Tag: Alisha Eddy

Bare Naked Theatre Presents 4:48 PSYCHOSIS

Deeply moving and memorable

By Margaret Wieringa

Sometimes, theatre is heavy; weighed down by the topic, by the experiences of those making it and those watching it; weighed down with every line uttered, every movement. 4:48 Psychosis is one of those pieces: heavy, and difficult – and wonderful.

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Written by British playwright Sarah Kane, it explores mental illness in a variety of forms, including self-harm and suicide. Knowing that the playwright herself tragically committed suicide without ever seeing the work performed adds a whole extra weight and emotion to the performance.

The show is made up of twenty-four sections that seamlessly flow from one to another, moving through naturalistic conversations to more abstract movement pieces, and back. The script gives no specific settings or characters, but it felt to me that there were constants. Director Kendall-Jane Rundle seems to have interpreted the work to have a single patient, a doctor and two others – internal representations of the patient or, at times, possibly forces outside of the patient. Sometimes the patient is aware of them, other times not. The Metanoia Theatre was sparse, allowing the actors to transform the space throughout. Lighting designer Shane Grant used bare bulbs hung around the space at varying heights and these were attributed with meaning throughout – although sometimes, a light bulb is just a light bulb.

Kendall-Jane Rundle not only directed this performance but played the character of the patient and was magnificent in this role. She was subtle and intense, humorous on occasion, and so very real. The script has lines that are filled with overwrought poetry that could easily be melodramatic and possibly ridiculous, but Rundle delivered them with such truth that they worked. At times, it was difficult to hear her, but I felt even this was planned. Jessica Stevens and Alisha Eddy played off each other as the two mysterious characters, often echoing the patient, moving through the space, sometimes still or only very subtly moving. Their performances, both individual and together, were exactly what was needed – strong at times, but able to almost disappear altogether. As the doctor figure, Jeff Wortman was able to infuse each scene with hidden depth. While acting calm and collected, there was a sense that the character was repressing fear or frustration or anger, although every now and then, the professional facade slipped. Wortman made the character not just a tool to represent those attempting to support, help, even cure people with mental illness, but someone who was also a full person, even though we never got a name or much beyond.

Bare Naked Theatre is a new company to Melbourne, set up by Kendall-Jane Rundle. With a first show as powerful and poignant as 4:48 Psychosis, they are a company to look out for.

Where: Metanoia Theatre at the Brunswick Institute, 270 Sydney Rd Brunswick

When: Wednesday June 29 to Saturday July 2, 8pm

Tickets: Full $30/ Conc $25

Bookings: metanoiatheatre.com or called 9387 3376

If you know someone struggling with mental illness, this production recommends  visiting www.sane.org for helpline assistance, information, and donations.

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Melbourne Shakespeare Company’s A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM

Thoroughly won over

By Caitlin McGrane

A Midsummer Night’s Dream was the first Shakespeare play I studied at school, and thus while it holds a special place in my heart, certain scenes are forever etched into my memory. As the Melbourne Shakespeare Company’s production got underway, I was sceptical whether the blend of contemporary music and iambic pentameter were going to be a match. I needn’t have worried, as the performance rolled steadily onwards, and the actors became more comfortable in their roles, I felt completely at ease with the way the story was being told; the audience was in safe hands.

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For the uninitiated, the play entwines the stories of two groups; the Lovers: Hermia (Christina Forrest) and Lysander (Khrisraw Jones-Shukoor), Helena (Alisha Eddy) and Demetrius (Charlie Sturgeon); and the Players: Bottom (Johnathan Peck), Flute (John Reed), Quince (Ben Frank Adams), Snout (Ben Noel Adams), Snug (Nick Murphy) and Starvelling (Myles Tankle).

Hermia and Lysander are forbidden to wed, so flee Athens, hotly pursued by Helena and Demetrius. While fleeing they wander into a forest bewitched by faerie King Oberon (Steven Fleiner) and Queen Titania (Angela Lumicisi), with help from mischievous Puck (Paul Robertson). There’s magic potions, asses heads and lots of shouting about love as the magical beings play with the lives of the mere mortals, meanwhile the players are rehearsing the play Pyramus and Thisbe to perform at Theseus (Karl Sarsfield) and Hippolyta’s (Madi Lee) wedding. Confused yet? You should be.

As an ensemble the cast was great, I was initially wary of the players’ boisterous gallivanting and gadding about, but by the end of their first proper scene together I couldn’t wait for them to reappear. I was particular impressed by Johnathan Peck’s unique and profoundly physical take on Bottom as a sympathetic but emotionally fragile simpleton, and I need a GIF of him performing the death scene from Pyramus and Thisbe to play on a loop at my funeral; I laughed so much I cried and am still laughing thinking about it now. Christina Forrest’s Hermia was similarly energetic and gravity-defying, which helped prevent the inherently dialogue-heavy play from getting bogged down in its own trickery.

I enjoyed the silly playfulness that director Jennifer Sarah Dean has brought to the play, although moments of the Pyramus and Thisbe performance would benefit from tightening to avoid relying too heavily on slapstick. Designer Simon Bowland has done an excellent job with costumes and make-up (faeries looked suitably bedazzled), but it did look like Oberon had wandered out on stage in his dressing gown and slippers and didn’t quite match the majesty of Titania – if this was a deliberate move then I’m afraid it was lost on me. Save for a few moments where the play sagged towards the end after all the frenetic activity, it was thoroughly good fun.

Beautifully nestled in Testing Grounds just behind the Arts Centre, City Road and the Southbank apartments provided a peculiarly complementary backdrop for this contemporary adaptation of a true classic.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream is playing at Testing Grounds twice each day on 26 and 27 March 2016. Tickets available from: http://www.testing-grounds.com.au/calendar?view=calendar&month=March-2016