Tag: Ray Chong Nee

MTC Presents NOISES OFF

Superb production of an hilarious classic

By Myron My

It’s been 34 years since playwright Michael Frayn penned his farcical comedy Noises Off and I have patiently waited decades to see this production on the stage. As part of its 2017 season, Melbourne Theatre Company has fulfilled my wish and the production does not disappoint with this wild and witty play-within-a-play.

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While this is a fast-paced farce, one of the strengths of Frayn’s script is that we are still provided with time to get to know the characters and understand the relationships between them all. Once these are established, the laughs begin to build until the absurd and ridiculous circumstances the cast get themselves into hit peak hilarity. The second act where we are privy to the goings on behind the scenes offers the most entertaining moments of the show, as the actors struggle to separate the drama of their personal lives with the drama happening on stage.

The hugely talented ensemble of this production deliver superb performances and there is an energetic chemistry between them all. Ray Chong Nee as the pompous Gary has brilliant timing and literally throws himself into his character. As one of the more “straight” characters, Nicki Wendt as Belinda still captures our attention in all her scenes. Louise Siversen as Dotty is sensational and fully embraces the wackiness of both characters she plays.

Meanwhile, Libby Munro as Brooke is delightful to watch as the actor who will not go off script no matter what, as is Hugh Parker as the sensitive but consummate thespian Freddie. Steven Tandy as Selsdon is great comedy relief as he exasperates the cast with his tendency for drinking on the job.

Simon Burke as Lloyd the director of sex farce Nothing On – the play-within-a-play – finds a serenity and calm in the character who yet simultaneously speaks through gritted teeth to his frustratingly inept cast. James Saunders and Emily Goddard as stage managers Tim and Poppy bring some hilarious moments as they try to keep everything on track despite the mishaps along the way.

Sam Strong’s attentive and considerate direction in the real world ensures that despite all the relationships being portrayed (in Noises Off and Nothing On), we never feel overwhelmed or confused by what we are seeing. While there are moments that seem to stretch themselves for laughs, such as the axe-fight scene and watching each actor constantly sneak across backstage to avoid being spotted by the audience, he manages to keep those laughs consistent and plentiful.

Set designer Richard Roberts has done a truly marvelous job in creating the two-storey interior of the Brents’ house as well as the backstage area. The detailing in both, particularly the backstage area, is well thought-out and the rotating stage is highly impressive and used effectively.

While Nothing On is an absolute shambles of a show (but one I would still like to see), Noises Off is a slick production of the (in)famous play with a cast and creative team that has clearly put in much effort and thought into its creation. Melbourne Theatre Company presents a guaranteed crowd-pleaser with this, and rightfully so.

Venue: Arts Centre Melbourne, 100 St Kilda Road, Melbourne, 3004 
Season: Until 12 August | Mon – Tues 6.30pm, Wed 1pm, Wed-Fri 8pm, Sat 4pm and 8.30pm 
Tickets: $39 – 99
Bookings: Melbourne Theatre Company

Image by Stephen Henry

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REVIEW: Red Stitch Presents JUMPERS FOR GOALPOSTS

An utter delight

By Caitlin McGrane

It’s not often one sees a play (or a film, or a TV show) where a straight white man is considered tokenistic: Jumpers for Goalposts gives us that and so much more. Director Tom Healey expertly presents Tom Wells’ sharp, sensitive and uproariously funny script. It tells the story of a five-a-side gay, lesbian and transgender football tournament in Hull as one team, the Barely Athletic, attempt to win/come second/come third/have a team at all.

The team consists of Beardy (Ray Chong Nee), Viv (Kate Cole), Danny (Johnathan Peck), Luke (Rory Kelly) and Joe (Paul Denny). The development and story arc of each character is equal parts witty and poignant. Each performer steps up to and meets the mark with buckets of humour, despite the heaviness of the themes.

2014 Jumpers for goalposts It’s extraordinarily rare that HIV, death and sexuality can be dealt with so clearly without anyone really uttering any of those words. In addition, the diversity on stage is a marked change from the endless parade of straight white male narratives to which we are all so accustomed; Beardy got all the best lines and Joe was almost relegated to the sidelines (puns intended).

The set and costumes designed by Jacob Battista were fantastic – the locker room in which the entire play takes place really belonged on a dodgy estate in England’s northeast. Lighting designed by Clare Springett strategically washed out the stage and gave the performers the sickly fluorescent sheen of a team worn out. Healey’s directorial vision and the efforts of stage manager Rebekah Gibbs are definitely something to write home about as the whole show (some slightly dodgy pronunciation aside) hung together flawlessly . This is a thoroughly enjoyable and truly romantic production: I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Jumpers for Goalposts is now showing at the Red Stitch Actors Theatre on Chapel St in St Kilda until 20 December. Tickets available at: http://redstitch.net/gallery/jumpers-for-goalposts/.

REVIEW: Elbow Room Presents THE MOTION OF LIGHT IN WATER

Two strange tales interweave

By Myron My

Despite not being a massive fan of science-fiction, I really enjoyed The Motion of Light in Water. It was engaging with a well-written script, great work from a technical point of view, and the acting was of a high standard.

Jacinta Yelland as Rydra in The Motion of Light in Water_ Photo Credit LachlanWoods

Inspired by the life and works of writer Samuel R. Delaney and poet Marilyn Hacker, The Motion of Light in Water takes place in two parallel worlds. The first is set in 1964, where we meet ‘Chip’ Delaney (Ray Chong Nee), an African American, who is in an interracial and open marriage with Marilyn (Laura Maitland), a Jew.

It’s in 2116 when I became a little unsure of the second story, revolving around space captain Rydra Wong (Jacinta Yelland). Rydra is on a mission to crack a linguistic code that will prevent an alien invasion on humanity. Both stories look at complex issues of sexuality, identity and moral responsibility but in very different ways and if you’re not familiar with Delaney’s work, the narrative can get quite muddled in the space plot.

The whole cast do a superb job bringing the characters to life but Chong Nee in the dual role of ‘Chip’ and Brass is extremely charismatic to watch. His switch from one to other is seamless and he does a great job in portraying both. Yelland as headstrong Rydra is also a strong presence on stage and appears to love playing the role. I was also impressed by Paul Blenheim in his numerous roles, but particularly enjoying seeing him as The Baronees which provoked quite a few laughs from the audience during her short appearance.

The costumes designed by Zoe Rouse were satisfyingly authentic for the era of the 60s, and the metallic shimmering outfits in the future seemed very fitting and worked well with the set design by Matthew Adey of House of Vnholy.

Elbow Room has taken on an immense challenge with creating The Motion of Light in Water. Produced by anyone else, this queer sci-fi love story could have been a disaster, but with Marcel Dorney’s taut script and direction, this company have created a unique and thought-provoking piece.

Venue: Theatreworks, 14 Acland St, St Kilda.
Season: Until 27 July | Tues-Sat 8:00pm, Sun 5:00pm
Tickets: $25 Full | $20 Conc
Bookings: 9534 3388 or http://www.theatreworks.org.au