Tag: Trudi Boatwright

TBC Theatre Presents MR NAISMITH’S SECRET

Strong performances in intriguing cemetery lodge location

By Myron My

Performed inside the historic Gate Lodge at Melbourne Cemetery, TBC Theatre’s production of Mr Naismith’s Secret is an intriguing and entertaining piece of immersive theatre. At a gathering at Edward Naismith’s residence to celebrate some news between he and Jane Adair, it soon becomes apparent that not everyone wishes the happy couple good tidings with a number of guests and staff within the house having their own schemes and plots to attend to…

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We enter the house interacting with the characters, but we are soon ghost-like creatures that are left wander the rooms and observe interactions and eavesdrop on private conversations. Secret letters are read out and locked rooms are explored in our ignored presence but there are also times when characters stare directly at you as they deliver their lines or perform in a scene. It is somewhat unnerving but works extremely well in heightening the tension of the narrative.

The difficulty with immersive theatre such as this – where you only get to see some of a full story – is ensuring that by the end your audience has enough information to be able to fill in enough of the empty pieces. Writer H. Clare Callow is aware of this and does a good job of keeping the characters focused on a single narrative, and when they are then speaking with other characters, discussing or repeating things that have been mentioned earlier by other character for our benefit. There are a few instances however where I felt the language used was not entirely suited to the era and environment we were in, as when a servant obscenely swears at a man of a higher class than him.

Past experience with immersive theatre has taught me that it is best to stick with roughly three characters and follow them around. In this instance, I was drawn to Trudi Boatwright‘s portrayal of Agnes, where you’re left questioning what her intentions are and whether she has her own nefarious agenda at play. Similarly, Vaughn Rae as the snide Abercrombie brutally masters the death stare and displays his callousness well. Stuart Jeanfield as our host Edward Naismith and Jennie Dibly as Mrs. Cutter the cook (while not directly embroiled in the story itself like the other characters) also deliver some strong and convincing performances.

Much like a Choose Your Own Adventure book,  your choices and the characters you follow determine the story you experience in Mr Naismith’s Secret. While the climax of this gothic tale did not have as strong an impact as I suspect it could, possibly because of the characters I chose to follow, it is still a highly enjoyable piece of theatre that challenges and changes the role of the audience.

Venue: The Gate Lodge, Melbourne General Cemetery,Cnr College Cres & Princes Park Dr, Parkville
Season: until 13 November | Tues – Sat 8pm, Sunday 6pm
Tickets: $35 Full | $28 Conc
Bookings: TBC Theatre

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REVIEW: Moira Buffini’s LOVEPLAY

Love, Sex, Influence and Evolution

By Narelle Wood

From the outset it was clear that Loveplay by Moira Buffini was not so much about love as it was about the influences of love and the consequences of these on the relationship.

Loveplay

The premise behind the 90-minute play was to explore the influences of love through the ages, beginning from the Classical Age of AD 79 through to The Age of Excess in 1992. Some of the scenes in the earlier eras were confronting, including strong inferences of rape, and while this didn’t continue through to the more modern times, sex featured heavily throughout the play.

Buffini’s script is exceptionally well written, with some brilliant comedic moments scattered amongst the darker themes. The ensemble cast (Chris Saxton, Michelle Myers, Luke Cadden, Kathryn Tohill, Trudi Boatwright, Jacob Pruden, Fleur Murphy and Myles Tankle) play a variety of characters across the ages, and in a rare occurrence, each member of the cast held their own to provide a true ensemble performance.

Given the limited staging options that the Mission to Seafarers offers, the transitions between the ten different eras are achieved, not only through costume changes, but also through prop reveals and lighting. The deliberations between the eras are important as the language of the play offers a limited realism as far as the etymology of language and the portrayal of women are concerned. While it would be obviously difficult to write the earlier scenes in the appropriate version of English, there were some words that were glaringly out of place. The female characters in the earlier eras also seem to have a strong voice, and although I initially found this distracting from the authenticity of the play, in hindsight it did offer a fresh feminist perspective on women and their relationships to and through love.

While I’m not sure I agree completely with Buffini’s take on love and the influences of love, Loveplay provides both an interesting and unique perspective that resulted in a thought-provoking and entertaining experience.

Venue: Mission to Seafarers, 717 Flinders St, Docklands
Season: July 4th – 20th
Tickets: $28 Full | $25 Conc
Bookings: www.tbctheatre.com