Tag: Naomi Rukavina

Arena Theatre Presents TRAPPER

Captivating for all ages

By Leeor Adar

Arena Theatre has given consistently challenging and engaging works of theatre aimed at their 5 to 25 year-old market since their inception in 1966. The theatre company has constantly kept the issues of interest to youth in the present day in their focus, but what is particularly fantastic about Arena is that the appeal of their work goes beyond the specific age groups for whom they create, appeasing teenagers and their parents alike – or just charming your average theatre-goer.

Trapper.jpg

Their latest creation, Trapper, is a futuristic and visually stunning set created from giant sculptural machines that light up and engage with the performers and their bodies. Designed by co-creator Jolyon James, with sound design and composition by Ania Reynolds and lighting design by Paul Lim (Additive), the stage ebbs and flows with the performers in an extraordinary and exhilarating manner.

From a selection of writings, the performers deliver a series of stories and segments that concern everything from our engagement with technology to the vastness of our capabilities and failings. Under the direction of co-creator of Christian Leavesley, the integration of the ‘trapping’ surrounds integrates so well with the profound topics discussed, and it is the human capacity to continue to exist (despite what we create that can destroy and expand our existence) that forms the underlying theme to Trapper.

Cleverly, the production appeals to its younger audiences as it takes us into the digital everyday life of a teenager – but the wit and whimsy of youth isn’t so far from adult engagement, as we are all reminded of our digital addictions. Once the younger members in the audience are enthralled, the piece continues to ascend to loftier places, with segment by segment asking larger and larger questions, ultimately reaffirming every individual’s place in the chaos of the world around. Thus Trapper artfully touches on an expansive set of topics with humour and poignancy.

Trapper is a thoroughly ambitious project, but Arena and their capable performers (Rachel Perks, Hamish Irvine, Daniel Schlusser and Naomi Rukavina) deliver with total vitality. The season was short, but hopefully this will not be its only one, so when it returns, take along anyone and everyone – Trapper is a journey of delight.

Trapper was performed at the Melbourne Arts Centre from 3-5 August, 2017. For further information about this production and company, visit: http://www.arenatheatre.com.au/

Malthouse Theatre Presents AWAY

An Australian fever-dream

By Leeor Adar

The Sydney Theatre Company/Malthouse collaboration of Michael Gow’s modern classic Away opens with Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream to stir the summer heat from the stage to warm this Melbourne audience in winter.

Away

Matthew Lutton’s blaze through the Malthouse Theatre (and now as Artistic Director) has brought Melbourne audiences some extraordinary and outlandish theatre to feast upon in recent seasons. The announcement that Away would be on the banquet table for procuring no doubt left many theatregoers with a morbid curiosity. The matrimony between the rugged Australian summer depicted in Gow’s writing and director Lutton’s horror dream of dancing animal skulls somehow takes this classic to new contemporary heights. Yes, Dale Ferguson’s costume design keeps us well within the bounds of the 60s, but his set complies with the post-modern theatrics we’ve come to expect from the Malthouse under the gaze of Lutton. Lutton injects into Gow’s world a kind of dystopian synchronicity that plays out as the actors dance in formations together like glamourous zombies trying to forget their realities to Stephanie Lake’s choreography.

What we have depicted in Away is an Australia of then which is not that much different from the Australia of today. Everyone has high hopes for the Aussie dream, but even in the most comfortable homes the world outside will always rudely awaken us. What unites the families of Tom (Liam Nunan) and Meg (Naomi Rukavina), our high school would-be, could-be, not-be lovers, is the quiet sadness and acceptance of a life that was hard-won. The fear that something could steal the dream away lurks beneath the happy exteriors of (most) of Gow’s characters, and becomes a focal point of the play. That dream is already stolen from Roy (Glenn Hazeldine) and Coral (Natasha Herbert) through the loss of their son in the Vietnam War. Herbert’s Kim-Novak look-alike Coral continuously treads the line between reality and the past, slipping further and further away from the desperate grasp of her husband. Coral is not mad because Roy cannot control her; she is in such a deep state of grieving that the Aussie dream is well and truly lost for her. Herbert gives Coral a fluid naivety damaged by tragedy; her performance is one of the heart-breaking standout’s alongside Liam Nunan’s Tom.

Amongst the great pretenders are Vic (Julia Davis) and Harry (Wadih Dona) who manage to live in the moment as they watch their son Tom slip away from them due to his illness. We know the inevitability of grief will befall them, and they too may just stop smiling through their sadness and join Coral on her faraway shore.

In contrast we have the couple whose great tragedy is staying together, existing in a chronic state of unhappiness in which no holiday can salvage. Heather Mitchell’s Gwen is marvellously funny and annoying as her shrill voice drains her family of any moments of joy; a complacent husband Jim (Marco Chiappi) continues to accept his lot with a resigned shruggery. Their family is one blessed with health, but they are not untouched by the life of having lived as battlers-come-good. Gwen’s chronic state of stress is indicative of another kind of grief, one where a lifelong sacrifice for a future yet lived leaves traces of bitterness.

This is still a sensitive and poignant production by Lutton amidst the jarring devices of non-naturalism that threatens to break down the walls of their world. Audiences will be surprised from the outset of this play; if they are expecting a classic re-telling of Away they will be in for an awakening – but it really is a very good one.

Away will grace Melbourne audiences at the Malthouse Theatre until May 28th. Collect your tickets here: http://malthousetheatre.com.au/whats-on/away?gclid=Cj0KEQjwoqvIBRD6ls6og8qB77YBEiQAcqqHe6-xVP730ooUfRIBdx6VZ67CrJxYFl3Ytuu3-bHvzQcaAulB8P8HAQ