Tag: Melbourne Fringe Festival

REVIEW: Speakeasy’s ONCE WERE PIRATES

A poignant piratical tale

By Narelle Wood

Once Were Pirates is a two-pirate show directed by Daniel Czech and written by Emily Collyer, the winner of the 2013 Fringe Best Emerging Writer.

Once Were Pirates

The two pirates Shane and Gareth (Ben Clements and James Cook) embark on a journey of attempting to assimilate into the modern world. What ensues is a combination of angry pirate Gareth’s decent into an overworked metrosexual pirate and Shane, a pirate with a heart (who spends too much time reading the self-help sections in Cleo), returning to some old tricks of the trade to get by.

The initial blurb I read about the show suggested a comedic look at pirates trying to navigate modern life in Melbourne; this is only partially true. There were a number of comedic moments, but Once Were Pirates was more a philosophical investigation of the brutality of the modern world than a comical one.

The sets, music, lighting and direction were all excellent, as was the acting. The fight scenes looked very authentic and it was clear that a lot of time and thought had been put into how to effectively stage this two-man show, given there is no change of scene. Both Clements and Cook are superb and are able to convey both the harshness of their pirate pasts as well as the inner-conflict the self-reflective moments require.

The show is good but it did leave me with a lot of questions: some logistical – how did the pirates happen to find themselves in modern-day Melbourne? – and some philosophical – would pirates really be disturbed by the modern world? Because of these, and many more unresolved queries, I left feeling unsure about what to think, and perhaps this was the show’s intent all along.

Once Were Pirates is at times funny, but is mostly a genuinely interesting take on modern life, and what it means for work, humanity and pirates. It contains its fair share of explicit language, and given the thinking required, it’s certainly not for the lily-livered, faint o’ heart.

Venue: Northcote Town Hall, 189 High St Northcote
Season: Saturday 20th September to Sunday 28th September, 7pm Sundays 6pm
Tickets: Full $26| Conc $21
Bookings: www.melbournefringe.com.au/fringe-festival/show/once-were-pirates/

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REVIEW: Attic Erratic’s THE CITY THEY BURNED

Don’t look back…

By Myron My

The thing I love about Attic Erratic productions is that each new offering is so diverse and different to what they have previously performed. From Choir Girl to Domino, and now The City They Burned: an immersive theatre experience that is a modern retelling of Lot and the fall of Sodom.

The City They Burned

We are invited into Lot’s house for dinner and drinks; we are his friends and work colleagues. There is, however, a sense that something unsettling is afoot as we are greeted by his daughters, Thamma and Pheine (Shoshannah Oks and Brianagh Curran). The two women create a tense environment with their demeanour, attitudes and looks, in particular Oks, whose stare was so confronting I often had to look away.

The rest of the cast are more than impressive with their roles, including Scott Gooding as Lot and Jessica Tanner as his wife Ado, who remarkably shines most in her catatonic state in the second act. So convincing and powerful were the performances that during intermission, two police officers arrived, having been contacted by a nearby resident concerned at the “disturbances” they were hearing.

Fleur Kilpatrick’s script is an engrossing story and even though my knowledge of Lot and Sodom was limited I was transfixed by the unfolding events. The first act is a unique experience for audience members as we are free to roam around the lounge room set and see and hear different conversations, and moments. Even with the interaction with the actors, we are silent witnesses to the depravity and carnage that is building up. The second act is more conventional in its delivery but the intensity being conveyed by the actors is palpable.

Rob Sowinski is to be commended for such authentic set designs for both acts. They are able to support and strengthen the mood created by the acting and writing, and a lot of detail has been put into their creation.

As a side note, I think it was a great initiative of Attic Erratic to hold a “pay what you can” performance on the evening I attended, which allowed for the production to take place with audiences that otherwise might not have been able to attend.

Attic Erratic seems to be more and more synonymous with creating brave new theatre experiences for audiences and under the direction of artistic director, Danny Delahnuty, The City They Burned is most definitely this.

Venue: Cavern Table Performance Space, 127b Campbell St, Collingwood

Season: Until 23 September | Monday 8:00pm

Tickets: $24 Full | $21 Conc until 16 Sept; $27 Full | $24 Conc between 18-23 Sept (as part of Melbourne Fringe Festival)

http://atticerratic.com/

REVIEW: The Woolgatherer at LA MAMA

Strangers meeting

By Myron My

A chance encounter between two unlikely people changes their lives forever…

The Woolgatherer

Set in Philadelphia in 1979, The Woolgatherer is about a neurotic woman called Rose (Laura Wheelwright) who has a slightly unhealthy obsession with death. Cliff’s (Lee Beckhurst) truck has broken down outside the five-n-dime where Rose works. Waiting for it to be repaired and looking for a one-night stand, he starts talking to Rose and the two return to her dilapidated and sparse apartment.

Once there, the two find themselves discussing an erratic range of subjects, including the finer points of poetry and the ability of plants to come back to life. Over the course of the evening, a few truths are unavoidably revealed and they are both forced to question what it is they are seeking, with each other and within themselves.

William Mastrosimone’s The Woolgatherer is an intense love story where there is just as much left unsaid as there is being said. It’s a strong character piece that needs much commitment, but tempered with a sense of rawness, and both Wheelwright and Beckhurst are convincingly able to bring to life these two lonely people. Their physicality and authentic accents further enhanced this but I was particularly impressed by Beckhurst’s ability to simultaneously show Cliff’s brutish barbaric side as well as his sensitive and sweet nature.

Director Kerry Armstrong has done a marvelous job with the two actors and having them dig deep and find the inner turmoil, morbidity, anxieties and desires of Rose and Cliff. There are some beautifully crafted moments early on, and the whole second act becomes a testament to this.

The Woolgatherer is the type of play that demands a lot from its director and its cast in order to be a success. Fortunately, Armstrong, Wheelwright and Beckhurst are all more than capable at ensuring this is the case.

The final performances of The Woolgatherer will be at 4:30pm and 7:30pm today (October 6) at La Mama as part of the Melbourne Fringe Festival. For bookings call 03 9347 6142

REVIEW: Michael Gow’s LIVE ACTS ON STAGE

Mythology unleashed

By Myron My

Orpheus is in love with Eurydice and with teaching mortals and God that we are the same. Zeus is having an affair with Ganymede. Hera wants to exact her revenge and Eris just wants her freedom.

Welcome to the world of the Gods or Four Letter Word Theatre’s production of Michael Gow’s Live Acts on Stage for Melbourne Fringe.

Live Acots On Stage

It is clear that everyone involved in the show has put much thought into its creation: the costuming by Emilija Tanner has an ethereal feel with the light, flowing fabrics on display and is complemented well by hair and make-up. Robert Alexander Smith’s set design is intelligently divided into four spaces and despite being in close proximity to each other, the distinction between each one is clear. Felicia King’s sound composition and Caitlyn Staples’ lighting design further enhance the story and are very effective in conveying the mood and tone throughout.

There are thirteen actors playing thirty-three different roles, some of these Gods appearing for a brief scene or two.  With such comings and goings on stage and along with my limited knowledge about the mythology, there were a few moments I was a little confused. However, this is fundamentally a story of the oldest themes in life and fiction: love, death, revenge and power, so it’s ultimately quite easy to fill in the blanks.

Of the thirteen actors, I was mesmerized by the flawless performances by Madaline R. Ryan and Cazz Bainbridge as Eris and Hera respectively. Even though I was not completely convinced with some of the other casting choices, these two definitely excelled. The power-play scenes between them and their taut dialogue were highlights of the show. The ensemble consisting of Danika Ray, Melissa Gardner, Kira Odling and Ingrid Taylor-Moss were also standout performances with the physical demands of their roles. It was interesting to see how they were incorporated into and utilised in various scenes, including the one in hell.

Live Acts on Stage is an intense ninety-minute journey to another time. The ancient mythology and contemporary text are perfectly blended to create a memorable evening of theatre. This is definitely a highlight of this year’s Melbourne Fringe Festival and one that needs to be experienced – here’s hoping for a second season.

Venue: fortyfivedownstairs, 45 Flinders Lane, Melbourne

Season: Until 05 October | 8:00pm

Tickets: $40 Full | $35 Conc

Bookings: http://www.fortyfivedownstairs.com/events/ or http://www.melbournefringe.com.au, 9660 9666

REVIEW: Zoe McDonald in FOMO

Impeccable theatre

By Bradley Storer

As we enter the space at Upstairs at Errol’s, we are met with the sight of a woman onstage frenziedly performing vocal warm-ups, talking both to herself and yelling down an invisible phone. The lights dim, and we are thrown into the world of a late-night radio programLet’s Be Honest on Mellow FM, being broadcast live, with us as the audience. The initial topic of the show is quickly derailed into an exploration of the ‘21st century malaise’, FOMO – fear of missing out.

FOMO

Performer Zoe McDonald (a member of dynamic theatre creators Present Tense and seen in their productions Chant des Catacombes and Margaret Fulton: Queen of the Dessert) portrays a large cast of characters with consummate skill in this solo outing. With lightning speed McDonald switches from the beleaguered host of the program to a variety of colourful characters – a bogan tattoo artist, a beautician/vajazzler from Croydon, an earthy American university professor and more who weigh in on the mysterious topic of the evening.  McDonald embodies each of these different personalities with such precise and perfect physicality and mannerism that she can evoke uproarious laughter with just the tilt of her head. Her energy seems truly boundless as swaps between the large cast non-stop for the entire show!

The subject of the show, this fear of missing out, is at first ambiguous in its meaning – structurally, the performance feels like a journey through a labyrinth, each character unfolding a small portion of the greater picture. We are told (at various points) it is a patriarchal construct we conform to, or a fiction society forces on us and we believe is true, or the pressure of living a life constantly under scrutiny by others. The climax of the evening comes when Zoe McDonald herself (a hitherto unseen but ever present character in the goings on of Let’s Be Honest) appears and unveils how FOMO is formed of the simplest but deepest fears which affect us all: the fear of intimacy, the fear of failure, the fear of dying alone. McDonald’s true voice rings with such simplicity, truth and clarity that after the comedic mania of her characters it is akin to being bathed in cool cleansing water.

Presented as part of this year’s Melbourne Fringe festival and in collaboration with Bryce Ives and Present Tense, FOMO is a deeply engaging, rewarding, and unbelievably hilarious show!

Venue: Upstairs at Errol’s, 69 – 71 Errol St, North Melbourne

Dates:  20th September – 4th October

Time: 8pm (7pm Sundays)

Price: Full $23, Concession $18, Group (Min: 4) $15, Tuesdays $15

Tickets: www.melbournefringe.com.au, Ticketing Hotline: 03 9660 9666 or at the venue.

REVIEW: Dorian for MELBOURNE FRINGE

Things are about to get Wilde…

By Myron My

Flashing lights, thumping music, crazy costumes and a catwalk. You might be thinking you are at a fashion show but instead it is a new adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, simply titled Dorian.

Dorian

Director Adam Grima has created a modernized queer reading of the text and, through this queer culture lens, looks at its obsession with remaining youthful, narcissism and vanity.

The show takes place on the catwalk, with the cast strutting and performing along it to give the impression we are constantly on display to others and being judged by our choices. However, this set is painted completely white and left bare, juxtaposing this notion with being truthful and baring all.

Dorian is low on dialogue and high on visual stimulation. The costume design by Emma Howchin is brilliant with her play on sexuality and masculinity strongly evident. There are also some confronting scenes of simulated sex and murder as we see Dorian slide into debauchery and vice. Being in such close proximity to the performers, there is a level of intimacy you are unable to escape and it’s another reason why the end reveal of the ‘painting’ of Dorian is so gripping and horrific to watch.

With there being such little dialogue, when it does happen it needs to have an impact and whist the words are strong I don’t feel the delivery of the lines by the cast is. Francisco Lopez is able to bring some life into his dialogue but more work was needed from the other two leads, Johnathon Duffy and Tommy Doyle.

Dorian is not the Dorian Gray we have come to know, so ensure you leave any preconceptions at the door. This is WAQ Productions’ debut at Melbourne Fringe Festival and despite being a little rough around the edges, this play is a unique and interesting interpretation of a well-known text.

Venue: Lincoln Art Centre, Basement 24, Lincoln St, Brunswick East

Season: Until 05 October | Tues- Sat 8:00pm

Tickets: $24 Full | $18 Conc

Bookings: http://www.melbournefringe.com.au or 9660 9666

REVIEW: It’s Happening in the Space Between My Face and Yours

Throwing surrealism to the wolves

By Myron My

A woman has gone missing and her friends are left to go on with their lives, not knowing what has happened to her. Despite attempts of normalcy and moving on, the wolves are always at their door waiting for the right moment to strike.

My latest venture into this year’s Melbourne Fringe Festival was It’s Happening In The Space Between My Face and Yours. Written by Izzy Roberts-Orr, it’s a surreal look at love, sex and death through the eyes of a bunch of twenty-somethings sharing a house together. There is strong direction by Nick Fry, and the cast have done well in creating a sense of unity in their movements on stage.

It's Happening in the Space

The sound and lighting design by James Hogan and Nick Fry respectively are a highlight of the show and create an atmosphere of foreshadowing and something more sinister at play but this is not complemented by the acting or the script. The biggest issue I had with It’s Happening… is that I don’t know what it wants to be. Is it a romantic comedy for hipsters or a supernatural suspense? Either way, the two do not mesh with success here. Whenever surrealism is attempted in theatre, it either works incredibly well or not at all and in this situation, it does fall into the latter. There were also storylines that occurred very awkwardly like the introduction of a new housemate who rents out Jack’s room and the romance between El and Ali (Elle Kulesza and Rebecca Hunt).

I was captivated by Tom Molyneux and Meaghan Lawrie as the two ‘wolves’, almost to the point where I was watching them even when they weren’t actively participating in a scene. However, I was not convinced by the rest of the cast in their roles and their emotional scenes did not feel real to me. More development was required for all the characters, especially Jack (Jennifer Speirs) who needed more of a presence if she is to be the central character and theme in the play.

Melbourne Fringe Festival is about trying new things and doing something different: seeing what works and what doesn’t. Unfortunately the debut performance of It’s Happening In The Space Between My Face and Yours doesn’t quite hit the mark.

Venue: Sketch and Tulip, 364 Victoria St, North Melbourne
Season: Until 02 October | Tues – Sun 9:15pm
Tickets: $19 Full | $15 Conc
Bookings: http://www.melbournefringe.com.au or 9660 9666