Tag: Richard Edge

REVIEW: Ben Schiffer’s HIS GHOSTLY HEART

Lights out for intimacy and intrigue

By Myron My

Performed at this year’s Melbourne Fringe Festival, His Ghostly Heart is an intimate 30-minute two-hander with a couple lying in bed just after having sex. Written by Ben Schiffer, best-known for his work on TV series Skins, and directed by Richard Edge, its exploration of love and what it means to be loved is designed to be performed entirely in the dark.
His Ghostly HeartUnfortunately, due to the necessity of the exit sign inside the performance space, the venue was not in pitch blackness which was ultimately integral to the show’s overall effect. While you could not see facial expressions, the body outlines and movement were still quite visible. In order to experience this the way I understand it was intended, I did have my eyes closed during the performance.

Riley Nottingham and Bundy Marston are well cast as the young couple in love, and with my eyes shut, I was able to listen to their voices, and their intimate emotional state is quite clear in the delivery of their lines and the pauses and silences between words. We hear the sense of achievement in Tom’s voice when he exclaims that they lasted three songs, while the self-loathing in Daisy’s voice when she announces “I’m disgusting” is easily felt. When Tom is naming all the areas of Daisy’s body that he loves, you can clearly picture his loving and cheeky face as his lips touch those aforementioned parts.

The build-up to the twist ending is cleverly constructed and highly effective, however, towards the end of His Ghostly Heart, the music and sounds being played are so loud that is it hard to hear what is being said. This ultimately makes it difficult to remain invested in the story and keep connected with the characters. Marston also seemed to struggle with the demands of the character in the final third, as the emotion that she has been working with earlier in the piece is not as focused and her lines begin to simply feel shouted.

Despite these closing shortcomings, His Ghostly Heart provides a very unique Fringe experience in its premise and light-starved performance. It remains a touching exploration of facing the realities of life and love and how, sometimes, darkness is much more of a comfort than the harsh light of day.

Venue: Fringe Hub, Upstairs at Errol’s, 69-71 Errol Street, North Melbourne, 3051
Season: Until 3 October | Tues-Sat 10.30pm
Tickets:$20 Full | $16 Conc | Cheap Tuesday
Bookings: Melbourne Fringe Festival

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REVIEW: Mockingbird Theatre Presents BLUE/ORANGE

Profound theatre – and prodigious talent

By Bradley Storer

After a stunning debut with their acclaimed production of The Laramie Project, Mockingbird Theatre Company continues their winning streak with a smaller-scaled but equally impressive showing of Joe Penhall’s Blue/Orange. This three-person play provides fantastic opportunities for the skilled actors of the company in its complex exploration of themes of mental illness, racism, colonialism and culture.

BlueOrange

The plot is focused on the diagnosis and treatment of a young African man under two psychiatrists with opposing approaches to mental illness. Kane Felsinger as the institutionalized Christopher is phenomenal, dispatching the play’s fierce Mamet-like dialogue with ferocity while never letting us forget the real emotional pain underneath his at times off-putting persona. Christopher, diagnosed continually as sitting somewhere in ‘the borders between psychotic and neurotic’, draws both his doctors and the audience through the blurry boundaries between delusion, deception and uncertainty.

Richard Edge as Robert, the older and more pragmatic psychiatrist, embodies a man who is characterized mainly by his own mediocrity alongside surprising vitality. This man, who at first attempts to downplay and normalize Christopher’s disorder before endeavouring to exploit it as fodder for his own academic gain, seems like that archetypal charismatic and slightly sociopathic career-climber we encounter in every kind of field, instantly recognizable and creepily personable. Christian Heath as Bruce, Christopher’s younger and more compassionate psychiatrist, provides a strong moral and emotional centre to the story which anchors events amongst flurries of academic debate and cultural abstraction.

The three actors are all equally brilliant, and director Chris Baldock has done a fantastic job of choreographing them into shifting patterns of empathy and aggression which make them simultaneously sympathetic and antagonistic. Even as the two doctors aim to heal Christopher his mental illness becomes simply another instrument in their battle, echoing the marginalization and exploitation of ethnic and social minorities in patriarchal Western culture which continues even today.

A wonderful and thrilling night of contemporary theatre meditating on grand macrocosmic themes, but with the aid of magnificently talented actors never leaves behind the confusion and painful reality of everyday life.

Dates: Thur 28 Feb – Sat 2 March 8pm, Sun 3 March 5pm, Tue 5 March – Sat 9 March 8pm, Sat 9 March at 2pm

Venue: Broken Mirror Studios, 2c Staley St, Brunswick

Tickets: Bookings available here