Tag: Simone French

Poppy Seed Festival Presents WHAT’S YOURS IS MINE

Ambitious attempt to traverse an Australian cultural landscape

By Myron My

“Give me a home among the gum trees, with lots of plum trees…” How the Australian dream has changed since 1974. But has it been for better of for worse? Presented as part of the Poppy Seed Festival, Hotel Now’s What’s Yours Is Mine explores Australian values and ownership of a land that was never ours to own, with an elaborate touch of campness.

Whats Yours is Mine.jpg

The show begins at a reunion for Olympic Games volunteers where three friends – Milly, Ollie and Syd – reconnect and decide to go on a road trip together; Milly has just quit her job, Ollie has a car and Syd just wants to get away from everything. Cue road-trip montage and offbeat adventures as the three friends travel through the country.

The performances from Hayden Burke, Simone French and Tom Halls are full of energy and commitment, and having seen French and Halls in Hotel Now‘s 2016 Melbourne Fringe Festival show, Nothing Special, I found the two continue to share some great chemistry on stage. The direction by Yvonne Virsik is insightful and provoking in the way she chooses to represent and display the ideas raised in show.

What worked brilliantly in Nothing Special was the focus on an aspect of modern culture that was explored to the extreme. Sadly, I feel this doesn’t work as well in What’s Yours Is Mine, as this look at Australian culture is far too broad in scope, and what we end up seeing is a whole lot of ideas, but a disjointed story that is difficult to connect with.

There is a scene where the three characters describe all the “ingredients” needed in explaining what makes ‘Australian culture’, and I couldn’t help wishing the creators had taken their own advice here and been more refined and less haphazard with what they chose to explore and how they choose to do it. As it stands, What’s Yours Is Mine is a pretty performance to look at on the outside, but on the inside I’m afraid it felt a bit of a mess.

Venue: The Butterfly Club, 5 Carson Place, Melbourne
Season: Until 4 December | 8.30pm
Tickets: $35 Full | $25 Conc
Bookings: The Butterfly Club

Melbourne Fringe 2016: NOTHING SPECIAL

Absurdist satire on our yearning for individuality

By Myron My

We all want to be something special. As children we are often led to believe we can be by our parents and teachers, and while it can be a positive thing, it can also be quite detrimental. Presented as part of the Melbourne Fringe Festival, Hotel Now’s Nothing Special looks at what happens when people live their lives based on the belief that they are extraordinary, and more talented and important than the average man.

Nothing Special.jpg

We follow a young girl, Chlorine (Simone French), literally from from the moment she is born. Her mother informs us that she was not supposed to live beyond the age of five, but that’s a defeatist attitude so she was forbidden to die. Chlorine’s dreams to be different and unique and to leave her mark on the world as an innovator in the arts are explored through various periods of her life, but when this seems unlikely, it is the harsh realities that Chlorine must then contend with.

Chlorine’s vulnerability and fragile ego is captured well by French and she plays well with the tragedy that feels certain to befall her. Likewise, Tom Halls‘ character work is a definite highlight of this show. From Chlorine’s “dance mum” persona to Othella, the Dean of the academy for gifted children that Chlorine attends, his movements, facial expressions and speech are dedicated and consistent.

The show explores the lengths to which people will go in order to feel successful and be revered. It is an all-consuming goal where even – as the two characters are having a (melodramatic) breakdown – they position themselves to still be under the right frame and lighting.

Nothing Special is an eccentric and absurd look at our obsession to be special and to matter. It’s a great concept that is executed well by Halls and French. With so many “talent”-focused reality TV shows screening at the moment, Nothing Special is a great reality check for those with mistakenly big dreams.

Venue: Sokol Melbourne, 497 Queensberry St, North Melbourne 

Season: Until 30 September | 7pm 

Length: 60 minutes

Tickets: $25 Full | $16 Conc

Bookings: Melbourne Fringe Festival

REVIEW: Fr!sk Presents CONTRA

Some are more equal than others

By Myron My

“Welcome, Cousins!”

Contra

This is how we are greeted as we enter the world of Contra for the 2014 Melbourne Fringe Festival. But we are not really cousins – we are comrades in a futuristic dystopia where we are blindingly loyal to our great leader and under the ever-watchful eye of – well – just about everyone.

Presented by Fr!sk Festival at the Victorian College of the Arts, there is an immersive element in the first part of this show that felt like I was in a version of 1984 or The Hunger Games. We are all huddled outside and numbers are read out announcing the winners of a lottery to see who will be chosen to work in a career department, a most honoured position.

Surrounding us are posters with propaganda slogans such as “Report or Regret” and “Equal and Fair”. We are then marched single file through the building, getting fingerprint-scanned and collecting our food ration pill. Various precincts are mentioned and ever since ‘The Great Disaster’, we all serve under the watchful eye of The Conductor.

From here on, it’s a fairly straightforward performance exploring the impossibility of curbing natural instincts and speculating as to where the desire for power and ambition can lead. As the audience, we are oppressed civilians watching these character’s lives begin to crumble as the pressure to conform reaches breaking point. The five performers in the cast do a great job in their respective roles but Simone French and Cait Spiker particularly impressed me with the levels of commitment invested into their portrayals. Moreover, the choreography and soundtrack used in the ‘sexual misconduct’ scene was executed effectively in creating an opportunity for these characters – and for their audience – to experience a moment of real emotional connection.

The plot is a familiar one for this dystopian genre with no real twist or surprise, but the initial immersive experience is what won me over. There are ultimately some interesting messages that Contra offers about life, society and expectations, but I feel the play is summed up best with one character’s proclamation that ‘freedom should not be a privilege’.

Contra was presented by Fr!sk Festival at the Victorian College of the Arts as part of the 2014 Melbourne Fringe Festival.