Wednesday 30 May 2018

fluttering hearts // thinking machines review

Forest Collective has been creating works focusing on contemporary classical music since it was founded in 2009. In their latest performance, fluttering hearts // thinking machines the company collaborated with queer artist Addison to consider how technology and our emotions intersect and what the impact of modern living has had on our interactions and relationships with others.

Joining Addison on stage was an orchestra of ten Forest Collective musicians: Nick Yates, Kim Tan, Vilan Mai, Nathan Juriansz, Clare Gorton, Nikki Edgar, Bec Scully, William Elm, Trea Hindley and Ryan Williams. The intimacy of the venue at Abbotsford Convent gave us the opportunity to watch every musician - led by conductor Evan Lawson - playing their instrument and be mesmerised by how each one would lose themselves to the music. The trombonist who closed her eyes and was swept by the music, the flutist who tapped her foot to the beats and the accordionist who used his entire body to play their instrument was enchanting to watch. In turn, it allowed us to give ourselves over to the performance and be taken on our own journey and reflection of love and loss.

Saturday 26 May 2018

Her Father's Daughter review

It's been just over 120 years since Hedda Gabbler was introduced to the world in Henrik Ibsen's acclaimed play of a young woman searching for her personal freedom with devastating results. While it remains a classic in its own right, writer Keziah Warner has taken this story and transported it into a contemporary setting with Her Father's Daughter.

Performed in the Prahran Council Chambers, it is initially the perfect setting to reflect the lifestyle that Hedda and her husband have. The difficulty with performing in the chambers, while appropriately opulent, is that none of these 'rooms' create an atmosphere of being in someone's home and as such you are unable to believe in the world being presented.

Despite this, director Cathy Hunt utilises the spaces to allow for constant movement and action from the cast that prevents them from being enveloped by the adornment and furnishings of the rooms. She ensures there's a familiarity with the way in which the actors interact with the environment but the final scene had a few issues with blocking and the tension between Hedda and Brack could have gone further in exploring the intensity and gravity of the events leading up to that moment.

Monday 21 May 2018


In The Second Sex, French feminist writer Simone de Beauvior asked what is a woman? In DE STROYED, actor Jillian Murray and director Suzanne Chaundy use de Beauvoir's words to present a thoroughly engaging work that explores what it means to be a woman but also what it means to love and to age. 

It took months for Murray and Chaundy to read through de Beauvoir's work and create their story. Eventually the script was sourced from eight pieces of de Beauvoir's writing including The Woman Destroyed and The Age of Discretion. One can only imagine the difficulty of finding the right material for the story they wanted to tell. However, the hard work has paid off with this remarkable production.

Friday 18 May 2018

Society review

Circus for adults comes to Melbourne in the form of After Dark Theatre's Society, a circus-cabaret set to the free-spirited vibe of New Orleans. Suitably taking place in the Melba Spiegeltent, there are plenty of acts that delight and impress audiences.

Eight talented artists appear throughout the show and they work extremely well as an ensemble and in supporting each other. The standout routines include Jacinta Rohan with her unsettling contortionism, Mathew Brown's skilful straps numbers and Alyssa Moore impresses the audience with a high-risk performance on the Russian Bar.

Tully Fedorowjtsch is also a highlight with his acts, including the fast spinning of two water-filled bowls and barely sending any drops into the crowd, and his balancing/spinning of a giant cube frame.

Sunday 13 May 2018

Canine Choreography - Next Wave Festival review

Since 2009, Dances with Dogs has been approved by the Australian National Kennel Council as an official sport in Australia. That's right; dog owners perform fully themed, costumed and choreographed dance numbers to music with their canine counterparts. Presented as part of Next Wave, Canine Choreography takes a number of dog owners and their pets and has them recreating award winning Dances with Dogs routines while highlighting the relationships and bonds we share with dogs.

Creator Danielle Reynolds interviews a number of dog owners, including some from the Dances with Dogs community. There is a slight Best In Show mockumentary feel throughout as people gush over their pets and the seriousness in which competitive dog dancing is discussed. These moments prove to be the most entertaining and unfortunately this is where the problem with Canine Choreography lies.

Saturday 12 May 2018

Jupiter Orbiting - Next Wave Festival review

As you enter Jupiter Orbiting, creator and performer Joshua Pether is nervously decorating a table with Lego blocks, coloured paper and animal figurines. It feels like we are watching the preparation of a child's party, however with the rest of the stage empty and dark, there is trepidation in the air.

Using a science fiction narrative, this performative piece explores childhood trauma and grief, which Pether juxtaposes with scenes that are equally representative of innocence and naivety. From a distance, the coloured pieces of paper used at the beginning of the show resemble crushed origami cranes, a symbol of hope.  There's even contradiction in its title, alluding to the 12 years it takes for Jupiter to complete its orbital period. This could easily be the age that Pether is portraying, one that is full of liveliness and zest, yet the planet itself is desolate and void of any life.

Baby Cake - Next Wave Festival review

There aren’t many women in the world who can say they’ve never thought – or been asked - about having children. Regardless of the answer, it is a question that ultimately needs to be answered with the ramifications of that choice coming into effect for the rest of their lives. Kerensa Diball and Yuhui Ng-Rodriguez are two friends, one is a mother and one is not, and in Baby Cake, they look at what it means to be a woman and a mother, with a little help along the way.

Ng-Rodriguez has a 2-year-old son, Mori and throughout the show she discusses the changes in her life, particularly in how she balances this with her career as an art maker and the compromises she has had to make to continue working while being a mother. On the other side of the spectrum, Diball has no children, but she did acquire a parasite called blastocystis hominis after eating some raw goat’s cheese in Turkey so she has some idea on what’s it like to be a mother.

Friday 11 May 2018

salt. - Next Wave Festival review

Selina Thompson is a 28-year-old black woman who lives in Birmingham. But being a woman of colour with ancestry from Jamaica and Montserrat, when asked where she’s from, the UK is often not considered an acceptable answer. To explore her diasporic identity, Thompson bought a ticket on a cargo ship and retraced one of the routes of the Transatlantic Slave Triangle, going from the UK to Ghana to Jamaica, and then back.

In salt., Thompson poetically recalls this experience with the audience while reminding us of the irreparable damage colonialism has had on her ancestors and how this grief will be felt for generations to come. Thompson also ties in her own personal encounters with racism in all its forms, and we hang off her every word as she goes trough these incidents, reinforcing the fact that despite the passing of time, attitudes have changed very little.

Thursday 10 May 2018

Estrogenesis - Next Wave Festival review

Transgender bodies, identity and environment serve as the focus of Embittered Swish's new work with their Next Wave Festival show, Estrogenesis. Taking on a technology themed approach to gender, the performance art piece explores what happens when you alter the 'hardware' of gender and what the ramifications of such an act are.

Performed by Mossy 333, Romy Fox, Bobuq Sayed and Mick Klepner Roe, we witness several scenes that delve into what it is to be trans through a variety of art mediums including spoken word, music and dance. There are some interesting issues and themes raised, including Sayed’s spoken word on the trans body and the differences that exist within the trans community.

Sunday 6 May 2018

SEER - Next Wave Festival review

Using Edgar Allan Poe’s short story Shadow – a Parable as its inspiration, experimental theatre artist and stage designer House of Vnholy's SEER is an immersive exploration of darkness and silence and a study on being alone. Performed as part of the Next Wave Festival, this site-specific show at the Darebin Arts Centre combines ritual and poetry to encourage us to consider not only our life and our death but also the part in between.

The most powerful part of SEER takes place inside the main theatre of the Darebin Arts Centre where you took a seat in a specially designed booth facing the stage. There was something very eerie about being the only person in a theatre that can seat almost 400 people. I constantly felt like figures were emerging from the stage, standing up from the seats and staring at me through the darkness. No doubt the haunting soundscape designed by Jannah Quill contributed to this disorientation, and along with the light images being projected onto the stage, I was continually questioning if I was experiencing a painful death or an uplifting rebirth.

Crunch Time - Next Wave Festival review

Imagine having a five-course meal with a group of strangers, where you must democratically vote on all the ingredients that will be used. What if someone is vegetarian or has allergies to pineapple? Or simply doesn't like spicy food? Presented as part of Next Wave Festival, Counterpilot's Crunch Time has its participants doing just that, and as a result, leaves them thinking about much more than just their food choices.

Co-founded by Sandra Carluccio and Nathan Sibthorpe, Counterpilot's performative dinner party sits us around a table and through the use of some interactive tools, we vote on each ingredient that our guest chef will prepare in a kitchen that is a few metres away from where we dine. The chefs for each session are public figures in the arts world and include Georgie Meagher, the Director and CEO of Next Wave, and Simon Abrahams, the Artistic Director of Melbourne Fringe. In our session, we are treated to the culinary expertise of Wesley Enoch, the Artistic Director of Sydney Festival.

Friday 4 May 2018

Carmilla: A Ghost Story for Theatre review

Carmilla- A Ghost Story for the Theatre is a show that lives up to its name. Written by Adam Yee after the 1872 novella by Sheridan Le Fanu, the story follows a father and his daughter whose lives are interrupted by the arrival of a beautiful stranger, Carmilla. There is an air of mystery surrounding Carmilla as to who – and what – she is, and how her existence threatens everything that this family holds near. 

However, Carmilla is not just a theatre performance but also a musical one with Tom Pugh conducting a live chamber orchestra (Elizabeth Barcan, Pri Victor, Lyndon Chester, Rosanne Hunt, Edit Golder and Yee) to create the score as events unfold. Also composed by Yee, there is a gothic and unnerving atmosphere in the music and in that regard, there is much to engage with.

Tuesday 1 May 2018

Deceptive Threads review

What do a nineteenth century Lebanese immigrant and an Australian singer / spy have in common? They are both the grandfathers of David Joseph and in Deceptive Threads, Joseph digs into the mystery of these men and how despite their pasts, they have both ended up playing a prominent role in his present and continue to do so with his future.

Joseph and Karen Berger have devised this show, and between them they perform, direct, and create the set, sound and projection designs (along with Zoe Scolgio for the latter). In doing so, they allow for the design elements to work together and form a deeply layered intimacy that draws the audience into these two tales and for Joseph to seamlessly flow between the two.