Melbourne, Australia

REVIEW: Fringe Festival’s CARNEVIL

In Circus, Festivals, Review, Whats On on September 23, 2014 at 3:31 am

Unravel the mystery

By Myron My

I don’t even know where to begin in reviewing CarnEvil, and that is impressive. Conceived by Timothy Christopher Ryan, in collaboration with Stephanie Wood, Alexandra Meerbach, Joseph Chapman, Sam Whelan and Nithya Nagarajan, it is part show, part immersion, part murder-mystery and a whole lot of fun.

Carnevil

Firstly, the transformation of the Collingwood Underground Car Park into a carnival ground is extreme and effective – it even has a maze (and a creepy maze at that). There are tents and stall set up including fortune tellers, medicine women, a peep show and a few carnival games like bobbing for apples. However, even when murder occurs (which it does), the fun and games continue with various performances taking place throughout the course of the night.

We are free to roam and do as we please, and interaction with the actors/performers is heavily encouraged. There are clues and hints to assist in finding the killer and the only way to learn of these is to immerse yourself into the carnival world. I felt like a nosy reporter trying to get as much information as I could.

The variety of dazzling acts range from burlesque, singing and clowning with my highlights on the evening I attended being Whelan’s pole dance routine and guest performer for the night, Sir Hoops A Lot and his mesmerizing hoops work.

The commitment that all the performers have to their characters allows the authenticity of this world to flourish, which is not the easiest thing to do when you don’t really have a script to follow. I thoroughly enjoyed watching Meerbach, Whelan and Woods’ characters and how they interacted with the audience.

CarnEvil is a highly recommended two hours of fun and intrigue – just keep an eye on that pesky clown, you don’t know where he’s going to pop out from…

Venue: Collingwood Underground Car Park, 44 Harmsworth St, Collingwood

Season: Until 27 September | 7:30pm

Tickets: $20 Full | $18 Conc

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

REVIEW: The Collective Presents PARADE

In Musical Theatre, Review, Whats On on September 22, 2014 at 12:36 pm
You don’t know this man
By Bradley Storer
New Melbourne company The Collective make their theatrical debut with the first professional production in Australia of Jason Robert Brown’s modern classic Parade, a tale of injustice, prejudice and murder in early 20th-century Atlanta.
Parade
Luigi Lucente as Leo Frank, the Jewish factory superintendent who is accused of murdering young Mary Phagan (Jemma Plunkett), turns in a performance perfect from head to toe. Lucente portrays Frank as a man whose alienation from the community has left him a lonely sensitive soul with a icy, defensive exterior – not shying away from the more strident aspects of Frank’s personality, Lucente intertwines them in such a way that they strike a delicious note of ambiguity over whether Frank is capable of committing murder. His plain-spoken appeal to the jury, ‘It’s Hard to Speak My Heart’, is heartrendingly beautiful.
Laura Fitzpatrick brings a subdued gentle air and a sweet, touching voice to Frank’s wife, Lucille. She takes a quieter, less belty approach to Lucille’s big numbers ‘You Don’t Know This Man’ and ‘Do it Alone’ than some interpreters, but this means we never lose sight of Lucille as an ordinary woman driven by an immense inner strength which blossoms over the course of the story. The delicacy and chemistry which she and Lucente bring to the couple’s penultimate love duet ‘All the Wasted Time’ is electrifying, sending shivers up the spine.
The supporting roles are filled out admirably – Cameron MacDonald has charisma to burn as reporter Britt Craig. who whips the South into a media frenzy over the controversial trial, and turns in solid work as Governor Jack Slaton. Tod Strike is a commanding presence as amoral prosecutor Hugh Dorsey, and Andrew Doyle brings an impish charm to Frankie Epps, the teenager who spearheads the mob violence which leads to the musical’s tragic conclusion. The ensemble overall are top quality, bringing fierce commitment to a variety of roles and levels of moral ambiguity.
The performance space, which has the audience split in two on either side with action playing out in the middle, is used to thrilling effect in the first act. The isolation of husband from wife in ‘Leo at Work/What Am I Waiting For’ is illustrated perfectly as they stand at the separate ends of the stage echoed later by the chillingly emotional image which closes Act One. The cleverly staged trial sequence symbolically and physically makes the audience implicit in the condemnation of Leo, as well tapping into the inherently theatrical nature of a trial itself. However, this fades in Act Two where the staging is used less imaginatively and begins to impede the effectiveness of the show instead. The split staging and somewhat confusing direction of the last scene dilutes the impact of its final revelation, reducing the poignancy of what should be the emotional sucker-punch of the musical.

These small issues aside, this is a strong debut from the emerging company with a challenging and immensely satisfying piece that should be a ‘must see’ for all Melbourne music theatre enthusiasts!

Venue: fortyfivedownstairs, 45 Flinders Lane, CBD
Date: 17-28 Sept, 2014
Times: Tues-Sat 8pm, Sun 7pm
Tickets: $45, Conc $40, Groups (8+) $40
Bookings: Ph 03 9662 9966 or www.fortyfivedownstairs.com

REVIEW: Heath Ivey-Law in AWKWARD CONVERSATIONS WITH ANIMALS I’VE F*CKED

In Cabaret on September 22, 2014 at 12:20 pm

Surprising for all the right reasons

By Myron My

I will admit, the title of Awkward Conversations With Animals I’ve Fucked was what drew my eye to this show, but this piece is so much more than just a show with a catchy and controversial title.

Written by award winning UK playwright Rob Hayes, we meet Bobby (Heath Ivey-Law) having various one-way conversations with five different sexual conquests, who all happen to be animals. Beginning with man’s best friend (of course), the monologues Ivey-Law delivers look at the fear and desires we have when faced with the notion of being alone or giving yourself over to someone, and also how far we can go or should go in being happy.

Awkward Conversations

James Dalton is skillful as director and despite the confines of the stage and set, manages to keep us entertained by the “action” with some carefully selected props. The way the animals are portrayed on stage is simple but clever and provides Ivey-Law something more to interact with whilst on stage.

Of course, much of the success for a one-man show ultimately rests on the shoulders of the actor. Can they pull this performance off? Can they get the audience to believe the words they are saying? Can they entertain us? Fortunately Ivey-Law is able to do all this and more. His execution of an awkward and unsure yet determined and strong Bobby in this wordy and barrier-pushing script is masterful and manages to create the right blend of comedy and tragedy.

When you take away the animal aspect, Awkward Conversations With Animals I’ve Fucked is ultimately a show about wanting to connect with someone and how far we are willing to go and what we are willing to do to get there. Even though we’re only a few days into the Fringe Festival, I do feel that this is a show that people will continue to talk about after Fringe is over.

Venue: Upstairs at Errol’s, 69-71 Errol St, North Melbourne

Season: Until 26 September | Tues-Fri 10:30pm

Tickets: $25 Full | $19 Conc

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

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