Wednesday 29 June 2016

L'amante Anglaise review

Based on Marguerite Duras' 1967 novella, L'amante Anglaise (The English Lover) is on the surface a murder mystery story, but look a little deeper and it is an exploration of what happens to a person when the life they are leading turns out to be the life they never wanted. Originally performed at La Mama, this stage adaptation has been remounted for a second season at fortyfivedownstairs. Having missed it first time round, I was very thankful I managed to get to it now for it really is a breathtaking performance. 

The story unfolds in two interviews conducted by nameless interrogators over the brutal murder of a woman in a small town in France. The dismembered body is discovered at a railway viaduct, missing her head. Furthermore, the novella is based on true events, adding to the darkness and brutality to the proceedings. 

Tuesday 28 June 2016

The Resilience Project: Gratitude, Empathy and Mindfulness

My smile hides a lot. It hides my fear, my sadness, my loneliness and my anxiety. It hides the fact that I still feel like my life has had little accomplishment and always wondering when my break will come. When will I feel accepted? When will I feel loved? When will I be happy?

A year ago, I wrote about my (self-diagnosis of) depression after having watched Bryony Kimmings's "Fake It Till You Make It", and it was about then I started seeing a psychologist. While Dr C determined I did not have depression, he did diagnose me with severe general anxiety disorder. Great I thought, I've been diagnosed now I can get fixed. I saw Dr C fortnightly - sometimes weekly - for a year, and we would discuss different techniques and exercises I could do to manage my anxiety and while I always walked out of the session determined to do them, I never did.

Sunday 26 June 2016

Blurring reality with Kill Climate Deniers

I first came across David Finnigan's work at the 2013 Melbourne Fringe Festival show, Kids Killing Kids. In this, Finnigan and three other playmakers responded to the worldwide response they received to their adaptation of the Japanese novel/manga/film Battle Royale. It was an incredibly thought provoking piece on the responsibilities theatre makers have to their cast, their audience and the wider community. Kill Climate Deniers, is Finnigans' most recent work, which despite not even been staged yet, has already received much media scrutiny.

Kill Climate Deniers revolves around one evening where 96 armed eco-terrorists who - while Fleetwood Mac are performing a concert at Parliament House - take over the building and threaten to execute everyone inside, including the Environment Minister unless the Prime Minister puts a stop to climate change.

Saturday 25 June 2016

Manxious review

Manxious: the nerves and anxiety one exhibits while waiting for a man to text back. It's a serious affliction and something that Rachel Rai want to share with us in her cabaret show, Manxious. Despite its worrisome theme, it’s a fun show that not only showcases Rai’s ability to sing and perform, but also gives the audience plenty of laughs.

Rai intersperses a diverse number of songs throughout the evening as she goes through the excruciating process of waiting for a response to her perfectly created text. These numbers have been reimagined in ways that give them new life and celebrate Rai's versatility as a singer. Her inclusion of some iconic Australian songs would have to be the musical highlight of Manxious, including her audience rousing cover of John Farnham's “Pressure Down”. Another surprise was the theme from Home And Away, which was the last musical number I would ever expect to hear in a cabaret show, but Rai manages to make it feel like a genuine, heartfelt song.

Thursday 23 June 2016

Trilogy review

Before Trilogy begins, Nic Green appears on stage to inform us that due to unforeseen circumstances, her co-performer, Laura Bradshaw, would not be participating this evening. Rather than cancel it, Green has fortunately decided to make some changes to allow the show to work. I say fortunately, because Trilogy ends up being a brilliant feminist performance art piece on women reclaiming their bodies and their rights, and it would have been an absolutely shame to miss out on this experience.

The first part of Trilogy looks at how women's bodies are presented in the public eye and how women view their own bodies. Green begins with a humourous cheerleading routine that eventually turns into a group of about 30 Melbourne women performing a dance with a freer choreography. However, these volunteers are naked and cover all shapes, sizes, ages and races. They dance joyfully and connect with each other, allowing all their body parts to move along to the music uninhibited. These women are proud and will not conform to the expectations that they must be quiet and passive. It is a physical celebration of women and their bodies, of being a woman and of what it means to be a woman.

Sunday 19 June 2016

Death Suits You review

Everyone has moments when they feel underappreciated and ignored at work and frustrated with their overall work/life balance, but none more so than Death. This is someone who meticulously plans how each and every mortal will meet their ultimate demise, and then needs to ensure our own stupidity or actions do not interfere with these plans. Death must watch over us all the time, even when we are sleeping. In cabaret show Death Suits You, this hardworking individual recalls some of his finer achievements and attempts to have us understand the complexities of his role.

Saturday 18 June 2016

Mother's Ruin: A Cabaret about Gin review

It’s no accident that a cabaret show about the history of the sordid spirit, gin, would instantly have attracted my interest. After all, who wouldn’t be interested in a cabaret show that deals with sexism, misogyny, colonialism and propaganda? That’s right, the history of gin covers all these issues and with Mother’s Ruin: A Cabaret about Gin, not only are we educated on these but also remain constantly highly entertained.

Performers and co-creators, Maeve Marsden and Libby Wood have joined forces with Sydney based gin aficionado Elly Baxter from The Ginstress, who has been writing about gin since 2012. This collaboration allows the audience to hear more of the lesser-known facts of gin, ensuring we are always interested and intrigued by what is being revealed.

Friday 17 June 2016

#FirstWorldWhiteGirls review

It's been two years since Melbourne was graced with the presence of Tiffany and Kendall, two affluent white girls who have some major problems to deal with. Problems like 2-in-1 shampoo and being invited out but having to decline because their phones are still charging. Inspired by the hashtag #FirstWorldProblems, Judy Hainsworth and Kaitlin Oliver Parker are back with their comedy cabaret #FirstWorldWhiteGirls.

This trust fund princess and day-drinking trophy wife express the difficulties they regularly encounter through a number of entertaining original songs, each one expressing not only their ignorance of the world but also the extremities of their privilege. Frighteningly enough, there are times when the things they say easily remind us of someone we know, or even ourselves. When they announce to the audience that "we are you", they could in face be correct, regardless of sex, race or gender.

Sunday 5 June 2016

Blonde Poison review

Seventy-one year-old Stella Goldschlag is nervously anticipating the arrival of a visitor. It is 7am and he is expected in just under four hours. Her anxiety stems from her past as a Nazi collaborator, where in order to save herself from the horrors of Auschwitz, agreed to inform on other Jews in hiding to the Gestapo. Presented by Strange Duck Productions, Blonde Poison, is the intriguing yet disturbing true story of Stella and the cost of her survival.

Belinda Giblin as Stella is an example of when casting is perfection. The accent is flawless, even when Stella's emotions sometimes get the better of her as she recalls the more horrific moments of her life. The poignant facial expressions and wide eyes made up with black eyeliner are still printed firmly inside my mind. You can't help but sympathise with Stella but at the same time, she is responsible for the death of thousands of Jews. Giblin's portrayal of the desperation and defeat enveloping Stella in the final moments of the show are powerful and conflicting that leave you wondering if Stella has managed to manipulate yet again. It truly is an amazing performance.

Isolation Pod Floating

Entering Gravity Floatation Centre was almost like entering a different world. The waiting area is empty save for some chairs, a glass coffee table and some plants mounted on to the wall. There is some soft, calming music playing and as I wait to be called, and I start feeling nervous at the thought of being in a small pod in utter darkness and silence. Will the anxiety I often experience heighten? Will I have a panic attack in the pod? Will the lid get stuck and not open? I've seen Final Destination; death always finds a way. Before I can let my mind race any further (if that is even possible at this point), I am called. I enter the Endeavour room, all six rooms at the centre are identical, but they are named after 6 NASA space shuttles.

It's a private room with the pod and a shower. Earplugs, body soap, shampoo and towels are provided. The room temperature water and a highly concentrated Epsom salt solution (600kg of magnesium sulphate) are ready for me. The water is filtered and treated after every use and regularly tested by third parties. The pod has two buttons, a blue one to light up the pod in case I prefer it to the darkness, and a red one in case of emergency. I am also provided with a floating neck pillow and a spray bottle of water in case I get any of the Epsom salts in my eyes, which I'm thankful for after absent-mindedly having rubbed my eyes twice.

Friday 3 June 2016

Mira Fuchs review

Melanie Jame Wolf was a stripper in a gentlemen's club for eight years. Mira Fuchs was the name of her persona while working there, and is also the name of this work, the first in a trilogy of pieces where Wolf examines how the manifestation of being a ‘woman’ changes according to different systems or economies of affect. Performed to an intimate audience in the round, Wolf shares her experiences while exploring issues related to women and stripping, such as gender, sexuality, desire and the stigma that comes attached to this line of work.

At times it is unclear who is performing; Wolf or Fuchs? Perhaps after being together for eight years, the answer is not so clear cut. At one point, she dons a white lab coat and a pair of glasses and in the blink of an eye, she is now a scientist who shares her findings on the ecology of a strip club. Through some well-constructed diagrams, Wolf explores the science of what type of male pack she approaches and when, to maximise her financial gain. While humourous, it's a reminder that while she is in a seemingly authoritative position, the power still rests with the pack.

Thursday 2 June 2016

Blood on the Dance Floor review

At the age of 24, Jacob Boehme, a descendant of the Narangga and Kaurna nations of South Australia, was diagnosed with HIV in 1998. As a Blak, gay and poz person, a sense of community and belonging can be difficult to attain. Through his own journey to find his identity, as an individual and a collective, Boehme, along with ILBIJERRI Theatre Company, devised the dance performance piece, Blood on the Dance Floor

The overall focus with this show is Boehme's anxiety in letting potential partners know of his HIV status, and while his bloodline with his father and ancestors has the power to unite and bond, this same blood has the potential to divide and alienate him from being loved. One of the most powerful moments of Blood on the Dance Floor occurs with Boehme standing on stage staring into the audience as audio recordings are played of mens' various responses to his HIV status. It is confronting and hearbreaking.