Tag: Wick Studios

Melbourne Fringe 2018: APOLOGUE

Game show satire ramps up the dark comedy

By Myron My

For those who enjoy the thrill of watching Wheel of Fortune, Family Feud and The Price is Right, you will not want to miss Apologue. Then again, maybe you will, as Apologue is not exactly a contestant-friendly game show. It is however, a quirky and fun look at how the mass media is used to manipulate and control our thoughts and beliefs.

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A hapless contestant is pulled on stage and must answer a series of questions in order to win some inane prizes that are presented as essential and luxurious by the hosts. With each round, the contestant’s comments are taken out of context, and opinions and beliefs are pushed down upon her.

The four cast members are great to watch on stage, each bringing the required energy required for their character and in turn, supporting the others. Elizabeth Wilhelm and Elly Hewitt as game-show hosts Vanessa Rochella and Bradley Marino (with a moustache that seems to have a life of its own) are brilliantly excessive and exaggerated with their fake smiles, and underlying emotional and personal problems seeping through the facade.

Milla rounds out the cast as the focused and no-nonsense stage manager Whimsy DeBarcie, whose only concern is making sure that the show rates well; while Lucy Rees as contestant Jennifer (or Jen, Jenny and Jumanji) portrays the confusion and frustration of being taken out of context and being coerced into saying and doing things she disagrees with as she is pounced on by the hosts. I actually feel Apologue could have gone further and been more direct in its examination of mass manipulation as at times I felt that these ideas were passed over and lost in translation due to the game-iness of the environment.

Apologue is a bold theatre piece by Spoon Eyes Productions that despite this critique, still has you questioning what it is you value and why you value it. With its strong dose of dark humour and over-the-top performances, it is a fitting show to be performed during the Melbourne Fringe Festival.

Venue: Wick Studios – 23-25 Leslie St, Brunswick, 3056
Season: Until 27 September | Sun – Tues 7pm
Length: 60 minutes
Tickets: $25 Full | $15 Conc
Bookings: Melbourne Fringe Festival

Image by Maddie Stephenson

Melbourne Fringe 2016: BOMBSHELLS

Impressive performances of women on the verge

By Margaret Wieringa

Down a few side streets in Brunswick in an art space called Wick Studios, ROARE Productions are staging the classic Australian play Bombshells by Joanna Murray-Smith for this year’s Melbourne Fringe Festival. The work is a series of six monologues from women pushed to the edge, and Kaarin Fairfax has directed this group of six young performers to find interesting and different interpretations of the collection of characters

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The show starts strongly with Ruby Swann playing Meryl Louise Davenport, the young mum struggling through the constant, frenetic monologue, judging herself and comparing herself to everyone around her. It’s such a bittersweet, tragic and yet very hilarious piece and Swann balanced the humour and pathos beautifully – in a magnificent white jumpsuit, and literally at the end of her rope.

Next, Ruby Duncan was Tiggy Entwhistle, a recently separated woman who is discussing how succulents changed her life. Duncan’s performance was extremely still and monotonic throughout, which was both a strength and a weakness- it gave the writing a far deeper sense of pain, but at times, missed the humour. Certainly, it was a strong performance from Duncan in an unexpected interpretation of the piece.

The first act finished on Anjelica Angwin’s school talent performance as Mary O’Donnell. We’ve all known these young, extremely self-confident teens who are ready to take on the world of the stage. Perhaps we may have even been her… Angwin captured the arrogance and outrage of the teen performer beautifully. And her dance number was delightful.

Returning from interval we meet Theresa McTerry, portrayed by Emily Riley. Starting on stage dancing in her underwear and drinking champagne, we watch Riley go through a wide variety of emotions as she ends up in a magnificently large wedding dress marrying Ted. As the character became more and more overwhelmed by the day, Riley’s performance became bigger and louder and funnier and more tragic, as needed.

Angie Glavas played Winsome Webster, the button-down widow who has seemingly settled into a pattern that will last the rest of her life. It’s always difficult to have actors play characters so distant in age from themselves, and while it was impossible to ignore that I was watching a young performer, she had a weight to her voice, a pacing and a pitch that conveyed an older character. Glavas was able to do real credit to the humour of the writing with her performance – giving a sense of upright respectability with the occasional naughty wink.

The show ends with a showstopper – travelling Vegas-style singer Zoe Struthers played by Olivia Ramsay. I found this monologue felt somewhat out of place, as all previous five are relatively normal, everyday characters but Struthers is extreme – and Ramsay played it to absolute extreme, with smeared make-up and cartoon-like facial expressions. Possibly some of the potential tragedy of this character may have been lost through the melodrama of the performance, but it also was hindered by some technical issues. Unfortunately during the performance there were several technical cues missed which did slow the flow somewhat, but I am sure that they will be sorted as the season progresses.

There are a lot of choices at Fringe time, but if you are interested in checking out the work of some raw young talent, get yourself to Wick Studios for Bombshells.

Bombshells is playing in Studio A at Wick Studios, 23-25 Leslie St, Brunswick

Monday-Sunday at 7:30 and Sat-Sun Matinees 1:30 September 22-27

Tickets are available through melbournefringe.com.au

Preview $20, Full $25, Conc. $25 Cheap Tuesday $15

Melbourne Fringe 2016: LOVE LETTERS TO FUCKBOIS

An act of reading, resistance, rebellion and resolution

By Caitlin McGrane

It’s a fair guess that most women who date men will have at some point come across a man who enjoys the company, time and emotional labour of women without investing any of his own energies in them and generally being an entitled fuck. These men are known in African American Vernacular English as ‘fuckbois’; and I’m pleased to report that although the title of this show made me uneasy about the potential for cultural appropriation, the performers of Love Letters to Fuckbois and Other Woes of Wayward Women, Melina Wightman and Lia Stark, acknowledged the origins of the term and their place within its increased colloquial use by white people.

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The show does exactly what it says in the title – it’s a show written by two young feminist women about their sexual and emotional experiences dealing with ‘fuckbois’, slut-shaming, and navigating and carving out their own sexual identities. Like it or not, sex is a huge part of the lives of young people and has been since time immemorial (even my nan said it was a good idea to ‘try before you buy’, a statement I have never been able to unhear). The beauty of this show is it sets the ground-rules from the beginning, explicitly stating from the outset that this will not be a place for discrimination or shame, and in my opinion there’s just not enough of those spaces for young people of any gender identification.

The show entails the two women reading and responding to letters they have written to people in their lives, including but not limited to ‘fuckbois’, mothers, aunties, ex-boyfriends, and then finally a beautiful, raw and searing heartfelt letter to themselves. I was impressed with how expressive and honest the two performers were, and how they confidently and bravely took ownership of the show, the space and the subject matter. The way they have structured the show means each night will be subtly different depending on the letters they choose at random from a fishbowl.

For me the only thing that let the show down was that title; as much as I appreciate that ‘fuckboi’ succinctly conveys the type of person they’re speaking about, it would have been better if they had chosen a different word that didn’t immediately evoke such problematic appropriation. As far as I know the word ‘fuckhead’ is still up for grabs and is basically the Australian equivalent. But I’m also super aware of my own place in this debate, as a white woman trying to write a review about a show written and performed by two other white women that includes a potentially problematic word in the title, maybe this isn’t my debate to even enter into, but I still think it’s worth mentioning.

Love Letters to Fuckbois helped to remind me that being single as fuck in your 20s is a rite of passage, and feeling rejected and unlovable is common as people attempt to navigate choppy emotional waters. That’s not an excuse however for treating women like sex vending machines where if you put enough kindness coins in they eventually dish out blow jobs. I’m glad Mel and Lia have written and performed this show because too often women get shamed for having a) sex, and b) emotions. Standing up to say ‘This is not ok’ sends a powerful cultural message, and for my money its one that is definitely worth repeating.

Love Letters to Fuckbois and Other Woes of Wayward Women is now playing at Wick Studios in Brunswick until Tuesday 20 September at least twice a day; I strongly recommend you see it. For more information, visit: https://melbournefringe.com.au/program?event/love-letters-to-fuckbois/ee98be93-bbda-4fe4-ac04-210d90324304

Melbourne Fringe 2016: THE CURIOSITY EXPERIMENT

Care to hear a little ghost story – blindfolded?

By Myron My

Performed at this year’s Melbourne Fringe Festival, The Curiosity Experiment is a ghost story revolving around a supernatural experience that occurred at the Delamere family home many years ago. The twist, however, is that for the majority of the performance the audience are instructed to wear blindfolds so as the story unravels, they can only rely on their hearing, allowing their imagination to create the haunting visuals for them.

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Created and produced by Nathan Schulz and Audrey Cadzow, the show is capped at 13 audience members, which allows for a small enough group wherein a certain level of intimacy can still be reached. And of course the bad luck that is associated with the number subconsciously helps build the intensity of the performance.

The set design in the room is highly atmospheric and as we take our seats around the circular table, it’s easy to believe you have been transported back in time. The room is dimly lit as our host sets the scene for us and the antiquities and toys that sit around the room all hold an air of something sinister to them.

When the visual element of a show is removed, the rest of the senses must be enhanced for the audience to still feel the full effect of the performance. While I tried to focus on the tale at hand, I did find myself getting a bit lost in the details and with actors playing different characters – sometimes of the opposite gender – it sometimes got confusing as to who was saying what or doing what. The cast however deliver some great voice work, with clear emotional responses as well as an overall and enduring creepiness in their performances.

A deliberate move by the creators is for the blindfolds to not completely block out vision, so you are able to peek into the darkness and see the shadows creeping around the room. For the most part though, I did keep my eyes closed and when they were opened, there was always a startled reaction to “see” what was happening. However, I generally respond to things internally rather than externally, so my nerves would not have been evident.

Even though the impact of the ghostly tale of The Curiosity Experiment might not leave you sleeping with the lights on, it is still a unique and enjoyable immersive experience where it is up to your own imagination to decide how far you go into the darkest corners of your mind.

Venue: Wick Studios – Room 13, 23-25 Leslie St, Brunswick, 3056

Season: Until 20 September | Sun – Tues 7pm, 9pm, Sun additional 5pm show

* NEW Additional Show Tue Sept 20 5pm

Length: 80 minutes
Tickets: $25 Full | $15 Conc/Cheap Tuesday
Bookings: Melbourne Fringe Festival