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Showing posts from October, 2018

Re-Member Me by Dickie Beau

“Speak the speech, I pray you, as I pronounced it to you, trippingly on the tongue…”
Creator and performer Dickie Beau isn’t here to speak the speech of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, he’s here to lip-synch some of the great performances of Hamlet that have ever been recorded.
In the midst of his research, though, he became obsessed with Hamlets who have not been recorded, lost to the ephemeral nature of theatre – disappeared like the ghost of Hamlet’s father.
“Remember Me,” Hamlet’s father tells him before disappearing into the ether. It is the inciting incident of the play, leading the young prince to determine the truth behind his father’s death.
Dickie Beau’s Re-Member Me is about actors and acting and the performance of Hamlet, not about the play or the character itself. It is important to this show that this Shakespearean tragedy is one of the most produced play texts in the English language, because of the number of people who have played him and the various ways he’s been played.
The …

Song for a Weary Throat by Rawcus

“Dance with me,” she asked.
“Dance with me,” she insisted.
“Why won't you dance with me?”
She crossed the desolate space, walking from one ensemble member to the next, asking for a small moment of joy amongst the rubble and the carnage.
Some kind of cataclysm has occurred. The survivors are scattered around the stage. Whatever has happened, whatever trauma has taken place, it keeps happening. The deafening noise and the sharp explosions of bright light upends whatever moment of comfort we can glean when our eyes adjust.
And it happens again.
And again.
And…
How do you get up when the world keeps shifting below your feet? How do you find your voice and song again after it’s been drowned out by the din of destruction?
Rawcus’ new work, Song for a Weary Throat, debuted at Theatre Works in 2017 and has been programmed now as part of the Melbourne International Arts Festival. The work has been devised amongst a creative team and an ensemble of performers, under the direction of Kate S…

Witness Performance: Suddenly Last Summer

My review of Suddenly Last Summer by Tennessee Williams at Red Stitch is up at Witness Performance. Here's a taste:

The production is an odd mix of the hallmark qualities of these two companies: Red Stitch’s commitment to text-based theatre, and Little Ones’ reputation for stylised camp. Eugyeene Teh’s design – walls draped with long leaves, plants hanging from the rafters – plunges us into the mystery of the garden district of New Orleans. Even in the confined space of Red Stitch, the set bows to the Little Ones’ proscenium-arch aesthetic, with a widescreen look that evokes a feature film and somehow makes the space look bigger. Katie Sfetkidis’ lighting is elegant and moody, with layers of smoke and haze emphasising the oppressiveness of this family meeting.

On Broadway – Presented by Flourish Productions

Flourish Productions has been putting on concerts of songs from musicals for the last few years, mostly focused on particular composers: the songs of Cy Coleman, the songs of Ahrens & Flaherty, the songs of Alan Menken and the songs of local composer Matthew Robinson.
This weekend they presented On Broadway, a selection of songs from the last few decades of Broadway hits. It’s an eclectic mix shared among a cast of eight singers, four men and four women.
Director/choreographer Leanne Marsland has done a wonderful job pulling together a strong ensemble of performers to belt out songs in chorus or in pairs or as solos. There’s a seamless transition between songs; the ninety-minute concert flowed from one song to the next, without the usual feel of song, pause, song that can happen in this kind of group cabaret.
Starting out with “Something’s Coming” from West Side Story got the show off to a strong start. This is a promise of something to be fulfilled and “Lucky Be A Lady” was a fu…

My Name is Jimi by Dimple Bani & Jimi Bani

Artifacts and symbols of Indigenous Torres Strait Islander culture sit in glass cases around the stage, high above us, out of reach. Museum pieces kept a long way from the world where they were created. This is colonialism in its simplest form - culturally destructive but explained away as keeping history preserved.
As Jimi Bani explains, though, the history and culture of his people, the Wagadagam of the Western part of the Torres Strait, is kept alive by storytelling and language. Jimi’s father Dimple, who was at the forefront of creating this show before he passed away, was a linguist and the latest in a line of Wagadagam Chiefs.
Dimple spent a lot of his life finding ways to tell the story of his people, through documentaries and plays and stories and performance. He also tried to get those artifacts of his people returned from the museums of Europe, but even after promising they would return them, they never did.
Jimi is a performer in his own right, in a way that we recognise t…

Watt by Samuel Beckett – adapted by Barry McGovern

Samuel Beckett once described writing Watt as “a means of staying sane” while he was on the run from the Gestapo. From that experience, Beckett and Watt are grappling with experiences that they can't quite understand.
In this stage adaptation of his novel, you can see the character of Watt trying to make sense of the world, in all its fascinating complexities. This is a simple story, told in a simple way, through a performance that feels lived in and true.
Writer and actor Barry McGovern has spent lot of his career performing in Beckett plays. He’s been Vladimir in Waiting for Godot and Clov in Endgame and appeared in half a dozen other works by Ireland’s pre-eminent dramatists.
Watt travels on a train to Mr Knott’s house and becomes his manservant. He works on the ground floor and then moves on to working on the first floor. Then takes a train to somewhere, though perhaps this last train journey – to the farthest end of the line – is really just taking us back to the beginning o…

Witness Performance

In September, I had two reviews published on the Witness Performance website. I'm really pleased to be able to add to the conversation over there.

The first was a review of Sydney Theatre Company's The Harp in the South:

The Harp in the South tells a vastly different story to David Williamson’s Emerald City or Gordon Graham’s The Boys or Jane Bodie’s This Year’s Ashes, but it feels fitting that the city itself finally gets an epic play – a prequel to the plays of Sydney that are a central part of Australia’s theatrical history. This production stands proudly and deservedly alongside its forbears.

The second was a review of Malthouse Theatre's Ich Nibber Dibber:

The formal poses of Hellenistic statues relax throughout the show and permit us to see the apparatuses upon which they’re posed. At one point, Natalie unstraps herself and pops off to the loo and the façade cracks a little. These figures aloft on pedestals aren’t angels or Venuses de Milo. They are women turning the…