Saturday 26 October 2019

unHOWsed review

Made by a group of formerly homeless women over the age of 50, UnHOWsed provides an opportunity for these women to share their experiences with homelessness and to raise awareness of the constantly growing number of homeless women in the country. A collaboration between theatre company Tashmadada and housing organisation Voices of the South Side, this multidisciplinary performance piece is a stark yet poetic exploration of life on the fringe of society.

Each performer (Carla Mitterlehner, Susan V.M. McDonald-Timms, Jan Grey, Diann Pattison, Maurya Bourandanis, Catherine Samsury, Karen Corbett, Liza Dezfouli) sits on a chair in a pit of sand. There are beams of light shining down from the ceiling, lighting up their individual faces in the otherwise darkened space. They take in deep, sharp breaths and move their bodies as they do. It’s hypnotic to watch and the expressions they wear are indicative of the stories they have to tell. The impact from all these elements display the strength and resilience in each woman but also hints at their fragility and vulnerability.

Thursday 24 October 2019

Mansion review

We’ve all heard things that go bump in the night, and the majority of the time it is simply our imagination. But what happens when those bumps turn into a never-ending nightmare? That’s what Mel Walker and her two children find themselves facing after they move home following the death of her husband and father to Levi and Rachel. Presented by Bass Fam Creative, this second installment in a trilogy of works focusing on love, Mansion is an immersive dance theatre horror experience that explores what it means to love, grieve and mourn.

This site specific work has sourced the perfect location for Mansion: Labassa Mansion in Caulfield. Built in the 1800s, the Victorian era mansion has had over 135 people call it home, and at one point it was divided up into flats and housed Hollywood’s first Australian silent film star. There are countless stories to be told, and not just from the living. The dead have plenty left to say and through dance and circus, the family encounter – and are terrorised by - its previous inhabitants. We are guided by the ground's Caretaker, who leads us from room to room in this winding and maze-like property as everything starts to unravel.

Monday 21 October 2019

The Disappearing Trilogy review

In Suzie Hardgrave's The Disappearing Trilogy, gender and character come under the spotlight with an actor expressing her confusion and uncertainty on what it means to be both a woman and a performer. Where does one end and one begin? Can they co-exist, or will one eventually cease to exist?

Hardgrave displays outstanding skill in her writing and acting with each of the three episodes, which partners her thesis on the topic of “the actress”, and performance and construct of gender and character. The first episode has Hardgrave lamenting a one-star review after a show has closed and determining her self-worth. The second, which is the most engaging, has her using her body to explore the demands and expectations placed upon a performer as a pre-recorded narrator verbalises what we are seeing. The final episode has the actor step out from the confines of the stage and attempt to speak to us as a genuine person.

Savannah Bay review

An elderly woman sit patiently, but also impatiently, on a chair. She is waiting. For what, we do not know. Eventually a young woman arrives and begins to tend to her. As she does, they recall and share stories that bind them together. Written by acclaimed French writer Marguerite Duras, Savannah Bay explores memory and identity and how these connect us with others.

There's a strong bond between the two actors, Brenda Palmer and Annie Thorold. They allow their characters to exude a reciprocal compassion and sincerity. When The Young Woman is undressing and dressing Madeleine, there is plenty to take from that moment as to the dynamics of the relationship of these women and where they are at in their lives. There are instances throughout the show that capture this so intelligently and sensitively.

Monday 14 October 2019

Bernie Dieter's Little Death Club review

When Bernie Dieter gets her gang of punks, freaks and weirdos together you can be sure you're in for a night of rousing cabaret, burlesque and circus. With a number of rotating guest artists, Little Death Club allows everyone in the spiegeltent to shed their inhibitions and simply celebrate everything that makes them distinct and unique.

Dieter's displays perfect levels of charm and sassiness as our host, with her audience banter remaining playful and cheeky as she coaxes one person to let out a loud orgasm to show his appreciation of the performance. Her original songs, including catchy titled gems like "Lick My Pussy" and "Dick Pic", leave everyone wanting to hear more of her distinct voice and unexpectedly relatable lyrics.

Friday 11 October 2019

Forgiveness review

Outside the venue of Forgiveness are a number of vintage suitcases set up in three piles. Each pile has an open suitcase with a question written on it in relation to the show's title. One, for example asks, “is there anything you wish you hadn’t forgiven?” We are encouraged to reflect on these questions and write down our answers before placing these papers into their respective case. And so we begin to ponder what hand forgiveness has played in our lives. As we do this, a roving performer holds a suitcase on his back, struggling to walk around the foyer with the heaviness of the object he carries. Presented by Monash University Centre for Theatre and Performance and Barking Spider Visual Theatre, Forgiveness is a reflective piece of visual theatre, exploring forgiveness through an individual and a national lens.

Friday 4 October 2019

The Window Outside review

"It makes life so much easier when everybody knows its time", says one character in Belinda Lopez's The Window Outside. Presented as part of the Victorian Seniors Festival, the play explores the relationship between a family when tragedy strikes and tough decisions need to be made. Everyone is reaching boiling point after Frank has had a stroke, Evelyn is showing signs of dementia and their two adult daughters are unable to continue caring for their parents.

Carrie Moczynski reprises her role as Evelyn after playing her seven years ago in a season at La Mama. Her portrayal is once again laced with a loving vulnerability and determination and even though she doesn't explicitly state it, there are traces of acknowledgement that her mind is slowly deteriorating. Ian Rooney's performance relies on his body language and facial expressions to tell his story. He does a great job of highlighting the spark of life he once had and how it has now left him. As his oldest daughter Sharon states in one scene, he is but a shell of what he was, which the flashbacks also do well in supporting.