Tag: Gabriella Rose-Carter

Q44 Theatre Presents SHINING CITY

Poignant and powerful

By Myron My

The effects of grief and guilt are hauntingly explored in Q44 Theatre‘s latest production of Conor McPherson’s Shining City.

Shining City.jpg

Set in Dublin, the story revolves around a therapist and his patient, each with his own set of demons to face, and it is another example of the exemplary work on which this theatre company is building its reputation.

Anthony Scundi is exceptional as Ian, an ex-priest struggling with his loss of faith who has just opened up a therapy clinic. While initially coming across as someone who has his life in order, the ensuing scenes paint a picture of a man who is gradually unraveling. Scundi is well-paired with Sebastian Gunner as John, his new patient and the rapport they share feels genuine. Gunner nails a lengthy monologue that requires him to find the right balance of a range of emotions as he recount the events leading up to the death of his wife.

Madeline Claire French as Ian’s wife Neasa, and Nick Cain as Laurence, deliver some strong work in their short but pivotal scenes in Shining City. The chemistry shared between Cain and Scundi in their scene is palpable, and Gabriella Rose-Carter‘s intimate direction clearly conveys Ian’s confusion and helplessness. This results in the most engrossing and intense scene of the play, and keep the audience guessing as to what is going to happen next and how the events are going to play out.

Rose-Carter once again creates engaging and captivating work from her actors, allowing them to embody their characters, and the interludes she instigates between the scenes are well-executed. There is no sense of time or being rushed during the show and Rose-Carter allows things to linger, so that we can interpret them as we like.

The scenic design by Casey-Scott Corless and construction by John Byrne functions as a great metaphor on our attempts to keep our true thoughts and feelings buried, and exposes a duality in our efforts to present ourselves as someone we feel we ought to be. This is supported by the subtle yet effective lighting design by John Collopy that really pushes the claustrophobia in the play.

Shining City is not just a play about John and Ian, but also Neasa and Laurence, and even then it’s about something bigger. It’s about people who are confused and have lost their way, and are doing whatever it is they can to do better – to be better. While set in Dublin, this could easily be any one of us in these characters’ shoes. It’s a lingering and thought-inducing show on people’s struggle to find meaning and connection in the world in which they live.

Venue: Q44 Theatre, 550 Swan St, Richmond

Season: Until 27 November | Wed- Sat 7:30pm, Sun 6:00pm

Tickets: $35 Full | $30 Conc

Bookings:Q44 Theatre

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Q44 Theatre Presents SEX WITH STRANGERS

Writers meet, and the story unfurls

By Myron My

In Laura Eason’s Sex With Strangers, a female novelist meets a male blogger at a bed and breakfast in rural Michigan. She loves books, he prefers ebooks. She likes reading the classics, he prefers living writers. She prefers to keep her private life private, he lives his life on-line. Despite their differences, the two are drawn to each other and are forced to question the choices they’ve made in their lives and the ones they are going to have to make in the future.

Sex With Strangers.jpg

Will Atkinson offers a strong performance as Ethan, finding the right balance of brashness, cockiness and arrogance to his sweet, charismatic and endearing nature. Ethan is the type of guy that many of us despise but secretly want to be, and it’s Atkinson’s work in Sex With Strangers that really has you debating that position.

Atkinson’s pairing with Carissa McAllen as Olivia is a great casting choice and the two play off each other well. McAllen convincingly portrays the uncertainty and insecurities Olivia feels in being judged by the public on her writing; however, there were scenes in which I felt McAllen needed to express her character’s anger and frustrations more deeply than what was displayed on the night I attended.

While the space at Q44 Theatre is on the small side and the set itself is more compact than other productions, directors Gabriella Rose-Carter and Casey-Scott Corless use it to their advantage. They adroitly create an intimate world for Olivia and Ethan, that – while certainly influenced by outside factors – ensures the important moments of their lives are captured within the confines of the four walls.

The set and lighting design by Corless and sound design by Justin Gardam effectively show the differences of the two lifestyles being featured. We witness what feels like a battle between a time when life involved face-to-face interaction and real talent being rewarded, and present-day life with its iPhone obsession and the ability to be famous for being famous.

In the bed and breakfast, there is no television and the Internet has dropped out, wherepon an incredulous Ethan exclaims, “How will I look stuff up?” as he repeatedly checks his phone in vain. The environment here is therefore quiet and calm, just like our initial impressions of Olivia. The transition between scenes occur with a flash of light from an imagined Polaroid camera and the photo developing, often capturing an embrace or a kiss shared before the lights dim and calming music plays as the actors perform a quick costume change or set up the next scene.

By contrast, the second act in Olivia’s Chicago apartment has both characters constantly on their phones or their computers. They are no longer giving each other their undivided attention and it’s this technology that could be the doom for their relationship. The scene changes now occur with thumping club music and a red strobe light, reminiscent of an alarm warning of impending danger.

Q44 Theatre is fast building a reputation for producing a varied repertoire of excellent shows, and Sex With Strangers is another success story. Despite being first performed in 2009, the play still has plenty of relevance in the struggles to find meaningful connections – not only in what we do, but also with each other. In a society where there is a constant cacophony of ringing, buzzing and tapping, making these connections and having these experiences is becoming more difficult, ultimately leaving us wondering what we have missed out on, much like Ethan and Olivia.

Venue: Q44 Theatre, 550 Swan St, Richmond
Season:
 Until 3 September | Wed- Sat 7:30pm, Sun 6:00p
Tickets:
 $35 Full | $30 Con
Bookings:
 Q44 Theatre

REVIEW: Q44 Presents SAVAGE IN LIMBO

Engrossing and impressive production

By Myron My

It’s Monday night at an almost empty, seedy Bronx bar in the mid-80s, and five 32-year-olds are not quite sure where their lives are heading, or even what exactly it is they want. What they do know, is that they want change, excitement and passion, and they want it now. Savage in Limbo by acclaimed playwright John Patrick Shanley offers a comedic yet honest look at hope, dreams and missed opportunities.

Savage in Limbo

Sarah Nicolazzo is the shining star of this production as Linda Rotunda, the local girl that all the men know. Her boyfriend has just announced to her he wants to see ugly girls and she is just a little distraught. Nicolazzo delivers a brilliant performance and the excellent physicality and subtle facial expressions she uses to portray Linda are highly natural.

Samantha Mesh as the title character, Denise Savage, convincingly displays the pent-up frustration over where Denise’s life has led. She is still living with her mother, single and unhappy. Something has to give and she’s decided that it’s going to be her virginity, and possibly to Linda’s boyfriend. Nicolazzo and Mesh are highly entertaining to watch, and bounce off each others’ charisma well in their equally strong performances.

Anthony Scundi as the boyfriend, Tony Aronica, plays the role with a level of macho naivety that actually has us disliking him much less than we ought to. Rounding out the talented cast, in supporting roles but still with plenty to say, were Kostas Ilias as Murk the bartender and Andrea McCannon as April, the alcoholic ex-nun.

The design of the bar interior was well thought-out, however I would have liked to have seen a bit more flair and colour with the costumes, especially given the period we were in. Having all five people dressed in black (apart from the Murk’s shirt) wasn’t always visually arresting. Thankfully this didn’t affect the show much due to Gabriella Rose-Carter‘s direction in keeping the characters moving and active with each other. Apart from getting great performances from the cast, she also managed to keep them interesting when they were listening to each other, which I particularly noticed during the Santa Claus scene.

Being thirty-two, I have found myself having similar thoughts to and experiencing life-moments like these characters. Even though it’s been over 30 years since Savage in Limbo was written, it’s somewhat comforting to know that some things never change. Or maybe it should be unsettling? Either way, Q44 Theatre have made a commendable production that burrows into your mind for you to ponder over after the final bow has taken place.

Venue: Q44 Theatre, 550 Swan St, Richmond.
Season: Until 6 September | Wed- Sat 7:30pm, Sun 6:30pm
Tickets: $35 Full | $27 Conc
Bookings: Q44 Theatre

REVIEW: Q44 Theatre Presents FOOL FOR LOVE

Outstanding new production of a classic

By Myron My

The tale of two lovers in a tumultuous relationship has been told time and time again, to the point it can be difficult to tell such a story in a way that will draw your audience in and leave them wanting more. It can also be daunting to do well when using Sam Shepard’s well-known play, Fool For Love. However, in Red Theatricals‘ new production, they manage to do all this and a whole lot more.

Fool For LovePresented by Q44 Theatre Company, it’s an exhilarating ride watching this dark tale unfold and this is mostly due to the performances of its two leads, Mark Davis and Rebecca Fortuna who are, quite frankly, phenomenal. They have truly captured their characters and the chemistry is electric in their scenes together.

Davis’ transformation into Eddie the cowboy stunt man is one of the best male performances I have seen so far this year: with the assured way he walks, the charming and sexy way he looks, to the masculine way he slings a lasso and cleans his gun, Davis make this character highly complex and intriguing. Through the course of the play’s evening, we come to understand that Eddie is always going to get what he wants no matter what, even when he’s not sure what that is; he is simultaneously our hero and our antagonist.

Similarly, Fortuna’s depiction of the strong yet fragile May is genuine and honest. Purely from the look in her eyes, you can sense her character is stuck in a situation she does not know how to get out of, and that it will eventually end up killing her, either metaphorically or literally. Fortuna allows her whole body and performance to be painfully taken over by May as events culminate on this tragic evening.

They are ably supported by Sam Allen as the ghost-like Old Man, who sits side of stage in his rocking chair, drinking his alcohol. Even though he’s not in the action, we can sense his presence and the hold he has over these two lovers. William Prescott rounds out the cast as Martin, the man that May feels like she needs to be with but may not be who she wants to be with. Prescott plays Martin well as the polar opposite of Eddie, and you could even go so far as to say he is an Edgar to Eddie’s Heathcliff.

While I question one or two directing decisions, Gabriella Rose-Carter effectively creates much action on stage while keeping in the claustrophobic confines of a small, seedy hotel room. Rose-Carter has managed to bring out raw and passionate performances from all the actors in this production, which is rare to see these days.

32 years after it was written, Fool For Love still packs a punch, with its themes of love, family and patriarchal society still relevant today. Red Theatricals not only do justice to the play but also manage to put its own unique touches to it. This powerful production is already a firm highlight of 2015 and should not be missed.

Venue: Q44 Theatre, 550 Swan St, Richmond.
Season: Until 28 June | Wed- Sat 7:30pm, Sun 6:30pm
Tickets: $35 Full | $27 Conc
Bookings: Q44 Theatre