Tag: Mark Davis

Boyslikeme Presents NEXT FALL

Fine performances in fragile love story

By Myron My

Being in love is never easy. Geoffrey Naufft’s Next Fall tells the story of Adam and Luke, a gay couple who begin a relationship spawning five years before tragedy strikes when Luke is hit by a car. Opening with Luke’s friends, family and Adam gathering at a hospital waiting room to hear news on his outcome, the story flashes back to various moments in the lives of both Adam and Luke and those closest to them.

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Each flashback builds on 40-year-old Adam’s (Darrin Redgate) frustration over where his life is heading, and Luke’s (Mark Davis) attempts to reconcile his sexuality with his Christian faith. Redgate does a capable job as the neurotic candle-seller who seems to be subconsciously attempting to self-sabotage his chances at ever finding happiness, even when it’s staring at him right in the face. Davis evokes a naive self-assuredness in Luke with regards to his dogmatic beliefs, but he is also able to bring out a warmth and kindness to him as his relationship with Adam grows.

Kaarin Fairfax simultaneously brings fragility and strength to Arlene, Luke’s mother. A touching scene between her and Adam displays Fairfax’s ability to convey the deep emotions her character is feeling without resorting to overt dramatics. Sharon Davis as Holly delivers a solid performance as the supportive friend for both Adam and Luke, with her subtle comedic timing allowing us to momentarily forget the impending tragedy.

Unfortunately I felt Paul Robertson‘s performance as Luke’s homophobic father Butch needed further development in allowing us to understand the nuances of the character. Throughout the story Luke has an intense fear of his father finding out about his sexuality – and yet nothing eventuates from this, even when Butch comes across Adam and Luke during a moment of intimacy, which I found very unsatisfying. Similarly, the character of Brandon (James Biasetto) in this production feels more like an outsider looking in and even during his flashback scene with Adam, Brandon doesn’t reveal anything to the audience that we are not already aware of.

Peter Blackburn takes care in his direction to not rush the story and otherwise allows the characters and their relationships time to develop organically. The set design by James Lew is interesting in that it suggests that the past and present are inextricably linked, however the set changes where an actor appears in the waiting room for a few seconds for no other purpose than to give time for the crew to prepare the stage for the next scene feel very much like filler rather than substance.

While religion and getting old are major themes explored in Next Fall, it is ultimately a touching love story between two people. As such, Naufft’s script may be a formulaic play with no real surprises, but the dedicated performances from this cast are what turn this production into a story worth sharing.

Venue: Chapel Off Chapel, 12 Little Chapel St, Prahran
Season: until 30 July | Wed – Sat 8:00pm, Sun 5:00pm
Tickets: $39.50 Full | $29.50 Conc
Bookings: Chapel Off Chapel

Hungry Wolf Theatre Presents ORPHANS

Fraternal bonds are set to break

By Myron My

The bond between brothers, or any siblings for that matter, is a bond for life. After all, as the adage goes, you can choose your friends but you can’t choose your family. Lyle Kessler’s Orphans, two brothers share the pain of having a mother who has died and a father that has abandoned them. While both of them choose to deal with the pain and protect themselves and each other in different ways, emotions gradually reach boiling point where something has got to give.

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In Hungry Wolf Theatre‘s current production, Mark Davis as younger brother Phillip continues to impress me with his ability in bringing his varied characters to life. It’s testament to his skill and talent that Davis is physically and emotionally the complete opposite to the character I last saw him in: Q44‘s brilliant production of Sam Shepard’s Fool For Love last year. The machismo and hot-bloodedness of Eddie is nowhere to be seen in Phillip, an innocent, sheltered individual who falls somewhere on the high-functioning Autism disorder spectrum. It is almost like the performer has ceased to exist as each movement, each stare, each thought process is overtaken by Phillip and for a show that goes for over two hours, it is a challenging feat that Davis smashes through.

Danny Zivaljevic as the older, more volatile brother, Treat, has a strong presence on stage and physically captures the anger that is boiling inside the character. It’s an anger that we recognise if Treat doesn’t control soon enough, will eventually be his undoing. I confess I would have liked to see Zivaljevic try and work more with the subtleties and the nuances of these anger issues that would have allowed Treat to feel like a better-rounded character. Meanwhile, Sebastian Gunner is much at ease with Harold, finding the perfect balance between his comedic, threatening and sensitive nature.

The committed performances from the actors are unfortunately let down by a script that for me lacks true suspense or tension and doesn’t seem to lead anywhere – nor does it explore the characters’ relationships to the depth that I feel would be more rewarding for the audience. However,  Peter Blackburn’s strong direction here and use of the space builds a claustrophobic and still somewhat suspenseful environment within the confines of the brothers’ living room.

Despite the script not being as engaging as I would have liked it to be, the captivating performances alone are worth seeing in this production of Orphans by Hungry Wolf Theatre.

Venue: Gasworks Arts Park, 21 Graham St, Albert Park, 3206
Season:
 Until 23 April | 3pm and 7.30pm
Tickets:
 $30 Full | $20 Conc

Bookings: Gasworks Arts Park

REVIEW: Q44 Theatre Presents FOOL FOR LOVE

Outstanding new production of a classic

By Myron My

The tale of two lovers in a tumultuous relationship has been told time and time again, to the point it can be difficult to tell such a story in a way that will draw your audience in and leave them wanting more. It can also be daunting to do well when using Sam Shepard’s well-known play, Fool For Love. However, in Red Theatricals‘ new production, they manage to do all this and a whole lot more.

Fool For LovePresented by Q44 Theatre Company, it’s an exhilarating ride watching this dark tale unfold and this is mostly due to the performances of its two leads, Mark Davis and Rebecca Fortuna who are, quite frankly, phenomenal. They have truly captured their characters and the chemistry is electric in their scenes together.

Davis’ transformation into Eddie the cowboy stunt man is one of the best male performances I have seen so far this year: with the assured way he walks, the charming and sexy way he looks, to the masculine way he slings a lasso and cleans his gun, Davis make this character highly complex and intriguing. Through the course of the play’s evening, we come to understand that Eddie is always going to get what he wants no matter what, even when he’s not sure what that is; he is simultaneously our hero and our antagonist.

Similarly, Fortuna’s depiction of the strong yet fragile May is genuine and honest. Purely from the look in her eyes, you can sense her character is stuck in a situation she does not know how to get out of, and that it will eventually end up killing her, either metaphorically or literally. Fortuna allows her whole body and performance to be painfully taken over by May as events culminate on this tragic evening.

They are ably supported by Sam Allen as the ghost-like Old Man, who sits side of stage in his rocking chair, drinking his alcohol. Even though he’s not in the action, we can sense his presence and the hold he has over these two lovers. William Prescott rounds out the cast as Martin, the man that May feels like she needs to be with but may not be who she wants to be with. Prescott plays Martin well as the polar opposite of Eddie, and you could even go so far as to say he is an Edgar to Eddie’s Heathcliff.

While I question one or two directing decisions, Gabriella Rose-Carter effectively creates much action on stage while keeping in the claustrophobic confines of a small, seedy hotel room. Rose-Carter has managed to bring out raw and passionate performances from all the actors in this production, which is rare to see these days.

32 years after it was written, Fool For Love still packs a punch, with its themes of love, family and patriarchal society still relevant today. Red Theatricals not only do justice to the play but also manage to put its own unique touches to it. This powerful production is already a firm highlight of 2015 and should not be missed.

Venue: Q44 Theatre, 550 Swan St, Richmond.
Season: Until 28 June | Wed- Sat 7:30pm, Sun 6:30pm
Tickets: $35 Full | $27 Conc
Bookings: Q44 Theatre