Tag: VCA

Poppy Seed Festival Presents BREAD CRUMBS

Witty, self-aware, and with a definite Grimm streak…

By Lois Maskiell

A fresh take on an old tale, Bread Crumbs is a funny, yet cruel portrayal of relationships in modern life. Specially selected for this year’s Poppy Seed Festival, this one-hour show that questions the gendered tropes common to fairy tales is self-devised by a team of recent graduates of the Victorian College of the Arts.

Bread Crumbs.jpg

Ruby Johnston and Benjamin Nichol, along with a talented production team including set and costume designer Joseph Noonan, sound composer Sidney Millar and lighting designer Rachel Lee, have created this highly-stylised performance that traces the journey of brother and sister Hansel and Gretel in a magical landscape loosely set in Australian surburbia.

In the first scene, the lullaby-like music coupled with picture-book costumes of gaudy colour establishes an innocent tone that sharply contrasts the coarse language of Gretel (Johnston), the girl guide whose use of Australian vernacular hits a mature-audiences-only rating in exceptional style. It’s this stark contrast, between the genre of fairy tale and fantastically black humour that keeps this production fresh and quirky to the final scene.

When Gretel escapes her childhood home by running away with Hansel (Nicole), their only means of returning is the deliberately-left bread crumbs that she knows he will eat. This plot to never return home proves successful. Searching for a prince charming, she wanders in the woods, leading her highly-strung brother on an adventure that leads to a dark reality.

When Gretel enters into a relationship with Prince Charming (Nicole), he’s not quite the man she had in mind. The acting and narrative takes a turn towards realism, and an abusive relationship ensues. It’s here that the performance makes its strongest comment on the darker sides of young ‘love’: domestic violence in the suburbs.

Australian cultural references including quips about hard rubbish, vegemite on crumpets and dreams of a man who drinks Corona instead of Melbourne Bitter inject a load of mature humour into this generally playful fable to keep adult audiences engaged.

The acting is highly physical and vocally rich, creating a hyper-real world bursting with energy. Johnston’s driving performance as the bossy, big sister is outstanding and strong, powering the narrative along. Benjamin transitions with ease from the anxious younger brother to the hipster Prince Charming who uses love as an excuse for violence and abuse.

So what’s the moral of story? Perhaps that for a woman in today’s world to truly be free, she must become the narrator of her own life.

Bread Crumbs runs from the 21st of November until the 2nd of December at The Stables, Meat Market in North Melbourne.



In search of a vanishing point

By Myron My

As we take our seats for #howtodisappear, a voice-over and screen in front of us begin stating the terms and conditions of sitting in this show. We are asked to turn off our phones, but then the conditions delve further and further into issues of privacy and the voice-over begins to speed up at an almost inaudible pace.


Once the exhaustive list is finished, we are told if we disagree with any of these we have three seconds to leave the venue – otherwise we have just signed on the dotted line. This humor sets the tone for the rest of #howtodisappear.

The two performers, Patrick Considine and Christian Taylor, charm with their banter and interactions with us, as they playfully attempt to ‘one up’ each other on “The World’s Most Difficult Magic Trick”. The magic tricks were great to watch and there was much discussion with my friend as to how they could have been done afterwards.

Even though I enjoyed the show, I struggled to see any link between what was performed on stage and the description of the event. I felt I would be seeing something about technology and how nothing is private and everything about you is out there but instead, it was more or less about the magic tricks.

The other thing that puzzled me was being asked to provide the artists with our name and number so we could “fully experience the performance”. However, all that transpired was a single text message that just reiterated what the artists has asked us in person. Even the response I sent resulted in no further interaction with them, so I was confused as to its purpose.

I feel more work was needed on the ideas that Considine and Taylor were trying to convey with #howtodisappear. A clearer link between show description and performance, for example, was something required for audiences to more fully appreciate this work.

#Howtodisappear was presented by Fr!sk Festival at the Victorian College of the Arts as part of the 2014 Melbourne Fringe Festival.


Telling, amusing musings

By Myron My

We read about the countries where homosexuality is illegal and even punishable by death. In fact, it’s not so long ago that homosexuality was still illegal in Australia. But what if Australia was in fact, the worst place to be gay? This is what I Still Call Australia Homo speculates over in a clever and humorous way.

I Still Call Australia HomoWritten and performed by Emma Annand, Sonja Bishopp, Adam Ibrahim and Ryan Forbes, the laughs in this performance come through thick and fast whilst the narrative still gets its poignant message across. I enjoyed the fact the writers chose a lighter tone to tell this story rather than going down the dark and serious path. Even though this alternate-Australia is now persecuting homosexuals and experiencing a bombardment of rallies, protests and violence, we don’t see any of that. In fact, apart from some news grabs, we really don’t deal with this powerful backdrop at all.

What we do see are two married couples living the suburban dream, a Stepford Wives-like existence, and this is in part to do with Jack Fordham’s simple yet creative and effective set design and costuming. The couples both have their perfectly kept lawns and rose bushes and their white picket fences while enjoying their BBQs, dinner parties and yoga classes… unfortunately, the two “husbands” are actually falling in love with each other, and it’s here the struggle and turmoil occurs.

With regards the acting, all the cast are admirable, but Bishopp more or less steals all her scenes as the extremely uptight and frustrated Pippa: her nuanced facial expressions, physicality and voice epitomised the overwrought and repressed housewife. Forbes also does well with the male macho bravado of Jake, and with revealing his internal struggle to be true to himself in a world that just won’t allow it.

I would love to see I Still Call Australia Homo get a second life at some point, as more people should have the opportunity to see this play. It is a highly enjoyable piece of theatre, which cleverly mixes humour with an important and meaningful message about equality: does it really matter if the guy next door could in fact be the gay next door?

I Still Call Australia Homo was performed during Fr!sk Festival at the Victorian College of the Arts, as part of the 2014 Melbourne Fringe Festival.

REVIEW: VCA Contemporary Plays Season – ST KILDA TALES

Strong performances in a problematic production

By Kate Boston Smith

There was much excitement to be felt while waiting for the start of the VCA School of Performing Arts‘ production of Raimondo Cortese’s St Kilda Tales directed by Mary Sitarenos.  As we were ushered into the huge studio warehouse towards the back of the VCA campus, this atmosphere suggested we would be in for a real treat

Utilising the entire length of the expansive warehouse, the sparse stage was split in two halves front and back, divided only by black cyclone fencing. The full cast boisterously entered the space through the back door in the far distance from the audience.  The performance area, which at this stage was only lit by the cold fluorescent lights, was immediately filled with the noise, music and chatter of St Kilda streets which then did not stop for the next two hours.  

It was very difficult to tune into the dialogue as characters constantly spoke over both one another and the loud music.  I felt the first ten minutes of setup was lost in this wave of aural activity, and it therefore took longer than preferable for us to settle into the story and understand the relationships between the characters. 

The play is a dark swill of interweaving stories from St Kilda’s underbelly.  There was little or no light or warmth between characters, each of whom move through the space writhing for attention, love or release from their golem-like existence.

The young cast gave very strong performances.  The intensity of each ensemble character was matched with the relentless soundscape consisting of late 90’s pop and rave anthems, distorted guitars and finally the soul-crushing wails of two female characters for the final  thirty minutes of the play. 

Stage design, lighting, and one elaborate costume in particular, enhanced the gritty, deranged world that the characters inhabited.  Comic relief was provided through the gimmicky but great animal heads of the resident crazy lady “Special” as played brilliantly by Rose Marlfleet.

However, when the house lights were once again raised, (long after the ninety minutes as stipulated in the program) it is honestly hard to say whether I enjoyed it or just felt relief it was over.     

St Kilda Tales was presented by the VCA graduating class in Studio 45, 28 Dodds St, Southbank.