Tag: Anthony Scundi

Q44 Theatre Presents SHINING CITY

Poignant and powerful

By Myron My

The effects of grief and guilt are hauntingly explored in Q44 Theatre‘s latest production of Conor McPherson’s Shining City.

Shining City.jpg

Set in Dublin, the story revolves around a therapist and his patient, each with his own set of demons to face, and it is another example of the exemplary work on which this theatre company is building its reputation.

Anthony Scundi is exceptional as Ian, an ex-priest struggling with his loss of faith who has just opened up a therapy clinic. While initially coming across as someone who has his life in order, the ensuing scenes paint a picture of a man who is gradually unraveling. Scundi is well-paired with Sebastian Gunner as John, his new patient and the rapport they share feels genuine. Gunner nails a lengthy monologue that requires him to find the right balance of a range of emotions as he recount the events leading up to the death of his wife.

Madeline Claire French as Ian’s wife Neasa, and Nick Cain as Laurence, deliver some strong work in their short but pivotal scenes in Shining City. The chemistry shared between Cain and Scundi in their scene is palpable, and Gabriella Rose-Carter‘s intimate direction clearly conveys Ian’s confusion and helplessness. This results in the most engrossing and intense scene of the play, and keep the audience guessing as to what is going to happen next and how the events are going to play out.

Rose-Carter once again creates engaging and captivating work from her actors, allowing them to embody their characters, and the interludes she instigates between the scenes are well-executed. There is no sense of time or being rushed during the show and Rose-Carter allows things to linger, so that we can interpret them as we like.

The scenic design by Casey-Scott Corless and construction by John Byrne functions as a great metaphor on our attempts to keep our true thoughts and feelings buried, and exposes a duality in our efforts to present ourselves as someone we feel we ought to be. This is supported by the subtle yet effective lighting design by John Collopy that really pushes the claustrophobia in the play.

Shining City is not just a play about John and Ian, but also Neasa and Laurence, and even then it’s about something bigger. It’s about people who are confused and have lost their way, and are doing whatever it is they can to do better – to be better. While set in Dublin, this could easily be any one of us in these characters’ shoes. It’s a lingering and thought-inducing show on people’s struggle to find meaning and connection in the world in which they live.

Venue: Q44 Theatre, 550 Swan St, Richmond

Season: Until 27 November | Wed- Sat 7:30pm, Sun 6:00pm

Tickets: $35 Full | $30 Conc

Bookings:Q44 Theatre

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REVIEW: Q44 Presents SAVAGE IN LIMBO

Engrossing and impressive production

By Myron My

It’s Monday night at an almost empty, seedy Bronx bar in the mid-80s, and five 32-year-olds are not quite sure where their lives are heading, or even what exactly it is they want. What they do know, is that they want change, excitement and passion, and they want it now. Savage in Limbo by acclaimed playwright John Patrick Shanley offers a comedic yet honest look at hope, dreams and missed opportunities.

Savage in Limbo

Sarah Nicolazzo is the shining star of this production as Linda Rotunda, the local girl that all the men know. Her boyfriend has just announced to her he wants to see ugly girls and she is just a little distraught. Nicolazzo delivers a brilliant performance and the excellent physicality and subtle facial expressions she uses to portray Linda are highly natural.

Samantha Mesh as the title character, Denise Savage, convincingly displays the pent-up frustration over where Denise’s life has led. She is still living with her mother, single and unhappy. Something has to give and she’s decided that it’s going to be her virginity, and possibly to Linda’s boyfriend. Nicolazzo and Mesh are highly entertaining to watch, and bounce off each others’ charisma well in their equally strong performances.

Anthony Scundi as the boyfriend, Tony Aronica, plays the role with a level of macho naivety that actually has us disliking him much less than we ought to. Rounding out the talented cast, in supporting roles but still with plenty to say, were Kostas Ilias as Murk the bartender and Andrea McCannon as April, the alcoholic ex-nun.

The design of the bar interior was well thought-out, however I would have liked to have seen a bit more flair and colour with the costumes, especially given the period we were in. Having all five people dressed in black (apart from the Murk’s shirt) wasn’t always visually arresting. Thankfully this didn’t affect the show much due to Gabriella Rose-Carter‘s direction in keeping the characters moving and active with each other. Apart from getting great performances from the cast, she also managed to keep them interesting when they were listening to each other, which I particularly noticed during the Santa Claus scene.

Being thirty-two, I have found myself having similar thoughts to and experiencing life-moments like these characters. Even though it’s been over 30 years since Savage in Limbo was written, it’s somewhat comforting to know that some things never change. Or maybe it should be unsettling? Either way, Q44 Theatre have made a commendable production that burrows into your mind for you to ponder over after the final bow has taken place.

Venue: Q44 Theatre, 550 Swan St, Richmond.
Season: Until 6 September | Wed- Sat 7:30pm, Sun 6:30pm
Tickets: $35 Full | $27 Conc
Bookings: Q44 Theatre

REVIEW: Theresa Rebeck’s SPIKE HEELS

Walking in someone else’s stilettos

By Myron My

Written by Theresa Rebeck (creator of TV series Smash) Spike Heels revolves around four people, and the intricate relationships they have with each other. Some are intimate, some are platonic and some are just beginning but – to an extent – they are all based on manipulation, power and lies.

 In this production presented by Q44 Theatre Company & Crazy Chair Productions, Nicole Melloy does a flawless job as foul-mouthed Bronx-born Georgie. With the risk of coming across as a frustratingly annoying and unappealing person, Melloy adds hints of fragility and vulnerability to everything she says and does, and ends up creating a character that we can empathise with and like. Anthony Scundi, as Georgie’s best friend Andrew, is also well cast as as the neat, nerdy academic who cannot swear properly.

Spike Heels

Georgie and Andrew’s lives are made more complicated by Georgie’s smarmy boss Edward (Michael Robins), and Andrew’s fiancé Lydia (Lelda Kapsis) and even though she has limited stage time, Kapsis creates some genuine touching moments between Lydia and Georgie.

Rebeck’s dialogue is full of fierce one-liners and a good balance of incredibly hilarious moments and incredibly dramatic moments, but it’s her consideration of power and how we all possess and use different forms of it against each other that is especially interesting to see play out on stage and watch how it affects each character.

Despite the brilliant writing, I did take issue with some of the plot points: in particular, the development of the relationship between Georgie and Edward. Without giving too much away, there are two moments that occur that made it difficult for me to accept the outcome of their relationship. It is because of this narrative problem that I feel the character of Edward never quite reaches the level of being a “real” person.

From a technical aspect, the set design by Rebecca Fortuna and Mara Kapsis is perfectly imagined and executed. Apart from having Andrew and Georgie’s personalities reflected in their respective apartments, they each have a large backdrop that the audience’s eye is constantly drawn to, that further builds on that character’s thought and ideals. In the case of Andrew, it’s an image of Nietzsche with the quote ‘sometimes people don’t want to hear the truth because they don’t want their illusions destroyed’, which is an idea resonating throughout Spike Heels.

Spike Heels is a highly enjoyable and intimate look into the complex world of relationships and ultimately the necessity of being true to oneself first and foremost. And tea.

Venue: Chapel Off Chapel, 12 Little Chapel St, Prahran
Season: Until 14 Sep | Tues-Sat 8:00pm, Sun 6:00pm, Sat Matinee (13 Sep) 2pm, Wed Matinee (3 Sep) 1:00pm
Tickets: $37.50 Full | $32.50 Conc
Bookings: www.chapeloffchapel.com.au or 8290 7000