10
Sep
12

FAST Festival: Clickety Clack – Of Hope and Dread – Love’s Labour’s Lost – Shut Up You’re Boring & Ordinary

FAST Festival

 

Welcome and thanks to another new member of the team, Matty Gharakhanian, who also enjoyed a weekend of FAST theatre at The Roundhouse. We’re looking forward to Matty’s regular contributions, which will help keep us up to date with the latest music and movies. If you’re in an indie film or you’re making music, or if you’d like Matty to get to something that you’re a part of, or listen to an album that you like, make sure you leave a comment to let us know!

 

Clickety Clack

FAST Festival

Directed and written by Claire Jarvis from Boxed Badger

Queensland University of Technology

QUT Precinct’s The Loft, Kelvin Grove

7th – 9th of September 2012

 

Reviewed by Matty Gharakhanian

 

Clickety Clack FAST Festival Clickety Clack was a short and vibrant burst of energy, lasting only 30 minutes but still managing to make an impact.  It centres around four girls as they…wait.  There are no explanations as to why they’re waiting or even what they’re waiting for and none of this matters.  We are offered hints via throwaway lines throughout the play that something bigger is happening. One such example being when one girl says she cannot stand staying inside the box as it’s dirty and there are “squishy” and “squiggly things”.

Clickety Clack delves into the monotonous repetitions of life and contrasting opposing forces (dark and light).  These elements are emphasised by the costumes.  Everyone is dressed head-to-toe in matching black and white outfits.  Not a single drop of colour, excluding some of the girls’ suspenders.  The entire set is made up of a bunch of boxes of varying sizes stacked on top of each other.  There is no music, just empty and deafening silence that makes each natural noise – each bang, knock, clang and click – loud and abrupt.

The black and white costumes, simple set design and lack of music were all great tools to really drive home the point that this was simplistic and minimalistic.  It made you lean in and focus on what was happening and on the four talented actresses.  Because of the simplistic design and layout, the only thing to keep the audience’s interest was the collective actions of the four girls, and they achieved their goal of captivating the audience.  These four girls had clearly defined and different characters that they each played to a T.  The set design, layout and costumes also created a physical representation of the monotonous repetitions of life.

To add to these monotonous repetitions, rules need apply; so one girl was the enforcer of said rules.  She is the mother figure of the other three girls. Her hair is slicked back, sleek, neat and particular, whereas the other girls have frazzled and messy hair; they delight in behaving boisterously and act like petulant children by throwing tantrums whenever they are scolded.  This ended up being an effective way to show their characters.  Because of the well-thought-out hair and costume design, as soon as you see each girl, you instinctively know what sort of mannerisms will be shown.

The dialogue is simple and unassuming and allows each of the four girls to have their own distinct personality: bossy, petulant, boisterous and aloof.  Each of these four dynamics creates hilarious moments as they bounce off each other (at one point, literally).  Three of the girls stomp, run around and create noise that echoes through the room over the drastic silence.  Whenever anything breaks this cycle, we feel, as the viewers, its full impact.

Clickety Clack lived up to its name with its charming and imaginative tale of four girls waiting.  You wouldn’t think much would happen with a description like that, but it just might surprise you.  This short show was fun, quirky, serious and colourful, even when there was no colour.  The actors turned a bland set into a lively and loud one, humming with energy.

 

Of Hope and Dread (video)

FAST Festival

Directed by Kate Brennan from MUST, Monash University

QUT’s The Glasshouse, Kelvin Grove

7th to 9th of September 2012

 

Reviewed by Matty Gharakhanian

 

Of Hope and Dread FAST Festival

Of Hope and Dread explores human evolution and their ability to “symbolise objects, relations, conditions, and existence” through lyrical and interpretive contemporary dance.  As the video describes, “the essential nature of this existence that humans invented was one of an inseparable bond of hope and dread”; it is this bond has become an eternal curse for human species.  This theme of hope and dread is what drives the narrative as the video switches from each dancer and group of dancers to show them discovering and evolving.

The video starts with less than a dozen performers, all locked together in a cage, uncivilised and animalistic as they crawl over each other and swing from bars or begin scratching themselves like excited monkeys.  That is until they discover rhythm and their movements become synchronised.

The movements are repetitive and sometimes frantic, sometimes civilised, slow and delicate.  The music matches each of these moments effortlessly as it switches between heavy bass and beats to delicate or operatic tunes.  Not a single piece of music or dance feels like it’s out of place.  There is a point and purpose to each moment and movement.

Because of the constant repetition in movements and costume, there are no characters that are differentiated from each other.  They are all different but also the same and all go through these, sometimes joyous and sometimes frightening, ever changing lives.

Much like Clickety Clack, their clothing was simple and matching.  Each person was dressed in black pants and baggy, off-white misshapen shirts.  On top of this, there were no props or stage design.  Instead, the entire set was shrouded in darkness with only the dancers themselves on which to focus.

The only breaks from the darkness were occasional lights that allowed the dancers’ shadows to take centre stage and tell a part of the story.  The shadows cast upon the sheet also gave an opportunity for amazing trickery with light and depth perception as some closer shadows appeared like giants in comparison to the others.

Whether their limp forms are being tossed around and used like puppets, creating shapes or disfigured looking bodies, or are danced around in circles in celebration, each movement is meaningful and deliberate and portrays or emphasises a theme.  The fusion of these themes ranged from evolution, control and discovery to emotional and physical reactions.  These all mashed up to create a wonderful and interesting in-depth look at humanity and change.

There were only a few moments of dialogue in a voiceover that described, in an almost textbook-like manner, bodily and emotional reactions to events and the dual and essential nature of the existence of hope and dread.  An entire thought-provoking story was conveyed even though there were only a few moments of dialogue during the entire performance.  In fact, I even felt that this story might have been told effectively, possibly even more powerfully, without the narrator’s voiceover.  This was largely because the dancer’s movements and performances were so expressive and powerful and because the music fit accordingly with each moment and emotion.

Of Hope and Dread was intense, dark and enthralling to watch.  Even though it was the shortest show at FAST festival this year, it managed to have a coherent narrative with a clear and poignant beginning, middle and end.

 

Love’s Labour’s Lost

FAST Festival

Directed by Bob Pavlich from La Trobe Student Theatre and Film

La Trobe University

La Boite’s Roundhouse Theatre, QUT Kelvin Grove

7th – 9th of September 2012

 

Review by Matty Gharakhanian

 

Love's Labour;s Lost FAST Festival

Love’s Labour’s Lost is, for the uninitiated, a lot to take in.  It is originally a play by William Shakespeare, first published in 1598; one of Shakespeare’s early comedies.  The play opens with the King of Navarre and his three friends taking an oath to stave off women while they devote their time and effort to their scholarly studies, even if they find the decision difficult to follow through with.  This all changes when they meet a princess and her beautiful companions, leading these four men to become dangerously tempted.  Love’s Labour’s Lost is a vicious battle of the sexes as each gender, playing as a team, creates ploys and adolescent pranks to best or confuse each other.

Unlike Shakespeare’s original play, Bob Pavlich’s take on this over 400-year-old play shifts the time period to London in the “swinging sixties”.  Most of the cast has strong vocals that belt out songs from the 60’s, which are integrated with Shakespeare’s script and wordplay.  While not everyone was as vocally powerful as each other, their characterisations and stage presence and effortless teamwork were a force to be reckoned with.

 

 

Love’s Labour’s Lost is a funny look at how each gender reacts to the opposite sex.  Each character is over the top, larger than life and in this sense, the play works.  It’s funny, it’s witty, and it’s everything you hope to see in a show.  At 100 minutes in length, it was the longest piece at FAST this year, but these energetic performers didn’t let the audience lapse into boredom for a single moment.  I mean it.  These performers were delightful and ended up being almost entirely the reason to see this show.

I’ll admit that at first I was a little wary.  Especially after some failed renditions of this play, such as the bomb-tastic 2000 film adaptation by Kenneth Brannagh.It’s definitely not the easiest play to adapt, especially to modern times.  The old Shakespearean language has become a lost art to most of the general public, and I’ll confess I found myself having to focus a lot more than usual to keep up with the play itself.  But what makes up for that is adding elements of the 60’s via songs and references. One character dressed up as what looked like Janis Joplin, preaching wise words in a booming voice.  The physical comedy was unbelievably and perfectly timed, the characters poked fun at themselves and all of the elements of humour were in evidence.

Unfortunately, it was sometimes hard to see what scene we were in and who was who, as each actor frantically swapped between characters, regardless of gender (often used for comedic effect), despite the costume changes.  The lines between scenes blurred a little.  However, each actor had to switch between characters at a mere moment’s notice and, commendably, they did so without hesitation and were able to change their personality instantly.

If there were any faults, they were barely noticeable as the actors used any character lapses and wardrobe malfunctions in the play as a part of the joke.  Besides, you couldn’t help but laugh as you saw a man dressed as a woman swooning over the opposite sex.  These character changes were impressive since each person had a distinct and eccentric personality.

The cast takes every single flaw and limitation of the production and turns each into an amusing add-on to the play.  They use everything to their advantage and for this, I have nothing but praise for them.  The only piece of set design was a clothes rack used for costume changes and barely any props were utilised, but these weren’t needed.  Each character always had something to do, with or without props.  Not a single person ever stops being in character and all of them play out physical comedy, even if they had no lines and were in the background.  There was always something to watch and this ended up being the big part of what kept the show so entertaining.

There was also a certain level of interaction with the spectators by extending the play out into the audience.  Some people were no longer just spectators, but were partially involved in the play during this moment.

Overall, the story progressed entertainingly and negative traits of the sexes were exploited in comical fashion, such as men being shown as senseless and obnoxious in the presence of women (even howling like animals at one point) and women being shown as cunning.  Love’s Labour’s Lost was a witty new twist on an old story and is just one example this year of why student theatre needs to be better supported.  If they show it again, it’s something everyone should definitely go see.

 

Shut Up You’re Boring & Ordinary

FAST Festival

Directed by Steven Mitchell Wright

Griffith University Drama

La Boite’s Roundhouse Theatre, QUT Kelvin Grove

7th – 9th September 2012

 

Review by Matthew Gharakhanian

  

Michelle Payne

Michelle Payne. Shut Up You’re Boring & Ordinary. Source: starnow.com

 

Shut Up You’re Boring & Ordinary is a theatrical investigation into the human need for fantasy and fiction.  This thematically provocative performance pulls apart, steps inside and scrutinizes our belief in magic and the seemingly irrational.  Part song cycle, part spoken word, part dance theatre, Shut Up You’re Boring & Ordinary dissects contemporary pop culture in an attempt to catch the generation it is made for in their natural habitat: drunk, in costume and telling lies.

 

This is one of the more unusual shows to come out of FAST this year.  Imagine. You’ve bought your tickets, have found your seat and are eagerly awaiting the show to start.  All of a sudden, various characters from your childhood, from fantasy fiction and from pop culture (such as Peter Pan, Harry Potter and Lady Gaga) all come down to share the stage together.  It is the most eclectic and surreal mix of characters and costumes you could possibly hope to see in a show.  There are not many places you could see these famous characters and celebrities in one place at one time.  Plus, who doesn’t love seeing Lady Gaga party with the boy who lived, or with a dancing gorilla?

Shut Up You’re Boring & Ordinary is silly and whimsical, just the way it was meant to be.  It would be hard not to achieve this with this ensemble on display.  The show dallies with varying themes and topics of childhood and growing up; confusion, dreams, innocence and the loss of that innocence, all while injecting humour and looking satirically at the fantasy genre and pop culture.

At times, a lot of things seem senseless and the transitions between scenes feel a little jolted, but in the end this all fuses together.  The jolted nature fits in well with the irrational and abrupt nature of the show, as it also fits in with the seemingly irrational and abrupt nature of fantasy and our current culture.  The show finds its stride partway in, when you get over the initial sense of confusion and accept the random and comical.  From this point on, you can sit back and enjoy what’s in store.

The costumes, adding to these eye-catching characters, are all visually dynamic and become a burst of colour on a fully decked-out and thoroughly designed stage.  To match these costumes, the characters and the actors who play them must step up to the plate and be equally flamboyant, and they each do this quite well.

Because the show pokes fun at pop culture, it often quotes and reuses lyrics from songs or lines from movies and TV series.  This both works and becomes a detriment to the show.  While it’s hard to not be referential to external material, this can feel like a mash-up of famous quotes and lyrics that seem superficially placed, yet strangely appropriate.

The show itself was raw and confrontational, sad and funny, confusing and contradictory yet coherent, but this all somehow worked.  This show effectively took a look at why we crave the strange and fictitious and why we find these heroes, villains and celebrities so fascinating.  Shut Up You’re Boring & Ordinary was a crazy mixed bag of a joyride and should be seen if it is re-staged, if you like to step, from time to time, into the mysterious and bizarre world being created around us.

Shut Up You're Boring and Ordinary

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1 Response to “FAST Festival: Clickety Clack – Of Hope and Dread – Love’s Labour’s Lost – Shut Up You’re Boring & Ordinary”



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