Tag: Nathan Burmeister

Review: END. OF.

Dark sensibility and deep vulnerability

By Bradley Storer

Comedic writer/performer extraordinaire Ash Flanders returns with his latest work, END. OF. Beginning in the doldrums of police transcriptions, Flanders moves down the river of memory in a journey that spans childhood, death and the eternal quest to be the funniest one in the room. Looming over proceedings is the long shadow cast by the indomitable Flanders matriarch, Heather Flanders, whose bombastic catch phrase gives the show its title.

Flanders’ usual mix of caustic camp and neurotic melancholy is underlaid here by a darker sensibility. Acid trips gone haywire and a trip to the slaughter house provide imagery bordering on true horror, Rachel Burke’s lighting and Tom Backhaus’ sound design combining with the text to create some deeply chilling moments.

Flanders is, as always, an effortlessly charismatic performer, needing little more than Nathan Burmeister’s simple (but quietly effective) set, his own comically lithe physicality and incisive turn of phrase to carry the entire show. The loveable narcissism of previous shows is tempered here by a deeper vulnerability in later sections and a beautifully realized joy that draws the work to its conclusion.

In a show that searches to unpick the meaning in making story and structure, Flanders wryly comments: ‘It’s hard to know what to hold on to when you believe in so little.’ Even as the show leaps through time and place within seconds (and it could be argued that some sections of the piece could be trimmed slightly), it is a credit to both the strength of Flanders’ writing and the canny direction of Stephen Nicolazzo that the whole flows together in emotional seamlessness.

A wonderful new work from an established comic performer that solidifies his continuing artistry, as well as expands his range into gorgeously new and beautiful territory!

Venue: Northcote Town Hall, 189 High St, Northcote Town Hall

Date: 11 – 22 March

Times: Wed – Saturday 8:30pm, Sunday 6pm

Prices: $28 – $35

Bookings: www.darebinarts.com.au, ticketing@darebin.vic.gov.au, (03) 8470 8280

REVIEW: Monash Shakespeare Company’s TITUS

Ferocity unleashed

By Amy Planner

Violence has many forms and this production holds no punches in exploring the history of humanity and our gravitational attraction to that violence. Written and directed by James Jackson, Monash Shakespeare Company presents Titus, a non-conventional and radical reworking of Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus.

Titus

Broken down in to three distinct acts, Titus explores the Shakespearean tragedy in a vastly postmodernist way. The focus in its many forms is violence; Act I presents The Symbolic in an almost wordless adaptation, Act II delves in to The Objective with a script-ridden dialogue surge, and Act III tackles The Subjective in a physical exercise of rather ferocious proportions.

In true post-modernist form,  Titus does away with answers and instead raises many deep-seeded and philosophical questions about humanity, honour, love, family and violence.

The small cast (Elizabeth Brennan, Emily Stokes, Lindsay Templeton, Meaghan Laurie and Tom Molyneaux) offered a range of talents and although some performers were stronger than others, there were a number of memorable moments. The lighting was stark but appropriate and the use of sound and music created an eerie ambiance.

Designed by Nathan Burmeister, he unique staging comprised of a beach-worth of sand, a brick or two and metres of Dexter-esque plastic lining the spray painted walls. The distinctive take on Shakespeare was matched only by the interesting use of space. Unfortunately, the meekly tiered seating did leave those behind the front row gasping for news on the activity happening down front, but were left out of the loop.

Being ready for the metaphysical interpretation did not prepare for the blitzkrieg of symbolism, figurative actions, metaphorical moments and deluge of questions thrown at the audience in rapid succession. Perhaps a more defined focus on one or two theatrical elements would have allowed the unsuspecting audience to follow the hasty plot and really grab a hold of some of those big subjects.

If you play shy to a bucket-load of blood, have a phobia of sand or hold on to haunting memories of the dreaded Beep Test then perhaps Titus isn’t for you. But if you are in need of a little philosophical punch to the face through a never-before-seen Shakespearean awakening, then Titus should be right up your postmodernist alley.

Titus by Monash Shakespeare Company
Season: 9-12 and 14-18 July 2015 7.30pm (2pm show on 11th July)
Venue: Second Story Studios, 3/159 Sackville Street Collingwood
Tickets: $21 Full, $17 Concession, $15 MSC Member
Booking: trybooking.com/HYJQ

Image by Sarah Walker and Debbie Yew

REVIEW: Midsumma Festival’s THIRD REICH MOMMIE

Disturbingly funny

By Narelle Wood

With a title like Third Reich Mommie, I knew this performance was either going to be good, bad or completely bizarre; it was all three and didn’t disappoint. The storyline centres on the dysfunctional relationship between an ex-actress turned spy turned agoraphobic mother Bridgette (Christopher Bryant) and at-times sweet and at other times homicidal daughter, Cassidy (Trelawney Edgar).

Third-Reich-Mommie Credits Sarah Walker Photography

Caught in the middle of the neurosis is a sexually confused and charged boy, Jock (Nathan Burmeister), who’s captured the attention of mother and daughter, and the gestapo-esque housekeeper, Ada (Ashleigh Goodson) who juxtaposes her caring nature and sugary singing voice with random bouts of shouting in German.

The plot was initially hard to follow as it twists and turns in such a way that you know someone is up to something, but you’re not exactly sure what is afoot right up until the end when Bridgette Van Kamp’s sordid past and Cassidy’s ‘shining’ future is revealed.

The humour is, for the most part, completely inappropriate but also indiscriminate, targeting Jews, Nazis, homosexuals, Germans, mothers, fathers, and children, and the cast make no apology for this in their performance. Christopher Bryant’s physicality as well as his timing resulted in him delivering some of the show’s most controversial lines, jokes about incinerators and death camps, with comedic flair.

Daniel Lammin, the director, had warned us of some late changes due to unforeseen technical difficulties; the only thing I noticed was how smooth the lighting, scene and sound transitions were given the small number of people in the performance group. It was at times hard to hear, partly because of the acoustics of such a large room, partly the competing noise from the rest of the convent and partly the German accents.

For me Ashleigh Goodson stole the show, which was no mean feat given the strength of the other performers and the seemingly superfluous role that her character played. However it was Ada, and in turn Goodson’s portrayal of the character, that enabled me to slowly put together what appeared to be random schizophrenic conversations.

With good acting, bad characters and a completely bizarre storyline, it is definitely worth keeping an eye out for any future runs of Third Reich Mommie.

Venue: Abbotsford Convent, Rosina Auditorium CBD

Season: 16 – 25th January 2014