Tag: Casey Scott Corless

Q44 Theatre Presents SHINING CITY

Poignant and powerful

By Myron My

The effects of grief and guilt are hauntingly explored in Q44 Theatre‘s latest production of Conor McPherson’s Shining City.

Shining City.jpg

Set in Dublin, the story revolves around a therapist and his patient, each with his own set of demons to face, and it is another example of the exemplary work on which this theatre company is building its reputation.

Anthony Scundi is exceptional as Ian, an ex-priest struggling with his loss of faith who has just opened up a therapy clinic. While initially coming across as someone who has his life in order, the ensuing scenes paint a picture of a man who is gradually unraveling. Scundi is well-paired with Sebastian Gunner as John, his new patient and the rapport they share feels genuine. Gunner nails a lengthy monologue that requires him to find the right balance of a range of emotions as he recount the events leading up to the death of his wife.

Madeline Claire French as Ian’s wife Neasa, and Nick Cain as Laurence, deliver some strong work in their short but pivotal scenes in Shining City. The chemistry shared between Cain and Scundi in their scene is palpable, and Gabriella Rose-Carter‘s intimate direction clearly conveys Ian’s confusion and helplessness. This results in the most engrossing and intense scene of the play, and keep the audience guessing as to what is going to happen next and how the events are going to play out.

Rose-Carter once again creates engaging and captivating work from her actors, allowing them to embody their characters, and the interludes she instigates between the scenes are well-executed. There is no sense of time or being rushed during the show and Rose-Carter allows things to linger, so that we can interpret them as we like.

The scenic design by Casey-Scott Corless and construction by John Byrne functions as a great metaphor on our attempts to keep our true thoughts and feelings buried, and exposes a duality in our efforts to present ourselves as someone we feel we ought to be. This is supported by the subtle yet effective lighting design by John Collopy that really pushes the claustrophobia in the play.

Shining City is not just a play about John and Ian, but also Neasa and Laurence, and even then it’s about something bigger. It’s about people who are confused and have lost their way, and are doing whatever it is they can to do better – to be better. While set in Dublin, this could easily be any one of us in these characters’ shoes. It’s a lingering and thought-inducing show on people’s struggle to find meaning and connection in the world in which they live.

Venue: Q44 Theatre, 550 Swan St, Richmond

Season: Until 27 November | Wed- Sat 7:30pm, Sun 6:00pm

Tickets: $35 Full | $30 Conc

Bookings:Q44 Theatre

Q44 Theatre Presents SEX WITH STRANGERS

Writers meet, and the story unfurls

By Myron My

In Laura Eason’s Sex With Strangers, a female novelist meets a male blogger at a bed and breakfast in rural Michigan. She loves books, he prefers ebooks. She likes reading the classics, he prefers living writers. She prefers to keep her private life private, he lives his life on-line. Despite their differences, the two are drawn to each other and are forced to question the choices they’ve made in their lives and the ones they are going to have to make in the future.

Sex With Strangers.jpg

Will Atkinson offers a strong performance as Ethan, finding the right balance of brashness, cockiness and arrogance to his sweet, charismatic and endearing nature. Ethan is the type of guy that many of us despise but secretly want to be, and it’s Atkinson’s work in Sex With Strangers that really has you debating that position.

Atkinson’s pairing with Carissa McAllen as Olivia is a great casting choice and the two play off each other well. McAllen convincingly portrays the uncertainty and insecurities Olivia feels in being judged by the public on her writing; however, there were scenes in which I felt McAllen needed to express her character’s anger and frustrations more deeply than what was displayed on the night I attended.

While the space at Q44 Theatre is on the small side and the set itself is more compact than other productions, directors Gabriella Rose-Carter and Casey-Scott Corless use it to their advantage. They adroitly create an intimate world for Olivia and Ethan, that – while certainly influenced by outside factors – ensures the important moments of their lives are captured within the confines of the four walls.

The set and lighting design by Corless and sound design by Justin Gardam effectively show the differences of the two lifestyles being featured. We witness what feels like a battle between a time when life involved face-to-face interaction and real talent being rewarded, and present-day life with its iPhone obsession and the ability to be famous for being famous.

In the bed and breakfast, there is no television and the Internet has dropped out, wherepon an incredulous Ethan exclaims, “How will I look stuff up?” as he repeatedly checks his phone in vain. The environment here is therefore quiet and calm, just like our initial impressions of Olivia. The transition between scenes occur with a flash of light from an imagined Polaroid camera and the photo developing, often capturing an embrace or a kiss shared before the lights dim and calming music plays as the actors perform a quick costume change or set up the next scene.

By contrast, the second act in Olivia’s Chicago apartment has both characters constantly on their phones or their computers. They are no longer giving each other their undivided attention and it’s this technology that could be the doom for their relationship. The scene changes now occur with thumping club music and a red strobe light, reminiscent of an alarm warning of impending danger.

Q44 Theatre is fast building a reputation for producing a varied repertoire of excellent shows, and Sex With Strangers is another success story. Despite being first performed in 2009, the play still has plenty of relevance in the struggles to find meaningful connections – not only in what we do, but also with each other. In a society where there is a constant cacophony of ringing, buzzing and tapping, making these connections and having these experiences is becoming more difficult, ultimately leaving us wondering what we have missed out on, much like Ethan and Olivia.

Venue: Q44 Theatre, 550 Swan St, Richmond
 Until 3 September | Wed- Sat 7:30pm, Sun 6:00p
 $35 Full | $30 Con
 Q44 Theatre

REVIEW: Riot Stage Presents FOREVER CITY

Sharp wit from young creatives

By Amy Planner

What does the end of the world look like? What will it feel like and what happens after? These are the hot topics that Forever City ferociously explores in this youthful post-dramatic production.

Forever City

Directed by Katrina Cornwall, Forever City follows a group of school leavers who begin to consider life after graduation when yet another plane goes missing and hints of end of the world start to form. The teens start question themselves, their world and life, as they know it, and of course, there’s a dinosaur.

Filled with inner monologues and fraught with cultural angst, this story studies apocalyptic ideas and doesn’t disguise teenage anguish as anything other than what we’re all thinking. There is no doubt this show is funny: there were spurts of laughter, rolling chuckles and an audible snort or two. It is witty, current and unique.

The performers (Ellen Campion, Mieke Dodd, Kes Daniel Doney, Kate Dunn, Yash Jagtani, Daisy Kocher, Alanna Marshall, Marie Mokbel, Amelia Newman and Jack Zapsalisare) a group of ten teenagers from the Moreland area with fresh faces, creative energy and novel story-telling abilities. There were a few stumbles along the way, stirred undoubtedly by nerves and excitement. Some second-guessing of their instincts was evident, but overall these spritely teens have real promise. The refreshing sense comes from the youthfulness of the performers and the fact that they don’t feel the need to be quirky or cunning. Their ingeniousness comes from an innocent place and even surprised the performers themselves at times with an unexpected smirk or two after glorious audience response.

The minimal set by Casey Scott Corless complimented the complexity of the story, as did the great use of lighting (designed by Suze Smith) both on stage and off. A little unbalance between audio levels and vocal projection at times, but the sound design of the show was interesting, pleasantly unusual and darn creative.

Writer Morgan Rose deserves props for her use of current events and cultural phenomenon combined with deep-seeded concerns and comedic elements. The messages the story was trying to send were stimulating but perhaps a little clouded; an unusual and unexpected twist left us unsure of the story’s aim.

Forever City is part of a new wave of contemporary theatre exploration taking current events and local news as the inspiration for a powerful story.

Venue: La Mama Courthouse, 349 Drummond St, Carlton

Season: 16-19 April 2015, Friday 1pm & 7.30pm, Saturday 7.30pm, Sunday 4pm

Tickets: $25 Full, $15 Concession, $15 Group Bookings (10+), $15 School Group

Bookings: http://lamama.com.au/ticketing/buy-tickets

More information: www.riotstage.com