Author Archive for Xanthe Coward

28
May
15

The Only Chick on the Construction Site: A chat with Anna McMahon

 

We caught up with Anna McMahon, the only chick on the jobsite at Job’s Right – The Second Coat!

 

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What’s Job’s Right – The Second Coat about?

7 years after Job’s Right…another day…another worksite….another client….another stuff up!

 

How did you find yourself in this show?

I am very lucky to say I was privileged to have worked with the talented Simon Denver and SRT last year in Rock In The Water – another successful SRT show winning over 30 awards around the 2014 South East Queensland Festival Circuit. Any excuse to be part of this company and their slick productions.

 

What was your first impression of the show? Of the role? (Had you seen the original installment of Job’s Right? Have you ever had a role like this?)

That is a very good question….having seen the first installment I certainly knew what I was in for! But if anyone had seen the first Job’s Right, they would remember from their belly hurting after laughing so much! My role is only 1 of 2 female characters…and all I can really say is….I am a female Chippie with a very, very bad attitude.

 

How did you prepare for the role? For working with a cast of all males except for “Aunty Joy”?

The wonderful thing about working with SRT is they are all about Team. For a faultless machine to work, one must trust, do what they are told and work hard…and the result is always something to be proud of. I have worked with these men and Aunty Joy a couple of times now…and I would always do it again in a heartbeat!

 

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Describe the rehearsal room & rehearsal process.

Whether it be in Aunty Joy’s living room, spare back room, around her outdoor table, Brett’s outback shack, verandah or lounge room….SRT fits in spaces of all shapes and sizes! The rehearsal process is a fun one – all about comradery, trusting who you work with and making a commitment to your team.

 

Tell us about working with SRT & Job’s Right Productions.

An experience I would do again and again and again. SRT is professional to the letter, and Job’s Right Productions certainly are not any different.

 

Tell us about touring and why it’s important to take this show on the road, to three different venues on the Sunshine Coast.

A professional show performed by professional actors on the Sunshine Coast at affordable prices…what more can I say? If Mohammad won’t come to the Mountain, take the Mountain to Mohammad…if the audience don’t hear about Job’s Right, we will shout louder! Oh…and you will laugh until it hurts.

 

Why should we see Job’s Right – The Second Coat? What do audiences love about it?

Right from the voiceover at the beginning of the show…you are in for a treat! If you like a good laugh, you cannot afford to miss Job’s Right –Second Coat!

 

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What sort of theatre do you want to see continue being made on the Sunshine Coast?

The same opportunities and standards that Brisbane and Sydney have should exist on the Sunshine Coast. The talent is evident, the need is there…no excuses Queensland, it’s time for our Coast to shine with the rest of them.

 

How does performing fit in around your other life as a teacher?

My life is a stage, my passion is theatre….when you have feelings like this, you just make it fit.

 

What do you think performing does for other areas of your life, like teaching, meeting people, etc?

Performance and The Arts is who I am as a teacher. That is my greatest strength in the classroom. Who doesn’t remember that teacher who told jokes, used funny voices, dressed up, told stories and made learning fun and engaging. Taking you on a learning journey to remember. It’s also not just about what it gives me but what the Arts gives kids.

 

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What do you want to do next?

Well what I WANT to do next…that’s quite an easy one….is to be a regular on Playschool.

What am I going to do next in the meantime? Just keep swimming….acting…performing….teaching.

 

See Anna, Aunty Joy and all the boys in Job’s Right – The Second Coat at Nambour Civic Centre tonight, tomorrow night & Saturday and at The J, Noosa June 3, 4 & 6

 

 

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28
May
15

Job’s Right – The Second Coat Comes to Nambour

 

Job’s Right – The Second Coat Comes to Nambour

 

Tonight! Thursday May 28, tomorrow night Friday May 29 & Saturday May 30 at Nambour Civic Centre. All performances 7:30pm.

 

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When Job’s Right pulled the curtain at The “J” in March 2008, over 4700 people on The Coast had witnessed what could only be described as “a cult of a play”. Perfectly described by a tradie who saw it as “Raw .. real .. earthy … and funny!”

 

The play was centred around a gang of house painters led by work weary Rick. Along with his offsiders, the politically incorrect Murph and the loveable larrikin Wally, they stumbled and bumbled from one disaster to another. Somehow they survived to paint another day.

 

Well it’s seven years later and they’re back. Rick, Murph, Wally and their social conscience, Spanner.

 

Writers Brett Klease and Simon Denver have written a brand new script. And has anything changed? No!

 

It’s another day…another site…another client…another stuff up!

To put it simply its the same dog, different fleas.

 

The client, Mrs Hunt (Joy Marshall), wants a shrine built to her late husband so she may communicate with the spirit world. She is backed by Nathaniel – her Designer / Colour Therapist / Feng Shui expert (Darren Heskes). If you add to this mix a feisty female carpenter, Potty (Anna McMahon) and Mrs Hunt’s belligerent son, Michael (Sam Coward), then fur is going to fly. If it can go wrong – it does go wrong. This avalanche of disaster is going to cause another tsunami of laughter.

 

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Warning: This play doesn’t contain bad language – it contains Heaps of bad language. It doesn’t contain men behaving badly – it contains men behaving Very badly. This play is not funny – this play is Really, Really funny. It has all the right laughs for all the wrong reasons.

 

Book online or call 5475 7777

 

25
May
15

The Reality Event: Suicide

The Reality Event: Suicide

The Suicide Ensemble

Bean Cafe

May 12 – 17 2015 

Reviewed by Katelyn Panagiris

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SUICIDE forms the other half of THE REALITY EVENT – a double bill of work directed by Daniel Gough and devised by The Suicide Ensemble for Anywhere Theatre Festival. Performed alongside GAME, SUICIDE is an infamously controversial and provocative piece. As I made my way to Bean Café I tried to free myself of any expectations, but lurking in the back of my mind were stories I had heard about previous developments of SUICIDE – stories of audience members stopping the performance midway and people leaving the room in tears. This aside, I could not imagine anything that could possibly elicit such a strong reaction from me. I was proven wrong.

 

 

Like GAME, SUICIDE has a simple premise:

Five performers. Five simulated suicides.

 

 

The audience votes for who should die and how they should die. Despite its set-up, we are told from the very beginning that this performance is not about suicide. Instead it is a self-referential interrogation of where reality and construction meet in the context of theatre, art and more broadly, life. It is an open work that places the audience’s response at its centre.

 

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Over the course of an hour, I witnessed each performer take their life using bleach, pills, tape, a gun and a knife. Before the performance had even begun, masked individuals slowly revealed each fatal instrument from a leather bag. This magnetic moment carried enough gravitas to set the tone for the rest of the performance.

 

Once again, the performers (including the masked “minions”) could not be faulted in their commitment to the performance.

 

Each individual stood openly before the audience and inflicted imagined pain upon himself or herself without reason or resistance.

 

Each suicide took place systematically – there was a set up, act and deconstruction (For example, the effect of bleach on the stomach lining was described in vivid detail). This emphasis on the physical act rather than commentary on suicide reinforced that the performance was not aboutsuicide. In saying this, I argue that not only is it impossible for SUICIDE to avoid the issue of suicide itself, it is also necessary in their interrogation of reality vs. construction which takes place on two levels.

 

The first level exists where reality and construction are blurred on stage. For example, performer Remi was asked by the audience to commit suicide by placing tape over her mouth, nose and eyes. Before Remi was “pronounced dead” and wrapped up in a tarpaulin, she clapped her hands (strapped behind her back) several times. The tape was ripped from her face and both Remi and the audience took a deep breath. In this moment, I became confused as to whether this moment was an accident (reality) or pre-planned (construction). I also became aware of the very real risk inherent within the performance.

 

The second level exists where reality and construction are blurred in the mind of the audience. Here, what is being shown on stage meets the experiences, knowledge and ideas of each audience member. It wasn’t until the final suicide, where performer Esther stabbed herself in the stomach, that my own personal life experience and what I saw on stage fused together. Hearing her scream with pain, I felt sick to the stomach and unexpectedly began to cry. At this point too, several audience members got up and left.

 

I don’t think I have ever been so viscerally and emotionally affected by a performance before.

 

To feel something so strong in an age of widespread desensitization is quite remarkable. We are surrounded by death in movies, on the news and on the Internet, but how do we respond?

 

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This is only one of the questions raised by SUICIDE. It is a dense, multi-layered and thought provoking work, inciting plenty of post-show discussion and debate. For me, one of the most important questions SUICIDE raises is the ethics of performance: is it ethical to simulate death on stage, causing distress to the audience? Is it ethical to place performers at risk physically? I cannot answer these questions, but I must admit the performance didn’t sit well with me. And maybe that’s the point. As director Daniel Gough said at the end of the performance, it is these feelings of uneasiness that we should be left to consider.

 

Still, I am considering not only the performance but also my response to the performance. I believe the work has certainly realized its intent, but at what expense? I am intrigued and fascinated by the central idea of reality vs. construction, but wonder if there is some other vehicle that could be used to explore this idea.

 

Unfortunately the Anywhere Theatre Festival season of THE REALITY EVENT has now ended, however, The Suicide Ensemble is definitely a group to watch. The work they are making is important, unique and unapologetic. It’s work for the audience, which I believe relies on an ongoing discussion between artist and audience about its place in a broader context.

 

22
May
15

Who Is Dani Cabs?

 

Who Is Dani Cabs?

Kate McDowell

Boundary Street Markets

May 14 – 21 2015

 

Reviewed by Katelyn Panagiris

 

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Performed by Daniel Cabrera and presented by Kate McDowell as part of Anywhere Theatre Festival, Who is Dani Cabs? is an exploration of identity – of childhood, of being a first generation Australian and ultimately, of finding your place in the world. Part stand up comedy, part theatre; this performance reminded me of the notion that we are all playing the main character in our very own epic (and sometimes mundane) life story.

 

Cabrera is a charming and charismatic performer with more than enough energy to fill the small outdoor performance space at the entrance of Boundary Street Markets.

 

The show follows Dani Cabs’ life story, from growing up in the Western Suburbs of Sydney to his short-lived career as an aerobics instructor on the Costa neoRomantica cruise ship. The performance is full of dancing, shouting, cheering and all sorts of joyful movement full of bravado and passion.

 

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Over the 60-minute performance, the insecurities, hopes and dreams of Dani Cabs are laid bare for the audience to see. Assisted by a small projector and minimal costuming (not much was left to the imagination), Cabrera told stories of his Uruguayan background, and shared with the audience (quite literally) the traditional Uruguayan drink mate. He told stories of his childhood escapades, taking to the streets with his macho friend “caba” by his side. He also told the hilarious story of his family camping trip and how he was given the name ‘Dani Cabs’.

 

It is in these moments of sincere, heartfelt storytelling that both the performer and performance shines.

 

However, when the focus shifts away from the story and towards making the audience laugh or getting them physically involved, I feel disengaged. In these moments too, the pace and flow of the piece is disrupted and jokes fall flat. I believe this is a result of the structure, which could be tightened to fully showcase Cabrera’s talent as a storyteller.

 

Although a little rough around the edges, Who is Dani Cabs? is an enjoyable and personal performance. There are some great laugh out loud moments, such as the short films that play during transitions and the tongue in cheek jokes about the cultural melting pot of the Western Suburbs. While there is room for this piece to be polished and refined, I leave feeling as though I’ve had a special peak into the exciting life of Dani Cabs. 

 

 

Rumba-Robics (2013) from danicabs on Vimeo.

22
May
15

The Apology

 

The Apology

Zeal Theatre Queensland & Shock Therapy Productions

Boggo Road Gaol

May 12 – 23 2015

 

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward

 

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People think I run away after a show if I’ve hated it but that’s not always true. It’s sometimes true, but not always. On Tuesday night I was so affected by The Apology that I ran away so no one would see how upset I was. I was overwhelmed, on the verge of tears…

 

 

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Unfortunately, we’d been locked in. The gate through which we’d entered Boggo Road Gaol was locked and barred from the inside (keeping inmates safe since 1883?), so I composed myself for a moment while the lovely box office girl raced up to let me out. I had to smile and say something so I thanked her and said I’d email Sam the following day. (And I did so because PRODUCTION PICS!). And then I let the tears fall, all the way to Aspley before I knew where I was. I’ve gotten pretty darn good at navigating Brisbane at night during Anywhere Theatre Festival, I can tell you.

 

 

I wasn’t sobbing, don’t worry; it wasn’t a desperate outpouring of something so intense or personal only live theatre could unlock it (but that’s happened before). It was an overwhelming feeling of responsibility (well, it’s impossible to teach kids without investing emotionally). Also, contributing factors including I was really tired and feeling fed up with driving and road works and well, young men in utes on the freeway are just so RUDE sometimes, aren’t they? And I’d been to dinner the night before with the awesome Matty Anderson and his Melbourne Storm Development Academy boys and I looked up at those young faces and their wide eyes full of high hopes, and talked with those who have been around a bit longer than they have been about footy, bullying, rape culture, human trafficking, daughters and… I HAD A LOT ON MY MIND.

 

 

ANYWAY, I suddenly felt really strongly that everyone everywhere needed to see this show.

 

 

AND HOW DO WE MAKE THAT HAPPEN, MR BRANDIS?

 

 

Well, thanks to Artslink Qld it’s been happening, during an extensive schools’ tour since 2004. I hadn’t realised, having not heard about it, which is unusual and adds weight to the discussion about the need for a Sunshine Coast secondary drama teachers’ network-not-just-panel.

 

 

So students and teachers from Weipa to Warwick, Mt Isa to Mackay, and Gladstone to the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast have already experienced (Writer & Director) Stefo Nantsou’s hardcore two-hander, The Apology, but somehow I’d missed it until now. Other Zeal Theatre Queensland productions have been touring and winning great acclaim for years too. Who knew?

 

 

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The Apology is an example of Zeal Theatre’s signature style of doing as much as possible with as little as possible.

 

 

The infamous Brisbane Prison features in the show – it’s the setting for an incident that occurs during a Year 9 excursion, a terrifying experience that alters the course of a young boy’s life. What was intended as a cruel “joke” ends up having horrific repercussions…repercussions that we know really happened. The Apology is based on a true story.

 

 

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The text is fairly authentic without being offensive; the language, including those relentless and so-called “innocent” jibes uttered “just for fun”, which kids learn from somewhere (where do they learn to speak to each other that way?!) are delivered slowly and tauntingly, like a knife being removed from the spleen, or as quick, sharp stabs straight to the heart, depending on the character involved.

 

 

Just two actors, Sam Foster & Hayden Jones, perform all the characters (and Foster plays a pretty mean guitar too, the compositions and volume ideal in this haunted, haunting space).

 

 

This accomplishment is so much more impressive than I can write about here. The mastery with which these two employ the slightest change in vocal and facial expression, posture, gesture and gait (or adjust the angle of a baseball cap) to keep the story moving at a rapid pace will win over even the most skeptical non-theatre-attending fourteen year old!

 

 

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As exhilarating as the pace might feel at times (and not forgetting it’s very funny), there’s not an empathetic moment missed. And this is the magic. A less confident team might gloss over critical moments but instead we are left sitting in silence and stillness for juuuuust long enough to start to feel uncomfortable…and inexplicably guilty.

 

 

Shouldn’t we be doing something?! Somebody tell him to stop it! STOP!

 

 

I’ve never sat in an audience and felt so conflicted about sitting still and paying attention without interjecting. Well, there have been committee meetings that have come close but…there were times when I wanted to sit “the Eneme” (Foster) down and tell him, “You don’t need to be that guy” and times when I wanted to give Ray Bones (Jones) a big hug and tell him, “You don’t need to be that guy!” by which he would have been discomforted and unresponsive, walked away. I know this because we feel as if we know the characters well enough to do this; to intercede, to protect, to prevent harm… N.B. At no point did I feel compelled to punch the Eneme in the head. I think that’s important, don’t you?

 

 

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The personality and family history brought to the story by Ray’s character is typical and really worrying. His parents are continuously fighting and repeatedly splitting. He has no friends and no sense of self-worth, and his dad’s one hot tip is to pick the right time and fight back! WTF?! And then there’s the downward spiral at school and the principal’s completely inappropriate lectures, the adult behaviour demonstrating the insidious bullying that happens systemically from the top down. Who can even consider getting near enough to him to be able to help Ray? It’s heartbreaking. And then, even more heartbreaking, he picks his moment.

 

 

Within a cleverly styled satirical segment, which is surprisingly upbeat, though it’s just as hard-hitting, we are given the opportunity to stop and consider how we feel about this story and its stakeholders when a television journalist presents the “facts” of the case. A similar device is employed in The Stones, when the boys stand on trial and the audience becomes the jury. To frame the case and recap the story in this way makes it easier for teachers to talk about the themes of the show with their students but it’s probably not necessary to include it for the general public…or is it? Do we need a framework such as this, using comedy and the familiar news report or reality television format, to be able to talk about the too-hard issues? Is it in fact precisely the way we need to frame these serious issues, which are not being treated seriously enough by so many people in authority and in roles that require the care of children?

 

 

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And what about those adults who are speaking to each other in this manner? What about workplace bullying and “mates” who won’t let up? What about the jostling and hustling in the locker room and on the sports field? What about the graduation party that becomes a dangerous game of Truth or Dare? What about the tough guy or girl who doesn’t like what you’re wearing (or “misinterprets” what you’re wearing)? This show could be the precursor to a whole series of hardcore shows that challenge us to reconsider the way we communicate with each other. Perhaps we could have each play filmed and available to download or purchase on DVD. Perhaps we might see the ABC produce a series of episodes for prime time viewing. I’m not kidding. Can you help to make that happen? Let me know if you can.

 

 

Imagine if actually believable stuff using our most talented actors, writers and directors became the new reality TV. (I have wide eyes and high hopes too. Let’s change a culture, kids).

 

 

So now I’m looking out for those other productions in Zeal Theatre’s repertoire, including The Forwards, coming soon to The Arts Centre, Gold Coast. The season runs during the intense lead-up to Noosa Long Weekend Festival (I think it’s actually during my rehearsal week!), but Sam and I are determined to see what Lowdown Magazine says is the company’s “most powerful play”.

 

 

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The Apology is by far the best that Anywhere Theatre Festival has to offer this year, not only because of its perfect placement on the lower floor of Boggo Road Gaol’s historic Number Two Division but because it goes where other shows fear to tread. The writing is unwavering, the direction insightful and unapologetic, and the acting fearless, focused and intelligent.

 

 

I’d love to see this production again if I could, and you shouldn’t miss seeing it at least once.

 

 

You could let a show like this change your life…

 

 

Images by Peter Cabral Photography

 

20
May
15

Job’s Right – The Second Coat comes to Nambour & Noosa. A Chat with Simon Denver

Job’s Right – The Second Coat

A Chat With Simon Denver

After their sell-out season at The Events Centre, Caloundra, we caught up with Sunshine Coast based Writer & Director of SRT, Simon Denver.

 

Job’s Right – The Second Coat hits Nambour (May 28, 29 & 30) and Noosa (June 3, 4 & 6) next!

 

The client wants “an oasis of calm” so the boys (and girl) do their level best to oblige.

But something is lost in translation and anything that can go wrong GOES WRONG!

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Simon, tell us about Job’s Right – The Second Coat.

A brutal, gladiatorial onslaught – that just happens to be really funny! There are 30, 000 job sites in Australia. This is none of them yet it’s all of them. A no holds barred, warts ‘n all look at Tradies. It contemptuously ignores the lines in crosses.

Job’s Right was a smash hit the first time around. To what do you attribute its success?

It struck a chord with so many people – especially Tradies. Brave, Raw, Earthy and Funny.

What else have you been doing? Why did it take so long to bring a second job site show to the Sunshine Coast?

Timing mainly. Everyone has a full life and it takes a while to line them all up. Besides, We kept this junk yard dog on a short chain for as long as we dare. It’s nasty. It’s hungry, it’s a bit stir crazy! Perfect time to let it off the chain.

You’ve used a few of the original actors but who’s new? How did you find them? How do you cast a show like Job’s Right?

You cast it with great care. The engine house of this show is the gang of painters. Three of these were in the original production. In fact, of the cast of eight, four were in the original. We looked for the chemistry first. We see a lot of shows locally every year so we are very aware who is out there. Watching someone perform is the ultimate audition.

Tell us about SRT & Job’s Right Productions. For what sort of theatre are you known?

I suppose you’d have to ask our critics that question. It’s very hard to be objective about our own work. I would like to think it is of a good standard though.

What drew you to live theatre? What’s special about it?

It’s in real time and there are no safety nets.

SimonDenver_headshotWho is doing the sort of work you like to see?

We’ve always liked brave or edgy material that pushes the envelope. But at the end of the day we like anything that is done properly. In the community theatre circles on the coast  Noosa Arts Theatre is head and shoulders above the rest – always delivering a high production standard. From the independent theatres XS Entertainment are blazing a very successful trail.

Thank you, Simon! #mutualadmirationsociety 


What do we need to keep seeing (or start seeing) on stage in Australia?

Works that are not held to ransom by the arts “Process”. Works that are not confined to the new economic paradigm of casts of four or under. Works that have not had to compromise by ticking the right boxes for funding! In short – works free of external agendas.

Who has influenced your work (actors, directors, producers)?

Everyone! Amateur or professional, good or bad, every show is a learning experience. Some totally reinforce what you should never do on a stage – some give you the inspiration to carry on. But we love any show that slaps us in the face and reminds us how much we have to learn.

Tell us about the creative process – as actor / writer / director.

This is genuine ensemble product. Brett (Klease) and I merely present a skeletal frame of a script and then the cast takes it and runs with it. Adapt and assimilate, personalise through consensus.

 

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The entire cast then have a sense of ownership with the end product. This is really reflected in the performances. They have to be brave. But then again – as Goethe said – boldness has a genius all of its own.

 

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Cast from L-R: Anna McMahon, Shane Cassidy, Brett Klease, Brad Thomson, Clayton Storey. Not pictured: Joy Marshall, Darren Heskes, Sam Coward

 

Do you have some hot tips for aspiring actors / writers / directors?

Learn to be ruthlessly truthful with yourselves. Learn to self edit. Be focused and disciplined – because only then does the real fun start.

Who will enjoy Job’s Right – The Second Coat?

Anyone who has a good sense of humour. Anyone who has had a gut full of the bureaucratic nonsense dictating what we can and can’t do, or laugh at.

What’s next?

Probably spend the next three years in court fending off all those charges from those we offended too much!

Book tix for Job’s Right – The Second Coat at Nambour Civic Centre

 

 

Book tix for Job’s Right – The Second Coat at The J, Noosa

 

 

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18
May
15

Awesome Ocean Party

 

Awesome Ocean Party

Giema Contini & Matt Seery

Musgrave Park Pool

May 14 – 23 2015

 

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward

 

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A show in a swimming pool?! Cool! Brisbane independent artist, Giema Contini, invites us to join her for a birthday celebration with the lot – stories, songs, a saltwater fish tank, a sand island in a clam and, of course, CAKE. It’s cold, it’s looking like rain, and Poppy and I have already been to Opera Queensland’s La Traviata, which was beautiful! BUT it’s been a big day. I’m grateful to score a car park right outside Musgrave Park Pool, despite the packed party atmosphere of the Greek Club across the road and three trips around the block indicating that we might have to take a long walk! Poppy and I say thank you to the universe and skip, with minutes to spare, down a path that leads to the makeshift box office where we are offered party blowers to exchange at the bar for a drink.

 

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Poppy chooses our seats and we settle in the front row, where we’ve spied a spare green blanket. We might need that! Our bench seat is the low wall of the toddler pool so we giggle when we sit because our feet are in the pool! Of course, the pools have all been drained for winter.

 

For a birthday present Contini asks the audience to give her a new name. She will see which name fits. This allows some lovely vocal and physical playtime as Contini shivers and shakes and plies into each name, trying them on like party dresses that look like fun on the rack but just don’t fit as nicely as you thought they might. (toofrillytoosillytoopinktoogreentoofittedtooloosetoomuch).

 

Someone suggests Persephone. Esmeralda. Pancake. We vote. Pancake, with a quick yet graceful plie, it is! Later I notice that the guy who suggested “Pancake” is the same guy who eats the cake when it’s offered, right after Contini has face-planted in its frosting and transformed, becoming a tragic Butoh figure in black taffeta and brightly coloured ribbons, and standing on a chair centre stage, holding the cake as if to offer it to the world, white frosted face turned up to the moon, which is obscured by clouds. But we know where it is… It’s an awful, beautiful, terribly sad moment. There are a couple of these moments, making Pancake’s story poignant, unforgettable…

 

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Pancake tells us some interesting things about herself. She’s not from here. She has three hearts. She sings good! We’re intrigued, not because each detail is especially intriguing but because Contini shares each titbit with the innocent charm and secrecy and excitement of a child whose birthday it is.

 

Suddenly Contini is smiling and winking at Poppy and in response Poppy gives her a thumbs up. Nope. Not what she wanted. Oh! We look down to discover AN ACTUAL GIFT-WRAPPED BIRTHDAY PRESENT leaning against the low concrete wall. Right! Poppy picks it up and hands it to the birthday girl. And the real story begins because when she ever so carefully unwraps it, the gift is a storybook, illustrated by hand (the most wondrous and alluring illustrations, sketched in pencil and enhanced by collage), telling the strange tale of a three-hearted, purple-blooded girl…Pancake. This is her story. This is special.

 

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The story of loss, longing, love and self-love, delivered in Contini’s rich, special storytelling voice, is the real heart of the show and this is what I want to see her courageous enough to stage next. Just this. There is an exceptionally beautiful show in The Purple Hybrid if she trusts the material enough to focus solely on it and discard the flotsam and jetsam of the busy, clunky birthday party surrounding it. Some would disagree entirely. Wonderful!

 

Contini is an exceptional performer, just magic to watch, and she deserves the chance (and by chance I mean money and time and space) to continue working on this unique piece of theatre. Contini’s imaginative approach to storytelling, and her energy and originality, is what live theatre is all about.

 

Whatever becomes of this show, I hope that one day (or one cold, rainy, moonless night!) you get to enjoy Contini’s Awesome Ocean Party too.

 

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