Tag: Peter Blackburn

Boyslikeme Presents NEXT FALL

Fine performances in fragile love story

By Myron My

Being in love is never easy. Geoffrey Naufft’s Next Fall tells the story of Adam and Luke, a gay couple who begin a relationship spawning five years before tragedy strikes when Luke is hit by a car. Opening with Luke’s friends, family and Adam gathering at a hospital waiting room to hear news on his outcome, the story flashes back to various moments in the lives of both Adam and Luke and those closest to them.

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Each flashback builds on 40-year-old Adam’s (Darrin Redgate) frustration over where his life is heading, and Luke’s (Mark Davis) attempts to reconcile his sexuality with his Christian faith. Redgate does a capable job as the neurotic candle-seller who seems to be subconsciously attempting to self-sabotage his chances at ever finding happiness, even when it’s staring at him right in the face. Davis evokes a naive self-assuredness in Luke with regards to his dogmatic beliefs, but he is also able to bring out a warmth and kindness to him as his relationship with Adam grows.

Kaarin Fairfax simultaneously brings fragility and strength to Arlene, Luke’s mother. A touching scene between her and Adam displays Fairfax’s ability to convey the deep emotions her character is feeling without resorting to overt dramatics. Sharon Davis as Holly delivers a solid performance as the supportive friend for both Adam and Luke, with her subtle comedic timing allowing us to momentarily forget the impending tragedy.

Unfortunately I felt Paul Robertson‘s performance as Luke’s homophobic father Butch needed further development in allowing us to understand the nuances of the character. Throughout the story Luke has an intense fear of his father finding out about his sexuality – and yet nothing eventuates from this, even when Butch comes across Adam and Luke during a moment of intimacy, which I found very unsatisfying. Similarly, the character of Brandon (James Biasetto) in this production feels more like an outsider looking in and even during his flashback scene with Adam, Brandon doesn’t reveal anything to the audience that we are not already aware of.

Peter Blackburn takes care in his direction to not rush the story and otherwise allows the characters and their relationships time to develop organically. The set design by James Lew is interesting in that it suggests that the past and present are inextricably linked, however the set changes where an actor appears in the waiting room for a few seconds for no other purpose than to give time for the crew to prepare the stage for the next scene feel very much like filler rather than substance.

While religion and getting old are major themes explored in Next Fall, it is ultimately a touching love story between two people. As such, Naufft’s script may be a formulaic play with no real surprises, but the dedicated performances from this cast are what turn this production into a story worth sharing.

Venue: Chapel Off Chapel, 12 Little Chapel St, Prahran
Season: until 30 July | Wed – Sat 8:00pm, Sun 5:00pm
Tickets: $39.50 Full | $29.50 Conc
Bookings: Chapel Off Chapel

Hungry Wolf Theatre Presents ORPHANS

Fraternal bonds are set to break

By Myron My

The bond between brothers, or any siblings for that matter, is a bond for life. After all, as the adage goes, you can choose your friends but you can’t choose your family. Lyle Kessler’s Orphans, two brothers share the pain of having a mother who has died and a father that has abandoned them. While both of them choose to deal with the pain and protect themselves and each other in different ways, emotions gradually reach boiling point where something has got to give.

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In Hungry Wolf Theatre‘s current production, Mark Davis as younger brother Phillip continues to impress me with his ability in bringing his varied characters to life. It’s testament to his skill and talent that Davis is physically and emotionally the complete opposite to the character I last saw him in: Q44‘s brilliant production of Sam Shepard’s Fool For Love last year. The machismo and hot-bloodedness of Eddie is nowhere to be seen in Phillip, an innocent, sheltered individual who falls somewhere on the high-functioning Autism disorder spectrum. It is almost like the performer has ceased to exist as each movement, each stare, each thought process is overtaken by Phillip and for a show that goes for over two hours, it is a challenging feat that Davis smashes through.

Danny Zivaljevic as the older, more volatile brother, Treat, has a strong presence on stage and physically captures the anger that is boiling inside the character. It’s an anger that we recognise if Treat doesn’t control soon enough, will eventually be his undoing. I confess I would have liked to see Zivaljevic try and work more with the subtleties and the nuances of these anger issues that would have allowed Treat to feel like a better-rounded character. Meanwhile, Sebastian Gunner is much at ease with Harold, finding the perfect balance between his comedic, threatening and sensitive nature.

The committed performances from the actors are unfortunately let down by a script that for me lacks true suspense or tension and doesn’t seem to lead anywhere – nor does it explore the characters’ relationships to the depth that I feel would be more rewarding for the audience. However,  Peter Blackburn’s strong direction here and use of the space builds a claustrophobic and still somewhat suspenseful environment within the confines of the brothers’ living room.

Despite the script not being as engaging as I would have liked it to be, the captivating performances alone are worth seeing in this production of Orphans by Hungry Wolf Theatre.

Venue: Gasworks Arts Park, 21 Graham St, Albert Park, 3206
Season:
 Until 23 April | 3pm and 7.30pm
Tickets:
 $30 Full | $20 Conc

Bookings: Gasworks Arts Park