Tag: Jennifer Vuletic

Little Ones Theatre Presents MERCILESS GODS

Walk into the darkness

By Leeor Adar

Little Ones Theatre manages to make me laugh at the grotesque and alluring once again in Merciless Gods. Whether it’s the description of a hardened criminal unpicking thorns from the tongue of a paedophile or the pungent growth spurt of a teenage boy, beautiful and ugly words cohabit so eloquently at the end of Don Giovannoni’s pen, the result of which is imagined onto the stage with feverish intensity by director Stephen Nicolazzo.

Merciless Gods' Charles Purcell - photo credit Sarah Walker .jpg

The scene is set early on as a gathering of hip university-educated 20-somethings pop pills and dive into their samosas before descending into the truly “bad” things they’ve done. A competition of sorts of the varying evils they’ve seen or committed. Merciless Gods is at its core a series of monologues and performances that capture Australia’s foreign identity and the universal identity of being human, even if it’s grotesque and sadistic. There is enormous vulnerability too in this production, as it lays itself bare to hard truths.

Eugyeene Teh’s costume and set design is a perfect mix of minimalist drama. We have red curtains and a catwalk of sorts for a stage to let the intense performances unfold before us. Intense is honestly an understatement, and I found myself really affected and mesmerised by the actors.

Peter Paltos delivered a monologue that really defined the night for me. As the criminal who commits an unforgivable crime in line with the rest of the merciless gods of the night, Paltos manages to describe with such lush expression the pity he experiences, and the violence of his actions. I am certain the audience had their eyes fixed on his sweat, spit and grit with wonder. Another notable series of performances by the mercurial Jennifer Vuletic really heightened the calibre of this production. Vuletic could inhabit the pious tragic figure of a woman speaking broken English and then swoop on stage in naked cruel glory wearing nothing but royal red robes to tear apart her feminist daughter (Brigid Gallacher).

Despite its darkness, there is a great deal of humour in Merciless Gods. Gallacher’s comic timing sent the audience into frequent bouts of laughter, even when she beautifully and breathlessly gazed upon her teenage son with love and disgust. Of course the humour delivered really emerges from Giovannoni’s writing which in its poetic and succinct quality captures what we think but cannot articulate.

Audiences with softer stomachs and a penchant for political correctness may feel queasy at some of the language, so heed this warning. Merciless Gods is unapologetic in its content and brutality and I find it utterly appealing for this reason.

Take time out of your every day and head to the Northcote Town Hall to catch Merciless Gods. The production runs until 5 August. Book your tickets here: http://www.littleonestheatre.com.au/merciless-gods/

Image by Sarah Walker

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Review: CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG opens in Melbourne

All the fun of being a kid again

By Kim Edwards

I went to Her Majesty’s last night with every intention of being a theatre critic. But there was the excited boy behind me who chattered until the lights went down, whereupon he sat in rapt silence. And the little girl across the aisle who asked in a horrified whisper, “Doesn’t that mean lady like children?!” And the preschooler in front who crawled into mum’s lap at a crucial moment and exclaimed, “Oh no!!” And the audience spontaneously clapping along throughout, and booing the villain, and applauding the over-excited dog who lost his way…

And my inner child kicked my shins and pulled my pigtails, and I succumbed to the joyful fun of a good family musical, and caught my breath in sheer child-like wonder at that spectacular magical moment closing Act One.

chitty-chitty-bang-bang

Written by the creator of James Bond, scored by the musical talents behind Mary Poppins, and starring a who’s who of Melbourne celebrities and theatre stars, this production of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang where a magic car takes a little family on a wild ride into adventure, is full of action, colour, verbal wit and slapstick comedy, and delightful music. My first compliments go to the deliciously dynamic men’s chorus whose spinning dance in Toot Sweets, infectious energy in Ol’ Bamboo, and hilarious elderly antics in Roses of Success won my heart completely. Rachael Beck does a charming job as love interest Truly Scrumptious, Tyler Coppin was wonderfully creepy as the Child-Catcher, and Alan Brough as the Baron and Jennifer Vuletic as ‘that mean lady’ the Baroness were superb comic chemistry.

It was the scene-stealing clowning of the Vulgarian spies played by Todd Goddard and George Kapiniaris however, who most pleased grownups with ribald humour and the kids with their buffoonery.

David Hobson as lead Caractacus Potts does an admirable job, and it is my nostalgic affection for Dick Van Dyke that made this genteel, velvet-voiced portrayal harder to appreciate. It is a shame the theme of overcoming class boundaries therefore gets lost, however.

So the prolonged exposition in the opening scene is clunky, the romance a little flat and unconvincing, the English accents sometimes dubious, and the ‘defeat’ of the bad guys in the finale clumsy – but who cares? Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is thoroughly entertaining and the perfect introduction to the marvels of musical theatre – your kids are simply going to LOVE it.

Playing until March 17 at Her Majesty’s Theatre – book at Ticketek or call 1300 795 012