Tag: Tamiah Bantum

Melbourne Fringe 2016: DION

Compelling ‘drive-by’ theatre

By Myron My

Dion. Oh Dion. Why’d you go and break my heart? That’s what writer/director Davina Wright explores in the new immersive piece by Gold Satino for Melbourne Fringe Festival, aptly titled Dion. It’s business as usual here, as three audience members jump in the back of the Honda Jazz and are driven around the outskirts of North Melbourne in what can be called an epic “fuck off” homage to exes.

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What I really enjoyed throughout Dion is the juxtaposition of being connected with the show yet witnessing distant and detached vignettes. The performers (Tamiah Bantum, Ross de Winter, Lachlan McColl, Cazz Bainbridge, Xavier O’Shanessy and Wright) all exude this feeling that they are living in their own world and generally void of any emotion but the connectivity felt with the subject and the scenes that play out paint a completely different picture. The exploration of first kisses, last kisses, fleeting moments, broken hearts and heartache; they are all experiences we’ve had and something we can all relate to.

The beauty of Gold Satino productions is that all scenes are open to interpretation: you give meaning and value to what you are seeing. Who these people are, where they have come from, where will they go? – it all depends on what you want to happen and how you choose to seen it.

As you keep an eye out for what is part of the show, you begin to notice a lot more people out in the streets that could easily be in the world of Dion. One particular example in last night’s drive is the elderly couple out walking their two dogs, which formed a comforting contrast to the sadness Dion is exploring.

The show runs on a very tight schedule, timed to the second no doubt, and from an audience perspective, there is not a single glitch. Speculating on the logistics of how the performers manage to get around so quickly and be in the scene before the Jazz even approaches is like guessing how David Copperfield made the Statue of Liberty disappear.

The sound design by Tom Davies is a balanced mix of love anthems such as Billy Ocean’s “Love Really Hurts Without You”, and a poignant soundscape that captures the moods of scenes perfectly, such as the ocean sounds we hear as we witness one performer crying alone in their car.

It’s a shame that the opportunity of seeing Dion is limited to three people per show (and is now a sold-out season at that) as Gold Satino is a company producing performance works that more people should be seeing. But perhaps that’s part of the plan. If everyone got to see what happens behind the closed doors or in the dark alleys, would the emotive and evocative insight that Dion offers be as effective?

SOLD OUT SEASON
Venue:
Fringe Hub steps – Arts House, 521 Queensberry Street, North Melbourne, 3051
Season: Until 1 October | Tues – Sat 7pm, 8pm, 9pm, 10pm
Length: 60 minutes
Tickets: $31 Full | $25 Conc | $21 Cheap Tuesday
Bookings: MelbourneFringe Festival

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REVIEW: MTC and Elbow Room Present WE GET IT

Looking for the women in theatre

By Myron My

In We Get It, sexism is no more. Everyone rejoice! We are now truly living in the age of equality. Hoorah! To celebrate, five women are competing for an opportunity to perform with a ‘real’ theatre company in a classic female literary role. They appear on stage gyrating to a medley of “sexy” songs and when the musical number is over, return to the stage brandishing self-identifying beauty pageant sashes. We have the “Token”, the “Ethnic Extra”, the “Funny Bitch”, the “Muslim Doctor” and the “Bogan/Migrant”.

We Get It

These five women (Amy Ingram, Tamiah Bantum, Kasia Kaczmarek, Maurial Spearim and Sonya Suares) explore the ideas of theatre showing diversity through casting and roles and also the question of treating women as equals. Perhaps it’s because I have chosen to associate myself with strong women in my life, and have been conscious of where my white male privilege has taken me and the freedoms it has provided that I felt frustrated watching We Get It. I am aware of what my role is in supporting gender equality and I also believe that message needs to be constantly repeated and spread to as many people as possible, however I struggled to connect in this instance: not because of what was being said, but how it was being said.

I found myself being talked at for much of the show rather than being informed or educated. Furthermore, there were a number of scenes that seemed to go on for that bit too long and could have benefited from an edit. The beginning of the show also seemed clunky and flat, which is a shame as the intention behind it had the potential to make a strong impact and set the tone for the rest of the production.

What I thought was a great inclusion was the use of The Diary Room, which the contestants treated as a type of public private confessional. This device gave the best insight into these women’s lives, where truth and honesty were present in what is expected of them when auditioning for roles and rehearsals.

Considering the five “contestants” collaborated with Marcel Dorney and Rachel Perks in writing this piece and to an extent, based on their personal experiences, it is no surprise just how impressive they all are in their roles, with Bantum’s strong stage presence making her particularly captivating to watch. Directors Dorney and Emily Tomlins have worked very closely and developed a trust with these women to create the opportunity for them to explore the issues they face as actors and women.

Set design by Matt Adey was well-thought out and considering everything that happened on stage, the use of the space and props never had you feeling overwhelmed with what was happening. However, there were a few technical issues the night I attended, particularly with mic and sound levels.

Whilst I completely and utterly agree with the messages being conveyed here, I believe there have been stronger shows put on recently that still have a strong feminist approach but present their ideas in a more accessible way. That said, We Get It, presented as part of the 2015 NEON Festival of Independent Theatre, still created a conversation with the people I attended on the night about the changes that we, as males, can make to support gender equality and that is probably the most important thing for such a production to have achieved.

Venue: Melbourne Theatre Company, 140 Southbank Boulevard, Southbank

Season: Until 19 July | Tues-Sat 7:30pm, Sunday 4:00pm
Tickets: $25 all tickets
Bookings: Melbourne Theatre Company