Tag: Nikki Ashby

REVIEW: Malthouse Theatre Presents BLAK CABARET

Dynamic satire and stirring music meet

By Margaret Wieringa

Theatre under the stars. How delightful. The forecourt of the Malthouse Theatre has been transformed into an outdoor cabaret venue complete with small tables and a bar to one side. Relax, enjoy a drink and before you know it, the first group of performers are introduced; musicians Kutcha Edwards, Deline Briscoe, Bart Willoughby and Emma Donovan. But before you can get too comfortable with the tunes, the doors will spring open and there stands Queen Constantina Bush (Kamahi Djordon King), the first settler of the land, to claim this terra nullius.

Blak Cabaret_Photo Credit Pia Johnson

Queen Constantina and her sidekick, Nikki (Nikki Ashby) have taken rule of this country with the noble goal of saving the indigenous white population from themselves. Over a series of vignettes, their humour allows the audience to recognise just some of the unforgettable and unforgivable historical events of Australia by flipping the roles. Yes, it is political, and it is also hilarious.

And then.

“Close your eyes for just a minute. Imagine this place three hundred years ago.” In just a sentence, Edwards takes the audience from the laughter to a moving song with heart-tearing harmonies. And then, before we know it, reggae beats start, and then a kick-arse rap from Ashby. And throughout is King as Queen Constantina, in magnificent outfits, bringing back the laughs, and not pulling any punches.

Blak Cabaret is part of Southbank’s inaugural SummerSalt Outdoor Arts Festival, There are events happening until the 21st of February all around the area, but make sure you get to this wonderful show. Also, get there early; there is a beautiful barbeque that you can enjoy under the stars before the show starts. Oh, and don’t forget that it’s Melbourne, so take a jumper or two.

Blak Cabaret is playing at the Malthouse Theatre Forecourt until February 22. Tickets are $30-$60 and are available at https://tickets.malthousetheatre.com.au/ or call 9685 5111


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.