Tag: Mark Diaco

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

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REVIEW: Black Water Productions Presents KILLER JOE

Viciously funny

By Caitlin McGrane

If you are of a sensitive disposition, I advise you to look away now. Killer Joe by Tracy Letts is not for the faint of heart. A tale of depravity, sexual violence, misogyny and poverty, it catapults the audience to 1990s Texas. Those, like myself, more familiar with the 2012 film version starring Matthew McConaughey might be au fait with the subject matter, but it doesn’t stop the stage version being just as shocking, intriguing and downright funny.

Indeed, I was startled once again by how witty the script is; the gloomy staging rarely lets the audience feel quite comfortable in the company of the characters. And this is no bad thing: the audience ought to find them fairly reprehensible.

Killer Joe

‘Killer’ Joe Cooper, brilliantly played by Mark Diaco was equal parts charming and vicious; Michael Argus as Chris Smith both morally repugnant and sweetly caring; Sarah Hallam’s Sharla Smith was funny but almost wholly without sympathy; Ansel Smith played by Michael Robins was a loveable idiot and dangerously moronic. And then Dottie, everyone’s favourite character, indeed often the only character with whom the audience had any sympathy was played with just enough unhinged psychosis by Matilda Reed.

The staging was brilliant: I particularly enjoyed the use of the television (“Don’t you touch that television” might have brought in the biggest laugh of the night). The attention to detail on stage was also admirable and the use of props was interesting and inventive (special mention to the plastic sword); director Daniel Frederiksen has outdone himself. If you don’t mind being shocked and appalled, this production of Killer Joe is certainly worth hunting down.

Killer Joe is now showing at Revolt Artspace in Kensington from now until 23 November. Tickets (and Pozible campaign) at http://www.blackwatertheatre.com/#!bw-presents-killer-joe/c180r.