Tag: Monica McDonald


Newest voices in indigenous theatre

By Myron My

With their recent residency at La Mama Theatre, Ilbijerri Theatre Company, Australia’s longest-running Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander theatrical company, performed a staged reading of a new piece of work by Jacob Boehme and directed by Isaac Drandic.

Flashblaks looked at a variety of themes revolving around identity, whether it be cultural, sexual, individual or social. Boehme used three generations of women from one Indigenous family to tell this story and despite these generational gaps, the issues and struggles end in corresponding for each woman.

Tammy Anderson in Flashblaks_ Photo Dorine Blaise

The youngest of the three women, Sarah (Monica McDonald) finds her own personal culture struggle through the fact that her father is white-Irish and her mother is Indigenous. Sarah’s sexuality is also explored and her facebook chats with Craig (Christian Taylor) provided the right level of lightheartedness and comedy to counteract the more dramatic stories of Flashblaks.

As we were sitting and listening to the story unfold without any costumes, props or direction, the strength of Boehme’s writing was obvious, whereupon the story flowed with much ease as it weaved in and out of the lives of its characters. My only issue regarding the script was the inclusion of a side story between the characters played by Taylor and Melodie Reynold-Diarra, which seemed out of place with the rest of the pace and tone of Flashblaks.

Boehme has given all characters clear and distinct voices, and the talented cast (including Ian Michael and Nikki Ashby) works with the language to successfully portray believable characters. There was some brilliant reading of scenes from McDonald and Tammy Anderson as Sarah’s mother and I look forward to seeing their interactions play out fully on stage. The delivery and facial expressions in particularly from McDonald were genuine and her comedic timing was subtle yet very effective.

Flashblaks is an intelligent and well thought-out piece of theatre, and this reading showcased some dedicated performances. While a profound examination of indigenous and female experience, Boehme’s exploration of identity and the consideration of how much of our present is due to our past are themes that everyone can relate to regardless of race, sexuality and gender. Whilst no answers are drawn or any resolutions found, Boehme opens up dialogue and invites discussion on these important topics and it will be very interesting to see how this piece progresses into a fully staged production.

Flashblaks was performed at La Mama Theatre from 12-14 December.

REVIEW: Amber LOLipop Productions’ BELLA DU FREAK

Dark and deadly carnival

By Christine Moffat

Bella de Freak is half carnival freak show, half murder-mystery, set in the early 1930’s in the fictional country of Scalvadoor. This dark hybrid of a play begins by introducing the onstage identities of an interesting collection of characters, ranging from the darkly humorous clairvoyant Lucinda The Wise (Odette Crisp); to the chained, slobbering, and genuinely disturbing Wolf Man (Jack Goodwin).

Bella Du Freak

By setting a drama about human relationships at a 1930’s traveling carnival, writer and co-director Nikki Develyn shows a real knack for creating a great premise. The first half is the ‘freak show’, with each character performing their act. Co-director James Seamark’s performance as Ringmaster Jack Jr moves expertly from amusing to attractive to creepy in just a few lines, and provides a strong backbone for the first half of the play.

The young cast creates a realistic carnival show, with fantastic singing from both Monica McDonald (as Bonnie Sinclair) and Nichola Jayne (as Margie Hope). Jack Goodwin is endearing in his second role of Nathan the Bold, the show’s comic relief strong man. Writer Develyn played Madam Eve, a flighty nature-lover and spiritualist: her French accent was unfortunately patchy, and distracted from an otherwise solid performance. Jacob Ryan Machin was the stand-out act as Jayco the creepy clown: the energy and menace of his song is amazing.

The second half of the play involves behind the scenes intrigue surrounding the sudden death of Jack Snr, the previous ringmaster. It contained numerous very short scenes changing over in the same set. It became confusing and difficult to understand where the action was supposed to be occurring, and to keep track of the plot. Unfortunately this was a much weaker section of the play, and it felt as if the energy was sapped from the show and the audience.

When the play also ran an hour over time, it seemed mainly due to the constant scene change overs, and prompted this reviewer to consider the entire structure of the work. Perhaps if more of the stage was used, separate areas could be set up to establish clearer zones for each character’s trailer. Moreover, if the two halves of the play could be combined, with backstage scenes being interspersed with the carnival show, it would potentially keep the energy, whilst also speeding up the mechanics of the staging.

These problems aside, Amber LOLipop is a fresh, unique theatre company pursuing good ideas with great energy and deserve to be supported while they experiment and grow.

Bella Du Freak was performed from Oct 17 – 19, 2013 at the Malthouse Theatre, 113 Sturt St Southbank.