Saturday 30 December 2023

Oh Great, It's Jessie Ngaio! (Midsumma Festival)

From a young age, Jessie Ngaio has fantasised about killing herself. Originally performed in early 2023, Oh Yuck, It's Me is her dark yet exceptionally entertaining exploration of sexuality, trauma and climate anxiety and finding the will to survive when everything seems stacked against you.

Ngaio received much acclaim during her original season, leading to two 2023 Green Room Awards for Best Performer and Best Production. In 2024, Oh Yuck, It’s Me returns as part of the Midsumma Festival, where she one again hopes to engage her audience with the wider themes of the show while offering an outlet of mutual laughter, vulnerability and honesty.

Friday 22 December 2023

Top 10 Shows of 2023

It was a much welcomed return for live shows in 2023. The intimacy, connection, and engagement with a variety of works was much needed after the last couple of years. From theatre to dance to live art, from satire to comedy to drama, it was an exciting time once again for the Melbourne independent performing arts scene. This year I managed to attend 141 shows and the below ten are the ones that left an impression on me. If I reviewed the show, a link to the review is provided.

And as I always like to remind people, sometimes the show that you remember for a long time after is not the big splashy extravagant piece with recognisable names and a huge budget, but the one that was on for four nights with ten people in the audience. Support your independent theatre makers and venues - some shows can cost you as little as $20 and can be one of the most original, inspiring and though provoking performances you might see.

As I request of you every year, take a risk, seek something new, unknown and different in the new year.

Here we go:

Sunday 17 December 2023

Exposing the male form through echoes and whispers (Midsumma Festival)

It was back in high school when Evan Cooper picked up his first camera. His English and Journalism teacher decided to set up an extracurricular group for students that might like to learn photography. 

"In those days it was completely analogue so we learnt not only the basics of taking photos but also how to develop the film and print the images," Cooper recalls. "As someone that can be somewhat shy and content in my company, it became something I could do by myself while creating opportunities of being involved in certain activities like being the photographer at school events. 

Fast forward to 2024 and Cooper's solo exhibition will be held as part of Midsumma Festival.

Echoes and Whispers will be a multiple exposure photographic exploration of the male form. "I started experimenting with different photographic processes as a way of playing with the medium by pushing or pulling the film, blurring, and the effects of different shutter speeds. With multiple exposure I found results that interested me, and I wanted to see where I could take it," he explains.

"All of my multiple exposure work is captured in-camera and since I only see the one image when I take the photo I actually have to use my memory to plan how the image is possibly going to look when all three are taken. There is an element of serendipity with the final image, where some are better or worse than expected," he says. "Even though this work is shot digitally, I limit the editing of the images to what I would do in the dark room if I was developing film. So the things I edit are cropping, exposure, contrast etc. By limiting myself in this way I have to be more aware and present during the taking of the images, as I simply can't "fix it in post".

Monday 11 December 2023

The Sea review

The Sea is an opera in five parts in an exciting new collaboration between Forest Collective and BK Opera. The two arts companies have put together a riveting production that looks at love and the abuse of love through patriarchy, trauma and the imbalance of power.

Using a poem by Nicole Butcher, The Sea Libretto, we are told the story of an unnamed woman living in an abusive relationship. With music by Evan J. Lawson (Forest Collective's artistic director) and direction by Kate Millett (BK Opera's artistic director), this woman’s plight is linked to the sea, where its negative and positive associations are brought to the surface.

Saturday 9 December 2023

FUNeral review

One inescapable fact in life is that death will always come for us in the end. No matter what we do, life can end at any moment. While that realisation can be quite bleak, Clare Taylor and Ruby Rawlings are here to make it less dire, with their comedy show FUNeral.

During the promotion of their show, the two performers capture the attention of Death itself and so Death decides to crash the party. With the odds against them, Taylor and Rawlings are determined to put Death in its place and break its 100% winning streak of successful life ends, as if this was a comedic version of Final Destination.

Sunday 3 December 2023

The Long Pigs review

Clowns are supposed to stir joy and laughter in people. Just ask It. Or the Long Pigs. Back in Melbourne for more bloodshed and nosey behaviour, The Long Pigs introduces us to three black-nosed clowns who are busily at work eliminating all red-nosed clowns. When doing a count, they realise they are one nose short and suddenly no one can be trusted as they vow to figure out who the culprit is.

Directed by Susie Dee, The Long Pigs is strong with its vision and imagination in crafting this macabre world and bringing these clown characters vividly to life. It is fascinating to see the changing relationships and power dynamics play out throughout the show. Clare Bartholomew in particular is a delight to watch with her facial expressions a constant source of intrigue and hilarity. Nicci Wilks is the loose cannon that plays by her own rules and Mozes is the slightly more high achieving and focused of the three, which sees him condemned to a far darker fate than his red-nosed counterparts.