Tuesday 26 December 2017

Top 10 TV Shows of 2017

I spent a lot of 2017 watching a variety of TV shows from a broad range of genres and in my need to always finish what I start, I never "quit" a TV show until I finished its entire season - regardless of how bad it is or how much I hate it. But with the bad comes some utterly brilliant ones, so I decided to list my top ten TV shows of 2017. 

If you're not up to date with the season, read with caution as some spoilers may be revealed.

1. The Leftovers - season 3

In December, I went back and re-watched the entire series one episode per day. As I write this, I am two episodes from finishing the series again. The basis of the show is that on October 14 2011, 2% of the population disappeared. The show begins three years later but the emphasis is not about what happened to those 2%, but what happened to the one who stayed behind, the leftovers.
The Leftovers is a beautiful exploration of hope and faith and the struggle to keep them, and it is, without a doubt, one of the best TV shows I've ever seen. While it might not have been a hit in the ratings, the writing and the performances from every single cast member - most notably Carrie Coon - are the finest you will ever see. Max Richter's music is phenomenal and never have I had such emotional responses to a score before.
Also, it's pretty cool that the final season takes place in Australia and a couple of my friends got to share scenes with Coon.  

Saturday 23 December 2017

Top 10 Shows of 2017

Another year of some unforgettable theatre and live performances comes to an end, and what a year it has been, managing to get to a respectable 200 shows. Not quite sure how I stayed sane in doing that, but there you go. 
Naturally I kept a list of all the shows I saw and below I present my top ten of 2017. If I reviewed the show then a link to the review is also provided.
2018 is shaping out to be the time of innovative and exciting theatre, so make sure you go and see some of it. While it's nice to make a night out of seeing some big name performers and shows, remember to also support your independent theatre makers and venues where some shows can cost you as little as $15 per person.

Here is my list:

1. Angels In America
- review

Grant Cartwright and Dushan Philips. Photo Credit: Sarah Walker
What an epic seven-hour production this show was. Tony Kushner's Pulitzer Prize winning work, Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes was performed at fortyfivedownstairs under Gary Abrahams' brilliant direction.
Abrahams brings together a remarkably talented ensemble of actors to tell this story, which despite being set in the American 80s still has extreme relevance and prevalence today regarding social stigma of homosexuality and AIDS.
Some of the strongest performances of the year were present here including those from Simon Cornfield, Grant Cartwright, Emily Goddard, Helen Morse and Dushan Philips, with the evocative sound and lighting providing greater insight into the minds and thoughts of the various characters.
Also, can't not mention how amazing that wooden four-poster bed was by how it was utilised and what it represented during the show.
If there were an award for best use of a single prop, this would be the winner.

Put simply, Angels In America was gripping, powerful and affecting theatre at its best.

Sunday 17 December 2017

Stripped back circus in "A Simple Space"

Earlier this year contemporary circus company Gravity and Other Myths (GOM) captivated audiences with Backbone, a brand new show presented as part of the Melbourne Festival. The show explored the theme of unity through strength and support with acts that left audiences awestruck by what the human body is capable. Those who missed it, missed out on an exceptionally original circus show, however there is no need to despair for the troupe return to Arts Centre Melbourne in January with A Simple Space. While the show differs greatly to Backbone, it still promises an exciting evening of circus by some of the country's top performers. 

"A Simple Space and Backbone could not look more dissimilar. Backbone can fill huge theatres with 12 performers, a plethora of unusual props, magical lighting states and a haunting score while A Simple Space uses a small stripped back stage, placed as close as possible to the audience with only the simplest of lights run onstage by the acrobats," GOM member Jascha Boyce tells me. "If Backbone is the 30 piece orchestra, A Simple Space is the acoustic soloist. However the rapport between the performers and the playful nature of our work are a constant in both. This style that GOM is known so well for is the string that ties all of our creative endeavours together."

Friday 8 December 2017

We Are Lightning! review

The last music venue in town is shutting down, probably to make room for more hotels, so a group of musicians have gathered together for one last concert in their beloved Town Hall. It's a bittersweet night of music, memories and mayhem as Joseph O'Farrell and Sam Halmarack bring together a variety of local music makers for a final music showdown in We Are Lightning!

In both the show and the concert within the show, O'Farrell and Halmarack have a running theme of what community means and more specifically, how music can bring people together. As such, the two seek out local groups and musicians to take part in the show and in this instance, we are joined by teenage rock band Pythagoras and the Field, the Harmony for Humanity choir and a number of brass musicians - with a few added surprises along the way. Despite their varied musical styles, it's not long before you realise their passion for music and singing ties them together, and if you have any appreciation for live music, you can't help but feel part of that connection too.

Sunday 3 December 2017

Earshot review

Long gone are the days where a conversation between two people stayed that way. With advancements in technology, private conversations can be captured, recorded and shared to the masses within seconds of being had. However, the age-old art of eavesdropping has been around for much longer, where by leaning back just a little bit further on your chair means you can catch the argument a couple sitting behind you are having, or the joy a person is expressing on a phone call seated on the train next you regarding their recent engagement. In Earshot, Kate Hunter has created a show out of the conversations she has overheard in which she and fellow performer, Josephine Lange re-enact.

There are a variety of conversations in this live performance including death, being Jewish, domestic violence and gardening and the conversations and topics range from laughable to horrifying. So while we are provided with an array of people's conversations, you can't help but begin to question what is the purpose of hearing these conversations? Why have these conversations been specifically chosen over others? And unfortunately no answers are provided, which leads to a sense of dissatisfaction and frustration with Earshot.

Friday 1 December 2017

Please Hold review

NICA has been a breeding ground for world-class circus performers for almost twenty years. In its latest show, Please Hold, the training institute puts the skills and talents of its third year students to the test.

The 21 performers' strength and agility throughout the show never ceases to amaze. The determination they have to be able to maintain a handstand for a substantial amount of time or the ease at which two people can stand on someone's shoulders or the heights at which others are thrown and then caught are a sign of the careers that await them. A few mishaps here and there but that's the risk of circus and these incidents are what make the standout moments even more memorable.