Tag: Declan Greene

Malthouse Theatre Presents THE HOMOSEXUALS

Gleefully funny

By Leeor Adar

How dare we, or you, or anyone, be politically incorrect (PC is very in, in case you weren’t paying attention). Lee Lewis’ romp as director into taboo territory is loud, colourful, slapstick, and rainbow-shoots dance hits of the bygones. This production of The Homosexuals is everything you would expect it to be, and then a little more sardonic.

The Homosexuals.jpg

And it is funny. The shining light of this show isn’t the performers so much as their sharp dialogue catapulted from Declan Greene’s pen. I can see the delivery only sharpening as the season goes on, and like Greene’s usual work, is so right now. Right now, and reflected in the play is the war between white homosexual men and other sexual and racial minorities that continue to be marginalised by cookie-cutter ideals. It rages in this production, and offers a farcical gaze upon the pompous rhetoric of queer theorist ‘Bae-Bae’ (played with natural grace and disdain by the genderqueer Mama Alto).

The play is set in a tiny modern apartment in Darlinghurst where Warren (Simon Bourke), the identified ‘older gay gentleman’ looks through his lens at the young and chiselled Adonis (Lincoln Younes). Clichés aside, Warren attempts to hide his interest in the Adonis from his shrieky partner, Kim (Simon Corfield). Cue the realisation that married paradise does not exist even for the queer community. What is meant to be the night of the Mardi-Gras and offensive costume party (hint: blackface/Hiroshimaface/Naziface), turns into a comedy of near-misses as a druggie and part-time cook (Mama Alto) is mistaken for the gloriously self-righteous ‘Bae Bae’. A series of mad antics ensue in what is sure to be a night of laughs.

A real shout-out must go to the top-notch comic delivery of Diana (Genevieve Lemon), who propelled the silliness on stage and brought a sage moment towards the close of the fare. Unfortunately this is where the script diverts too sharply from the rest of the play; the tone suddenly shifts to a serious place that doesn’t have the same wondrous reality-shatter of other works that manage to take comedy to dark places. The point is already made in the piece itself – the audience knows. The show ultimately ends with a whimper, no bang in sight. I found this a touch disappointing given all the walls shattered earlier in the evening.

However, if you want to catch a show that pokes fun at itself and definitely makes you laugh – then by all means, enter the rainbow world of The Homosexuals, or ‘Faggots’, currently showing at the Malthouse Theatre until Sunday 12 March.

Book your tickets here: https://tickets.malthousetheatre.com.au/booking/production/syos/3205

Image by Brett Boardman

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Zoey Dawson’s CONVICTION

Unsettling and outstanding

By Leeor Adar

Welcome to the prolonged anxiety attack.

Conviction.jpg

We were submerged into a seemingly soothing world of sound design maverick, James Paul. Distant shores ebbed and flowed into the subconscious and conscious workings of playwright Zoey Dawson. Inane, witty and self-indulgent thoughts grabbed us and made us laugh, and sometimes think a little too hard about ourselves. But that was Dawson’s point. Our own private narrative is both universal and compelling, and Dawson understands this, even if it ticks some theatre-goers off.

Declan Greene’s assured direction makes its masterful entrance as our actors form a tableau from a bygone era. The stream of consciousness that we found ourselves immersed in earlier is being spoken by our now shifting tableau. It’s a gorgeous beginning, and I feel safe in this space, which will become a central feature of what the Dawson/Greene team are going to undo.

And undo it they will.

Conviction goes House on the Prairie to Lord of the Flies in a descent one does not see coming. With every unhappy scene, it is reworked again, and again, just as its playwright tears the pages of their work away. You can almost feel the playwright’s desperation as historical inconsistencies litter the work, until our convict-cum-lady, Lillian (Ruby Hughes), is smoking out of a crack pipe and unravelling both out of character and out of era. The playwright has clearly become bored with the ‘great play’ and returns to a reality more familiar.

The cast is excellent – but it is our leading ladies who really stand out. Hughes dominates in her performance as the ‘survivor’ in a world of her own making, and Caroline Lee’s timing as a performer is effortless. Greene has directed his cast with style – transitioning them with ease from one dimension to the next. It’s a testament to this creative team’s skill that as an audience we take this wild and weird journey with them.

The only concern for this work is its exclusivity. Dawson may find it difficult to reimagine this work in another city. The references to Melbourne and the very specific Melbourne condition are hard to unravel. Dawson’s story resonated with me, but I wonder, outside of the theatre-loving privilege, how will outsiders connect? Dawson has taken on a mouthful in Conviction, but she still artfully weaves historical and feminist inconsistencies into her work in a way that is charming, jarring and familiar.  She reconfigures the past, as our stock white colonialists ask a passing native Australian to tell her story. The world stops for a moment, blacked out and blank, as this story was not Dawson’s to tell. Dawson reminds us that we write stories about our own experiences because they are authentic. It’s also a brazen up-yours to our great nation’s denial of a stolen history. But this is Dawson’s experience, and she manages to intersect her private narrative with a greater narrative about our fear of not being enough, and unworthy of telling our tale.

This isn’t a story about convicts – as I expect you’ve gathered by now. It’s a story about convicting ourselves to a life of self-doubt and anxiety for failing to have the conviction to tell our story.

You can join the stream of consciousness from the 27 July to the 6 August, Wednesday – Sunday at 7:30pm, Northcote Town Hall.

Bookings: Conviction Ticketing

REVIEW: Declan Greene’s I AM A MIRACLE

Grim tales woven together with heavenly music and powerful imagery

By Margaret Wieringa

Chairs are strewn across a bare stage, and a few other items, hard to distinguish, lie in piles. Three actors in the orange jumpsuits recognisable as those worn by people incarcerated in US prisons are in place around the stage. As the lights come down, one begins to address a prisoner on death row who has only a few minutes to live, while the others whisper, possibly prayers. Thus begins the intense journey of I Am A Miracle.

I Am A Miracle

The title comes from the last words of Marvin Lee Wilson, a man with an extremely low IQ who was executed in 2012. Such a low IQ should have prevented his death, but did not. Declan Greene wrote this play for Marvin, to document various miscarriages of justice. There is the story of a young Dutch solider in Africa in the eighteenth century, sent on a mission through the jungle to quell a slave uprising, and that of a man in Melbourne entrapped by his carer.

This is a hard production to watch; the Malthouse publicity has the message that this is “not for the timid”. The story of the Dutch soldier has images that are hard to forget, and while the boy is seventeen, Melita Jurisic brings an innocence and purity to the character that makes him seem so much younger, so much easier to be broken. Later, she plays the carer (and possibly partner?) of Bert LaBonté‘s character, and while this woman seems to have the emotional control, he is clearly physically able to overpower her. It is the music, notably the beautiful singing of Hana Lee Crisp, that ultimately brings the pieces of the play together. Crisp drifts through the performance, or stands aside, like some kind of angel.

At times, the combination of the soundscape and music and lighting are overwhelming, as though director Matthew Lutton is deliberately creating a religious experience. Indeed, the powerful climax is the world being reborn, blinding the audience with light and deafening with sound. While I must admit that I did not understand everything that happened, it was a theatrical event that I am very glad I experienced.

Where: Malthouse Theatre, Sturt St Southbank
When: July 18 – Aug 9.
Tickets: $30-$60
Box Office: www.malthousetheatre.com.au
WARNING: Contains dynamic sound, strobe lighting and some adult language.