Saturday 27 June 2015

SHIT review

Nicci Wilks, Peta Brady and Sarah Ward
Photo by Sebastian Bourges
I'm going to hazard a guess and say that Patricia Cornelius' SHIT would be the theatrical equivalent of The Wolf of Wall Street, in holding the record for the most amount of expletives used. Beyond this, SHIT is raw, compelling and honest in its portrayal of not only three women who are on the outs of society, but how women who subvert societal expectations are treated and seen. And it is fucking brilliant.

The three women, Billy, Sam and Bobby (Nicci Wilks, Peta Brady and Sarah Ward) have grown up together living in and out of residential care units. They really are shit people and if the opening conversation between them isn't enough to convince you with its barrage of swearing and aggression, then stick around, as there's plenty to come. The idea that they have lost their womanhood because of their behaviours and appearance is explored throughout SHIT. It's no coincidence that Cornelius has branded them with traditionally male-gendered names and the point is driven home when one of the characters begins to refer to women as "them", leading to one of - if not the most - powerful scene of the night. 

Thursday 25 June 2015

I Might Take My Shirt Off review

Every now and again, there is a show that is so clever, so witty, so painful, so funny, so daring and so much more than you thought you were getting in to. Dash Kruck's cabaret show, I Might Take My Shirt Off, is a prime example of this.

Kruck plays Lionel, a man who is struggling to accept that the love of his life has left him. To be perfectly honest, he's a heartbroken mess, and with the stern advice of his frightening German therapist who orders him to go out and express himself, Lionel ends up performing in his very own cabaret performance.

Not Dead Yet review

Lynn-Ruth Miller has lived a long time. She may have even almost died a few times, but in her cabaret show Not Dead Yet, she lets it be known that even at 81, she's no where near dead yet, not by a longshot. With a mixture of story telling, music and songs, Miller takes us on a journey on what it means to not only live, but to be alive.

Beginning as a toddler, where even the temptation of tapioca pudding was not enough for her to drink her milk, which she still hates, Miller manages to fill us in on eight decades worth of stories in just 60 minutes. It's a carefully crafted show where plenty of thought has been put in to how these stories will be told. Miller's tenuous relationship with her mother is summed up with a few powerful words, the beginning (and end) of relationships is covered in just a minute but yet we feel like we know every detail of these events.

Sunday 21 June 2015

Circus Oz: But Wait...There's More review

Circus Oz returns to Melbourne with But Wait...There's More, fusing circus acts with consumerism and "infobesity"; the idea that everything is being commodified and the world is moving at faster speeds than before. 

The opening act of Lilikoi Kaos and her hoops was amazing. With hoop acts becoming a dime-a-dozen in recent circus productions, Kaos brought so much energy and fun to the routine it was impossible not to get swept up by the momentum. The program definitely does not lie when it compares her as a "mixture of Jessica Rabbit, Lucille Ball and Tank Girl". Kaos has a unique talent that is great to watch on stage. 

Similarly the enchanting balletic unicycle act by Kyle Raftery and April Dawson was mesmerising and the accompanying music created an almost whimsical environment. In fact, all the music, led by Ben Hendry and Ania Reynolds, was the one superbly consistent factor throughout the show. Each act's musical soundtrack was perfectly suited to build the mood and the suspense and change the tone as needed. 

Tuesday 16 June 2015

Fool For Love review

The tale of two lovers in a tumultuous relationship has been told time and time again that it can be difficult to tell a story like that that will draw your audience in and leave them wanting more. It can also be daunting to do well when using Sam Shepard's well-known play, Fool For Love. However, in Red Theatricals' production of Fool For Love, they manage to do all that and a whole lot more.

Presented by Q44 Theatre Company, it's an exhilarating ride watching this dark tale unfold and this is mostly to do with the performances of its two leads, Mark Davis and Rebecca Fortuna, who are quite frankly, phenomenal. They have truly captured their characters and the chemistry is electric in their scenes together. 

Little Daughters review

There's a strong sense of unease as I take my seat for Little Daughters. Having to walk through the seven motionless actors on the stage to get to my seat is quite eerie and almost intimidating. They are all dressed in black and with the stage bare and cloaked in black too, there is a dark mood that covers the room. The six men on stage stare intently at the sole woman, their eyes could pierce through her skin if they were daggers.

It is never explicitly stated what happens to this woman (Annie Lumsden) but we get enough information to know that she is the victim of a sexual assault. The six men portray a doctor, boyfriend, friends and possible assailant. The one thing they all have in common though is their demand at controlling and handling the situation. While the men discuss Lumsden's assault among them, they consistently talk at her when addressing the issue. The idea that she perhaps needs to forget about it and move on is thrown around and there is an echoing of doubt and frustration coming from them all, in particular the over-the-top portrayal of her doctor (Martin Can De Wouw), who is comically frightening in his assessment and treatment of Lumsden.

Monday 15 June 2015

Retro Futurismus review

There wouldn't be - or shouldn't be - anyone with an interest in the Arts who is unaware of Maude and Anni Davey. Working in theatre, burlesque and circus for decades, the twins have certainly left a name for themselves. In Retro Futurismus, they join creative forces with Anna Lumb and Gabi Barton to present an evening of vaudeville entertainment with a sharp referential nod to retro science-fiction film noir pop culture. Sound like a whole lot to take in? Well it is. 

Aesthetically, this show is brilliant. The costumes are all eye-catching and time and time again I caught myself looking at how much effort would have gone into creating them. In terms of the acts themselves though, I was left feeling somewhat disappointed with most of the twenty or so acts seeming to lack a climax or crescendo to excitement to excitement.

Tuesday 9 June 2015

Love, Love, Love review

In June 1967, The Beatles appeared on Our World, the world’s first live television satellite link-up that was watched by roughly 400 million people across the world. While this major event was happening, playwright Mike Bartlett has envisioned a much smaller life-changing moment also occurring. In Love, Love, Love, presented by Red Stitch and directed by Denny Lawrence, two free-spirited nineteen year-olds meet for the first time in a small London flat. Sparks are immediate, and we visit their relationship again in 1990, and then in 2011.

The chance encounter between Kenneth and Sandra (Paul Ashcroft and Ella Caldwell) in the first act is full of excitement and energy and there is a genuine spark between the two actors. With the addition of Jordan Fraser-Trumble as Kenneth’s more conservative older brother, the script develops at a solid pace. However, the following two acts struggled to retain my interest as much as the first. There was nothing engaging or new about what I was watching and it culminated in a pseudo-ending with white middle-class people complaining about how hard life is. It reached the point where the characters themselves become far less likeable, especially Sandra who ends up resembling a B-grade character from Absolutely Fabulous.

Monday 8 June 2015

I See Me; and Meryl Streep review

Everyone has an actor, singer, athlete or performer of some sort that they idolise and dream of being. As people get older, they generally grow out of the fantasy but not 17-year old Alexandra Keddie. She wants to be Hollywood actor, Meryl Streep, or at least be just like her. Welcome to cabaret show, I See Me; and Meryl Streep.

The stage immediately reminded me of when I was a teenager and my bedroom was adorned with posters, and memorabilia from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. From what I can see, Keddie appears to have every single film Streep has made, photos and posters, cushions and clothing with her face printed on them, and a signed frame image of her too. The finishing touch is the "Mountain to Meryl" chart, where she has a picture of Meryl's face at the top of a mountain and her own at the bottom. Each time Keddie perfects a new skill or accent, she climbs up the mountain, inching closer to her idol.

Friday 5 June 2015

Ghost Machine review

There's a ghost that is said to haunt The Butterfly Club. Upstairs, in its theatre, it lingers on stage, flashing lights on and off and - oh hang on a minute, it's just Laura Davis covered in a white bed sheet in her 2015 Melbourne International Comedy Festival award-winning show, Ghost Machine.

Davis travels back to her first existential crisis, at the age of 11, and from there she revisits the moments in her life where things haven't always been that great. It is all done however in a masterful way where despite sharing these personal stories and experiences, she gives the audience permission to laugh at/with her because we can all relate to what she is saying. We have all experienced the despair, the rage and the humiliation of our circumstances in some way, shape or form.

Monday 1 June 2015

Home Invasion review

Home Invasion is a play that looks at obsession and disconnection. It's about people dealing with destructive behaviours in their lives; a housewife who is haunted by JonBenét Ramsey, a schoolgirl with violent tendencies and a mechanic who feels guilty for the death of a young woman.

The cast of six - Kristina Benton, Nathan Burmeister, Trelawney Edgar, Ashleigh Goodison, Wayne Tunks and Grace Travaglia - worked well in exploring their characters and allowing them to go down the dark path. There were some well-crafted moments among them, with strong scenes between Benton and Goodison and Edgar and Burmeister.