Tag: death

REVIEW: Arts House Presents ENDINGS

Finding words about death

By Myron My

There is a familiar smell in the air as I take my seat at Arts House theatre space in North Melbourne Town Hall. Even though I can’t quite put my finger on what it is, it feels like rain on a cold, wet night with mist and fog in the air, which subsequently fits in poignantly with the show I am about to see: the show about death. In Endings, Tamara Saulwick explores our attempts to stay connected with loved ones after they have passed away.

Endings

Saulwick explores this concept in a very intimate setting with pre-recorded conversations with people who have lost loved ones as well as opening up about the death of her own father. These recordings and conversations describe not only the moments leading up to the death but the thoughts and actions immediately following. One person mentions photographing the deceased with family members and another recalls the shock of hospital staff at a request to bathe the deceased.

For those who have been affected by death, there are many emotions to be felt, and while most of the show deals with the nostalgia and sadness of death (the more ‘gentle’ of emotions), Saulwick also captures the fear and terror perfectly in a scene that, even though it lasts just seconds, lingers on for quite some time after.

There are numerous poignant moments in Endings, including the musical interludes by Paddy Mann. His songs are heartfelt yet simple with a soothing voice that brought up my own experiences of death and memories that seemed long forgotten. Approaching the seven-year anniversary of my mother’s passing, I couldn’t help but get a little emotional and once the lights came up at the end of the show, it was clear I was not the only one.

Speaking of lights, the lighting set and design by Ben Cobham is perfectly executed in Endings, capturing the profound mood and the themes of the show flawlessly. Spotlights appear on the performers, swinging lights cast shadows over the set pieces and the way the lights themselves move feels like they are spirits themselves, floating on stage.

Everyone will die. It is inevitable, yet it is also one of the most difficult things people can face. It comes as a surprise when death happens, as if we were supposed to be spared from this experience. Endings reminds us how to keep the memory and the stories we’ve shared with these people alive. It is the perfect tribute for anyone who has ever lost somebody they loved.

Venue: Arts House, North Melbourne Town Hall, 521 Queensberry St, North Melbourne

Season: Until 17 May | Thurs-Sat 7:30pm, Sat 2pm, Sun 5pm

Tickets: $30 Full | $20 Conc

Bookings: Arts House

Review: WORD CRIME with Alice Fraser

Trying to find the right words

By Myron My

Alice Fraser’s Word Crime is part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival and in it she looks at language and how we use them to shape the world yet despite this rich resource for comedy there was ultimately very little present in this act. Fraser spent most of the time offering social commentary on how women are seen in society and about the violence that is sweeping America.

Word Crime

There were awkward moments in this show and I would like to put it down to preview night nerves but some of the material that was covered seemed inappropriate in such a setting. Death can be funny but trying to bring humour into topics such as suicide and her mother’s terminal suffering of MS is a very difficult thing to do especially when there is a room full of people who haven’t been warmed into your brand of comedy. There were jokes that were bordering on racist, and references to World War 2 that just didn’t work and made it difficult to connect with the performer.

There were many times that Fraser said how important words were for her as a child and how her mother would speak many languages and read poetry but unfortunately she never went further with this. The flow of delivery was a bit abrupt and we kept re-visiting topics that seemed out of place after what we had just been discussing.

Fraser seemed quite nervous on stage which is understandable for a preview, but perhaps more rehearsing was needed as she often began talking about something that was very personal, but paused, apparently remembering lines or thinking about what she was going to say next. A few times, Fraser even dismissed the attempt and went on to talk about something else.

Fraser was at her strongest when singing and playing the banjo so it’s a shame there wasn’t more of this. Her lyrics were charming and her song about being the best stalker in the land was actually quite sweet…in a stalker kind of way.

Overall, Word Crime is a concept of great potential doesn’t quite come together this time.

Venue: The Butterfly Club, 256 Collins St (entry via Carson Place), Melbourne

Season: Until 17 April | Tues-Wed, 6:00pm

Tickets: $18 Full | $14 Concession

Bookings: www.butterflyclub.com, 1300 660 013 or at the door

REVIEW: Stripped at LA MAMA

Laying a story bare…

By Adam Tonking

Stripped is the story of two sisters, Lillian and Sophie, estranged by the various circumstances of their vastly different lives, and brought back together through tragedy.

Lillian is a lawyer, married to Daniel, good friends with Louise and Jack: she is also dying. Sophie is a stripper, and there are more characters in this story; but what is important is that all of these are played by the one amazing actress.

Caroline Lee, creator of the original text, is the actress at the helm of all these characters in this overwhelming story about the repercussions of death on relationships. While the different characterisations took a while to sink in for the audience, Lee was in complete control the entire time.

She obviously understood each character down to the bone, and presented their individual identities clearly for the audience, managing the different ages, genders, and motivations with grace and apparent ease; in fact, one of the most provocative moments was told from the perspective of Lillian’s husband, Daniel. All this, while allowing the compelling story to unfold before us.

In spite of the subject matter, the script never became manipulative, melodramatic, or clichéd. Rather, it remained conversational and deeply personal throughout. I did feel at times that this conversational tone clashed with Lee’s often declamatory style of speech, and with Laurence Strangio’s restrained direction which occasionally seemed too stylised.

I suspect that these choices were made to clear any extraneous clutter for an audience required to keep up with the complexity of shifting narrative perspectives, however I felt that it created a barrier between the audience and the characters, forcing the audience to sympathise rather than empathise.

But that is ultimately a small detraction, in what is otherwise a masterful performance of a challenging and powerful piece.

Stripped is on at La Mama Theatre, 205 Faraday Street, Carlton, from Wednesday 7th March till Sunday 18th March. Bookings at www.lamama.com.au or by calling 03 9347 6142.

IN THE DEAD OF NIGHT: The Hit Cult Show Returns

In The Dead Of Night
In The Dead Of Night

CABARET TURNS DEADLY

Australia’s first ‘choose your own adventure’ cabaret debuts in Melbourne… and it’s not for the faint of heart.

After directing professional cabaret and theatre for nearly a decade, Play Right Theatre founder Kim Edwards has channelled her dark side and finally released a long-time pet project of her own on the stage.

Edwards’ previous credits include children’s drama classes and Theatre In Education work, but it will be adults only when In The Dead Of Night: A Cult Show is let loose at The Butterfly Club in all its gothic, grotesque, and darkly funny glory.

“This is the product of my perverse pen and the dark recesses of my twisted mind” explained the lady herself, whose witty new work explores three lives at stake in a dangerous murder mystery, rife with black humour and suspense.

A major twist to this late night cult show is the uncertainty of its own cast members as to each story climax. Every evening, the audience are given control over the fate of the characters in ‘choose your own adventure’ style, meaning every performance is completely unique, and the possibilities are endless.

Three will finally meet,
Two will finally know.

One will certainly die…

Let the fun begin!

10.30pm every Fri/Sat July 31- Aug 15
The Butterfly Club
204 Bank St, South Melbourne
Tickets $22/17
Bookings: www.thebutterflyclub.com
Enquiries: 03 9690 2000

Gothic, grotesque and darkly funny – not for the faint-hearted… 

Cult Show Cast

THE GENTLEMAN: Zac Brown
THE MAIDEN: Lizzie Matjacic
THE ACCOMPANIST: Trevor Jones