Monday 30 March 2015

A Dinner To Die For review

Photo by Sofia Monkiewicz
I do love a good murder mystery. I've spent countless hours playing Cluedo (and watching the film religiously) and even hosted a few of my own murder mystery dinner parties. So when I saw one was being produced by Bare Elements Productions during the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, I knew I had to get involved.

A Dinner to Die For is set in 1928, and we are invited to Lord Quinten Daventry's (Craig Thompson) birthday dinner at his grand home. Invited are many of his good friends (and perhaps some of his not so good friends), including Fanny Farquar (Charlotte Strantzen), Great Uncle Bernie (Simon J Robinson), Captain Montague Smedley-Downes (Ben Loxham) and Gwendella Garavinah (Teagan Robertson). Over the course of the evening, secrets are revealed, love is declared and murder is committed, and this all before the main course is even served!

Sunday 29 March 2015

Avenue Q review

Having seen the West End production six years ago (and remembering it strongly), I had high expectations for Trifle Theatre Company's production of Avenue Q. Furthermore, I had some reservations as to whether it could match the magic of my original viewing, but within the first few minutes that doubt disappeared. We may only be in March but I can confidently say that this will be one of the best shows I see this year. 

The story follows a recent college graduate, Princeton (played by Jordan Pollard), who is a little wet behind the ears and entering the "real world". Moving to Avenue Q (the best he can afford) he gets acquainted with the locals, including Kate Monster (played by Sarah Golding), Trekkie Monster (played by the wonderful Andy McDougall), married human couple Christmas Eve and Brian (Leah Lim and Michael Linder) and Gary Coleman (in an interesting casting choice, played by Zuleika Khan).

Saturday 28 March 2015

Quiet Achievers review

Performing an improvised comedy show can be more terrifying than performing stand up. You have no idea what's going to happen next from both your fellow cast and the audience. In essence, you have no safety net. You'd think that's risky enough but the Quiet Achiever's have taken it a step further with their Melbourne International Comedy Festival show and taken away a comedian's most powerful tool; their voice.

With nothing but a musical soundtrack of 500 songs played at random, the Quiet Achievers (Andrew Strano and Charlie Sturgeon) set out to captivate us with a mixed bag of silent impro sketches. As with any impro show, there is always a chance scenes will not hit the mark and with this show there are moments when stories do fizzle out with an awkward ending or the story gets convoluted and confusing.

Tuesday 24 March 2015

Faking it for 16 years

For 16 years, I have felt helpless, worthless, anxious, lonely and depressed. 16 years. That is literally half my life. It's a scary thought when I think about that. 16 years of virtually hiding who I am. This no doubt has affected my relationships with friends, family and boyfriends. There are constant feelings of life passing me by and there is constant disappointment about where my life has headed. 

I guess I have been fortunate that even though I have had suicidal thoughts, they have been far and few in between and I never realistically thought of going through with it. The closest I ever came was running a push pin up and down my arm till I bled. Just ended up looking like a cat had scratched me. This was during my late high school years and early university life and have since realised that that type of behaviour is not at all healthy and the faint scars on my arms remind me of this.

Sunday 22 March 2015

Wet House review

A wet house is a hostel for alcoholic homeless men and women, where they can drink and sleep as much as they want with no expectations for them to be rehabilitated. They are more or less, the people that society has given up on. In Red Stitch's production of Paddy Campbell's Wet House, we get an insight into the lives of three residents and three workers of a wet house, each one struggling with their own redemption and reason for being.

Wet House is based on Campbell's first-hand experience of working in a wet house and you can see how effective a story can be when the writer well and truly knows what he is writing about. Not a single scene is wasted, no dialogue is filler, no movement is pointless. Everything that happens in Wet House has a purpose, and with six different stories being told, the pacing is controlled well and is never difficult to follow.

Saturday 14 March 2015

Nothing To Lose review

When you go to see a dance show, you expect to see people who are nimble, thin and fit. You don't expect to see fat dancers on stage. However, Force Majeure have done exactly that with their show,  Nothing To Lose, which explores the physical form of larger bodied people.

The show begins with the seven performers - Claire 'Scarlett' Burrows, Julian Crotti, Michael Cutrupi, Lala Gabor, Ally Garrett, Latai Taumoepeau, Anastasia Zaravinos - asleep on stage, like animals in the wild. As the slowly awaken from slumber and realise they are being watched (by us) they begin to challenge us, staring us down as they walk around the stage saying "fuck you" if you don't like this.

Sunday 8 March 2015

Melbourne International Festival of Games and Play

I love playing games, especially those that require you to have a strong interaction with other players and where it is not so transactional (looking at you Monopoly). This year's Melbourne International Games Festival, Fresh Air 2015 (and hosted by Pop Up Playground), is held over the long weekend in March where immersive, creative and FUN games are played.

I've been going to Pop Up Playgrounds events for a few years now - and even went when I was recovering from a collapsed lung - and the variety of games and experiences they create and present are always unique and enjoyable. Sadly I was only able to only attend two of the events - Escape Room (Van) by Escape Room Melbourne and City Dash by Fire Hazard.

In Escape Room: Surveillance, we are spies who have 45 minutes to find puzzles and solve clues to prove our innocence of being double agents. Whilst I have complete a number of these rooms throughout Melbourne (ten to be specific), Escape Room Melbourne have been far superior in their set up, design and puzzle challenges. The only difference with this one is we are in the back of a van. We have knocked out the driver (who will conveniently awaken in 45 minutes) to search the van for evidence.

e-baby review

For some people, giving birth and becoming a parent is the most beautiful experience in life. There are unfortunately women who are unable to carry a baby to term and so turn to surrogacy. In Jane Cafarella’s e-baby, inspired by interviews with infertile women and surrogates who share their stories online, we meet an accomplished lawyer who has been trying unsuccessfully for her own child for seven years. She finds a surrogate to carry her baby and we follow the relationship of these two women over the course of the pregnancy.

Both Carolyn Bock (Catherine) and Sarah Ranken (Nellie) do a solid job in portraying the often-tense relationship between these two women. Whilst it initially and naturally took a few scenes for them to appear comfortable with their characters on the preview night of e-baby, their performances feel realistic and honest. Bock finds the right balance in showing a woman who is excited about the prospect of being a mother but also depicting the desperation and shame that she would feel in fear of being seen as less of a woman. She does this both subtly and powerfully through the most miniscule of actions: a fleeting stare, a taut smile and a twitching, fidgety hand. I would have liked to see her more emotive however, in the moments where Catherine appears at her weakest and most frustrated.

Saturday 7 March 2015

Depth of Field review

Whenever I see a performance by Chunky Move, I find myself either absolutely loving it (Complexity of Belonging) or wondering what the hell it is I am watching (It Cannot Be Stopped). Fortunately, their newest show as part of Dance Massive falls firmly in to the former.

Set in the forecourt of the Malthouse Theatre, Artistic Director and choreographer  Anouk van Dijk, brings the city landscape, an urban environment and three extremely talented dancers together in a stunning performance that makes the audience think about the fleeting nature of live and life's moments.