Tag: Josh McConville

Film Review: Escape and Evasion

A story of survival on the battlefield and of the mind

By Sebastian Purcell

Seth (Josh McConville) returns home from a mission in Myanmar after losing not only his fellow soldiers but also one of his best friends. Seth’s transition to life at home, becoming a father again, is punctuated by the series of PTSD episodes he experiences. Driven by the guilt he feels for the loss of his men and his actions, he is confronted by Rebecca (Bonnie Sveen) for answers about the death of her brother and Seth’s best mate Josh (Hugh Sheridan).

Writer and Director Storm Ashwood takes the all too familiar war in the jungle screenplay but overlays the effects of PTSD on returning servicemen. The use of alcohol to mask the pain, suicidal tendencies, inability to integrate and provide support to family are all themes explored. Ultimately the film seeks to reiterate that getting professional help is the most effective treatment; if a tough guy like Seth can accept help, then others can too. Ashwood also makes social commentary on the Australian Military’s role in training soldiers and not victims. Seth’s new mission is now to survive back in Australian suburbia.

McConville provides a committed performance throughout and the complexity he brings to the character is to be commended; displayed through his ability to swap between someone who displays brutal physical strength in a bar fight and survival in the jungle, to the vulnerable and emotional character in the aftermath of PTSD episodes.

The film uses flashback scenes to move the narrative forward and is well edited and paced by Editor Marcus D’arcy. The audience finds out the truth of what happened to Seth and his team as Seth re-lives the trauma and builds a bond with Rebecca. The most impressive scenes are the overlay between Seth’s current world and the trauma he is experiencing, allowing the audience to feel the same Seth’s horror, which, at times is realistically frightening. In saying that, I sometimes found the relationship between McConville and Sveen lacked chemistry, and at times, the physical relationship that develops feels quite forced.

This is an interesting take on a war film, but viewer discretion is advised as there are graphic torture scenes and suicidal material throughout.

Escape and Evasion is out in cinemas March 5, 2020.

REVIEW: Bell Shakespeare Presents HAMLET

Exceptional

By Narelle Wood

Hamlet would have to be one of my favourite Shakespearean tragedies so I was intrigued to see how Bell Shakespeare reinvented the story of Denmark’s demise in this new production.

Hamlet

If you are not familiar with Hamlet’s story, it’s a classic tale of treason, incest, revenge and eventual madness. Throw in a few sightings of a royal ghost, the famous soliloquy ‘to be or not to be’, a sword fight and an extremely high body count, and you have the tragic but highly entertaining tale. The more contemporary setting of the play allowed for some clever use of technology for parts of the plot, but the costuming at times might have been well suited to the 1960’s. This means Bell Shakespeare once again accomplished what it is so good at: highlighting the timeless nature of Shakespeare. This could well have been set in any era and still the themes of betrayal, love, grief and regret are still relevant.

Under Damien Ryan’s direction, the cast found the humour and lewdness often missed in many performances of Shakespeare’s tragedies. As a result the performance was dynamic and captivating from start to finish. The casting was impressive, with many members playing more than one character, a lofty task given the very heavy dialogue in parts. Ophelia (Matilda Ridgway) was appropriately tormented, with Ridgway striking a nice balance between grief and insanity. Josh McConville’s portrayal of an angry, vengeful and grief-stricken Hamlet was extremely impressive. In fact McConville’s Hamlet was so complex that it is difficult to classify in any definitive way what type of Hamlet he played, except for one of his own making.

There was not one element in this production that did not work. The sets (designer Alicia Clements) were exquisite but simple. The lighting (Matt Cox) seemed to be a character all of its own, and the scarce use of soundtrack (Steve Francis) was only noticeable in that it added to the often eerie atmosphere.

If you are new to Shakespeare, or not sure whether you’re a fan, Bell Shakespeare’s Hamlet would be a good choice to start with. It was enthralling from first word until the last silence.

Venue: The Arts Centre Melbourne
Season: Until July 25th
Tickets: Prices range from $49 – $79
Bookings: artscentremelbourne.com.au/whats-on/theatre-drama/hamlet