Tag: Harlene Hercules

Melbourne Fringe 2016: HEARD OF ELEPHANTS

Ambitious work acknowledges the elephant in the room

By Myron My

Presented as part of the Melbourne Fringe Festival, Heard of Elephants is a musical on elephant conservation that follows a herd of elephants over a year as they face daily threats from nature and man. Further to that, the play explores the intricate relationships these animals share with each other by exploring their strong links to family, mating rituals and traditions within their species.

Heard of Elephants.jpg

The way writer and director Katherine Phelps has humanized elephants with her cast (Alanna Baschera, Victoria Haslam, Karanvir Malhorta, Suhasini Seelin and Harlene Hercules) is surprisingly clever and charming. Their basic movements and simple costumes easily persuade you that they are indeed elephants, provided you allow the magic of theatre to do its work.

The narrative switches between two perspectives: that of the elephants, and that of Chene (James Ao), a conservationist working to keep the elephants safe in their uncertain present. It is here that Heard of Elephants begins to struggle finding a balance between entertaining and educating the audience. Phelps is clearly passionate about conservation and saving the elephants however, in order to make her point, the story unfortunately loses its heart and its engagement with the audience. We spend close to an hour getting to understand how elephants live and the threats that surround them, but the final ten minutes seem chaotic and clumsy as Phelps attempts to cover too much plot too fast.

The stage design, while minimal, is actually quite effective; the scene where the herd is bathing in water, the birthing of Mim and the lighting during the drought are creatively constructed. However, it would benefit the show more if the sound and lighting crew were not positioned at the front of the stage with the cast, as this was often distracting from the actual performance.

While Heard of Elephants has an important message to convey, I feel it needs to rethink the story it wants to share and take its time telling it, so that the audience can truly appreciate what is happening and being said.

Venue: SomaChi Yoga Studio, 15 Belford St, Collingwood
Season: until 2 October | Fri – Sat 7.30pm, Sun 2.30pm
Length: 70 minutes
Tickets: $25 Full | $22.50 Conc / Groups 6+ | $20 Children
Bookings: Melbourne Fringe Festival

Image by Gregg Kerr

REVIEW: Centrelink the Musical for MICF

Dance for the dole!

By Narelle Wood

They say any good comedy is based on truth and anyone who has ever tried to deal with any aspect of Centrelink, or any other government agency for that matter, will find that Centrelink the Musical provides good comedy based on circumstances that are eerily familiar.

Centrelink the Musical

Centrelink the Musical, directed by Greg Ulfan and conceived by Rohan Harry, follows a day of queues and queries at the Centrelink office, detailing the frustration of disabled Ed (playwright Adam Willson), long-term unemployed Gary (Dylan Lloyd), expectant mother Janine (Artemis Ioannides), the harrowing blank canvass Thyme (Harlene Hercules) and the long-suffering Centrelink employee Janine (Jacqueline Cook). The humour at times is delightfully inappropriate as it pokes fun at some of the truths of the people and their circumstances that lead them to the protocol-bound welfare office.

Out of all of the character it is Gary, the perpetual loser with all the inside know-how necessary to circumnavigate Centrelink’s protocols, that provides the most hilariously cringe-worthy lines and Lloyd’s delivery of Willson’s script is priceless.

Although there was the occasional flat note during some of the songs, overall the cast was exceptionally strong and Hercules’ portrayal of the recently graduated artist was as brilliant as her poetry was ridiculous. It was nice to see the matriarch of the Centrelink office was able to provide a justification for both her Gestapo-like and condescending approach to those in the unemployment queue, and Cook seamlessly transitions between these aspects of her character’s personality.

While there was a minimalist approach to sets and musical accompaniment, the costuming was trashy and completely appropriate, none more so than the bulging pregnant belly of Ioannides’ character Janine and Gary’s almost obscenely short shorts. The songs by Nathan Leigh Jones were clever and really spoke to the heart of each character’s frustration with life and dealing with the changing and more demanding welfare system.

This show provides some great laughs and although the humour seems to be only at the expense of the less-fortunate characters, the show does point to some of the inadequacies of our welfare system. Both the employed and unemployed alike will find something to delight them in Centrelink the Musical.

Venue: The Mechanics Institute, 270 Sydney Rd, Brunswick
Season: Sun 6th April 5pm, Tue 8th April 8pm, Wed 9th –Sat 12th 9pm
Tickets: full $28 | Conc $15
Bookings: http://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2014/season/shows/centrelink-the-musical


REVIEW: Candlelight Productions Presents OUTSIDE THE BOX

Real tales of home, heart and hope

By Myron My

Boxes. When we’re children, we use them to make cubby houses. When we got older, we used them for moving. Sadly, some of us use them as homes when life throws us a curveball. Candlelight Productions in partnership with Servants Community Housing have worked together to bring to life stories relating to the idea of home and what it means for different people.

Outside the Box

A lot of time and effort has gone into this show: from the simple yet highly effective set design, to the marketing and packaging of the program guide and the accompanying book which inspired the stories. In 2010, two Scotch College students, Anthony Antoniadis and Jeremy Kong, spent time getting to know the residents of Servants Community Housing and published Anthology: Stories of respect, dignity and hope. These stories help create a greater context in which to appreciate Outside The Box and really expand upon the notion of home and explore how it’s something we all yearn after.

The five actors – Adam Balales, Tarah Carey, Harlene Hercules, Ryan A. Murphy and Aaron Steele – have previously met with these residents and through various forms and styles, relay their stories to us. It takes a certain level of skill and sensitivity to be able to tell these stories with integrity and truth and the whole cast are exemplary in this. There are twenty acts/stories told in Outside The Box and the majority of them are captivating and warrant your attention, however I do feel some of them were a little too abstract to connect with.

Despite some stories working better than others, the actors’ commitment does not waver. I particularly enjoyed Murphy’s characterizations of Eddie and George and also Balale’s story of Jack. The latter was treated beautifully with flashbacks to his younger years, and the short yet poignant story of a soldier returning home was also quite touching.

On the surface, this group-devised performance is quite an enjoyable show but upon reflection it made me appreciate how fortunate and lucky I am to have a home and to not take for granted something as perceivably simple as a roof over my head. Outside the Box is an intense theatrical performance that helps you put your priorities in order.

Venue: Chapel Off Chapel, 12 Little Chapel St, Prahran
Season: Until 31 August | Thurs-Sat 8:00pm, Sun 5:00pm
Tickets: $30 Full | $25 Conc
Bookings: www.chapeloffchapel.com.au or 8290 7000