Tag: Fleur Kilpatrick

Poppy Seed Festival Presents BLESSED

Dark and dusty divinity

By Myron My

The Poppy Seed Festival returns to Melbourne for its second year, opening with Fleur Kilpatrick’s Blessed , a modern retelling of angel Gabriel’s visit to Mary informing her that she is to be the mother of Jesus presented by Attic Erratic. While her previous work, The City They Burned, successfully re-imagined the story of Lot and the fall of Sodom into contemporary times, in this production there is perhaps too much effort in pushing the religious undertones, whereupon I feel the authenticity of what Kilpatrick is attempting to create gets blurred.

Blessed.jpg

The story follows Maggie and Grey (Olivia Monticciolo and Matt Hickey), who after years of no contact are reunited in Grey’s grimy and shabby home. These are people who are from the lower end of the socio-economic spectrum and living in community housing, who are struggling to make ends meet with low-paying jobs.

While the idea of these two characters being involved with The Annunciation is an interesting exploration of the above issues facing many today, the story never quite gets to making as much as an impact or statement as it should; and for me, if this is a love story, then Hickey and Monticciolo are also unsuccessful in finding it in their characters. While effort has clearly gone into developing Grey and Maggie, the relationship between them doesn’t seem to resonate convincingly on stage and the journey to get to the finale seemed to stagnate at times. Even some adroit direction by Danny Delahunty failed to ignite a spark in the performances or keep the momentum building.

The set design by Luc Favre is a highlight however, and clearly depicts the squalid environment in which Grey and Maggie find themselves in. The unkempt bedroom and the rubbish and clothes strewn across the room are a great visual extension of where Grey has found himself in life.

Kilpatrick may have a deeper message to impart with Blessed in terms of class, love and equality, but unfortunately this production feels as messy as Grey’s bedroom.

Venue: Malthouse Theatre, 113 Sturt Street, Southbank VIC 3006
Season: Until 20 November | Tues – Sat 8pm, Sun 4pm
Tickets: $38 Full | $28 Conc
Bookings: Malthouse Theatre

Image by Sarah Walker

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REVIEW: La Mama Presents TROLLS

Under the bridge and behind the keyboard

By Myron My

In 2013, four writers (Alan Grace, Nic Stevens, Elaine Cope and head writer Neil Triffett) created fake online personas and went on the internet coaxing out trolls and exploring what freedom of expression can actually mean. Most of the dialogue in Trolls is a verbatim conversation the actual writers had, and with this core material, Triffett has created an absorbing and discussion-provoking play.

Trolls

The whole cast (Scott Gooding, Cat Commander, Gabriel Partington, Emma Tufrey Smith and Laura Jane Turner) – must be congratulated on their efforts. No-one missed a beat with their almost frenetic performances of the various characters they played, from the reenactments of the interactions the writers had, to portraying the writers themselves and presenting their findings to us. Commander and Turner were particularly impressive in their achievements.

Fleur Kilpatrick’s effective direction is evident throughout Trolls. As with her writing, Kilpatrick has a knack for creating sophisticated experiences for audiences which allow us to see and to consider things we wouldn’t otherwise. She has clearly given the actors the confidence and support to further explore their characters and successfully take us along for the bumpy ride.

My only concern was that the script seemed to lose itself at times and I was left feeling confused as to which story it was I was following and which ‘character’ was being depicted. I can only imagine what a huge task it was for Triffett to go through all the correspondence and conversation and whittle it down to 60 minutes but I’m sure as the work develops, the script will get tighter and more finessed.

Trolls focuses on some important issues underpinning online communities and social media usage and also explores the somewhat blurred line of when and how one actually becomes a troll, and when good intentions give way to darker motivations. I will be very keen to see how this work progresses into its next phase.

Trolls was performed for the first time as a partly-staged performance and part-reading for La Mama Theatre’s Explorations seasons which supports new works in various stages of development.

REVIEW: Attic Erratic’s THE CITY THEY BURNED

Don’t look back…

By Myron My

The thing I love about Attic Erratic productions is that each new offering is so diverse and different to what they have previously performed. From Choir Girl to Domino, and now The City They Burned: an immersive theatre experience that is a modern retelling of Lot and the fall of Sodom.

The City They Burned

We are invited into Lot’s house for dinner and drinks; we are his friends and work colleagues. There is, however, a sense that something unsettling is afoot as we are greeted by his daughters, Thamma and Pheine (Shoshannah Oks and Brianagh Curran). The two women create a tense environment with their demeanour, attitudes and looks, in particular Oks, whose stare was so confronting I often had to look away.

The rest of the cast are more than impressive with their roles, including Scott Gooding as Lot and Jessica Tanner as his wife Ado, who remarkably shines most in her catatonic state in the second act. So convincing and powerful were the performances that during intermission, two police officers arrived, having been contacted by a nearby resident concerned at the “disturbances” they were hearing.

Fleur Kilpatrick’s script is an engrossing story and even though my knowledge of Lot and Sodom was limited I was transfixed by the unfolding events. The first act is a unique experience for audience members as we are free to roam around the lounge room set and see and hear different conversations, and moments. Even with the interaction with the actors, we are silent witnesses to the depravity and carnage that is building up. The second act is more conventional in its delivery but the intensity being conveyed by the actors is palpable.

Rob Sowinski is to be commended for such authentic set designs for both acts. They are able to support and strengthen the mood created by the acting and writing, and a lot of detail has been put into their creation.

As a side note, I think it was a great initiative of Attic Erratic to hold a “pay what you can” performance on the evening I attended, which allowed for the production to take place with audiences that otherwise might not have been able to attend.

Attic Erratic seems to be more and more synonymous with creating brave new theatre experiences for audiences and under the direction of artistic director, Danny Delahnuty, The City They Burned is most definitely this.

Venue: Cavern Table Performance Space, 127b Campbell St, Collingwood

Season: Until 23 September | Monday 8:00pm

Tickets: $24 Full | $21 Conc until 16 Sept; $27 Full | $24 Conc between 18-23 Sept (as part of Melbourne Fringe Festival)

http://atticerratic.com/

REVIEW: Awake

An impressive cast tackle complex issues in difficult scripts

By Adam Tonking

Awake is two short plays, written and directed by Fleur Kilpatrick, about the family dynamic and reactions to mental disorders.

Starring Justin Batchelor, Kristina Benton, Alex Roe, and Joanne Sutton, these tricky stories present families at their most difficult times – when confronted with severe medical conditions befalling a loved one.

The two stories, titled Wonderland and Sandman, approach the theme differently, the first looking at one moment as microcosm for an entire life, the second covering three different characters and their disparate reactions to deterioration over a period of weeks.

The cast were excellent, dealing with these highly emotive situations with complete authenticity. This was especially difficult for Batchelor and Sutton in playing the two characters with the mental disorders – an awkward task for any actor, but Roe and Benton and Batchelor again were equally accomplished in their roles as the family members reacting to their sick relatives.

Their performance success was particularly poignant as the stories seem to be a series of traps for an actor to fall into in throwing unusual medical conditions at the performers, and changing narrative style from moment to moment. At times these plays even seemed more an acting exercise than a piece of theatre.

That said, there were some lovely moments in Kilpatrick’s scripts – I loved the use of the natural landscape as allegory for these situations, and the universal themes of isolation and familial bonds shone through even when confronted with the impact of these unusual disorders.

Music, written by Kristina Benton, is used as a framing device for these two completely independent stories, and while the music itself was quite lovely, it seemed an odd way to connect the two narratives.

Stylistically, the warm gentle music seemed to clash with the stark presentation of the two plays, and seeing the actors play their own Greek chorus by singing these songs was also distracting. But again, the cast held up beautifully under this challenge.

Ultimately, Awake is a virtuosic performance by a brilliant cast of two very promising short plays. It plays at La Mama Courthouse, 349 Drummond Street Carlton, from Wednesday 21 March till Sunday 1 April at 8.30 pm Wednesday and Friday, 6.30pm Thursday and Saturday, and 4.30pm Sunday. Tickets available at www.lamama.com.au or by calling 03 9347 6142.