Tag: Upstairs at Errol’s

Melbourne Fringe 2016: HOW CAN YOU SLEEP AT NIGHT?

Waking up to the world

By Myron My

In How Can You Sleep At Night?, Christian Taylor delves into the world of climate change, death and insomnia. While I was initially uncertain on how one could cover these three topics in detail and with clarity in a 60 minute show, Taylor easily accomplishes this and much more with his debut solo performance for the 2016 Melbourne Fringe Festival.

How Do You Sleep at Night.jpg

Taylor is having somewhat of an existential crisis about the world while also dealing with what happened to Andy. He can’t sleep at night and the only one that he seems to be able to talk about this to is to a sentient jellyfish, voiced by a different actor every night. On the performance I attended, Hayden Burke had the honour and his sassy banter with Taylor was full of laughs and deep thoughts. If there were an award for best non-human performance in a Fringe show, it would go to the jellyfish.

Taylor is charmingly honest and vulnerable on stage, freely allowing the audience to see his anxieties and worries. His story-telling is engaging, and while he shares seemingly unconnected thoughts and ideas, by the end of the show he manages to bring them all together with ease. There are some really touching moments throughout the show, and to see people decline Taylor’s offer to dance the waltz with him was upsetting, such was the emotional response he elicits.

The intelligent set design and visuals aids used throughout the show prevent us from getting too overwhelmed or confused by the science and astrophysics information regarding the galaxy, gravity and mass. The lighting used is also well thought-out, particularly when Taylor gets us to imagine looking up into the sky, and seeing all the colourful stars that are out there.

Somehow Taylor has to try and make sense of all this confusion and uncertainty over the future – we all do. How Can You Sleep At Night? doesn’t seek to give you the answers, but it wants us to think about them and how our choices will ultimately affect us and everyone around us. Until then, as Taylor and the jellyfish acknowledge, all we can do is just keep swimming.

Venue: Fringe Hub – Upstairs at Errol’s, 69 – 71 Errol St, North Melbourne, 3051
Season: Until 23 September | Tues – Sat 6pm, Sun 7pm
Length: 60 minutes
Tickets: $24 Full | $20 Conc | $18 Cheap Tuesday
Bookings: Melbourne Fringe Festival

Image by Bec Taylor

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REVIEW: Ben Schiffer’s HIS GHOSTLY HEART

Lights out for intimacy and intrigue

By Myron My

Performed at this year’s Melbourne Fringe Festival, His Ghostly Heart is an intimate 30-minute two-hander with a couple lying in bed just after having sex. Written by Ben Schiffer, best-known for his work on TV series Skins, and directed by Richard Edge, its exploration of love and what it means to be loved is designed to be performed entirely in the dark.
His Ghostly HeartUnfortunately, due to the necessity of the exit sign inside the performance space, the venue was not in pitch blackness which was ultimately integral to the show’s overall effect. While you could not see facial expressions, the body outlines and movement were still quite visible. In order to experience this the way I understand it was intended, I did have my eyes closed during the performance.

Riley Nottingham and Bundy Marston are well cast as the young couple in love, and with my eyes shut, I was able to listen to their voices, and their intimate emotional state is quite clear in the delivery of their lines and the pauses and silences between words. We hear the sense of achievement in Tom’s voice when he exclaims that they lasted three songs, while the self-loathing in Daisy’s voice when she announces “I’m disgusting” is easily felt. When Tom is naming all the areas of Daisy’s body that he loves, you can clearly picture his loving and cheeky face as his lips touch those aforementioned parts.

The build-up to the twist ending is cleverly constructed and highly effective, however, towards the end of His Ghostly Heart, the music and sounds being played are so loud that is it hard to hear what is being said. This ultimately makes it difficult to remain invested in the story and keep connected with the characters. Marston also seemed to struggle with the demands of the character in the final third, as the emotion that she has been working with earlier in the piece is not as focused and her lines begin to simply feel shouted.

Despite these closing shortcomings, His Ghostly Heart provides a very unique Fringe experience in its premise and light-starved performance. It remains a touching exploration of facing the realities of life and love and how, sometimes, darkness is much more of a comfort than the harsh light of day.

Venue: Fringe Hub, Upstairs at Errol’s, 69-71 Errol Street, North Melbourne, 3051
Season: Until 3 October | Tues-Sat 10.30pm
Tickets:$20 Full | $16 Conc | Cheap Tuesday
Bookings: Melbourne Fringe Festival

REVIEW: Heath Ivey-Law in AWKWARD CONVERSATIONS WITH ANIMALS I’VE F*CKED

Surprising for all the right reasons

By Myron My

I will admit, the title of Awkward Conversations With Animals I’ve Fucked was what drew my eye to this show, but this piece is so much more than just a show with a catchy and controversial title.

Written by award winning UK playwright Rob Hayes, we meet Bobby (Heath Ivey-Law) having various one-way conversations with five different sexual conquests, who all happen to be animals. Beginning with man’s best friend (of course), the monologues Ivey-Law delivers look at the fear and desires we have when faced with the notion of being alone or giving yourself over to someone, and also how far we can go or should go in being happy.

Awkward Conversations

James Dalton is skillful as director and despite the confines of the stage and set, manages to keep us entertained by the “action” with some carefully selected props. The way the animals are portrayed on stage is simple but clever and provides Ivey-Law something more to interact with whilst on stage.

Of course, much of the success for a one-man show ultimately rests on the shoulders of the actor. Can they pull this performance off? Can they get the audience to believe the words they are saying? Can they entertain us? Fortunately Ivey-Law is able to do all this and more. His execution of an awkward and unsure yet determined and strong Bobby in this wordy and barrier-pushing script is masterful and manages to create the right blend of comedy and tragedy.

When you take away the animal aspect, Awkward Conversations With Animals I’ve Fucked is ultimately a show about wanting to connect with someone and how far we are willing to go and what we are willing to do to get there. Even though we’re only a few days into the Fringe Festival, I do feel that this is a show that people will continue to talk about after Fringe is over.

Venue: Upstairs at Errol’s, 69-71 Errol St, North Melbourne

Season: Until 26 September | Tues-Fri 10:30pm

Tickets: $25 Full | $19 Conc

Bookings: http://www.melbournefringe.com.au

REVIEW: Zoe McDonald in FOMO

Impeccable theatre

By Bradley Storer

As we enter the space at Upstairs at Errol’s, we are met with the sight of a woman onstage frenziedly performing vocal warm-ups, talking both to herself and yelling down an invisible phone. The lights dim, and we are thrown into the world of a late-night radio programLet’s Be Honest on Mellow FM, being broadcast live, with us as the audience. The initial topic of the show is quickly derailed into an exploration of the ‘21st century malaise’, FOMO – fear of missing out.

FOMO

Performer Zoe McDonald (a member of dynamic theatre creators Present Tense and seen in their productions Chant des Catacombes and Margaret Fulton: Queen of the Dessert) portrays a large cast of characters with consummate skill in this solo outing. With lightning speed McDonald switches from the beleaguered host of the program to a variety of colourful characters – a bogan tattoo artist, a beautician/vajazzler from Croydon, an earthy American university professor and more who weigh in on the mysterious topic of the evening.  McDonald embodies each of these different personalities with such precise and perfect physicality and mannerism that she can evoke uproarious laughter with just the tilt of her head. Her energy seems truly boundless as swaps between the large cast non-stop for the entire show!

The subject of the show, this fear of missing out, is at first ambiguous in its meaning – structurally, the performance feels like a journey through a labyrinth, each character unfolding a small portion of the greater picture. We are told (at various points) it is a patriarchal construct we conform to, or a fiction society forces on us and we believe is true, or the pressure of living a life constantly under scrutiny by others. The climax of the evening comes when Zoe McDonald herself (a hitherto unseen but ever present character in the goings on of Let’s Be Honest) appears and unveils how FOMO is formed of the simplest but deepest fears which affect us all: the fear of intimacy, the fear of failure, the fear of dying alone. McDonald’s true voice rings with such simplicity, truth and clarity that after the comedic mania of her characters it is akin to being bathed in cool cleansing water.

Presented as part of this year’s Melbourne Fringe festival and in collaboration with Bryce Ives and Present Tense, FOMO is a deeply engaging, rewarding, and unbelievably hilarious show!

Venue: Upstairs at Errol’s, 69 – 71 Errol St, North Melbourne

Dates:  20th September – 4th October

Time: 8pm (7pm Sundays)

Price: Full $23, Concession $18, Group (Min: 4) $15, Tuesdays $15

Tickets: www.melbournefringe.com.au, Ticketing Hotline: 03 9660 9666 or at the venue.