Tag: Erin Marshall

Q44 Theatre Presents NK: A KAZANTZAKIAN MONTAGE

A valiant effort to portray a remarkable man

By Myron My

Cretan writer and philosopher Nikos Kazantzakis is perhaps most well-known for his two novels Zorba the Greek and The Last Temptation of Christ, and his epic poem The Odyssey: A Modern Sequel. However, Kazantzakis also led a life of adventure, passion and exploration and in Howard F. Dossor’s NK: A Kazantzakian Montage, important and life-changing moments from his personal story are presented and examined.

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The story is told with the aid of a Greek Chorus that gives life to Kazantzakis’ stories, and allows the impressive nine performers (Elyssia Koulouris, Erin Marshall, Kostas Illias, Nicole Coombs, Paul Pellegrino, Sebastian Gunner, Tabitha Veness, Tania Knight, Will Atkinson) to easily switch in and out of the Chorus to become a person from Kazantzakis’ life. Alex Tsitsopoulos as Kazantzakis displays an sound understanding of who this writer was, and delivers a thoughtful performance. However, the production falls into the trap of having Kazantzakis explaining how certain experiences made him feel and what they meant to him, rather than showing us why these moments were important. This resulted in long monologues with less impact, particularly evident in the final scene with the Chorus that had the potential to be a climatic moment and bring this unique life’s story full circle.

While it is an ambitious task to condense seventy-four years into a two-hour show, it felt overall that the work was trying to depict too much, and therefore momentous events Kazantzakis’ life were merely skimmed. His first marriage, which lasted for 15 years, was over within minutes in the show, and his exploration of the monasteries of Mount Athos with his friend and poet, Angelos Sikelianos, while creating some great visuals and certainly marked as an important experience for him, was not given the time that it seemed to warrant.

The live music by Pantelis Krestas and his bouzouki and the sound design by Justin Gardham work well together in creating an authentic Greek ambience – along with some enthusiastic clapping from the audience – and also in bringing out the emotional layers of the story. John Collopy‘s lighting design creates the ambience for each scene and highlights the intensity of Kazantzakis’ emotions. Suzanne Heywood‘s direction utilises the space creatively and through minimal use of props and positioning of the performers is able to set up some visually arresting moments, including the earlier mentioned scene at Mount Athos.

NK: A Kazantzakian Montage is a look at the political, philosophical and intimate nature of a man who never stopped asking questions about life. While it’s great to see Q44 Theatre stepping outside of their familiar repertoire with this form of story and storytelling, the reliance on lengthy exposition and the structure of this narrative unfortunately never allows the audience to profoundly understand and become familiar with Nikos Kazantzakis.

NK: A Kazantzakian Montage was performed at Gasworks Arts Park between 14 – 17 November 2017.

Image by John Collopy

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In Your Face Presents TRAINSPOTTING LIVE

Breathtaking and confronting

By Rebecca Waese

Trainspotting Live, directed by Adam Spreadbury-Maher and Greg Esplin, and performed by the aptly named Scottish theatre company In Your Face, is challenging, irreverent, assaulting and haunting. Based on Irvine Welsh’s novel and adapted for the stage by Harry Gibson, this spectacularly immersive production has arrived in Melbourne on its Australian tour. Upon entry to a transformed fortyfivedownstairs, audience members are given glow sticks, wrist bands, and encounter the heightened pitch of a rave in Edinburgh in the late 1980s. Enthusiastic spectators are invited to dance with the actors. Sound designer Tom Lishman elevates the cast and audience through some familiar trance tracks like Sandstorm as the eerily good Renton (Gavin Ross), Sick Boy (Michael Lockerbie) and Begbie (Chris Dennis) interact with audience members on the ecstatic trip together.

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From the adrenaline-fueled high, we crash hard into the bleak world of addiction. The characters shock us and each other with their violence, betrayals and failings. Dark humour arises from the class divisions and the addicts’ relentless drives to get their fixes. The Scottish slang is often impenetrable but the desires and torments of the actors are never unclear. Renton, Sick Boy, Begbie, and Tommy (Greg Esplin) embody their roles brilliantly with frightening and uncanny nuances, and Alison (Erin Marshall), Laura (Rachael Anderson) and the dealer, Mother Superior (Calum Barbour), create impassioned and memorable roles. The actors transgress so many conventional boundaries as they engage the audience to see the junkies’ world from the inside. Most audience members will need to wash afterwards. There are no safe seats. My partner had his head licked. We were splattered by beer, spit, and brown liquid from the toilet scene. At least one spectator left, horrified. It was repulsive and riveting; confronting and ultimately profound.

The demise of one character is particularly affecting because he abstained from drugs for so long; his fall is swift and merciless as he contracts HIV from sharing needles. Lighting designer Clancy Flynn creates a sickly green glow in a strobe sequence as the character’s world crashes down; during this final scene, there is a ten-minute theatre lockdown where no one can escape the nightmare. But for the affected audience, there is hope at the end from another character who quits cold turkey and takes us through the junkie’s limbo into health.

Trainspotting Live, coinciding with the release of Danny Boyle’s long-awaited film, Trainspotting T2, is a visceral and unforgettable experience. Choose wisely; if you are keen to go, book now.

Warning:

Strictly Ages 16+

The show delivers an entirely immersive experience. Do not wear your best clothes.

Nudity, coarse language, violent and sexual themes and imagery, heavy drug/needle use, haze effects, strobe lighting and simulated smoking.

fortyfivedownstairs

ticket price: $34 – $45

March 22- April 13.

03 9662 9966

info@fortyfivedownstairs.com