Sunday 29 January 2023

The MILF and the Mistress review (Midsumma Festival)

Meet Ali Anderson. She is an intelligent, middle-aged woman living the lesbian dream. Or is she? Presented as part of Midsumma Festival, The MILF and the Mistress is a one-woman show examining what happens when happily ever after occurs and why it has to begin in the first place. Why can't the excitement and discovery of life continue? And why must not only middle-aged women, and to be more specific, middle-aged lesbian women, disappear as they become older?

Jane Montgomery Griffiths' script brings an evocative description of Ali's life with humour and sincerity. The audience is given great insight into the mind of this woman and her unique circumstances, but at the same time, Griffiths writes such a relatable story where anyone who has ever felt like life was passing them by or searching for that spark in life, can absolutely connect with and put themselves in Ali's shoes.

Tuesday 24 January 2023

Transcendence review (Midsumma Festival)

Taking place over the course of an evening, Transcendence tells the story of 15-year-old William, as he tries to understand who he is and who he wants to be. Written and directed by Wayne Stelini, it offers a humourous yet sincere look at gender identity and the challenges that a teenager has when faced with these choices. Through William’s daggy father (Michael Robins), his acid-tongued friends Ricky and Felicia (Kyle Cuthbert and Ivan Koetsveld) and some brilliant lip-syncing numbers, we follow William (Anthony Pontonio) on this journey of self-discovery.

Stelini has us spend a good half hour focusing on the dynamics of these four people and helping us to see things from their perspectives. However, it isn’t until the final half of the show where we learn that William’s parents are sending him away to a conversion camp and the reasons for this become clear. As such, we don’t get to explore this part of the story which results in an ending that is slightly rushed.

Thursday 12 January 2023

The Danger Ensemble discuss going beyond skin-deep with its new Midsumma Festival show Songs of the Flesh

The Danger Ensemble have garnered a reputation for creating boundary pushing contemporary and experimental theatre. Since the company's relocation to Melbourne roughly five years ago, we have been fortunate to see such work as The Hamlet Aopcalypse and most recently, Day After Terrible Day. For Midsumma Festival, the company present what could possibly be their most innovative work yet, Songs of the Flesh. Based on a text by Chris Beckey, this coming-of-age fairy tale cum punk-tragedy follows a young man and his exhaustive pursuit for the name of his love. Searching through the pages of fables, history and literature, he finally finds it in The Bible and then deep within his own flesh.

"Songs of the Flesh actually started with my desire to experience solo performance back in the early 2000s. I’d been working professionally in theatre for a few years and I’d been interested in solo performance for a while," Beckey tells me. "I had heard Kate Bush's "The Song of Solomon" from her 1993 album The Red Shoes, and it is a beautiful song where Kate interpolates passages from the book of the Bible of the same name. I’d gotten a bit obsessed with the beauty of the poetry within those passages, so I gave it a read and I found that there were passages there that resonated with an 
experience I’d had in Brisbane in the mid-90s. So my idea was to arrange and edit the text of "The Song of Solomon" to tell the story of my experience."

Wednesday 11 January 2023

Getting the inside scoop on being an outsider with Amelia O’Leary's new dance work A Certain Mumble

In 2023, Darebin Arts Speakeasy will celebrate a decade of ground-breaking and award-winning performing arts productions, with Amelia O'Leary's contemporary dance work A Certain Mumble making up part of its 2023 season. O'Leary, a First Nations Gamilaroi dancer and choreographer, will be working with Chinese Malaysian artist Janelle Tan Yung Huey as they explore what it feels like to be an outsider in Australia.

"Being an outsider in Australia means feeling different or like you don't belong," O'Leary says. "We particularly felt like outsiders by encountering indirect and direct acts and attitudes of racism. I also struggled with not belonging in certain institutions and social spaces. I can feel the eeriness and unsettling energies of so-called Australia. In a way, being an outsider helps broadens your perspective and makes you a more interesting and understanding person, but it can make you feel unseen, unheard and misunderstood."

Sunday 8 January 2023

Kikki Temple on how a mere burger is lifting the lid off gender and race politics with Burgerz

In 2016, a burger was thrown at performance artist Travis Alabanza as they walked along Waterloo Bridge. No one did anything to help or assist. To understand this act of violence, they created a piece based around the burger into a confessional storytelling show with live cooking, and audience interaction to share and highlight the lived experiences of a trans person of colour.

For Midsumma Festival this year, Burgerz is making its way to Theatre Works with Kikki Temple taking the audience through the unique experience that mashes together trans culture and the burger. Through some serendipitous circumstances, Temple, already aware of Alabanza and Burgerz, was put in touch with director Kitan Petkovski about starring in the production.