Melbourne, Australia

REVIEW: Attic Erratic Presents TRIPPED

In Festivals, Review, Theatre, Whats On on September 29, 2014 at 9:45 am

Significant, simmering theatre

By Myron My

Two men have each tripped a landmine; if either step off, they run the risk of blowing themselves apart. One is an Australian soldier trying to protect his country and the other is a Muslim civilian trying to protect his family. In Attic Erratic’s latest production for the 2014 Melbourne Fringe Festival, Tripped, these two men begin to realize that perhaps their differences are not so polarised after all.

Tripped

Nick Musgrove’s script is intense, and from early on my mind was racing as to how this was all going end. Although I did not artistically agree with the ending and found it somewhat self-indulgent, it was still unexpected and organic and drove home the issues of who exactly is the enemy and what do we fight for.

My other issue with Tripped was the role of the priest (Liam O’Kane). As a priest, the character seemed completely unaware of the gravity of the situation in which he found himself, and it felt like he was being played for comic relief rather than as a person whose helicopter has just crashed and killed seven men and who is caught in a war zone .

Overall though, Celeste Cody continues to impress with her direction, ensuring the tone and impact of the script remains constant as it is comes to life on stage. With the actors’ movements obviously limited, Cody ensures that engagement with the audience is maintained through other avenues, including the lighting and sound effects.

Angus Brown does a great job as Australian soldier Norm. He manages to show a human, troubled side to a character that could have easily just been an ignorant “jock” soldier if  given to the wrong actor. However, it is Ezel Doruk who really shines as Ahmed, the “rag head” civilian who gets caught in the crossfire. His performance of a man who falls victim to his circumstances and faith was emotive and raw. I thoroughly enjoyed the tête-à-tête between the two as the story built up to its dramatic conclusion.

With the recent news of terror arrests and killings happening in Australia, this is a timely reminder on how easily it is to get caught up in the propaganda of fighting a war we know or understand very little about. Tripped is yet another exciting topical piece of theatre by Attic Erratic – good writing, strong direction and gripping performances.

Venue: Lithuanian Club, 44 Errol St, North Melbourne

Season: Until 4 October | 6:30pm

Tickets: $24 Full | $19 Conc

Bookings: http://www.melbournefringe.com.au

REVIEW: Fr!sk Presents CONTRA

In Festivals, Performances, Review, Theatre on September 29, 2014 at 8:26 am

Some are more equal than others

By Myron My

“Welcome, Cousins!”

Contra

This is how we are greeted as we enter the world of Contra for the 2014 Melbourne Fringe Festival. But we are not really cousins – we are comrades in a futuristic dystopia where we are blindingly loyal to our great leader and under the ever-watchful eye of – well – just about everyone.

Presented by Fr!sk Festival at the Victorian College of the Arts, there is an immersive element in the first part of this show that felt like I was in a version of 1984 or The Hunger Games. We are all huddled outside and numbers are read out announcing the winners of a lottery to see who will be chosen to work in a career department, a most honoured position.

Surrounding us are posters with propaganda slogans such as “Report or Regret” and “Equal and Fair”. We are then marched single file through the building, getting fingerprint-scanned and collecting our food ration pill. Various precincts are mentioned and ever since ‘The Great Disaster’, we all serve under the watchful eye of The Conductor.

From here on, it’s a fairly straightforward performance exploring the impossibility of curbing natural instincts and speculating as to where the desire for power and ambition can lead. As the audience, we are oppressed civilians watching these character’s lives begin to crumble as the pressure to conform reaches breaking point. The five performers in the cast do a great job in their respective roles but Simone French and Cait Spiker particularly impressed me with the levels of commitment invested into their portrayals. Moreover, the choreography and soundtrack used in the ‘sexual misconduct’ scene was executed effectively in creating an opportunity for these characters – and for their audience – to experience a moment of real emotional connection.

The plot is a familiar one for this dystopian genre with no real twist or surprise, but the initial immersive experience is what won me over. There are ultimately some interesting messages that Contra offers about life, society and expectations, but I feel the play is summed up best with one character’s proclamation that ‘freedom should not be a privilege’.

Contra was presented by Fr!sk Festival at the Victorian College of the Arts as part of the 2014 Melbourne Fringe Festival.

REVIEW: Ghost Light and Moving Light Productions’ CARRIE: THE MUSICAL

In Musical Theatre, Review, Whats On on September 28, 2014 at 8:43 am

Things will get bloody…

By Margaret Wieringa

Initially, the tale known by most as a horror film from the seventies seems like an odd choice for a musical. But, at the heart of Stephen King’s novel Carrie is the story of a girl who is oppressed by her mother and tormented by her peers until she breaks. The twist, as most people know, is that she has telekinetic powers, and wreaks a brutal revenge of those who have hurt her. Carrie: The Musical deals a story so epic it could have been an opera.

Carrie The Musical

The show begins with a musical number that shows off the talents of the strong supporting cast. The busy and eye-catching choreography by Lisa Minett draws the audience into the world of the musical as well as the angst of high school. When Emily Milledge enters, she brings all of the awkward misfit elements of Carrie and even when the beautiful swan emerges, she retains a hint of the fearful girl within. The duets between Carrie and her mother, played by Chelsea Gibb, are intense and passionate. It really is a cast of strong female performers, with Chernae Howlett also capturing the deep nastiness of Chris Hargensen as she manipulates those around her, and sets out to ruin Carrie’s life.

The stand-out performance, however, came from Hollie James as Sue Snell. Easily able to hold the stage on her own, she showed all the poignant sweetness and kindness the character required. Her duet with Jack O’Riley playing Billy Ross at the start of the second act was delightful.

Clearly, it was going to be a challenge to have objects flying around and the utter destruction of a whole town shown on stage – especially the small stage at Chapel Off Chapel. However, director Terence O’Connell and his excellent production crew really make a little go a long way. While the explosive scene at the prom is quite short, the combination of the sound and lighting with clever choreography gave it the intensity to be extremely effective. The solid musical accompaniment of the band helmed by David Piper allowed the cast to shine throughout, especially during this dramatic finale.

Carrie: The Musical is the debut production for Ghost Light, a company that aims to present premieres of musicals locally, as well as creating new musical and physical theatre. They have certainly started with a bang, and will be worth keeping an eye on.

Venue: Chapel Off Chapel,
Season: 25 September – 12 October, Wednesday – Saturday 8pm, Saturday matinee 4th and 11th October 2pm, Wednesday matinee 8th October 1pm, Sunday 6pm
Tickets: $49.50 Full, $39.50 Concession and groups of 10+
Bookings: http://chapeloffchapel.com.au/

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