Saturday 29 July 2023

2:22 - A Ghost Story review

When Lauren and Ben visit their friends Sam and Jenny for dinner, the last thing they are expecting is to be witnesses to a supernatural event. Or are they? As the night approaches, the four friends delve deeper into the supernatural and the existence of something beyond death that will challenge all their beliefs. Written by Danny Robbins, 2:22: A Ghost Story takes a common domestic setting and turns it into a nightmare for our two couples. What happens when what should be the safest place in your world is the one causing you to be most afraid?

2:22: A Ghost Story comes with chills and thrills (and some screams) but only if your idea of having the hairs on your arm stand is brought on by plenty of jump scares, which are generally lazy and uninspiring. Ian Dickinson’s sound design largely consists of random screams and foxes fornicating that are repeated ad nauseam. The moments of tension are more successful when the concept of “less is more” is applied, such as when Ben recalls his past encounters with ghosts. The finale gives the show a spine-tingling send off, but it is directed rapidly and awkwardly by Matthew Dunster and diminishes the frightening revelation that has come to pass.

Friday 28 July 2023

Helen of Troy and Clytemnestra: Sisters doin' it for themselves in Cygnets

Helen and Clytemnestra. Sisters whose place in mythology has been one of persecution and revile. One is responsible for selfishly causing the Trojan War and the other brutally murdered her husband as he bathed. Nasty women indeed. But is there more to the story, to these women, than meets the eye? In The Liminal Space's upcoming production, Cygnets, the siblings reunite and open up about their shared history and the truth behind their actions.

Emerging actors Rebekah Carton and Delta Brooks take on the roles of Clytemnestra and Helen respectively, but it took the two performers a while to find a role that spoke to them, and challenged them, as performers, as women, as people. "Delta and I had been looking for a two-hander for a long time and were uninspired by the choices available to us. We had this ongoing banter about being ‘Gemini twins’, and I suggested perhaps devising a work around Castor and Polydeuces, the original geminis," Carton recalls. "It was only when reading into these characters that I connected the dots: Clytemnestra and Helen were sisters. Not only that, twins. How did I not know this? I had studied classics, I had read the plays, I’d even played Helen in The Trojan Women!"

Sunday 16 July 2023

Love and loneliness with kerosene and SIRENS

After critically acclaimed seasons of kerosene and SIRENS, independent theatre company The Voice In My Hands is giving Melbourne a second chance of seeing these powerful works with a new double-bill season at fortyfivedownstairs. These one-person shows present rich character and environmental exploration with strong performances by its two actors, Izabella Yenna and Benjamin Nichol.

Both shows are also written by Nichol, who displays an incredible skill in bringing characters so vividly, passionately and frighteningly to life. Both shows have been nominated for a number of Green Room Awards, including a Best Production win for kerosene. We spoke to Yena about returning to the role of Millie for kerosene after two years and how she's changed since the first performance and to Nichol about his creative process in creating a narrative for two similar but very different people and circumstances.

Saturday 15 July 2023

Animal Farm review

First published in 1945, it would be hard to imagine how a production of George Orwell's classic Animal Farm could offer something new to audiences. But theatre company Bloomshed have proven they are more than up to the challenge, imbuing the narrative with their dramatic flair and sharp satire to present a highly memorable experience in successfully exploring dark issues with a comedic tone.

The ensemble (Elizabeth Breenan, James Malcher, Anna Louey, Eden Goodall, Lauren Swain, Laura Aldous, Syd Brisbane and Sam Nix) do a brilliant job with the anthropomorphism of their assigned animals, be it Malcher's blindly loyal bleating sheep, Goodall's nervous chicken or Louey and Brisbane's respective vain and dim-witted horses.

Wednesday 12 July 2023

Away review

First performed almost 40 years ago, Michael Gow’s Away is an Australian masterpiece about three families holidaying along the coast for Christmas in 1968. It’s been staged countless times across the country (and world) but under the direction of Steven Mitchell Wright, this production at Theatre Works will sit firmly in my mind for breathing new life and perspective to the narrative and the bold, adventurous nature of its storytelling.

The direction, costumes and performances make this exceptionally unique and anyone who has seen any production of this show will be surprised by how scenes unfold and how they are presented. The brilliant ensemble has been offered the freedom to take these characters and make them their own, which is extremely exciting to watch.

Sunday 9 July 2023

Last Time review

It's late into the night when Jesse arrives at Lucas' home. They have known each other for years, so it's only natural they would meet up when they find themselves in the same city. While there is a tension that needs to be released, it still comes as a surprise to both of them when they realise what the tension between them is. Lily Hensby's Last Time is an intimate and humourous look at two people with a complicated past and a questionable future.

Lotte Beckett and Mark Yeates are thoroughly engaging as long-time friends with part-time benefits. Their rapport and interactions easily establish a history that does not need to be explained. We can understand the friendship between them, as well as the rivalry, jealousy and envy that lingers in the air, with something else that's not quite right simmering below the surface.