Tag: Tania Knight

Q44 Theatre Presents NK: A KAZANTZAKIAN MONTAGE

A valiant effort to portray a remarkable man

By Myron My

Cretan writer and philosopher Nikos Kazantzakis is perhaps most well-known for his two novels Zorba the Greek and The Last Temptation of Christ, and his epic poem The Odyssey: A Modern Sequel. However, Kazantzakis also led a life of adventure, passion and exploration and in Howard F. Dossor’s NK: A Kazantzakian Montage, important and life-changing moments from his personal story are presented and examined.

NK A Kazantzakian Montage.jpg

The story is told with the aid of a Greek Chorus that gives life to Kazantzakis’ stories, and allows the impressive nine performers (Elyssia Koulouris, Erin Marshall, Kostas Illias, Nicole Coombs, Paul Pellegrino, Sebastian Gunner, Tabitha Veness, Tania Knight, Will Atkinson) to easily switch in and out of the Chorus to become a person from Kazantzakis’ life. Alex Tsitsopoulos as Kazantzakis displays an sound understanding of who this writer was, and delivers a thoughtful performance. However, the production falls into the trap of having Kazantzakis explaining how certain experiences made him feel and what they meant to him, rather than showing us why these moments were important. This resulted in long monologues with less impact, particularly evident in the final scene with the Chorus that had the potential to be a climatic moment and bring this unique life’s story full circle.

While it is an ambitious task to condense seventy-four years into a two-hour show, it felt overall that the work was trying to depict too much, and therefore momentous events Kazantzakis’ life were merely skimmed. His first marriage, which lasted for 15 years, was over within minutes in the show, and his exploration of the monasteries of Mount Athos with his friend and poet, Angelos Sikelianos, while creating some great visuals and certainly marked as an important experience for him, was not given the time that it seemed to warrant.

The live music by Pantelis Krestas and his bouzouki and the sound design by Justin Gardham work well together in creating an authentic Greek ambience – along with some enthusiastic clapping from the audience – and also in bringing out the emotional layers of the story. John Collopy‘s lighting design creates the ambience for each scene and highlights the intensity of Kazantzakis’ emotions. Suzanne Heywood‘s direction utilises the space creatively and through minimal use of props and positioning of the performers is able to set up some visually arresting moments, including the earlier mentioned scene at Mount Athos.

NK: A Kazantzakian Montage is a look at the political, philosophical and intimate nature of a man who never stopped asking questions about life. While it’s great to see Q44 Theatre stepping outside of their familiar repertoire with this form of story and storytelling, the reliance on lengthy exposition and the structure of this narrative unfortunately never allows the audience to profoundly understand and become familiar with Nikos Kazantzakis.

NK: A Kazantzakian Montage was performed at Gasworks Arts Park between 14 – 17 November 2017.

Image by John Collopy

REVIEW: Avid Theatre Presents TENDER

Abandonment, emotion and mystery unfold

By Myron My

We all love, have loved and have lost: these are the times where we are at our happiest, but also then our saddest and most vulnerable. But when you open up to someone and plan a life together, what happens if your partner strangely disappears and you have no memory of what happened? Presented by Avid Theatre and written by Nicki Bloom, Tender is a tale of moving on when it seems impossible to do so.

Tender

The past/present/future structuring of the narrative is used effectively with scenes shifting adroitly between before the event, the night of the event and after the event. This gradually provides pieces of information to the audience to draw us into the unfolding narrative, and also shows the characters in different and revealing lights. This in turn builds on the intense emotional states explored throughout Tender, which would prove challenging and rewarding roles for any actor to take on.

Unfortunately on the evening I attended, Tania Knight and A.J Steele as Sarah and Michael never seemed to quite grasp the complexity of their characters, especially with the difficulties of Sarah. This was their preview night so understandably, nerves may well have been the cause here, but I felt there were not enough nuances in their respective characterisations and the ensuing lack of chemistry between the two resulted in lessened emotional investment for me in the audience. Hopefully the actors can find that spark as the season progresses, as there is certainly potential there. On the other hand, Josie Eberhard and Peter Hatherley’s portrayals as Yvonne and Patrick are highly convincing as the desperate parents trying to find out what happened to their son. Theirs is a very natural and instinctive dual performance that resonated strongly.

Despite its compelling premise, the prose of Bloom’s script is quite difficult to connect with its constant shift between full sentences and natural conversations to rapid firings of short incomplete dialogue. For most of the show, I felt this prevents the characters from coming across as real people going through a genuine loss, which was an additional pressure for the performers. Many scenes are also question after question, and while I don’t expect everything to be revealed, it is frustrating when you can’t even have one answer.

Tender is an ambitious piece of theatre, both in its writing and in the demands on the actors. While the promise of these  aspects in this preview performance from Avid Theatre is not quite there, as the actors become more comfortable with the text and each other, I am confident this will improve greatly.

Venue: The Butterfly Club, 5 Carson Place, Melbourne
Season: Until 25 October | Thur – Sat 7pm, Sun 6pm
Tickets: $32 Full | $28 Conc
Bookings: The Butterfly Club