Tuesday, 19 March 2019

World Problems review

Emma Mary Hall remembers a lot. She remembers 9/11 and the first funeral on Mars. She also remembers when George Clooney died and the birthday cakes she's eaten. In World Problems, Hall shares her memories - some factual, some probable, some pure fiction - with us while also expressing what it is like to live in this world and how all our actions are interconnected with something much bigger than us. 

By exposing her vulnerability to the audience through her memories, Hall creates an intimacy that grows with every passing minute. The accomplished way she makes us believe in everything she is saying is testament to the stage presence that Hall possesses. She presents to us as a figure of authority but also as a person having a casual chat with a friend. Her jumping of memories between time and space elicits a very emotional and personal response to a global issue.

Friday, 15 March 2019

Cella review

Cella (Latin for cell) is a minimalist dance piece by Narelle Benjamin and Paul White, who use and contort their bodies in intense solo and paired routines to uncover a history that we rarely consider. Cella allows the two dancers to explore the biology of our body along and the stories that it has to share.

The movements performed by Benjamin and White play to their strengths and often create stunning moments in how the body can be manipulated. While the beginning of the piece goes on longer than is necessary, the unison in which the two move their bodies as they writhe around the floor is impressive, evident of much time and effort made in ensuring they are in tune with the music by Huey Benjamin and with each other.

Tuesday, 12 March 2019

33 Variations review

It's a mystery how a song or piece of music can elicit strong emotions from a person. We may listen to heavy metal when we need a release whereas for moments of clarity we might seek some classical music, such as Beethoven. In many ways, the music we listen to often becomes the soundtrack of our lives and this is touchingly explored in Mois├ęs Kaufman's 33 Variations, in which a musicologist devotes years of her life trying to understand why German composer Beethoven was so consumed with writing 33 variations to Anton Diabelli's simple waltz.

American film legend, Ellen Burstyn is utterly captivating as musicologist Katherine Brandt. Her ability to show her gradual loss of control of her body due to her diagnosis of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) while desperately clinging to her intellect is masterful. Her troubled relationship with her daughter Clara, played by the inimitable Lisa McCune, is examined without melodrama and reaches a genuinely affecting conclusion with acceptance of mistakes from both sides.

Sunday, 10 March 2019

The Yellow Wallpaper review

Written in 1890, The Yellow Wallpaper was Charlotte Perkins Gilman's response to her misdiagnosis and treatment from prominent neurologist Silas Weir Mitchell, with his "resting cure" after the birth of her daughter. This epistolary short story explores the misogyny and scepticism women faced with regards to mental illness and how powerful men in a patriarchal society considered the health of women.

Performed by Annie Thorold, the story is predominantly told via a voice recording of her journal entries. In doing so, the essence of Gilman's story remains intact and allows for the audience members to be simultaneously inside and outside of The Narrator's mind. As Thorold has little dialogue it is her physical presence that is of critical importance and throughout the taut production she manages to convey the anxiety and the anger that is felt by our protagonist.

Saturday, 9 March 2019

Poopie Tum Tums - Melbourne International Comedy Festival preview

First The Very Good Looking Initiative taught us how to lead a better life through social media with CULL. Then they explored how crippling failure can be with Let's Get Practical! Live. Now they return to the Melbourne International Comedy Festival with their brand new show, Poopie Tum Tums. Performed by Honor Wolff and Patrick Durning Silva, the show will give audience members another look into the weirdly hilarious musings of the two and their desire to create something stupid, sexy and funny.

"Poopie Tum Tums is a show that we want to perform every night that makes us laugh and makes our parents uncomfortable and disappointed. A lot of people don’t know this about us but we both have massive egos, self destructive behaviours and a dream to become famous, so hopefully this does that," they tell me. "Basically it’ll be the two of us on stage making fools of ourselves, and making you laugh, cry and be uncomfortably aroused."

Thursday, 7 March 2019

Mrs Robinson Crusoe - Melbourne International Comedy Festival preview

Trying to get Samuel Russo and Chelsea Zeller to describe their new sketch comedy show, Mrs Robinson Crusoe, is like getting two kids to talk about what they want for Christmas. They want to have it all and are excited about seeing what they actually get. Presented as part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, the two art makers and performers are collaborating once more in a clowning / drag production where a 1950s housewife finds herself marooned on the set of the hit reality TV show Survivor.

In this fresh sketch-fable-parody-party, Zeller and Russo play with ideas around space and time, sex and love, rock, roll and a bag full of wigs. But that's not all. "Audiences will be seeing two performers playing a shit tonne of characters from different worlds all colliding in our crazy little island paradise," Russo explains. "Lots of ridiculous accents and funny walks. You know. Classy, sophisticated stuff like that. Like Survivor meets Little Britain."

Wednesday, 6 March 2019

Elixir - Melbourne International Comedy Festival preview

There are many theories as to when and how the zombie apocalypse will occur, with the latest one rumoured to take place during the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Presented by Head First Acrobats, Elixir follows three blundering scientists who unwittingly unleash the zombie apocalypse when they attempt to create the elixir of life. And it just so happens that these scientists are highly skilled acrobatic and circus performers who must put their brains and their bodies into overdrive in order to prevent the end of the world.

Performed by Thomas Gorham, Callan Harris (both founding members of Head First Acrobats) and Harley Timmerman, Elixir premieres in Melbourne after a sold out and award winning tour in the United Kingdom, including Best Cabaret at the 2015 Brighton Fringe Festival. Originally performed as part of Gorham’s graduation showcase piece at NICA, the full version of Elixir has never played in Melbourne.  While the trio are eager to bring the undead back to Melbourne, the journey with this production has been an experience that Gorham could never have imagined. "I had absolutely no idea that this would happen," he says. "I just wanted to create a character piece that was different and exciting. I had no idea a showcase zombie themed circus act would lead to touring around the world and being received the way it has."

Saturday, 2 March 2019

Murder Village: An Improvised Whodunnit - Melbourne International Comedy Festival preview

We all enjoy a heartwarming murder mystery. Trying to spot the clues as they are laid out for us, or in some cases watching as the detective pieces everything together, can be a thrilling adventure. As part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, audiences have the opportunity to commit their own slice of murder with an improvised homage to Agatha Christie in Murder Village: An Improvised Whodunnit, a show presented by Dave Massingham and the iconic The Butterfly Club.

Massingham's love for the perfect murder stemmed from a childhood of watching them enacted on stage, TV and in board games. "Ever since I was a kid I loved the cozy murder mystery. Agatha Christie was a perennial favourite. Cluedo was always my preferred board game. I even remember watching episodes of Inspector Morse and Jonathan Creek with my family," he recalls. "When I became interested in improv comedy I knew that I would love to one day develop a classic British whodunnit format. In 2009 I came up with a show structure called Agatha Holmes and put it on with my old Brisbane improv troupe ImproMafia. That would be the bones that would eventually become Murder Village."