Tag: Michael Argus

Matchstick Theatre Presents TRUE WEST

Fraternal feuds and open emotions

By Margaret Wieringa

The audience enters to see a tidy, perfectly-kept kitchen and lounge with an array of houseplants on one side and the entrance hall on the other. Haunting country music plays as the lights dim and the actors enter. Austin, played by Charlie Mycroft, sits at the typewriter, working, while his brother Lee, played by Michael Argus, drinks beer and challenges him from across the room.

True-West-for-Metanoia.jpg

Sam Shepard’s True West is a play about relationships and families, as shown through these two brothers. Seemingly opposites, Shepard’s work takes us on a journey where each brother is challenged to question his relationship with each other as well as their place in the world.

And it is a journey that leads to intense emotions for the characters. This was difficult to capture in full in this performance as everything started at such a high level of energy. Mycroft did start the show quiet and restrained, with only very subtle movements, and this needed to be contrasted by  Argus – and he did play a very opposite character – but right from the start, he was loud to the point of almost shouting, not leaving either character far to go. It felt as though we had arrived at the climax of emotion and it took the story a while to catch up. Des Fleming was great as Saul, the powerful producer who could make their dreams come true. He had a cheesiness that only just hid his power, and a flash of that charming smile could win just about anyone over. The end of the play should leave the audience somewhat exhausted, but I think it would have had even more impact had there been a gradual build-up throughout the performance.

Jacob Battista, who put together the beautiful set in a way that could be slowly destroyed quite spectacularly, was also responsible for the costuming. While I felt that the homeless look for Lee was a bit much for the character, especially the rope belt, the rest of the costuming was spot-on in creating a sense of middle America in the late 70s/early 80s.

This production of True West is an interesting and intense interpretation of this modern American classic, and is well worth a watch.  The performance was thoroughly enjoyed by its sold-out audience, and tickets are selling fast. Matchstick Theatre has only been around for about a year, and so far they are proving themselves to be a company to watch.

When: October 12 – 22, Tues-Sun 8pm

Where: Metanoia Theatre, Mechanics Institute, 270 Sydney Rd, Brunswick 3056

Tickets:  $20 – $30

Bookings: https://www.trybooking.com/Booking/BookingEventSummary.aspx?eid=193998

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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.