on now, Review

REVIEW: Court My Crotch

Player One: Sport. He represents a distinctly strong masculinity. He stands decisively wearing preppy and mainstream tennis clothes – although his shorts are quite short and bordering on camp. Player Two: Queen. He presents himself to the world in drag queen style. Ostentatious, over the top, glamorous and decidedly feminine. As these two representations of homosexual masculinity spar with each other in the dazzlingly bright tennis court of The Blue Room Theatre, they are awarded points – tennis style, by the referee.

Ash Traylia and David Mitchell are simply wonderful in their high-energy performances of masculinity. Adjudicated by the movement master herself, Morgan Owen, they hit and spit at each other until realising that all aspects of performing masculinity can be toxic but can also be celebrated. Court My Crotch is created by the company that brought you Arteries by Ancestry and many of their signatures are present – switching characters back and forth and re-telling moments from the past, a sense of fluid sexuality, and of course power plays.

Although aware that the stories recounted here are based on actual testimony from Australian interviews, it borders on the cliche. Secret snatches of drag shows in Sydney, checking other kids out in sporting change rooms, hovering around a bar just to get another glimpse of a gay man you’re strangely attracted to. All seem a little trite, but are delivered with such passion that cliche can be overlooked. Ash Traylia puts the extra in extraordinary as he sashays about the stage, full of vim and vigor. He is dressed to the nines in full drag regalia but isn’t afraid to be stripped bare when vulnerable. Mitchell is equally as fabulous but reigns in his flamboyancy to a dull roar. It’s there in his mannerisms and speech, but perfectly controlled.

All of this speaks to how controlled and contrived being oneself really is. Not only is drag a performance but so is masculinity. The charade can wear you down and we witness the emotional toll it takes on both characters. Owen is sinuous and firm in her movements as the umpire. She represents life and rules and the cultural norm. She is both controlling and firm, and malleable and fluid. Her eyes bulge out of her head as she blows the whistle on any transgressions performed by the leads. There are some confronting moments – at one point Ash Traylia turns on the audience to deliver some harsh truths, Mitchell cowers in the corner after opening up to another man in a sexual encounter. Songs and movement are interwoven with brash and ballsy acting and bravado.

Court My Crotch is an intelligent and heartfelt work that has clearly come from a place of intimacy. Not only will it tug on the heartstrings, it will make you laugh. Full of quips, put downs and comebacks, it unapologetically challenges mainstream masculinity but always punches up. There are also some delightfully camp references to life in the early 2000s and the Sydney Olympics, so obvs I’m all over that like a rash! Re-live your youth but see it from a different perspective, because odds are that while you were perfecting your ‘Genie in a Bottle’ dance, a budding drag queen was too.

Review | Laura Money

WHEN: 18 September – 6 October | 7pm

WHERE: The Blue Room Theatre | PERTH

INFO: Tickets $20 – $30 | Duration 75 minutes | Suitable 15+ | Some strobe lighting

LINK: https://blueroom.org.au/events/court-my-crotch/

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Past Production, Review

REVIEW: Love/Less and NEXT

A double bill of dance is showing at the State Theatre Centre of WA, opening the curtain and switching from night to night are the female solo acts #thatwomanjulia featuring Natalie Allen and Blushed featuring Yilin Kong, then for the main performance Love/Less which is a four year labour of love for Kynan Hughes – pun unintended – featuring Marlo Benjamin, Rachel Arianne Ogle and Alexander Perrozzi.

#thatwomanjulia is a piece about Julia Gillard – Australia’s First Female Prime Minister – melding together live recording excepts from the parliamentary record and music. A desk sits in the centre of the floor with a swivel chair which Allen performs with, under, around and on giving us an overwhelming sense of the sexism which exists in Parliament and the ridiculous nature in which Gillard was treated during her tenure.   This was an extremely clever piece. One where the artists involved clearly understood that  The problem people  demonstrably ended up having g with our  first  female  governing powerhouse wasn’t with how well she could run the country it was with her gender within a predominately male dominated parliament as only 30% of the entire parliament was women during her tenure. choreography had  the exact right amalgamation and blending of  subtle nuances and  tongue in cheek squirm in your seat sudden blasts of shock tactics.  The  thematic undertones were beautifully demonstrated by short repetitive elegantly pointed gestures  interspersed with sudden erratic  shuddering shifts in poise movement sound music and exhibition of the dances presentation.

Love/Less explores intimacy, loss and the aftermath of what happens when you lose something that you love. There is a definite closeness and trust between the dancers within this exceptional performance as they are never far apart physically and seem more like family, albeit looking like they are embracing each other one second then rejecting each other the next so whilst physically close emotionally they couldn’t be further apart; and we never really get a feel or sense for what tragedy or ill circumstances occurred to cause both this closeness and separation. This is definitely a performance that will and can be taken differently from each and every viewers point of view depending on what they have been through in their lives and as such definitely deserves respect and credit for being as thought provoking and emotionally igniting. I feel incredibly convinced that this review and its reviewers will completely and utterly be unable to do justice to this triumphantly long awaited piece.

Conceived and in the making for 4 years it would be not only be a complete understatement but also be an utter disservice to the labour of love this show must surely have been for all artists involved. This is one show you cannot  help but find impossible to describe without giving away the desperately melancholic beauty of its unfolding and layering throughout its duration all I can say is this show is jot one to merely watch but to feel.

Review | Amanda Lancaster & Link Harris

WHEN: 19th – 22th September 2018 | 6:00pm

WHERE: State Theatre Centre of WA | Studio Underground| Northbridge

INFO: Tickets $30 – $35 | Duration 90 mins | Suitable 12+ | DANCE

LINK: https://www.ptt.wa.gov.au/venues/state-theatre-centre-of-wa/whats-on/loveless-and-next/

 

Past Production, Review

REVIEW: Cockfight

The State Theatre of WA hosts a production by The Farm, in association with NORPA and Performing Lines to create a unique experience that they admit as hard to label. It’s a combination of physical comedy and interpretative dance, yet it feels like far more – brace yourself to this journey of theatrical movement.

Set in a typical, clinical office are two alpha personalities – one a fresh face upstart and the other an older know-it-all. A common environment for these personalities, they often feel they can solve their problems with bravado. This physical performance displays the absurdity of acting tough in a sterile place where built up tensions are often held inside. This posturing, reminiscent of birds courting – attempting to display their dominance with wing flapping. Dance, metaphors and reality collide to create a surreal landscape of madness. On paper this could sound messy but we have a brilliant production team who nail everything to a tee.

The Farm are a dance production team renowned for pushing boundaries and this physical theatre show is no exception, with a clever blend of humour and artful movement. This combines with well thought out uses of music and a very clear visual set.  It embraces a more left of centre look at slapstick humour, displaying boldness and gusto.  This often comes when unexpected moments arise out of nowhere and this duo are masters of that – so be prepared to have your mouth open in awe and with fits of laughter.

This is certainly is a showcase of well-crafted choreography that highlights the strong experience of directorial and performance team in Kate Harmon, Julian Louis, Joshua Thomson and Gavin Webber – with the acting duo of Thomson and Webber involved in both roles.

I highly recommend Cockfight to anybody who wants to get inside the heads of two white collar businessmen in a high energy theatrical show.

Review | Kieran Eaton

WHEN: 19 – 22 September 2018 | 8pm

WHERE: Heath Ledger Theatre | State Theatre Centre of WA

INFO: Tickets from $35 | Duration 60 mins | Suitable 15+ | PHYSICAL THEATRE

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

on now, Review

REVIEW: Dracula

“Do you believe in destiny? That even the powers of time can be altered for a single purpose? That the luckiest man who walks on this earth is the one who finds… true love?” Bram Stoker

Bound, tethered, inescapably trapped within the realm of existence to which he so desperately lingers, time beyond time we find a lost soul scouring the very ends of the earth, searching boundlessly for not so much the love of his life but the love without which for him there is no life.

Meet the romantically tragic villain, our beautifully brooding anti-hero, Dracula.

Brought to you by the always brilliant West Australian BalletDracula is the ambitious world premiere 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. The set design by Phil R. Daniels and Charles Cusick Smith with its overtly baroque styling references the darkly satirical movie version – that wonder of the 90s by Francis Ford Copella, complete with giant archways and columns spanning the stage, ironwork silhouetted against the lights like spider webs.

Dracula is a visually stunning production, rendered exquisite by Krzysztof Pastor‘s unique choreography. Adapted specifically for the stage, the stylistic storytelling of the vampire classic amalgamates the traditional neoclassical movement and form of the traditional Ballet with the contemporary and nonconformist expression of the theatre. Flipping the script on the traditional focus on ensemble pieces, this production’s emphasis is on the characters. Each individual dancer expresses their character through moves that become their signature – like that of a musical theme. From the erratic and jerky movements of Renfeild (Jesse Homes) to the strong presence and calm stability of Dr Seward (Christian Luck) each dancer embodies their role fully.

Melissa Boniface is sublime as Lucy Westenra; she glides across the stage effortlessly en pointe as though entranced by the power of Count Dracula. It is interesting to note that the cast does change as each role is so demanding, no more so than that of the titular character. On the night Fourth Wall reviewed, Aurelien Scannella was compelling as Old Count Dracula – a role he was lured out of retirement to fulfill. His fluid movements are at once sexually provocative and powerful. He stalks across the stage with the roiling confidence of a predator. One of the triumphs of the show is the transition from Old Count Dracula to his younger counterpart. The movements are ritualistic as though steps in a particular dance – as Scannella waltzes around the stage, Matthew Lehmann resplendent in fresher costume and long dark hair seamlessly enters the scene – replenished by his victim’s blood.

The set design by Daniels and Smith perfectly portrays the dark aesthetic of the Gothic Victorian era but doesn’t leave out the decadent vibrancy of the hedonistic nature on display in the opening waltz. The costumes assist in developing a strong sense of character – they are non-traditional and nothing short of spectacular. Victorian gowns twirl in a kaleidoscope of colour as the dancers whirl faster and faster. Dracula’s cape frames the vampire in a blanket of quilted darkness and Lucy’s tantalisingly semi-transparent nightgown moves hauntingly around her as she flits in the transient space between life and death.

Melissa Boniface, Matthew Edwardson, Oliver Edwardson and Aurelien Scannella in Dracula. Photo by Jon Green

Musically, the tone of Dracula is unlike most ballet scores. Composer Wojciech Kilar has created a soundscape that elevates the performance and once again, provides a strong sense of character. WASO (West Australian Symphony Orchestra) are flawless in their performance. It’s a careful blending of classical and filmic convention, slightly reminiscent of the Coppola film with a sumptuous layering effect that creates spine-tingling chills. It’s achingly romantic and melancholic.

For those on the fence about whether or not this version of Dracula is for them, why not  leave it to the tragic soul himself to convince you:

Remember my friend, that knowledge is stronger than memory and we should not trust the weaker.

Review | Fourth Wall Team: Amanda Lancaster, Laura Money & Link Harris

WHEN: 6 – 22 September 2018 | Various times

WHERE: His Majesty’s Theatre | PERTH

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

LINK: https://waballet.com.au/whats-on/dracula/

 

on now, Review

REVIEW: WA Dance Makers Project

Westfarmers Arts proudly presents Co:3‘s WA Dance Makers Project, as advertised it is double bill of new and exhilarating dance theatre works…. and this is about as simple as it cant be described.

Prepare to experience the joy of movement, the freedom of expression and the ephemeral beauty that is  contemporary dance.

A beautiful turn about to the normal honouring opening speeches usually associated with performances introductions sees An effortlessly enigmatic  Young Man takes to the floor, and in one of the clearest most melodic voices you will ever be lucky enough to hear, regaling audiences with a short  personal story from his childhood about the importance of sharing  a persons culture and the responsibility people at large hold if they are to continue keeping it alive.

the lights completely dim and the show begins.

The first act which opens the curtains for the night is by ECU’s Link Dance Company with a new work by Richard Cilli; comprising of Andrew Barnes, Aline Doyle, Ana Music, Briannah Davis, Bridget Flint, Elizabeth Ferguson, Georgia Smith, Hannah Phillips, Jessie Camilleri-Seeber, Jocelyn Eddie, Jacinta Jeffries, Kimberly Parkin, Rhiana Hocking-Katz and Ryan Stone and Scott Galbraith. The stage lights up with all fourteen of the dancers holding red pom-poms, they all start making sounds in unison then in chaotically different intervals, then they all start moving getting intertwined weaving in and out of each other going from looking organised to chaos at the drop of a hat almost like the dance troupe as a whole is one evolving organism. For Those unfamiliar with contemporary dance  this company and piece will offer a fun and simple way to ease into whats about to ensue.

The second piece In-Lore Act II which is definitely  the dramatic stand out of the three performances is choreographed by Australian dance legend Chrissie Parrott, stars David Mack, Ella-Rose Trew, Andrew Searle, Zoe Wozniak, Katherine Gurr and Tanya Brown. On the right we see a large family sitting around a table watching an old TV and another woman on the left dressed in white, as she starts to dance she interacts with the family on the right. There was definitely a feeling of escalation, dread or melancholy  happening even if it wasn’t explored or understood by audiences fully.  perhaps though that is the point to this piece,  the work seems to draw or paint a picture of something  in a constant state of flux or shift. An ephemeral demonstrable tangibility to the ever changing things people do themselves each other  their identities and the often desperate heart wrenching consequences of those acts and choices.. Either way this is definitely an brilliantly emotional piece which will probably be interpreted differently by everyone that watches it.

The third piece You Do Ewe produced by the trio of Unkempt DanceAmy Wiseman, Carly Armstrong, and Jessica Lewis – with Trew, Searle, Gurr, Wozniak, Brown and Mitch Harvey . This is a fun and bordering on slapstick comedic piece where each of the six dancers comes in one after the other and introduces themselves then they break into a very intentional albeit out of sync tango looking dance. Placing their hands where they shouldn’t be so instead of on hips they were on their elbows, backsides or even knees which definitely made this ridiculous act stand out on its own for being without a doubt fun and a delight to watch.

This is definitely a good show to watch even if you don’t quite understand what contemporary dance is all about and if you do you will most definitely adore these three pieces for their own varying and distinct merits.

For those who don’t intellectually associate with this  performance you will definitely find your self emotionally unable to forget it.

You may not.

Review | Amanda Lancaster & Link Harris

WHEN: 12th – 15th September 2018| 7:30pm

14th September 2018 | 12pm

16th September| 5pm

WHERE: Studio Underground | State Theatre Centre WA| Northbridge

INFO: Tickets $35 | Duration 90 mins | Suitable  18 | DANCE

LINK: https://co3.org.au/program/wa-dance-makers-project-2018/