Tag: Myles Tankle

Melbourne Shakespeare Company’s A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM

Thoroughly won over

By Caitlin McGrane

A Midsummer Night’s Dream was the first Shakespeare play I studied at school, and thus while it holds a special place in my heart, certain scenes are forever etched into my memory. As the Melbourne Shakespeare Company’s production got underway, I was sceptical whether the blend of contemporary music and iambic pentameter were going to be a match. I needn’t have worried, as the performance rolled steadily onwards, and the actors became more comfortable in their roles, I felt completely at ease with the way the story was being told; the audience was in safe hands.

Melbourne Shakespeare Company's A Midsummer Night's Dream.jpg

For the uninitiated, the play entwines the stories of two groups; the Lovers: Hermia (Christina Forrest) and Lysander (Khrisraw Jones-Shukoor), Helena (Alisha Eddy) and Demetrius (Charlie Sturgeon); and the Players: Bottom (Johnathan Peck), Flute (John Reed), Quince (Ben Frank Adams), Snout (Ben Noel Adams), Snug (Nick Murphy) and Starvelling (Myles Tankle).

Hermia and Lysander are forbidden to wed, so flee Athens, hotly pursued by Helena and Demetrius. While fleeing they wander into a forest bewitched by faerie King Oberon (Steven Fleiner) and Queen Titania (Angela Lumicisi), with help from mischievous Puck (Paul Robertson). There’s magic potions, asses heads and lots of shouting about love as the magical beings play with the lives of the mere mortals, meanwhile the players are rehearsing the play Pyramus and Thisbe to perform at Theseus (Karl Sarsfield) and Hippolyta’s (Madi Lee) wedding. Confused yet? You should be.

As an ensemble the cast was great, I was initially wary of the players’ boisterous gallivanting and gadding about, but by the end of their first proper scene together I couldn’t wait for them to reappear. I was particular impressed by Johnathan Peck’s unique and profoundly physical take on Bottom as a sympathetic but emotionally fragile simpleton, and I need a GIF of him performing the death scene from Pyramus and Thisbe to play on a loop at my funeral; I laughed so much I cried and am still laughing thinking about it now. Christina Forrest’s Hermia was similarly energetic and gravity-defying, which helped prevent the inherently dialogue-heavy play from getting bogged down in its own trickery.

I enjoyed the silly playfulness that director Jennifer Sarah Dean has brought to the play, although moments of the Pyramus and Thisbe performance would benefit from tightening to avoid relying too heavily on slapstick. Designer Simon Bowland has done an excellent job with costumes and make-up (faeries looked suitably bedazzled), but it did look like Oberon had wandered out on stage in his dressing gown and slippers and didn’t quite match the majesty of Titania – if this was a deliberate move then I’m afraid it was lost on me. Save for a few moments where the play sagged towards the end after all the frenetic activity, it was thoroughly good fun.

Beautifully nestled in Testing Grounds just behind the Arts Centre, City Road and the Southbank apartments provided a peculiarly complementary backdrop for this contemporary adaptation of a true classic.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream is playing at Testing Grounds twice each day on 26 and 27 March 2016. Tickets available from: http://www.testing-grounds.com.au/calendar?view=calendar&month=March-2016

REVIEW: TBC Theatre Presents MADE IN CHINA

Irish ninjas and gang politics

By Myron My

You wouldn’t expect the seedy underworld of Dublin to have much in common with martial arts, but in Mark O’Rowe‘s dark comedy Made In China, these two worlds collide for three men who are all facing their own power struggles with each other and within gang politics. One wants to get out, one wants to get in, and the other one wants to remain on top.

Made In China

Unfortunately, this promising story moves at an incredibly slow pace, with nothing happening until roughly the final twenty minutes of this two-hour play. Even when the plot reaches its climax, it still feels drawn out and lacks any suspense. There is very little in terms of character development, which has these people come across as monotonous beings. Even by the end of the show, there is very little that has actually changed for these people in the greater scheme of things.

High up in the gang food chain, Kirby (Stuart Jeanfield) is such a weird character that his menace and aggressiveness is farcical, and not in a good way. In fact, I found a lot of the humour scripted in this to be quite a miss, particular the cringe-inducing sexual overtone scenes with Kirby and his Nik Naks crisps. Hughie (Vaughn Rae) is more or less a passive pawn in his power struggle with Kirby from beginning to end. Damien Harrison as Paddy is fortunate enough to play a character that at least gets to go on an emotional journey and is somewhat changed by the end of the proceedings, even if the way it occurs seems forced.

Despite these issues, first-time director Fleur Murphy works well with the actors to produce highly committed performances, and some physically demanding ones too with the choreographed fight scenes by Myles Tankle. Murphy does her best to keep the action on stage engaging, but given the confines of the space and script, it results in a lot of repeated pacing around and sitting down.

I have to say the set design failed to excited me aesthetically and the random lighting effects during the fight scenes felt contrived. The vocal coaching by Suzanne Heywood proves to have worked soundly with all three actors consistently keeping to their accents. However, the strong accents and the added slang used throughout the play admittedly made it very difficult to follow what was happening at times.

Walking out at the end of Made In China, I must confess I did not feel satisfied with the pay-off we received as an audience. Despite the interesting premise, this is ultimately not the most exciting story, and as written, the characters feel boring and one-dimensional. There appear to be some talented minds behind TBC Theatre however, with the choice of their current production, that does not come across successfully.

Venue: Q44 Theatre, 550 Swan St, Richmond.
Season: Until 25 July | Wed- Sat 7:30pm
Tickets: $30 Full | $25 Conc
Bookings: Q44 Theatre

REVIEW: Moira Buffini’s LOVEPLAY

Love, Sex, Influence and Evolution

By Narelle Wood

From the outset it was clear that Loveplay by Moira Buffini was not so much about love as it was about the influences of love and the consequences of these on the relationship.

Loveplay

The premise behind the 90-minute play was to explore the influences of love through the ages, beginning from the Classical Age of AD 79 through to The Age of Excess in 1992. Some of the scenes in the earlier eras were confronting, including strong inferences of rape, and while this didn’t continue through to the more modern times, sex featured heavily throughout the play.

Buffini’s script is exceptionally well written, with some brilliant comedic moments scattered amongst the darker themes. The ensemble cast (Chris Saxton, Michelle Myers, Luke Cadden, Kathryn Tohill, Trudi Boatwright, Jacob Pruden, Fleur Murphy and Myles Tankle) play a variety of characters across the ages, and in a rare occurrence, each member of the cast held their own to provide a true ensemble performance.

Given the limited staging options that the Mission to Seafarers offers, the transitions between the ten different eras are achieved, not only through costume changes, but also through prop reveals and lighting. The deliberations between the eras are important as the language of the play offers a limited realism as far as the etymology of language and the portrayal of women are concerned. While it would be obviously difficult to write the earlier scenes in the appropriate version of English, there were some words that were glaringly out of place. The female characters in the earlier eras also seem to have a strong voice, and although I initially found this distracting from the authenticity of the play, in hindsight it did offer a fresh feminist perspective on women and their relationships to and through love.

While I’m not sure I agree completely with Buffini’s take on love and the influences of love, Loveplay provides both an interesting and unique perspective that resulted in a thought-provoking and entertaining experience.

Venue: Mission to Seafarers, 717 Flinders St, Docklands
Season: July 4th – 20th
Tickets: $28 Full | $25 Conc
Bookings: www.tbctheatre.com