Tag: Mandie Combe

REVIEW: The Graduates Present CRUISING PARADISE

Seeking connections and searching for identity

By Myron My

Cruising Paradise

Cruising Paradise by Terence O’Connell takes a number of Sam Shepard’s (American writer, playwright, actor, and television and film director) short prose tales and stages them as a variety of monologues and scenes. Presented by graduates of The National Theatre Drama School in St Kilda and performed at fortyfivedownstairs, the piece is certainly an interesting and ambitious project.

Shepard is well known for creating environments of loss, desolation and solitude in his stories which Cruising Paradise is able to convey, but it is at the loss of allowing the audience to remain fully engaged with the piece. Part of the problem is that too many stories are performed; Shepard’s stories are already so rich and demanding for an audience that it just felt unnecessary to have so many similar stories on stage in such a short time.

Furthermore, there is little differentiation between how the majority of the monologues are delivered, which made it difficult to follow some stories. It’s quite a shame as the cast (Mandie Combe, William Ewing, Camille Meghaizel, Lucy Norton and James Stanistreet) have clearly put significant thought and effort into their roles, with notable mentions going to the more senior members of the company Meghaizel and Combe, who embrace their characters with much gusto.

The stories that did work well were therefore the ones that had the actors interacting with each other in some way or where there was a slight costume change that greatly assisted in distinguishing between different tales. Unfortunately this did not happen throughout the night.

The musical interludes were entertaining to watch and a nice break from all the monologues. The composition by Paul Norton was well-suited to the voices of the three main singers Combe, Ewing and Meghaizel.

Overall, the stories in Cruising Paradise dealt well with themes of lonely people who are looking for a connection, trying to figure out who they are and searching for an identity. I only wish the show itself could (instead of simply drowning us in so many of Shepard’s stories) have had some of that insight and been able to give each tale individuality, while drawing all the pieces into a whole.

Venue: fortyfivedownstairs, 45 Flinders Lane, Melbourne

Season: Until 12 May | Tues-Sat 8:00pm, Sun 5:00pm

Tickets: $36 Full | $28 Conc

Bookings: http://www.fortyfivedownstairs.com or 9662 9966

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REVIEW: The Window Outside

Delicately funny, cleverly truthful and beautifully told

By Myron My

Written by Belinda Lopez, The Window Outside would at first glance be considered a heartbreaking love-story, but on deeper inspection it is a celebration of life and love as a family deals with various hurdles that their relationships and circumstances have thrown at them.

The four actors truly tapped into the fine nuances of their characters, especially Carrie Moczynski with her portrayal of Evelyn as a wife attempting to hold on to the past that she once knew. Rick Burchall as Frank, sustained a strong presence on stage including the scenes where he was “stuck” in his wheelchair. His subtle facial mannerisms and shift from passive to active were very well-performed.

One thing I would have liked to see was to see some more anger and spirit in Sharon, played by Nadia Andary. One could clearly sympathise with what her character had been forced to sacrifice but I felt her outbursts and angry moments needed to be more passionate, loud and even aggressive. In contrast to Sharon however, was Mandie Combe’s Miranda: the younger daughter and the ‘white sheep’ to Sharon’s black. The two actors had a strong rapport and their poignant scenes together came with a history attached where you could easily believe that this in fact was a family.

The  music added another layer of depth to the story, with some very carefully selected songs that heightened the drama that was unfolding. The short home-video montage in the opening scene was also effective in being able to show the love that the central couple had for each other and quickly create a back-story for them without having to spend time talking about it.

The Window Outside thus struck a chord with me – and with many audience members. It opens up discussion on so many controversial issues including euthanasia, assisted-care living, the responsibility a child has to a parent and to what extent this should be taken, and the desire for living life the way you want to.

These concerns are all dealt with sensitively and honestly – sometimes humorously too, but these are the really beautiful moments – the truth in comedy. Overall, a wonderful play to help you appreciate the joy of love in all its forms.

Venue: La Mama Courthouse, 349 Drummond St, Carlton.

Season: Until 21 October| Wed – Sat 8:00pm, Sun 2:00pm

Tickets: $20 Bookings: www.trybooking.com/BVLU