Tag: Kevin Summers

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

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Review: DEATH OF A COMEDIAN at La Mama Courthouse

Getting behind the scenes of the comedy circuit

By Myron My

Death of a Comedian by Fred Rowan is a privileged view into the  green room of a local comedy club as a group of comedians warm up for their show, but it might as well be a group of patients in the waiting room of a medical centre awaiting test results. As the performers wait backstage we witness their tension and anxieties, and as they return from the stage we wait with dread to see if they “killed it or were killed”.

Death of a Comedian

The whole amusing performance takes place over the course of this one night in the green room. The set design was very realistic in depicting what the back room of a pub looks like, and some great stage lighting involved having the comedian who was giving their set take centre stage while the rest of the cast remained in the background of the green room, thus allowing the two worlds to combine yet remaining visually separate.

Jeremy Kewley was brilliant as Graham Dempster, the organizer of the event raising funds for a hospital. His energy and endearingly annoying character were well received by the audience. Kevin Summers as a comedian desperate for a comeback, Johnny Mazing, was reminiscent of the fear we all have of not wanting to be forgotten and trying to hold onto our past. Although it took him a while to settle into his character, the audience was firmly on his side by the end. Believing in a few of the other performers was sometimes a struggle however: it felt like I was watching comedians acting and not actors being comedians.

There was some sharp dialogue and at times this reminded me of the backstage shenanigans that go on during something like Noises Off! which allowed Death of a Comedian to bring home the laughs. I think cutting ten minutes from the show would have created a much cleaner show and the ending, whilst trying to bring in some poignancy, needed editing too as it seemed to go on that little bit too long.

Death of a Comedian is, self-consciously, a drama about comedy. But there are more than enough laughs in this production to make you think otherwise.

Venue: La Mama Courthouse, 349 Drummond St, Carlton

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

Tickets: $25 Full | $15 Concession

Bookings: http://lamama.com.au