Tag: Brendan Ewing

Sly Rat Theatre Presents THE TEMPEST

An enchanting event

By Margaret Wieringa

A small boat is wrecked in a magical tempest leaving the survivors to wander an island, guided by spirits and controlled by an ousted Italian noble. Sit back in your camping chair or spread out on your picnic rug; it’s time to be enchanted with some Shakespeare in the park.

The Tempest.jpg

This is the second Shakespearean performance that Sly Rat Theatre Company have put on in Pipemakers Park in Maribrynong and it was again a thoroughly enjoyable evening. We are introduced to the island by Prospero (Brendan Ewing) as he shows the power of his magic, controlling everyone and everything including his daughter and the very spirits of the island. Ewing starts the performance loud and dominant, unfortunately leaving himself very little room to expand the performance. Consequently, we get a strong sense of the outrage and anger of Prospero, but it far more difficult to glean his softer and more complex side.

For this production, artistic directors Alan Chambers and Andy Harmsen have gender-swapped many of the characters (the original play has only one or, depending on the reading of Ariel, two females) and this leads to a completely different reading of some parts of the performance. The idea of women dominating the society that they have left through dishonesty and deceit, and of a man rising up to take his true place – it adds a new level. It also meant that the royals, all female, were young, angry warriors dressed in wild Mad-Max/steampunk costumes and dominating the stage. These costumes contrasted vastly from the island spirits in wispy veils with lots of softness. Unfortunately, many seemed to be wearing poorly-fitting dresses, and while it was clear that the actresses were wearing skin-coloured undergarments, the sense of wardrobe malfunction was somewhat distracting.

Possibly the most impressive costume would have had to have been Caliban, played by Seton Pollock in a beige lyrca suit with all kinds of mutations built in – a hunchback with a distorted spine, one very large thigh and, most obviously, elongated arms with heavy, stumped ends which gave him an animalistic gait perfect for his portrayal of this tragic character.

One thing the production needed to consider further was the sound design. There were some scenes that worked really beautifully, creating the sense of the island (especially at the start, matched with sporadic giggles from the island spirits), but some of the other soundscapes really dominated, detracting from the acting.

However, this is a performance that is being crafted for everyone to enjoy – right down to the kids. There are many standout comedy moments, most notably the slapstick antics of the sailors and the other stand-out clowns of the evening, the wonderful drunks played hilariously by Katherine Moss and Tara Houghton.

Really, though, the performance is the icing on the cake of a delightful night out. You can relax, open some wine, eat a picnic or grab some food from the food truck. Enjoy the warmth in the air, the sun through the trees, and as the day draws to a close, let Shakespeare’s Tempest take you away.

Venue: Pipemakers Park, Van Ness Avenue, Maribrynong

Season: Feb 17-19 +24-26, March 3-5, 6:30pm

Tickets: It’s all free – just come on down!

Advertisements

REVIEW: Sly Rat Theatre’s A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM

A truly wonderful evening of entertainment

By Margaret Wieringa

Cancel your plans, pack a picnic and get yourself to Pipemaker’s Park. This is a show that you won’t want to miss – and if that hasn’t sold you, it’s free!

A Midsummer Night's Dream.jpg

In case you don’t know, A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a Shakespearean comedy, set in Athens one hot summer’s night. There are characters in love and characters betrothed and characters running away, and then the faeries and the like get involved, and things go crazy. Ultimately, the perfect play to watch as the sun sets in a beautiful Australian park.

The Pipemaker’s Park is a place that has been let got for a long time; walking from the carpark, you pass some ugly concrete and rusted fences. Director Alan Chambers and playwright Andy Harmsen have clearly drawn inspiration from these contrary surrounds, with the central feature of the set a rusted old pickup truck beneath a most beautiful and expansive tree.

And then the cast arrive – it was like Elizabethan Mad Max, a dystopian future-feel with ripped clothes and skinheads and a bit of ‘Am I Ever Going to See Your Face Again’. I cannot praise the cast enough. They were just fabulous – to a tee. Even the smallest role was filled with humour and delightful little quirks. As always, Puck was the favourite of the crowd – Brendan Ewing played the cheeky fawn with perfect comic timing, slipping through the crowd on the most mysterious stilt/legs. I want to go on about all of the performers, although space won’t permit – the wonderful lovers played with so much humour by Katharine Innes, Hannah Bolt, Letitia Sutherland and Seton Pollack; the hilarious Mechanicals lead by Jimmy James Eaton as Bottom. Just brilliant.

A couple of things for your comfort – plan a little. Bring a blanket and a jumper and maybe a picnic (though there are snacks, including a delicious smelling BBQ). And if it looks like the weather may turn, don’t cancel your plans – there is an undercover area where the show can move if need be. We were very lucky – there were a few drops of rain, but once some umbrellas were handed out, the rain stopped.

This was truly a community event – the audience was full of families and kids, couples and people on their own, young and old. It was a lovely feeling, and in a delightful park that I had not until this night even known existed.

Where: Pipemaker’s Park, The Living Museum of the West, Maribyrnong
When: 63:0 pm February 19th, 20th, 21st, 26th, 27th and 28th
Tickets: Free! Just arrive, spread out your blanket and enjoy!

http://www.slyrattheatreco.com/