (Aisha Jakszewicz) and the aggressive Diana (Blackwood herself).
From the initial fairy-tale beginnings of meeting the charming knight, through the gradual abuse suffered by Princess, right up to the difficult-to-watch final moments, Blackwood’s script is brutal, honest and unflinching.

Tuesday 9 December 2014

Dog Day Trio review

Michael Olsen’s Dog Day Trio presents a trilogy of monologues of people lamenting and reminiscing about their contrasting and varied lives. While the narratives are linked by themes of love, loss, death, and life passing us by, they are highly individual stories about an assassin, a widower and a hotel housekeeper.

We open with Cynthia (Rosa Nix), as she irons her handkerchiefs and gradually reveals that she was – and still is – an assassin. As she teaches us the 9 steps to being an assassin, she beguiles us with her past identities and kills: “You always remember your first,” she fondly says. 

The story is intriguing and filled with light comedic moments from this seemingly gentle murderess, in an intelligent believable performance by Nix. All the elements of writing, directing and acting come together so seamlessly in this piece that I could easily have watched Cynthia’s story unfold for an hour.

Unfortunately I felt the other two stories of mournful George (Kirk Alexander) and hotel housekeeper Betty (Kelly Jane Harrison) are not as absorbing. With Betty’s narrative timeline traveling back and forth, and with many characters introduced, her story is difficult to keep up with. On the contrary, while George’s narrative is more linear, it felt a little too long to sustain audience interest. Both these stories have potential to be just as affecting as Cynthia’s with some fine-tuning to the narrative. Despite these issues, Alexander and Harrison’s performances are also well-thought-out and authentic.

Thursday 4 December 2014

It's GIN-tastic!

There are only three beverages that I drink; water, fruit juice (except orange) and gin. That's it. I don't like the taste of wine, coffee, tea and the rest of them. Weird I know. So when my friend advised me that a Bombay Sapphire inspired gin pop-up bar was opening in Melbourne for a limited time, I got more than a little excited!

Called Project Botanicals, Bombay Sapphire created a unique bar with ten brilliantly designed gin cocktails, each one specific to one of the botanicals found in Bombay, including juniper berries, coriander seeds and bitter almonds. Paired with these cocktails were some mouth-watering tapas style dish created by chef Gary Mehigan.

For a $38 entry fee, you received two cocktails and accompanying dishes, which is more than reasonable but I was a little disappointed by the lack of vegetarian options. There were two desserts that were meat-free but of the 8 'tapas' dishes, only two had a vegetarian alternative. Fortunately, you could mix and match your dishes, and so I ended up with:
Cubeb Berry Fizz and Tartine of Field Mushrooms and
Orris Root Aviation and Strawberries and Cream.

Tuesday 2 December 2014

The House Of Yes review

It took me exactly 37 seconds to realize that I was going to be in pure bliss watching Little Ones Theatres production of The House Of Yes, a bizarre yet hilariously witty play by Wendy Macleod.
It’s Thanksgiving in 1983, and Marty (Benjamin Rigby) has returned home with his fiancée Lesly (Anna McCarthy). As we meet the rest of the family – his mentally unstable and Kennedy-obsessed twin sister “Jackie O” (Genevieve Giuffre), younger brother Anthony (Paul Blenheim) and matriarch, Mrs. Pascal (Josh Price, in a superb casting decision) – the domestic Pandora’s box is well and truly opened in this satirical play on class, incest and mental illness.

Saturday 22 November 2014

Tomás Ford: The Final Chase review

In Tomás Ford's one-man cabaret thriller, The Final Chase, we follow a secret agent as he attempts to find his missing girlfriend while simultaneously trying to track down his arch-nemesis. It proves to be a case that ends up fatal for one of the three as the audience is taken along this exhilarating ride.
Clearly there can be no secret-agent show that isn’t slightly inspired by James Bond, but there is also a little witty bit of Maxwell Smart and possibly a sliver of Austin Powers stirred into this mix. However, Ford still creates a strong character in his flawed and troubled yet calculating agent who is damn good at what he does – killing people.

Friday 21 November 2014

Trolls review

In 2013, four writers (Alan Grace, Nic Stevens, Elaine Cope and head writer Neil Triffett) created fake online personas and went on the internet coaxing out trolls and exploring what freedom of expression can actually mean. Most of the dialogue in Trolls is a verbatim conversation the actual writers had, and with this core material, Triffett has created an absorbing and discussion-provoking play.
The whole cast (Scott Gooding, Cat Commander, Gabriel Partington, Emma Tufrey Smith and Laura Jane Turner) – must be congratulated on their efforts. No-one missed a beat with their almost frenetic performances of the various characters they played, from the reenactments of the interactions the writers had, to portraying the writers themselves and presenting their findings to us. Commander and Turner were particularly impressive in their achievements.
Fleur Kilpatrick’s effective direction is evident throughout Trolls. As with her writing, Kilpatrick has a knack for creating sophisticated experiences for audiences which allow us to see and to consider things we wouldn’t otherwise. She has clearly given the actors the confidence and support to further explore their characters and successfully take us along for the bumpy ride.

Monday 17 November 2014

Lost & Found review

Having recently seen Daniel Keene’s brilliant Dreamers, I was looking forward to seeing more of his work in Verve Studios’ production Lost & Found. Performed by the second year Professional Actor’s Studio graduates and directed by Peta Hanrahan, the play looks at three short stories by Keene all dealing with loss or gain around life: “The Violin”, “Neither Lost nor Found” and “What Remains”.

By far, the most powerful performances among the three were in “Neither Lost nor Found”, in which an estranged mother and daughter are reunited. The two actors Nicole Morgan and Danelle Wynne were able to connect emotionally with the characters and offer some significant insight into the minds of these people.

Sunday 16 November 2014

Can you Escape…?

I've recently added a new addiction to my life and it is Escape Rooms. It's a fairly new idea to the Melbourne scene, where you have 45 minutes to find clues and solve puzzles to help you escape from a "themed" locked room. 

Escape Room has been open for roughly two months and comes with six themed rooms - Slaughterhouse, Vampire Chronicles, The Gallery, Jungle Safari, Prison Break and The Mummy Returns. There is a gradual turnover with new rooms every six months or so, and one upcoming room is an "Up" themed room!

Saturday 15 November 2014

Dreamers review

Originally commissioned for French theatre company Tabula Rasa, the English-language premiere of Dreamers presented by fortyfivedownstairs could easily be a narrative born straight out of current Australian politics and newspapers. The story follows a young Muslim refugee, Majid, who seeks work and acceptance from a community that eyes him with suspicion, disdain and aggression.
Majid (the impressive Yomal Rajasinghe) is waiting for the bus where he meets the lonely and much older Anne (Helen Morse). Through a second chance encounter their friendship deepens into a romantic relationship, much to the outrage of the town’s residents.

Friday 7 November 2014

The uncertainty of mates and dates

For the past six weeks I have been seeing a guy. Six weeks! That is virtually a lifetime for me. And it's not because I am afraid of commitment or relationships but purely because I have either not liked a guy enough to warrant seeing him or vice versa (shocking I know) or due to circumstances out of our control the relationship could not continue.

I met Sam* the old fashioned way - on Manhunt. We bonded over our mutual like of Saved By The Bell and ended up watching the "scandalous" unauthorised behind the scenes film together. The next six weeks passed by and we spent more time together; going to the movies and theatre, having dinner and spending nights together. He would pick me up from work, drop me off home and met various friends of mine. All the makings of a great relationship. Right? WRONG.

Sunday 5 October 2014

My top ten shows at the 2014 Melbourne Fringe Festival

So another Melbourne Fringe festival comes to an end, and having watched 27 shows, I present to you my TOP 10!
If I reviewed the show on an official basis, the link to the review is attached.


So technically this was a free event at the Fringe Club BUT every single performance was amazing and I was thrilled to be able to see another Finucane and Smith show. I feel this shows encapsulates what Fringe should be all about, daring, bold, affecting, confronting and extremely entertaining.

Some acts I had seen before but with a show like this, once is never enough - still waiting to see a repeat of Finucane's act to U2's "With or Without You"- even after a year,  I still remember it so vividly. Highlight from this evening would have to be Anna Lumb's gimp hip-hop rap in response to what art is. 

Sunday 17 August 2014

My top ten films at the 2014 Melbourne International Film Festival

Another year, another Melbourne International Film Festival. Bought myself a passport and managed to surpass last year's effort of 37 films to 51 films.
This included films from Spain, USA, Germany, Australia, France, Taiwan, Georgia, India, China, South Korea, UK, Japan, Norway, Brazil, Iran, Austria, Canada, Finland, Mongolia and Italy

These are my top ten:

1. Mommy

I don't think Xavier Dolan can do any wrong. He gets such amazing work from his actors - in this case Antoine-Olivier Pilon, Suzanne Clement and Anne Dorval, who just about steals every scene she is as the mother to Steve, a troubled, violent youth who returns home.
The writing is flawless and Dolan creates a story that demands your attention. Some beautifully shot scenes including the "dream sequence" and a soundtrack that supports the development of the story. Cleverly filmed aspect ratio comes into effect at pivotal moments of the film too.
It reminded me a little of I Killed My Mother but (and not wanting to take away from its greatness either) much stronger all round.