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REVIEW | D*ck Pics In The Garden Of Eden | Paradise lost, suburbia found

Review | Laura Money

It’s the oldest story in the book – according to some. Boy meets girl made from his rib. Girl becomes Boy’s personal sex toy. Girl is reprimanded when she begins to pleasure herself and is doomed to live a life of sexual repression while Boy gets to plaster images of his d*ck everywhere. You know, straight out of Genesis. The Last Great Hunt are back with their signature blend of surrealism, hyper-reality, screen mediated hilarity with a poignant thread throbbing underneath. D*ck Pics In The Garden Of Eden sees writer Jeffrey Jay Fowler in top form – biting satire, clever script, and an almost uncanny knack of parodying unpolished theatre and comedy. Every second is acted to perfection and the set, lighting, and sound design as flawless as the costumes. While that sounds like a rather basic review of everything, it’s only because you can’t embellish perfection. This show will have you craving eggplant and biting your lip in satisfaction.

Physical humour and puppetry is played up in the opening sequences and throughout to represent the Garden of Eden – the performers cavort in costumes made from everyday objects – stockings, foam, mattresses. Laughter is embedded into the very fabric of this show, as demonstrated by Maeli Cherel‘s exquisite costuming – Tyrone Earl Lrae Robinson hilariously pokes his head out of a Christmas Tree-esque Tree of Knowledge, complete with face cam, which is hilariously removed in one fell swoop after serving its plot-line purpose. Adam (David Vikman) and Eve (Arielle Gray) wear body stockings with

cartoonish whimsy, each carrying their hilariously oversimplified genitals in their hands. It’s a brilliant move – Fowler captures the playful nature in these naive and childlike characters – Vikman and Gray embody innocence with flawless comic timing. After the fall, we see Adam and Eve played by Ben Sutton and Jo Morris respectively although now they are middle aged and dealing with teenagers. Sutton’s ‘everyman’ schtick is nauseatingly real as the white, privileged literal king of the patriarchy – wheedling with Lilith for her to delete his infidelity-riddled private pics. Morris plays her repressed psychotic breakdown behind the eyes, captured by closeups and writ large behind her onscreen. Every move these characters make is scruitinised as it’s filmed from every angle and projected onto an image of suburbia that sways and almost dissipates as the cloth background wavers – perhaps suburban life isn’t as solid and perfect as we think it is.

Fowler provides a biting social commentary on sexual politics and the destigmatisation of sex. Adam and Eve’s son, Cain (Robinson) fittingly chosen as the slayer of Abel and all-round sinner is very open about his love of sex. He sends d*ck pics in class – setting off a sexual awakening in his substitute teacher which is a whole other thing, delights in pornography, and literally gets in bed with the devil. Robinson’s turn as the debaucherous Cain is inspired. His facial expressions and juxtaposition of hypermasculine posturing and chest muscles complete with He-Man wig, with a feminised wiggle of the hips brings a level of complexity to the character. Something Fowler always nails is multiple character casting – with a costume that represents each character, he explores different aspects and nuances of their personalities. Gray’s Lilith is cool and stand-offish, she expresses her pain in disdain for men and remains impassive when they scream outcries of emotion. When Iya Ware takes on Lilith there is a dynamism not present before – this Lilith channels her anger into creativity and is not afraid to shout in a passionate plea to men to do better. Embedded within the overarching themes of sexuality and oppression – which they manage to make hilarious as well as sad – there are a few references to badly performed comedy and theatre. With the majority of The Last Great Hunt cutting their teeth on the stand-up comedy scene it should come as no shock that they can write a pretty terrible tight five. Chris Isaacs will have you in absolute stitches with his badly written, stiltingly performed routine that manages to be derivative, sexist, homophobic, and a swathe of other insults at the same time. I know a certain 2010s Perth ‘comedian’ whose material about their name being ‘dick’ seemed to be the peak of their talents and seeing Isaacs absolutely nail the parody brings nothing but hilarity. The character turns out to be far more nuanced than his performance and it all comes back to repression. Joanna Tu rounds out the cast as Lulu, Adam and Eve’s rebellious daughter. She wants to act and auditions for Lilith’s one-woman show all about her treatment at the hands of Adam and her subsequent fall. Tu is perfect as she provides a satirical monologue reminiscent of student feminist theatre. Not that Fowler is discrediting either the emerging stand-up comic or youthful, exuberant theatre makers, but Tu’s impassioned monologuing gently ribs proving we all have to start somewhere but no-one said we weren’t allowed to cringe in the audience!

D*ck Pics In The Garden Of Eden is a bizarre and clever commentary on sexuality, and the roles we have created in society. Derived from the rich literary fodder that is Genesis, it explores themes that run deep in a heavily visible society – when d*ck pics sliding into your dms and eggplant emojis are standard and sexual violence normalised to the point of erasure. This is a very important show. It’s also a very funny show – leaning into the kitsch and exaggerating every move like a bad porno, even close-up shots are reminiscent of the genre, every single performer gets the money shot.

D*ck Pics In The Garden Of Eden is playing at Subiaco Arts Centre until 3rd December 2022. TICKETS

The Fourth Wall acknowledges the traditional custodians of the land we engage in storytelling on – the Wadjhuk people of the Noongar nation. We pay respects to their elders past, present, and emerging.

Keep up with The Fourth Wall on Facebook and @fourth_wall_media on Instagram to see what we’re up to in 2022.

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REVIEW | Oil by Ella Hickson | Love is an infinite resource

Review | Laura Money

Topical and richly layered, Oil by Ella Hickson is the final sweeping epic in Black Swan State Theatre Company‘s 2022 season, and it is a beacon of light in the Perth theatre scene. Ella Hickson writes boldly and with heart – Oil runs through as a theme at times subtly, and at others at the forefront of the piece. Hickson’s style is ambitious – she paints with big strokes and bright colours to create strong, sharp scenes. Hurtling through time from a family in Cornwall seeing an oil lamp for the first time through conflict and energy crises to the inevitable arrival of new technologies, Oil sees the many manifestations of May (Hayley Mcelhinney) exploring themes of love and loss, sustainability and identity. Expertly directed by Adam Mitchell and Scott McArdle (assistant director), who take the scope of the play and mould it around a stunningly impressive set, Oil by Ella Hickson is a pertinent show with relevant themes and a gutsy message of hope.

Zoe Atkinson‘s sets are always impressive but this time the bar has been raised. An impressive array of eras and places are deftly brought to life with her attention to detail. Beginning with a run down farmer’s cottage complete with woodblock and coming full circle with the modernisation of the same set – its starkness mirroring the characters’ despair. There is the richness of a turn of the century exotic homestead in Tehran full of opulent tessellating designs and Imperialism, and a simply stunning 70s British kitchen with appliances that light up. Each section is an insight into the people and their story must be told instantly – Atkinson provides every detail to give an instant precis of the characters and their situations. Hickson uses May as an anchor character – from new pregnancy in rural Cornwall to single mother in Persia and beyond, May and Amy appear as threads throughout the work – vestiges of the past that echo through time. Atkinson uses red to symbolise the essence of May – her scarlet dress evolving from Victorian modesty to 70s wraparound to 2000s girlboss suit. It’s a clever way to indicate that these characters have the same spirit whilst placing them firmly in the time and place that their segment requires.

There’s so much packed into this play – much like oil itself, a little bit can go a long way. Mcelhinney’s May is punchy and spirited throughout, yet there seems to be an insatiable desire that on occasion comes out. Her husband Joss (Michael Abercromby) poetically describes her as a woman walking, walking, and walking. He delivers a poem at every transition that encompasses the restlessness of May – Irish lilt perfect for the narrative. May’s story is our story. Every iteration of her sees her fascinated by the Pandora’s box that is oil and technology. Mcelhinney gives Cornwall May a husky tone that exposes her raw ambition – her desire to be more to want more than just living hand to mouth. A little charmed at first by American travelling salesman William Whitcomb – played with all the charm and sleaze required by Will Bastow, May comes across as a bit selfish and stuck up – she doesn’t embody the hard working lifestyle of her extended family. This changes when her pregnancy is revealed – why shouldn’t May want a better life for her baby? Subsequent iterations of May see her grow and thrive as a confident, strong woman – quite stubborn, yet always thinking of her daughter. Mcelhinney has brilliant comic timing – there are absolutely riotous scenes where she doesn’t batter an eyelid – delivering quips in a deadpan tone that proves her acting prowess. The final scene is an absurdist postmodern stripping back of theatre. Mcelhinney shouts like a character straight out of Samuel Beckett and gives cantankerous yet vague commentary from deep within her red parka.

On one level Oil is about oil, its initial, revolutionary properties, the political battles fought to control its sources, the physical skirmishes, and the misuse of it. The destruction oil has caused and the grand social impact it has had on every single life. But these commentaries are undercurrents in a family story that explores feminism and ways to be women. From Violette Ayad‘s portrayal of women of colour to Abbey Morgan growing and finally finding her autonomy as a single woman as Amy, the plight of women is explored from all angles. Ayad in Tehran is distrusted by the English, and jealously mistreated as she is seen as favoured by the young Amy. A later vignette sees the pair reunited as friends, however while Amy is merely playing at conflict, Aminah passionately explains that she doesn’t have a choice. The 70s sees the rift between May and Amy crack and divide – unable to be fully reconciled down the generations. Amy, a hippy riles up her mother, this time a big executive in a oil company. Their back and forth appears light at first, but Hickson is the master of the double meaning. Discussing ice-cream and boyfriends gets just as heated as large corporations and war. Mcelhinney gives a death stare like no other – May tells it straight and gives some damn good advice to boot. Morgan’s Amy physically distorts herself to get out her frustrations, lashing out violently but in the end, May doesn’t hold back and tells Amy that she has so much potential – don’t waste it on anyone else.

Oil by Ella Hickson is a brilliant work that takes something that should be at the forefront of our collective minds and keeps it steadily there – pulsing throughout every section. It’s scope is epic – Imperialist Iran, power crises UK, war-torn Syria and beyond with more than just these historical eras explored but their derivative genres as well. Hickson is a genius – each era references theatre styles that relate to it, something Mitchell’s direction embraces fully. From Chekhov-style struggles to Bernard-Shaw Imperialism, even kitchen sink dramas of the 70s and an Ender’s Game reference that brings it all back full circle, Oil by Ella Hickson is a show for theatre-lovers. It’s also completely its own thing, creating an entirely new way of presenting theatre whilst standing high on the platform of its predecessors – and if that’s not a metaphor for oil itself, then I don’t know what is.

Oil by Ella Hickson is on at The State Theatre Centre of WA until 27th November 2022. TICKETS

The Fourth Wall acknowledges the traditional custodians of the land we engage in storytelling on – the Wadjhuk people of the Noongar nation. We pay respects to their elders past, present, and emerging.

Keep up with The Fourth Wall on Facebook and @fourth_wall_media on Instagram to see what we’re up to in 2022.

Article, Coming Soon, on now

What’s On September – December 2020

What’s On

DRACULA – WA Ballet

Follow Dracula, whose lonely soul is determined to reunite with his lost love, Mina and in doing so begins a reign of terror and seduction, draining the life from those around her to get what he so desires. Brought to you by the always brilliant West Australian BalletDracula is the ambitious show gracing the boards of the beautiful stage of His Majesty’s Theatre – the perfect setting for this adaptation of the classic gothic Victorian tale by Bram Stoker which captured the sensibilities of the era.

WHEN: 11 – 26 September 2020 | Various times

WHERE: His Majesty’s Theatre | PERTH

INFO: Tickets $22 – $120 | Duration 2hrs 25mins | Interval | Contains stylised violence

TICKETS: https://waballet.com.au/whats-on/dracula2020/

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‘Dracula’ WA Ballet Production 2018 – 4th September 2018 / Photography © Jon Green 2018 – All Rights Reserved

THE NIGHTINGALE – WA Opera

Based on the story by Hans Christian Andersen the opera tells of an Emperor who is enchanted by the singing of a nightingale in his garden. The Emperor convinces the nightingale to sing for him but when gifted with a new mechanical nightingale, he becomes obsessed with his toy and the real nightingale flies away.

WHEN: 3rd & 4th October 2020 | 11am & 2pm

WHERE: His Majesty’s Theatre | Perth

INFO: Tickets $25 – $45 | Duration 50 mins | Relaxed Performance 11am 4th October | Suitable 4+ | Sung in English

LINK: https://www.ptt.wa.gov.au/venues/his-majestys-theatre/whats-on/the-nightingale/

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THE OTHER PLACE – Fremantle Theatre Company

Sharr White’s THE OTHER PLACE is about a very brilliant doctor who watches her world slip through her fingers, unraveling thread-by-thread without her; she is a woman at once taunted by her daughter, the echo of loss and a whisper of hope, striving to make sense of her place in the world and a grasp on a very elusive peace of mind.

WHEN: 14th October – 8th November 2020 | 2pm & 7pm

WHERE: Victoria Hall | Fremantle

INFO: Tickets $86 – $130

LINK: https://premier.ticketek.com.au/Shows/Show.aspx?sh=THEOTHER20

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WE WILL ROCK YOU – Platinum Entertainment

Join outcast Gallileo Figaro as he fights the power in a dystopian world filled with internet obsessions, a Killer Queen and no music! Ben Elton’s classic jukebox musical features the music of Queen brilliantly woven into a clever, hilarious, and heartwarming musical. So don’t feel Under Pressure, just Break Free and find Somebody to Love on your Bohemian Rhapsody journey.

WHEN: 30th October – 22nd November 2020 | Various times

WHERE: Crown Theatre | Crown Casino | Burswood

INFO: Tickets $59 – $119 | Duration 2hrs 40 mins | Strobe Lighting and Special Effects, including Haze Machines, may be used during the performance | Parental Guidance recommended

LINK: https://www.ticketmaster.com.au/venueartist/304372/949844

Photo by; Stephen Heath Photography
www.stephenheathphotography.com
Image: Stephen Heath Photography

RODGERS & HAMMERSTEIN’S OKLAHOMA! – Black Swan State Theatre Company

Tensions simmer between the cowmen who have long worked the territory, and the increasing number of eastern farmers staking new claims to land which disrupts the cowmen’s trade. Meanwhile, farm girl Laurey works to maintain her independence while being courted by both Curly and Jud – two very different kinds of suitor.

Black Swan State Theatre Company is delighted and proud to present the music in the style of its bluegrass, country, square-dance roots, and for WA audiences to enjoy a 360° experience in the round right in the heart of the action on the Heath Ledger Theatre stage.

WHEN: 28th November – 20th December 2020 | 2pm, 6:30pm & 7:30pm

WHERE: State Theatre Centre WA | Northbridge

INFO: Tickets $36 – $93 | Duration 2hrs 30 mins | Age restriction 12+ | Adult themes | Seating is in the round on the Heath Ledger stage | Limited seating available due to COVID-19 restrictions

LINK: https://www.ptt.wa.gov.au/venues/state-theatre-centre-of-wa/whats-on/rodgers-hammersteins-oklahoma/

BSSTC
FRINGEWORLD, on now

FRINGEWORLD 2020 | Kiara with a K: That Jazz | 4 Stars

Review | Sarah Soulay & Laura Money

Kiara with a K: That Jazz is one of the first Fringeworld shows of the 2020 season and it does not disappoint. Featuring original performances to the backdrop of classical musicals, there is something for everyone. 

Starting slowly like casually brushing a cymbal, they open with a synchronised classical jazz performance – they pull the rug out from under the audience and launch into a non-stop hilarious and skilfully executed show.

Aleisha Archer and Kiara with a K. perform a lovely and energetic tap dance performance that definitely gets you in a jazzy mood. Performed with the raw hilarity of someone like Carol Burnett, Kiara is every bit as talented as she is funny.

There’s a saucy vibe with a fun, quirky burlesque routine performed by Polly St. Pearl and an intensely captivating song performed by Sven and Lucy Lovegun – who shows us her artful skill with a sultry burlesque performance.

Throughout the show, MC Nicola Macri provides her impeccable comedy stylings – she’s funny, bubbly and relatable – definitely one to watch! One performer that will have you cackling with laughter is the witty and outrageously funny Veruca Sour, whose facial expressions could fill a room with laughter, and they most certainly do!

It’s clear to see these performers are having a great time showcasing their many talents, to the point where you might feel like you want to join in on the fun. They aren’t afraid to have a laugh if something doesn’t go quite right, while still remaining professional and continuing on with the show. 

For $32.00 you can sit back and relax while you enjoy an hour of singing, dancing, comedy and fun. So, if you love a modern take on jazz performances and cabaret with a little bit of everything, then this is the show for you. Now, let me see your Sheba shimmy shake all the way down to Chemistry at Girls School to see Kiara with a K: That Jazz, it is one heck of a show. 

 

WHEN: 17th – 19th January 2020 | 8:20pm

WHERE: Chemistry | GIRLS SCHOOL | 2 Wellington Street, Perth

INFO: Pricing $22.50 – $32 | Duration 60m | Restricted 18+ | Mild nudity | CABARET

TICKETS: https://fringeworld.com.au/whats_on/kiara-with-a-k-that-jazz-fw2020

Interview, on now

INTERVIEW: James Palm & Bridget Le May

James Palm and Bridget Le May are writer and director respectively, of Threshold a new political play that confronts the issue of detention and journalist’s roles in the discourse surrounding asylum seekers. We caught up with them ahead of the opening this week at the Blue Room Theatre.

How did Threshold come about?

James Palm: The idea started forming back in 2016, after Chris Kenny became the first journalist on Nauru in three years. I wondered how it came to be him of all people; a noted supporter of refugee detention. A right-wing journo exploiting this situation for their own benefits seemed like a really interesting story to explore, especially as the alt-right movement had only recently become a talking point in the media. So I started writing what was then a cat-and-mouse conversation between two characters debating the changing role of the media. After months of development, the story has fleshed out to include journalists, politicians and lawyers; each seeking their own agenda but still framed around the immigration debate.

Bridget Le May: My journey with the play began right at the first draft. At the time it was a two hander between two male characters and there was a total absence of female perspective. James and I developed the script together over a year, introducing a powerful female voice. We took it to a reading where some incredible theatre minds picked it apart and shared there thoughts with us. That’s really where ‘Threshold’ began. The story broke open after that. Suddenly we were exploring four powerful people and playing with time and location. That’s when the play came into its own. 

What does the play say about how Australia treats asylum seekers?

JP: Without giving too much away, the play presents several perspectives on asylum seekers themselves. As for the detention policies of the current and previous Australian governments, Threshold is unflinching in its condemnation.

BLM: Perhaps that would be telling. The play navigates left and right ideologies from personal perspectives. The work is not shy about international human rights abuses, but the characters themselves have their own personal ideologies, which I think James has handled with great respect. 

It’s been years since the ban on journalists at Nauru and this play is set in 2016, how does the show relate to issues in 2018?

JP: Regrettably, all too well. Refugees detained on Nauru and formally on Manus Island have continued to suffer. 12 have died in the last five years. The Opposition has not made a commitment to reversing the current immigration policies, and so these issues will continue to be relevant potentially for years to come. This crisis is something that all Australians should be aware of, and yet most are ignorant to it. Or worse; satisfied by it.

BLM: This play is so topical. Only a few weeks ago an ABC journalist was banned from covering a conference on Nauru because the Nauru government perceived a negative reporting bias from the ABC. This kind of censorship is directly and publicly manipulating the freedom of information around detention. Last week Australia saw Channel 9 take over Fairfax media, a merger which significantly reduces diversity in the reporting that Australians will have access to. We would be foolish to think the culture of reporting won’t shift over time. The most recent refugee suicide was only a few months ago. Everything we are dealing with is vitally important, right now. 

Do you sympathise with any of the characters in particular?

JP: Yes, except for Peter. I mostly sympathise with Alex, the newly crowned editor of a large Sydney newspaper. She wants to see change occur in society, but is not willing to sacrifice her ideals for short gains. She is the most level-headed character in the play, so I respect her the most.

BLM: I sympathise with them all as a director. I think it is important to understand what drives them. Saying that, as a person I align most with Alex’s journey, who is the ambitious new editor of the newspaper. We have a lot in common. 

Describe the play in 3 words: 

JP: Well our marketing tagline is “Corruption. Power. Control.” But I’ll mix it up and say “What is Truth?”

BLM: Seriously sharp! (is two ok?)

You can catch Threshold here:

WHEN: 7 – 25 August 2018 | 7pm

WHERE: The Blue Room Theatre | Northbridge | PERTH

INFO: Tickets $20 – $30 | Duration 60 mins | Recommended 15+ | Q&A 15th August

LINK: https://blueroom.org.au/events/threshold/