Tag: Kaarin Fairfax

Boyslikeme Presents NEXT FALL

Fine performances in fragile love story

By Myron My

Being in love is never easy. Geoffrey Naufft’s Next Fall tells the story of Adam and Luke, a gay couple who begin a relationship spawning five years before tragedy strikes when Luke is hit by a car. Opening with Luke’s friends, family and Adam gathering at a hospital waiting room to hear news on his outcome, the story flashes back to various moments in the lives of both Adam and Luke and those closest to them.

Next Fall.jpg

Each flashback builds on 40-year-old Adam’s (Darrin Redgate) frustration over where his life is heading, and Luke’s (Mark Davis) attempts to reconcile his sexuality with his Christian faith. Redgate does a capable job as the neurotic candle-seller who seems to be subconsciously attempting to self-sabotage his chances at ever finding happiness, even when it’s staring at him right in the face. Davis evokes a naive self-assuredness in Luke with regards to his dogmatic beliefs, but he is also able to bring out a warmth and kindness to him as his relationship with Adam grows.

Kaarin Fairfax simultaneously brings fragility and strength to Arlene, Luke’s mother. A touching scene between her and Adam displays Fairfax’s ability to convey the deep emotions her character is feeling without resorting to overt dramatics. Sharon Davis as Holly delivers a solid performance as the supportive friend for both Adam and Luke, with her subtle comedic timing allowing us to momentarily forget the impending tragedy.

Unfortunately I felt Paul Robertson‘s performance as Luke’s homophobic father Butch needed further development in allowing us to understand the nuances of the character. Throughout the story Luke has an intense fear of his father finding out about his sexuality – and yet nothing eventuates from this, even when Butch comes across Adam and Luke during a moment of intimacy, which I found very unsatisfying. Similarly, the character of Brandon (James Biasetto) in this production feels more like an outsider looking in and even during his flashback scene with Adam, Brandon doesn’t reveal anything to the audience that we are not already aware of.

Peter Blackburn takes care in his direction to not rush the story and otherwise allows the characters and their relationships time to develop organically. The set design by James Lew is interesting in that it suggests that the past and present are inextricably linked, however the set changes where an actor appears in the waiting room for a few seconds for no other purpose than to give time for the crew to prepare the stage for the next scene feel very much like filler rather than substance.

While religion and getting old are major themes explored in Next Fall, it is ultimately a touching love story between two people. As such, Naufft’s script may be a formulaic play with no real surprises, but the dedicated performances from this cast are what turn this production into a story worth sharing.

Venue: Chapel Off Chapel, 12 Little Chapel St, Prahran
Season: until 30 July | Wed – Sat 8:00pm, Sun 5:00pm
Tickets: $39.50 Full | $29.50 Conc
Bookings: Chapel Off Chapel

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Melbourne Fringe 2016: BOMBSHELLS

Impressive performances of women on the verge

By Margaret Wieringa

Down a few side streets in Brunswick in an art space called Wick Studios, ROARE Productions are staging the classic Australian play Bombshells by Joanna Murray-Smith for this year’s Melbourne Fringe Festival. The work is a series of six monologues from women pushed to the edge, and Kaarin Fairfax has directed this group of six young performers to find interesting and different interpretations of the collection of characters

Bombshells.jpg

The show starts strongly with Ruby Swann playing Meryl Louise Davenport, the young mum struggling through the constant, frenetic monologue, judging herself and comparing herself to everyone around her. It’s such a bittersweet, tragic and yet very hilarious piece and Swann balanced the humour and pathos beautifully – in a magnificent white jumpsuit, and literally at the end of her rope.

Next, Ruby Duncan was Tiggy Entwhistle, a recently separated woman who is discussing how succulents changed her life. Duncan’s performance was extremely still and monotonic throughout, which was both a strength and a weakness- it gave the writing a far deeper sense of pain, but at times, missed the humour. Certainly, it was a strong performance from Duncan in an unexpected interpretation of the piece.

The first act finished on Anjelica Angwin’s school talent performance as Mary O’Donnell. We’ve all known these young, extremely self-confident teens who are ready to take on the world of the stage. Perhaps we may have even been her… Angwin captured the arrogance and outrage of the teen performer beautifully. And her dance number was delightful.

Returning from interval we meet Theresa McTerry, portrayed by Emily Riley. Starting on stage dancing in her underwear and drinking champagne, we watch Riley go through a wide variety of emotions as she ends up in a magnificently large wedding dress marrying Ted. As the character became more and more overwhelmed by the day, Riley’s performance became bigger and louder and funnier and more tragic, as needed.

Angie Glavas played Winsome Webster, the button-down widow who has seemingly settled into a pattern that will last the rest of her life. It’s always difficult to have actors play characters so distant in age from themselves, and while it was impossible to ignore that I was watching a young performer, she had a weight to her voice, a pacing and a pitch that conveyed an older character. Glavas was able to do real credit to the humour of the writing with her performance – giving a sense of upright respectability with the occasional naughty wink.

The show ends with a showstopper – travelling Vegas-style singer Zoe Struthers played by Olivia Ramsay. I found this monologue felt somewhat out of place, as all previous five are relatively normal, everyday characters but Struthers is extreme – and Ramsay played it to absolute extreme, with smeared make-up and cartoon-like facial expressions. Possibly some of the potential tragedy of this character may have been lost through the melodrama of the performance, but it also was hindered by some technical issues. Unfortunately during the performance there were several technical cues missed which did slow the flow somewhat, but I am sure that they will be sorted as the season progresses.

There are a lot of choices at Fringe time, but if you are interested in checking out the work of some raw young talent, get yourself to Wick Studios for Bombshells.

Bombshells is playing in Studio A at Wick Studios, 23-25 Leslie St, Brunswick

Monday-Sunday at 7:30 and Sat-Sun Matinees 1:30 September 22-27

Tickets are available through melbournefringe.com.au

Preview $20, Full $25, Conc. $25 Cheap Tuesday $15

REVIEW: La Mama Presents MONOLOGUE FOR A MURDERER

The ethics of dramatizing real-world horrors

By Myron My

High school shootings seem to be a distressing regular occurrence of late and remain a touchy subject in film and theatre. In Monologue for a Murderer, Kate Rice uses the tenth anniversary of the 2002 German school massacre in the town of Erfurt as the impetus to tell this story, and whilst the work is nothing new on its own, the intelligent narrative structure and direction makes this play something very different.

Monologue for a Murderer

Three points of views are explored in Monologue for a Murderer. The events leading up to the school massacre are examined through the eyes of then school principal, Frau Doktor (Kaarin Fairfax), and the eyes of killer, Robert Steinhäuser (Nicholas Denton). Whilst the time jumps are a little unclear and confusing to begin with, things soon settle and the narrative comes together quite well with a highly intense retelling of those final moments.

The third point of view playwright Rice uses is that of her own, played by Kirsty Hillhouse. As Rice – who was in Erfurt for the tenth anniversary – Hillhouse speaks directly to us and gives us some insight into her own personal ethics and inner conflict in creating theatre and entertainment from such a horrific event and her subsequent attempts to pay respect to the lives affected by Steinhäuser.

There are some strong performances from the cast from Hillhouse, and Denton as the troubled young killer. However, the role of Frau Doktor felt miscast with Fairfax unfortunately unable to convey the deep level of grief and responsibility felt. Moreover, Charlie Sturgeon also struggled to convince in any of the characters he portrays, with little discernible differentiation between his roles, even in tone or body language.

A unique script, and apt direction by Jeremy Rice, ensure that Monologue for a Murderer doesn’t present as just another play about another high-school shooting but opens out into a powerful discussion of what theatre can be, for an audience member, an actor and a writer.

Venue: La Mama Courthouse, 349 Drummond St, Carlton

Season: Until 9 November | Wed 6:30pm. Thu-Sat 7:30pm, Sun 4pm

Tickets: $25 Full | $15 Concession

Bookings: http://lamama.com.au