Tag: John Shearman

REVIEW: Fringe Festival’s YOU TOOK THE STARS

Sweet meandering romance

By Myron My

The opening moments of You Took The Stars succeed in setting a romantic and whimsical environment as we are led from the front of the North Melbourne Town to the neighboring alley. Taking a seat at one of the four candlelit tables, we are serenaded by musician Matt Furlani singing Sarah McLachlan’s “Ice Cream”, and then witness the first encounter of Maisie and Paul, and their ensuing relationship.

You Took The Stars

But this is not a traditional love story, or even much of a story for that matter. Writer Cat Commander has chosen to tell this story through the characters rather than through narrative. This sounds very interesting in theory, but in this instance, it was difficult for me to feel an emotional connection to Maisie and Paul, as they perform the various scenes their imaginations create and found myself unable to maintain the level of interest I initially had.

This is through no fault of the acting by Kasia Kaczmarek and John Shearman who do an exceptional job as the two lovers and their performances are what had me most engaged with this show. Alice Darling’s direction further strengthens the chemistry between the two and ensures that issues from performing in such a long, narrow outdoor venue are minimized. It is encouraged, and at times, necessary, as an audience member to move around to get a better view of what is happening as well as hearing the dialogue that is drowned out due to outside noises.

Despite its shortcomings, You Took The Stars is a nice enough show that (literally as well as metaphorically) takes you outside of all the craziness that happens at Fringe and gives you a moment to reflect. And make sure to rug up: this is an outdoor performance.

Venue: Meet on the steps of North Melbourne Town Hall, 521 Queensberry St, North Melbourne

Season: Until 26 September | Tues-Fri 7:00pm

Tickets: $18 Full | $15 Conc

Bookings: http://www.melbournefringe.com.au

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Review: HIMMELWEG – Way to Heaven

A complex and difficult play adroitly staged

By Adam Tonking

We are so far removed from the world of Nazi Germany in World War II that the true stories of the atrocities that took place are often near impossible to believe.

Himmelweg is one of the lesser known and more bizarre of these horror stories, and it is a rich source of material for a play, presenting several tricky moral dilemmas for the characters and the audience to navigate. It is also an important and fascinating exploration of this deeply disturbing period in our history.

Redroom Theatre and director Alister Smith present an excellent production; the lighting and set design, as well as the sound, are spare and elegant and used effectively to evoke the era, and also to separate the play into its abstract first half and more naturalistic second half.

I think the material could have benefited from an older cast, simply because the emotional complexity may have been beyond such a young group of actors. However, they still acquit themselves capably, in particular the actors portraying the Commandant and Gottfried. These characters have to carry the entire second half in what is more or less the Commandant talking at Gottfried, and the actors performed admirably.

At a running time of two hours, there should have been plenty of material to sustain the action, however the second half becomes very repetitive with very little new information introduced.

The cast, under the superb direction of Smith, work valiantly to keep the story moving and inject as much interest as possible, but can’t quite keep the material from slowing the pace.

I think the cast and the production team deserve commendation for staging what is a difficult and challenging piece, yet a terribly important story from a time that should not be forgotten, and I encourage everyone to see it.

Himmelweg is on at Theatre Works 14 Acland Street, St Kilda from June 21 to July 1.

Book at www.theatreworks.org.au or by calling 9534 3388.