Tag: Jordan Fraser-Trumble

Melbourne Fringe 2017: LOVE SONG

Stealing hearts

By Lois Maskiell

Melbourne-based actor Lucy Moir plays Joan, a married and shrewd business woman in the recent production of Love Song at this year’s Melbourne Fringe. In an interview that took place just after the preview, Lucy shared her insights about the piece. “(Y)ou could say it’s a play about mental illness,” she said, “but really, it’s about taking life on, taking it into your own hands and making it your own.”

Love Song photo.jpg

Love Song was premiered in Chicago, 2006 by the Steppenwolf Theatre Company and has since been performed in London, Rome, Aukland, Seoul, Tel Aviv and Melbourne with MTC’s 2008 production. Its success can be attributed to its simplicity, as its playwright John Kolvenbach has plainly remarked: “(I)t’s about a very lonely guy who finds love”.

Beane (Nicholas Denton) lives in a barren apartment, stripped of all superfluous possessions (he eats from a cup), while his sister Joan’s apartment shines of order with a sleek sofa, a carefully placed pot-plant and a never-ending supply of wine that quenches her post-work worries. When Molly (Bonnie Moir) bursts onto the scene to burglarise Beane’s apartment, the audience is confronted with a hot-tempered outlaw – one who takes pleasure in her crimes and cannot stand the fact that Beane’s apartment is void of any sentimental objects, whereupon there isn’t even a photograph.

The emotionally eccentric Beane falls madly in love with Molly. All of a sudden, the world excites, rather than depresses him. “When he suddenly has this life force it’s like Joan doesn’t know how to handle it” said Lucy. Beane’s new-found exuberance confronts his sister, provoking a hilariously embarrassing moment in public over a turkey sandwich. It even encourages a spark of romance between Joan and her good-humoured husband Harry (Jordan Fraser-Trumble): a spark that eases their habitual bickering.

The opposing yet complimentary temperaments of Joan and Harry make their relationship so believable. “The contrast is certainly in the text to an extent. I mean, the writing is so beautiful,” said Lucy, “but we definitely made a conscious decision to make this a relationship of routine and compatibility.” The habitual and routine are common themes throughout the play. For Lucy, Kolvenbach is “looking at how easy it is to fall into the familiar trap of routine” and that “whatever you do, run away from that!”

The couple’s tired relationship takes a positive turn towards the end of the piece, and “(i)t was important for us that Joan and Harry have this kind of dysfunctional chaos in the beginning so that they can really fall for each other again later on,” said Lucy.

Molly’s metatheatrical cry “Death to literalism” is a quip about the role of illusion and fantasy in the play. Perhaps Kolvenbach is commenting on the relationship between romance, delusion and reality. And while the fear of being delusional is real, it is only through our imaginations that one can truly come to terms with existence.

When asked what she thought about Kolvenbach’s point, Lucy responded that “Ultimately, he is pointing out that life can be pretty rough sometimes. And whatever you need to do to get to a place where you can see the beauty in all the chaos, then do it.” Joan and her brother Beane arrive at this place in a disarmingly funny manner, highlighting that “there is a fine line between comedy and tragedy,” as Lucy noted in the interview, “and while Joan takes things very seriously,” she continued, “we laugh at the absurdity and humanity of it all.”

Love Song is an offbeat romantic comedy that Francis Greenslade has directed with a polished sitcom sensibility, outstandingly performed by its entire cast. The timing and energy between the actors brought the lyric humour of the play to life as well as the carefully opposed natures of Kolvenbach’s characters. There is no doubt that this strength of timing is due to Greenslade’s direction. “Francis’ comedy and sense of tempo have been a massive part of getting this production up,” shared Lucy. “He is hilarious yet has this beautiful sensitivity when it comes to drama. It’s been a real lesson in comedy and timing though- and playing for truth rather than laughs.”

The Collingwood Arts Precinct is the perfect place to see theatre at the Fringe, capturing both the spirit of the festival and the playful nature of the production. In a warehouse location with a set designed by Sophie Woodward, the audience is positioned in the centre, on rotating chairs with the action taking place around them (you will have to see for yourself!).  If you hadn’t already attended a Fringe show, I hope you too broke your routine and ran away to the theatre for an evening to see Love Song

Love Song ran until the 30th of September, 2017 for the Melbourne Fringe Festival.

Review originally published on Words of Muses.

REVIEW: Red Stitch Presents JURASSICA

Impressive cast in family saga

By Caitlin McGrane

Jurassica is a familiar Australian family story of immigration and assimilation. Ralph (Joe Petruzzi) and Sara (Caroline Lee) came from Italy in the 1950s to begin a new life in Australia. As immigrants in a foreign land they attempted to adjust to a new way of life, while trying to maintain their familiar traditions and customs. The play is told through flashback sequences as Ralph’s son Ichlis (Jordan Fraser-Trumble), grandson Luca (Edward Orton) and daughter-in-law Penny (Devon Lang Wilton) attempt to deal with his rapidly failing health. All the performers in the ensemble cast give exceptional performances as individuals and work well together. Fraser-Trumble and Orton both do a particularly good job of playing men/boys at a variety of ages.

Jurassica

However, for me the play did not hang together exceptionally well: the script was slightly tired and took a well-trodden path that was not aided by the addition of the interpreter Kaja’s (Olga Makeeva) Serbian background story, which seemed slightly clumsily included. Director Bridget Balodis has done a terrific job in the six weeks she had to put the play together, but the story was not quite up to the standard I have come to expect from Red Stitch. However, the writing was not without merit, and the play maintained a steady and relatively engaging pace throughout.

As always at Red Stitch the staging and lighting were excellent: Romaine Harper (Set & Designer) and Amelia Lever-Davidson (Lighting Designer) have both done a wonderful job of evoking a variety of environs on stage.

In some ways this is a story of fragile masculinity within a family, and while it was certainly told with its heart in the right place, it unfortunately did not strike a chord with me. This may have been due to the heavy use of Italian, which I do not understand or speak. Luckily I attended with someone who does so she was able to translate, but this somewhat distracted from the intentions on stage. I look forward to seeing what playwright Dan Giovannoni does next.

Dates: Until Nov 9th 2015

Red Stitch Actors Theatre
Rear 2 Chapel Street
St Kilda East, Vic 3183, Australia

Bookings: http://redstitch.net/gallery/jurassica/

Image by Jodie Hutchinson

REVIEW: Red Stitch Presents LOVE, LOVE, LOVE

Fine performances in difficult play

By Myron My

In June 1967, The Beatles appeared on Our World, the world’s first live television satellite link-up that was watched by roughly 400 million people across the world. While this major event was happening, playwright Mike Bartlett has envisioned a much smaller life-changing moment also occurring. In Love, Love, Love, presented by Red Stitch and directed by Denny Lawrence, two free-spirited nineteen year-olds meet for the first time in a small London flat. Sparks are immediate, and we visit their relationship again in 1990, and then in 2011.

Directed by Denny Lawrence ,  CAST  : ELLA CALDWELL, PAUL ASHCROFT : JORDAN FRASER TRUMBLE , RORY KELLY & JEM NICHOLAS
Directed by Denny Lawrence ,
CAST : ELLA CALDWELL, PAUL ASHCROFT : JORDAN FRASER TRUMBLE , RORY KELLY & JEM NICHOLAS

The chance encounter between Kenneth and Sandra (Paul Ashcroft and Ella Caldwell) in the first act is full of excitement and energy and there is a genuine spark between the two actors. With the addition of Jordan Fraser-Trumble as Kenneth’s more conservative older brother, the script develops at a solid pace. However, the following two acts struggled to retain my interest as much as the first. There was nothing engaging or new about what I was watching and it culminated in a pseudo-ending with white middle-class people complaining about how hard life is. It reached the point where the characters themselves become far less likeable, especially Sandra who ends up resembling a B-grade character from Absolutely Fabulous.

For their part though, Caldwell and Ashcroft put in solid performances and watching them interact on stage together was a highlight of the whole production. It’s a shame these impressive actors weren’t given something more substantial into which they could sink their teeth. Rory Kelly and Jem Nicholas do well with their roles as Kenneth and Sandra’s children, Jamie and Rosie, despite how terribly they are written. I was also quite impressed with Fraser-Trumble, and would have liked to see him and his character return later in the story.

I am still amazed at the visual transformations of the stage space in Red Stitch shows. I can’t recall a season where it has been anything but inspiring, and the same can be said about Love, Love, Love. The costumes by Sophie Woodward and set design by Jacob Battista are appealing and well-presented, although the second act takes place in 1990 but still had a strong 80s feel to it visually.

The direction started off strong and felt very alive and in the moment but by the time we got to the final act, it seemed to become unimaginative and almost lazy. The actors appeared to be stuck trying to keep the momentum gathering, while the storyline became mundane and predictable. A potential plot with Jamie was incredulously ignored and I was baffled as to why we ended up dealing with the chosen issues.

Despite the positive start to Love, Love Love, from the second act onwards the hard work begins to slowly unravel. Even with the great performances by the two leads, it is one of the less memorable works put to stage by Red Stitch.

Venue: Red Stitch Actors Theatre, 2 Chapel St, St. Kilda.
Season: Until 4 July | Wed- Sat 8:00pm, Sat 3:00pm, Sun 6:30pm
Tickets: $37 Full | $20-27 Conc
Bookings: Red Stitch Actors Theatre

Image by Jodie Hutchinson

REVIEW: Red Stitch Presents THE RITUAL SLAUGHTER OF GORGE MASTROMAS

The evils of success

By Caitlin McGrane

The opening of this interesting postmodern production is explicit in its scene setting: the five members of the ensemble cast explain the circumstances of Gorge Mastromas’ conception, birth and childhood. It is immediately apparent that this will be a performance that will both show and tell its protagonist’s story. Written by Dennis Kelly, the Australian premier of The Ritual Slaughter of Gorge Mastromas is well executed by director Mark Wilson; the staging is highly stylistic and minimalist – sleek, sharp lines frame the performance space and projectors are gainfully employed to immerse the audience in Wilson’s vision.

The Ritual Slaughter of Gorge Mastromas

Initially Gorge, excellently played by Richard Cawthorne, is unassuming and almost unbearably feckless. Then, after a particularly tense business deal, Gorge’s temperament changes; he becomes convinced that the only way to succeed is to live by three rules, all of which revolve around lying. The rest of the play unfurls while Gorge’s morals crumble and dissolve as he manipulates his way to personal and financial success.

The rest of the cast beautifully bring to life this darkly comic morality tale; Jordan Fraser-Trumble, Olga Makeeva and Dion Mills inject so much humour into the narration that the exposition rarely feels unnecessary or laborious. However, there are certainly moments where the play drags, particularly in the second act. The first travels at such a cracking pace that it was surprising over an hour had passed since we first entered the theatre; but this was sadly not repeated in the second act. This lack of continuity was distracting, yet the performance was saved by the strength of the script, and the combination of lighting (Clare Springett), sound and video design (Robert D Jordan). Red Stitch’s small performance space has been well utilised by stage manager Melissa Place.

There are some very, very dark themes in this play: scenes of suicide and child abuse, scenes with blood and implied violence. Never gratuitous, it wasn’t until the end of some scenes that I noticed my hands had formed tight fists. And that’s how I felt when I left the theatre, like I had been hit by a well-placed, well-timed punch to the gut.

The Ritual Slaughter of Gorge Mastromas is showing at Red Stitch Actors’ Theatre until 7 March 2015. Tickets are $20-$39 available here: http://redstitch.net/bookings/.

Photo credit: Jodie Hutchinson