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Showing posts from June, 2018

Melbourne Cabaret Festival: Fire Walk With Us - The Music of Twin Peaks

This week was the first anniversary of the premiere of Part 8 of Twin Peaks’ third season. Titled “Gotta Light?” the episode delves into the past of the world of the series, diving deep into the mythology of the creatures that haunt mankind from the woods around the titular small town.
It also contains two memorable musical moments: a performance by Nine Inch Nails of their song “She’s Gone Away” and an eerie sequence of a small town being infested by woodsmen, scored by The Platters’ “My Prayer”. Twin Peaks, as ever, is a study in contrasts.
The music – both songs and score – of the most recent season was a long way from the world of Angelo Badalamenti’s evocative compositions for the original series. The new episodes were a critique of nostalgia; viewers were denied much of what they wanted twenty-five years later.
Badalamenti’s theme song was retained, but his work is only selectively used throughout season three. But with each moment of reprise, memories rush back. Music helps us…

Melbourne Cabaret Festival - What Doesn't Kill You [blah blah] Stronger

The genre of cabaret can be a lot of things, which What Doesn’t Kill You [blah blah] Stronger proves – it’s a lot of things all by itself. Focusing on a wide variety of real-life stories of people surviving near death experiences, the show is an historical, comedy, drama, documentary musical. It features an army of cats, man-eating hippos, the Titanic’s sister ship and to help us along the way: a series of survival tips throughout.
After winning a couple of awards at Fringeworld in Perth, the team brings their perfectly-executed piece of cabaret to Melbourne. Performers Tyler Jacob Jones and Erin Hutchinson are charming and witty, transforming themselves into dozens of characters, all while belting out clever, insightful and toe-tapping tunes. Jones’ lyrics are very sharp, playing with audience expectations and telling some fascinating stories.
Inside the one-hour show, which barrels headlong from song to song, there is also a fifteen-minute musical about a woman in a small rural Ame…

Melbourne Cabaret Festival: Nancy Sinatra - You Only Live Twice

It’s 1973 and Nancy Sinatra is filming a new television special; a night of classic hits and a touch of behind-the-scenes gossip.
After her sell-out showcase of the music of Cilla Black, Danielle O’Malley dazzles at Chapel Off Chapel with Nancy Sinatra - You Only Live Twice. The audience at home will see a slick television experience, with all the songs they know and love, but those of us in the room get something more personal and candid.
There’s a bit of fun talking about her parents, Frank and Nancy, and her brother Frank Jnr. She takes some pre-arranged audience questions about her hair style and her personal life. But even as we get to know her and her distaste for sponsor, RC Cola, what we’re here to hear is the songs.
O’Malley brings the right 60s go-go boot disco energy to Nancy, entertaining with “Something Stupid” and “Summer Wine”. She turns up the sultry for “Bang Bang” and Nancy’s Bond theme, “You Only Live Twice”. And we all know what those boots are made to do and O’Ma…

Melbourne Cabaret Festival – Opening Night Gala

Now in its ninth year, the Melbourne Cabaret Festival opened last night in spectacular fashion at Chapel Off Chapel. Hosted by performer and artistic director Dolly Diamond, the opening night Gala saw the Chapel glitzed- and glammed-up for a sample of what is to come over the next two weeks.
The gala showcased a variety of cabaret acts that form part of the program. Where else would you see selections from a show by an ex-Sale of the Century hostess and another show about how to hydrate when you have dysentery? It was that kind of wild and crazy night.
Alyce Platt gave a taste of her show, Someone’s Daughter, a mix of pop songs, original music and stories from the high life of being a TV celebrity in the madness of the 1980s. Platt has a powerful voice and doesn’t seem to have aged a day since she left the gift shop in 1991.
Max Riebl is a countertenor with expert vocal control, who is as comfortable with the arias of Handel, as he is with an operatic cover of Radiohead’s Karma Polic…

Holy Cow! by the Bloomsday in Melbourne committee – Fortyfive Downstairs

June 16th is Bloomsday, named after Leopold Bloom, the central character of James Joyce’s novel, Ulysses. Bloomsday celebrates Joyce’s life and groups all over the world come together on the date the novel is set to honour the man and his magnum opus.
Bloomsday in Melbourne has been convened annually since 1994 and every year it constitutes a seminar, a lunch and a theatrical presentation. In previous years, the original plays designed by local Joyceans, have been performed at Trades Hall, the State Library and – as with this year – at Fortyfive Downstairs.
This year’s play, Holy Cow! is based on the fourteenth chapter or episode of Ulysses, “Oxen of the Sun”. In the novel, Bloom is visiting Mina Purefoy in hospital where she is about to give birth. While he waits, Bloom reflects on the birth of his children. He meets a man named Stephen who has been out drinking with his medical student friends and they are more interested in talking of sex and fertility and abortion than reflecting …

“Spies in our own lives”: THE AMERICANS ends as Russian tragedy

SPOILERS for the final episode of The Americans
After six seasons, the Cold War spy drama The Americans finished its run in May. Set in the 1980s, the show is about a married pair of Russian deep-cover agents living in America. It found a way to delicately balance thrilling stories of espionage with captivating meditations on marriage and raising teenage children.
Philip and Elizabeth Jennings (played by real-life couple Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell) and their kids, Paige and Henry, live in the suburbs of Washington D.C. In the first episode, Stan Beeman, an FBI counterintelligence agent, moves in next door. How well does anyone know their neighbours?
The premise is simple but the series got increasingly complex over the years, built on tensions both political and personal. As with any marriage, Philip and Elizabeth have their ups-and-downs at home and on the job. Living multiple lives takes its toll on a person and as the 80s wore on, it became harder for the couple to keep their s…

Fury by Johanna Murray-Smith - Red Stitch

In American Song, staged by Red Stitch in 2017, Johanna Murray-Smith explored gun violence in America and a father trying to come to terms with the actions of his son. It was a clear, probing insight into tragedy, guilt and the aftermath of both.
Murray-Smith’s Fury covers similar territory in a milieu the writer is more familiar with – the middle-class Australian suburban home. And it feels like the script is treading water.
Patrick and Alice’s son, Joe, has been caught defacing a mosque. What have they done to let Joe think this is acceptable? Or, more tellingly, what have they done to deserve this?
Their first instinct, which seems natural, is to blame Ethan, the other boy that was with Joe on the night of the incident. Ethan is from a working class family and is only at private school on a scholarship. Ethan’s parents, Annie and Warren, are rough around the edges; well, to be clear, they’re racists and it’s easy to see where their kid might have picked up some bad behaviour.
Joe, …

My Sister Feather by Olivia Satchell – La Mama Theatre

A vending machine stands sentinel in the prison yard. It says it’s out of order, but Egg explains to her sister Tilly the sign is there so they don’t have to refill it. It looks broken but it still works.
Tilly is visiting Egg for the first time in many years, so long estranged that Egg doesn’t even know their mother has died. Their meeting is tense to begin with; Tilly speaking for Egg as she stands silently regarding this woman who has been gone from her life for so long.
Tilly comes bearing two letters that their late mother has written to them. The only person who has read the letters is the prison guard who checked them on Tilly’s way in. Neither sister is in a hurry to read them, both certain they know what she has said and scared they didn’t really know their mother at all.
Olivia Satchell’s play My Sister Feather is a deeply searching two-hander that explores the dark recesses of memory and the fraught nature of fractured familial relationship. Emily Tomlins and Belinda McClo…