Wednesday 29 August 2018

Nico - Melbourne Fringe Festival preview

If you're looking for a unique evening of sumptuous music during the Melbourne Fringe Festival, you need look no further than Nico: Songs They Never Played on the Radio. Forest Collective have been building a reputation for reinterpreting existing music through traditional instruments and chamber musicians to create new and innovative music, and Nico looks like it too will be living up to those expectations. Devised by Evan Lawson and Danielle Asciak, Nico is a tribute to the German musician of the same name, active from the 1960s up until her death in 1988.

“The show is a journey into Nico's inner vs. outer world through her music," cabaret artist Asciak tells me. "We've taken songs that we feel best represent the story of Nico; from her early artist days, to her time in Velvet Underground and the songs in her final composition days. This will be the world premiere of commissioned arrangements."

Monday 27 August 2018

PURGASTORY - Melbourne Fringe Festival preview

The minds behind last year's critically acclaimed Cactus and the Mime return to the Melbourne Fringe Festival with a brand new show, or maybe that should be four brand new shows. PURGASTORY is the latest creation by Caitlin Spears and Roby Favretto in which the two perform four separate stories, in a time-warped anthology revolving around chasing your dreams, whatever they may be.

"PURGASTORY is a dramedy exploring passion and patience," Spears tells me. "The show features a range of characters from E
nglish maidens, Aussie tradies, a teenage songstress, a LA music producer, a desperate senior and an android from the future, dealing with their aspirations in life versus their ability to achieve them. I think it's a concept that many of us can relate to."

Spears and Favretto had initially planned on taking on more roles than just four each but with the development of the show the two began to see that certain characters were just itching for more stage time. "We had thought to challenge ourselves with multiple characters in the beginning, but the stories then became about exploring a concept spanning time and how characters in different time periods connected with each other," Spears says. "In the end we chose these particular stories because we were drawn to the contrasting archetypes and how they could be subverted, from the 90s blokey Aussie tradie to the crazy cool LA music producer to the very posh English lady."

Saturday 25 August 2018

Ross & Rachel - Melbourne Fringe Festival preview

So no one told you life was gonna be this way. If that sentence immediately makes you think of the 90s TV program Friends, you are definitely not alone. It was a show, where for 14 years, the world patiently waited for one of TVs most loved couples to finally get together - and stay together: Ross and Rachel. It was all happily ever after for the two, but what really happened afterwards? Did they stay together? Were they happy? Did they stay in love? Presented by Spinning Plates as part of the Melbourne Fringe Festival, James Fritz' Ross & Rachel is an examination on The One That No One Told You About. 

"Ross & Rachel is about what happens after the end – not about getting together, but about staying together," actor Jessica Stanley explains. "The title really is so integral to the whole thing; it’s about how people can lose their identities inside of a relationship, how they’re no longer counted as two people but as one."

Friday 24 August 2018

Disgust review

A man and a woman spend their evening discussing the dinner party they have attended. It's a banal conversation about who was wearing what socks and who ate the cake. However, in Kat Moritz's Disgust, these conversations open up to fantasy worlds and scenarios, uniting this couple and signifying the love that is shared between them.

Reminiscent of Harold Pinter's work, Moritz plays with silences throughout the production, specifying in the writers notes of the program that "lines should only be spoken when the actors feel compelled to speak them". In doing so, when words are spoken, they seep into our minds and let us focus on how this relationship between the two characters is being presented.

Wednesday 22 August 2018

The Boy, George - Melbourne Fringe Festival preview

On 22 July 2013, George Alexander Louis was born. Why is this important? Because George is the third in line of succession to the British throne. Looks like Prince George - as he is otherwise known - has his entire life planned out for him. But by 2028, with the Queen dead and George finally set for the throne, it appears that a revolution will begin which will threaten the rule and existence of the entire Royal Family. In his solo Melbourne Fringe Festival debut, writer and performer Patrick Livesey takes a futuristic look at the life of Prince George and his aspirations to be King in The Boy, George.

"The idea for the show began as a semi-autobiographical piece about graduating from the Victorian College of the Arts and taking on the world, but that became very boring very quickly," Livesey recalls. "One day at work, I was doing the dishes and I began to imagine a slightly older and gay Prince George losing it all, and thought that might be a bit more fun, and also be a nice homage to my mother's intense Princess Diana obsession. I grew up with a Royal-obsessed Mum and bookshelves full of biographies so they were never distant figures, but I would classify myself as more of a curious observer than a fan."

Monday 20 August 2018

Never Ending Night - Melbourne Fringe Festival preview

Fringe festivals are a time for artists to present new work and ideas and be daring in the theatre that they make. But it also gives a chance for audiences to experience innovative theatre and to step outside of their comfort zone as a passive audience member. Presented by Libby Brockman and Russell Sims as part of this year's Melbourne Fringe Festival, Never Ending Night is an immersive experience in which each audience member determines the journey that they will take.

Performed inside the Collingwood Underground Carpark, audiences enter Cyprus Pod, which has been home to a small community of survivors for 15 years. However, when 8 more newcomers arrive, the survivors must decide if they will accept them or turn them away. For this project, Brockman enlisted three writers, Bridgette Burton, Amelia Newman and Keith Gow, to come on board and help create and guide the story.

"The collaborative process was really exciting, since all our writing styles are quite different," Gow tells me. "I'm working with Bridgette, whose work I have admired for years, and Amelia, who Bridgette has been mentoring, and we established a general concept for the play and then went off and wrote three different stories about life in this one pod. The big question of the play is whether or not this pod of survivors will allow others to come and live with them; they are so comfortable in their lives, they are initially reticent to accept newcomers."

Untitled No. 7 - Melbourne Fringe Festival preview

At the 2015 Melbourne Fringe Festival, Telia Nevile won the Best Emerging Writer award for Poet Vs Pageant. In 2018, she returns to the Festival with a new show called Untitled No. 7, where through a mix of poetry, cabaret and performance art, she takes an offbeat look at what it means to fail and how success is measured.

There is an incessant need in society to define ourselves by our careers, relationships and successes, which Nevile is keen to challenge, beginning with the name of her show. "I've always loved how visual artists don't need to name their work, and that the non-name they choose to give it - Untitled - leaves the meaning of the work completely open to interpretation," she explains. "It doesn't define anything, and this whole show is all about defining things and then learning how to redefine, or un-define, them. I picked the number 7 because figuring out life and success and failure and ambition is always a work in progress, so you've got to go through a few drafts to get it right."

Sunday 19 August 2018

Top Ten Films at 2018 Melbourne International Film Festival

So two and a half weeks of craziness come to an end yet again! While I still have not been able to crack that elusive 50 films, I did increase my total from last year by 11, to 45 movies. Of those 45, I now present you my Top 10 movies from the 2018 Melbourne International Film Festival.

1. The Night Eats The World

I suspected I would like this film because it involved zombies, but I didn't think I would be so engrossed by it. Its exploration of loneliness and isolation amidst a zombie apocalypse is skilfully accomplished with just the right levels of comedy and horror to prevent you from getting too overwhelmed by the bleakness.

As Sam, Anders Danielsen Lie expresses the boredom and the uncertainty that our protagonist is feeling faultlessly. Without much dialogue (between humans at least), Lie relies on his physicality and expressions to present the impact these events have had on him. Despite the zombies, this is a thoughtful (and philosophical) film about the desire people have in wanting to connect with others.

My Monster: The Human-Animal Hybrid exhibition review

My Monster: The Human-Animal Hybrid is an exhibition at RMIT Gallery that looks at our relationships and perceptions of the non-humans who are among us. Curated by Evelyn Tsitas, the exhibition is divided into five different and curious sections: xenos (foreigner / stranger), mythos (stories / narratives), tokos (childbirth / reproduction), eros (erotic love) and kosmos (the world).

A highlight of the exhibition is in mythos, with Moira Finucane and David Verhagen’s Fur Can’t Fly (The Mourning of the Fur). This is beautifully conceived immersive, multi sensory installation that tells of a transformative journey in the mountains of Brazil. The evocative score by Shinjuku Thief and the soothing yet commanding voice of Finucane aid you through your journey. The specially designed vibrating chair and the lighting design by Thomas Dahlrnburg and Verhagen are simply stunning. With your eyes closed, every movement of the chair and sliver of light slipping into your vision makes you believe you are living this uplifting tale.

Sunday 5 August 2018

Sneakyville review

Serial killer Charles Manson may be dead, but the infatuation society has with him seems like it will never die. Christopher Bryant's Sneakyville is a darkly comedic look at this obsession through events that took place during that time, events that could have happened and events that could happen when the darker side of our nature is explored.

In the first act, Bryant gives the audience a crash course on who the Manson Family were leading up to the evening of August 9, 1969 when actor and model Sharon Tate - along with five others (including her unborn child who she was 8.5 months pregnant with) -  was brutally murdered. Bryant's script and Daniel Lammin's direction ensure that the tension is dialled up without the need to depict any violent or gruesome scenes. Bryant cleverly speeds through the next 50 year period informing us on the aftermath of the murders, including the Family's eventual arrests, sentencing and parole appeals, and how Manson influenced (and continues to influence) popular culture.