Tag: Thomas Ian Doyle

REVIEW: The Owl and Cat Presents BORDELLO

The brothel is open

By Myron My

Bordello, the newest production from The Owl and Cat Theatre, is an immersive theatrical experience revolving around one fateful evening at a brothel. We are free to explore the three-storey building of the well-known venue and follow the interlocking stories between the two owners of the brothel, Yvonne and David, its three employees, Trisha, Frankie and Cherry, and two of its clientele, Harry and Matthew.


This is very much a voyeuristic experience as the audience wanders around the premises, watching secret conversations and some highly intimate moments take place. Audience members are required to wear plain black masquerade masks (in the style of the famous New York installation production Sleep No More) throughout the course of the evening, which feels like a buffer between passively watching the story unfold and actively spying on these character’s lives.

Even though the story unfolds via multiple scenes being acted out simultaneously from various rooms in the venue, the script written by Thomas Ian Doyle and directed by Gabrielle Savrone is so well constructed and thought-out we can gradually put the pieces of the story together and understand the nature of the relationships between the characters. The pacing of the story, along with the snippets of intriguing conversations and scenes we watch, allows us to be absorbed by the world around us. However, the script itself needs some work in placing us in the time period in which we are supposed to be located. Despite the costumes indicating a 1920s environment, the words and language used were more suggestive of a modern vernacular.

Aly Calder is brilliant as Frankie, one of the employees at the bordello. Despite the character’s roughness, Calder very clearly shows her innocence and naivety allowing Frankie to come to life. Similarly, John Frankland as Matthew also does well with his characterisation and building on his character’s emotional development. However, I feel the rest of the cast need to work on creating more authenticity in establishing their characters’ thoughts, words and actions. There are many scenes that lack the passion or the rawness that a piece of work such as Bordello requires to be a success.

Bordello is definitely a great concept and offers an immersive entertainment opportunity I’ve not been able to experience for quite some time. It is a unique piece of theatre that is worth watching, but ultimately requires a clearer creative process underpinning its development in order to elicit a stronger response from its audience.

Venue: The Owl and Cat Theatre, 34 Swan St, Richmond
Season: Until 17 October | Fri-Sat 8.30pm and 10pm
Tickets: $39 Full | $32 Conc
Bookings: http://www.owlandcat.com.au

REVIEW: The Owl and the Cat Presents RIOT!

Enthralling and confronting

By Christine Young

Riot! by Thomas Ian Doyle is a brave and bold new play offering a fly-on-the-wall’s peek into 32-year old Jim’s disillusioned existence. Jim (Johnathan Peck) is having an existential crisis whose cause is unknown until near the end of the play. It won’t be revealed in this review but this bombshell is a sudden awakening to Jim’s state of despair. Even so, the revelation doesn’t absolve Jim of responsibility for his trail of chaos.


Peck portrays the disaffected Jim capably with close attention to the character’s physical and mental ups and downs. At the start, Johnathan seemed to have some opening night jitters but soon relaxed and grew more at ease as the play went on. In a small space, such as The Owl and Cat Theatre, the audience can see and hear every detail. This is a challenge to which the cast rises overall. For me, Gareth Trew as Gavin gave the best performance of the night. Riot! is typically naturalistic theatre and Trew understands the nuances of performing in a play depicting gritty realism.

The intimate theatre seats 32 people and the performance takes place on a stage that is around the size of a two-bedroom flat’s loungeroom. Action alternates between Jim’s flat; a café; his ex-partner’s house; and his manager’s office at Burger Palace. Scene and set changes are simple and effective. The play is so captivating that the transition between these locations is not too noticeable. It’s also because the theatre company and director Gabrielle Savrone make good use of the available space with only minor prop changes between scenes.

The other main effect of being in this small space is that the audience is directly sticky-beaking into Jim’s private life. And the sex scenes occur right at the front of the stage. This reviewer was seated in the last row so there was enough distance not to be completely taken aback. If you’re particularly uncomfortable with nudity and sex scenes, this is not the play for you. The sex isn’t out of place or frequent but you need to know what you’re in for. Likewise, you may not like this play if you’re homophobic but maybe that’s all the more reason to see it.

Venue: The Owl and Cat Theatre, 34 Swan St, Richmond
Date: Until 14 June, 2015
Time: Mon-Sat, 7pm and Sat 2pm
Tickets: $25/$20/$15
Booking: www.owlandcat.com.au/

WARNING: Contains adult content, nudity, sex scenes and drug references.