Tag: Casey Gould

REVIEW: Ben Noble in MEMBER

Powerful and lingering

By Myron My

Presented as part of the 2016 Midsumma Festival by Fairly Lucid Productions and directed by Casey Gould, Ben Noble‘s play Member was incited by the death of gay man Scott Johnson in 1988 when his body was found at the bottom of a cliff at Manly. Deemed a suicide, there has always been speculation that he was a victim of a gay hate-crime. However, this narrative focuses on Corey, your typical Aussie living in Manly with his wife and child. We follow Corey through various moments in his life that have led to where he is now: in a hospital room with his son lying unconscious, seemingly fighting for his life.

Member.jpg

 

Ben Noble is exemplary in his performance as Corey (and all the other characters he plays). From the very beginning, our eyes are glued on him and even as he begins to unravel and the truth becomes clearer, we still cannot look away. Corey is a complex character but Noble is able to bring some insight into his actions and thoughts while still holding him accountable for them.

There are some very difficult moments to watch in the show: not because of what’s happening on stage, but because of what’s happening in our head. Noble is so convincing with his delivery of the dialogue and the characters he creates that it is impossible to not begin visualising what is being described. You see the fear in the eyes of the victims with every insult slurred, you hear the moment when foot connects with rib, and you can almost feel the blood splatter from every strike to the face.

The lighting design by Lisa Mibus hones in on the intensity of the events and despite the empty space bar for a single chair, builds well on creating a claustrophobic environment. Jacob Battista‘s stage design that covering the entire floor in one sheet of silver gloss works perfectly in bringing more depth to the work. The watery mirrored surface not only captures Noble reflecting on his own behaviour and past, but also ensures the audience reflect on the community we live in and acknowledge that these things have happened and continue to happen.

Despite its set time period, Member could easily be describing topical events from current times with homophobic attacks on people of the GLBTIQ community still occurring when you consider that only last week a gay man was bashed in St Kilda Royal Botanical Gardens, and stickers were placed along Chapel St stating “Cure AIDS, Kick a Poofter to Death”.

Member is an important story that needs to be told. It’s important because it reminds us that no matter how far we have come as a community and as a society, we still have so much further to go before people such as Scott Johnson can feel safe in their community and in their homes. With a completely sold-out run, here’s hoping this show gets a second season some time soon.

Member was performed between 19 – 30 January at La Mama Theatre

Image by Derek McAlpin

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REVIEW: Andrew Stano has NAILED IT!

A familiar cabaret face with an exciting new show

By Bradley Storer

Nailed It!

The atmosphere for the opening night of Nailed It!, a showcase of new musical work, was casual but friendly as performer Andrew Strano (previously seen as one half of cabaret duo The Bad Boys of Music Theatre) walked out onstage and sincerely thanked the audience for coming, and apologized for his co-writer Loclan Mackenzie-Spencer’s absence due to a conducting commitment for a certain blockbuster musical playing at the Regent.

The pair have constructed an array of fantastic original songs, mainly (at least in this showing) involved with relationships, love and growing up. They explore it both in a comedic sense, as in one song which brutally deconstructs the mating habits of bees and flowers, and in a sincere heart-felt manner – but every song manages to find a surprising (and usually hilarious) perspective. Take, for example, a pretty Jason Robert Brown-style ballad expounding the benefits of incest, or a wacky upbeat number comparing a love of babies to crack addiction. The highpoint of the show is a brilliantly written ballad about accidentally destroying a car with a twist that makes it genuinely heartbreaking.

Strano is a charming presence onstage, with a rich, warm vocal tone and a refreshingly quiet charisma that makes him easy to relate to and wins the audience over whenever he speaks. The banter and links between songs is deceptively playful and improvisational, which is a credit to director Casey Gould for making it seem simultaneously perfect and made up on the spot. The music stand in front of Strano physically blocked him from fully connecting with the audience during the opening number, but was used later for some effective choreography. Strano was accompanied on opening night by Robyn Womersley, whose playing throughout was assured and expressive.

Nailed It! is a delightful showcase for the talents of a wonderful new musical duo, and the wonderful work on display promises great things for their future which I look forward to seeing!

Venue: The Butterfly Club, 5 Carson Place (access from Little Collins St)
Date: Wednesday 9th – Sunday 13th July
Time: Wednesday/Sunday 8pm, Thursday/Friday/Saturday 9pm
Price: All tickets $20, Preview $15
Booking: www.thebutterflyclub.com or at the door