Tag: Ashton Sly

La Mama Presents HANDS OVER EYES

Intelligent and engrossing new work

By Myron My

There were times while watching Hands Over Eyes that I felt like I was watching a live episode of Black Mirror, a TV series that looks at how our over-reliance on technology can have far darker consequences than we could have imagined. Presented as part of La Mama Theatre Explorations season for work in various stages of development, Peter Danastasio’s Hands Over Eyes raises discussion on perceptions of truth and honesty and how the impact this can have on people.

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Danny Carroll plays Paul Havour, a conversationalist who works for a company that conducts simulated experience sessions to assist patients with their past traumas or phobic treatments. Through the course of the week he begins to question his beliefs and work ethics while attempting to assist his patients with treatments he finds troubling.

The issues being explored here do run the risk of making the audience feel as if they are drowning in information, especially given the clinically-themed dialogue. With the use of some well-timed breaks in speech, visual projections and subtle humour, Danastasio ensures that even though our utmost attention is required for its entirety, we still have time to process what is being said and the implications of what that means.

I do feel the relationships between the characters needed to be more strongly established, and the conversations between them – and how these conversations were had – to then be representative of that. There are scenes where Paul is speaking with his patient who seems to have an equal understanding of Paul’s specialist knowledge regarding the mind and human connection. The power dynamics within the company employees also needed to be more consistent.

The ensemble in Hands Over Eyes are extremely dedicated to their characters and for the most part, carry a firm sense of authority in what they say, further generating authenticity throughout the show. Carroll seems to be a natural in the highly demanding role of Paul, who is in virtually every minute of the 75-minute play. His ability to capture Paul’s initial suaveness and confidence and the subtle transformation to uncertainty and doubts that begin to creep into his own thoughts is well manifested. However, I would have liked the story to take his crisis further and create a much stronger impact on Paul’s life. The supporting cast of Ashton Sly, Ezekiel Day, Jim Coulson, Alex Rouse, Alex Rowe and Evangeline Stoios all bring depth and purpose to their characters and all have a motivation that is clear, even if they are only on stage for one scene.

The sound design by Ben Griffiths and the lighting and filmed components by Darcy Conlan are carefully constructed and further enhance the environment being portrayed. The active interactions the actors have with the visual projections are particularly great to watch as are Paul’s interactions with Karen.

It’s a comforting thought when independent theatre still in development can already be more thought-provoking and entertaining than some of the professional performances being produced. Hands Over Eyes is a rewarding watch that will have you questioning your own ideas based on your own reality and the repercussions of this.

Hands Over Eyes was performed between 16 – 18 November at La Mama Theatre.

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Melbourne Fringe 2016: 2.0 / CONTACT

A touch – of artistry

By Myron My

Presented as part of this year’s Melbourne Fringe Festival, The Human Project’s 2.0 | Contact, is an exploration on what touch can be and mean to humans, and how life could be without it. A highly physical experimental piece, it incorporates martial arts, dancing and some wrestling moments as an “outsider” dissects and analyses the state of physical touching.

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With injury befalling one of the performers, the show has had to be restructured to work around the three remaining cast (Rosie Osmond, Ashton Sly and Joseph Lai), but had you not known,  you wouldn’t be able to tell, as the performance is seamless and feels like it has been just the three of them rehearsing all this time. This is a highly demanding show – both physically and mentally – but the training and effort the three have put in in getting this piece together is profoundly evident. With its minimalist set, staging, and costumes there is nothing for the performers to hide behind, and their every move or word is what has all of our attention.

Throughout the show, there are “outsider” descriptions of various forms of human contact that the incomers have witnessed, which are then being played out for us on the stage. While these appear exaggerated and feel unnatural to watch, we are later informed that what we have witnessed is a common act such as kissing or shaking hands, adroitly illustrating the idea that a simple act of contact can generate multiple interpretations.

An interesting theme that runs throughout 2.0 | Contact regarding touch and physicality is that love and violence – affection and aggression – are closely related, and can transform from one into the other quite suddenly. There are powerful scenes of gentle caresses or kissing that are contrasted with the aggressive punching choreography, or bodies running into each other and being flipped onto gym mats.

2.0 | Contact is a strong production by The Human Project, a young promising company only formed in 2015. This is very much a reflective and evocative piece that has you questioning how we use touch in our own lives and how these meanings can differ from each person – and being – we come into contact with.

Venue: Sokol Melbourne, 497 Queensberry St, North Melbourne 

Season: Until 30 September | 8.30pm 

Length: 60 minutes 

Tickets: $25 Full | $16 Conc 

Bookings: Melbourne Fringe Festival