Tag: 2013 Melbourne Fringe Festival

REVIEW: The Suicide Ensemble Presents THE REALITY EVENT

Whether controversy is enough

By Myron My

Led by Daniel Gough, The Suicide Ensemble presented an evening of ‘fun and death’ for the 2015 Melbourne Fringe Festival. Their work The Reality Event is divided up in two halves: GAME and SUICIDE. GAME aims to put its audience in the driver seats of theatre creation, whereas in SUICIDE we are forced to confront the idea of ‘safe’ theatre and its boundaries between art and life.

The Reality Event

In GAME, we are divided into five teams with one of The Suicide Ensemble (Pavle Banovic, Esther DoughertyFinley Kube, Remi Roehrs or Sampson Smith) as the team captain. If the team loses a challenge, the team captain is publicly “shamed” and sent away. The “shamings” range from a public “dacking” to eating a tablespoon of wasabi. There is a pack mentality to the proceedings as we are encouraged to laugh and cheer while this is happening and despite its title, there is still a deliberately and grimly dark element to GAME.

The outlined purpose of GAME is to give audiences the opportunity to be in charge of theatre, yet I found myself questioning what exactly this theatre we were supposed to be making was? The team captains were the ones who generally competed in the challenges and in the shamings, except for a few “brave” audience members. While the performance was a somewhat fun experience, I never once felt like I was in control of this experience. The abrupt ending and lack of explanation did not help clarify any of these ideas either.

However, it is in the second half of The Reality Event, SUICIDE, that things take a distinct turn for the worse. The five performers explain they are each going to be killing themselves and we will vote on who commits suicide and what method they will use. They explain that this is not a show to talk about suicide but to blur the lines between what is real and what is theatre. For the next forty minutes therefore, we sit and watch as each person graphically depicts ending their life, through stabbing, suffocation and hanging, to name a few. It is harrowing to watch, with a number of people walking out the evening I attended.

SUICIDE wants to make theatre “unsafe”, but I feel there are much better ways of eliciting and exciting these feelings than by showing extreme and distressful scenes of people committing suicide. There is no entertainment, no enjoyment and nothing to learn in watching these scenes unfold. There is no discernible purpose or art here, just gratuitous shock-value scenes of violence.

The Reality Event attempts to turn theatre around and have the audience – traditionally the watcher – be the creator and instigator. However, to achieve this successfully I feel more care and thought is needed to ensure that this work’s intended messages are conveyed in an effective and responsible manner. The Reality Event seems to be more focused on creating something that people will talk about – rather than creating good theatre that people will talk about.

The Reality Event was performed at The Tuxedo Cat as part of the Melbourne Fringe Festival on 24 – 29 September.

REVIEW: Tell Me About Yourself for MELBOURNE FRINGE

Dating dilemmas divulged

By Myron My

Sarah Jackson and Lucy Gransbury are young, free and single women. In order to rectify the latter, they decided to bite the bullet and sign up for a spot of speed dating. In their Melbourne Fringe show, Tell Me About Yourself, they shared the experience with us, introduced us to a number of other people from their evening and reminisced about horrible past date experiences.

Gransbury and Jackson really shone when they were being themselves. They seemed wonderfully natural and their witty retorts to each other are exactly what close friends would do. Full of energy and enthusiasm, they obviously loved doing what they were doing: the audience immediately warmed to their cheeky sense of humour, and their interactions with us were fun.

Tell Me About Yourself

However, many of their impressions were not as strong. The stereotypes and clichés came thick and fast and therefore any authenticity and realness these people might have had was lost. At times, the characterisation dangerously straddled the line of offensiveness with the portrayal of Siamese twins from New Zealand and Bertha, who was of questionable mental ability. The cheap gags started to overrun the intelligent and sharp comedy from the beginning of the show and sadly that is where the humour remained.

That said, the use of the projector to flashback to various dating disasters and other moments of their lives was done well and created an added layer to the story. It’s always nice to see performers try and be different and succeed in the way they present their show.

Ultimately though, there was nothing new about Tell Me About Yourself. It’s all been done before and unfortunately in regards to this show, has been done better. Jackson and Gransbury are both talented and funny women and given some more experience, I do believe they will do well in the comedy circuit as long as they attempt to remain honest with the characters they portray and seek out more depth and sophistication in such topical shows.

Tell Me About Yourself was performed at Gertrude’s Brown Couch from 1-6 October as part of the 2013 Melbourne Fringe Festival.

REVIEW: Rosie Rodiadis is UNCLOAKED

Looking under the hood – cabaret-style

By Ross Larkin

Anyone who’s ever worked in a customer service role can attest to the array of fascinating, if at times downright frustrating characters one encounters, and is often obliged to deal with.

As part of the 2013 Melbourne Fringe Festival, Rosie Rodiadis is exorcising, observing and celebrating her own range of experiences had as that of a theatre cloakroom attendant, in her self-penned, one-woman cabaret show Uncloaked.

Uncloaked

The confinement and mystique of an old theatre cloakroom, complete with outfits and accessories galore from patrons of every ilk, make for a delightfully indulgent and clever premise where any persona can be explored and brought to life.

Rodiadis showcases her versatility as she frocks up and assumes myriad of characters including an angry Italian diva, a bright seven-year-old girl, a wise old alcoholic and a Yugoslavian whore, amongst many others.

Uncloaked is peppered with relevant and familiar songs, all sung by Rodiadis, several of which she has added her own lyrics and meaning to, and, in turn, provide the more humorous moments of the piece.

Vocally, however, opera is clearly her strength, and thus, the show could benefit from the inclusion of more – a style in which Rodiadis seems most confident.

As she tells the story of her cloakroom-attending days, there is no shying away from bold statements, sexuality and political points of view. Rodiadis tends to succeed particularly when embodying the more brazen, larger-than-life, characters, although ultimately the show is about loneliness and the guises we hide behind, as this isolated performer gradually reveals (and uncloaks) her personal truths.

Uncloaked is playing at the Portland Hotel, 127 Russell St, Melbourne from September 27-29 and October 1 and 4-6 at 8.45pm. Tickets at http://www.melbournefringe.com.au/fringe-festival/show/uncloaked/

REVIEW: Blindness at MELBOURNE FRINGE

The end is in sight

By Myron My

Inspired by Jose Saramago‘s novel and created by Justin Nott and Robert Smith, this play tells a story of an epidemic that takes over the world where everyone eventually – but suddenly – turns blind. Initially thought to be a contagious disease, the first people inflicted with the loss of sight are put into a large facility to be quarantined.

Blindness

It is there we witness the crumbling of humanity and civilisation with people turning on each other to survive. It is here where we experience new Melbourne Fringe festival show, Blindness.

Limited to ten people per show (bookings essential), we are blindfolded and, holding hands, are guided to a room. We are then separated and the blindfolds come off. All I can see is white – and nothing else. Just a white bright light all around me. Panic immediately sets in and I take a few deep breaths trying to figure out how they have managed to do this. Did they put some sort of mask over me while the blindfold was on? It is a few minutes later I realise the simplicity and ingenuity of how they have “blinded” me. I am not even sure how many actors are in the piece as we can only hear them. The attention to my internal terror and anxiety is on par with the attention I am giving to the actors.

There is not much of a story here, and perhaps it’s because I am quite familiar with the novel and film that I am able to follow and fill in the blanks. The very loose narrative jumps over quite large gaps, so for someone who is new to Blindness, it could be difficult to understand. While the story is being told, I am free to roam around. I occasionally bump into someone and am sometimes so close to someone that I can hear their breathing but still unable to see them. The interaction with the actors (or maybe some emotional audience members?) adds to the whole experience and another example of the brilliant immersive theatre taking over the Melbourne scene.

Blindness is a work in development and there is great potential to this show but a lot more attention needs to be focused on the unfolding narrative to really make audience members appreciate what they have experienced.

Blindness is showing as part of the 2013 Melbourne Fringe Festival.

Venue: Second Edition, Rear of Higher Ground, 222 Johnston St, Collingwood

Season: Until 28 September | 7;00pm and 10:00pm

Tickets: Free

Bookings: ESSENTIAL – blindness.fringe@gmail.com

REVIEW: Spoilt At MELBOURNE FRINGE

An acerbic examination of the over-indulged

By Myron My

Spoilt, as the title indicates, is a satirical look at the kinds of women who are spoilt: spoilt by money, vanity and the luxurious life they lead. Through parodying five such women, creator and performer Liz Skitch certainly succeeds in making her point about how the values that these women hold are heavily misguided.

Spoilt

Skitch is on stage with five wigs and five pairs of shoes placed around the performance space. There is a box next to each wig with a few additional props – a necklace for one, a pair of shorts for another, et cetera. Her transformation into each character is an interesting process to observe, with Skitch remaining completely void of expression and emotion between changes and slowly becoming the embodiment of that character as she gets “dressed”. Her mannerisms, physicality, voice and especially her facial expressions astutely define all these women. Having studied at the school of Philippe Gaulier in London, Skitch is more than capable of giving herself over to these characters but not letting them run rampant.

In terms of characters, Jackie the celebrant and fitness trainer Peta Swift, are absolutely hilarious and had everyone in stitches. Her interactions with the audience as Peta feel very natural and even when an audience member of the evening I attended revealed his unusual deepest desire to us all, Skitch didn’t drop the persona.

Nineteen-year-old Larissa – reminiscent of Chris Lilley’s Ja’mie King – is another highlight as she details her incredible journey of being the Miss Universe runner-up. However, I don’t feel the remaining characters of Sonia and Sue were given enough developed narrative to keep us interested. They have some funny moments but possess nowhere near the caliber of back story and depth that the other three have. If anything they were too similar to the other more established characters of Larissa and Jackie respectively and they suffered for that.

Skitch has created a show that keeps the audience interested, attentive and provides a ruthless and incisive insight into the lives that such people lead. With her brilliant delivery and pace, Spoilt is a well-executed tragicomedy that has something very intelligent to say.

Spoilt is showing as part of the 2013 Melbourne Fringe Festival.

Venue: La Mama Theatre, 205 Faraday Street Carlton

Season: Until 29 September | Thurs-Sat, 6:30pm, Wed, Sun 8:30pm

Tickets: $25 Full | $15 Conc

Bookings: http://lamama.com.au or 9347 6142

REVIEW: MKA – Kids Killing Kids for MELBOURNE FRINGE

Violent art exploited and explored

By Myron My

MKA: Kids Killing Kids is about four people – David Finnigan, Georgie McAuley, Jordan Prosser and Sam Burns-Warr – who went to the Philippines and created a play called Battalia Royale. It was an adaptation of the infamous Japanese novel/manga/film Battle Royale, where a group of children are drugged, wake up in a forest armed with an array of weapons, and are told there can be only one survivor, which results in a gruesome kill-or-be-killed fight. The worldwide response the play-makers received for their stage adaptation was something they never imagined, and in MKA they share their story with us.

MKA Kids Killing Kids

Kids Killing Kids starts off in a quite humorous and naïve manner – possibly emulating how these four theatre-makers felt during the initial creative process of Battalia Royale. It feels like you’re listening to a friend return from a holiday, with their jokey insights about random slogans seen on t-shirts and watching six-year-olds crump. Slowly, the tone changes to a more serious and thoughtful discussion on the after-effects of the play and the political situation in the Philippines.

The quartet repeatedly ask us – and themselves – what responsibility do they have as theatre-makers to their cast, the audience and the wider community, especially when their art involves a group of children violently and bloodily killing each other? Can they get away with it because it’s not real? Can such a play have a purpose, or is it just glorified violence? Perhaps there is no definitive answer for these questions and indeed, the creators here don’t pretend to know all the answers and seem just as lost and confused as we do when it comes to any final enlightenment.

The production of Kids Killing Kids is slick: the writing is sharp and the flow of information is smooth and well-thought-out. However, I did have a problem with the emotive but obvious pauses and silences and questioned their dramatic purpose being in conflict with their authenticity. I don’t doubt the sincerity of the four people involved, but such theatrical devices remind me I am watching a deliberate performance rather than sharing this real-life experience with them.

But perhaps this is the point. Is it a documentary? Is it theatre? Either way, MKA: Kids Killing Kids is going to leave any artist with a lot of questions about the complex roles we play in creating theatre and what boundaries we should and should not cross.

MKA: Kids Killing Kids is showing as part of the 2013 Melbourne Fringe Festival.

Venue: Fringe Hub – The Warehouse, 521 Queensberry St, North Melbourne

Season: Until 3 October |Tues-Sat 9:00pm, Sun 8:00pm

Tickets: $20 Full | $15 Conc

Bookings: http://www.melbournefringe.com.au or 9660 9666