Sunday 28 July 2019

Blackrock review

It's been over two decades since Nick Enright's Blackrock was first performed, which explored the fallout in a beachside town after a teenager is brutally gang raped and murdered. Sadly these crimes have become a common occurrence in Australia, and EbbFlow Theatre Co.'s production is a timely reminder as to how little has changed in attitudes to violence against women. 

Whereas Enright's play focuses predominantly on the men and themes around loyalty and mateship, director Nicola Bowman ensures that time is provided to the women of Blackrock and that their voices are heard. Ordinarily this would give a new perspective to the source text but in this instance the majority of female characters are all angry and disgusted by what has happened and while they are completely justified in this, it does not allow for any dramatic tension and many of its teenage characters blend into one.

Friday 26 July 2019

Make Me A Houri review

In Islamic religion, Muslim men who die as "believers" are rewarded with 72 beautiful perpetual virgins as wives in heaven. These women are known as houris. In Emina Ashman's Make Me A Houri, two women who meet in the afterlife begin to question and confront how religion and society view and use their bodies and their spirits. 

Ashman creates some moving poetry with her story of these two women as they come to grapple with their own desire and the expectations placed upon them. Regardless how confronting the topics discussed are, through her considered and open dialogue, she allows the audience to lower their guard and be drawn into what is transpiring. Where this story comes up short is that the characters are largely unchanged throughout it. There is no build up to anything climatic or revelatory and the women remain static as they recall personal experiences that lead into deeper philosophical analysis.

Thursday 25 July 2019

Kevin Peterson’s Stand Up Show review

Kevin Peterson is the new kid on the stand-up comedy block with his new show opening at The Butterfly Club. He's young, likeable and has the boy next door charm, but he's barely into his set when he is hit with a severe anxiety attack and becomes lost in his own distressing thoughts. Fortunately, this is not real life but the synopsis for Kevin Peterson’s Stand Up Show.

Written and directed by Max Paton, the show is a comedic and surreal look at what happens inside the mind of a man when he is struck with anxiety. Paton finds clever and intriguing ways in exploring Kevin's emotional and mental state and illustrates this brilliantly on stage. A constant highlight is seeing how the material from Kevin's stand-up routine, including "jokes" about Chris Hemsworth and platypus, is then referenced and used during his existential nightmare.

Saturday 20 July 2019

A Room of One's Own review

In her essay, Women and Fiction, Virginia Woolf discussed why women throughout history were so limited in achieving success in literature. The essay and the series of lectures it evolved into in 1928, remain a potent feminist examination on three areas: what women are like, women and the fiction they write, and women and the fiction written about them. 

In A Room of One's Own, Peta Hanrahan has taken Woolf's words and adapted them for the stage putting her 90-year-old thoughts under a compelling new light. First performed in 2016 at La Mama Theatre, Hanrahan's production returns for a second season at fortyfive downstairs with four actors expressing Woolf's thoughts and ideas as if they were an internal dialogue. Hanrahan eloquently interprets these to present an intelligent and articulate conversation on feminism while ensuring a relevance to the contemporary world we live in.

Monday 15 July 2019

You Are The Blood review

A serial killer is caught and spends the rest of his life in jail. While the victims' families might feel like justice has been served, what happens to the family of the serial killer? In Ashley Rose Wellman's You Are The Blood, the spotlight turns to the wife and children of David Boden, a man convicted of murdering seven people.

Shelby (Jessica Stanley) works as an office manager at a comedy club whose life is quite a mess, both literally and figuratively. Her mother Linda and brother Ben (Vivienne Powell and James Cerché) seem to be doing somewhat better but things reach a tipping point when it is reported that their murderous family member (Andrew Blackman) has recently become engaged to performance artist Sylvia (Jem Nicholas). Unfortunately, the story does not go much deeper than that and after almost 2.5 hours, you are left scratching your head and wondering how this production ended up much like Shelby's life.

Saturday 13 July 2019

AutoCannibal review

The world is ending. We are facing an intense heatwave, crops and animals are dying and people are starving to death. In Mitch Jones' solo physical theatre work AutoCannibal, we witness one of the last people on Earth spending his final days living with the same ignorance and self-destructive mode that led to civilisation's doom in the first place.

From a design point of view, the show is highly successful in creating a grim and desolate environment. The lighting design by Paul Lim and sound design by Bonnie Knight (with contributions from Marco Cher-Gibard) is a constant reminder of the bleak future that awaits our protagonist (and us). They work together incredibly well to create tension and unease right through to the final moments. Similarly, Michael Baxter's minimal scaffolding set design conveys a reality void of any human warmth.

Friday 5 July 2019

The Intriguing Case of The Silent Forest review

A young girl has been murdered and a Detective and his team have only seven days to locate The Tongue-Cutter in the suspense filled production of The Thursday Groups' The Intriguing Case of The Silent Forest. With its use of a number of theatrical devices and actor training methods, the show is a powerful and confronting exploration of pain, sorrow and the ability to heal within a noir setting.

From its opening moments, the cast (Rodrigo Calderón, Matthew Crosby, Kathleen Doyle, Eidann Glover, Alana Hoggart, and Lorna McLeod) deliver committed and convincing performances that never wane or falter. It's an ensemble that is very much tuned in to each other, which is crucial given the physical nature of the show.

Twigs That Never Took review

It can be difficult to move forward when you can't let go of the past. Where you spend your time reminiscing about your younger years as you try to avoid the future that awaits. In Donna De Palma's Twigs That Never Took, a middle-aged woman grapples with her mortality and loneliness as she opens up to the audience about her two lost loves. 

There is so much potential for this to be a refreshing exploration on gender roles and ageism, however the show reveals few important or profound realisations. This is most noticeable in the first half that consists of our protagonist Bianca describing her two weddings as well as all the various things one must consider when planning a wedding. While there are humorous moments presented, very little of it leads to anything substantial.