Tag: Rob Sowinski

Paul Capsis in RESIDENT ALIEN

Superb sojourn in the life of a legend

By Joana Simmons

“If I have any talent at all, it is not for doing but for being.”

Resident Alien, presented by Cameron Lukey, is a thought-provoking look at English writer and raconteur Quentin Crisp. The seasoned and critically-acclaimed Paul Capsis embodies this textured effeminate character and has the audience swept up as he recounts stories and moments from his fascinating life.

Resident Alien Photo Credit Sarah Walker.jpg

Quentin Crisp was a self-described flamboyant homosexual.  He’s a man who defied convention by criticising Gay liberation and Diana, Princess of Wales. At a time when homosexuality was illegal, Crisp remained true to himself and expressed himself by dying his long hair lavender, wearing nail polish, and dressing in an often androgynous style. Despite the ridicule and violence often directed toward him, Crisp carried on, meeting hostility with wit. When he tried to join the army with the outbreak of World War he was rejected by the medical board, who determined that he was suffering from sexual perversion.  Instead, Crisp remained in London and entertained the American GIs, whose friendliness inculcated a love for Americans and he moved to Manhattan in 1981, when he was 72 years old. Crisp continued to tour, write, and lecture; including instructions on how to live life with style and the importance of manners.

The play by Tim Fountain picks up in Quentin’s dusty single-room Manhattan apartment, littered with books and dirty plates, where Crisp speaks to the audience as he prepares to be visited by Mr Brown and Mr Black.  His monologue moves naturally and conversationally through a plethora of opinions and anecdotes, from the mundane to the ones that strike a chord in your heart and get your brain spinning. Paul Capsis is outstanding in this role. Each single look and mannerism is captivating and his skillful delivery of the wordy and lengthy script is astonishing.

Director Gary Abrahams has helped construct a theatre piece that gives you more than something to sink your teeth into- it’s a piece of theatre that needs to sink in. To be able to stage one man’s story and views and have it make us reflect on our own whilst still being entertaining is true craftsmanship. Romaine Harper’s costume and set design gives immediate depth and background to this interesting person as the Fortyfivedownstairs performance space is transformed into Crisp’s apartment, cleverly lit by lighting designer Rob Sowinski and all accompanied by Daniel Nixon’s sound design.  You can tell the production is high-calibre and many hours have been spent on tying everything into one professional and glamorous bow.

Sometimes we go to the theatre to laugh, sometimes we go to cry, sometimes we go to forget about our own lives and live in a different world for a moment in time. Resident Alien gives us all these things. It’s remarkable, it’s memorable and it’s still got me reflecting now. If you go to the theatre and you enjoyed yourself, that’s great. If you go to the theatre and it makes you question yourself, that’s art.  Congratulations to all the creatives involved for producing such a high-class production.

Venue: fortyfivedownstairs, 45 Flinders Lane, CBD

Season:Until June 12 2016

Bookings: http://www.fortyfivedownstairs.com/wp2016/event/resident-alien/2016-05-25/

Image by Sarah Walker

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REVIEW: Attic Erratic’s THE CITY THEY BURNED

Don’t look back…

By Myron My

The thing I love about Attic Erratic productions is that each new offering is so diverse and different to what they have previously performed. From Choir Girl to Domino, and now The City They Burned: an immersive theatre experience that is a modern retelling of Lot and the fall of Sodom.

The City They Burned

We are invited into Lot’s house for dinner and drinks; we are his friends and work colleagues. There is, however, a sense that something unsettling is afoot as we are greeted by his daughters, Thamma and Pheine (Shoshannah Oks and Brianagh Curran). The two women create a tense environment with their demeanour, attitudes and looks, in particular Oks, whose stare was so confronting I often had to look away.

The rest of the cast are more than impressive with their roles, including Scott Gooding as Lot and Jessica Tanner as his wife Ado, who remarkably shines most in her catatonic state in the second act. So convincing and powerful were the performances that during intermission, two police officers arrived, having been contacted by a nearby resident concerned at the “disturbances” they were hearing.

Fleur Kilpatrick’s script is an engrossing story and even though my knowledge of Lot and Sodom was limited I was transfixed by the unfolding events. The first act is a unique experience for audience members as we are free to roam around the lounge room set and see and hear different conversations, and moments. Even with the interaction with the actors, we are silent witnesses to the depravity and carnage that is building up. The second act is more conventional in its delivery but the intensity being conveyed by the actors is palpable.

Rob Sowinski is to be commended for such authentic set designs for both acts. They are able to support and strengthen the mood created by the acting and writing, and a lot of detail has been put into their creation.

As a side note, I think it was a great initiative of Attic Erratic to hold a “pay what you can” performance on the evening I attended, which allowed for the production to take place with audiences that otherwise might not have been able to attend.

Attic Erratic seems to be more and more synonymous with creating brave new theatre experiences for audiences and under the direction of artistic director, Danny Delahnuty, The City They Burned is most definitely this.

Venue: Cavern Table Performance Space, 127b Campbell St, Collingwood

Season: Until 23 September | Monday 8:00pm

Tickets: $24 Full | $21 Conc until 16 Sept; $27 Full | $24 Conc between 18-23 Sept (as part of Melbourne Fringe Festival)

http://atticerratic.com/

REVIEW: Mockingbird Theatre Presents THE JUDAS KISS

Bravado and betrayal in the fall of Oscar Wilde

By Ross Larkin

The Judas Kiss

It can be difficult to associate one of the world’s most iconic, hilarious comic writers with tragedy and betrayal, and as such, a play about Oscar Wilde’s life behind his witty penmanship is confronting, and a harsh reminder of how brutally he was treated.

The Judas Kiss, written by David Hare, has been staged by Melbourne’s own Mockingbird Theatre, and directed by company member Jason Cavanagh. The play examines the hours leading up to Wilde’s arrest for partaking in consensual sex with another man, followed by post-prison life in a filthy, run-down apartment in Naples with former lover, Lord Alfred ‘Bosie’ Douglas. The before-and-after contrast surrounding Wilde’s two-year sentence is stark as the audience are made privy to the life and mind which was drained from him for supposed crimes and the consequences thereafter.

The initial scenes of The Judas Kiss are driven and ‘bolshie’, as Wilde’s comrades argue about whether he should flee to the continent or not, while Wilde, after feigning indifference, finally admits he lacks the will to try. As these quieter moments set in, the script becomes more engaging and the ensemble cast begin to showcase just how rock-solid they are.

The challenging, changeable role of Wilde is played to perfection by Chris Baldock, who simply nails the part, capturing beautifully the witty and charming bravado of the man prior to his arrest, and the pained, tortured soul thereafter. Oliver Coleman as Wilde’s literary executor and long-standing friend Robert Ross is equally impressive, cleverly demonstrating presence and commitment with an understated fury.

Nigel Langley as Bosie and the supporting cast are all worthy of mention in Mockingbird’s version, which director Cavanagh has succeeded in reimagining with simplistic charm and poignancy. The lighting in particular is beautifully designed by Rob Sowinski and made powerful use of.

The Judas Kiss is another fine example of why Mockingbird Theatre continues to fire along with the big guns, and save for the excessive duration of the final scene, this production is one of Melbourne’s not-to-be missed theatrical experiences.

The Judas Kiss is playing now at TheatreWorks, Acland Street, St Kilda until March 22, Tuesday to Friday at 8pm, and Saturday 2pm and 8pm plus Sunday March 16 at 5pm.

Bookings at www.theatreworks.org.au or (03) 9534 3388(03) 9534 3388(03) 9534 3388(03) 9534 3388.