Monday 13 February 2023

Burgerz review (Midsumma Festival)

In April 2016, Kikki Temple had a burger thrown at them at Flinders Street Station. The person who threw it called out a transphobic slur. There were over 100 people around at the time, and no one did anything to help. Written by Travis Alabanza - whom this actually happened to - Burgerz uses the humble burger to discuss gender identity and violence against trans people through an interactive cooking show and confessional storytelling.

Kikki Temple dazzles in this production. She establishes brilliant rapport with the audience and her interactions with us are sincere. Engaging in conversation with us means there is a level of uncertainty and spontaneity with what could happen, but Temple remains in control and her razor-sharp responses and reactions never stop coming. She's gentle with us at the beginning and gradually the anger, hurt and fear begin to come through and the implicit responsibility we must all take for the burger assault become clearer. 

Sunday 12 February 2023

Songs of the Flesh review (Midsumma Festival)

Based on a text by Chris Beckey, Songs of the Flesh is coming-of-age fairy tale cum punk-tragedy that follows a young man and his exhaustive pursuit for the name of his love. With its inspiration taken from the bible, the Song of Solomon and Kate Bush, this queer love story is something that will stay with you for some time with performances, text and direction that draws in its audience to take them on a wild, passionate and raging journey.

Using two people to tell the one story brings an element of excitement to the show as each actor brings different energy and interpretation to the single character. Steven Mitchell Wright's remarkable direction ensures that while there is a differentiation in their performances, the two remain linked and the audience sees one protagonist on the stage. Josh Blake and Scott Middleton give fierce and powerful performances as the protagonist, both capturing the fear, anxiety, exhilaration and anger of discovering and pursuing new love and what it unleashes from within themselves.

Friday 10 February 2023

Code of Conduct review (Midsumma Festival)

In his first play, When The Light Leaves, Rory Godbold explored the issues of voluntary assisted dying stemming from his father's diagnosis of cancer and subsequent ending of his life. Code of Conduct, Godbold's new show, is once more based on his own experiences, this time while working as a high school teacher and having to sign a Code of Conduct that disapproved of diverse genders and sexualities.

In this production, Paul (Matthew Connell) has already been teaching for a few years, but a new job at a Christian College brings with it some new challenges, specifically when it comes to teachers and students being required to separate their faith from their identity. Paul's employment here and his private life, gradually impacts the daily running of the college and the lives of a number of students and staff including teachers Sarah and David (Molly Holohan and Charles Purcell) and principal Clare (Sarah Sutherland). As the narrative unfolds and develops, the relationships between the four staff are stretched and put to the test.

Sunday 5 February 2023

Trophy Boys review (Midsumma Festival)

The boys of prestigious private school St. Imperium College are all hyped up and ready to win the Year 12 Inter-school Debating Tournament Grand Final. There is a lot riding on this for all four of them but when they learn the topic up for debate is "That Feminism has Failed Women", an extraordinary can of worms is smashed open. Presented as part of Midsumma Festival, Trophy Boys is a biting social commentary as we witness these students grapple with what feminism is, what women want and sometimes saying that you love women does not make you an ally.

Emmanuelle Mattana has written an impressive story that highlights a number of matters pertaining to feminism, equality and the patriarchy. There are plenty of laughs and absurdity as the boys begin discussing and arguing that feminism has indeed failed women, which includes a few dance interludes and many sweeping statements about loving and believing women. As the story progresses, Mattana's script gradually but suddenly gets quite dark when an accusation of sexual assault is made. Comments made earlier that are now repeated are met with less laughter and more unease as we are confronted with far-reaching revelations.

Saturday 4 February 2023

Fountain review (Midsumma Festival)

Returning for its first show in 2023, Forest Collective present Fountain, an orchestral arrangement of pop singer-songwriter Max Lawrence’s music, exploring the fluidity and transient nature in our interactions with our environment and ourselves. Known for bringing together classical chamber music into contemporary settings, Fountain takes us on a strikingly stirring journey on the many forms of love and the emotions that it can elicit.

Lawrence enters the stage wearing a ruched gown-like art piece that as gorgeous as it is to see, feels like a protective barrier for releasing / realising their true self and opening themselves up. This idea is reinforced in the second half, where they wear a two-piece outfit that is more revealing and hugs their body as the music becomes more uplifting and hopeful.

CULT review (Midsumma Festival)

Alex is a gay man in his 20s, so naturally he is obsessed with his body and his appearance. In a new Australian work by Ryan Henry, and presented as part of Midsumma Festival, CULT looks at the levels we will go to for the ultimate body and what the true cost of achieving this perfection is.

Henry delivers a highly committed performance full of energy, which is essential given the physical exertion required in the exercise routines. He races through dialogue matching the fast-paced environment of HIIT training centres and at times he thrashes out his speed of speech that would make Hollywood actor Jessie Eisenberg seem like a tortoise. The way he moves his body during the transitions from confessionals to rewinding to the past and returning to the present and his personal training sessions with his trainer Jason, heightens the urgency and the desperation Alex has in reaching peak physical fitness.

Wednesday 1 February 2023

The Last Brunch review (Midsumma Festival)

Darwent & Gray makes its return to Midsumma Festival with a brand new musical theatre production The Last Brunch. With an all-queer cast, the story follows Bea, who is invited to Brandon's home, her ex-boyfriend, who announces he is getting married to his new partner.

What ensues is a comedic but considered look at love, marriage and relationships within this group of queer and trans friends, lovers and in between. Caleb Darwent's script is full of interesting insights about how the queer community views marriage, from both sides of the spectrum. Rather than imposing their own opinion on the issue, Darwent uses the first half of the show to have an open discourse on these ideas, whereas the second half is more a look at the impact relationships - both romantic and platonic - can have on people within the trans and queer community.