Melbourne, Australia

REVIEW: Red Stitch Presents GLORY DAZED

In Events, Performances, Theatre, Whats On on July 28, 2014 at 9:45 am

Tense, difficult, wonderful drama

By Margaret Wieringa

The house lights have been brought down slowly. The audience remains in the quiet and dark for a long moment before the lights snap on and three actors stand, staring off stage: inert, but not quite frozen. Then banging and shouting from offstage, fear flashes on their faces, and the tension of the next hour or so is set.

2014 REDSTITCH

Premiering in Australia after winning awards as a radio drama and during its season at the Edinburgh Festival, Glory Dazed by Cat Jones is the story of a soldier returned from serving in Afghanistan who cannot settle back into life in Northern England.

It is Andre De Vanny as ex-soldier Ray who carries this performance, capturing all of the anger, fear and vulnerability of a displaced young man who feels hard-done by his circumstances – but demands to be acknowledged. It is a familiar character, the type of man who you may see in a pub or stumbling down the street and you know to avoid because his emotions are expressed through aggression and derision. In the tiny theatre at Red Stitch, it is impossible to escape, and De Vanny made this a wonderfully difficult play to watch.

While Ray is a man I don’t want to encounter, it is the other characters that I empathise with, trapped with this unpredictable time-bomb. Jonathan Peck captures the vulnerability of Simon who is no physical match for Ray, yet needs to find a way to stand up to him. Then there is Leanne, played by Laura Jane Turner, the young staff member who is naïve enough to flirt with the handsome, charming Ray and be taken into his games even when his darker side is revealed. And then Carla. Oh, Carla. Emily Goddard broke my heart as the ex-wife who needs to be free from this animal, yet can see the broken man beneath the bravado.

It was as much the space and the silences that made this performance: director Greg Carroll let the story unfold slowly, with all the pain that this involved. Sometimes, theatre hurts.

Venue: Red Stitch Actors Theatre, Rear 2 Chapel Street, St Kilda East
Season: 23 July – 23 August
Tickets: $20-$39
Bookings: 9533 8083 or boxoffice@redstitch.net

REVIEW: Elbow Room Presents THE MOTION OF LIGHT IN WATER

In Events, Review, Theatre, Whats On on July 22, 2014 at 10:11 am

Two strange tales interweave

By Myron My

Despite not being a massive fan of science-fiction, I really enjoyed The Motion of Light in Water. It was engaging with a well-written script, great work from a technical point of view, and the acting was of a high standard.

Jacinta Yelland as Rydra in The Motion of Light in Water_ Photo Credit LachlanWoods

Inspired by the life and works of writer Samuel R. Delaney and poet Marilyn Hacker, The Motion of Light in Water takes place in two parallel worlds. The first is set in 1964, where we meet ‘Chip’ Delaney (Ray Chong Nee), an African American, who is in an interracial and open marriage with Marilyn (Laura Maitland), a Jew.

It’s in 2116 when I became a little unsure of the second story, revolving around space captain Rydra Wong (Jacinta Yelland). Rydra is on a mission to crack a linguistic code that will prevent an alien invasion on humanity. Both stories look at complex issues of sexuality, identity and moral responsibility but in very different ways and if you’re not familiar with Delaney’s work, the narrative can get quite muddled in the space plot.

The whole cast do a superb job bringing the characters to life but Chong Nee in the dual role of ‘Chip’ and Brass is extremely charismatic to watch. His switch from one to other is seamless and he does a great job in portraying both. Yelland as headstrong Rydra is also a strong presence on stage and appears to love playing the role. I was also impressed by Paul Blenheim in his numerous roles, but particularly enjoying seeing him as The Baronees which provoked quite a few laughs from the audience during her short appearance.

The costumes designed by Zoe Rouse were satisfyingly authentic for the era of the 60s, and the metallic shimmering outfits in the future seemed very fitting and worked well with the set design by Matthew Adey of House of Vnholy.

Elbow Room has taken on an immense challenge with creating The Motion of Light in Water. Produced by anyone else, this queer sci-fi love story could have been a disaster, but with Marcel Dorney’s taut script and direction, this company have created a unique and thought-provoking piece.

Venue: Theatreworks, 14 Acland St, St Kilda.
Season: Until 27 July | Tues-Sat 8:00pm, Sun 5:00pm
Tickets: $25 Full | $20 Conc
Bookings: 9534 3388 or http://www.theatreworks.org.au

REVIEW: The Production Company’s GUYS AND DOLLS

In Cabaret, Events, Musical Theatre, Review, Whats On on July 21, 2014 at 8:51 am

High-rolling fun

By Narelle Wood

What more can you ask for in a musical than gangsters, gambling, broads and the promise of salvation? Guys and Dolls, this year’s first of The Production Company’s annual three-show season, delivers all the cheek, humour and charm that this musical needs and a whole lot more.

The premise of the story is that Nathan Detroit (Adam Murphy) needs find a place and some funds in order to hold his ‘oldest established, permanent floating crap game’. Opportunist Detroit takes advantage of Sky Masterson’s (Martin Crewes) gambling nature and bets Masterson that he cannot persuade Sarah Brown (Verity Hunt-Ballard), the sergeant of the Save-A-Soul Mission, to go with him to Havana, Cuba.

Chelsea Plumley and Adam Murphy in Guys and Dolls

While Masterson’s in pursuit of Sarah, Sarah’s in pursuit of souls to save her mission, and Detroit is trying to save himself from getting married to his long-term fiancée, Miss Adelaide (Chelsea Plumley).

The casting is superb. I did find it initially difficult to see Hunt-Ballard as Sarah Brown rather than Mary Poppins, mainly due to both characters having similar attributes of refinement. However once Sarah and Masterson meet, the Poppins-ness completely dissolves. The character of Miss Adelaide has some of the best material of the show, including iconic songs such as “A Bushel and A Peck”, “Adelaide’s Lament”, and “Marry the Man Today”. It is Plumley’s ability to pull off the unique intonation of the Miss Adelaide character in both dialogue and song, along with the embodiment of a desperate doll in love, which makes Plumley’s performance a show-stealer.

Supporting the main cast is an equally strong chorus and production team, including stunning costume design by Tim Chappel and musical direction by Guy Simpson. The dancing throughout the instrumental version of “Luck Be Our Lady”, provided by the male members of the chorus, is exceptional, as is the performance of “Sit Down, You’re Rocking the Boat” which also showcases how effectively director Gale Edwards and choreographer Nathan M. Wright utilise the space.

The Production Company‘s shows are always a treat, and this production of Guys and Dolls is simply delicious.

Venue: State Theatre, Arts Centre, Melbourne
Season: 23rd to 26th July 7.30pm, 23rd July 1pm, 26th July 2pm, and 27th July 3pm.
Tickets: Full $48-$119 | Conc $24-$105
Bookings: http://artscentremelbourne.com.au/whats-on

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