Tag: Bertolt Brecht

REVIEW: Hannah Day’s WEILL CREATURES

Into the dark…

By Jessica Cornish

In the appropriately atmospheric Butterfly Club, twenty-something-year-old songstress Hannah Day is currently staring in the one-woman cabaret Weill Creatures, composed from a tapestry of Weill’s musical creations.

Weill Creatures

The hour-long performance features the music of Kurt Weill, and dramatist Bertolt Brecht, and if you’re not familiar, the pair were notoriously known as the founding fathers of Episches Theater (the epic theatre movement) established in twentieth-century Germany. The majority of the numbers Day utilises are from well-known musicals such as The Threepenny Opera and Happy End, which were popular musicals of their day that appealed to the masses whilst retaining their literary and musical integrity.

Weill Creatures is sung in a mixture of French and English, which was an interesting decision as the original pieces were actually composed in German. Due to the Franglish, it was sometimes slightly difficult to grasp the story line, especially for those less familiar with the works of Weill and Brecht. This confusion was further deepened due to the various segueing monologues introducing and entering different characters’ lives.

Many of the characters portrayed are heartbroken women tormented by unrequited love, women who are suffering in the knowledge that their husbands have returned to a life of crime, women who are themselves swindlers and women forced to live a life of prostitution. It is quite an intense and serious hour of cabaret, which draws its audience dramatically and musically into the bleak reality of these women.

Similar to the plot, the lighting was ultimately a tad too dark for my liking: the performance could have benefited from a little more light and shade, rather than just the enduring darkness. Indeed, the big mystery of the evening, as articulated by my Weill enthusiast companion, was where was the “Mack the Knife” rendition went? With its blackly humorous lyrics and jazz-standard fame,  this Threepenny Opera delight could have added some needed upbeat relief and engaging familiarity in an otherwise grim and sombre performance.

Vocally, Day is impressive. Her words were well-articulated and notes, particularly in the higher register, were all well-executed. She had great projection and vibrato was added appropriately to colour the songs, nicely emulating the singing style of the 1930’s. She is clearly a confident young performer, with a strong support network and a definite future in the Australian musical theatre scene. Weill Creatures is definitely not for the faint-hearted, and I warmly applaud Hannah for exposing the daring and dramatic works of Weill to a new generation.

The Butterfly Club: Carson Place, off Little Collins St (between Swanston & Elizabeth) in the Melbourne CBD.

Tuesday 20 May 2014 8:00pm
Wednesday 21 May 2014 8:00pm
Thursday 22 May 2014 9:00pm
Friday 23 May 2014 9:00pm
Saturday 24 May 2014 9:00pm
Sunday 25 May 2014 8:00pm

Full $23
Concession $20
Groups (8+) $18

http://www.thebutterflyclub.com/show/weill-creatures

REVIEW: Our Chalk Circle at THEATREWORKS

A joyous response to a timeless classic

By Myron My

With a re-imagining of Bertolt Brecht’s Caucasian Chalk Circle, Inotrope and St Kilda Uniting Care Drop In Centre are presenting their latest collaborative work, Our Chalk Circle this week.

The story follows a young maid who takes the Governor and his wife’s abandoned baby under her care, and explores the repercussions that arise from that act.

It’s great when a performance can have a stage in the round or appropriately ‘in the circle’ here, as it allows the audience to be more involved in the action. Bales of hay form the circle and seating for the viewers of this production, and its strong scent immediately takes your thoughts to old village life. Then the music begins and the procession marches out in their grand costumes made from wadding.

Set within a culture of corruption and deception, Our Circle Chalk examines three very important themes: class discrimination, human sympathy and goodness and justice but it manages to look at these themes in a light and uplifting way whilst not ignoring their impact on society or examining how they are still relevant in today’s world.

The songs are beautifully timed to moments where we need to gather ourselves from the chaos that is occurring. They are far and few between but each song has such an impact on us as an audience that they go on in your mind even after they have ended.

It was impressive to see a variety of people singing and playing the instruments with skill and from the heart. Having said that, all the performers in this company also excelled in their roles and took on their characters with strong conviction and commitment.

By the end of the Our Chalk Circle, there was a definite collective mood of joy in the audience as we all clapped along and laughed to the final song. This creative work was an uplifting and feel-good performance that had me smiling long after I got home.

Venue: Theatreworks, 14 Acland St, St Kilda.

Season: Until 11 November | 7:30pm, Sun 5:30pm

Tickets: $36 Full | $20 Concession

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