In Brief, Review

IN BREIF: Masterclass | Valentine | Twelfth Night

By Laura Money



I cannot overstate how sublime a show Masterclass is. Amanda Muggleton is flawless  in her portrayal of the tough yet vulnerable Maria Callas. Her performance is a true tour de force and is in itself a masterclass in acting. Muggleton flawlessly embodies the fiery, forthright and fabulous diva known as ‘la divina’ at her most tempestuous when barking orders at stage hands and her pupils, and at her most intimate – stripping back the years to a time when Callas was not on top of the world.

Director Adam Spreadbury-Maher creates a wonderfully inclusive work with the actors performing later integrated into the audience, placing the audience at the mercy of Muggleton’s Callas – and she gives a no holds barred criticism of everyone. Kala Gare, Jessica Boyd, and Rocco Speranza are wonderful new talents as the students of Callas, and are all ones to watch. Spreadbury-Maher uses real recordings of Callas, old photographs, and the spotlight to great effect – really placing one in the most poignant of intimate memories juxtaposed with moments of extreme publicity. To put it simply – Masterclass is exquisite.



In Valentine, Kynan Hughes attempts to break the cycle of cliches that the commedia dell’arte characters have been playing out for centuries – the bully, the innocent, the manipulator, and the object of desire. Each actor takes a mask and a persona and seeks to challenge those very stories that have influenced drama since time immemorial. Hughes has each actor (save one) continually change masks in order to blur the division between character and actor.

The dancing is phenomenal, it’s physical and earthy, yet at times elegant and mysterious. The masks are true works of art, and the playful elements of the puppetry highlights the attitude of the piece. Unfortunately, the message falls a little short and could do with more subtlety in its rendering. The feminist message comes across as tokenistic and abrupt, its highlighting of inequality should have been a part of the dance, not the dialogue, as the dancing really is the strength of the company.

Full of whishing capes and fabric, whimsical masks, and dark expressions of love and desire, Valentine is a wonderfully unique piece that shouldn’t be missed.



What could be more summery than sitting outside with the smell of aeroguard in the air for a twilight performance of a Shakespeare play? Well, perhaps not everyone thinks Shakespeare is synonymous with summer, but it should be. Modicum Theatre Perth understand how atmosphere is everything, and to give them their credit, they create the perfect space for Twelfth Night. With a stripped back stage and simple costume elements not entirely covering their black Modicum t-shirts and leggings, a la Bell Shakespeare, the young company focus on the words and the farce rather than all the trappings of medieval theatre. (It’s also cunningly budget friendly!)

Modicum have good intentions here – director Leigh Fitzpatrick asks the audience to forgive the changes to the original, changes that are largely positive. Being outdoors, projection is a problem, and some of the clever ideas that make a show stand out, such as entering through the audience for some scenes get a little lost in the vastness. For me, Shakespeare (well, all theatre really) is about knowing what you’re saying – knowing your character and their motivations, and if I’m being honest, I don’t feel that every performer achieves that level of intimacy with their character. Special commendation must go to Abbey McCaughan and Mike Cass who portray their characters with intimacy and don’t fall into the comfort of Shakespeare’s cadence. Their performances stand out as they sometimes break up the rhythm of their speech with the emotion of the characters.

Of course, Twelfth Night is the perfect choice for an outdoor show – it’s farcical and fun, the perfect accompaniment for a night on the green!




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