Tag: Nicki Bloom

REVIEW: Avid Theatre Presents TENDER

Abandonment, emotion and mystery unfold

By Myron My

We all love, have loved and have lost: these are the times where we are at our happiest, but also then our saddest and most vulnerable. But when you open up to someone and plan a life together, what happens if your partner strangely disappears and you have no memory of what happened? Presented by Avid Theatre and written by Nicki Bloom, Tender is a tale of moving on when it seems impossible to do so.

Tender

The past/present/future structuring of the narrative is used effectively with scenes shifting adroitly between before the event, the night of the event and after the event. This gradually provides pieces of information to the audience to draw us into the unfolding narrative, and also shows the characters in different and revealing lights. This in turn builds on the intense emotional states explored throughout Tender, which would prove challenging and rewarding roles for any actor to take on.

Unfortunately on the evening I attended, Tania Knight and A.J Steele as Sarah and Michael never seemed to quite grasp the complexity of their characters, especially with the difficulties of Sarah. This was their preview night so understandably, nerves may well have been the cause here, but I felt there were not enough nuances in their respective characterisations and the ensuing lack of chemistry between the two resulted in lessened emotional investment for me in the audience. Hopefully the actors can find that spark as the season progresses, as there is certainly potential there. On the other hand, Josie Eberhard and Peter Hatherley’s portrayals as Yvonne and Patrick are highly convincing as the desperate parents trying to find out what happened to their son. Theirs is a very natural and instinctive dual performance that resonated strongly.

Despite its compelling premise, the prose of Bloom’s script is quite difficult to connect with its constant shift between full sentences and natural conversations to rapid firings of short incomplete dialogue. For most of the show, I felt this prevents the characters from coming across as real people going through a genuine loss, which was an additional pressure for the performers. Many scenes are also question after question, and while I don’t expect everything to be revealed, it is frustrating when you can’t even have one answer.

Tender is an ambitious piece of theatre, both in its writing and in the demands on the actors. While the promise of these  aspects in this preview performance from Avid Theatre is not quite there, as the actors become more comfortable with the text and each other, I am confident this will improve greatly.

Venue: The Butterfly Club, 5 Carson Place, Melbourne
Season: Until 25 October | Thur – Sat 7pm, Sun 6pm
Tickets: $32 Full | $28 Conc
Bookings: The Butterfly Club

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REVIEW: Paul Capsis in LITTLE BIRD

Fascinating fable enchants all

By Bradley Storer

Australian cabaret and musical theatre star Paul Capsis comes to Melbourne with Little Bird, a dark modern fairytale by playwright Nicki Bloom, with music and songs by Cameron Goodall and Quentin Grant.

Little Bird

Little Bird tells the story of a young boy named Wren, magically conceived by the fall of feather on a winter’s day, and his journey to find a missing parent as well as discover his own identity. Bloom’s writing thrillingly mines a vein of moral and sexual ambiguity to create a bewitching narrative that draws questions of gender, love and the essential idea of the self.

The show works best when it stays within the realm of the fantastical and fey – the first section of the show, interwoven with the voice of a mysterious and bird-like narrator, is intensely engaging in its sparse poetical prose that draws on all the tropes of fairy tales while twisting and subverting them in thrilling new ways. When the tale reaches a metropolitan city and touches on the story of a cross-dressing woodcutter, the narrative takes a turn into punk rock territory, reminiscent of Hedwig and the Angry Inch, which although entertaining jars against the overall tone of the show in a way that makes it far less compelling.

Capsis himself is never less than completely spell-binding, his use of body and voice a masterclass in story-telling, summoning up all the characters with a simple shift in posture and voice while always maintaining the clarity of Wren’s own central development and journey reacting against these other characters. His androgynous rock-star charisma is used to great effect at various points, roaring glam-rock ballads that recall the work of Queen and David Bowie along with scintillating gypsy rhythms, but always finding the deep vulnerability and sadness of Wren to tear-inducing effect. The simple but surprisingly versatile set and incredibly nuanced lighting provided by Geoff Cobham must also be praised, responding to the mood and rhythm of the story in ways that heighten the drama and atmosphere invaluably.

This rich, luscious fable starring one of our best country’s best performers is truly an event not to be missed, drawing us into a dream-like, magical (but on some level, still achingly real) landscape that leaves the audience with the visceral and satisfying joy of a story well told.

Venue: Playhouse, The Arts Centre, 100 St Kilda Rd
Time: 8pm, 5pm Tuesday February 1st
Dates: 29th January – 4th February
Price: $49 Premium, $39 A-Reserve, $30 Under 30’s, Concession also available.
Bookings: www.artscentremelbourne.com.au, 1300 182 183, at the box office.