Tag: Spencer Scholz

REVIEW: The Australian Shakespeare Company Presents WUTHERING HEIGHTS

Passions run riot at Rippon Lea

By Kim Edwards

Emily Bronte’s classic story Wuthering Heights under the stars and in the historic gardens of the Rippon Lea Estate is a beguiling prospect, and this production is both stylish and polished.

Wuthering Heights

With a script by Vince Foxall and direction by Greg Carroll, the torrid tale of Heathcliff and Cathy’s infamous relationship is unleashed among picnic hampers and lawn chairs, and as darkness fell, the night grew chill, and the wind ruffled the cast’s flowing skirts and shirts and the blankets over our knees, the atmosphere for the dark developments of the second act was delightfully apt.

Adapting Bronte’s sprawling problematic novel into a slim and sleek two-and-a-half hour performance is an impressive task, and there is much to admire here. The doubling of characters is well-wrought by a versatile cast who keep the complex genealogy remarkably comprehensible. The multiple narrators are adroitly managed, designer Glenn Elston has worked wonders with a limited lighting rig, and the beautiful sparsity in set and staging is highly effective.

Since the plot is remembered in popular culture as a determinedly romantic and fervent love story, the simmering sexual tension of the novel is understandably made explicit here: some characters are surprisingly handsome, relationships like that of Hindley and Francis and young Heathcliff and Cathy are slightly oddly romanticised and highly sexually charged, and much of the novel’s overt violence is discretely downplayed.

Less successful though for this production are some uneven accents, and the fever pitch at which all the characters are played. Although Bronte’s text is both epic and poetic, the Shakespearean-style proclaiming and frantic dialogue pace is sometimes disconcerting and deprives some of the minor characters of their normalcy and dignity and calmness that is needed to keep the plot’s passionate love triangle grounded.

Spencer Scholz finally remedies this with the quiet gravity of his older Edgar Linton, and his superb characterisation of the brutish but endearing Hareton, while Ciume Lochner works hard to capture the caprices, charms and exasperations of both Cathies. Michael Wahr becomes a pleasingly grim and bitter Heathcliff, and handles the transformation from outcast child to vengeful gentleman with skill.

Wuthering Heights is a very enjoyable evening’s entertainment, and if the imposing backdrop of the mansion is disappointingly unacknowledged in this production, there are torrents of drama and intrigue and an excess of love and hatred to keep an audience engaged. Dress warmly though, for the wuthering is highly realistic…

DATES: 17 February 2014 – 13 March 2014
WHEN: Monday to Thursday at 7pm (no show Monday 10 March 2014)
WHERE: Rippon Lea House and Gardens, 192 Hotham Street, Elsternwick
TICKETS: Adults $45, Conc $40, Groups 10+ $40, Children 5 -15yrs $25
BOOKINGS: www.shakespeareaustralia.com.au or Ticketmaster

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REVIEW: Attic Erratic Presents DOMINO

Witnessing the fall of man

By Myron My

On its first preview night, Domino – the latest production by Attic Erratic – takes us to a post-apocalyptic world where we meet the last five people left alive.

They engage in a dangerous roleplay game where the lines of illusion and reality quickly becoming blurred, and soon lead to something more sinister…

Domino

The lighting design by Laura Harris is, put simply, amazing. Her ability to capture the mood and emotions needed for this production and the shadow play she creates reinforces the overall theme of impending doom for this group of five men. The detailed set design and use of multimedia to support parts of the story all bring the technical aspects of this production to a high level.

However, Giuliano Ferla’s script, whilst able to draw you in to the lives of these five men, is a little confusing and you would not be blamed if you walked out feeling somewhat unfulfilled by the story. Some clarity or slowing down the pace to provide more explanation would have made a huge difference.

What the script – and direction by Danny Delahunty – does extremely well though, is developing the five characters played by Alex Duncan, Joseph Green, Kane Felsinger, Matt Hickey and Spencer Scholz . In the beginning, the men are edgy, jumping around and quite physical with each other, and the set and the “simplified” language being used indicate that humanity has regressed to primal, Neanderthal ways.

As the story continues, the men then degenerate further into the most base level of man with an intensely dramatic final scene. Being preview night it’s understandable that some nerves would be apparent, but for this performance it was Scholz and Felsinger in particular who were most convincing with their characters.

Overall, the fine acting and the superb technical design guarantee to make Domino a unique and engaging night of theatre.

Venue: Industrial School, Abbotsford Convent, 1 St Heliers St, Abbotsford

Season: Until 29 June | Tues-Sat 8:00pm, Sunday 7:00pm

Tickets: $20 Full | $18 Conc

Bookings: www.atticerratic.com