Tag: Homer

REVIEW: Red Stitch Presents PENELOPE

Epic poetry and poolside murder

By Myron My

Penelope by Irish playwright Enda Walsh and directed by Alister Smith shows four men seeking to receive the love of Penelope in the absence of her warrior husband, Odysseus. Through hope, fear, anger and passion, will any of them win her love?

Penelope

Upon entering the theatre for this production, we watch a young man scrubbing blood from inside an empty swimming pool. Well, empty from water for it is teeming with deck chairs, books, alcohol and the disturbing red stains. In fact, the pool resembles a beach party for hoarders gone wrong. Taking center stage is a large barbeque with an ominous message for the four men of Penelope.

After this fascinating opening, the story unwinds at a perfect pace: fast enough to keep you interested but slow enough to not reveal everything at once. The mystery of the blood in the pool and the events that led up to that are ever so carefully unveiled through the taut script which works well in keeping the audience intrigued.

In contrast, costume design left little to the imagination, with all four men dressed in swimming trunks – yet each one seemed to convey a strong sense of who this character was. The brutish self-appointed leader, Quinn (Lyall Brooks) was dressed in red speedos – and you really can’t get any more alpha-male than that.

The last act however seemed to lose itself a bit. Despite the audience enjoying it, the “love in 6 acts” scene didn’t seem to have a place in the story. It relied on slapstick humour and not the sharply written dialogue and well thought-out character-driven scenes earlier, but this issue is to do with the play itself and its reworking of Homer’s classic tale rather than the direction or performances.

As this year’s Graduate Ensemble Actor for Red Stitch, Matthew Whitty as Burns certainly does show promise, however the more overtly experienced and skillful actors (Brooks, James Wardlaw and Dion Mills) in Penelope do manage to outshine him, and the impact of the final scene is therefore not as strong as it could be. It is a particularly exceptional performance by Mills as the flamboyant Dunne. His later monologue is compelling to watch as guards are let down and we see the real, vulnerable side to his character.

With strong intelligent direction by Smith, Penelope will have you pondering the moral and emotional questions it raises a good while after the show is over.

Venue: Theatreworks, 14 Acland St, St Kilda

Season: Until 13 April | 8:00pm, Sun 6:30pm

Tickets: $37 Full | $27 Conc

Bookings: 9534 3388 or http://www.theatreworks.org.au

Advertisements

REVIEW: Andreas Litras’ ODYSSEY

The first great hero quest is reimagined into a moving modern story

By Anastasia Russell-Head

Homer’s Odyssey is – literally – epic. Even the synopsis on Wikipedia runs to over 2000 words! Andreas Litras’ one-man play of the same name skillfully blends a retelling of the ancient story with a more recent “odyssey” – the journey of his parents from Greece to Australia, and his own reconciliation with his Greek heritage – making both stories very much human-sized yet epic in their universality.

Home, homecoming and home-finding are powerful themes interwoven throughout the show, which runs the gamut from physical laugh-out-loud comedy to heart-wrenching poignancy.

The star of the show really is Litras himself, both as subject matter and storyteller. Under the expert direction of John Bolton, he is consistently engaging and entertaining, and overall a superb performer, able to conjure a storm at sea, a fish and chip shop, or a gravesite with just a few props, some clever lighting and utmost conviction.

The audience, which included a large group of schoolgirls on an excursion, were absolutely transfixed throughout the 90-minute performance.

Migrant stories such as this are important in contemporary Australia. Although the immigrants in this story arrived in this country more than 50 years ago, the story is very relevant to the experience of many today – leaving one’s home country following war, arriving in a strange place, learning the language, negotiating a new set of norms, forming a community, and raising a family.

The (recent) history of this country is a story of immigration, and this play brings this (his)story vividly to life, complete with all the laughs and tears, setbacks and triumphs such tales are replete with.

Until 31 March
The Open Stage
757 Swanston St
Cnr Swanston and Grattan
Parkville, Victoria 3010

Wednesdays – Saturdays – 7.30pm
School Matinees – Thurs, Fri – 1pm

Adult – $38
Concession – $25

Bookings: Call 1300 099 660 or book online