on now, Review

REVIEW: Constellations

By Laura Money

The Irish Theatre Players are a not-for-profit independent theatre group shaking things up in Subiaco, Perth. They produce a variety of works thorughout the year and clearly love what they do! This winter’s offering is Constellations, a work written by UK playwright Nick Payne – a compelling and elegant play about the infinite possibilities that multiverse theory offers. It’s also a beautiful love story.

Director Brendan Ellis has stripped back the script into its purest form in a way that places the focus on the intricate and clever dialogue. In a world of possibilities, every word and their sequence is important. As a two-person play, there are only so many interesting positions to put the characters in, yet Ellis creates a pattern of memory for each section. It’s hard to explain, as the piece itself is non-linear, however there are parts of dialogue that are re-spoken and given a different outcome or emotion. Ellis brilliantly treats each portion as though it were a dance, the starting position and dance moves remain constant as a way to ground the story.

The set design is also brilliant – Laura Heffernan has created a memorable space that utilizes the black box of the stage but has the ability to mesmerise. The splashes of star-like paint are paired perfectly with John Spurling‘s sensory lighting design. The whole effect is as if one is floating in the void – adrift in the universe.

Roland (Paul Davey) and Marianne (Madeline Jones) are destined to be together, in at least one universe…or is that multiverse? This fresh take on the ‘star-crossed lovers’ trope is a wonderful concept and is rendered remarkable by the Irish Theatre Players. Davey’s Roland is sweet, funny, and awkward. It’s such a demanding script as the actors must play different versions of themselves, and Davey has developed the sincerity and kindness in Roland perfectly. Likewise, Jones is phenomenal. Marianne is a fierce and feisty character full of intelligence and hopeless jokes. Jone is absolutely endearing as Marianne and her portrayal of the emotional journey of the character is without peer.

If you want a great night out, get yourself out to Subiaco and see this great work. Davey will charm you when reading his bee speech, Jones will crack you up with her awkward pick up lines, and the sound, lights and set will whisk you away into another part of time and space – if only for an hour and a bi!

WHEN: 7 – 16 June 2018 | 8pm

WHERE: Irish Club WA | 61 Townshend Road, Subiaco | PERTH

INFO: Tickets $20 – $25 | Duration 75 mins | No interval | Suitable 15+

LINK: www.trybooking.com/VLKA

 

 

Advertisements
on now, Review

REVIEW: The Man and The Moon

By Laura Money

The Man and The Moon is a delightful cabaret/play that channels the atmosphere of a boozy, jazzy New York Basement joint whilst regaling you with a wondrous tale of fantasy and romance. Backed by a three-piece band, St John Cowcher tells his tale of living and functioning in ‘grey suburbia’ and how he fell in love with the beautiful silver orb in the sky through original songs and snappy monologues.

Cowcher is stuck living a life he never wanted – he works in the marketing department for a super-company, lives in outer-middle suburbia, attends office barbeques for socialisation, and has to endure the office wanker on an almost daily basis. His life hits home for many creative millennials (myself included!) and will resonate on a level you didn’t expect. From hilariously written witty office observations, to the impeccable characterisation of Phil – believe me, we all know a Phil – Cowcher shines during his accurate satirical songs.

It is clear that Cowcher has a way with words, under the biting satire there lies a charming and fantastical story, told in a poetic language. As Cowcher becomes truly lovestruck, his music changes into lament. The Man and The Moon is a brilliant piece of theatre – it’s funny, clever, and utterly charming. Cowcher is one to watch, with a powerful voice and an affable nature, he gives his full creativity to this work, and it pays off.

WHEN: 6 – 9 June 2018 | 7:00pm

WHERE: Subiaco Arts Centre | Subiaco | Perth

INFO: Tickets $25 – $28 | Duration 60 mins | No interval | Part of Subiaco Theatre Festival | Suitable 15+

LINK: https://www.ptt.wa.gov.au/venues/subiaco-arts-centre/whats-on/the-man-and-the-moon/

 

 

on now, Review

REVIEW: Tale of Tales

By Laura Money

If you haven’t heard of Bow & Dagger, a unique theatre company that bring the focus back to storytelling, then you must get down to The Blue Room Theatre and see what all the fuss is about. Tale of Tales is the most beautifully rendered World War II story since Life is Beautiful and whilst it won’t compel you to jump over the theatre chairs with joy, it will leave an indelible print on your heart.

Clare Testoni (one half of Bow & Dagger) alongside Paul Grabovac re-tell the real life story of Testoni’s family and their sometimes harrowing journey to an Australian Internment Camp. Weaving real life events and the strange and wonderful fairy tales of Italian folklore, Testoni creates a fantastical landscape of shadows and words that envelop the audience in an unforgettable tale.

Through intricate, hand-cut artworks whose brilliant shadows are projected onto a white background using only the tricks and tools of a true puppeteer – torches, light, and filters – an almost Gothic tale reminiscent of woodcuts found in fairy tale books springs to life. In the vein of Big Fish, Testoni’s Sante is a storyteller who spins his words into a warm and strong story. His words have the power to whisk his beautiful Antionetta away from the realities of poverty and political uncertainty and render her a princess in a crystal castle with her dear, sweet Prince’s love giving her hope.

Testoni and Grabovac set the tone right – speaking in a lilting and comforting pattern, as though telling a bedtime story to a young child. As Antionetta and her boys are separated from Sante and must make a new life for themselves whist interred in a camp in the supposedly welcoming shores of Australia, the stories become frought with danger; Mussolini and Hitler become ogres, soldiers become dragons, and the camp becomes a high tower in which the principessa remains locked.

Tale of Tales is perhaps one of the most charming works you will ever see. It speaks to our almost primal need to make sense of the world through stories. It will transport you back to your childhood bed which kept you safe and warm whilst hearing all of the scary and dangerous tales of a beloved adult. Most importantly, Tale of Tales is full of heart. It is emotional and fragile, beautiful and intricate, and deserves all the praise it gets. So go, and let them tell you a story.

 

WHEN: 22 May – 9 June 2018 | 7:00pm

WHERE: The Blue Room Theatre | Northbridge

INFO: Tickets $20 – $30 | Duration 70 mins | Recommended 12+

LINK: http://blueroom.org.au/events/tales-of-tales/

 

on now, Review

REVIEW: The Edge

By Laura Money

A friend or relative of yours is unwell but you can’t reach them. They are pushed right to The Edge and you don’t know if they will return to you or be lost forever. But this story isn’t about them…it’s about you and all of the little things that led to the moment of catastrophe. Nick Choo‘s unique and memorable production of The Edge is not as dark or depressing as one might think – people keep dancing around the subject matter as though it’s going to bite them on the nose, yet The Blue Room production is a great way to address depression, suicide, and a host of mental illness issues that are plaguing today’s society.*

The Edge is ambitious – originally produced in Malaysia as part of Choo’s burgeoning musical career, it’s been adapted and worked on for roughly ten years. Now, in the hands of Director Levon Polinelli the work seems perfectly tailored to Australian audiences. Polinelli and Designer Sara Chirichilli‘s set is pared back and simple – it allows for the cast to tell the story through their own characters and song style. This is a highly character-driven show, beginning with the entire ensemble of six standing in formation and addressing the audience with a powerful piece about how ‘Another Day’ can be so different to one person, but the irrevocable pull of time will render it just another day.

Each character, from the brother Jarod (Emerson Brophy) to the childhood best friend, Mike (Philip Lynch) is connected to the one character Josh who is literally standing at the edge of a precipice – about to jump. Each character relays to the audience how they may have contributed to putting him there. It’s a completely different take on the usual ‘suicide story’ as most of them focus on the actual person, not the impact on the people around them. Brophy’s unrestrained emotion as he sings Josh through the major points in his life is heart-wrenching. As is Claudia Van Zeller‘s stunning performance as the grieving mother. It is clear that Josh is the absolute favourite, and it is interesting to see a character both controlling and completely at the mercy of her young son. She sings of the absolute unbridled joy she finds with her new fiance, but is willing to sacrifice it all for her spoilt son.

Perhaps the one element I would do differently is the miming to Josh – the characters vacillate between narrating their memories to the audience and miming to a void that represents Josh onstage. I feel this is perhaps a little trite, and could have been addressed a little less clumsily – in fact the most powerful moments occur when ‘Josh’ is the audience – or at least supposed to be ready to leap at any minute at some point behind us. There is a cohesion to all of Choo’s composition – a unique soundscape that threads and weaves its way through all of the characters, representative of Josh himself – each of the characters sing similar music but with just enough accents and flourishes to represent their own unique voice within the work.

There is so much going on in this work – from the girlfriend who feels like Josh is rushing things (Madeline Shaw) to the room-mate and best friend who would have liked to take things to the next level (if you know what I mean!) (Tate Bennett.) There’s even a concerned co-worker and coffee shop girl (Grace Johnson) who’s impressive voice laments other people’s reluctance to see beyond their noses and help someone in need. As a whole, each of these characters slot together to form a puzzle – an image of Josh on the edge. Whilst epic in scale, The Edge is elegantly simple, with clever and relevant music – there are no huge showstoppers here, but this doesn’t diminish from the absolute talent on show in this ensemble that compliment each other beautifully. As for the warnings – I would urge you to go and see it, although there may be more than a few lumps in your throat.

WHEN: 29 May – 9 June 2018 | 8:30pm

12 – 16 June 2018 | 7:00pm

WHERE: The Blue Room Theatre | Northbridge

INFO: Tickets $20 – $30 | Duration 2 hours | 10 minute interval | Content warning: themes of suicide and mental health | Recommended 15+

LINK: http://blueroom.org.au/events/the-edge/

*Crisis support and suicide prevention is available. Call Lifeline Australia on 13 11 14.

 

 

Past Production, Review

REVIEW: 3.3 and Beyond

By Laura Money

Ochre Contemporary Dance Company‘s latest suite of works challenge the status quo, uplift the spirit, and feed the soul. It begins with Beyond, a new work performed by the talented Floeur Alder and choreographed by Chrissie Parrott. Alder steps into a beam of light that leads to a bush grove projected onto the floor in the centre of the room. The atmosphere is charged – the pool of light enticing Alder to enter a spiritual world, perhaps one of her ancestors. The natural yet discordant soundscape oppresses the audience as Alder makes her agonisingly slow journey to the centre of the light.

Alder is primal and connected to the very land she seeks, clad in white ochre and earthy tones, her hair matted to her skull. Every step she takes is considered – it’s a deliberately slow start that highlights the power and intelligence behind every single move within a dance piece. As Alder reaches the light, her body twists and turns into sometimes grotesque configurations, and stretches to the sky – all the while her strength is rooted in the ground. Alder portrays the connection to land as reverent in her slow and elegant motions, her fear of becoming too wild as the land pulls and tugs at her in sharp, jerky, inhuman movements, and her sense of tradition in her animalistic movements – at times representing the Ochre logo itself.

It’s a truly beautiful performance, we are witnessing something incredibly pure and untainted by modern Eurocentric ideals. Alder is a remarkable talent.

Low-Res_FA_MareeLaffanPhoto_2018-05-31-13

Next is a brief interlude consisting of a ten minute film, Kwongkan (Sand) a beautiful piece that charts the residency Ochre attended in India. It’s a spiritual representation of ritual and love of the land – even if that land is in another country.

3.3 questions what it is to be a young Aboriginal male in contemporary white society. It is the brainchild of renowned classical dancer, Michael Leslie who questions the idea that young black males now have their right of passage in prison. It sees young dancer Ian Wilkes literally caged in a cell with perspex in front allowing us to look in, but keeping him inside. Wilkes is an incredibly visceral performer – he launches himself violently against the bars that cage him in. It’s a powerful statement about masculinity, youth, race and rage and is brought home as Wilkes lashes out against the perspex, spitting, sweating, and swearing in protest.

3.3 Dress Rehearsal-229-1 color

All the while, Leslie sits close by, calmly observing Wilkes work out his aggression. When Wilkes is ready, Leslie talks to him about the systems in place that keep Aboriginal people down. 3.3 refers to the percentage of people in Australia who identify as Aboriginal – yet there is an over-representation in the prison population – 28% to be exact. During their dialogue, and as Wilkes futilely fights against the system, it is important to note that not all prisons are literal – there’s the system of colonialism, deaths in custody, fences around farms, curfews, obstruction of voting, missions, and discrimination.

Leslie’s firm but fair teaching is played out for us, and we see Wilkes learn the lost language of Leslie’s ancestors through 100 dance moves. By breaking each word down, a barrier is also broken between performer and audience, and we begin to appreciate each move with more understanding – after all, knowledge is power. When Wilkes is left alone again to contemplate his situation, he begins the cycle again, this time with art in the forefront of his mind. Wilkes’ sheer athleticism is tremendous – he pours every part of him into the performance, providing lasting imagery that will endure long after the show ends.

3.3 -337-36

These pieces, 3.3 and Beyond are some of the most important and poignant performances to take place this year. They reflect the pressing need to address these issues – Aboriginality, connection (or disconnect) to the land, violence, discrimination, and anger. Yet, both of these works serve to bridge the gap between contemporary and traditional dance. What does it mean to be a young Aboriginal dancer in the twenty-first century? Must they forsake their ancestral traditional moves for contemporary, classical training? Both 3.3 and Beyond spark that conversation and are the perfect fusion of both forms of dance. After all, isn’t dance all about expression and meaning?

WHEN: 26 May – 3 June | 7:30pm (5:30pm Sundays)

WHERE: Subiaco Arts Centre

INFO: Tickets $25 – $40 | Duration 110 mins including interval | Contains coarse language, adult themes, haze and strobe effects | Wheelchair accessible

LINK: https://www.ptt.wa.gov.au/venues/subiaco-arts-centre/whats-on/33-and-beyond/