Tag: Penny Harpham

REVIEW: Adam J. Cass’ BOCK KILLS HER FATHER

Violence comes to light

By Myron My

My second play by writer Adam J. Cass during this 2015 Melbourne Fringe festival continues with his running critique of society and the treatment of its people. However, unlike the refugee theme of Fractured, Bock Kills Her Father contemplates the long-lasting effects a group of women must deal with after being at the mercy of one man.

Bock Kills Her Father

Penny Harpham‘s strong direction never allows the action on the small La Mama stage to become overwhelming or cramped, especially when there are five aggressive and angry characters on stage. The choreography for the fight scenes is executed well, with some very convincingly painful moments. There is only one time where the fight scenes disappoint and that is when Sarah (powerfully played by Annie Lumsden) is attacked. Due to the hardness of the adult women we had previously seen, it felt more like something young children would do to each other and as such, its intensity was lost.

Despite this, Cass has created a script that draws the audience into the pressure cooker of how a patriarchal society – and in this case, a cowering unseen man – still has the power to control these women’s lives. For the most part, the language is raw and authentic and I could not help but be reminded of Patricia Cornelius’s Shit, which played during MTC’s NEON season earlier this year. In fact, thematically Bock Kills Her Father could easily be appreciated as a natural prequel to Shit, in considering how the cycle of women being victims will continue to repeat itself if society does nothing.

These women however – the five actors on stage – do a great job in these physically and emotionally demanding roles. Emina Ashman, as the slightly unhinged D’Agostino, captures the attention of the audience in every scene she is in. Ashman’s portrayal is a perfect combination of endearing, annoying and incredibly frightening. Together with Marissa O’Reilly and Ruby Hughes (as Taylor and Chambers), the three women are all highly convincing in their characters and in their relationships with each other. I would have liked to see Emma Annand be pushed slightly more with difficult title character Bock, to ensure all her character’s choices seem genuine and not forced.

While Bock Kills Her Father isn’t the most polished of works, the grittiness and dirtiness of the world we find ourselves in makes this work in its favour. Nothing is ever going to be perfect for these women; they are unlikely to find inner peace and let go of their inner rage until those who have done them wrong are forced out of hiding and held accountable for what they have done. Bock Kills Her Father is an enthralling piece of Fringe theatre that has a lot to say about society’s treatment of women.

Venue: La Mama Theatre, 205 Faraday Street, Carlton

Season: Until 27 September | Wed 6.30pm, Thurs-Sat 7:30pm, Sun 4:00pm

Tickets: $25 Full | $15 Conc

Bookings: Melbourne Fringe Festival

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Review: THIS TRICK (The Story of Orpheus and Eurydice)

To hell and back for love

By Myron My

Using the Greek myth but set in a contemporary world, This Trick invites us to be voyeurs to a very private moment for Orpheus and Eurydice, who are so in love with each other that the rest of the world is seen as a danger they do not wish to be engaged with.

I particularly enjoyed the contrast of passionate declarations of love intermingled with trivial domestic arguments such as leaving the milk out, thus allowing those simple moments to be more intense. Much of the emotional impact is to the credit of the two leads Penny Harpham and Matt Hickey, and their hypnotic performances.

This Trick

Both were very strong and capable in taking on these roles, and the scripted words flowed as naturally as any spontaneous conversation. The on-stage chemistry and level of intimacy between them was palpable, and comfortably portrayed their characters’ jealousies, insecurities and fears in giving themselves over completely to the person they love.

There is a fitting sense of visual minimalism in this production: the set  is mainly a white mattress and white curtains and some bottles of alcohol. The ethereal environment established by designer Hanna Sandgren is further alluded to with the leads also beginning in white clothing.

In contrast, the dynamic lighting design by Julia Knibbs helped emphasise the passion and enveloping darkness for the two lovers: casting many shadows on their faces and using firey red to show the fierce passion between the two reminded me very much of the related myth of Dionysus and the dangers of excess. The stagecraft and music throughout This Trick is also well-executed and you can feel a lot of work has been done on this by all involved including sound designer Jennifer Kingwell.

Writer and director Kat Henry of Stella Electrika has produced a piece of work that is sharp, witty and real – even though there are times the dialogue does reach extremes, it is perfectly fitting in This Trick. A very powerful production all round, and one that makes you question just how much love is too much love.

Venue: La Mama Courthouse, 349 Drummond St, Carlton

Season: Until 3 March | Tue, Wed 6.30pm | Thu, Fri, Sat 7.30pm | Sun 4.30pm & 6.30pm

Tickets: $25 Full | $15 Concession

Bookings: http://lamama.com.au