Tag: Belinda McClory

Malthouse Theatre Presents REVOLT. SHE SAID. REVOLT AGAIN.

Tear down the wor(l)d

By Leeor Adar

Alice Birch’s Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again. directed by Janice Muller is a perpetual play on words, and a play on what those words mean to us. It isn’t just a revolution within our society, but a collective ‘revolt’ at our own bodies, and at the male gaze for which women squirm under. Yes, it’s a raging, raging work. It probably needs to rage, because what Birch tells us is nothing new to a woman’s struggle within the constraints of her world, the sharp lines that fix her within it – whether that is her workplace, her lover’s place, her child’s place – or any place in which she exists.

Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again..jpg

Birch’s text takes us to many dimensions of existence – at first it’s the constructed box that sits on the stage, vignettes of conversations that throw sex, marriage and work upon its head – women asking to be utterly present in the acts society inflicts upon them. Marg Horwell’s set design is effective here, the sound even strains within the ‘four’ walls created. Soon enough, this world revolts upon itself and a woman (Sophie Ross) climbs out of the four walls to really talk about the things we don’t talk about – about the damage women inflict upon our bodies, in a beautiful and hideous memorandum of all our physical evils – to be endlessly sexually available.

For all the seriousness of the work, the audience laughs with tears in their eyes at some scenes, and sometimes we flinched away – we couldn’t look upon what was before us. I sat behind male audience members who I confess I enjoyed watching too throughout the piece; in context, I admit I was morbidly fascinated at how they would react. Of course they laughed when it was appropriate, and sometimes when it was totally inappropriate, because on some level it was surely uncomfortable for male viewers to see a woman getting angry or opening her body up with Birch’s visceral words – but I can tell you that looking around the room at the women was an different story. Many moments of the play were a bitter reminder, unravelling us at the seams.

The cast is five-strong (Belinda McClory, Elizabeth Esguerra, Ming-Zhu Hii, Gareth Reeves, and Ross). Each actor delivered their parts with total abandonment and intensity – it is an absolutely demanding show to watch, but also to act. The words are hard, and they’re almost too funny and also too damn real. You know Birch is onto something good when you physically react to the words.

For all its power, the total breakdown of the world presented to us loses shape as characters throw costumes on, haphazardly run about, throw themselves on stage, shake, spit, shiver, deliver – it ceases to be a functional whole. Oddly enough, the work held its power until the final dimension and then disintegrated. Was it meant to show us how bad we really had it – apocalypse femme? I can’t say. But sometimes in an effort to rattle its audience, the hyper-modern piece loses us.

Did it change my outrage, or the message? No. Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again. remains a daring exercise to deconstruct everything that shapes womanhood in a violent world.

Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again. will be performed at the Malthouse Theatre until 9 July. Performance dates, times and bookings available here: http://malthousetheatre.com.au/whats-on/revolt-she-said-revolt-again

Image by Pia Johnson

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Anthony Weigh’s EDWARD II

Tender chaos

By Leeor Adar

For all the chaos of Christopher Marlowe’s brief life, I’m sure he would have sat in the Merlyn Theatre last night with a wicked smile on his face to see the tender chaos Matthew Lutton and his team resurrected.

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But let’s be honest, with Anthony Weigh’s writing and Marg Horwell’s impressive set design, this work is a beast of its own glory.

The play is broken into the fragments of the artefacts the boy prince (Julian Mineo/Nicholas Ross) inspects from his father’s reign. The noble handle of a sword and handkerchief descends to a bag of faeces left at the palace gates. The frames of the scenes marked by the flint and steel of the lighter, signify the brief candle of these moments leading towards Edward II’s fall.

Edward II is a museum to the hypocrisy of the people’s love for their monarch. It’s a cold world, but despite the blood and pulp of the people within it, at the core of this rotten apple of yet another kingdom, is the most tender love story between two men I have ever witnessed on stage. Johnny Carr (Ned) and Paul Ashcroft (Piers) capture the heady, shaking, vulnerability of the impossible-to-bottle kind of love. Their energy was marvellous on stage.

Ned’s brutality and unpredictability at first drove this production, but even the bubbling inner-workings of an unstable prince could not quash the ambitions of the likes of Mortimer, played with mastery by Marco Chiappi. When Chiappi got going on Weigh’s words, it became Mortimer I. For all the sweat and passion of Carr and Ashcroft, Chiappi’s delivery drew the masses into the palm of his hand – audience and peasant alike. Even as Mortimer lulled a sensually delusional Ned towards death, we could not help but accept the sensibility of this decision. Because tomorrow, we will have another king.

The woman’s role in Edward II is to nurture the next king, but Sib (Belinda McClory) laments the loss of her potential in this world. Although Sib plays the role of the queen-to-be, there is ambition pulsing through her sinewy body for a surge of control. McClory’s voice is hollow and powerful as she pushes her lover aside and walks with purpose across the stage. But at the close of this play, she’s exhausted, calling out, unanswered, into the kingdom she birthed but could not rein.

The Malthouse Theatre has always been the Marlowe-esque bad boy of the Melbourne theatre world, challenging the dimensions of theatre and immersing its audiences in treacherous and thought-provoking terrain. This one such terrain was bold, decadent and ultimately heartbreaking.

Malthouse Theatre until August 21

http://malthousetheatre.com.au/whats-on/edward-ii

REVIEW: Declan Greene’s POMPEII, L.A.

A wry, absurdist take on the celebrity life

By Myron My

The Malthouse Theatre production of Declan Greene’s Pompeii, L.A. follows the fortunes of a troubled young child star after a terrible accident leaves him in hospital. Green looks at the influence and effects Hollywood has on such young impressionable people and speculates as to the ultimate fate that most of them will meet.

To begin with, Nick Schlieper’s slick set design was flawless: I would go so far as to say it was right up there with the most impressive stage designs I have seen.  There was so much attention paid to detail and ensuring the environment was as real as possible. Having such extravagant sets did run the risk of a clumsy transition with getting rid of and adding so many props and pieces, but scene changes were executed well and went very smoothly.

Also worth mentioning was the great play across such a large space. There were lavish scenes that spread out all over the stage which did create a sort of divide between us and the action and whether this was intentional or not, it worked well. In contrast, the scenes in the hospital which used a much a smaller space and moved closer to the audience created that intimacy and solitude one would expect.

I did find the story a little hard to follow, even somewhat convoluted. I appreciate what Greene was attempting to do in showing the surrealism existing between celebrity life and real life and exploring what can happen when the two worlds blur together but as an average audience member I was left wondering what was going on quite a few times which detracts from being able to immerse oneself into the experience. 

However, what the story lacked was more than made up by the actors, in particular David Harrison as the unnamed protagonist. Harrison played the role with realism and honesty, especially his scenes in hospital. Even when he was surrounded by exaggerated caricatures of people in those scenes, he still maintained the humanity and true emotion of his character. Belinda McClory was also great with her opening cameo as Judy Garland and continued to impress with the other characters she portrayed throughout. There were times I was unsure if there was a different actor performing, such were her chameleon ways.

Overall, Pompeii, L.A. is a thought-provoking production and considering how strongly obsessed our culture is with celebrities and their lifestyles, it’s an interesting piece of theatre that is well worth watching.

Venue: The Malthouse Theatre, 113 Sturt St, Southbank

Season: Until 9 December | 7:30pm, Sat 2:30pm, Sun 5:30pm

Tickets: $58 Full | $48 Concession | $28 Student

Bookings: https://boxoffice.malthousetheatre.com.au