Tag: Kelly Nash

REVIEW: Hoy Polloy Presents MEEKA

True crime meets fiction

By Narelle Wood

Meeka is a tale of fraud, deceit, arsen and a brutal attempt at murder told with all the straight-talking humour you would expect from a play set in the outback.

Meeka.jpg

The storyline focuses on a local school pricipal John (Kevin Summers) who is trying to do the best he can with his small isolated community school. However dealing with budgetary issues becomes a bigger burden than he had bargained for, especially when the city folk in the department send auditor Kevin (Keith Brockett) up to Meeka to check the school’s finances. John is not fooled by the apparent routineness of the audit and is determined to watch the Kevin’s every move. To complicate issues John’s relationship with his staff is on tenter hooks for a whole range of reasons, including issues of favouritism and power plays, that potentially implicate his staff in the alleged fraud. When Kevin arrives all seems to be going well, but bit by bit things slowly start to unravel ending with Kevin’s head blending profusely, Kevin claiming John tried to kill him, and John professing self defence. Under normal circumstances that would be a spoiler, however Meeka is based on a true crime, so the focus is not so much on the murder attempt but the events leading up to the heinous crime and who exactly is responsible.

The cast is full of wonderful Aussie archetypes: the straight-talking, no-holds-barred woman Eileen (Kelly Nash); the quintessential bloke PE teacher Tom (Liam Gillespie); the uptight English teacher Tiffany (Christina Costigan); and the primary school teacher Bec (Claire Pearson) with a hint of rebellion behind her caring demeanour. It is superbly cast, each performance complimenting Dan Walls‘ dialogue which is witty, and generally well paced. There was quite a colourful array of explicit language used throughout, sitting naturally alongside the very Australian twangs and colloquialisms of many of the characters. Under Shaun Kingma‘s direction there is complete authenticity to each of the performances, and the transitions between scenes are fast and make great use of the large space and simple sets.

If there was one thing that perhaps didn’t work as well for me was the middle section; it seemed to lag a little in comparison to the snappiness of the beginning and end. That aside, Meeka is a strangely funny take on some very dark subject matter; what makes the narrative work is the humour comes from the characters and not the situation. An exceptionally well-written and executed play.

Venue: Fortyfivedownstairs, 45 Flinders Lane, Melbourne
Season: Until 14th February, 8pm, 3pm Sundays
Tickets: Full $38
Bookings: www.fortyfivedownstairs.com/events

REVIEW: Hoy Polloy & Baggage Productions Present RHONDA IS IN THERAPY

Moving and masterful cast performance

By Myron My

Rhonda Is In Therapy by Bridgette Burton is the latest production from Hoy Polloy Theatre Productions and deals with a young mother’s grief and loneliness since the tragic passing of her child.

The four actors all find the subtleties of their characters and flesh them out into life. Jamieson Caldwell as the naïve young student who begins an affair with Rhonda brings a sense of innocence to the proceedings, which is a great contrast to Kelly Nash’s therapist who subtly attempts to break down the defensive wall created by Rhonda.

Louise Crawford is brilliant as Rhonda, a mother who can’t let go of the guilt that is eating her inside. The scenes showing Rhonda at different periods of her life when things were more happy and simple, and then switching to the present with all her emotional conflict, are compelling to watch. Ben Grant’s portrayal of a loving and supportive husband who is quietly struggling to keep it all together for his family is superb and made him the shining star of this production.

The subtle comedy still implicit in pain and human suffering is captured beautifully here and there are some truly honest moments presented; the scenes between Rhonda and her therapist boast some sharp and witty dialogue. However, Rhonda Is In Therapy could have done with some tightening, especially towards the end. There were a few scenes that didn’t add much to the story and slowed proceedings down a little.

The other minor downfall was the scenes that involved the ‘children’. The performers would “imagine” the child being present as voiced by one of the other actors. At times, there were voice recordings played which had the dialogue of both the adult and child. Both these devices really detracted from the intimacy the play was striving for, and reminded the audience that they were in fact watching a performance and not something that was otherwise powerfully real.

Despite these issues, Rhonda Is In Therapy is a thoroughly engaging performance piece with some stellar acting from its four stars.

Venue: fortyfive downstairs, 45 Flinders Lane.

Season: Until 23 September| Tues to Sat 8:00pm, Sun 5:00pm

Tickets: $40 Full | $35 Conc

Bookings: 03 9662 9966 or www.fortyfivedownstairs.com

Review: THE SUBCONSCIOUS COMETH

Witty skits on life, death and the edge of sanity

By Jen Coles 

Baggage Productions has been working for years to promote female writers and performers in the industry with intelligence and wit.

Their latest, The Subconscious Cometh (Costigan/ Burton/ Nash), is an extremely original piece of theatre, detailing discussions of loss, life and death.

Honestly, I had no idea what to expect as the program notes nor the performer biographies hinted at what was to follow.

Thankfully, what did was an extremely tight and poignant program of short skits and monologues featuring all performers in a variety of roles.

The program began by introducing the cast, and their fears, in an extremely comedic way (almost like a game show).

After the introduction, we segued into ‘Motivational Dating’, featuring a character who used cooking metaphors to describe his “life menu,” which particularly resonated as we see people try to sell us new concepts every day for virtually the same things.

Other highlights were ‘Haunting the James’s’ – did we ever consider the ghost’s point of view about hauntings? – and ‘Spirit Guy’.

Featuring the only two males in the cast, the latter involved a character watching his family after he’d died and being assisted by his spirit guide who was perhaps a bit unorthodox. It was completely touching and humorous, as were many of the pieces in the show.

The monologues in the show were of excellent class, too; reasonably paced and all ended at a suitable place that made a point.

However, the monologues worked best when they were short and succinct; both James Deeth’s ‘Tasteless’ and Dan Walls’ ‘Changeling’ made their point well, but were a touch too long and stretched the show a bit.

In comparison to some of the shorter pieces of the show, the fact they seemed to sit on the same bits of material more for dramatic effect actually lessened the meaning, not enhanced it.

Regardless, the setting, lighting and subject matter made for an intimate discussion and reflection on the human soul.

My personal favourite were the discussions of our subconscious, ego and alter-ego (clearly an examination of Freud) manifested as a spider, a neurotic mess, and an extremely rude being. 

The Subconscious Cometh was a wonderful evening that managed to make you think hard about yourself, and laugh at the same time.

Baggage have created a terrific piece of theatre that they should probably think about expanding into a full-length play. But for now, it was short, to the point, and excellently produced.

Baggage Productions’ season of The Subconscious Cometh played at Trades Hall, Carlton June 14 to 25th June 2011.