on now, Review

REVIEW: Love Letters to the Revolution | Moments of change and movements in time

Review | Amanda Lancaster & Peter Spence

Tucked away in a house at the bottom of a hill, electronic beats pulse through a party as we watch a kaleidoscope of moments of change.

Pulse, throb, pulse, throb.

Beating as if in time and tempo with the audience’s collective heart beats and breaths.

Calm at first then steadily rising in rapid waves.

Pulse, pulse, throb, throb, pulse, pulse, throb, throb.

Is this how it feels? To be eaten alive, as if by crocodiles? Dragged under, fighting for breath, darkness looming, is this what lies in the shadows, in the depths, in the unseen spaces? Is any space safe anymore? Internally? Externally? 

Is there something wrong with us? Why are we like this? why is the world like this?

Pulse, pulse, pulse, throb, throb, throb, thud, thud, thud.

Good question.

And one beautifully put into metaphorical prose on the set of The Blue Room Theatre‘s stage in this not to be missed show, Love Letters to the Revolution.

Let audiences be warned from the get go, that while this is very much a trigger warning show touching on a variety of important and often overlooked and unpalatable issues those in it face at the present moment in time. However don’t let that put you off as this show is more importantly deeply laced with the utmost respect and sensitivity.

Viva la revolution!

Love letters to the Revolution is an important and entertaining performance, whilst being engaging and relatable in many ways. An upbeat and fun performance which brings some heavy topics to confronting light, accessibility, disability, drug culture, reclamation, racial injustice, abuse, identity loss, climate change, caber culture, mental health, sexual assault and more.

A stunning works by Sian Murphy, who has proven a worthy winner of the WA Emerging Artist Award, it’s performed in a series of bite sized able to swallow scenes, as if extracts from a reality show without the tactlessness. We see a small group of five amazing performers take on the ideologies behind what the world is beginning to normalize and probably shouldn’t.

Both scene and character play out carefully and with skill to subtlety bring notice to underlying struggles and outright atrocities humans deem part of day to day practices and behaviors. Each scene is its own, yet set within a party where so many of the situations faced are individually addressed and explored. An ensemble of talent, portraying characters who we can each place in our own world, Marlanie Haerewa, Jono Battista, Elisa Williams, Stephanie Somerville and James McMillan provide us with the sense of the world we already know and would love to change.  

From the powerful metaphor of the opening monologue, the tone is set and left to linger throughout, personified by the figure in the corner of the room throughout the whole piece. Stephanie Somerville’s portrayal of her greatest fear, giving an intense and powerful account of how the fear of why a crocodile attack is so and draining just to even think about, and making it an obvious metaphor for the things we each fear and what drags us all down. Whether it be the things that seem small scale in the grand scheme of things such as cutting your hair to the pressures of answering that damn message, we all feel the pressure of the social constructs which can lead to things like peer pressure and conformity. The party is fun and the electronic music continues throughout, with a peek into the situations which affect the characters lives.

A revolution has begun, albeit slowly, to bring us into a new world where we realize the effects of grief, ptsd, society, addiction, social conformity, social culture, parental roles, and disability. Change needs to come about and this is where it is, now is when it starts. Love Letters to the Revolution is an open love letter to the idea of revolting against the oppressive forces and social constructs placed upon us, normalization of occurrences creating trauma. It’s a call to stand up and fight for this and future eras to fight what you can’t seem to escape, and that we are born into and are a part of without our choice. We don’t have to put up with it, we CAN stand up and fight for what we believe to be right.

Its about accountability , responsibility, and the fight to instill ideas of prevention over falsified sympathetic acts of consolation.its about acting before its too late. For standing up and revolting against that which we know we don’t want to live with internally or externally anymore.

The audience can breathe again, unaware they have even been holding it,

Heart beats at a rapid tempo, but no longer being on edge of the uncertain and uncomfortable. Now it is the steadfast growing thrum of questioning and thought provoked minds.

Pulse, throb, pulse, throb, pulse throb

The party slows, the music fades, the glittering glowing thrumming facade of it all comes crashing down to reveal all is not as it seems, but all is ok….the revolution is here.

Love Letters to the Revolution is playing at The Blue Room Theatre until 23rd October 2021. Get your tickets HERE

on now, Review

REVIEW: Watch and Act | An open letter about chaos, fear, and control

Review | Amanda Lancaster

We interrupt your regularly scheduled program to bring you this emergency broadcasts message.

“What is done, cannot be undone.”

This small statement is reiterated numerous times throughout the show like a mantra, a small talisman-like phrase repeated over and over not only aloud to the audience by our star Katie McAllister but left echoing long after within the viewer’s own mind,.

McAllister also repeats, “of this I can be sure, of this I can be certain , this I know to be true.”

Watch and Act is a beautifully dark, almost sardonic, 55minute open letter about chaos, fear, and that which we, no matter how hard we choose to ignore or pay attention to, can and cannot control.

The thematic thrust of the show’s undertone is that of world wide issue “climate change” and “global warming.” It’s cleverly framed as an emotional one-woman outpouring of love for a place, time and state of things shifting uncontrollably out of her gasp as quickly and elusively as the human populace has allowed climate control to escape their attention for far too long now.

Now on first inspection of  the media and marketing for the show Watch and Act featuring household name Katie McAllister you might be left wondering what the hell does Notting Hill , OCD and Nigella Lawson have to do with the global climate crisis?

The terms climate change and climate crisis are often used interchangeably and without distinction but both have distinct meanings. Similarly, the terms for  “weather” and “climate” are sometimes confused, even though they refer to events with broadly different states of spatial- and timescales. Climate change is not just a weather term is this day age but also a fitting one for the state of social economical ecological and emotional shift people experience in their own comfort zones and states of experience throughout life. There is nothing more chaotic and terrify than a shift in that state, a change in your own personal climate especially when so seemingly out of your own control. Katie McAllister knows this and Watch and Act represents this flawlessly.

Set in the studio at ever popular venue The Blue Room Theatre come take a ride with the incredibly likable and relatable Katie McAllister. A ride into that which we often ignore, that which we can all relate to, in a humorous one woman’s monologue, a love letter to Denmark, to the Karri Forrests, to a time gone by and to everything she loves steadfast, without bias and wishes to hold onto desperately.

The minimal stage dressing and design is the perfect backdrop for McAllister’s performance as her crystal clear voice rings out over the audience, unwavering throughout the entire shows powerfully tempered performance. It would be hard to find yourself distracted from such a heartfelt, honest and intimate performance regardless of the chaos ensuing all around McAllister on the backdrop of 3 walls upon which projections of chaotic overlaying of scenes from her favourite movie and other excerpts are taken and displayed,calmly at first then descending into chaos and sadness throughout. The  design of which comes from Kristie Smith. The gentle yet powerful reminders of the terrible and devastating losses that come year after year with the climate change and the ongoing bush fire epidemic that sweeps through her home town of Albany and Denmark are helped along by an imaginary last drive home down Albany Highway aided along by the dreamed up conversations McAllister has with numerous infamous and famous female figures of strength and power both in status and personal idolization. Oh and let us not forget of course, the comedic appearance of her own imaginary and drummed into her emergence into adulthood version of  …..Tim, fucking Winton

There is a wonderfully blended soundscape throughout the show put together by designer Georgina Cramond. A textured and layered seamlessly interwoven tapestry of 90s nostalgia movie quotes, news and interview soundbites and even a taste of McAllister’s own ABC emergency broadcasters announcements. The interspersing of soundtrack snippets from Notting hill, the Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant Rom-com that McAllister constantly references heavily throughout lays the framework for her own personal coping methods and safety measures that can be taken for the ever changing and chaotic mental climate that is her own OCD. A topic she declares to hate speaking about….but since it was in the marketing leaflets……

Emotions are messy contradictory and true this McAllister learned from her ideal climate change emergency wanna be buddy the famous, food is comfort, food is life, idol Nigella Lawson, of whom she has a life sized cardboard cutout by the way. This is true, we all know this, we’ve all experienced this, but we all know there is little we can do to control these waves and tides in times of crisis other than to hold on and ride it out.

Choosing to do nothing is as traumatic  and damaging consequentially as choosing to do something and being unable to do it. We may not be able to control the climate crisis or our own inner states of compulsion but we don’t have to give in nor surrender helplessly to them either. This Is McAllister’s underlying message and it is an important one. McAllister’s time reading the broadcasters announcements for emergencies taught her there is always something you can do even when there is nothing. The calm concise formatting of the emergency advice read aloud to the masses gave McAllister a way to not just watch helplessly but to act.

Remember…”What is done cannot be undone”.

So if you choose to do one thing in your efforts to be better, do better, feel better this month, make it the act of watching Watch and Act with Katie McAllister

We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.

Watch and Act is playing at The Blue Room Theatre until 16th October 2021. you can get your tickets HERE

on now, Review

REVIEW: My Shout | Examining youth culture and alcohol through physicality and music

Review | Laura Money

Walking into The Blue room Theatre for My Shout, you could be forgiven for thinking you’d just gone into another room in the bar. The crew at Undercurrent Theatre Company have recreated the atmosphere of a bar perfectly – from the long high table, to the bar stools, and display of bottles reaching heady heights along the back wall the whole set evokes hazy pub life. Muted lighting by Adelaide Harney and the constant hum of music from David Stewart combines to plonk the audience right in the middle of a group of friends enjoying a bevvie or two. My Shout is an exploration of how the human experience is shared through alcohol and how alcohol and ritual combine to create that connection. It takes four performers and sees them through an afternoon/evening pastiche of previous drinking sessions and depictions of Australian drinking culture. Combining physical movement, music, and lived experience, the work is part homage and part criticism of that stalwart of Aussie life – a good old-fashioned drink.

Four performers, Claire Appleby, Scarlet Davis, Christopher Moro and Shaun Johnston share their lived experience and that of other devisors in a series of intense physical movement, mentored by Movement Consultant Emma Fishwick and spoken word that sometimes shares the frenzy of beat poetry and at others colloquial experiences that resonate through the crowd. Appleby confidently exudes her baller attitude when ritualising the getting ready segment of a night out – her excitement and body positivity extending to body autonomy in how far she will let herself go. It turns terrifying in a desperate search to fit in and get that next drink. Director Samuel Bruce turns the stage from familiar setting to bizzare parkour experience as characters topple tables, leap from stool to stool and see the furniture rear up in nightmarishly surreal sequences that put the beer goggles squarely on the audience’s eyes. Moro remains jovial throughout – the kind of friend who’s the first to get lit but then doesn’t deteriorate. He has a few moments of introspection where he questions the lack of passing on drinking culture from generation to generation – yet it somehow gets passed on.

Davis and Johnston are the two who really question what it’s all about – Davis acts as a fly on the wall, egging her peers on while not touching a drop. It’s an interesting take on the old addage – it’s not about drinking it’s about hanging out with your friends. Sadly, Davis is often left a step or two behind her mates and not enjoying herself as much. Johnston’s observations merge ideas of masculinity with alcohol as both an inhibitor and an enabler for male bonding. He sharply observes that drinking while watching the footy is highly superficial, causing him to go on a bit of a philosophical arc, questioning the point while also happy to keep drinking. Group dance/movement is eerily executed as synchronised moves ritualise the art of the pour, the repetitious movements becoming frenzied and dangerous to end doused in alcohol. My Shout is exactly what it says it is – their interpretation of drinking culture in Australia. It’s not an overly nuanced piece and seems to be more of a recreation of events than a deep-dive into the culture it’s examining but overall it’s a great new work from promising up and comers to the Perth scene – we’ll drink to that!

My Shout is on at the Blue Room Theatre until Saturday 18th September. Get your tickets HERE

on now, Review

REVIEW: Borderline | Deeply personal and lyrical exploration of growing up and living with mental illness

Review | Sarah Soulay

Borderline Personality disorder (BPD) is characterised by unstable moods, behaviour and relationships. Often times people see those with BPD as being moody, emotional and manipulative. Borderline, written and performed by Evelyn Snook and directed by Kylie Bywaters seeks to dispel that belief and instead focus on the real people behind the disorder.

Borderline tells the tale of Evelyn Snook’s life as they recount the ups and downs of being diagnosed with BPD and their journey to recovery. This is a raw, emotional masterpiece that will have you crying and feeling inspired all at the same time. As you watch you are comforted by Snook’s approachable and playful tone and mannerisms. They create a fun relatable rapport with the audience as they take you by the hand on the journey of their life. They make you feel included and understood, and acknowledge that although our family, friends and our doctors can be well meaning, misdiagnosis or ignoring the symptoms all together, can do more harm than good.

Be Gosper is an absolutely amazing singer. Their voice is soulful and transport the viewer to a world of melodic peace and magic. Their music is beyond effective in propelling the story and providing well needed breaks between the at times confrontational topics discussed in the performance. I for one could listen to Gosper sing and play their guitar for hours on end. I cannot wait for their inevitable album to drop.

Jasmine Lifford and Clare Testoni do an amazing job with lighting design and AV and set design, respectively. The use of shadows to portray memory is really effective, it is elegant, serene and emotional. Not surprising, given how skilled Testoni is at shadow work and puppeteering. From using a projector to more intimate shadow work with a torch and a toy dog, this is an exceptional story telling device.

I love the simple backdrop of white silhouette houses painted on a black wall to use as the main site of projections. Using both people’s silhouettes and archival footage of Snook’s life growing up, provides a punchy, effective and sweet story telling device and adds even more dimension to an already complex and artistic show.

As someone who doesn’t cry easily, I cried…… a lot. So, I do have to give a trigger warning for the show. Do be prepared that they do discuss some confronting things about BPD and growing up with undiagnosed disorders. However, they have done everything in their power to create a safe space for their audience, they provide plenty of useful links to help lines and information about BPD and even go as far as to having a licensed councillor on the premises for audience members to talk to if they need it.

Not to fret, however, this isn’t all a doom and gloom show about the woes of BPD. On the contrary, it is about overcoming adversity and learning to live and survive. Having a supportive family, amazing friends both in human and dog form, and meeting the love of their life. It’s an ode to the struggles and ongoing successes, providing hope, reassurance and a promise that although there are dark days, weeks, month and years, there is always happiness to be found and a survival story to tell.

Snook is a true story teller, exceptionally weaving a heart-warming and gut-wrenching tale about friendship, family, self-discovery and a life with BPD. A performance not to be missed.

Borderline is playing at The Blue Room Theatre until 31st July 2021. You can get tickets HERE

on now, Review

REVIEW | FIRE | Realistic, entirely relatable, and utterly heartfelt

Review | Laura Money

The remount of FIRE by Kalyakoorl Collective is truly the glow up of the year! Its original run during FRINGEWORLD 2021 was brilliant and led to The Fourth Wall calling it a triumph – a sharply written, intimate work that explores familial relationships and the heart that lays at the core of their new production company. The revised script sees the essence of the original work heightened and refined, creating an overall elegance to the piece. Writer and performer, Ebony McGuire takes casual and heated discussions alike from her sisters and family and distills them into a sharp and cracking dialogue. Each line hits home and there are moments you’d be forgiven for thinking that McGuire has access to your phone records! It’s absorbing, intelligent theatre that hits you first but hugs you better afterwards.

FIRE is a punchy and clever work played to perfection by McGuire as the younger sister Melyssa and Nadia Martich (older sister Holly) who has moved in with her in the wake of a breakup. Their banter is razor sharp and although always teasing there are still enough barbs hidden under the tongue for truths to hit home. McGuire is a tremendous storyteller – her strength lies in creating fully realised characters with equal flaws and admirable qualities. Martich listening to sleep meditation and trying to do yoga while scoffing at it is all of us. Her cavalier attitude masks how deeply hurt she really is and Martich expresses this brilliantly. She is the millennial reaction to heartache incarnate. Melissa is just trying to keep it all together – not ever wanting to be open and pick at her wounds. McGuire’s little huffy expression of exasperation is too real and her stubborn turn of lip when she is finally forced to open up is endearing. There’s nuance here as well in the more than welcome addition of the previously unseen boyfriend – Christopher Moro. Initially, Moro is comic relief but as the show progresses he emerges as a caring and insightful character that doesn’t swoop in and save the day but assists in each sister opening up and seeing each other’s point of view.

Even the unseen characters assert their influence on the others. Lyss and Holly haven’t seen each other since their Nan passed away and her presence hovers between them at times causing tension and others, fondness. Holly (Martich) is making roo stew but using the recipe Nan made up to impress her Iranian neighbours all those years ago. Through this story and funny reminiscences of getting yelled at for getting into the pantry and Nan’s quirky little turns of phrase a fun and hard woman emerges. Perspective is key as Lyss and Holly have different takes on Nan – to Holly she was a mentor and loving mother figure, but to Lyss a hard woman who took out her anger at the girls’ mother on Lyss just because she resembled her. The language is intelligent and realistic – from working out which takeaway to order to tackling skeletons in the closet, nothing feels forced.

Director Sian Murphy really brings out the best in the cast – McGuire and Martich are so natural with each other, their dynamic is 100% believable. They dance and skip from gentle teasing and laughter when reminiscing, to full blown arguing and rage over small things that are meaningful only to the individual. Martich’s shutdown when she feels betrayed at the arrival of a stranger is masterful and Moro’s peacekeeping techniques admirable – of course he gets one of the funniest lines in the whole show – but it’s the realistic way tension plays out, humour is interwoven, and true love that knits everyone together that takes FIRE to the next level.

Perhaps the best improvement is taking the beautiful poem Noonook Djiti djiti and performing it at the beginning without context and at the end after the healing has begun and the poem has been explained somewhat. McGuire and Martich perform the poem about a Willie wagtail in both Noongar and English. Accompanied by birdsong and a beautiful, calming soundscape by composer Sophia Hanseon-Knarhoi the performers weave and move in a cohesive and dreamlike dance, choreographed by Martich. Their synchronicity in both movement and voice is utterly transcendent as one feels a deep connection to land and story.

In Noongar language Kalyakoorl means forever or infinite and we are confident that this company will be as enduring as its heartfelt message in this inaugural work. FIRE was a strong piece in the first place but by stripping back the dialogue, removing the awkward monologues and cleverly writing them into the script as letters and dialogue, adding in the boyfriend and improving the set this company has achieved near perfection. The script spits and crackles like its eponymous metaphor gifting us the spirit and beauty of First Nations stories. It’s winner, winner Roo stew dinner!

FIRE is on at The Blue Room Theatre until 10th July 2021. You can get your tickets HERE.