Tag: Lisa Dallinger

REVIEW: Noel Coward’s SEMI MONDE

Fleeting affairs and quick-witted comedy

By Narelle Wood

Noel Coward’s Semi Monde presented by Seven Actors is a complex web of scandal and affairs, played out in the streets of Paris, that provides just as many laughs as it does relationships. The recent Melbourne production at Trades Hall was performed by a versatile cast including Kelly Ryan, Jade Thomson, Lisa Dallinger, Ross Larkin, Malcolm Nash, Ebony Higgins and Scott Jackson.

Semi Monde

Set in the mid 1920’s, the opulence of the party era is in full swing. Each of Coward’s thirty characters takes full advantage of the extravagant lifestyle, capturing the flirtatious and risqué nature of expressing, or hiding, one’s sexuality and affection. The play doesn’t focus on any one character or group of characters, rather it moves from group to group as if observing the coming and goings of a whole range of regulars at L’hotel Sept, where the intrigue unfolds. Over a series of lunches and cocktails, relationships breakdown, alliances are forged, affairs begin and love is rekindled. There are, amongst many others, the flamboyant-gossip-loving gays, the newly weds, the author and his amorous daughter, various entertainers and a mysterious Russian.

The intricacies of the storyline coupled with the number of characters and only 7 actors resulted in the play being a little hard to follow at times. There were some very quick transitions between characters that were facilitated by accent changes and costume embellishments; in the 3rd act these transitions were executed with skillful flair as performers shifted back and forth between several characters within only a few minutes. While most of the cast, under the direction of Scott Jackson, formed clear delineations between their multiple roles, there were a few times where the transformations were harder to follow, but it was difficult to tell whether this was due to similar character archetypes or the portrayal of the character.

This enjoyable production of Semi Monde was an ambitious undertaking that was well executed. The production was minimalist but effective, though I couldn’t help imagine a more elaborate extravaganza of characters, sets and costumes. Nevertheless Semi Monde was a frolicking good time.

Seven Actors Present Noel Coward’s Semi Monde was performed from 10-15 December 2015 at The Kelvin Club and Trades Hall.

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REVIEW: Nice Productions Presents KING IN EXILE

Vaulting ambitions from young company

By Warwick Moffat

Nice Productions view themselves as a response to a banal entertainment scene. Their plays address the big issues and frequently contain low-level violence, sexual themes or profanity. They strive to offer different perspectives, with theatre that generates genuine feelings within the audience rather than merely entertains. In this sense, they are part of the absurdist theatre tradition. Their latest production King In Exile by Bradley Klendo seeks to provide that alternate view on the big issues of multiculturalism, racism and the tall-poppy syndrome.

King in Exile

In an attempt to express his frustration with a world full of prejudice and mediocrity, a playwright (Raj Joseph) falls into the chaos of his own rough draft as the divide between fiction, reality and dreams become blurred and then altogether disappear. His hero, an Intergalactic King (Thomas Kay) without a realm, is confronted by the Antagonist (Alex Rouse), three Shakespearean witches (Linda Zilinskas, Sarah Nathan-Truesdale, Gabriella Imrich), a sado-masochistic couple (Lisa Dallinger, Nicholas Politis) and a fellow migrant (Sahil Saluja).

Arguments, murderous threats and physical struggle abound; as do occasionally indulgent monologues. Amongst all this, there is a serious message worthy of telling but often lost in the hullabaloo. Many stories about racism place a halo around the victim, but King In Exile suggests some who complain about prejudice and mediocrity can themselves become guilty of a kind of elitism; an arrogant view that no-one can truly understand them. That is a very challenging idea with serious artistic depth.

The performances from the cast varied, but I suspect this was less a reflection on their talent and more on the difficult material. While lacklustre during some of the monologues, the stagecraft was often quite impressive when the play provided dramatic action to work with. Nicholas Politis gave a consistently strong performance in the tough role of an emotionally confused sexual submissive.

Fringe Festival is an opportunity for left-of-centre productions to get an airing, and this play is not out-of-place here. On a number of occasions, the director (Vlady T) achieved his aim of inciting audience response. In parts it was titillating, it sometimes surprised and amused.

The trick with absurdism is to both confront and engage. This is typically done by presenting absurd dialogue and action, but doing so with a storyline structure that is familiar enough to the audience. The true masters of surreal fiction can get away with having an absurd structure, but even they then accept the need to offer the audience familiar dialogue and action. This is an important trade-off. If your dialogue, action and structure is absurd you run the serious risk of losing your audience. With King In Exile, Nice Productions show promise, if they can master the rules before breaking them and embrace the theatre techniques that guide an audience through the absurdity.

Dates: Wed 24th to Sat 27th Sept
Time: 8pm
Location: The Clover Club, Gasworks Arts Park, 21 Graham St, Albert Park
Tickets: $26 Full, $21 Conc.
To book, visit melbournefringe.com.au/fringe-festival/show/king-in-exile or call (03) 9660 9666 OR visit gasworks.org.au or call (03) 9699 3253.