Thursday 30 July 2015

The Last Five Queers review

More and more, you hear people say "it's a small world". Thanks to modern living, our lives are becoming intertwined in varied and surprising ways. in The Last Five Queers, book by Adam Noviello & Madi Lee and music by Tony Award-winning composer Jason Robert Brown, we meet five individuals who are all connected with each other in some way. In this song cycle cabaret, their relationships are all pushed to the forefront as they tackle the high and lows of being in love with someone and trusting someone enough to give yourself over to them.

Friday 24 July 2015

Hitchcocks's Birds review

Alfred Hitchcock was a genius when it came to creating cinematic experiences. Very few directors, if any, have been able to recreate the tension and anxiety that Hitchcock managed to conjure up in scenes such as Janet Leigh's shower death in Psycho and Grace Kelly's attack in Dial M for Murder. However, behind the scenes, things weren't always so "great" for his leading ladies. In Hitchcock's BirdsLaura Johnston explores what it really meant to be a woman in one of Hitchcock's movies. 

Johnston portrays a number of these Hollywood legends, including Leigh, Kelly, Doris Day and Tippi Hedren and while many of the stories are not exactly new to anyone who has an interest in the man behind the camera or the women in front of it, the way Johnston tells these stories is what draws you in. Johnston uses verbatim interviews and speeches from these stars, which builds on the authenticity of Hitchcock's Birds. This is also supported by her portrayals of the eight actors, where with some simple but highly effective mannerisms and expressions she captures the elegance of Kelly, the liveliness of Day, the frustrations of Hedren and so on and so on. 

Saturday 18 July 2015

Made In China review

You wouldn't expect the seedy underworld of Dublin to have much in common with martial arts, but in Mark O'Rowe's dark comedy, Made In China, these two worlds collide for three men, who are all facing their own power struggle with each other and gang politics. One wants to get out, one wants to get in and the other one want to remain on top.

Unfortunately, the story moves at an incredibly slow pace, with nothing happening until roughly the final 20 minutes of this two-hour play. Even when the plot reaches its climax, it still feels drawn out and lacks any suspense. There is minimal character development, which has these people come across as monotonous beings. Even by the end of the show, there is very little that has actually changed for these people in the greater scheme of things. 

High up in the gang food chain, Kirby (Stuart Jeanfield) is such a weird character that his menace and aggressiveness is farcical, and not in a good way. In fact, I found a lot of the humour in this to be quite a miss, particular the cringe inducing sexual overtone scenes with Kirby and his Nik Naks crisps. Hughie (Vaughn Rae) is more or less a passive pawn in his power struggle with Kirby from beginning to end. Damien Harrison as Paddy is fortunate enough to play a character that at least gets to go on an emotional journey and is somewhat changed by the end of the proceedings, even if the way it occurs seems forced.

Thursday 9 July 2015

Shake review

Fittingly having her Melbourne premiere of Shake at The Butterfly Club, Becky Lou lives up to its name. Twirling tassels, bouncing breasts and jiggling buttocks; there is a lot of shaking going on. However, there is more to this show than just sexy and entertaining burlesque routines, as they are interspersed with Becky Lou's musings on significant moments in her life that have led to her career as a burlesque performer.

Shake is a well-crafted show that allows Becky Lou to expose herself in more than just the literal sense. Beginning with memories of her four-year-old self dancing topless in a supermarket to Madonna's Like A Virgin, each story that Becky Lou shares has a purpose. It's not for entertainment value, it's not to shock us, but it's to strengthen the relationship women have with their body.

Sunday 5 July 2015

In Search of Owen Roe review

In Search of Owen Roe is a story that begins from nothing. It is about Vanessa O'Neill's journey to discovering who her great-grandfather, Owen Roe, was. From a patch of grass on an unmarked grave in which he is buried under, O'Neill captivates us with her rich family history as she slowly begins to unravel the mystery of her great-grandfather.

O'Neill, is a wonderful storyteller and her ability to interweave various time spans into the show and play a variety of characters is quite masterful. Her use of some subtle but effective props strengthen the performance, especially Annie Edney's creation of O'Neill's family tree and the map of Ireland. It was extremely beneficial as an audience member to have these guides to refer to intermittently, to keep us grounded with all the characters and time periods.

I feel more emphasis was needed on Owen Roe himself however, as at times it felt like the story went off on a tangent. As touching and emotive as it was to hear about O'Neill's father's battle with Alzheimers, it was not what I ultimately wanted to learn about, as it did not do much to further Owen Roe's story. My attention was all on Roe and some refinement to ensure that he remains the focal point of In Search of Owen Roe is necessary.