Tag: Josh Price

REVIEW: Little Ones Theatre Presents THE HOUSE OF YES

Dysfunctional comedy all in the family

By Myron My

It took me exactly 37 seconds to realize that I was going to be in pure bliss watching Little Ones Theatre‘s production of The House Of Yes, a bizarre yet hilariously witty play by Wendy Macleod.

The House of Yes_Photo Credit_ Sarah Walker Photography

It’s Thanksgiving in 1983, and Marty (Benjamin Rigby) has returned home with his fiancée Lesly (Anna McCarthy). As we meet the rest of the family – his mentally unstable and Kennedy-obsessed twin sister “Jackie O” (Genevieve Giuffre), younger brother Anthony (Paul Blenheim) and matriarch, Mrs. Pascal (Josh Price, in a superb casting decision) – the domestic Pandora’s box is well and truly opened in this satirical play on class, incest and mental illness.

For the most part, Giuffre succeeds in bringing out the fragility and loneliness in the challenging role of Jackie O but it is the scenes involving McCarthy and Blenheim that allow for a deeper honesty and vulnerability to be present. Unfortunately I was not at all convinced by Rigby’s performance as Marty, who really only shines in his scenes with Giuffre which are filled with an infinite amount of palpable sexual chemistry.

Price as Mrs. Pascal is truly an unusual choice, but at the same time a perfect decision to convey the dysfunctional ties of the family, and personify the desires and morals that otherwise seem to be lacking in the Pascal household.

Director Stephen Nicolazzo has done a great job in crafting the pace and delivery in The House of Yes, and there is never a dull moment on stage. The set and lighting design of the Pascal home further articulates the misguided values and the mindset of a family that is caught up in its own bourgeois reality. Eugyeene Teh’s all-pink set contrasts with the darkness that envelops the family, and the lighting by Katie Sfetkidis successfully builds the tension towards the climatic final scene, even with all the laughs and antics.

Little Ones Theatre have managed to bring their own unique touch to this compelling story of a family whose desires and wishes to lead the lives they want only ends in devastation for themselves and each other. The House of Yes gets a resounding yes from me.

Venue: Theatreworks, 14 Acland St, St Kilda.

Season: Until 13 December | Tues – Sat 8:00pm

Tickets: $30 Full | $25 Concession

Bookings: 9534 3388 or http://www.theatreworks.org.au

REVIEW: Daniel Schlusser Ensemble in M+M

Daring to unravel a Russian classic

By Christine Moffat

M + M is the theatrical reworking of Bulgakov’s classic Russian novel The Master and Margarita by exploratory masters the Daniel Schlusser Ensemble for this year’s Melbourne Festival.  Approaching such a novel with reverence, and producing a slavish retelling is not in this Ensemble’s vocabulary.  Instead, this innovative group always attempt to crack the code underpinning the work of art, and present its inner workings to the audience.  Unfortunately, in this production they have taken a risk that has not entirely paid off.

M+M

Some elements of this show are truly superb.  The set design by Anna Cordingley and Romaine Harper is outstanding, and used extensively and with great effect by director Daniel Schulusser.  Every performer (Johnny Carr, Josh Price, Nikki Shiels, Karen Sibbing, Emily Tomlins, Mark Winter & Edwina Wren) bravely attacks the show with energy, commitment and obvious talent.

Deconstructing such rich source material is ambitious for when it comes to reconstructing, how do you decide which elements must be reinstated?  The attempt to connect the novel to Pussy Riot and modern Russian social oppression is disjointed.  Instead of combining these themes, the performance gives the sense of empty, barren space between them.  The program invites the audience to view the piece as “…theatrical architecture…”, but the parts are too loosely connected to achieve this.  It could be better compared to blueprints and a collection of building materials.

It is not a narrative that this production lacks, but rather any emotional resonance.  The vignettes performed on stage are diaspora; closer to resembling performance art than theatre, but not managing the shock or provocation common to that art form either.  Whether this production succeeds in affecting others in its audience emotionally, or merely works visually, the Daniel Schlusser Ensemble have achieved an outcome that can inform and feed their future works.

Sometimes parts do not create a cohesive and greater whole.  In approaching a seemingly impossible novel, this Ensemble should impress us in the attempt, and in the many successful moments it produces.  Sadly, this reconstruction still feels as if it has major elements of the original source missing.  It is like a beautiful watch that has been rebuilt without hands – each component is lovingly crafted, but it has no way of performing as intended and so we have no way of receiving its ultimate message.

Oct 12 – 16 (no show Oct 15)

Theatre Works, 14 Acland Street St Kilda

Tickets: $65 / $50 / Under 30s $35, Student $25

Bookings: theatreworks.org.au, 03 9534 3388, or Ticketmaster 136 100

REVIEW: The Daniel Schlusser Ensemble’s MENAGERIE

A daring exploration of the essence of a life

By Christine Moffat

Menagerie is a composite of many ideas, combining the real and imagined life and companions of playwright Tennessee Williams. This is experimental theatre, bordering on performance art, something that the Daniel Schlusser Ensemble has become known for. A circus of characters in and around a small, seedy shack create a cacophony of noise and movement. It’s a risky combination: when it worked, it created sublime theatrical experiences. When it didn’t, the result was prettily arranged tableaux better suited to photography.

Menagerie

There is no arc or emotional journey within this show. This type of experimental work is aiming for more than a good story: it is seeking the essence of an event, or in this case, a life. Through a controlled mayhem, director Daniel Schlusser weaves six incredibly capable actors into a tragically beautiful tapestry. Throughout the piece, the cast became a dysfunctional family. Each performance seemed to exploit the personal strengths of each actor. Josh Price (Williams) and Zahra Newman (Ozzie) both delivered powerful, potentially dominating performances. Price was particularly interesting as the many dishevelled versions of Williams. These larger roles were tempered and complimented by the subtle work of Kevin Hofbauer (Frank) and Edwina Wren (Rose). Jane Badler (Edwina) and Karen Sibbing were erratic, tragic and hilarious, and owned the audience more than once.

The set, designed by Dale Ferguson, was almost a character in itself. It consisted of the claustrophobic hut, surrounded by an assortment of rough amenities that suggested both squalor, and the enmeshed, suffocating family that plagued the real Williams. Although not emotionally affecting in the way a traditional theatre piece would be, Menagerie achieves a sense of truth about Williams’ internal world that you instinctively believe. The ensemble appear to have taken what is known about Williams the artist and worked backwards to present a valid hypothesis of how that complex man was created. This achievement indicates the method in their mayhem.

Menagerie (part of NEON Festival of Independent Theatre)
Venue: MTC Southbank Theatre, The Lawler
Dates: 18 to 26 May 2013
Show times: Tues – Sat 8pm, Sun 5pm (duration 90mins + interval)
Tickets: $25
Bookings: 03 8688 0800 or www.mtc.com/neon

Review: MARGARET FULTON – Queen of the Dessert

An exciting new Australian musical takes the cake

By Bradley Storer

The atmosphere on the official opening night of Margaret Fulton: Queen of the Dessert, a new Australian musical written by Doug Macleod and Yuri Worontschak, was overflowing with enthusiasm and national pride.

Greeted at the door of the Theatreworks performance space by members of the cast offering Anzac biscuits and mini-Australian flags, the anticipation of seeing a brand new musical intermingled with a sense of coming together as a community to celebrate the life of an Australian icon (heightened by the presence of the lady herself).

We are taken on a whirlwind ride through episodes of Fulton’s life, from her beginnings as a country girl moving to Sydney, her life in the bohemian underground and her (at the time) unconventional choices of lifestyle, several marriages marred by misery and disaster, on to the heights she gained through her own industrious, strong-willed nature and ingenuity, changing the cultural landscape of Australia forever.

Amy Lehpamer brings to the title role a simultaneous combination of delicacy, refinement and inner strength, a beautiful flower tipped in steel. This is backed up by a powerhouse of a voice which can move as easily from a caress of a whisper to a roof-raising belt. Although illustrating Fulton’s strength and poise to great effect, in the show’s more emotional moments her restraint was frustrating – I wanted Lehpamer to let down the character’s walls and yield to the full power of her passions, even if only for a few moments.

The Present Tense ensemble, under the direction of Bryce Ives, are all strong performers in their own right. Josh Price and Laura Burzacott in particular provide the most side-splitting moments of the evening, Price as a series of grotesque caricatures of Fulton’s various lovers and industrial misogynists, and Burzacott as Bea, Fulton’s long-time friend from her bohemian days, who embodies the character with good-hearted ribaldry.

The book is well-crafted if at times clumsy – it feels at points as though Fulton’s achievements are being ticked off on a list, simply being pointed out rather than explaining how these achievements emerged from her life and circumstances. After one of the best and highly emotional scenes in the narrative, the show unfortunately peters out in its last few moments as though it has lost even a glimmer of narrative.

Overall though, this is an exciting, inspiring and highly entertaining production which pays tribute to the incredible achievements of a true national icon in glorious and gut-bustingly funny song.

Date: 16 Nov 2012 – 01 Dec 2012

Venue: Theatreworks, 14 Acland St, St Kilda Time: Tue, Wed, Thu at 8pm, Fri & Sat 7pm & 9.30pm

Price: $45 full / $30 conc, under 30s & groups 10+/ $25 preview [plus booking fee]

Bookings: www.theatreworks.org.au or 03 9534 3388