Tag: Northcote Town Hall

REVIEW: Barking Spider Theatre Presents ONE SUITCASE: FOUR STORIES

A feast of fond stories and fine pasta

By Myron My

In Italian culture, family and close friends always enter the house from the back door, the thinking behind this being that the back door leads to the kitchen and the kitchen is where everything happens. So, in Barking Spider Visual Theatre‘s latest production, One Suitcase: Four Stories, it’s only fitting that we are taken round the Northcote Town Hall and enter through the venue’s back entrance.

One Suitcase Four Stories

Our host Linda Catalano welcomes us with open arms into her ‘kitchen’, and in looking at the set design by Tristan Shelley, you would indeed think it was a real kitchen that has been in use for years and thus filled with many stories to tell. We take our seat at one of the five dinner tables with six other people and immediately, we all have a sense of familiarity with each other, and conversation and jokes flow.

This is the power of good food, and Catalano implores us to eat! There are plates of antipasto, cheese and meats that must be consumed. Don’t wait for others to go first, just eat! Throughout the course of the night, as we also feast on Catalano’s generational recipes of lasagne and cannoli, she tells us tales of her zias and nonna and how they came to be in Australia. Catalano has great timing and pace as a storyteller and we hang off every word she says about the often heartbreaking stories of the women in her life.

Catalano also gets visually creative with her tales and uses various kitchen implements and foods to portray her family members, such as pizza cutters, aubergine, a bialetti and a massive pot of pasta to be her nonno. As bizarre as this representation sounds, it works in building a stronger connection with the audience and the descriptive language she uses further enhances the visual images we are creating.

It’s reached the point where I don’t even need to read what a show is going to be about when it is produced by Barking Spider Visual Theatre. The company’s aim is to share stories of human connection through various mediums and this one is just as strong as anything else of theirs I’ve had the pleasure to see. One Suitcase: Four Stories is full of heart-warming stories of love and belly-warming Italian food.

Venue: Northcote Town Hall, 189 High St, Northcote

Season: Until 17 May | Sat 7:30pm, Sunday 1pm

Tickets: $45

Bookings: Northcote Town Hall


REVIEW: Darebin Arts Speakeasy presents Backwards

A terrific hoot

by Rachel Holkner

Backwards is the result of a collaboration with students at Brunswick East Primary School and my burning question is, when they come to see the show, which parts do they recognise as their own? Is it the characters? Are there anecdotes they told Emily Taylor that have made their way into the script? Perhaps it is the huge variety of physicalities and tics of the people she portrays. It is simply impossible to tell as Taylor owns it all and is fully committed to her every moment on stage.

emily taylor

Written and performed by Emily Taylor, Backwards is an exploration of childhood and the relationships between adults and children. But it’s not your traditional standup, it’s a one woman minimalist play. With a set made up of only the world’s ugliest kitchen chair, and with the ingenious sound design of Gus MacMillan, Taylor is able to convey half a dozen unique interior and exterior locations.

Her ten characters are people you have met. Possibly you will relate to one or two of them! (I may have…) Across a wide range of ages and backgrounds these are ordinary people turned up to maximum, stepping occasionally over into caricature. Taylor loves these characters, she shows no favouritism and as she scuttles, turns and twists between each one you quickly forget there is only one person on stage. Her performance is, as always, tight and consistent. She has a mastery of switching characters, and in keeping them clearly delineated without props, masks or costume changes.

My favourite moments were those when characters revealed their true nature to other characters leading to unexpected moments of connection. There are plenty of uproarious and outrageous moments interspersed with thoughtful pokes at the trappings and trials of modern life.

Backwards is clever and hilarious and although not really written for children, the one upper primary school aged child in the audience definitely expressed that he thought the whole thing was a terrific hoot.


Venue: Northcote Town Hall (Studio Two), 189 High St, Northcote

Season: Until April 18, Tues – Sat 7pm, Sun 6pm

Tickets: $23/$18/$15

Bookings: http://www.darebinarts.com.au/speakeasy



REVIEW: Phantom Limbs Presents DREAMLOGIC

A beguiling reverie

By Caitlin McGrane

The opening 20 minutes of Dreamlogic took me slightly by surprise, it was like being in a psychological experiment and I did for a moment think that there might be an element of audience participation. Thankfully, I was mistaken. The two performers, James Welsby and James Andrews, begin by blowing up balloons and moving them around their bodies without using their hands. It’s incredibly awkward and hilarious to watch, as simultaneously audio from a psychology experiment plays in the background. The focus of the performance is on the subconscious mind, so it’s fitting that the opening seemed to encourage the audience to relax and let themselves be carried through the performance.


As the performance built to a crescendo, the space between the dancers reduced until they started to move beautifully together. I particularly enjoyed the surprising yet creative use of balloons, but was slightly disappointed they didn’t move around them towards the end as the balloons filled up the space. Choreographed creatively by Welsby himself and Amy Macpherson, the 50-minute show was delightfully captivating. The rhythmic ebb and flow of the performance captured the audience’s attention and held us in a dream-like state that continued even as I left the theatre. My absorption was only briefly distracted by the slightly clumsy lifts in the final act.

The subconscious mind and the spaces between people, the subject matter that inspired the performance, never felt tired or insipid. Instead, I found myself asking questions about the way that people interact with each other and how we move collectively through spaces. Dreamlogic is a delightful performance that I would highly recommend to anyone who enjoys thinking critically about how we interact.

Dreamlogic is showing at the Northcote Town Hall at 7:30pm until Tuesday 10 March. For tickets visit http://www.darebinarts.com.au/whats-on/dreamlogic-phantom-limbs.

REVIEW: Speakeasy Presents POTENTIAL

Scintilatingly strange

By Caitlin McGrane

Billed as a ‘dance of the heart’, Janine Proost’s Potential will go down in my memory as one of the stranger theatrical performances I have ever experienced, and I mean that as a compliment. The audience is lead in through the doors of Studio One at the Northcote Town Hall to find our four performers (Janine Proost, Natalie Abbott, Rebecca Jensen and Amelia McQueen) lying splayed on the ground covered in a blanket of playdoh. The four women are wearing gold lycra outfits, and invite the audience to take some of the playdoh heaped onto their chests…


What follows is 60 minutes of dance and yoga that will leave you pleasingly puzzled. It was clear that the inspiration came from the body, but that it came from the heart wasn’t always obvious to me. There was certainly a lot of feminine imagery (a vignette of a mid-birth playdoh baby springs to mind), which is always interesting. I loved how the energy of the performance mirrored that of a yoga class: starting with slow movements, breathing, simple postures and building to a crescendo of occasionally painful movements across the stage that were at times quite difficult to watch. There is a lot of quiet in the performance, and it beautifully counterpoised the manic cacophony of noise that made up part of the third act.

Special and particular mention must go to Matt Adey whose lighting design was spectacular and very evocative. The harsh stage lights illuminated the faces of the performers in ways that caused them to be at once beautiful and pained (the kind of facial expression one can only get from an hour of yoga).

For my first Melbourne Fringe Festival show this year, it was quite an experience. I’m very excited to see what Proost comes up with next and will be first in line to see it.

Potential is on every night until Sunday 5 October at 7:30pm at the Northcote Town Hall. Tickets are $26 at http://www.melbournefringe.com.au/fringe-festival/show/potential/

REVIEW: Speakeasy Presents PREHISTORIC

Back to punk

By Caitlin McGrane

Marcel Dorney’s Prehistoric is a raucous, lively, beautiful and heart-breaking look at the punk scene in Brisbane in 1979. It struck so many chords with me that I could barely stop smiling throughout. The play took me back to when I decided, aged twelve, to become a punk: it was simultaneously joyous and uncomfortable in the best possible way.


Before the play begins, the performers speak directly to the audience, inviting us to come with them back to 1979, a most convincing way to get an audience to turn off their phones. The play opens as we are introduced to the four characters: Barbara, Rachel, Nick and Pete. They’re all young, angry, and frustrated by their surrounds: prime for the allure of punk. There’s a song they all remember hearing that catapults them away from the humdrum of their lives and into the boisterous world of a punk band formed in Barb’s living room. They’re all immediately sympathetic and I fell in love with every one of them.

As the story unfurls, the performance covers an awful lot of ground: abuse, mental illness, police brutality, rape and sexuality. All of these topics are handled in the most sensitive and evocative way, never turning to cliché or hamstrung ideas to get their message across. What is most striking about this play is that the themes and concerns are just as relevant today as they were in 1979.

It slightly lost its way in the third act, but despite this it remained fairly compelling. It could have been shorter by about ten to fifteen minutes, but that is a small gripe when the rest of the performance was so spectacular.

The production values were all excellent and I particularly enjoyed the way the lights behind the audience invoked the idea of the police without having any additional presence on stage. Every off-stage role was superbly characterised through voice techniques and I would challenge you to sit through the scene between Rachel and the police without squirming. I look forward to Elbow Room’s next production and Dorney is definitely one to watch.

Prehistoric is on every night from now until 5 October at 9pm in Studio Two of the Northcote Town Hall. Tickets are $26 at http://www.melbournefringe.com.au/fringe-festival/show/prehistoric/

REVIEW: Slutmonster and Friends for MICF

You NEED to see this show

By Myron My


That is all I can say after having seen Slutmonster and Friends. That, and “I need to wash my brain.” Returning to the stage for this year’s Melbourne International Comedy Festival, this is definitely the craziest show you will see.

Slutmonster and Friends

The lights come on and the music starts playing in this land of cheerful and brightly coloured trees and bushes. Upon closer inspection you notice that some of the flora is not quite right. To say more would be to ruin the surprise. Once Slutmonster (Jessie Ngaio) appears in all her glory and singing a happy song, you know you’re in for quite an adventure. The premise of Slutmonster and Friends is that two brothers, Bovril (Wes Gardner) and Larch (Lucas Heil) are lost in this forest and what happens once they encounter Slutmonster.

From then on, things happen that you cannot believe you are seeing. Despite the high sexual content and outright wackiness, it all seems very fitting in this environment and doesn’t seem crass. The great thing about Slutmonster and Friends is despite all the explicit sexual references there is actually quite a convincing storyline which Heil and Gardner (as writers) should be congratulated on. It’s also great to see the three performers fully committed and taking on the demands of roles that other actors might not have been so comfortable doing.

There is a lot of crazy and racy stuff in this show but the cast are smart enough to realise this and break up the hectic pace with the same story being projected on a screen periodically as a traditional fairy-tale that would be much more child-friendly. It’s quite amusing to watch this version and see how it refers to and re-imagines things that have happened on stage.

The costumes and set design, all by Ngaio, are superb, especially the full Slutmonster costume. No amount of describing it will do it justice so you really need to go and see this show and witness all of its charms and laughs yourself.

I have never seen anything quite like Slutmonster and Friends before and I think it will be a long time before I do again. It’s a great show when the worst thing is that it has to end. I overheard one audience member say this at the end of the show and I wholeheartedly agree with their statement: “Genius. Just genius.”

Venue: Northcote Town Hall, 189 High St, Northcote

Season: Until 20 April | Thus-Sat 10:00pm

Tickets: $20 Full | $17 Concession

Bookings: 9481 9500, www.northcotetownhall.com.au & at the door.