Tag: Australian theatre

Review: FLAME TREES at Theatreworks

Glowing moments show much potential

By Myron My

Flame Trees deals with the return of a young woman, Tess Ashley, (played by co-producer Hannah Gott) six years after she was convicted of starting a bushfire which killed her best friend. Clearly not everyone is happy to see her and there are still a few secrets that have been kept after all this time.

Wayne Tunks’ script is beautifully written with some honest and real dialogue that has you feeling not like you are watching a play but as if eavesdropping on some private conversations.

Flame Trees

Yet with so much work put into creating the tension and suspense of the first half, it was quite disappointing that during the second this all dissolved when it should have been heightened. The problem was trying to resolve a lot of stories in a short amount of time and this resulted in characters having to change their earlier strongly-held convictions within a matter of minutes. Without giving too much away, I really struggled for example to see how Val (Sally McLean) could so easily and quickly come to change her mind – an issue with the script, not the performer.

However, there was still a very strong performance by James Mason as the local fire-fighter hero Matt Sutton. Mason works hard to clearly define relationships with all the other characters and the scenes with his brother (Matthew Candeland) have a sense of authenticity to them. Wayne Tunks’ portrayal of Nathan, Tess’ older autistic brother, is well-researched and articulate. It’s always admirable to see actors who portray people with additional needs as a person and not as a generalisation.

The stage was divided into three sections: a police station, a living room and a pub. They were simply designed and were used to support the scene rather than control it, thus allowing the actors to tell us the story. Lighting designer Siobhain Geaney has worked hard at creating the subtle changes to the mood, from having fluorescent light in the police station to give the scene more harshness and using a hanging lightbulb to create a warmer feel in the pub scenes.

The world premiere of Flame Trees is definitely a display of great Aussie theatre but with a little bit more fine tuning in the second half could have been much more special.

Venue: Theatreworks, 14 Acland St, St Kilda

Season: Until 16 March | 8:00pm, Sun 5:00pm

Tickets: $29 Full | $25 Conc

Bookings: 9534 3388 or http://www.theatreworks.org.au

REVIEW: The Giraffe’s Uncle at LA MAMA

Local Aussie theatre at its best

By Tania Herbert

For those who came of age in Carlton, a return to La Mama Theatre is like coming home. And what better to come home to than a good old Aussie yarn. The Giraffe’s Uncle is the story of Sydney writer Les Robinson, a self-proclaimed  “cave-dwelling fantasist” who stumbles through the 20s to the 60s in the Sydney fringes.

Photo by Cynthia Sciberras

Well in command of this one-man show, Martin Portus’ background as a former Radio National arts broadcaster places him in good stead. His impressive command of voice really does capture an old school spirit and you could have happily close your eyes and feel that you were listening to an old-time Australian radio serial.

Although clearly portraying a very colourful Australian character– who is, in his own words ,”basking in a sense of the florid”- Portus’ performance is somewhat lacking in naturalism, and is choreographed down to every gesture.

The Giraffe's Uncle

However, this is certainly part of the reason this was a strong execution of an entertaining piece of theatre.  The show is punctuated with historic projections and chuckle worthy snippets of letters from Les’ life. Singer Darryl Emmerson also steps in to give us a couple of good old Aussie folk tunes that will leave you feeling like you’ve just had a beer with your granddad.

Very approachable, very Australian, and just very La Mama this is indeed a show which is, as Les found himself amusingly described, “not without a mild form of talent.”

Dates: January 31 – February 10, Wed, Fri, Sun 8.30pm, Thur, Sat 6.30pm

Venue: La Mama Theatre, Level 1, 205 Faraday St Carlton

Tickets: $25 full/ $15 conc, online at www.lamama.com.au or 03 9347 6142

Review: HEY WORLD, HERE I AM – The Streisand Story

Australian artist Avigail Herman celebrates our favourite Funny Girl

By Kate Boston-Smith

 There is no faulting Avigail Herman’s vocal ability and technique. A mainstay of Australian music and theatre, people are more likely to recognize her voice than her name, and it is with this exceptional voice and her tremendous talent that she channels Streisand into the room with us for this year’s Melbourne Cabaret Festival

Performing in a difficult space, Herman opens her heart through the songs of Barbra Streisand to her audience. Herman is a true professional in every sense of the word. This show is classic and sleek and Herman is as intelligent as she is talented. 

As the show title suggests, she tell stories of Streisand and her 40-year career while flawlessly covering her beloved and expansive body of music, including classics we all know and love to more obscure numbers that are playful and fun.

Lovers and fans of the stage and Hollywood diva will be on the edge of their seat as each song starts, and again when it finishes as there no knowing where Herman is going to take us next on this journey. The Streisand-uninitiated will enjoy learning about this incredible woman, all she has achieved and where she has come from. 

Songs are breath-taking and wonderfully recognizable.  At times I heard audience members singing along, tapping their feet and at one point, holding their beloveds in romantic embraces.

It was a beautiful show, and ideal for those wanting to be transported to a New York cabaret lounge for an hour of the wintery evening.

Performed by Avigail Herman and accompanied by Peter Bailey

Tonight and Sunday 24 July, 9.15pm

Tickets: $38 / $35

The Liber Room next to the South Melbourne Library (opposite Town Hall)