Tag: Lucas Stibbard

REVIEW: Return Season of NORTH BY NORTHWEST

Seeking the adventure again

By Caitlin McGrane

The reimagined Hitchcock classic North by Northwest gets an excellent presentation at the Melbourne Arts Centre after its fantastically successful run in 2015.

North by Northwest 2.jpg

For those who don’t know, the story is that of Roger O. Thornhill (Matt Day), Madison Avenue advertising executive mistaken for the mysterious George Kaplan in The Plaza Hotel in New York; thus setting in motion a chain of events that takes Thornhill to the United Nations, Chicago, and Mount Rushmore. His partner in crime is Eve Kendall (Amber McMahon), an enigmatic femme fatale with whom Thornhill forms an instant connection on a train.

Writer Carolyn Burns and director Simon Phillips really have done a terrific job of bringing the classic film to the stage; Burns has successfully managed to tread the very fragile line between appreciating and replicating the original, especially given it is such a well-loved text. Hitchcock’s contemporality is appropriately heightened through clever direction from Phillips, so some of the uncomfortable and backwards politics of the 1950s can be seen through a modern lens.

The ensemble cast, comprised of Nicholas Bell, Ian Bliss, Lyall Brooks, Leon Cain, Sheridan Harbridge, Matt Hetherington, Tony Llewellyn-Jones, Gina Riley, Lucas Stibbard and Lachlan Woods are all clearly having a ball. Harbridge, Llewellyn Jones and Riley all delivered standout performances, providing just the right number of nods and winks to the audience and some truly excellent accents. It would perhaps have been nice to see more chemistry between the two leads, and it sometimes felt to me like McMahon’s Eve was not as self-assured as her silver screen counterpart. But these minor critiques did not hamper my enjoyment of their respective performances.

It would be extraordinarily remiss of me not to mention the exceptional creative work from the backstage team. Nick Schlieper’s lighting and set design were joyously clever and funny, Ian McDonald’s composition and sound design catapulted me back in time to my first screening of North by Northwest, while Josh and Jess Burns’ innovative and hilarious use of video really stole the show. I shall never see Mount Rushmore the same way ever again.

To have a bad time watching North by Northwest would be an extremely difficult thing, and while this may seem like damning with faint praise I really would be surprised if anyone came out of seeing this production feeling anything but contented. Sometimes what I need is a big sugary treat from the theatre, and North by Northwest delivered deliciously comforting familiarity in spades. This is the second time I’ve seen the production, and it is the combination of joy, self-awareness and fun that makes this such a pleasure to watch.

North by Northwest is now showing at The State Theatre at the Arts Centre until 13 February 2016. More information and tickets from: https://www.artscentremelbourne.com.au/whats-on/theatre-drama/north-by-northwest-2016

Advertisements

Review: MTC’s Boy Girl Wall

A theatre experience that is innovative, intriguing and highly engaging

By Christine Moffat

“Side by side in a leafy suburb, Thom lives in one flat, Alethea in another. It’s pretty clear that their respective unsatisfying lives would improve enormously if they just met each other. But with literally a wall between them, this seems highly improbable.”

This is the scant information ‘about the play’ that the programme divulges; a tantalising three sentences that give you no idea of the dynamic and entertaining 90 minutes you are about to embark on.

Boy Girl Wall is a story about life and love, not just those of the two protagonists, but also of the people, and especially the seemingly inanimate objects, around them.

It is not a story I can set out in this review without removing the magic of discovery as you watch the story unfold.  Suffice then to say, this show is an unorthodox, amusing, entertaining ‘trampoline-like’ experience.

Upon entering the theatre and being seated, you are presented with a set by Jonathon Oxlade that resembles a giant fold-up ping-pong table.  A woman sits to one side of the stage waiting.  This turns out to be Neridah Waters, musical designer and musician and understated partner-in-crime to Lucas Stibbard, the hilarious one-man-band-of-a-performer who delivers Boy Girl Wall.

The implied ping-pong effect is not diminished once the show is underway.  Stibbard appears to be made of energy, delivering an hour and a half of entertaining, intelligent, rapid-fire dialogue (and at least 25 personalities!) and story-telling in a way that makes you feel that the time flew by.

This show is a perfect example of minimalism at its best, where less truly is more.  The production has not much more than a cast of one, a musician, that table-tennis like set (much of which is ‘dressed’ in real time with a stick of chalk), a xylophone and a ruler.

The lighting design by Keith Clark apparently consisted simply of two large retro light globes and an old school overhead projector: all of which are used to great effect for comedy but also, surprisingly for lovely moments of pathos as well.

The ingredients for Boy Girl Wall may not sound like much of a theatrical shopping list, but with these few items this production delivers an evening of surprise, laughter, love and an unexpected dash of optimism for good measure.

Venue: The MTC Theatre, Lawler Studio

Season Dates: 17 April to 4 May 2012

Tickets: From $40; Under 30s just $25

Booking Details: The MTC Theatre Box Office 03 8688 0800 or www.mtc.com.au