Tag: Jordan Armstrong

REVIEW: Sol III Presents THE EXONERATED

Powerful stories from escapees of the death penalty

By Myron My

The death penalty has, and probably always will be, a contentious issue. There will be one side that states you have to pay for your crimes, while the other would say no-one has a right to take anyone’s lives. While no side can be universally claimed as “correct”, the Sol III Company‘s production of The Exonerated will have even the most staunch believer in the death penalty questioning their stance.

The Exonerated

Writers Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen spent the year 2000 interviewing a number of people who had all been wrongfully convicted of murder and placed on death row. After spending years and sometimes decades in prison, these people were later exonerated with Blank and Jensen using six of these people’s stories in this production.

The six actors portraying the exonerated prisoners could not have been better cast. Even with the added pressure of playing real-life people as authentically as possible, each one is able to draw us into their world and have us really feeling what it must have been like for these former convicts. Vuyo Loko and Jordan Armstrong in particular shine in their roles, showing their characters as equally strong and fragile under their circumstances.

Director Andrei Schiller-Chan excels in The Exonerated where, despite having to contend with up to ten people on stage at any time, he has contrived that you are never left overwhelmed with the stories. Schiller-Chan uses the limited space to the fullest in developing how the actors move and interact on stage. In a way, this supports the type of claustrophobic environment that we could only begin to imagine that these narrators experienced from their time in prison.

The death penalty is not the lightest of themes to handle, with productions all too often heading straight for the emotional jugular. In The Exonerated, Blank and Jensen allow those who have experienced the threat of execution to speak for themselves, which in turn allows for the stories we hear to be told honestly, with sensitivity and at a pace where the audience have the opportunity to not only digest all that is happening on the stage, but also to reflect and consider. This is what powerful and moving theatre should be.

Venue: Chapel Off Chapel, 12 Little Chapel St, Prahran

Season: Until 7 June | Wed-Sat 8:00pm, Sat 2:00pm, Sun 5:00pm

Tickets: $37.50 Full | $32.50 Conc

Bookings: Chapel Off Chapel or 8290 7000

REVIEW: Barry Lowe’s THE DEATH OF PETER PAN

Boyish bildungsroman and lingering love story

By Myron My

Barry Lowe’s The Death of Peter Pan is a tragic and beautiful story of growing up and becoming a man. Set during the 1920’s, it follows the life of Michael Llewelyn-Davies – the adopted (and favourite) son of Peter Pan author, James Barrie – and his chance encounter with fellow student Rupert Buxton.

Death of Peter Pan Photo credit - MarcOpitz

Kieran McShane and Jordan Armstrong do a flawless job as the two protagonists, Michael and Rupert respectively. Rupert’s arrogance and brashness is a perfect contrast to Michael’s ambivalence and fear of what is happening, and this dynamic ultimately leads to a first kiss, first love and first heartbreak for Michael. There are some strong relationship-defining moments on stage, including the scene at the Parisian whorehouse and Michael’s swimming lesson. The affection and tenderness between the characters has a heartfelt authenticity, and this is mainly due to the talents of these two performers.

The two are supported by a more-than-capable ensemble cast including Sean Paisley Collins as Roger Senhouse, Michael’s flirtatious college friend. Collins is superb in his role: not overdone and revealing a serious and sensitive side that (when it does come to the surface) leaves quite an impact. Similarly, Ian Rooney’s J.M. Barrie is impressive as he plays out the nuances of a man still trying to live in his own Peter Pan moment.

Robert Chuter returns to the Chapel to direct The Death of Peter Pan and his focus on and image of this production is breathtaking. He has put together a very fine cast and crew, including costume designer Elissa Hullah and hair and make-up artist Rebecca Vaughan whose efforts warrant particular mention. The show does use blackouts between scenes and although I am not generally a fan of these visual interruptions, the haunting musical score by Andrew Bishop was able to keep us utterly absorbed in the moment.

The Death of Peter Pan is Australian theatre at its unrivaled best. It’s always a joy to be enveloped by a production that has brought everything so seamlessly together and its effects will still be felt long after having seen it.

Venue: Chapel Off Chapel, 12 Little Chapel St, Prahran

Season: Until 2 June | Wed-Sat 8:00pm, Sun 6:30pm

Tickets: $30 Full | $28 Conc

Bookings: www.chapeloffchapel.com.au or 8290 7000