Tag: Grace Travaglia

REVIEW: La Mama Presents HOME INVASION

Dark stories unfold

By Myron My

Home Invasion is a play that looks at obsession and disconnection. It’s about people dealing with destructive behaviours in their lives: a housewife who is haunted by JonBenét Ramsey, a schoolgirl with violent tendencies; and a mechanic who feels guilty for the death of a young woman.

Home Invasion

The cast of six – Kristina Benton, Nathan Burmeister, Trelawney Edgar, Ashleigh Goodison, Wayne Tunks and Grace Travaglia – worked well in exploring their characters and allowing them to go down the dark path. There were some well-crafted moments among them, with especially strong scenes between Benton and Goodison and Edgar and Burmeister.

Unfortunately, the direction by playwright Christopher Bryant was sorely disappointing. There was too much sitting or standing and not enough doing in this 90-minute show. The long scenes had no differentiation between them and the acting seemed stifled because of this. Bryant however is a capable writer and it was interesting to see how the separate threads from each story slowly began to weave in together, although I felt the musical interludes with the cast singing could have been cut.

The stage set up was also lacking in Home Invasion. With no “backstage” area, when the actors were not in the scene that was being played out, they sat on stools directly behind the performance space. The proximity of how close they were proved to be very distracting with every drink they took from their water bottle, every itch that was scratched or any readjustment that was made being done in plain sight of the audience.

The extremely minimal set design did not help with either, and seemed to actually be hindering the show from building the environment these people lived in. Apart from the wall painted pink, there was nothing visually stimulating about the show. The venue may be small but I’ve seen many productions performed in this theatre where some simple set pieces and discreet visual touches helped immensely to bring their worlds to life for the audience.

Whilst the writing and the acting in Home Invasion are admirable, I ultimately felt the remaining elements of the show still need to be further developed to allow the audience to build a stronger connection with the characters and the chilling world they are creating for us.

Venue:  La Mama Theatre, 205 Faraday Street, Carlton

Season: Until 7 June | Wed 6:30pm, Thurs-Sat 7:30pm,

Tickets: $25 Full | $15 Conc

Bookings: La Mama Theatre

Review: AD NAUSEUM

A beautiful tale of a terrible man

By Adam Tonking

Ad Nauseam, created by Tom Pitts and performed by Nick Bendall with Kate Laverack and Grace Travaglia, is the story of one rather unlikeable man and the drunken destructive path he cuts through one night in the city. But the story itself is only the beginning of this wonderful production.

Pitts’ text, one long rant, is almost poetic, reminiscent of those long-dead beat poets Kerouac and Ginsberg and through Pitts’ treatment of the language, transforms a gritty loathsome bender into something romantic and poignant.

His despicable narrator seems lost and forlorn, even while his actions paint him as an arrogant pig, somehow you want to be the one to save him. I did find the insertion of a few topical one-liners jarring and unnecessary, however they did receive the biggest laughs of the night. The text is performed in counterpoint with a score also composed by Pitt, and the interaction between the two beautifully underpins the ebb and flow of the piece.

Playing the part of this narrator, Bendall brings a rascally quality to the character’s unpleasant tendencies, charming the audience with his antics as opposed to repelling us. His physicality in performing this piece was a work of art, like mime bordering on dance, depicting the world and the people he interacts with through mere controlled movements and poses of his constantly working body, from delicate and beautiful to aggressive and masculine. Fascinating to watch.

Haunting him throughout the piece are the spectres of the two women who started him on this downward spiral, played by Laverack and Travaglia, who never speak a word, but manage to convey everything they need to through the movement of their bodies.

Ad Nauseam is a masterful work, using poetry, mime, dance, music, lighting – all the elements available to create a phenomenal, tragic and romantic piece. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

This production is showing at La Mama Courthouse, 349 Drummond Street Carlton, from Wednesday 21 March till Sunday 1 April, 6.30pm Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, 8.30pm Thursday and Saturday. Book at www.lamama.com.au or by calling 03 9347 6142.