Tuesday 23 February 2016

Mama Alto season launch

If you haven't yet heard of Mama Alto, then 2016 will definitely be changing that. Tucked away down a side street off Collins St, Entrecôte hosted the 2016 season launch of the countertenor diva, jazz singer and cabaret artiste Mama Alto.

Guests were greeted to a high tea party extravaganza with glasses of sparkling wine, lemonade scones with jam and cream and macarons while treated to a sampling of what Mama Alto has in store for 2016.

An evolving piece of repertory work throughout the year begins with Mama Alto: Torch Songs, which will feature an ever changing selection from the 200 jazz standards within the Mama Alto repertoire of sumptuous ballads, fierce blues scorchers and poignant torch songs. This will premiere on March 4th at one of Melbourne's most vibrant performance venue and bar, the iconic Butterfly Club, before touring to further locations.

The rest of this varied season includes further appearances with the legendary Finucane & Smith and Mama Alto: Delicacies; a feast for the senses, which will see the culinary skills of Entrecôte combined with the musical tastes of Mama Alto & pianist Miss Chief. Another exciting event will be an immersive theatrical experience, Mama Alto: Blues in the Night, which will transform the Chapel off Chapel theatre into an underground jazz age speakeasy in December that should not be missed.

Blurring the lines of gender, sexuality and race, Mama Alto creates a safe and welcoming space for all to be entranced by one of the most unique voices that you could possible hear. With all the opportunities above (and more) to witness this talent, you really have no excuse for missing out. 

For tickets and further information, visit the Mama Alto website.

Monday 22 February 2016

Pee Stick review

Annie has just pee'd on a stick. And now, locked in her bathroom, has 45-53 minutes to ponder if her life is about to completely change or not. Written and performed by Carly Milroy, Pee Stick is a humorous and playful cabaret at how we deal when things in life don't go according to plan.

Despite a story of a woman waiting to discover if she is pregnant or not been told in every way shape and form, what set this show apart, was Milroy's decision to situate it in 1987. We are in a cute nostalgic world where there are no mentions of iPhones and the Internet but floppy disks and CD-ROMS! It also helps in raising the stakes on the outcome of Annie's pregnancy test, as the social stigma of a single mother in her 20s in that era was far more significant than what it is now.

Saturday 20 February 2016

Triumph review

In defiance of its title, Louris Van De Geer’s Triumph is a trilogy of thematically linked and emotionally disturbing stories that explore people’s desire to connect with others. With Triumph, Van De Geer confirms why she was named as one of Melbourne Writers Festival’s ’30 under 30’ best young writers. Bringing her words to life are a talented and dedicated cast of five – Aljin Abella, Syd Brisbane, Anouk Gleeson-Mead, Emma Hall and Leone White – who irrespective of being the main character of one story or the supporting role with thirty seconds of stage time in another, ensure that their characters consistently retain depth, authenticity and real humanity to them.

The first story takes inspiration from Tania Head, a woman who had survived the Twin Towers from the 78th floor of the World Trade Centre. Head went on to become president of the World Trade Centre Survivors’ Network support group and spent countless years helping survivors heal. However, in 2007, it was revealed that Head wasn’t in America at the time of the attacks and had fabricated her entire story.

Thursday 18 February 2016

Small Time Criminals - Pop Up Playground

Ever wanted to rob a bank? Well now you can, and it's absolutely legal! The fun and creative minds at Pop Up Playground are about to unleash "Small Time Criminals" to the people of Melbourne. This real world simulation game requires teams of up to six players to infiltrate a bank, steal as much as they can and escape by completing various games, puzzles and challenges. Furthermore, actors will be playing staff who could potentially be secretly trying to help you or staff that are more sinister than meets the eye. And if that wasn't enough, the whole experience takes places inside an actual bank! 

"We've been working towards this kind of experience with Pop Up Playground since the beginning," explains Artistic Director Robert Reid. "We were inspired by alternate reality games and the way they blur the line between real and play, and also by the work of the Agency of Coney. The bank heist idea itself though, came from watching Sayraphim (Pop Up Playground's Constructive Communities Director) play video games and thinking about how thorough she was at clearing out loot, pick-pocketing her victims and so on." 

Tuesday 16 February 2016

Hear My Eyes event - "Heartbeats" and GL

Heartbeats (2010) dir. Xavier Dolan
There is, and always has been, a constant drive to enhance people's movie watching experience, including IMAX and 3D screens and even 4D (Smell-O-Vision) screenings. Melbourne based arts organisation, Hear My Eyes, however, has taken a different approach in creating a unique experiences for audiences by incorporating live scores to accompany the film screening.

Canadian director Xavier Dolan's 2010 film, Heartbeats, which follows the story of two friends who fall in love with the same man, has been chosen for this project's screening. "The creative process varies for each project. On some occasions we choose the band first, and then it’s a matter of searching high and low for the perfect film that will suit their taste. On other occasions we choose the film first, then pitch the idea to a select few bands whose sound will complement the film," explains Creative Director, Haydn Green. "In this case, Heartbeats was chosen first and from there we focused on the band. Because Heartbeats is such a sexy, stylized film with a lot of energy and emotion, we chose local Melbourne band GL, (aka Ella Thompson and Graeme Pogson) whose 80's analogue synth pop possess the same characteristics."

The Boys review

Survivors of domestic violence and violence against women come from all walks of life. The crime does not discriminate, but what do you do when your son or your boyfriend commits a heinous crime against another person? Do you call the police, or do you turn a blind eye?  In Gordon Graham's highly acclaimed play, The Boys, these themes are explored through the eyes of the female figures in the perpetrator's lives.

Linda Cookson does a magnificent job in her portrayal of Sandra, the matriarch of the family. All she wants is to have her three sons together and everything she does is done out of a mother's love for her children. There are moments where Sandra is in scenes where she is in the background as conversations happen around her, yet you can always feel what she is thinking and trying to push the troubling thoughts away with how her facial expressions and body language is conveyed. 

Sunday 7 February 2016

Crestfall and Purgatorio double bill review

It's not as an easy thing to go and explore the darker side of your humanity. For most, it’s the potential repercussions of those actions that prevent us from going any further than a fleeting thought. Citizen Theatre, in association with 5pound theatre and Attic Erratic Theatre, present Inferno: A Double Bill, two distinctly different yet thematically similar plays that question what it is that makes us human and how far would we go to get what we want.

The first play by Irish playwright Mark O'Rowe, Crestfall, follows three women living in a tough and brutal town who are dealing with the abuse and hardness that characterises their location. While the performances themselves by Freya Pagt, Marissa O'Reilly and Marissa Bennett are highly committed and convincing, it was very difficult to engage with and remain engaged with the show the whole time.

Although the material is harrowing, and therefore becomes difficult at times to listen to the womens’ stories, the main issue for me was that the actors do such a good job with the accents, that at times, you miss out on what is being said while trying to understand the thick brogue. It doesn't happen often but it happens enough that I found it prevents you from being completely absorbed by what is happening.

Saturday 6 February 2016

Bette & Joan: Bitch. Slut. Liar. Whore. - Midsumma Festival review

These days, you just need to look at a cover of a magazine or access a website to be bombarded with Hollywood stories and gossip. Some might say it’s the price to pay for being in the industry, however in Bette & Joan: Bitch. Slut. Liar. Whore., writer and performer David Morris explores how this type of reporting is predominantly focused on women and how not much has actually changed since Hollywood’s golden era.

As she sneaks into her bedroom to escape a dreary party, Bette Davis (Morris) comes to find the real party is in her bedroom, as she finds thirty audience members in there. She begins to reminisce about her life and the lost loves she has encountered. Of course, one such as Davis cannot reminisce about her Hollywood life without an appearance by her infamous arch-nemesis Joan Crawford, brilliantly played by Tom Halls. Having two gay men portray these immortal Hollywood stars is an effective and clever idea in reminding the audience of the fact that men who behave in this way are rarely scrutinised or expected to justify themselves to anyone.

Tuesday 2 February 2016

Uncovered - Midsumma Festival review

After Dark Theatre's Uncovered would have to be one of the sexiest circus shows I have ever seen, and with its overt intent on exploring homosexuality, love and sex, it isn’t surprising. Director and performer, Dave Coombs, has brought together recent graduates or current students of the National Institute of Circus Arts, and through a number of circus acts, explores the idea of “the first”, including the first encounter with a man and the first kiss.

The performers - Emily Gare, Alex Jeans, Mark Graham, Nelson Smyles and Coombs - are all committed and enthusiastic and for where they currently stand in their experience, deliver some impressive feats. Jeans' silks routine and his subsequent double aerial hoop act with Graham are strong highlights of the evening. The latter in particular, successfully displayed their talents with their seamlessly moving bodies, and paired with the music, permitted the audience to recall their own similar experiences while appreciating what was occurring on stage.  

Member - Midsumma Festival review

Presented as part of the Midsumma Festival by Fairly Lucid Productions and directed by Casey Gould, Ben Noble's Member was incited by the death of gay man Scott Johnson in 1988, when his body found at the bottom of a cliff at Manly. Deemed a suicide, there has always been speculation that he was a victim of a gay hate-crime. However, the narrative focuses on Corey, your typical Aussie living in Manly with his wife and child. We follow Corey through various moments in his life that have led to where he is now, in a hospital room, his son lying unconscious, seemingly fighting for his life.

Ben Noble is exemplary in his performance as Corey (and all the other characters he plays). From the very beginning, our eyes are glued on him and even as he begins to unravel and the truth becomes clearer, we still cannot look away. Corey is a complex character but Noble is able to bring some insight into his actions and thoughts while still holding him accountable for them.