Tag: Fleur Murphy

REVIEW: TBC Theatre Presents MADE IN CHINA

Irish ninjas and gang politics

By Myron My

You wouldn’t expect the seedy underworld of Dublin to have much in common with martial arts, but in Mark O’Rowe‘s dark comedy Made In China, these two worlds collide for three men who are all facing their own power struggles with each other and within gang politics. One wants to get out, one wants to get in, and the other one wants to remain on top.

Made In China

Unfortunately, this promising story moves at an incredibly slow pace, with nothing happening until roughly the final twenty minutes of this two-hour play. Even when the plot reaches its climax, it still feels drawn out and lacks any suspense. There is very little in terms of character development, which has these people come across as monotonous beings. Even by the end of the show, there is very little that has actually changed for these people in the greater scheme of things.

High up in the gang food chain, Kirby (Stuart Jeanfield) is such a weird character that his menace and aggressiveness is farcical, and not in a good way. In fact, I found a lot of the humour scripted in this to be quite a miss, particular the cringe-inducing sexual overtone scenes with Kirby and his Nik Naks crisps. Hughie (Vaughn Rae) is more or less a passive pawn in his power struggle with Kirby from beginning to end. Damien Harrison as Paddy is fortunate enough to play a character that at least gets to go on an emotional journey and is somewhat changed by the end of the proceedings, even if the way it occurs seems forced.

Despite these issues, first-time director Fleur Murphy works well with the actors to produce highly committed performances, and some physically demanding ones too with the choreographed fight scenes by Myles Tankle. Murphy does her best to keep the action on stage engaging, but given the confines of the space and script, it results in a lot of repeated pacing around and sitting down.

I have to say the set design failed to excited me aesthetically and the random lighting effects during the fight scenes felt contrived. The vocal coaching by Suzanne Heywood proves to have worked soundly with all three actors consistently keeping to their accents. However, the strong accents and the added slang used throughout the play admittedly made it very difficult to follow what was happening at times.

Walking out at the end of Made In China, I must confess I did not feel satisfied with the pay-off we received as an audience. Despite the interesting premise, this is ultimately not the most exciting story, and as written, the characters feel boring and one-dimensional. There appear to be some talented minds behind TBC Theatre however, with the choice of their current production, that does not come across successfully.

Venue: Q44 Theatre, 550 Swan St, Richmond.
Season: Until 25 July | Wed- Sat 7:30pm
Tickets: $30 Full | $25 Conc
Bookings: Q44 Theatre

REVIEW: Moira Buffini’s LOVEPLAY

Love, Sex, Influence and Evolution

By Narelle Wood

From the outset it was clear that Loveplay by Moira Buffini was not so much about love as it was about the influences of love and the consequences of these on the relationship.

Loveplay

The premise behind the 90-minute play was to explore the influences of love through the ages, beginning from the Classical Age of AD 79 through to The Age of Excess in 1992. Some of the scenes in the earlier eras were confronting, including strong inferences of rape, and while this didn’t continue through to the more modern times, sex featured heavily throughout the play.

Buffini’s script is exceptionally well written, with some brilliant comedic moments scattered amongst the darker themes. The ensemble cast (Chris Saxton, Michelle Myers, Luke Cadden, Kathryn Tohill, Trudi Boatwright, Jacob Pruden, Fleur Murphy and Myles Tankle) play a variety of characters across the ages, and in a rare occurrence, each member of the cast held their own to provide a true ensemble performance.

Given the limited staging options that the Mission to Seafarers offers, the transitions between the ten different eras are achieved, not only through costume changes, but also through prop reveals and lighting. The deliberations between the eras are important as the language of the play offers a limited realism as far as the etymology of language and the portrayal of women are concerned. While it would be obviously difficult to write the earlier scenes in the appropriate version of English, there were some words that were glaringly out of place. The female characters in the earlier eras also seem to have a strong voice, and although I initially found this distracting from the authenticity of the play, in hindsight it did offer a fresh feminist perspective on women and their relationships to and through love.

While I’m not sure I agree completely with Buffini’s take on love and the influences of love, Loveplay provides both an interesting and unique perspective that resulted in a thought-provoking and entertaining experience.

Venue: Mission to Seafarers, 717 Flinders St, Docklands
Season: July 4th – 20th
Tickets: $28 Full | $25 Conc
Bookings: www.tbctheatre.com

REVIEW: Fleur Murphy’s SHADOWS OF ANGELS

Superb performances in a dark and gritty play

By Myron My

Shadows Of Angels is a play that delves into the minds and stories of the Australian female criminal: each tale dealing with a painful situation and event that links them all together.

The set of this production is bare apart from a chair, and a spotlight falls onto the cast as they individually take to the stage and tell their story to the audience. With so little visual stimulation, it’s even more important to have a talented cast to carry the story.

Shadows of Angels

For the most part the casting is spot on. H. Clare Callow is the standout as the “Man Femme”, showing equal parts vulnerability, yearning and sorrow. Meg Spencer is also particularly strong as the “Pretty Femme” portraying the tougher, angrier side of the femme fatale. Mel Dodge’s “Good Femme” rounds out the great performances.

My issue was with Rosemary Johns as the “Old Femme” and it was not at all due to the fine acting and effort that was put into the role, but I feel Jones was miscast here as the “Old Femme”. This was a woman who performed illegal abortions in a secret room and was about to flee from the police but Johns just seemed too sweet and gentle and I had problems believing her character would be capable of committing these crimes.

Fleur Murphy’s script is brilliant. The problem I often find with shows that use monologues is the narrative remains stagnant. However, with Shadows of Angels there is a steady pace that allows the narrative to flow and grow. Even more importantly, these are engaging characters that paint the scene with such vivid imagery that you often forget there is just that one chair on stage.

Chris Saxton has directed a show that stays with you long after it’s over. His efforts in creating the right blend of horror and sympathy both emotionally and physically on stage are what theatre is meant to be about: creating a world that envelops you until you feel like you are actually there.

Venue: The Owl and the Pussycat, 34 Swan St, Richmond

Season: Until 23 March | 8:00pm

Tickets: $24 Full | $20 Conc

Bookings: www.owlandcat.com.au/shadows.html