AWESOME FESTIVAL, on now, Review

AWESOME FESTIVAL 2022 | Seashore | 3 Stars

Review | Laura Money

Seashore is an immersive experience for children under three to make believe and move to the natural rhythms of the seaside. Presented by Sally Chance Dance, the room is deftly transformed into a gentle beach through chalk lines and a rainmaker.

Children and their parents/carers move in harmony with one another to complete the immersion. Chance begins by encouraging each child to pick up a shell and listen to the whooshing ocean inside. Each gentle movement and lulling guitar recreates the playful nature and harmonious seascape.

Chance has thoughtfully integrated children’s curiosity with a guiding adult hand, encouraging intergenerational play, however it’s not as inclusive as it claims to be. This work was developed with and presented by the family groups on stage and whilst ticket holders are encouraged to get up on stage, in practice they are not interacted with sufficiently to foster a sense of inclusion.

Seashore speaks to those who enjoy gentle play and thriving imaginations. Go and enjoy – you won’t even get your feet wet.

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 | GLORIA | A mesmerising night of movement and sound

Review | Emma Brand

GLORIA by Douglas Wright after VIVALDI brings vitality and movement to the stage. It is a visual and auditory feast for the senses. Douglas Wright (1956-2018), who is considered one of New Zealand’s most consequential artists in the contemporary dance space, originally brought GLORIA to life in 1990. Over the following seven years, GLORIA saw several return seasons in New Zealand and internationally.

Artistic director of Co3, Raewyn Hill honours the past achievements of Wright in her presentation of GLORIA, as Wright honoured the past achievements of Vivaldi’s work. It is an incredible achievement and evident of Hill’s vision for Co3 that this performance graces the WA stage. Co3 Contemporary Dance Australia is joined by the West Australian Symphony Orchestra and St George’s Cathedral Consort, conducted by Dr. Joseph Nolan.

The staging does not hide the orchestra or consorts, with soloists being highlighted on stage throughout the performance. This is of note, as this Perth season, hosted at the Heath Ledger Theatre, is the first instance that GLORIA has been performed with live music and accompanying voices from consort. The talent and successful merging of dancers, live music and consort provide an exceptional theatrical experience not to be missed! It is hard to fault a performance where a collaborative process has been so well presented.

The choreography feels natural and embedded in the music. Vivaldi’s work Gloria is the foundation and inspiration of Wright’s piece. Wrights honoured its namesake, by utilising its twelve short movements to encapsulate the emotional highs and the sombre lows with the movement and vitality of its dancers. Executed to precision, Co3 move in harmony with the music, observing its constantly changing pace and mood.

Curtain Raiser: A Trio is performed as a stand-alone work presented at the beginning of the evening. Performed by Co3 artistic director Raewyn Hill and artistic director of LINK Dance Company at WAAPA, Michael Whaites. It is tied together by the accompaniment of Bach’s Partita for Solo Violin No. 2 in D Minor, BWV 104:V performed by the incredible Laurence Jackson, concertmaster of WASO. Jackson’s accompaniment shines as he is afforded the same spotlight as dancers Hill and Whaites. It is the physical presence of Jackson on stage that reminds us, the audience, that performance is a collaborative moment between both dancer and musician. A trio is aptly named, as each artist works in unison to create a composition that provides a visual exhibit for the audience. It is a well-matched performance to prelude GLORIA, as it pulls the audience focus onto the stage.

Co3, WA Symphony Orchestra and St George’s Cathedral Consort collaboration make this an exception presentation of the thirty-year-old work GLORIA. It is a performance not to be ignored!

GLORIA is on at the STCWA until 18th September 2022. TICKETS

GLORIA by Douglas Wright (2022) Co3 Contemporary Dance.  Photo: Shotweiler Photography

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 | BLUE/ORANGE | A gritty, psychological thriller at its best

Review | Laura Money

Social commentary and psychology collide in Theatre 180’s latest offering, BLUE/ORANGE written by Joe Penhall. The gritty three-hander pits old school and new against one another in a brutal game of chess with an innocent patient as the pawn. Expertly directed by Stuart Halusz, the tension remains high throughout and will leave you questioning where you stand.

Jarryd Dobson begins the piece – a young psychiatrist analysing a patient. He seems caring, concerned and capable. Christopher – portrayed by newcomer Tinashe Mangwana, is unstable. Instantly likeable, he paces the stage with a manic, unpredictable energy. Mangwana embodies the disenfranchised minorities of Britain. He is at once friendly and intimidating. Dobson’s Bruce can’t help but try to help him. Dobson comes across as a bit officious but ultimately just a bit of a dork trying to understand his patient. Witty exchanges ensue and you find yourself wrapped up in the banter.

After some passionate dialogue, written with just the right amount of tension to keep you on edge, Robert the senior psychiatrist enters to observe Bruce in action. Things rapidly speed out of control as Andrew Lewis as Robert cannot contain his duplicity. What follows is a manipulation worthy of a very slick psychological brain. Lewis turns on his sinister charm in a slick and silken voice with subdued mannerisms. As tensions rise, Dobson becomes unravelled almost matching Mangwana as he attempts to regain control.

BLUE/ORANGE is important theatre. It addresses race and mental illness in turn of the century, pre-Brexit Britain but is no less punchy for it. The script is sharp and honed to perfection, the characters are complex and multifaceted, and Theatre 180 play everything to precision. Featuring a raised platform, this in the round perspective forces the audience to see every angle. With interrogation like lighting there is nowhere to hide from your opinions, throwing these important issues kicking and screaming into the spotlight.

BLUE/ORANGE is on at Burt Memorial Hall until 3rd September 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 | Trust Me, It’s The End Of Our World After All | A twisty post-apocalyptic drama

Review | Laura Money

Beyond The Yard Theatre tackle a theatrical escape room in their one-room drama, Trust Me, It’s The End Of Our World After All – a clever title tat alludes to not only an apocalyptic setting but the caving in of the characters’ realities. Entering The Blue Room Theatre‘s Studio space through the thick bunker doors, the set designed by Owen Davis is dramatic and complex. Featuring curved walls and bunk beds, every bit of the structure feels legitimately like being in a bunker at the end of the world. Set against the backdrop of a mysterious virus and apocalyptic conditions, Trust Me, It’s The End Of Our World After All deals with family dynamics, nostalgia, and human nature in a pressurised situation.

At the heart of this show is a family drama – full of secrets, lies, and complex familial relationships. Strip away the bunker, the end of the world, the rationing and Virus X and it distils into a family who is distrustful of one another, yet wholly supportive at the same time. Writer Terence Smith has clearly taken some cues from childhood and coming of age, as Marcus (Liam Longley) doesn’t need the trappings of the bunker to tell his story. For him, it’s all about latent sexual awakenings, identity, and exploring his sexuality – culminating in acceptance. Trapped in the bunker underground for five years with his older sisters, Marcus enjoys a gay baptism by fire in the pressure-cooker situation that takes a normal queer teenager and heightens every element of his life. Longley perhaps plays Marcus a bit too naive, at times he comes across as babyish – the character does suffer from arrested development being trapped in a bunker for his teen years, but he was still not that young when he went in.

The entire aesthetic is a chaotic pastiche of nostalgia, from the Bowie records and vintage 80s and 90s stars adorning the walls to the obsession with Labyrinth and playing Monopoly (a perfect metaphor, as I don’t think I know any family who comes out of Monopoly unscathed) combined with glitchy video diaries of the character’s thoughts, everything looks like it’s yearning for a world pre pandemic. This is typical of Gen Z’s obsession with Millennials’ era (Friends is my favourite tv show, anyone?) but plays into the definition of nostalgia – the past is a foreign country and you can’t go back. Anyway, this millennial loved the vibe! In all honesty, the videos could be dropped, they don’t serve the plot and are seemingly in real time so don’t really help much. They would be much better if they were filmed after the events and were being replayed throughout but I understand why this can’t happen.

Holly (Bubble Maynard) does a great job of keeping everyone together. It is only when she loses the plot so too does everyone else. Maynard is a great performer, her portrayal of Holly is self-assured and strong – she’s a great character. As the tensions rise, however she does lose momentum and if she only explained herself a lot of heartache could be avoided. Carrie (Bianca Roose) is a typical younger sister – her energy knows no bounds. Always trying to prove herself, it’s interesting to see how often she still defers to Holly. Roose contains Carrie’s energy well, only unleashing the crazy in certain scenes. And then along comes Rich (Joe Haworth) swaggering into the piece like every YA novel cocksure antihero love interest ever written. His character is perhaps the most trite but played brilliantly by Haworth – if you want to get up and slap him, he’s doing a great job!

The conclusion of Trust Me, It’s The End Of Our World After All is a bit anti-climactic – the stakes could have been higher and the reasoning behind all the character’s actions bigger. Then again, the fact that is was really at the heart of the matter about family and the drama is contained within that framework is a clever snub to the environment, proving that despite how bad the world gets, it’s the issues that are close to home that are worth fighting for. Interpret the show either way, but you will definitely be entertained no matter what.

Trust Me, It’s The End Of Our World After All is on at The Blue Room Theatre until 3rd September 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 | The Glass Menagerie | American fragility on show

Review | Laura Money

Tennessee Williams‘ timeless classic is a humble jewel in the opulent crown of His Majesty’s Theatre. The nostalgic piece shines at the helm of Director Clare Watson, keeping things classy yet hauntingly whimsical. The Glass Menagerie is restrained and poised, yet an energy burns underneath it – at times contained and at others bubbling over through heated expression. Every single performer in this small cast is at the top of their game and it is an absolute privilege to watch this intimate play from a bygone era, set in a period of transition. As the world around them churns and changes, the characters in Williams’ world remain fragile and still – afraid to move for fear of breaking.

Staging The Glass Menagerie in His Majesty’s Theatre is a brilliant move. The play itself speaks to a loss of wealth and nostalgia for the character’s heydays. Tom Wingfield (Joel Jackson) frames the piece as the theatre does – he openly describes the play as a ‘memory’ – immediately rendering the whole thing with a hint of rose-coloured glasses. The set and costumes designed by Fiona Bruce reflect this idea of memory as a character with their somewhat shabby coats and old furniture clinging on for dear life. It is not overt, the dining table and lounge furniture look quite nice but there is the distinct impression that once they are worn out there will be nothing to replace them. Bruce instictively breathes life into the characters with her clever costuming – from Laura’s (Acacia Daken) mousy and unassuming attire to Amanda’s (Mandy McElhinney) fancy nightwear hidden under a housecoat. Her dreams and desires are hidden just under the surface but flashes of them appear.

Accompanied by the gentle tinkling of composer and pianist Tom O’Halloran and projections by Michael Carmody the whole thing has a surreal vibe to it. At times the keys of the piano – hidden behind scrim at the back of a stage and ever present – provide the soundtrack of the past and at others represent the fragility of the glass both literally and figuratively. The projections provide emphasis on important points and serve to create a collective image that cements the idea of nostalgia. Tennessee Williams, inspired by the movies, always intended to use film in his staging and now in the twenty-first century mixed media brings the whole thing together. The music and projections add a frisson that ripples throughout the audience every time the gentleman caller is mentioned.

The Glass Menagerie is about a terribly shy girl, Laura, who only wishes to spend her days caring for her collection of glass animals. Her brother Tom, who wishes to escape but is the main breadwinner for the family, and then there’s the mother, Amanda. With an absent father figure, Amanda is presence enough for both. McElhinney shines as the aging southern belle, she is overbearing and dramatic, yet there is a sympathy there – desperately clinging on to her faded youth she casts her lifeboat adrift with Laura in it. Of course, we are only seeing Tom’s memory of the events so McElhinney’s Amanda is able to shift and erratically jump about from drama queen to sad and broken. Perhaps the saddest moment comes when Laura’s arranged gentleman caller finally arrives for dinner. Jim O’Connor (Jake Fryer-Hornsby) charms everyone in the family, including Tom which is why he views his mother’s attempts at seduction as being far more overt than they probably were. Emerging triumphant in an early 1910s dress from her youth, Amanda flounces about and McHelliney plays it as though she is regressing, collapsing in giggles. Even in such a prone position, Amanda is formidable. It is her unpredictability that gives her power.

Bruce’s clever costume designs shine here as Daken’s Laura emerges like an awkward butterfly in a gossamer dress – becoming one of her own beloved glass figures. Fryer-Hornsby and Daken have genuine chemistry and their conversation, though initially cringeworthy, evolves into a coming together of two minds. Once again, this is Tom’s memory of events so it’s complete fantasy, as he wouldn’t have been aware of the conversation between them. His imagination sees Laura graceful and confident, Jim as charming and kind. When everything inevitably goes wrong, Daken’s stiffened demeanour and McElhinney’s over the top physical theatrics serve to firmly stamp this play as it’s own fragile menagerie of glass memories.

The Glass Menagerie is on at His Majesty’s Theatre until 21st August 2022. TICKETS

Acacia Daken and Joel Jackson as Laura and Tom. Image Daniel J. Grant

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.