Tag: politics

New Stage Presents ISLAMOPHILIA

Intense and intriguing

By Narelle Wood

There is no denying that David George’s Islamophilia is a very topical concept for a play; it is also perhaps a very timely and important one as well.

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Set in Melbourne, and based on a true story, Islamophilia deals with many of the misconceived, troublesome and ambiguous interpretations of Islam and what it means in contemporary society. It does so by using the story of Shadahan’s (Laura Lattuada) family to explore the multiple perspectives of both devout believers and those struggling to believe and understand. Shadahan and Fariz (Chris Jackson) – a scholar and Shadahan’s love interest – are both devout believers, while Daanish (Gerard Lane), also a scholar and Shadahn’s husband, is a convert. Freddy (Adam Direen), Daanish’s brother, is a sceptic, although considering the idea of conversion. And Aisha (Indea Quinn) is Shadahan’s daughter and represents the eager voice of those seeking to understand. The family and Fariz are drawn together by a common purpose; the production of a new Islamic Journal that is seeking to find a future for Islam in a world that is not very accepting.

The play is dialogue and content-heavy, and weaves in a great deal detail about Islam, which is to be expected; but it doesn’t come up for breath. The ideas, questions and challenges were all really interesting but at times I struggled to keep up and digest everything that was artfully been tossed around the stage. There was a nice balance between assumed knowledge and new ideas, and the discussion often returned often to addressing concepts of extremism and the multi-understandings of the Quran. These discussions were often intertwined with references to art and beauty, but always lingering in the background is the threat of violence, intolerance and prejudice.

While the dialogue is fast-paced – the cast do an amazing job under director Helen Trenos to move seamlessly through it – the staging is very minimalist. There are a few lighting transitions used to denote the passing of time and allow for the elegant transitions between scenes. The limited use of music is effective punctuating the discussions of traditions and beauty. Everything, other than the characters’ interactions, is understated; there is nothing to compete with the key ideas.

Educational, thought-provoking and at times confronting, this is an important play that gives a strong voice to the intricacies, beauty and nuances of Islam. Intense and intriguing, Islamophilia is one of those plays that will still have you thinking well after it ends.

Website: www.islamophilia.info

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REVIEW: Christopher Durang’s LAUGHING WILD

Slick satire performed with aplomb

By Myron My

In Christopher Durang’s satirical comedy Laughing Wild, we meet two socially marginalised people struggling to survive in the modern world. They are known as The Woman and The Man. A chance encounter over tuna forces them to look into themselves and each other and attempt to find what it is they really want.

Laughing Wild

Laughing Wild is mainly set up in three scenes – it begins with a monologue by The Woman, a mentally-ill person obsessed with television. Gradually, her fragility and vulnerability begin to come through amid all the humour and jokes. This is followed by a monologue by The Man, a queer and quaint person who is looking to better himself and remain at peace with his spirit.

The third scene is where things get a little more complicated and surreal and there are some great moments including a number of backwards scenes and a hilarious interview in the style of Sally Jesse Raphael with the Infant of Prague which was quite something to witness.

Rani Pramesti carries a certain distinct charisma with her that I’ve not seen on stage for quite a while. Her embodiment of The Woman is more than impressive and the naturalism with which she delivers her lines – often at ridiculous speeds – is testament to the time and effort she must have put in perfecting this role. Her mannerisms and movement all served to construct a woman who is slightly unhinged and erratic.

Similarly, Daniel Last as The Man does exceptionally well in humanizing a character who is hell-bent on remaining positive. While The Woman was more loud and animated, Last did well in showing the restraint of The Man and exploring many of the same fears and worries as his female counterpart but in a fascinatingly different way.

Despite being set in the 80s, the themes of mental illness, loneliness, sexuality and politics are all still prevalent issues today and Durang’s work has clearly passed the test of time. Laughing Wild is a great character piece by two strong performers who are more than capable of carrying this comedic but demanding production.

Venue: Mechanics Institute, 270 Sydney Rd, Brunswick

Season: Until 1 March 2:00pm, 7:00pm.

Tickets: $20 Full | $15 Conc

Bookings: http://www.trybooking.com/71486

Review: KROWS BAR KABARET Presents NEWS FLASHERS

A bold satirical effort leaves little breathing space

By Myron My

In the revitalised Weimar-style political kabaret News Flashers, the audience are treated to a whirlwind of varied Australian issues and the way the media reports these through the use of ‘televised’ news reports, song and with the aid of sock puppets.

A lot of thought has gone into the production of News Flashers, and it is certainly a delight on the eyes. Old newspapers form the basis of the costumes, including trousers, shirts, hats, bow ties and a few other surprises along the way.

The various ways in which the “televisions” are used throughout the show is quite creative and allows for radically different set-ups to take over on stage. The cast makes excellent use of the performance area and really takes ownership of every available space.

The performers (Caitlin Brown, Ezekiel Ox, Fletcher Dyson, Maurial Spearim and Sophie Kinston) worked very well together and there was some strong rapport and high energy levels but as the title suggests, the show was a bit frenetic. Unfortunately it was so fast that I found myself constantly trying to catch up with what was happening.

Many topical issues are covered throughout the show including boat people, Gina Rinehart and the stolen generation but the surface is only ever skimmed with any of them. I was left feeling confused with a few of the recurring references and felt they were some sort of in-joke I was not privy to.

The songs by creator Ella Filar were composed well and the instruments used were chosen carefully and specifically. The voices of the performers highlighted each individual’s vocal strengths and it was great to see them excel here. However, the songs may have been a little short, for just as I understood what they were singing about, they were finished and we immediately moved on.

News Flashers describes itself as ‘political, vulgar, artistic, grotesque, sexy and sublime’, and successfully achieves its claims, but perhaps if the content had been narrowed down and the performance not been so exceptionally fast-paced, it might have been a little more enjoyable.

Venue: The Butterfly Club, 204 Bank Street, South Melbourne

Season: Until 11 November | 8:00pm, Wed, Sun 9:00pm

Tickets: $23 Full | $20 Concession

Bookings: http://thebutterflyclub.com/shows

REVIEW: Xavier Toby is BINGE THINKING

Laid-back Aussie comedic charm

By Myron My

In Binge Thinking, Xavier Toby wants us to be able to laugh at the silly and stupid things in life as well as being able to discuss the bigger issues of modern time.

He attempts to do this by looking at the three things that one is not meant to talk about at dinner parties; politics, religion and money but interspersing it with random facts about dolphins, Delta Goodrem and Deal or No Deal.

The audience is invited to listen to Toby recount a dinner party experience he had with six friends and the issues that arose from that. Toby uses various types of alcohol to represent his six “friends”.  These include the “frangelico” lawyer, the “red and white wine” husband and wife and my personal favourite Sasha the “goon bag” bogan.

The results are quite effective and entertaining and neatly prevent what could have been very confusing for the audience in having to differentiate between seven characters.

For the most part Toby shares his story well, but there were a few moments of awkwardness or clumsy delivery of dialogue. This did however add to Toby’s appeal in being a typical, laid-back Aussie bloke though: someone we can all relate too.

Considering how small the stage is, it’s a shame that half of it was blocked off by an unused piano, thus preventing Toby from being even more animated and to give him some more room for his stage presence.

Toby seems genuinely most relaxed when conversing with his audience whilst drinking his bottle of Mountain Goat. However, if I had to use Tony’s game and compare him to an alcoholic beverage, I would choose a nice bottle of gin or perhaps a Bombay Sapphire. Cheers!

Date: June 21, 22, 23  7pm/24th  6pm

Venue: The Butterfly Club, 204 Bank Street, South Melbourne

Tickets: $23 / $18

Bookings: thebutterflyclub.com

Review: KIMBERLEY DARK in Good Fortune

A beguiling future was in store for a raconteur and her audience

By Adam Tonking

Do you remember the pleasure, as a child, of having a story read out loud to you? Kimberley Dark’s Good Fortune instantly transported me back to those long-forgotten days.

Dark is a consummate storyteller but these are not for children. They are stories from her life, that when illuminated through her telling become stories about the world at large: about love, sex, politics, and power.

The show was presented as a kind of tasting platter – 46 stories and poems from Dark’s 15 years of performance, each attached to a quirky little artwork, which became a sort of Tarot deck, with members of the audience choosing. These pieces make up the show, with each show being unique to the audience present.

Dark explains that every audience has its own personality, and this method of framing the show’s concept lent it an air of legitimacy, but also created an air of mutual respect between Dark and the audience.

Telling stories is clearly a gift for the highly-skilled Dark. While she chatted with us amiably in between stories, discussing her history and philosophies, including a few poems as a palate cleanser between stories – the moment she opened her book, she transported the audience into another world, as only a true storyteller can.

 The tone of her voice, from beguiling to conversational, from hypnotic to questing, guides us through her world; but the stories themselves grow to encompass all of us. The material is complex yet comedic, personal yet provocative. Perhaps storytelling of this nature is a lost art, but by the end of Good Fortune I was completely enamoured with Dark and her tales.

Perhaps because of the nature of the audience choosing the material, no one will have the chance to see the same show that I did. But go anyway, and reconnect with those wonderful days of simply being told a good story by someone who knows how to tell it best.

Kimberley Dark’s Good Fortune is on for one more night, Wednesday 30th November at 8pm, at The Butterfly Club in South Melbourne, with tickets available at www.thebutterflyclub.com or at the door.

Or see her show Dykeotomy at Hares and Hyenas Bookstore in Fitzroy, December 1-3. For more information go to www.kimberleydark.com.