Saturday 28 November 2015

Sideshow review

The circus has come to town, but in the case of Sideshow, this is not a family-friendly - or even a human-friendly - circus. There are powers of darkness, death, murder and spirits from the other world that are part of this troupe and in this immersive performance, it is down to the audience to stop this travelling carnival of horrors from causing doom.

Sideshow is certainly fun but there are a number of reasons it unfortunately does not work. Firstly, the experience just isn't as scary as it proclaims to be and this is bound to be a huge disappointment for its audiences. Apart from our creepy clown friend, there aren't any frights or tension, unless the constant repeat of people jumping out of the "darkness" and growling at you are where your fears stem from.

Thursday 19 November 2015

Briefs review

For those who have an immense fear of audience participation, this show could possibly be your worst nightmare. But for those after some sexy excitement and fun, then look no further because Briefs has got you covered, or uncovered as the case may be. 

Formed in Brisbane, this all-male boylesque group has spent the last year travelling around Europe performing sell out shows to rave reviews. Melbourne finally gets its turn to revel in the skill and beauty on stage in a show that is not to be missed. 

All the performers - Shivannah, Captain Kidd, Dallas Dellaforce, Thomas Worrell, Evil Hate Monkey, Lachy Shelley and Louis Biggs - possess a strong sexual confidence among them, which is imperative when your acts revolve around you wearing minimal clothing (and sometimes nothing at all). They also happen to be highly talented individuals and while the show is heavily structured and choreographed, there is a naturalness to their performances that allows for spontaneity and surprises for both themselves and us. There is moreover a brilliant mix of variety in the acts and they are so well paced that the ride we are on never stops being enjoyable. 

Monday 16 November 2015

The Trung Sisters - Big West Festival preview

The Trung Sisters were two Vietnamese warrior princesses who trained an army of 80,000 people and led their country to freedom in the 5th Century. During the Big West Festival, 25 students from Footscray North Primary School will re-tell their story. Staged in Footscray's newly refurbished rotunda at McNab Reserve the evening performance will include martial arts, traditional dancing, opera and large-scale puppetry. 

"The students have built giant puppets, will enact powerful battle scenes and perform a script guided by their writing based on this epic story," explains devisor and director, Jo Trevathan. "The grade 5/6’s have interpreted a real and important cultural story that deals with big themes of love war, sacrifice, bravery and humanity, things we presume children will not understand but I have found they have strong opinions about. In the West where we have over 80 cultures and 140 languages sharing cultural stories such as The Trung Sisters, increases understanding by discovering what we have in common and where we are unique. In the current climate of cultural diversity and political division it is important to understand and appreciate this true story."

Sunday 15 November 2015

Little Wooden Caravan: Shared Table - Big West Festival preview

For something a little more intimate and a little different at this year's Big West Festival, then head over to Little Wooden Caravan: Shared Table; a ten-minute show for two people at a time. The story unfolds as each person follows a unique set of instructions to animate the objects on the table and create a story with unexpected twists and turns.

"It's up to them to create the performance for each other," explains creator, the indirect Object."The experience is a bit like being inside a talking book, where voices narrate a story and give each person different instructions. You are both watching and creating the performance at the same time, but you don't know what the other person will do next. What story you get to experience is all up to chance, it might be a tragedy, a comedy, or something in-between!"  

Saturday 14 November 2015

Mefetehe - Big West Festival preview

Australia prides itself on its multiculturalism and sharing these cultures with other people of our community. With much of the Ethiopia-born population in Victoria residing in the Western suburbs, it seems fitting that one of the performances on show at the Big West Festival, Mefetehe, is by renowned, award-winning Ethiopian writer/director Tesfaye Gebrehana.

In Mefetehe, a group of teenagers face off with the older generations in their family and community as they create a revolutionary plan  to build a new recreational facility. With this narrative, Gebrehana explores the differing opinions within the Ethipoian community regarding change and isolation. "It focuses on the broken connection between the older generations and the younger. It discusses the problems going on in our community and how we can come together to find a 'Mefetehe' (solution)," he says. 

Friday 13 November 2015

Dumpster to Dinner Plate and End Sexism Now - Big West Festival preview

Presented as part of the Big West Festival, filmmaker and photojournalist, Melissa Davis has two short documentaries screening, Dumpster To Dinner Plate and End Sexism Now. The latter delves into ‘ordinary sexism’ and institutionalised misogyny that is so prevalent in our society. Dumpster to Dinner Plate on other hand, looks at one household’s approach to shared meals and "dumpster diving." While dealing with two different social issues, they are equally passionate issues that Davis has.

"End Sexism Now is from a much larger documentary I intend to make. The grabs you hear from speakers come from quite meaty, longer interviews, which cover a range of subjects from Tony Abbott, to men's rights, to the importance of language, to the right for a woman leader to be just average instead of exceptional," she says. 

Thursday 12 November 2015

Neighbours - Big West Festival preview

It's interesting that it's often the people you live next door to or across the road from that you know the least about. You may see each other in the mornings as you're going to work or pass them when you take your dog out for a walk and exchange pleasantries, but who are they really? Performed as part of the Big West Festival, Neighbours takes you on a guided walking along Nicholson street and into the homes of residents as they perform accounts of their lives.

Melbourne-based performers/performance-makers from This Side of The Tracks, Kerensa Diball and Yuhui Ng-Rodriguez, have spent two years working on getting this project ready. "We've spent many hours inhabiting the street, building relationships, door knocking, loitering, being inquisitive about everything, listening, watching. Through conversations over time, we have gotten to know locals and residents; this has enabled us to work with the skills, personality, quirks and expertise of each resident to create Neighbours," they say.

Wednesday 11 November 2015

Miss Friby, All Alone…At Last - Big West Festival preview

The big day has arrived and you have spent so much time and energy planning the event to end all events. But then it happens: one by one all your guests cancel and you end up alone. Alone on your birthday. Presented as part of the Big West Festival, Miss Friby, all last will examine her current life status with a new dazzling and captivating burlesque cabaret show.

Green Room Award nominee and Australia's Got Talent finalist, Miss Friby, promises plenty of fun and excitement for her guests. "There will be wild theatre, hilarious banter, impeccable choreography, incredible aesthetics and the unique brand of old world theatre. The show will also feature a live band, and the back room of the reverence will be transformed into a pop-up speakeasy, fit for a true diva spectacle," she explains. To top it all off, each night will also include a special guest performer including the brilliant Sara Yael, Miss Burlesque Australia 2014 Zelia Rose and Mr Boylesque Australia 2015 Daniel Ham. 

Tuesday 10 November 2015

Beers and Trees review

Performed as part of La Mama's 2015 Explorations season and developed with the assistance of Theatre 451, Beers and Trees by Allee Richards is a humorous yet thoughtful look at not only what makes a person strive for good, but what makes a 'good' activist and just how important this activity is? We all want to change the world and make it better for everyone but we also want to be happy and fulfilled by our own needs and desires. It's a fine balancing act to get it just right and the question of where this balance lies is what the five characters presented here attempt to answer. 

Adrian Del-Re is the stand out performer in the cast with his portrayal of Brad being highly natural, nuanced and convincing. The delivery really highlights the comfort that Del-Re has found with this character, and his scenes with Julia Hanna (Ruby) are the most entertaining of the show. Playwright Richards has succeeded admirably in finding clear voices for these two characters and really fleshing them out. 

Snuff Skool - Big West Festival preview

It's almost a year ago that I first saw a Snuff Puppets performance. It was at Testing Grounds where the world's largest human operated puppet gave birth live. It was a captivating and intriguing experience and have since looked forward to seeing more of their magic and fun. Fortunately, that moment is not too far off as during the Big West Festival, the Snuff Puppets will open up their Snuff Skool, with participants having the opportunity to learn the snuff way of life.

It's important to understand though that a snuff puppet is not just a puppet. "Snuff Puppets arrive like a circus, parading through town ambushing audiences and enticing them into the world of theatre.  Our art explores, provokes and inspires progressive cultural change. We are unashamedly hand-made and experimental in a world obsessed with perfection and mass-consumption," I am told by the Snuffies.

Monday 9 November 2015

Share House - Big West Festival preview

If you've never lived in a share house, you've definitely missed out. Whether they’re bad or good experiences, they play a pivotal role in growing up and building relationships with people. Performed as part of the Big West Festival, Share House explores the relationships between ‘strangers’ that co-inhabit the same space.

Performed in a house in Seddon, each room has a housemate with a story and neurotic traits that make them impossible to live with. "The show is about living with strangers and how even though it is almost necessary in growing up in today’s world, its actually pretty risky business,” explains show co-creator, Mia Robinson. “We all take on really different extreme characters and explore the dynamics between three people that live together but don’t like each other and how vulnerable that can make people."

Sunday 8 November 2015

City of Angels review

Life Like Company's 2015 production has been the much-loved, Tony-Award winning musical comedy thriller, City of Angels. Paying homage to the 1940s era of film noir while also taking a swipe at the Hollywood film industry, it is a heavily engaging and engrossing meta-story of betrayal, love, passion and murder.

Despite being first performed 26 years ago, the book by Larry Gelbart still come across as fresh and relevant. It may be a little politically incorrect and chauvinistic for current times (despite being mediated through characters we’re invited to critique) but the cheeky wit and cleverness of the script and the direction of Martin Croft ensure you still enjoy watching the relationships being depicted on stage. Led by Musical Director Kellie Dickerson, the live band superbly bring to life the upbeat challenging jazz score by Cy Coleman and the cast certainly do justice to David Zippel’s sharp lyrics in their performances.

Blood! Death! Show! - Big West Festival preview

Halloween may have come and gone, but there is never a wrong time to experience a haunted house. Created as part of the Big West Festival, Blood! Death! Show! is a haunted house by Joseph O’Farrell (JOF) in collaboration with 11 year old children in which adults and children are free to view and interact with the work. 

O'Farrell, a multi-art performer, creates large-scale installation and theatre works with, and for, the community. With a focus on accessibility and inclusivity, these works aim to celebrate diversity and bring people together in hilarious and unlikely situations.

Friday 6 November 2015

Wolf Boy and Zombie Dad - Big West Festival preview

Battling Narnia for the best wardrobe in town at Big West Festival will be Wolf Boy and Zombie Dad. With a combination of puppetry, mime, sound and image, father and son team, Anthony and Callum Crowley, will be taking audiences through a unique journey on life and time.

"The show is about how precious time is and how we choose to experience it, as it constantly moves through us and away from us," explains Anthony. "It's about children and how they consume it; the paradox of time. How you can dedicate hours of time to creating nothing and then how a second can reveal the universe if you are in tune to the moment."

Monday 2 November 2015

Someone Like Thomas Banks review

Meet Thomas Banks, he is 24, gay and single - but hopefully not for too long. He also lives with cerebral palsy. Beginning as a short piece in 2010 that has since been developed to this full length and predominantly one-man show, Someone Like Thomas Banks focuses on Bank’s own experiences with online dating, hook ups and not only discovering his own voice and identity but holding on to it. 

Banks uses a variety of cleverly executed multimedia tools to share his story, such as projected text, a Lightwriter, animation, social media and pre-filmed segments. The projections of closing doors throughout the show speak volumes as to the rejection that Banks faces in his want for love. At another point, an audience member reads out Banks’ experience of being bullied as a student on the school bus. As this is happening (and in relation to the story), Banks augments the narrative by walking around the stage dropping coins on the floor clearly showing his resilience and determined nature.

Sunday 1 November 2015

Dracula review

Little Ones Theatre is back with bite in their nearly all-female, silent production of Stoker's classic 1897 gothic horror story, Dracula. It is a brilliant homage to previous adaptations of Draculawith nods to Bela Legosi, Gary Oldman and Catherine Deneuve, while also including the company's trademark exploration of sexuality and queerness.

The seductive Dracula is "brought to life" by Alexandra Aldrich and Catherine Davies, with Davies playing a more youthful transformation of the bloodsucker. As one expected with films made during the silent era, on-screen performances need to be more emphatic and expressive, and on stage, Aldrich and Davies (like the rest of the cast) do not falter. Under the strong direction of Stephen Nicolazzo, their movements and actions are large and telling while still maintaining a menacing air of mystery around Dracula.