Tag: Emily Tomlins

La Mama Presents I SAT AND WAITED BUT YOU WERE GONE TOO LONG

Private words for personal grief

By Myron My

Presented as part of La Mama Theatre’s Explorations season presenting new works in various stages of development, I Sat And Waited But You Were Gone Too Long is a look at how you move on with your life when you are struggling to just get through the day. Written and directed by Olivia Satchell, it follows two women (played by Rosie Clynes and Emily Tomlins) who are unable to release themselves from the grief that has taken them over.

I Sat And Waited But You Were Gone Too Long.jpg

Tomlins in particular is captivating as the nameless woman still coping with her own personal grief. The heartbreak she feels is clearly shown beyond Satchell’s words, and through Tomlins’ posture, facial expressions and manner of speech. Clynes is also great to watch as the motherless girl, however I found her harder to relate to and sympathise with and this might be due more with the writing and sound difficulties than with the actual performance.

The individual stories created by Satchell are intriguing, however the interactions between the two women seem forced, with some awkward dialogue that takes away from the emotions being explored. Satchell’s direction however is a strength of this production, particularly the plays with silence that are used to further highlight the anguish that these women feel.

While acknowledging that this is the first time that I Sat And Waited is being staged, there were some severe technical difficulties with the sound that prevented me from being able not only to engage with the story but also to follow it. Each audience member is provided with wireless headphones through which to hear Russell Goldsmiths well-suited soundscape and the characters’ dialogue. Despite being advised of the sound issues before the show began, the constant static coming through made it difficult to hear the dialogue, and in the last fifteen minutes I gave up and had to take the headphones off so I could hear what was being said directly from the actors. I’m unsure as to Satchell’s intention in using this technology in this show, as the environment could just as simply and effectively have been set up without the wireless headphones.

There is promise with I Sat And Waited But You Were Gone Too Long, and I am eager to see how this work develops beyond its Explorations season at La Mama.

I Sat And Waited was performed between 23 – 25 October at La Mama Theatre.

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REVIEW: MTC and Elbow Room Present WE GET IT

Looking for the women in theatre

By Myron My

In We Get It, sexism is no more. Everyone rejoice! We are now truly living in the age of equality. Hoorah! To celebrate, five women are competing for an opportunity to perform with a ‘real’ theatre company in a classic female literary role. They appear on stage gyrating to a medley of “sexy” songs and when the musical number is over, return to the stage brandishing self-identifying beauty pageant sashes. We have the “Token”, the “Ethnic Extra”, the “Funny Bitch”, the “Muslim Doctor” and the “Bogan/Migrant”.

We Get It

These five women (Amy Ingram, Tamiah Bantum, Kasia Kaczmarek, Maurial Spearim and Sonya Suares) explore the ideas of theatre showing diversity through casting and roles and also the question of treating women as equals. Perhaps it’s because I have chosen to associate myself with strong women in my life, and have been conscious of where my white male privilege has taken me and the freedoms it has provided that I felt frustrated watching We Get It. I am aware of what my role is in supporting gender equality and I also believe that message needs to be constantly repeated and spread to as many people as possible, however I struggled to connect in this instance: not because of what was being said, but how it was being said.

I found myself being talked at for much of the show rather than being informed or educated. Furthermore, there were a number of scenes that seemed to go on for that bit too long and could have benefited from an edit. The beginning of the show also seemed clunky and flat, which is a shame as the intention behind it had the potential to make a strong impact and set the tone for the rest of the production.

What I thought was a great inclusion was the use of The Diary Room, which the contestants treated as a type of public private confessional. This device gave the best insight into these women’s lives, where truth and honesty were present in what is expected of them when auditioning for roles and rehearsals.

Considering the five “contestants” collaborated with Marcel Dorney and Rachel Perks in writing this piece and to an extent, based on their personal experiences, it is no surprise just how impressive they all are in their roles, with Bantum’s strong stage presence making her particularly captivating to watch. Directors Dorney and Emily Tomlins have worked very closely and developed a trust with these women to create the opportunity for them to explore the issues they face as actors and women.

Set design by Matt Adey was well-thought out and considering everything that happened on stage, the use of the space and props never had you feeling overwhelmed with what was happening. However, there were a few technical issues the night I attended, particularly with mic and sound levels.

Whilst I completely and utterly agree with the messages being conveyed here, I believe there have been stronger shows put on recently that still have a strong feminist approach but present their ideas in a more accessible way. That said, We Get It, presented as part of the 2015 NEON Festival of Independent Theatre, still created a conversation with the people I attended on the night about the changes that we, as males, can make to support gender equality and that is probably the most important thing for such a production to have achieved.

Venue: Melbourne Theatre Company, 140 Southbank Boulevard, Southbank

Season: Until 19 July | Tues-Sat 7:30pm, Sunday 4:00pm
Tickets: $25 all tickets
Bookings: Melbourne Theatre Company

REVIEW: Emilie Collyer’s DREAM HOME

Renovation nightmare comes true…

By Christine Young

What ‘sort of people’ are you? This is a question that dogs the central characters of Dream Home, a play about a suburban couple whose renovations become a manifestation of their fears and desires.

Dream Home

The play opens with protagonists Wendy and Brian front-of-stage explaining why they are ‘going up’: adding an upstairs retreat to their house, that is. Wendy is especially worried about what the neighbours think so they have been invited round for a BBQ. Have they become the kind of people who want a room with a view? And what’s that stench seeping through the crack in the wall?

So from the outset, Dream Home breaks down the imaginary fourth wall between players and audience. The characters represent the audience and connect with them while they struggle to bond with each other. They address the audience directly or with humourous asides throughout.

Playwright Emilie Collyer explores the Australian dream-nightmare with compassion and humour. The ordinariness ‘living the dream’ is set against the nightmarish bubbling of subconscious yearnings represented by the mysterious house extension.

At this intersection of reality and fantasy, the audience is challenged to suspend disbelief at the peculiar smells, sights and apparitions projected onto the wall.

There is a Shakespearean quality to the fantasy world reminiscent of Hamlet and Macbeth. The characters are haunted by the past, experiencing an internal struggle between who they are, who they want to be and how they want to live.

The performance is a culmination of an intelligent, carefully structured script brought to life by skilful direction from Luke Kerridge. Kerridge has a firm grasp on the scenes’ pace and transitions; and he understands who the characters are, where they have been and where they are going.

And the seven actors display a profound understanding of the characters they are playing. In particular, Emily Tomlins (Wendy) gives an intuitive performance imbued with empathy and wit. And Olivia Monticciolo stands out as Elise, a 20-something comedian who gate-crashes the BBQ and the play.

The current season of Dream Home presented by Darebin Arts Speakeasy is almost over so there’s not much time to catch this remarkable play which was shortlisted for two playwrights’ awards.

Venue: Northcote Town Hall, West Wing Studio 1, 189 High St, Northcote
Dates: Until June 3, 2015
Tickets: Adult $29, Concession $25 (Student, Health Care Card, Equity Members), Group 4 or more $25
Booking: www.northcotetownhall.com.au

Warning: Contains Strong Language, Partial Nudity, Simulated Sex, Not suitable for Children

REVIEW: Daniel Schlusser Ensemble in M+M

Daring to unravel a Russian classic

By Christine Moffat

M + M is the theatrical reworking of Bulgakov’s classic Russian novel The Master and Margarita by exploratory masters the Daniel Schlusser Ensemble for this year’s Melbourne Festival.  Approaching such a novel with reverence, and producing a slavish retelling is not in this Ensemble’s vocabulary.  Instead, this innovative group always attempt to crack the code underpinning the work of art, and present its inner workings to the audience.  Unfortunately, in this production they have taken a risk that has not entirely paid off.

M+M

Some elements of this show are truly superb.  The set design by Anna Cordingley and Romaine Harper is outstanding, and used extensively and with great effect by director Daniel Schulusser.  Every performer (Johnny Carr, Josh Price, Nikki Shiels, Karen Sibbing, Emily Tomlins, Mark Winter & Edwina Wren) bravely attacks the show with energy, commitment and obvious talent.

Deconstructing such rich source material is ambitious for when it comes to reconstructing, how do you decide which elements must be reinstated?  The attempt to connect the novel to Pussy Riot and modern Russian social oppression is disjointed.  Instead of combining these themes, the performance gives the sense of empty, barren space between them.  The program invites the audience to view the piece as “…theatrical architecture…”, but the parts are too loosely connected to achieve this.  It could be better compared to blueprints and a collection of building materials.

It is not a narrative that this production lacks, but rather any emotional resonance.  The vignettes performed on stage are diaspora; closer to resembling performance art than theatre, but not managing the shock or provocation common to that art form either.  Whether this production succeeds in affecting others in its audience emotionally, or merely works visually, the Daniel Schlusser Ensemble have achieved an outcome that can inform and feed their future works.

Sometimes parts do not create a cohesive and greater whole.  In approaching a seemingly impossible novel, this Ensemble should impress us in the attempt, and in the many successful moments it produces.  Sadly, this reconstruction still feels as if it has major elements of the original source missing.  It is like a beautiful watch that has been rebuilt without hands – each component is lovingly crafted, but it has no way of performing as intended and so we have no way of receiving its ultimate message.

Oct 12 – 16 (no show Oct 15)

Theatre Works, 14 Acland Street St Kilda

Tickets: $65 / $50 / Under 30s $35, Student $25

Bookings: theatreworks.org.au, 03 9534 3388, or Ticketmaster 136 100