Tag: Matt Adey

REVIEW: MTC and Elbow Room Present WE GET IT

Looking for the women in theatre

By Myron My

In We Get It, sexism is no more. Everyone rejoice! We are now truly living in the age of equality. Hoorah! To celebrate, five women are competing for an opportunity to perform with a ‘real’ theatre company in a classic female literary role. They appear on stage gyrating to a medley of “sexy” songs and when the musical number is over, return to the stage brandishing self-identifying beauty pageant sashes. We have the “Token”, the “Ethnic Extra”, the “Funny Bitch”, the “Muslim Doctor” and the “Bogan/Migrant”.

We Get It

These five women (Amy Ingram, Tamiah Bantum, Kasia Kaczmarek, Maurial Spearim and Sonya Suares) explore the ideas of theatre showing diversity through casting and roles and also the question of treating women as equals. Perhaps it’s because I have chosen to associate myself with strong women in my life, and have been conscious of where my white male privilege has taken me and the freedoms it has provided that I felt frustrated watching We Get It. I am aware of what my role is in supporting gender equality and I also believe that message needs to be constantly repeated and spread to as many people as possible, however I struggled to connect in this instance: not because of what was being said, but how it was being said.

I found myself being talked at for much of the show rather than being informed or educated. Furthermore, there were a number of scenes that seemed to go on for that bit too long and could have benefited from an edit. The beginning of the show also seemed clunky and flat, which is a shame as the intention behind it had the potential to make a strong impact and set the tone for the rest of the production.

What I thought was a great inclusion was the use of The Diary Room, which the contestants treated as a type of public private confessional. This device gave the best insight into these women’s lives, where truth and honesty were present in what is expected of them when auditioning for roles and rehearsals.

Considering the five “contestants” collaborated with Marcel Dorney and Rachel Perks in writing this piece and to an extent, based on their personal experiences, it is no surprise just how impressive they all are in their roles, with Bantum’s strong stage presence making her particularly captivating to watch. Directors Dorney and Emily Tomlins have worked very closely and developed a trust with these women to create the opportunity for them to explore the issues they face as actors and women.

Set design by Matt Adey was well-thought out and considering everything that happened on stage, the use of the space and props never had you feeling overwhelmed with what was happening. However, there were a few technical issues the night I attended, particularly with mic and sound levels.

Whilst I completely and utterly agree with the messages being conveyed here, I believe there have been stronger shows put on recently that still have a strong feminist approach but present their ideas in a more accessible way. That said, We Get It, presented as part of the 2015 NEON Festival of Independent Theatre, still created a conversation with the people I attended on the night about the changes that we, as males, can make to support gender equality and that is probably the most important thing for such a production to have achieved.

Venue: Melbourne Theatre Company, 140 Southbank Boulevard, Southbank

Season: Until 19 July | Tues-Sat 7:30pm, Sunday 4:00pm
Tickets: $25 all tickets
Bookings: Melbourne Theatre Company

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REVIEW: Speakeasy Presents POTENTIAL

Scintilatingly strange

By Caitlin McGrane

Billed as a ‘dance of the heart’, Janine Proost’s Potential will go down in my memory as one of the stranger theatrical performances I have ever experienced, and I mean that as a compliment. The audience is lead in through the doors of Studio One at the Northcote Town Hall to find our four performers (Janine Proost, Natalie Abbott, Rebecca Jensen and Amelia McQueen) lying splayed on the ground covered in a blanket of playdoh. The four women are wearing gold lycra outfits, and invite the audience to take some of the playdoh heaped onto their chests…

Potential

What follows is 60 minutes of dance and yoga that will leave you pleasingly puzzled. It was clear that the inspiration came from the body, but that it came from the heart wasn’t always obvious to me. There was certainly a lot of feminine imagery (a vignette of a mid-birth playdoh baby springs to mind), which is always interesting. I loved how the energy of the performance mirrored that of a yoga class: starting with slow movements, breathing, simple postures and building to a crescendo of occasionally painful movements across the stage that were at times quite difficult to watch. There is a lot of quiet in the performance, and it beautifully counterpoised the manic cacophony of noise that made up part of the third act.

Special and particular mention must go to Matt Adey whose lighting design was spectacular and very evocative. The harsh stage lights illuminated the faces of the performers in ways that caused them to be at once beautiful and pained (the kind of facial expression one can only get from an hour of yoga).

For my first Melbourne Fringe Festival show this year, it was quite an experience. I’m very excited to see what Proost comes up with next and will be first in line to see it.

Potential is on every night until Sunday 5 October at 7:30pm at the Northcote Town Hall. Tickets are $26 at http://www.melbournefringe.com.au/fringe-festival/show/potential/