Tag: Christina Costigan

REVIEW: Hoy Polloy Presents MEEKA

True crime meets fiction

By Narelle Wood

Meeka is a tale of fraud, deceit, arsen and a brutal attempt at murder told with all the straight-talking humour you would expect from a play set in the outback.

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The storyline focuses on a local school pricipal John (Kevin Summers) who is trying to do the best he can with his small isolated community school. However dealing with budgetary issues becomes a bigger burden than he had bargained for, especially when the city folk in the department send auditor Kevin (Keith Brockett) up to Meeka to check the school’s finances. John is not fooled by the apparent routineness of the audit and is determined to watch the Kevin’s every move. To complicate issues John’s relationship with his staff is on tenter hooks for a whole range of reasons, including issues of favouritism and power plays, that potentially implicate his staff in the alleged fraud. When Kevin arrives all seems to be going well, but bit by bit things slowly start to unravel ending with Kevin’s head blending profusely, Kevin claiming John tried to kill him, and John professing self defence. Under normal circumstances that would be a spoiler, however Meeka is based on a true crime, so the focus is not so much on the murder attempt but the events leading up to the heinous crime and who exactly is responsible.

The cast is full of wonderful Aussie archetypes: the straight-talking, no-holds-barred woman Eileen (Kelly Nash); the quintessential bloke PE teacher Tom (Liam Gillespie); the uptight English teacher Tiffany (Christina Costigan); and the primary school teacher Bec (Claire Pearson) with a hint of rebellion behind her caring demeanour. It is superbly cast, each performance complimenting Dan Walls‘ dialogue which is witty, and generally well paced. There was quite a colourful array of explicit language used throughout, sitting naturally alongside the very Australian twangs and colloquialisms of many of the characters. Under Shaun Kingma‘s direction there is complete authenticity to each of the performances, and the transitions between scenes are fast and make great use of the large space and simple sets.

If there was one thing that perhaps didn’t work as well for me was the middle section; it seemed to lag a little in comparison to the snappiness of the beginning and end. That aside, Meeka is a strangely funny take on some very dark subject matter; what makes the narrative work is the humour comes from the characters and not the situation. An exceptionally well-written and executed play.

Venue: Fortyfivedownstairs, 45 Flinders Lane, Melbourne
Season: Until 14th February, 8pm, 3pm Sundays
Tickets: Full $38
Bookings: www.fortyfivedownstairs.com/events

Review: THE SUBCONSCIOUS COMETH

Witty skits on life, death and the edge of sanity

By Jen Coles 

Baggage Productions has been working for years to promote female writers and performers in the industry with intelligence and wit.

Their latest, The Subconscious Cometh (Costigan/ Burton/ Nash), is an extremely original piece of theatre, detailing discussions of loss, life and death.

Honestly, I had no idea what to expect as the program notes nor the performer biographies hinted at what was to follow.

Thankfully, what did was an extremely tight and poignant program of short skits and monologues featuring all performers in a variety of roles.

The program began by introducing the cast, and their fears, in an extremely comedic way (almost like a game show).

After the introduction, we segued into ‘Motivational Dating’, featuring a character who used cooking metaphors to describe his “life menu,” which particularly resonated as we see people try to sell us new concepts every day for virtually the same things.

Other highlights were ‘Haunting the James’s’ – did we ever consider the ghost’s point of view about hauntings? – and ‘Spirit Guy’.

Featuring the only two males in the cast, the latter involved a character watching his family after he’d died and being assisted by his spirit guide who was perhaps a bit unorthodox. It was completely touching and humorous, as were many of the pieces in the show.

The monologues in the show were of excellent class, too; reasonably paced and all ended at a suitable place that made a point.

However, the monologues worked best when they were short and succinct; both James Deeth’s ‘Tasteless’ and Dan Walls’ ‘Changeling’ made their point well, but were a touch too long and stretched the show a bit.

In comparison to some of the shorter pieces of the show, the fact they seemed to sit on the same bits of material more for dramatic effect actually lessened the meaning, not enhanced it.

Regardless, the setting, lighting and subject matter made for an intimate discussion and reflection on the human soul.

My personal favourite were the discussions of our subconscious, ego and alter-ego (clearly an examination of Freud) manifested as a spider, a neurotic mess, and an extremely rude being. 

The Subconscious Cometh was a wonderful evening that managed to make you think hard about yourself, and laugh at the same time.

Baggage have created a terrific piece of theatre that they should probably think about expanding into a full-length play. But for now, it was short, to the point, and excellently produced.

Baggage Productions’ season of The Subconscious Cometh played at Trades Hall, Carlton June 14 to 25th June 2011.