Tag: Rebecca Fortuna

REVIEW: Nice Productions Presents THE BOYS

Strong attempts to tackle a difficult play

By Myron My

Survivors of domestic violence and violence against women come from all walks of life. The crime does not discriminate, but what do you do when your son or your boyfriend commits a heinous violent act against another person? Do you call the police, or do you turn a blind eye?  In Gordon Graham‘s highly acclaimed play, The Boys, these themes are explored through the eyes of the female figures in the perpetrators’ lives.

The Boys.jpg

Linda Cookson does a magnificent job in her portrayal of Sandra, the matriarch of the family. All she wants is to have her three sons together and everything she does is done out of a mother’s love for her children. There are moments where Sandra is in scenes where she is in the background as conversations happen around her, yet you can always feel what she is thinking and trying to push the troubling thoughts away with how her facial expressions and body language is conveyed.

However, many of the difficulties I had in otherwise ascribing to the play’s dialogue came down to the rest of the casting and as a result, I felt the tension and suspense of the script was not able to be fully appreciated. Rebecca Fortuna and Heidi Lupprian (Michelle and Jackie) work powerfully in their scenes together and with Sandra, yet there was a strong lack of chemistry between each of their characters and their respective partners, Brett and Glenn. Michael Shanahan and Ben Taylor (Brett and Glenn) both showed promise but I feel that they needed to get further inside their characters to show them as complex and fully fleshed-out people rather than just a familiar stereotype. Unfortunately Malachi Grimsley and Lucy Orr as Stevie and Nola seemed to be somewhat miscast, as I found neither actor was able to convincingly portray their respective characters.

The stage design has a good level of authenticity and is quite befitting of the Sprague family. The backyard is set towards the front of stage and decorated with milk crates, an esky of beer and the ground scattered with rubbish and stray grass. A door leading towards the back of the stage takes you into the lounge room decorated with two sofas, magazines, clothing and a number of family photos and other items.

Luci Kendo‘s direction ensures that all the space available is utilised to permit the characters to explore the space and express themselves further. However, there were a few moments where conversation took place with one character “outside” and another one as they were walking from “inside” the back of the house into the “outside”, which seemed a little clumsy.

The Boys is a confronting piece of theatre on domestic violence and violence against women. While this is loosely based on true events from the 1986 murder of Anita Cobby, the play reminds us that domestic violence can affect anyone, even the central women within the Sprague family. They may be aware of their loved ones’ guilt, but these women have been – to an extent – broken down into defending the men they fell in love with, with seemingly no other option. With suitable casting and a deeper examination of the characters, I feel certain this could have proven to be a highly affecting production.

Venue: Gasworks Arts Park, 21 Graham St, Albert Park, 3206
Season: Until 20 February | Wed – Sat 8pm
Tickets: $33 Full | $25 Conc
Bookings: Gasworks Arts Park

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REVIEW: Q44 Theatre Presents FOOL FOR LOVE

Outstanding new production of a classic

By Myron My

The tale of two lovers in a tumultuous relationship has been told time and time again, to the point it can be difficult to tell such a story in a way that will draw your audience in and leave them wanting more. It can also be daunting to do well when using Sam Shepard’s well-known play, Fool For Love. However, in Red Theatricals‘ new production, they manage to do all this and a whole lot more.

Fool For LovePresented by Q44 Theatre Company, it’s an exhilarating ride watching this dark tale unfold and this is mostly due to the performances of its two leads, Mark Davis and Rebecca Fortuna who are, quite frankly, phenomenal. They have truly captured their characters and the chemistry is electric in their scenes together.

Davis’ transformation into Eddie the cowboy stunt man is one of the best male performances I have seen so far this year: with the assured way he walks, the charming and sexy way he looks, to the masculine way he slings a lasso and cleans his gun, Davis make this character highly complex and intriguing. Through the course of the play’s evening, we come to understand that Eddie is always going to get what he wants no matter what, even when he’s not sure what that is; he is simultaneously our hero and our antagonist.

Similarly, Fortuna’s depiction of the strong yet fragile May is genuine and honest. Purely from the look in her eyes, you can sense her character is stuck in a situation she does not know how to get out of, and that it will eventually end up killing her, either metaphorically or literally. Fortuna allows her whole body and performance to be painfully taken over by May as events culminate on this tragic evening.

They are ably supported by Sam Allen as the ghost-like Old Man, who sits side of stage in his rocking chair, drinking his alcohol. Even though he’s not in the action, we can sense his presence and the hold he has over these two lovers. William Prescott rounds out the cast as Martin, the man that May feels like she needs to be with but may not be who she wants to be with. Prescott plays Martin well as the polar opposite of Eddie, and you could even go so far as to say he is an Edgar to Eddie’s Heathcliff.

While I question one or two directing decisions, Gabriella Rose-Carter effectively creates much action on stage while keeping in the claustrophobic confines of a small, seedy hotel room. Rose-Carter has managed to bring out raw and passionate performances from all the actors in this production, which is rare to see these days.

32 years after it was written, Fool For Love still packs a punch, with its themes of love, family and patriarchal society still relevant today. Red Theatricals not only do justice to the play but also manage to put its own unique touches to it. This powerful production is already a firm highlight of 2015 and should not be missed.

Venue: Q44 Theatre, 550 Swan St, Richmond.
Season: Until 28 June | Wed- Sat 7:30pm, Sun 6:30pm
Tickets: $35 Full | $27 Conc
Bookings: Q44 Theatre

REVIEW: Theresa Rebeck’s SPIKE HEELS

Walking in someone else’s stilettos

By Myron My

Written by Theresa Rebeck (creator of TV series Smash) Spike Heels revolves around four people, and the intricate relationships they have with each other. Some are intimate, some are platonic and some are just beginning but – to an extent – they are all based on manipulation, power and lies.

 In this production presented by Q44 Theatre Company & Crazy Chair Productions, Nicole Melloy does a flawless job as foul-mouthed Bronx-born Georgie. With the risk of coming across as a frustratingly annoying and unappealing person, Melloy adds hints of fragility and vulnerability to everything she says and does, and ends up creating a character that we can empathise with and like. Anthony Scundi, as Georgie’s best friend Andrew, is also well cast as as the neat, nerdy academic who cannot swear properly.

Spike Heels

Georgie and Andrew’s lives are made more complicated by Georgie’s smarmy boss Edward (Michael Robins), and Andrew’s fiancé Lydia (Lelda Kapsis) and even though she has limited stage time, Kapsis creates some genuine touching moments between Lydia and Georgie.

Rebeck’s dialogue is full of fierce one-liners and a good balance of incredibly hilarious moments and incredibly dramatic moments, but it’s her consideration of power and how we all possess and use different forms of it against each other that is especially interesting to see play out on stage and watch how it affects each character.

Despite the brilliant writing, I did take issue with some of the plot points: in particular, the development of the relationship between Georgie and Edward. Without giving too much away, there are two moments that occur that made it difficult for me to accept the outcome of their relationship. It is because of this narrative problem that I feel the character of Edward never quite reaches the level of being a “real” person.

From a technical aspect, the set design by Rebecca Fortuna and Mara Kapsis is perfectly imagined and executed. Apart from having Andrew and Georgie’s personalities reflected in their respective apartments, they each have a large backdrop that the audience’s eye is constantly drawn to, that further builds on that character’s thought and ideals. In the case of Andrew, it’s an image of Nietzsche with the quote ‘sometimes people don’t want to hear the truth because they don’t want their illusions destroyed’, which is an idea resonating throughout Spike Heels.

Spike Heels is a highly enjoyable and intimate look into the complex world of relationships and ultimately the necessity of being true to oneself first and foremost. And tea.

Venue: Chapel Off Chapel, 12 Little Chapel St, Prahran
Season: Until 14 Sep | Tues-Sat 8:00pm, Sun 6:00pm, Sat Matinee (13 Sep) 2pm, Wed Matinee (3 Sep) 1:00pm
Tickets: $37.50 Full | $32.50 Conc
Bookings: www.chapeloffchapel.com.au or 8290 7000

REVIEW: Domestic Warfare at MELBOURNE FRINGE

A striking snapshot of the 70s

By Scarlett Harris

Last night was the penultimate performance of Nice Productions’ Domestic Warfare at Gasworks Arts Park as part of the Melbourne Fringe Festival.

Due to illness I was unfortunately unable to attend last week but I’m so glad I got the opportunity to see this production as Domestic Warfare is a poignant and plausibly realistic portrayal of domesticity in 1970s Australia.

Domestic Warfare

The hair, costuming and set design perfectly captured the chintzy orangeness of the era and, considering the amount of physicality and energy required of the actors, the cramped performance space was well-utilised. And, coming in at about 90 minutes, Domestic Warfare got its point across in a refreshingly short but hard-hitting manner.

While the male cast members (with the exception of Stephen Laffan playing the small but affecting role of the abusive father) were mostly lackluster, the female actors were brilliant: Rebecca Fortuna, who also served as playwright, as main character Dee; depressed younger sister Lily, played by Lauren Murtagh; archetypal 70s chicks Merrin (Nicolette Nespeca) and my personal favourite Sherry (Dayna Boase); and finally Linda Zilinskas in the role of long-suffering matriarch Nance, whose part was not large enough in my opinion.

While there were hints of amateur yet gritty student theatre, overall Domestic Warfare as directed by Luci Klendo succeeded in portraying the struggle of the traditional family unit to keep up with the rapidly changing zeitgeist of the play’s setting.

Domestic Warfare was performed 19-28 September at Gasworks for Melbourne Fringe Festival 2013.