Tag: James Deeth

REVIEW: The Good Person of Szechuan by BERTOLT BRECHT

Brecht play is for goodness’ sake

By Myron My

The Good Person of Szechuan, directed by Laurence Strangio is a theatrical parable by Bertolt Brecht being performed at La Mama. The play has the typical conventions of Brecht: the audience interaction, the direct speaking to the viewers, symbolic props and the opportunity for the unique use of the stage – and if you have been to La Mama before you will be amazed to see how it has been transformed.

The-Good-Person-Of-Sichuan-web

The play, as with many of Brecht’s works, has a profound social statement to make, this time about what is good, how do we become good and more importantly who decides who is good. Furthermore, it looks at various addictions such as tobacco, heroin and selfishness. Despite the frenetic nature of the play and at times, its absurdist humour and fantastical nature, the themes explored are done so with care and honesty.

The cast (Marc Lawrence, James Deeth, Carmelina Di Guglielmo, Zoe Ellerton-Ashley, Terry Yeboah and HaiHa Le) portray a total of 25 characters which adds to the intensity of Brecht’s work. Most likely due to my attending on a preview night, there were some characters that feel more authentic and fleshed-out than others but the passion from the actors is constant so I was only too willing to overlook this. I was impressed with Di Guglielmo’s portrayals of both God 2 and Mrs Shin, and with Yeboah’s characterisation of Yang Sun especially.

HaiHa Le has the difficult task of depicting Shen Te the prostitute and Shui Ta the cousin, and does particularly well in portraying the innocence and goodness of the former.

There are so many thought-provoking scenes in this play and with a running time of almost two and a half hours, an intermission would have been a nice break. This was apparent especially towards the end where the pace slows down a bit and the exhaustion of what has transpired begins to make itself felt on the audience.

The preview night performance of The Good Person of Szechuan was thoroughly enjoyable and provoked much discussion with the issues it covered and its solid ensemble casting.

Venue: La Mama Courthouse, 349 Drummond St, Carlton

Season: Until 26 May | Wed 6:30pm, Thu-Sat 8:30pm, Sun 6:30pm, Wed 1:00pm (except May 8) and Thurs 11am.

Tickets: $25 Full | $15 Conc

Bookings: http://lamama.com.au or 9347 6948

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Review: THE SUBCONSCIOUS COMETH

Witty skits on life, death and the edge of sanity

By Jen Coles 

Baggage Productions has been working for years to promote female writers and performers in the industry with intelligence and wit.

Their latest, The Subconscious Cometh (Costigan/ Burton/ Nash), is an extremely original piece of theatre, detailing discussions of loss, life and death.

Honestly, I had no idea what to expect as the program notes nor the performer biographies hinted at what was to follow.

Thankfully, what did was an extremely tight and poignant program of short skits and monologues featuring all performers in a variety of roles.

The program began by introducing the cast, and their fears, in an extremely comedic way (almost like a game show).

After the introduction, we segued into ‘Motivational Dating’, featuring a character who used cooking metaphors to describe his “life menu,” which particularly resonated as we see people try to sell us new concepts every day for virtually the same things.

Other highlights were ‘Haunting the James’s’ – did we ever consider the ghost’s point of view about hauntings? – and ‘Spirit Guy’.

Featuring the only two males in the cast, the latter involved a character watching his family after he’d died and being assisted by his spirit guide who was perhaps a bit unorthodox. It was completely touching and humorous, as were many of the pieces in the show.

The monologues in the show were of excellent class, too; reasonably paced and all ended at a suitable place that made a point.

However, the monologues worked best when they were short and succinct; both James Deeth’s ‘Tasteless’ and Dan Walls’ ‘Changeling’ made their point well, but were a touch too long and stretched the show a bit.

In comparison to some of the shorter pieces of the show, the fact they seemed to sit on the same bits of material more for dramatic effect actually lessened the meaning, not enhanced it.

Regardless, the setting, lighting and subject matter made for an intimate discussion and reflection on the human soul.

My personal favourite were the discussions of our subconscious, ego and alter-ego (clearly an examination of Freud) manifested as a spider, a neurotic mess, and an extremely rude being. 

The Subconscious Cometh was a wonderful evening that managed to make you think hard about yourself, and laugh at the same time.

Baggage have created a terrific piece of theatre that they should probably think about expanding into a full-length play. But for now, it was short, to the point, and excellently produced.

Baggage Productions’ season of The Subconscious Cometh played at Trades Hall, Carlton June 14 to 25th June 2011.