Tag: Sarah Ogden

REVIEW: night maybe at THEATREWORKS

Into the darkness…

By Myron My

night maybe

Entering the theatre space at Theatreworks for night maybe felt like I was venturing into an ethereal world. I immediately felt the stillness of my surroundings whilst a swirl of fog hid much of the set; all I could see was grass and I half-expected some zombies to come staggering out like Michael Jackson’s Thriller, such was the intensity.

Instead, two siblings Tom and Sasha (Tom Conroy and Sarah Ogden), appear and they are lost in a park. They argue and Tom disappears leaving Sasha alone. From there, she meets a variety of characters, and it’s up to us to determine if they are real or imaginary. It’s like Alice has stepped into Wonderland again but the darkness dial has been turned up a few notches. It’s a world where time seems to be ignored: watches are broken and people are running late.

Both leads are strong and show their versatility with a demanding script that could easily have resulted in them getting too caught up in the complexities and rushing through or losing their momentum, but they stay true to their characters and the themes of the show. The supporting cast of Marcus McKenzie and Brian Lipson further solidify the remarkable acting in night maybe.

Kit Brookman’s script is like a cloud of black smoke which slowly envelops us as it deals with issues of love, being alone and abandonment. The lines are delivered fast, which is a nice contrast to the minimal action happening on stage. This is a wordy play with lots to think about so it’s good not to be too overwhelmed especially with the technical styling.

Mel Page’s set creation is one of the simplest yet most effective ones I have seen for some time: there is real grass laid out covering the stage, with three leafless trees hidden in the mist and darkness. Richard Vabre’s lighting design and his use of shadows, darkness and depth suggests that the park we find ourselves in extends for eternity, adding a supernatural overtone to the show. I particularly enjoyed the effectiveness of characters coming out from within the shadows and disappearing back into them.

However, it was James Brown’s haunting music and sound that really and aptly struck a chord with me. From eerie soundtrack moments to a lone piano key being played – there is reason and purpose to everything he creates. Without giving too much away, one particular scene had me almost gasping for breath and provoked a very strong visual response from me too.

It is rare when all the elements of a show come together in such a perfect way to create a special piece of theatre. night maybe is a glorious example of this.  

Venue: Theatreworks, 14 Acland St, St Kilda

Season: Until 1 September | Tues- Sat 8:00pm, Sun 5:00pm

Tickets: $30 Full | $25 Conc

Bookings: 9534 3388 or http://www.theatreworks.org.au

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REVIEW: Heaven at LA MAMA

Teen drama tackles big issues

By Myron My

What happens when we die? What happens when we are confronted with death and begin to question our own mortality? Heaven attempts to deal with these questions when a young girl (Jessica Clarke) is killed by a bakery van and three classmates attempt to bring her back from the afterlife.

Heaven

It’s only been two years since Heaven was written but unfortunately it already has an outdated feel with regards to its language. I did not feel convinced 15-year olds speak like this – but perhaps I am way out of touch with the youth of today. I do understand what writer/director Kit Brookman was attempting to achieve here, but the switches from child-like behavior (playing with toy robots in one scene) to the characters dealing with profound issues like life after death ended up seeming contrived. The ending left me with many questions that did not necessarily need to be answered but would have benefited from having some clarity brought to them. 

I felt the characters could also have been developed more as they appeared to be mere familiar teen stereotypes: the nerd, the goth, the jock, and the brain. Having said that, the cast do their best (appropriately) to bring life to them. Lachlan Woods as Stewart was very good in displaying not only the jock’s bravado but also his emotional insecurities. Another special mention goes to Sarah Ogden, who brings some incredibly touching scenes to the stage as Sally.

Furthermore, there are a number of great ensemble moments in this play, in particular the séance between Max (Andre Jewson), Sally and Stewart, which has some genuinely funny dialogue. There is a good blend of humour and truth in Heaven, with the final scene being quite a touching one. 

On the technical side, the score by Tom Hogan and lighting design by Richard Vabre added strong emotive elements to the narrative. When used, they not only created an intimacy and the almost claustrophobic environment that Heaven required, but were able to increase the tension and heighten the mood of what was coming.

Heaven tries to cover a vast array of topics in the spectrum of life and death. Some it does quite well, and others it should have stayed away from. Overall, the admirable acting and production elements are let down by a story whose script doesn’t quite hit the mark.

Venue: La Mama Theatre, 205 Faraday Street Carlton

Season: Until 2 June | Wed-Fri 8:30pm, Sat-Sun 6:30pm

Tickets: $25 Full | $15 Conc

Bookings: http://lamama.com.au or 9347 6142

Review: LOVE ME TENDER by Tom Holloway

An important story works to be told

By Myron My

Directed by Patrick McCarthy, Love Me Tender explores the aftermath of the Black Saturday fires and the effects it has had particularly on one man and his family.

Love Me Tender

I appreciate the adage “show, don’t tell” in theatre, so for me, this performance unfortunately consisted of too much telling. I find prolonged exposition hinders the involvement that an audience member can have with a piece and makes us less likely to care for or invest in the characters.  My other issue with this was that the characters tend to spend a lot of time talking about other people and offering very little about themselves, including remaining unnamed the whole time. The obvious effort to represent universal experiences here isn’t entirely successful.

That said, actors Nick Pelomis and James Tresise had great banter and rapport together. Their scenes are reminiscent of Vladimir and Estragon in Waiting for Godot, bordering on the absurd but giving some relief from the more serious mood at hand. Sarah Ogden also provides a strong yet subtle performance as the Mother.

Lisa Mibus has created a great lighting design for this production, and there were moments where the shadows on the background dominated the scene that was being played out, adding an atmospheric sense of macabre and impending doom to the story. The set design by Ashlee Hughes was also impressive; minimal and subtly used throughout, including a lone tree void of any life after a fire has gone through as its centrepiece.

Love Me Tender attempts to cover a variety of topics including bushfires, love, family and the sexualisation of teenage girls but it doesn’t all flow smoothly and you do get confused as to what is happening. The disjointed stories made this narrative difficult to follow.

McCarthy has obviously worked hard with a difficult and ambitious script by a reputable Australian playwright, which should always be commended, but ultimately I felt Love Me Tender prevents the characters or story from developing to their full potential.

Venue: Theatreworks, 14 Acland St, St Kilda

Season: Until 2 March | 8:00pm

Tickets: $25 Full | $20 Conc

Bookings: 9534 3388 or http://www.theatreworks.org.au