Tag: Sam Shepard

Matchstick Theatre Presents TRUE WEST

Fraternal feuds and open emotions

By Margaret Wieringa

The audience enters to see a tidy, perfectly-kept kitchen and lounge with an array of houseplants on one side and the entrance hall on the other. Haunting country music plays as the lights dim and the actors enter. Austin, played by Charlie Mycroft, sits at the typewriter, working, while his brother Lee, played by Michael Argus, drinks beer and challenges him from across the room.

True-West-for-Metanoia.jpg

Sam Shepard’s True West is a play about relationships and families, as shown through these two brothers. Seemingly opposites, Shepard’s work takes us on a journey where each brother is challenged to question his relationship with each other as well as their place in the world.

And it is a journey that leads to intense emotions for the characters. This was difficult to capture in full in this performance as everything started at such a high level of energy. Mycroft did start the show quiet and restrained, with only very subtle movements, and this needed to be contrasted by  Argus – and he did play a very opposite character – but right from the start, he was loud to the point of almost shouting, not leaving either character far to go. It felt as though we had arrived at the climax of emotion and it took the story a while to catch up. Des Fleming was great as Saul, the powerful producer who could make their dreams come true. He had a cheesiness that only just hid his power, and a flash of that charming smile could win just about anyone over. The end of the play should leave the audience somewhat exhausted, but I think it would have had even more impact had there been a gradual build-up throughout the performance.

Jacob Battista, who put together the beautiful set in a way that could be slowly destroyed quite spectacularly, was also responsible for the costuming. While I felt that the homeless look for Lee was a bit much for the character, especially the rope belt, the rest of the costuming was spot-on in creating a sense of middle America in the late 70s/early 80s.

This production of True West is an interesting and intense interpretation of this modern American classic, and is well worth a watch.  The performance was thoroughly enjoyed by its sold-out audience, and tickets are selling fast. Matchstick Theatre has only been around for about a year, and so far they are proving themselves to be a company to watch.

When: October 12 – 22, Tues-Sun 8pm

Where: Metanoia Theatre, Mechanics Institute, 270 Sydney Rd, Brunswick 3056

Tickets:  $20 – $30

Bookings: https://www.trybooking.com/Booking/BookingEventSummary.aspx?eid=193998

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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: The Graduates Present CRUISING PARADISE

Seeking connections and searching for identity

By Myron My

Cruising Paradise

Cruising Paradise by Terence O’Connell takes a number of Sam Shepard’s (American writer, playwright, actor, and television and film director) short prose tales and stages them as a variety of monologues and scenes. Presented by graduates of The National Theatre Drama School in St Kilda and performed at fortyfivedownstairs, the piece is certainly an interesting and ambitious project.

Shepard is well known for creating environments of loss, desolation and solitude in his stories which Cruising Paradise is able to convey, but it is at the loss of allowing the audience to remain fully engaged with the piece. Part of the problem is that too many stories are performed; Shepard’s stories are already so rich and demanding for an audience that it just felt unnecessary to have so many similar stories on stage in such a short time.

Furthermore, there is little differentiation between how the majority of the monologues are delivered, which made it difficult to follow some stories. It’s quite a shame as the cast (Mandie Combe, William Ewing, Camille Meghaizel, Lucy Norton and James Stanistreet) have clearly put significant thought and effort into their roles, with notable mentions going to the more senior members of the company Meghaizel and Combe, who embrace their characters with much gusto.

The stories that did work well were therefore the ones that had the actors interacting with each other in some way or where there was a slight costume change that greatly assisted in distinguishing between different tales. Unfortunately this did not happen throughout the night.

The musical interludes were entertaining to watch and a nice break from all the monologues. The composition by Paul Norton was well-suited to the voices of the three main singers Combe, Ewing and Meghaizel.

Overall, the stories in Cruising Paradise dealt well with themes of lonely people who are looking for a connection, trying to figure out who they are and searching for an identity. I only wish the show itself could (instead of simply drowning us in so many of Shepard’s stories) have had some of that insight and been able to give each tale individuality, while drawing all the pieces into a whole.

Venue: fortyfivedownstairs, 45 Flinders Lane, Melbourne

Season: Until 12 May | Tues-Sat 8:00pm, Sun 5:00pm

Tickets: $36 Full | $28 Conc

Bookings: http://www.fortyfivedownstairs.com or 9662 9966