Tag: Jeremy Kewley

REVIEW: Exhibit A Theatre Presents FLESH WOUND

All in the family

By Myron My

A young man is on the run from the mob and finds safety in his sister’s apartment in a Camden Council flat in London. However, it seems this could end up being the most dangerous place he could be… Produced by Exhibit A: Theatre and directed by Nicholas Pollack, Flesh Wound looks at the ties between family, violence and class.

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I was very impressed with Benjamin Rigby and Belinda Misevski’s dynamic performances as half-siblings, Vincent and Deidra. Their mannerisms and behaviours are highly convincing portrayals of living in such a fraught and troubled environment. In contrast, Jeremy Kewley’s softly-spoken, cool and collected Joseph manages to stand his own ground between these two loud and obnoxious characters and demands attention with just a look or a stance. The work on all their accents has clearly paid off; they do not waver at all and sound authentic throughout.

I found Che Walker’s script haphazard with its story and character development. It unfortunately waits too long before it starts creating and working on the tension, and then falls into the trap of becoming repetitive and mundane. It is only in the final half hour where things really pick up with intrigue, suspense and a genuine uncertainty over who – if anyone – is going to survive the day. Furthermore, despite the excellent performances, I feel the characters have too many inconsistencies in their behaviours that are not explained or justified, and we are forced to simply accept them.

The set by Brett Ludeman displays much thought and creativity in the design process. Despite not even being used in the play, the various smashed glass bottles strewn “outside” the council flat really help in setting the scene for this broken, damaged world. Furthermore, the structural design of the flat itself is an interesting idea and one that cleverly represents the type of lives these people lead.

Exhibit A: Theatre is the creative vehicle for Misevski and Rigby, and even though the story of Flesh Wound didn’t really impress me, the strong performances by these two really made this a memorable play.

Venue: Goodtime Studios Basement, 746 Swanston St, Carlton

Season: Until 3 November | Wed – Sun 7:30pm

Tickets: $25 Full | $20 Conc

Bookings: http://www.exhibitatheatre.com

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REVIEW: Mockingbird Theatre Presents EQUUS

Intensely moving

By Vikki Doig

A mere 40 years after it was written, Equus still packs a powerful punch. Originally penned in 1973, Peter Shaffer‘s play follows the case of Alan Strang, a 17 year-old boy who is taken into a mental health institution to be treated after his pathological religious fascination with horses causes him to commit an act of unspeakable violence. Shaffer was inspired to write the play after hearing a story about a boy blinding six horses, as a means of trying to make such an act comprehensible.

Equus - Scott Middleton

The format of the play is a kind of medical whodunit, with the audience acting as witnesses to the unfolding story and development of trust between the two main characters (which, my partner pointed out, was akin to breaking-in a horse). Equus is Mockingbird Theatre‘s current production, and upon entering director Chris Baldock’s eerie world, which is somewhere between a stable and a temple, I was immediately struck by the wonderful overall design, the image of the horseheads hanging on the wall like trophies and the strong, almost tribal, presence of the horse-chorus.

We meet Dr. Martin Dysart, portrayed by a wonderfully well-cast Jeremy Kewley, who expresses his frustration at his profession and questions his own purpose. After a bit of a shaky start to the show (I found myself willing him to slow down his dialogue) his commitment to the role was absolute. Scott Middleton portrayed a beautifully vulnerable and fragile Alan Strang – menacing at first, but more human as the play went on – and the growing relationship between these two characters was a real strength of the show.

Other characters joined and left the action seamlessly, creating a very immediate space in which the motivations of the young boy, his relationship with his parents (played exceptionally well and, at times, comically, by Soren Jensen and Amanda McKay) and his eventual violent contact with the horses could be played out and reflected upon. The horse chorus, all-seeing and all-knowing, mirrored Alan’s emotion in their every movement and maintained strength and focus from the minute the audience entered the space (it was a nice touch to bring them out last at the curtain call!). Particular mention should go to Maggie Chrétien, whose portrayal of the sassy Jill Mason was, although only having a small amount of stage time, one of the strongest performances of the night.

Chris Baldock has created a production faithful to Shaffer’s original script and clearly has great passion for the words and concepts explored in the text. However, having seen an extremely powerful contemporised interpretation of the play in the UK a few years back, I personally felt detached from this version which seemed to historicise the key themes of reason versus passion and rehabilitation versus medication rather than present them as significant and culturally relevant questions which still resonate with contemporary audiences. For this reason and for me, I felt that the production didn’t quite have the power and impact it could have and this was compounded by the questionable English accents from some of the cast.

Despite this, I certainly enjoyed the show and was left with a poignant comment from Dysart running through my head: “Passion can only be destroyed by doctors. It cannot be created”, for working with children in education and the arts always makes this play and its conflict between (seemingly) necessary medication and a natural capacity for passion and emotion profoundly affecting. Because once that passion is gone, can we ever really get it back?

VENUE: Mechanics Institute Performing Arts Centre, cnr Glenlyon & Sydney Rds, Brunswick

DATES: 3rd – 17th Aug

TIME: Tue 6th – Sat 10th 8pm, Wed 14th – Sat 17th 8pm

TICKETS: $30 Full/ $25 Con or Groups 10+/ $20 Tue 6th

BOOKINGS: www.trybooking.com/40833 or bookings@mockingbirdtheatre.com.au

Review: DEATH OF A COMEDIAN at La Mama Courthouse

Getting behind the scenes of the comedy circuit

By Myron My

Death of a Comedian by Fred Rowan is a privileged view into the  green room of a local comedy club as a group of comedians warm up for their show, but it might as well be a group of patients in the waiting room of a medical centre awaiting test results. As the performers wait backstage we witness their tension and anxieties, and as they return from the stage we wait with dread to see if they “killed it or were killed”.

Death of a Comedian

The whole amusing performance takes place over the course of this one night in the green room. The set design was very realistic in depicting what the back room of a pub looks like, and some great stage lighting involved having the comedian who was giving their set take centre stage while the rest of the cast remained in the background of the green room, thus allowing the two worlds to combine yet remaining visually separate.

Jeremy Kewley was brilliant as Graham Dempster, the organizer of the event raising funds for a hospital. His energy and endearingly annoying character were well received by the audience. Kevin Summers as a comedian desperate for a comeback, Johnny Mazing, was reminiscent of the fear we all have of not wanting to be forgotten and trying to hold onto our past. Although it took him a while to settle into his character, the audience was firmly on his side by the end. Believing in a few of the other performers was sometimes a struggle however: it felt like I was watching comedians acting and not actors being comedians.

There was some sharp dialogue and at times this reminded me of the backstage shenanigans that go on during something like Noises Off! which allowed Death of a Comedian to bring home the laughs. I think cutting ten minutes from the show would have created a much cleaner show and the ending, whilst trying to bring in some poignancy, needed editing too as it seemed to go on that little bit too long.

Death of a Comedian is, self-consciously, a drama about comedy. But there are more than enough laughs in this production to make you think otherwise.

Venue: La Mama Courthouse, 349 Drummond St, Carlton

Season: Until 9 December | Wed, Sun 6:30pm. Thu-Sat 7:30pm

Tickets: $25 Full | $15 Concession

Bookings: http://lamama.com.au