Tag: Chris Wallace

REVIEW: Red Stitch Presents DETROIT

Neighbourly dangers unleashed

By Narelle Wood

I’ll be honest, I knew very little about Lisa D’Amour’s Detroit going in. I expected something gritty in keeping with my impressions of the city, and my previous experiences of Red Stitch productions had always been positive. In both cases, Detroit didn’t disappoint.

Detroit

The play is set in the backyards of two adjoining houses in what at one stage promised to be a housing estate with neighbours friendly enough to borrow cups of sugar from one another. When Kenny and Sharon move next-door, Mary and Ben take the opportunity to get to know their neighbours, a friendship is forged and things slowly spiral out of control. There is impending doom from the beginning; Mary and Ben are struggling with the economic downturn, Kenny and Sharon are not long out of rehab, and all four are looking for a way through their lives.

The tragedy in Detroit comes from Lisa D’Amour’s characters, rather than a set of tragic events. Mary (Sarah Sutherland), Ben (Brett Cousins), Kenny (Paul Ashcroft) and Sharon (Ngaire Dawn Fair) are complex in both the characters themselves and the relationships they forge with each other. But the complexities are restrained; it is a slow reveal of the different characters’ traits that leads to the tragic ends.. Upon entering the theatre the list of warnings about the content is extensive, but they are not overtly portrayed. Under Tanya Dickson’s direction, the cast create nuanced performances, striking a balance between overt friendly neighbours and the dark secrets the characters are hiding.

The small space of Red Stitch Actors Theatre doesn’t afford much opportunity for set changes, so the transitions between scenes are managed through multi-media projections of the suburbs and contrasting techno night-club music. The combination is jarring and reinforces the unlikeliness of the friendship between the two couples. The lighting and projections are at times eerie, especially when all four characters finally let go of their inhibitions.

Detroit is intriguing, disturbing and slightly nostalgic (thanks to Chris Wallace’s brief appearance to reminisce about the neighbourhoods of yesteryear). If you are looking to stretch your theatre repertoire this would be a good introduction to the darker side of entertainment; gritty, without the hyperbole.

Venue: Red Stitch Actors Theatre, Rear 2 Chapel St, St Kilda East
Season: Until 26th September, 8pm, 6.30pm Sundays, 3pm Saturday matiness
Tickets: Full $45| Conc $37
Bookings: redstitch.net

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REVIEW: Les Femmes at THE BUTTERFLY CLUB

Formidable!

By Christine Moffat

Les Femmes features five musically talented women (Les Femmes of the title) plus all original songs by Chris Wallace.  The show begins slow and small, with just Wallace onstage with pianist (and musical director) Robyn Womersley and Kat Ades on double bass.

Wallace sings a simple little ditty about his admiration for women, and gives a brief introduction to the show.  What follows is an hour of original songs belted out by the amazing vocal talents of Sarah-Louise Younger, Georgina Ward and Hollie James.  Boy, can these three ladies sing!

Les Femmes

The show follows a an old-fashioned revue format, with song following song in quick succession.  Each singer takes on a persona that matches the mood of the song. Younger is almost a show-stopping talent, performing songs ranging from comedy to sultry to soul with gusto.  Her voice is almost too big for the venue: when she belts, she belts! 

Ward is particularly cute in a country number about an unlucky-in-love faded beauty.  James is ready for the stage at the Princess Theatre, in one number singing and tap dancing with style, in another bringing herself and some of the audience to tears.  Wallace casts himself in the role of comic relief, performing a couple of cute songs and keeping the ball rolling.

There is not much to fault with this show: it is an hour’s real entertainment.  A couple of the lyrics were lost in the faster numbers (for example, ‘The Chocolate Song’) – perhaps this is due to The Butterfly Club not requiring microphones.  Bringing the action to the front of the stage for group songs could solve this.  If any change were to be made, this reviewer suggests finishing with  ‘The Chocolate Song’ (maybe even as a sing-along) as it has great energy and was simply good fun – the epitome of the show overall.

Oct 16 – 20

8pm (9pm Thu-Sat)

The Butterfly Club

Carson Place (just off Little Collins Street in the Melbourne CBD)

www.thebutterflyclub.com