Tuesday 24 May 2022

The Shadow Whose Prey the Hunter Becomes review

Originally staged in 2019, Back to Back Theatre's The Shadow Whose Prey the Hunter Becomes returned for a two night season in which we witness a group of people with disabilities setting up for a public meeting in a town hall. While we are not quite sure what the meeting is about, it eventually shines a light on all of us with regards to the society we want to be part of.

With over 15 years of experience with Back to Back and having co-authored the work, Sarah Mainwaring and Scott Price are joined on stage by fellow performer Chris Hansen. The three share a natural and organic energy flowing between them. Their engagement with the audience constantly changes from humorous and light-hearted to authoritative and knowing, making it difficult to prepare ourselves for what's to come and generating an air of uncertainty for everyone present.

Monday 23 May 2022

Hearth review

The 7th of February 2009 will always be known as The Black Saturday bushfires, where a series of fires burned across Victoria, resulting in over 2000 homes destroyed and 173 people dying. But in Fleur Murphy's new play Hearth, this also happens to be the 18th birthday of Tom Robinson. Before the fires hit though, there is plenty of drama to keep him and his parents busy, particularly with the arrival of his brother Matthew and his partner Abbey. 

Murphy has crafted an intriguing story even with the familiar family arguments and secrets being unearthed. In this instance, flashback scenes and monologues to the audience are delivered so that we are cleverly drip-fed pieces of information surrounding the Robinson family. Murphy presents fleshed out characters who are not simply there to serve the story but rather to tell the story. Through the dialogue and interactions Murphy has them have with each other, these characters feel authentic and so it's almost effortless for the audience to become invested in their lives.

Wednesday 11 May 2022

Pieces of Shit review

In Pieces of Shit, two complete strangers recall an individual memory that forces them to confront issues around morality, respect and their sense of importance. Phil (Bronte Charlotte) works in events, and occasionally plans weddings, because that's where the big bucks lie. She may hate it, but she's very good at it; she's like the Olivia Pope of wedding planners. She gets the job done. At one wedding, she meets a man whom she ends up dating for numerous years.

Dylan (Leigh Scully) on other hand has been unemployed for 18 months but has some money stashed away while he discovers himself playing video games. It also helps that he is living back home with his wealthy parents. Dylan's brother is the golden child of the family, so moving back home brings with it some anxieties. Through a series of shocking and tragic events, Phil and Dylan's lives become entwined as they deal with the fallout of toxic masculinity and processing their own trauma.

Monday 9 May 2022

Buried TeaBowl - Okuni review

I've seen Yumi Umiumare perform numerous times over the years but always as part of the ensemble in someone else's show. Buried TeaBowl - Okuni is the first time I have attended one of her full solo works and I am very disappointed I waited so long to have had this incredible experience. Incorporating dance, spoken word, song and a tea ceremony, this performance installation is an intimate and stirring passage through time, ritual, the past and the present.

These four themes are clear in Umiumare's inspiration for her show: a 17th century Japanese dancer, Okuni, who is credited as being the founder of kabuki theatre. Literally translated to "the art of song and dance", Okuni began performing kabuki around Kyoto in the early 1600s and formed an all-female troupe that portrayed both male and female characters. Kabuki eventually became equated with prostitution and immorality and in 1629 this outrage led to a Government ban on women performing kabuki that was not lifted until the late 19th century.

Friday 6 May 2022

Kill Climate Deniers review

Back in 2016, I was given a copy of David Finnigan's play Kill Climate Deniers. In it, a group of armed eco-terrorists storm Parliament House and threaten to execute everyone inside including the Environment Minister unless the Prime Minister puts a stop to climate change. All this happens while Fleetwood Mac is set to perform in said building. Provocatively written with hilarious dialogue and challenging themes, it wasn't long until the play captured the attention of Australian far-right social and political commentator Andrew Bolt. 

Bolt criticised the ACT Government for granting $19,000 towards the play due to its terrorist plot and "killing" of people. Former Australian politician Brendan Smyth argued that if you were to insert killing any other group into the title, it would be deemed offensive and jokes about killing any people should not be accepted. Media scrutiny intensified with the play making international news before it had even been staged. Fortunately, Finnigan persevered, later winning the Griffin Theatre Award in Sydney with a full-scale production presented in 2018.

Monday 2 May 2022

Diapsalmata: P o r t r a i t o f a s e l f review

Founded in 2009, Forest Collective prides itself in presenting contemporary classical music to new audiences through innovative and distinctive performances. I am constantly amazed at how uniquely its productions are conceived and delivered. Its recent concert, Diapsalmata: P o r t r a i t o f a s e l f, is another flawless example of this, with two works highlighting mental health, identity, discovery and growth through the experience of a transgender person.

Kym Dillon has composed the music for both pieces, Sonata for Flute and Piano and Diapsalmata. In the former, Dillon accompanies flutist Brighid Mantelli in a composition of three movements. Linking emotions with nature and the environment, Dillon draws inspiration from three flowers found in the Surfcoast region of Victoria, to not only name the movements - (carpobrotus rossii ("Australian pig face"), eucopogon parviflorus ("coastal beard-heath") and leptospermum laevigatum ("coastal tea-tree") - but using the characteristics of the flowers to guide the music.