Tag: Marissa O’Reilly

Melbourne Fringe 2016: FALLING APPLES

Powerful concept as lives traverse

By Leeor Adar

The concept of Lene Therese Teigan’s Falling Apples is vast and intimate – a Chekhovian-inspired world where the characters’ lives collide in uncertain times.

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As a fan of Chekhov’s work and Peta Hanrahan’s wonderful direction of A Room of One’s Own earlier this year, I had high hopes for this production presented by La Mama and Verve studios as part of the 2016 Melbourne Fringe Festival, but it was ultimately a cacophony of words, ideas and vibrations.

The Kensington Town Hall is undoubtedly a beautiful place to perform a production. The echo within the large chamber provided a beautiful and haunting introduction as the voices of the performers hummed a suitably melancholy sound – this is Chekhovian terrain after all.

The echo, however, did not bode well for the performers and their interactions. Unless the audience was seated directly opposite the vignette, much of the dialogue was lost within the space. Due to the length of the performance space, the audience was seated along some distance, exacerbating this issue. This had the unfortunate affect of alienating the stories before us. I expect a better choice of space or seating arrangement would have prevented this.

I appreciated the concept of the characters constantly moving within the space as one scene was explored. Undoubtedly the message is clear – we cross paths with other histories every day, and occasionally collide. On this occasion it was further distracting from the already difficult-to-follow dialogue of the active scene within the work.

There were silver linings of strong performances from some members of the cast, particularly Elizabeth Huey-Williams as the troubled sister, and Marissa O’Reilly as the foreign lover. Huey-Williams and O’Reilly gave a lovely depth to their performances that managed to pierce through the chaos surrounding them. Unfortunately, some of the performances were unconvincing and I do not doubt that staging issues contributed.

Ultimately this premiere work was conceptually strong, but weak in execution.

You can catch Falling Apples from Tuesday-Saturday until October 8, Kensington Town Hall: http://lamama.com.au/2016-winter-program/falling-apples

Image by Tommy Holt of T6 Photography

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REVIEW: INFERNO: A Double Bill

Two dark and hellish tales

By Myron My

It’s not as an easy thing to go and explore the darker side of your humanity. For most, it’s the potential repercussions of those actions that prevent us from going any further than a fleeting thought. Citizen Theatre, in association with 5pound theatre and Attic Erratic Theatre, present Inferno: A Double Bill, two distinctly different yet thematically similar plays that question what it is that makes us human and how far would we go to get what we want.

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The first play by Irish playwright Mark O’Rowe, Crestfall, follows three women living in a tough and brutal town who are dealing with the abuse and hardness that characterises their location. While the performances themselves by Freya Pragt, Marissa O’Reilly and Marissa Bennett are highly committed and convincing, it was very difficult to engage with and remain engaged with the show the whole time.

Although the material is harrowing, and it therefore becomes difficult at times to listen to the women’s stories, the main issue for me was that the actors do such a good job with the accents, that at times you miss out on what is being said while trying to understand the thick brogue. It doesn’t happen often but it happens enough that I found it prevents you from being completely absorbed by what is happening.

With a minimalist stage design of bare white walls and a white-painted ladder, an unfortunately ineffective lighting design, and – while not a fault of the show itself but more to do with the choice of venue – the noise coming from the Speakeasy occurring one floor above, it was very difficult to stay absorbed in this world and fully comprehend the plight these women faced.

After a short intermission, the second of the double bill, Ariel Dorfman’s Purgatorio is performed, which, to be perfectly frank, is brilliant. Directed by Celeste Cody, it has the markings of an Attic Erratic performance with its emphasis on creating flawed and authentic characters that drive the plot.

Purgatorio finds a couple that must atone for their sins and learn to forgive each other if they are to be set free. The intelligent stage design for the show helps build the isolation and uncertainty that the couple find themselves in. The audience is split in two, sitting on either end of the stage and with a black scrim screen between the two performers, there are substantial periods of times where you can only hear and not see the other performer.

Pragt returns as the Woman and is just as focused and committed as she was in Crestfall. There is a moment when Pragt is handling a knife, and watching how she held and interacted with it displayed the level of skill and nuance she has in allowing the character take her over. Jason Cavanagh as the Man manages to convey a broken figure who is devastated but at the same time angry at what has been done to him, and finds the perfect balance of difficult emotions in his portrayal. The interactions between the two are gripping throughout and demand our attention.

While both plays in Inferno: A Double Bill take a look at what it is that makes us be human and questions why we do the things we do, i found the overall production of Crestfall to be rather disappointing. It seems rely too much on the skills of its excellent actors and not enough on creating the environment and mood of the piece. Purgatorio, on the other hand, brings together a variety of theatrical devices and creates a unique and visceral theatre experience. 

Venue: L1 Studios, 1/377 Little Bourke St, Melbourne, 3000
Season: Until 14 February | Tues -Sun, Crestfall 7.15pm, Purgatorio 9pm
Tickets: Both shows: $42 Full | $38 Conc, Single show: $28 Full | $22 Conc
Bookings: Citizen Theatre

REVIEW: Adam J. Cass’ BOCK KILLS HER FATHER

Violence comes to light

By Myron My

My second play by writer Adam J. Cass during this 2015 Melbourne Fringe festival continues with his running critique of society and the treatment of its people. However, unlike the refugee theme of Fractured, Bock Kills Her Father contemplates the long-lasting effects a group of women must deal with after being at the mercy of one man.

Bock Kills Her Father

Penny Harpham‘s strong direction never allows the action on the small La Mama stage to become overwhelming or cramped, especially when there are five aggressive and angry characters on stage. The choreography for the fight scenes is executed well, with some very convincingly painful moments. There is only one time where the fight scenes disappoint and that is when Sarah (powerfully played by Annie Lumsden) is attacked. Due to the hardness of the adult women we had previously seen, it felt more like something young children would do to each other and as such, its intensity was lost.

Despite this, Cass has created a script that draws the audience into the pressure cooker of how a patriarchal society – and in this case, a cowering unseen man – still has the power to control these women’s lives. For the most part, the language is raw and authentic and I could not help but be reminded of Patricia Cornelius’s Shit, which played during MTC’s NEON season earlier this year. In fact, thematically Bock Kills Her Father could easily be appreciated as a natural prequel to Shit, in considering how the cycle of women being victims will continue to repeat itself if society does nothing.

These women however – the five actors on stage – do a great job in these physically and emotionally demanding roles. Emina Ashman, as the slightly unhinged D’Agostino, captures the attention of the audience in every scene she is in. Ashman’s portrayal is a perfect combination of endearing, annoying and incredibly frightening. Together with Marissa O’Reilly and Ruby Hughes (as Taylor and Chambers), the three women are all highly convincing in their characters and in their relationships with each other. I would have liked to see Emma Annand be pushed slightly more with difficult title character Bock, to ensure all her character’s choices seem genuine and not forced.

While Bock Kills Her Father isn’t the most polished of works, the grittiness and dirtiness of the world we find ourselves in makes this work in its favour. Nothing is ever going to be perfect for these women; they are unlikely to find inner peace and let go of their inner rage until those who have done them wrong are forced out of hiding and held accountable for what they have done. Bock Kills Her Father is an enthralling piece of Fringe theatre that has a lot to say about society’s treatment of women.

Venue: La Mama Theatre, 205 Faraday Street, Carlton

Season: Until 27 September | Wed 6.30pm, Thurs-Sat 7:30pm, Sun 4:00pm

Tickets: $25 Full | $15 Conc

Bookings: Melbourne Fringe Festival

REVIEW: Human Sacrifice Theatre Presents THE LONG RED ROAD

Worth the wait

By Myron My

The Australian premiere of Brett C. Leonard’s The Long Red Road follows six individuals all facing their own demons and struggles. Set in the heart of America, the name of the play is a Native American term for the journey toward redemption and inner peace. In this instance, the focus rests on the relationship between brothers Bob and Sam, and the effects of a tragic accident.

The Long Red Road

The first act begins with numerous mini-scenes peering into the lives of the six characters, and as such, the story moves at an incredibly slow pace. The attempts to provide insight into the turmoil and anguish they are facing result in actually knowing very little about these people, so until the end of the first act, I cared very little about these people. To be perfectly honest, I could have done without this act altogether and would have preferred to get right into the heart of the story found in the second act.

Having the stage set in the middle of the space with the audience on either side gave a voyeuristic feel to the show, with these characters’ lives on display for everyone, with nowhere for them to hide. The downside is, depending on where exactly you were seated, you could miss out on some small but pivotal moments as I did between characters Bob and Tasha.

The set design itself though worked well with the bedrooms of each home situated on opposite ends of the stage and the universal communal areas being shared in the middle of the space, giving you the sense of interconnectedness between these people. Another effective staging decision was the projections on both sides of the wall, further enhancing the environment we were in. In particular, this was perfectly executed in the final dramatic moments of the show.

Under the direction of David Myles, the whole cast does very well with their American accents and in their portrayals of the emotionally demanding characters. Anjelica Angwin and Marissa O’Reilly’s unfortunately few scenes together spoke volumes with very little dialogue in their relationship as estranged mother and daughter, Sandra and Tasha. Liza Meagher as the innocent Annie is a nice contrast to the damaged Sam, played by Mark Diaco. Diaco and Lee Mason (Bob) are the standouts as the two siblings who play their roles with raw honesty and convincing emotion. Rounding out the cast is Red Horse as Clifton, who also performs the evocatively haunting musical score for the play.

The Long Red Road is a tragic story about the effects of alcohol not only on individuals but also on those around them and in some aspects, on society itself.  Some excellent performances and highly effective technical designs make it worth getting through those first forty minutes.

Venue: fortyfive downstairs, 45 Flinders Lane, Melbourne
Season: Until 9 August| Tues- Sat 7:30pm, Sun 5:30pm
Tickets: $33 Full | $28 Conc
Bookings: fortyfive downstairs or 9662 9966