Melbourne, Australia

REVIEW: Theresa Rebeck’s SPIKE HEELS

In Events, Review, Theatre, Whats On on August 31, 2014 at 9:23 am

Walking in someone else’s stilettos

By Myron My

Written by Theresa Rebeck (creator of TV series Smash) Spike Heels revolves around four people, and the intricate relationships they have with each other. Some are intimate, some are platonic and some are just beginning but – to an extent – they are all based on manipulation, power and lies.

 In this production presented by Q44 Theatre Company & Crazy Chair Productions, Nicole Melloy does a flawless job as foul-mouthed Bronx-born Georgie. With the risk of coming across as a frustratingly annoying and unappealing person, Melloy adds hints of fragility and vulnerability to everything she says and does, and ends up creating a character that we can empathise with and like. Anthony Scundi, as Georgie’s best friend Andrew, is also well cast as as the neat, nerdy academic who cannot swear properly.

Spike Heels

Georgie and Andrew’s lives are made more complicated by Georgie’s smarmy boss Edward (Michael Robins), and Andrew’s fiancé Lydia (Lelda Kapsis) and even though she has limited stage time, Kapsis creates some genuine touching moments between Lydia and Georgie.

Rebeck’s dialogue is full of fierce one-liners and a good balance of incredibly hilarious moments and incredibly dramatic moments, but it’s her consideration of power and how we all possess and use different forms of it against each other that is especially interesting to see play out on stage and watch how it affects each character.

Despite the brilliant writing, I did take issue with some of the plot points: in particular, the development of the relationship between Georgie and Edward. Without giving too much away, there are two moments that occur that made it difficult for me to accept the outcome of their relationship. It is because of this narrative problem that I feel the character of Edward never quite reaches the level of being a “real” person.

From a technical aspect, the set design by Rebecca Fortuna and Mara Kapsis is perfectly imagined and executed. Apart from having Andrew and Georgie’s personalities reflected in their respective apartments, they each have a large backdrop that the audience’s eye is constantly drawn to, that further builds on that character’s thought and ideals. In the case of Andrew, it’s an image of Nietzsche with the quote ‘sometimes people don’t want to hear the truth because they don’t want their illusions destroyed’, which is an idea resonating throughout Spike Heels.

Spike Heels is a highly enjoyable and intimate look into the complex world of relationships and ultimately the necessity of being true to oneself first and foremost. And tea.

Venue: Chapel Off Chapel, 12 Little Chapel St, Prahran
Season: Until 14 Sep | Tues-Sat 8:00pm, Sun 6:00pm, Sat Matinee (13 Sep) 2pm, Wed Matinee (3 Sep) 1:00pm
Tickets: $37.50 Full | $32.50 Conc
Bookings: www.chapeloffchapel.com.au or 8290 7000

REVIEW: Drew Collet in TALES OF A USED CAR SALESMAN

In Cabaret, Cabaret Review, Events, Whats On on August 24, 2014 at 6:53 am

Come along for the ride

By Narelle Wood

Tales of a Used Car Salesman is an interesting cabaret glimpse into the world of used car sales. But instead of the stereotypical dodgy dealings of the used car salesman, it’s the customers that come under scrutiny. Drew Collet tells his first hand account of his dealings with these customers through stories, songs and a little bit of psychoanalysis.

Tales of a Used Car Salesman

It’s clear from the outset that a used car salesman is privy to all sorts of details about his customer, and does much more for his customers than just sell cars. From stories about stalkers and employees with some interesting fetishes, to the lengths people will go to in order to get a discount, Collet seems to have seen it all and a whole lot more.

The songs are familiar, with numbers such as the aptly selected “Who’s Gonna Drive You Home” and parodies of “It Was a Very Good Year” and “Rocket Man”. Collet’s acting and musical background from VCA means that he can not only belt out a tune, but has the singing range that makes his musical numbers both entertaining and a pleasure to listen to as well. Sophie Weiss provides both musical direction and some fairly fancy accompaniment on the piano.

The show seemed to be over fairly quickly (it was about an hour), and I left wanting a few more stories about Collet’s quirky customers. While it was very entertaining there were a couple of the songs that only seemed to repeat the story being told; they were very enjoyable, but it did leave me curious about how Collet came to select his songs.

Tales of a Used Car Salesman is fun, quirky and thoroughly enjoyable. So if you like some good light-hearted comedy, or perhaps in need of a new used car, this show is worth checking out.

Venue: The Butterfly Club, Carson Place, off Little Collins Street
Season: Until Sunday 24th August, 8pm
Tickets: $28 Full | $25 Conc
Bookings: www.thebutterflyclub.com/show/tales-of-a-used-car-salesman

REVIEW: Left Bauer Productions Presents MASTER CLASS

In Opera, Review, Theatre, Uncategorized, Whats On on August 21, 2014 at 1:57 pm

Intimate and involving theatre

By Bradley Storer

Terrence McNally’s Master Class, a play about the life of Greek opera singer Maria Callas whose artistry and career revolutionised the landscape of 20th century opera, comes to fortyfivedownstairs with the brilliant Maria Mercedes as the tragic diva.

Master Class

The intimate theatre space at fortyfivedownstairs is perfect for the play set as a masterclass in the twilight of Callas’s career, the era signalled effectively by the 70’s fashion worn by the cast. Mercedes enters the room with an air of quiet authority, an iron fist wrapped in silk, taking charge of the stage and the accompanist (Cameron Thomas) in short order. Mercedes is the embodiment of the word ‘diva’ – narcissistic, commanding and uncompromising but with such charisma and a depth of artistic integrity that it is easier to see how this figure still fascinates today. Mercedes manages to find the undercurrents of charm, self-deprecation and kindness in the character which also make her surprisingly likeable.

The three students who Callas teaches over the course of the play are all equally as brilliant – Robert Barbaro as the sole male participant Tony brings a potent masculine swagger and a heart-meltingly beautiful tenor to the role. Anna-Louise Cole as Sharon, the only student with the guts to stand up to the opera superstar, radiates a subdued determination which rises to the surface as she faces off against Callas – her dramatic soprano is showcased to jaw-dropping effect in an tremendously difficult aria from Verdi’s Macbeth. The best of the lot is Georgia Wilkinson as Sophie, a bubbly coloratura soprano, and Wilkinson plays her so winningly that it is hard to take your eyes off her, even when she is simply standing side stage observing Callas.

As she watches her students singing roles she herself made famous, Callas is drawn into internal monologues of operatic proportions, brutally delving into the depths of her poverty-stricken childhood, her ill-fated love affair with Aristotle Onassis, the demons of self-doubt, bitterness and adolescent insecurity which swirl into implosive arias of painful triumph and gut-wrenching loss.

At the end of the master class, Callas stands alone, reflecting to the audience on the simultaneous joy and loneliness of a life devoted to art, saying that she will be satisfied if she has had an effect on even a single person – it’s hard to imagine how anyone could leave this masterfully directed play without feeling affected by the soul of this great artist.

Venue: 45 Flinders Lane, Melbourne
Dates: 19 – 28th August
Times: Tuesday to Friday 8pm, Saturday 4:30pm and 8pm, Sunday 4:30
Tickets: Full $38, Concession $30, Under 30’s $30, Groups (10+) $30, Preview $30
Bookings: Phone – 03 9662 9966, Online at www.fortyfivedownstairs.com

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