Friday 23 October 2015

Tender review

We all love, have loved and have lost. These are the times where we are at our happiest but also then our saddest and most vulnerable. But when you open up to someone and plan a life together, but what happens when your partner disappears and you have no memory of what happened? Presented by Avid Theatre and written by Nicki Bloom, Tender, is a tale of moving on when it seems impossible to do so.

The past/present/future structuring of the narrative is used effectively with scenes shifting adroitly between before the event, the night of the event and after the event. This gradually provides pieces of information to the audience to draw us into the unfolding narrative, and also shows the characters in different lights. This in turn builds on the emotional states explored throughout Tender, which would prove challenging and rewarding role for any actor to take on.

Monday 19 October 2015

Us review

Presented as part of La Mama Theatre's Explorations season of works in various stages of development, Margaret Hickey's Us provides an insight into six very different lives bound by one thing in common, a connection to others. Through six ten-minute monologues, these stories are explored in a light-hearted yet truthful way that has us questioning what it is we are seeking from other people.

Hickey has struck gold in assembling the cast that she has for this show.  Natalie Carr, Travis McMahon, Ned Napier, Daniel Rice, Sally-Anne Upton and Janet Watson Kruse, all find the essence of their characters and their individual displays of equal bravado and vulnerability are perfectly captured. It is clear that each has put in much thought as to how their character carries themselves and their state of mind.

Saturday 17 October 2015

Bordello review

Bordello, the newest production from The Owl and Cat Theatre, is an immersive theatrical experience revolving around one fateful evening at a brothel. We are free to explore the three storey building of the well-known venue and follow the interlocking stories between the two owners of the brothel, Yvonne and David, its three employees, Trisha, Frankie and Cherry, and two of its clientele, Harry and Mathew.

This is very much a voyeuristic experience as the audience wanders around the premises, watching secret conversations and some highly intimate moments take place. Audience members are required to wear plain black masquerade masks throughout the course of the evening, which feels like a buffer between passively watching the story unfold and spying on these character’s lives.

Monday 12 October 2015

Limbo review - Melbourne Festival

Presented as part of the Melbourne Festival, Limbo is an exhilarating blend of circus, acrobatics and cabaret that will have audiences speechless and leave them wanting much much more. With a strong nod to the 1920s and performed in a spiegeltent, Limbo transports its audience into a seedy underworld of no barriers or rules, a place where everyone can come and play no matter what your tastes and likes may be.

Its international cast ensures that they have the best of the best in its skilled performers including fire-breather sword-swallower Heather Holliday who at one point literally has the stage in flames and the near-impossible contortionist act by Tigris. Other highlights include Danic Abishev's hand-balancing act and Mikael Bres' Chinese pole act, which left audiences gasping throughout.

Sunday 11 October 2015

32 Rue Vandenbranden review - Melbourne Festival

Performed as part of the Melbourne Festival, Peeping Tom return to Australia with 32 Rue Vandenbranden, which  explores the isolation and loneliness that a group of people feel through the company's trademark fusion of dance, physical theatre and music.

The stage design, which is how the Belgian company begins developing a new creation, perfectly encapsulates the emotional state of its inhabitants. High on a mountain-top, underneath an endless sky, sit three rickety caravans. The ground is covered in snow and there is an immediate sense of remoteness and desolation. The emotive sound composition by Juan Carlos Tolosa and Glenn Vervliet strongly adds to the feelings that the characters are experiencing, while mezzo-soprano Eurudike De Beul's musical moments in the show are an aural delight for the audience.

Sunday 4 October 2015

Lost In The Looping Glass review - Melbourne Fringe

I've often said if I had the time to learn any musical instrument I would choose the violin. There is something incredibly calming and meditative about hearing an accomplished musician play such an instrument. Upon learning there was a performance by violinist and sound artist Helen Bower as part of the 2015 Melbourne Fringe Festival, I made sure I would not be missing.

Bower's Lost In The Looping Glass is a 50-minute violin concert played alongside a loop pedal. She records fragments or sequences on her violin from compositions by local and international composers live, and has them playing on loop where they gradually layer on top of one another to create their own music.

Saturday 3 October 2015

Top 10 shows of 2015 Melbourne Fringe Festival

Well, it's that time of year again! After seeing a staggering 41 shows, (which is STILL only 10% of what was available), here are my top ten shows of the 2015 Melbourne Fringe Festival. 
Admittedly, there are shows I really wanted to see but timing and life meant that I just couldn't make it work!
If the show was reviewed, you will find a link next to its name for more detailed thoughts and opinions. 

1. FAG/STAG - review

There are only three shows I have ever gone to see more than once. FAG/STAG is now one of them.
 It's a beautiful exploration of life, friendship and everything else in between. The way the story is told and performed is extremely natural and relatable. The two stars - Jeffrey Jay Fowler and Chris Isaacs - play the characters with such honesty, truth and vulnerability.
FAG/STAG really is the kind of theatre that I wish was made more often. FAG/STAG is the kind of theatre that people need to go and see.

Friday 2 October 2015

Top Spot review - Melbourne Fringe

Presented as part of the 2015 Melbourne Fringe Festival, Top Spot is a one-woman show performed by two blonde bombshells, Gloria and Delia. Well no, it's just Gloria's show. But actually it's really Deliah's show. Either way, it's a great evening of cabaret, burlesque and comedy as the two women fight it out for the highly coveted "top spot" in the eyes of the audience. 

Having been working together since 2013, Stephanie Marion Wood (Gloria) and Elizabeth Dawson-Smith (Deliah) are a perfectly matched and complimentary team to watch on stage together. Having previously seen the two perform twice in Miss Friby's Two Pound Parlour, I expected to be in for a night of naughty hijinks and I was not disappointed.

People Piss In Here review - Melbourne Fringe

Jo is suffering from a mental illnesses find herself unable to leave the bathroom at work. Is she having a heart attack or a panic-attack? She's not quite sure. Her friend, Sam, also suffering from a mental illness, goes in to help her. Performed as part of the 2015 Melbourne Fringe Festival, Isobel Marmion's People Piss In Here is an absurdist take at living with mental illness.

The exploration of mental illness is explored honestly and sensitively but also humorously through the characters as they react and respond to the effects of their conditions. The fears and uncertainties expressed in Marmions' script (written in consultation with individuals diagnosed with mental illnesses) about living a fulfilled life while battling these, is subtle and reflective.

Little V's Terrible Tea Party review - Melbourne Fringe

Little Vaginia is having a tea party and we are all invited! Presented as part of the 2015 Melbourne Fringe Festival, Little V’s Terrible Tea Party is a dirty little cabaret that brazenly explores the darkest recesses of morality and perversions where our hostess will also be revealing a big surprise!

Yasmin Mole is perfect as the unhinged and somewhat psychotic Little Vaginia. With her big curly hair and pink frilly dress, she is a life-size version of the dolls that are scattered along the stage. Her wide innocent eyes are unsettling as she sings about abortions and rape and her quavering voice is constantly on the brink of losing her self-control. Joining Mole are Charlotte Righetti, David John Watton and Jack Lad as the three clowns, and their physicality, facial expressions and their individual character traits are all well constructed.

Transplant review - Melbourne Fringe

Every now and again, there is a show that is so unexpected and unusual that it remains vividly with you for quite some time after seeing it. Presented by Such As They Are and as part of the 2015 Melbourne Fringe Festival, Transplant is one such show. Performed at its uniquely designed installation space in a corner of Club Voltaire, it is a self-proclaimed medical fairytale that seamlessly infuses puppetry and performance.

As we wait outside the curtains of the performance, a nurse (Tim Ratcliffe) appears and before we know it, we are being prepped to assist in a surgery. Nothing is forgotten in the process, as we are told to swab behind our ears, have our nostrils examined and if anyone has been travelling overseas in the last month, well…

Homme review - Melbourne Fringe

Created by the House of Vnholy and performed as part of the 2015 Melbourne Fringe Festival, Homme is a performative piece that explores male identity and contemporary masculinity within Australia. Through a series of vignettes and in complete silence, the differences between what it means to be a male and be a female are subtly explored.

It is standing room only during the performance, with Homme enveloping virtually the whole space. The white flooring is bare except for a number of select items, including a washing machine, a bundle of black balloons, a megaphone and a plinth. The two performers – Matthew Adey and Natalie Abbott - are dressed in black and the only time they speak is when they ask audience members for assistance with the props.