Tag: 2014 Melbourne Fringe Festival

REVIEW: and now we wait. By STEPHANIE CLARK

Taking shelter during a school shooting…

By Myron My

Playing at the 2015 Melbourne Fringe Festival, Stephanie Clark’s and now we wait. plays out like a grim re-imagining of The Breakfast Club for, in this case, there is a shooter loose in the school and the five teenagers find shelter in an unused theatre. While they nervously remain hidden, not knowing where the shooter is and waiting for the nightmare to end, the group gradually faces some truths about themselves and what is ultimately important to each of them.

and now we wait.

Based in Warragul, Impact Theatre is an enterprising company that focuses on young people writing and creating original theatre productions. The cast ranges from 18-21 years of age, is a combination of first-time and regular performers with the company. While different skill levels and experience that influence the ability to play more nuanced characters are evident, the entire cast (Emily Legg, Sarah Hartnell, Kyle Wright, Daniel Warenycia and Clark herself) remains dedicated to the characters and the situation they find themselves in. However, Hartnell as uptight smart girl Emily, and Wright as the jokester Nick, provide the most convincing performances of the night.

With her writing, Clark ensures the dialogue remains authentic and deliverable in a way you would expect real teenagers to speak. The flashbacks to what the students were doing before the gun shots are heard are well thought-out and the lighting and sound effects used in these moments is cleverly executed. There are, however, times when dialogue and actions in and now we wait. seem rather forced and there are also a few discrepancies with the story. The cutaways to the three news reports could easily be omitted for more dramatic effect, to allow the audience to be just as much in the dark about the situation as the characters and to allow us to stay fully enclosed in their world.

Julia Lambert‘s direction artfully increases the panic and fear that is slowly seeping into the teenagers and she creates some great visuals in how dual scenes are played out. The open incorporation of outside influences into the show is a nice touch, including one moment in particular where, as one latecomer to the show opened the door to the venue, the entire cast froze in terror as if it were the gunman coming in.

and now we wait. is a great opportunity to support and see an enjoyable show by a group of dedicated and promising young actors and writers. The subject matter is convincingly explored and there are some chilling moments throughout the show that will remain with you long after the climactic ending.

Venue: Northcote Uniting Church, 251 High St, Northcote.

Season: Until 2 October | Wed – Sat 8pm
Tickets: $25 Full | $20 Conc
Bookings: Melbourne Fringe Festival

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REVIEW: Gregory Lorenzutti’s MECHANICAL EYE

Dance for the camera

By Myron My

These days, with cameras on all our mobile devices, there does not seem to be a single aspect of our lives that is not documented. In Mechanical Eye, a new contemporary dance piece choreographed by Gregory Lorenzutti, the ideas of constant performance and the creation of identity through photography are dramatically explored.

Mechanical Eye

The five dancers – Harrison Hall, Maud Léger, Sarah Fiddaman, Ashley Marie Mclellan and Lorenzutti himself – had already begun dancing as we entered the room, which made you question when we ever stop performing. Where is the line between performance and being authentic? The added presence of a polaroid camera along the back wall of the space, not only reminded me of this message throughout, but also allowed the notion of the fleetingness of moments in life to loom large.

With the dancers dressed in light, loose fitting clothing in various shades of white, and with their lithe movements in the clean, empty mezzanine at Chapel Off Chapel, there was a profound sense of ethereality to Mechanical Eye.

Despite all five dancers being incredibly in tune with their bodies and the movements, Mclellan was a standout, as she seemed to be completely enveloped by the work, almost as if the choreography had taken her over. Similarly, Fiddaman and Léger showed great finesse in their slow motion pair-work.

The notion of lives being controlled by our capturing every moment on film, and to an extent, the exposure on social media, were perfectly encapsulated during the final moments of the piece. The dancers began running around in circles, clutching at each other, twisting and turning as they gradually sped up and then broke apart to a simple but highly effective and affective close.

Lorenzutti’s Mechanical Eye is a beautiful piece of contemporary work that looks at identity constructed through photography and dance, and ponders the ramifications of what it means to visually document our every moment and action.

Mechanical Eye was performed at Chapel Off Chapel as part of the 2014 Melbourne Fringe Festival.

REVIEW: Magic Steven’s TRY TO LOVE EVERYONE

Unusual and absorbing

By Caitlin McGrane

As the Melbourne Fringe Festival drew to a close on Sunday night, the audience at The Toff in Town was treated to Magic Steven’s final show in a three-performance run over the two-and-a-half-week festival. Steven aimed to teach us how to love everyone, but it seemed to be that the most important lesson was how to love oneself.

Steven’s basic set up on stage meant that his words, delivered in a dead-pan almost uninflected tone, rolled around the whole space, filling every gap. The show covered Steven’s life since the end of the Comedy Festival in April, and is split into three parts: autumn, early winter and late winter.

Try to Love Everyone

I’ve never really been to many spoken word events before, but I found Steven’s gently lilting story to be strangely engaging. Often the theatrics of a performance can distract from the words, but this show made them stand out and become the stars. It was like having a conversation with a guy at a party, in the best possible way, because it was entirely without the contrivances that can make poetry or comedy performances seem unnatural or forced. The structure was even and the pacing excellent, I also enjoyed how each third managed to slip in a reference to Steven’s time in India.

In autumn Steven decided to take in as many couchsurfers as possible, in order to try to spread platonic love to strangers. Early winter follows his lacklustre search for a girlfriend, and we learn that simply waiting for someone to approach you after a show might (remarkably) not be the best option. Late winter was my favourite, when we were asked to question the conventional wisdom that ‘in order for someone to love you, you must first love yourself.’

While it’s a shame there are no more shows left in this run, I would encourage you to seek Magic Steven out the next time he puts on a show; his style is different, but ultimately very rewarding.

Magic Steven: Try to Love Everyone was performed at The Toff in Town as part of the 2014 Melbourne Fringe Festival.

REVIEW: Point & Flex Circus Presents 3 STEPS AHEAD

Out in front of the rest

By Myron My

Circus has been around for a long time – in fact, since the late 1700s in its ‘modern’ form –  and with the same acts being performed world wide, it runs the risk of becoming repetitive. However, the show 3 Steps Ahead, created by Point & Flex Circus’ Taylor Dawson and Marina Gellmann, , has enough point of difference to ensure we remain entertained.

3 Steps Ahead
Using circus, sideshow, physical theatre and humour, Dawson and Gellmann compete against each other in a series of challenges, some of which require the audience to choose whether or not to help one of them win it. In between these, we are also entertained with more traditional forms of circus acts such as hoops, contortionism, juggling and even some nose drawing!

There is always a risk of things not going to plan when it comes to circus shows. A hula hoop might not go where it’s supposed to, a foot might not land where it should or a ball is thrown a little too high to get the right timing. There were a number of these mishaps in 3 Steps Ahead but Dawson and Gellmann retained their composure and the recoveries were always swift.

What sets 3 Steps Ahead apart from other circus performances is that the audience has a say the action and in what the order of those acts will be. So even though we will see all the same ones each show, the performers are never sure which act they will be doing next and the comfort of routine is thrown out the window.

Music was used successfully throughout, building on the suspense of “will they/won’t they” (make it) and the lighting work was incredibly sharp and precise. Just like the performers’ routine, these two aspects depended on what order the acts were decided upon and there was no noticeable moments where it felt like an error had been made.

Despite both being 18 years old, between them Dawson and Gellmann have almost 30 years experience in circus so it’s no surprise that Point & Flex’s show won Best Emerging Circus Performer at the Melbourne Fringe Festival Awards over the weekend.

3 Steps Ahead was performed at Gasworks Arts Park as part of the 2014 Melbourne Fringe Festival.

REVIEW: Fringe Festival’s MONSTER

Welcome to the darkness

By Myron My

Monster

With its low lighting and large spacious rooms where you can only just see to the other end of it if you squint and focus, Revolt is the perfect venue for Monster, a horror-cabaret that looks at perceptions that the transgender community constantly battle.

Created by Daniel Gough and Danielle Starkey, we are welcomed into the dark and into the home of Madam (also performed by Gough) as she regales us with stories of her life. What starts as light-hearted enough slowly but then suddenly becomes dark and intense as Madam gives us an insight into life as a transgender person.

The lighting and set design support this darkening mood, building on the intimacy of a topic like transgender and also creating a claustrophobic mood in Madam’s attic apartment. The three “rooms” on set, the lounge, bathroom and bedroom, are where people are traditionally most honest with themselves and cannot escape their truth and it is quite fitting that the bathroom is where the most emotive and haunting moments take place in Monster.

Gough tackles the complexities of a transgender person with impressive results. You almost forget that Gough is reciting lines and performing on stage as Madam, especially with his consistency on playing out her mannerisms and nervous habits. He builds a strong emotional connection with the audience and the boldness and courage present in the final moments feel like a combination of loathing and loving self-acceptance for Madam.

Monster is a brilliantly horrific piece of theatre that looks at transgender people and the conflicts and issues they face but doesn’t accuse or threaten: instead, it leaves you questioning and looking to your own moral compass for answers on who the actual “monster” is.

Monster was performed at Revolt as part of the 2014 Melbourne Fringe Festival.

REVIEW: Speakeasy Presents POTENTIAL

Scintilatingly strange

By Caitlin McGrane

Billed as a ‘dance of the heart’, Janine Proost’s Potential will go down in my memory as one of the stranger theatrical performances I have ever experienced, and I mean that as a compliment. The audience is lead in through the doors of Studio One at the Northcote Town Hall to find our four performers (Janine Proost, Natalie Abbott, Rebecca Jensen and Amelia McQueen) lying splayed on the ground covered in a blanket of playdoh. The four women are wearing gold lycra outfits, and invite the audience to take some of the playdoh heaped onto their chests…

Potential

What follows is 60 minutes of dance and yoga that will leave you pleasingly puzzled. It was clear that the inspiration came from the body, but that it came from the heart wasn’t always obvious to me. There was certainly a lot of feminine imagery (a vignette of a mid-birth playdoh baby springs to mind), which is always interesting. I loved how the energy of the performance mirrored that of a yoga class: starting with slow movements, breathing, simple postures and building to a crescendo of occasionally painful movements across the stage that were at times quite difficult to watch. There is a lot of quiet in the performance, and it beautifully counterpoised the manic cacophony of noise that made up part of the third act.

Special and particular mention must go to Matt Adey whose lighting design was spectacular and very evocative. The harsh stage lights illuminated the faces of the performers in ways that caused them to be at once beautiful and pained (the kind of facial expression one can only get from an hour of yoga).

For my first Melbourne Fringe Festival show this year, it was quite an experience. I’m very excited to see what Proost comes up with next and will be first in line to see it.

Potential is on every night until Sunday 5 October at 7:30pm at the Northcote Town Hall. Tickets are $26 at http://www.melbournefringe.com.au/fringe-festival/show/potential/

REVIEW: Speakeasy Presents PREHISTORIC

Back to punk

By Caitlin McGrane

Marcel Dorney’s Prehistoric is a raucous, lively, beautiful and heart-breaking look at the punk scene in Brisbane in 1979. It struck so many chords with me that I could barely stop smiling throughout. The play took me back to when I decided, aged twelve, to become a punk: it was simultaneously joyous and uncomfortable in the best possible way.

Prehistoric

Before the play begins, the performers speak directly to the audience, inviting us to come with them back to 1979, a most convincing way to get an audience to turn off their phones. The play opens as we are introduced to the four characters: Barbara, Rachel, Nick and Pete. They’re all young, angry, and frustrated by their surrounds: prime for the allure of punk. There’s a song they all remember hearing that catapults them away from the humdrum of their lives and into the boisterous world of a punk band formed in Barb’s living room. They’re all immediately sympathetic and I fell in love with every one of them.

As the story unfurls, the performance covers an awful lot of ground: abuse, mental illness, police brutality, rape and sexuality. All of these topics are handled in the most sensitive and evocative way, never turning to cliché or hamstrung ideas to get their message across. What is most striking about this play is that the themes and concerns are just as relevant today as they were in 1979.

It slightly lost its way in the third act, but despite this it remained fairly compelling. It could have been shorter by about ten to fifteen minutes, but that is a small gripe when the rest of the performance was so spectacular.

The production values were all excellent and I particularly enjoyed the way the lights behind the audience invoked the idea of the police without having any additional presence on stage. Every off-stage role was superbly characterised through voice techniques and I would challenge you to sit through the scene between Rachel and the police without squirming. I look forward to Elbow Room’s next production and Dorney is definitely one to watch.

Prehistoric is on every night from now until 5 October at 9pm in Studio Two of the Northcote Town Hall. Tickets are $26 at http://www.melbournefringe.com.au/fringe-festival/show/prehistoric/