Thursday 25 January 2024

Malevo review

A South American dance troupe that reached the semi-finals of America’s Got Talent can now add Australia to the list of countries they have performed in. Created by director, choreographer and dancer Matías Jaime, the 11 men of Malevo show exceptional skills in moving their bodies, specifically through malambo, an Argentinian style of dance that includes zapeteo, a signature footwork combining elements of tap dancing and flamenco.

The group stomp and tap their feet in heeled boots in perfect unison with their energy starting at 100. While this is impressive on its own, throughout the concert, the dancers strap themselves with drums, whips and boleadoras which add a further level of difficulty, skill and thrill. Not only do their legs, hands and bodies move at such fast-pace speeds you can barely glimpse them, but they do it in rhythm and in sync with each other that comes across as effortless. It would not be easy to undertake this choreography where they are often physically close together with whips being cracked and boleadoras getting spun in the air.

Tuesday 23 January 2024

The Inheritance review (Midsumma Festival)

We don't often get epic seven-hour plays being performed, especially when the idea of sitting in a theatre for that long and watching a story unfold not only seems foreign but also incredibly difficult. I too am guilty of this as I often catch myself questioning whether I really want to see a play over two hours. But exceptions there are, and in this case it is Matthew López's The Inheritance. First staged in 2018, the narrative focuses on a group of gay men spread across three generations as they try to find their place in the world while understanding the world that has opened up for them due to the fights and struggles of those from their past. Under the direction of Kitan Petkovksi, this Melbourne production of The Inheritance vividly brings these characters and stories to life in a deeply emotional and affecting evening that needs to be experienced by all.

Saturday 20 January 2024

Forest Collective on getting tangled up with new immersive opera Labyrinth (Midsumma Festival)

It's impressive how Forest Collective constantly deliver chamber music performances that are so vastly different from each other. This trend continues with their upcoming immersive production Labyrinth. This opera will fittingly take place in the corridors beneath Abbotsford Convent as we follow the story of Theseus, Ariadne and her half-brother, the Minotaur. Opera singer Daniel Szesiong Todd will not only be taking on the role of Theseus he is also Labyrinth's librettist, with the tenor's interest in this mythological story stemming from the contemporary issues that can still be applied to it.

"The popular myth of the bloodthirsty half-bull, half-man called the Minotaur comes from ancient Greece, where the hero, Theseus, kills the beast with the help of a plucky young princess, Ariadne, who guides him through the labyrinth with her thread. But should we ever take a monster at face value?" Todd asks. "The myth’s strange backstory reveals that the Minotaur is actually Ariadne’s half-brother. Ariadne’s father, King Minos, had refused to sacrifice a bull to the god Poseidon, who became angry and cursed his wife, Queen Pasiphaë, to fall in love with the bull. The Queen then commissioned Daedalus to build a hollow cow puppet that she could crawl inside, so she could have sex with the animal. Eventually, she gave birth to a bull-human-hybrid child, who she named Asterion. Filled with shame and humiliation, King Minos shunned Asterion, hiding him away in the labyrinth and feeding him only human sacrifices from conquered Athens. In this way, innocent Asterion was made into a monster – the Minotaur – literally the bull of Minos."

Sunday 14 January 2024

Cooking up a storm with Charlie Lawrence and Perpetual Stew (Midsumma Festival)

Good dinner scenes in film, TV and theatre are filled with plenty of awkwardness and drama, with a group of people confined to one place and forced to get along for the next few hours. For Midsumma Festival, writers Milly Walker, Charlie Lawrence and Victoria Barlow will be bringing their own variations of the dinner scene to life through a number of bite-sized courses full of absurdity, drama and comedy with Perpetual Stew, where every guest brings their own baggage to add to the pot.

It was an idea that had been with the three for quite some time and just needed the right moment until it boiled over into something more concrete. "At the early ideation stages we were playing with different story formats and structures and decided that we wanted to write a show that could fit all three of our distinct voices," Lawrence tells me. "During this process we all became drawn to exploring the dinner scene as it allowed us to explore a range of stories and gave us space to add our voices in a harmonious way. Not only did the dinner scene hold appeal structurally, but it also enticed us with its place in society and art. To us, food has always been a tool in which we share, whether it be deep truths, love, or commiserations."

Monday 8 January 2024

Choir of a Man review

Choir of a Man has nine men gathering at their local pub for singing, dancing and good times, all as they down a pint or two. Created by Nic Doodson and Andrew Kay, the show has been performed around the world since it premiered at Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2017.

The nine performers display great camaraderie and the direction and choreography by Freddie Huddleston ensures that the confines of the pub are used creatively and refreshingly with each song, while also making evident the familiarity these men have with each other.

Sunday 7 January 2024

Circus 1903 review

As you take your seat and look at the stage of Circus 1903, it really feels like you have been transported back 120 years ago to a big top circus. World-class talent undertake breathtaking acrobatics and routines that show what can be achieved if you put your mind to it. An appearance by an African elephant and her baby calf further heightens the excitement felt over a century ago when circuses would travel into small towns offering locals opportunities to witness extraordinary artists and exotic animals, and for a limited season, it is Melbourne's turn to experience this.

Every act is a highlight and while favourites among the audience varies, there's no denying the absolute skill possessed by the Icarian Games performers Mohammed Ibrahim and Hamza Seid, in a stunning routine of foot juggling a human body. At one point, 23 consecutive rotations are completed one after the other and watching the strength and flexibility in both these performers is simply jaw dropping. Mekdes Kebede's contortionist act is utterly engrossing as she manipulates her body into positions that should not be feasible, and receives plenty of gasps from the crowd.

Saturday 6 January 2024

Kitan Petkovski on bringing the most important American play of this century to Australia (Midsumma Festival)

Said to be "the most important American play of this century", Matthew López's The Inheritance is making its way to Melbourne for Midsumma Festival. Directed by Kitan Petkovski, this seven hour play (told in two parts) brings together three generations of gay men living in New York City decades after the height of the AIDS epidemic while exploring what it means to honour the past and those who came before us.

Petkovski has been aware of the play and its prominence but it wasn't until he was approached by Cameron Lukey, Artistic Director at fortyfivedownstairs, that this production started to gain traction. "Earlier last year, Cameron asked if I had heard about The Inheritance and if I'd be interested in reading the script. I had known about the play, mostly that it has won the Olivier and Tony awards 2019-2020, and that it was a work inspired by E. M. Forster's Howards End but that was about it," Petkovski tells me. "I read both parts over a weekend and remember feeling a sense of catharsis that I don't usually experience after reading most plays. I guess it's because it's a story connected to my queer community, and it reminded me of the history that has been lost and was never passed down from previous generations, and how upsetting that still is. It is up to our generation of LGBTQI+ communities to ensure that our history and stories in the making are not erased."