Melbourne, Australia

REVIEW: La Mama Presents TROLLS

In Performances, Review, Theatre on November 20, 2014 at 3:43 am

Under the bridge and behind the keyboard

By Myron My

In 2013, four writers (Alan Grace, Nic Stevens, Elaine Cope and head writer Neil Triffett) created fake online personas and went on the internet coaxing out trolls and exploring what freedom of expression can actually mean. Most of the dialogue in Trolls is a verbatim conversation the actual writers had, and with this core material, Triffett has created an absorbing and discussion-provoking play.

Trolls

The whole cast (Scott Gooding, Cat Commander, Gabriel Partington, Emily Smith and Laura Jane Turner) – must be congratulated on their efforts. No-one missed a beat with their almost frenetic performances of the various characters they played, from the reenactments of the interactions the writers had, to portraying the writers themselves and presenting their findings to us. Commander and Turner were particularly impressive in their achievements.

Fleur Kilpatrick’s effective direction is evident throughout Trolls. As with her writing, Kilpatrick has a knack for creating sophisticated experiences for audiences which allow us to see and to consider things we wouldn’t otherwise. She has clearly given the actors the confidence and support to further explore their characters and successfully take us along for the bumpy ride.

My only concern was that the script seemed to lose itself at times and I was left feeling confused as to which story it was I was following and which ‘character’ was being depicted. I can only imagine what a huge task it was for Triffett to go through all the correspondence and conversation and whittle it down to 60 minutes but I’m sure as the work develops, the script will get tighter and more finessed.

Trolls focuses on some important issues underpinning online communities and social media usage and also explores the somewhat blurred line of when and how one actually becomes a troll, and when good intentions give way to darker motivations. I will be very keen to see how this work progresses into its next phase.

Trolls was performed for the first time as a partly-staged performance and part-reading for La Mama Theatre’s Explorations seasons which supports new works in various stages of development.

REVIEW: Verve Studios Presents LOST & FOUND

In Performances, Review, Theatre on November 17, 2014 at 7:52 am

Seeking a way into the heart of complex characters…

By Myron My

Having recently seen Daniel Keene’s brilliant Dreamers, I was looking forward to seeing more of his work in Verve Studios’ production Lost & Found. Performed by the second year Professional Actor’s Studio graduates and directed by Peta Hanrahan, the play looks at three short stories by Keene all dealing with loss or gain around life: “The Violin”, “Neither Lost nor Found” and “What Remains”.

Lost and Found

By far, the most powerful performances among the three were in “Neither Lost nor Found”, in which an estranged mother and daughter are reunited. The two actors Nicole Morgan and Danelle Wynne were able to connect emotionally with the characters and offer some significant insight into the minds of these people.

However, I felt the direction needed to be stronger throughout all three stories to guide these upcoming performers more, especially in “The Violin” and “What Remains” as the actors are still learning the skills needed to be able to carry such challenging roles, and particularly with Josh Vasilev’s demanding role in the latter. Despite Vasilev’s obvious dedication to the character, the performance overall felt too theatrical and repetitive in directed reactions and responses.

The most successful aspect of Lost & Found was the various ways in which the stories were told from a visual perspective. The use of the projection screen in “The Violin” was highly emotive, with images of Jewish people in concentration camps appearing as the story was told. Similarly, in “What Remains”, the slowly rising full-moon projection as Vasilev’s character spoke into a microphone to an unknown person about what life means to him and the things he will miss such as his wife and child gave a profound sense of foreboding and fear as the speech progressed.

Technically, Lost & Found was brave and rewarding and the stories themselves are incredibly engrossing but it would seem more direction was required for the promising actors to be able to develop and fully explore these characters and their lives.

Lost & Found was performed at Theatreworks on 14-15 November 2014.

REVIEW: Arts House Presents THE ERADICATION OF SCHIZOPHRENIA IN WESTERN LAPLAND

In Review, Theatre, Whats On on November 14, 2014 at 6:22 am

Brilliant broken narratives and characters

By Warwick Moffat

The highly specific title of this production is just another way for UK theatre company Ridiculusmus to play with their audience. What is being explored goes way beyond schizophrenia, and the relevance is not restricted to Western Lapland, unless we are all somehow Scandinavian. Eradication shows our tendency to categorise all kinds of personal and interpersonal difficulties; ailments any of us might face at some time in our lives. It persuades us to consider whether the medical terms and the pharmaceuticals that we throw at these difficulties only make matters worse. However, there is no preaching; we come to these thoughts mostly through our own observation.

THE ERADICATION OF SCHIZOPHRENIA IN WESTERN LAPLAND - Ridiculusm

What they have us observe confirms Ridiculusmus as true masters of theatrical method. The stage is split in two by a wall. One side of the wall is a dysfunctional home, the other a dysfunctional institution. The audience are also split into two. Each can only fully see and hear one of these worlds, but can hear much of what is happening in the other. At half time, we swap sides; and so by the night’s end we have all seen the entire game played out. At times the wall appears to be a border between these two worlds, at other times it appears more like a gateway.

Ridiculusmus keeps you guessing throughout. Is one world imagined, the other real? Perhaps one past, the other present? The storyline makes an odd kind of sense, but with a palatable incoherence which leaves you sympathising with anyone who suffers from delusions. Importantly, the players never abandon the audience or stray into self-indulgence. The work of David Woods and Jon Haynes shows twenty years of anarchic playwriting. They know how to break shackles without breaking audiences.

As Therapist and Patient respectively, Woods and Haynes play their own work with distinction. As both writers and performers, they give their fellow players plenty of opportunity to deliver. As the patient’s brother, Ben Grant was heartbreakingly defenceless as an adolescent exposed to emotional abuse. As the narcissistic mother, Nicola Gunn deftly exposes the kind of splintering of the soul that would drive a parent to splinter their family.

Dates: Wed 12th to Sunday 16th November.
Time: Wed – Fri 7.30pm; Sat 2pm & 7.30pm; Sun 5pm.
Location: Arts House, Meat Market, 5 Blackwood St, North Melbourne.
Tickets: $26 Full, $21 Concession.
Bookings: www.melbourne.vic.gov.au/ARTSHOUSE/PROGRAM/Pages/TheEradicationofSchizophrenia.aspx, or call (03) 9322 3713.
Warning: This show is restricted to those aged 14 years and older.

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