Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from May, 2017

Hoke’s Bluff by Action Hero (Arts House)

I don’t watch sport very often, but when I do, I often think of it as a kind of theatrical event. There’s drama on the field, on the court and on the ice. There’s a crowd invested in every movement and every shot at goal. Athletes are trying to give the best performances of their career every time they appear in front of their audience and fans.
Sporting heroism is at the heart of Hoke’s Bluff by British performance group, Action Hero, currently in residence at Arts House in North Melbourne. They’ve transformed the main room of the Town Hall into a stadium with bleachers and a court that resembles a basketball court, but the sport we cheer could be anything.
There’s a mascot and a cheerleader. There’s an umpire and a coach. And sportsmen going through tough training regimes, assaulted by a torrent of clichés and inspirational quotes. Small Town USA telling its young men that they can be the greatest; their young women cheering from the sidelines.
The repetition of the script, devised…

Wild Bore (Malthouse Theatre)

I’ve been thinking a lot about theatre criticism lately, on the back of the layoffs at Fairfax, who are threatening to scale back their arts coverage to virtually non-existent. It’s hard to find even now.
Arts criticism is important to theatre ecology. Good theatre criticism informs a readership about a work it hasn’t seen. Good theatre criticism can be helpful to the artist. Good theatre criticism can be used in a show’s publicity. Good theatre criticism is an art in itself.
If you take criticism away, you diminish the arts.
But criticism isn’t always good. Criticism, like the theatre, can be flawed. And Wild Bore’s challenge to theatre critics is to question themselves.
The dramaturgical intent of this show is clear – critics can sometimes talk out of their arse. The audience is bombarded with this imagery over and over again to hilarious result. But it would be a pity if that’s what this show is remembered for, a lot of bare arses on stage.
Adrienne Truscott, Ursula Martinez and Zo…

Happy Days at War by Leah Milburn-Clark (Northcote Town Hall)

In the midst of World War II, a German’s couple’s relationship is tested when the husband lands a job with the Fuhrer and must question if he has a future with his blind wife.
Written, starring and co-directed by Leah Milburn-Clark, Happy Days at War tackles big ideas in an intimate setting. Studio 1 at the Northcote Town Hall has never felt so cosy, with the audience lined up along the edge of a trestle table, cradling props that are waiting for us on our seats.
Nicola Stratman’s set design evokes a period kitchen, with a working stove allowing the scent of dinner to waft through the space. We are in that room, sometimes inches from the actors as they eat, drink, knead dough and play with a new pet.
Leah has written a part for herself that is challenging; her character is blind and interacts with the audience (those holding props), as if she is trying to find them, even when the character knows where she's left them. This woman is about routine and Leah makes these simple gestur…

SPENCER by Katy Warner (Chapel Off Chapel)

Scott is an AFL football player who is waiting at his family home to meet the son he never knew he had. Brother Ben is more interested in Scott’s career than the result of Scott’s one-night-stand. Mother Marilyn is excited to meet her first grandchild, while criticising daughter Jules for not becoming a mother herself.
Spencer, a new play by Katy Warner (A Prudent Man), is a rapid-fire comedy about expectations amongst family. While Marilyn’s focused much of her energy on Scott’s AFL career, she’s given up hope on her other two children. And, to be fair, they’ve given up too; on dreams both big and small.
There are a lot of stories about parents having high expectations for their children, but Katy’s new play also digs into children’s expectations of their parents. In some ways, Ben and Jules’ stories of losing faith in Marilyn are more compelling than their mother losing faith in them. And when their estranged biological father arrives, tensions are higher and the uncomfortable, some…

The World Spins: Watching Twin Peaks for the last time

I recently finished re-watching Twin Peaks for the last time. One day, I’ll watch it again, but I’ll never be able to watch the original series the same way again.
The more you access a memory, the more it changes. Your recollection of events from your life remain more like reality if you leave them behind you and access them only rarely. The more you replay a moment in your life, the less reliable your memory of that moment gets. Memory is a fickle thing. We introduce new colours and new experiences and, of course, you can never re-live a memory. And you can never remember exactly how it was.
In the twenty-six years since Twin Peaks first aired on Australian television (it premiered here on February 24th, 1991 – the day Laura Palmer died and the day before my 16th birthday), I have watched the series through a number of times. On VHS, recorded from TV. On a released set of VHS tapes. On DVD (both the Artisan & Gold Box releases). And on BluRay.
It’s hard to remember exactly how …