Author Archive for Xanthe Coward

22
Mar
15

The 7 Stages of Grieving

 

The 7 Stages of Grieving

QTC and Grin & Tonic

Bille Brown Studio

March 17 – 31 2015

 

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward

 

 

Time is linear and irreversible.

 

 

Everything has its time…

 

 

Indigenous history has been a long and complicated grieving process since colonisation.

Wesley Enoch

 

7stages_chenoa_eyes

 

The 7 Phases of Aboriginal History – The 5 Stages of Dying

 

Dreaming

 

Denial

 

Invasion

 

Isolation

 

Genocide

 

Anger

 

Protection

 

Bargaining

 

Assimilation

 

Depression

 

Self Determination

 

Acceptance

 

Reconciliation

 

 

We cry together, we laugh together, and we tell our stories.

 

 

7stages_chenoa_red

 

The Grin & Tonic Theatre Troupe has forged a brilliant relationship with our state theatre company, and testament to their determination to jointly bring Australian Indigenous stories to the stage; this production is a fine one. The 7 Stages of Grieving, penned by Deborah Mailman and QTC’s Artistic Director, Wesley Enoch, enjoys its 20th year in 2015. This strictly limited (very nearly sold out) GreenHouse season is followed by a tour, which takes the show on the road and into schools. I’m looking forward to seeing it again, at Matthew Flinders Anglican College. It will be interesting to hear from the students, who’ll be viewing it through Brecht coloured glasses, and who obviously didn’t see the original Kooemba Jdarra productions, directed by Enoch and starring Mailman, in 1994 (a 25-minute version for the Shock of the New festival at La Boite) and in 1995 (at Metro Arts as part of Warana, which became Brisbane Festival). The show then toured nationally and internationally.

 

 

I remember Mailman’s sweet, deep-seated sadness, and her wicked humour, cutting unforgivingly through deceptively simple episodic storytelling. History’s a sinister thing, isn’t it? Those who tell it create it, and we can be grateful that this play gives voice to some of the lesser-told stories. Or perhaps I should say, lesser heard. I’ll compare productions only so far as to say that it was simpler then – low-tech – and also, Mailman’s power on stage was already astonishing. We experienced her expansiveness, as if her spirit filled not only the intimate Metro Arts space, but also the entire universe. Experiencing Mailman’s performance in this show was like reaching that state of meditation that allows you to see without seeing, and understand more than you feel you’ve ever been allowed to know.

 

 

The only thing black at a funeral should be the colour of your skin.

 

 

Chenoa Deemal (Mother Courage and Her Children) is the Aboriginal Everywoman who brings a fresh, light approach to the storytelling; it’s a completely new take, as it should be. She studied acting at ACPA and QUT, but comes from the Thitharr Warra tribe in Hopevale, north of Cooktown in the Cape York Peninsula. The language we hear is Deemal’s language and the traditional elements of this production are her people’s traditions.

 

 

Deemal takes centre stage after emerging from the darkness to pour concentric circles of rainbow coloured sand, its phosphorescence glowing eerily, discomfortingly, around a mound of red earth (the land, the source, the spirit, the core of everything) and a suitcase containing the photos of family members who have died. It’s poignant, it’s ritualistic, and the irony and deep sorrow is never lost, only veiled in more comical moments throughout the show. Deemal’s casual comedy shines in Nana’s Story (no matter what you were having for dinner there was always rice), and in Murri Gets a Dress, delivered in stand up comedy style, complete with a hand held microphone. Audience members on opening night shriek with laughter.

 

 

Have you ever been black? You know when you wake up one morning and you’re black? …”Hey, nice hair, beautiful black skin, white shiny teeth … I’m BLACK!

 

 

… I go to bed thinking, “Tomorrow will be a better day”, snuggling up to my doona and pillow. Morning comes; I wake up, I go to the bathroom. I look in the mirror. Hey, nice hair, beautiful black skin, white shiny teeth. I’M STILL BLACK! AND DEADLY!

 

 

Not 20 minutes in something gets me, though I can’t for the life of me recall what it is that sparks the tears, which I blink back, not wanting to miss the next chapter in this stark, raw look at our First People’s mourning traditions and daily struggles. Despite some business as usual moments, which could just as easily be perceived as inspired acting/directing choices, Deemal offers a natural, vulnerable, very real performance. There is grief and there is joy, which wells up and spills over into fierce pride and exultation during a vivid retelling of Sorry Day celebrations.

 

 

Oi. Hey, you! Don’t you be waving back at me! Yeh, you with that hat! You can’t park here, eh! You’re taking up the whole bloody harbour! Just get in your boat and go. Go on, get! Bloody boat people.

 

 

Director (and Artistic Director of Grin & Tonic), Jason Klarwein, has manipulated mood and meaning beautifully, assembling a terrific creative team to bring this 20-year old show up to date in bold cinematic style. Jessica Ross (Designer), Daniel Anderson (Lighting Designer) and Justin Harrison (Sound & Projection Designer) have created a galaxy of stars and souls and memories and words and hopes and dreams, and a sense of place that is both new and ancient. With its updated political references, and a new ending to raise the stakes, The 7 Stages of Grieving strikes me as The Mountaintop of Australian plays, asking us to consider what really matters, and challenging us to make the changes we want to see in our world.

 

 

They’ve written sorry …

 

 

… They’ve written sorry across the sky.

 

 

Are you walking across bridges yet? The baton passes on …

 

7stages_chenoa_suitcase

12
Mar
15

Speed the Movie the Play

 

brisbanecomedyfest_header2015

 

Speed the Movie the Play

Brisbane Powerhouse & Act/React

Brisbane Powerhouse Plaza

March 3 – 21 2015

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward

Sorry, I’m just too tired to solve the formatting issues here. Frankly, this is one you don’t even need to read. THE NEED IS FOR SPEED. This show is fine and super fun; if you can get a ticket you should hurry up and go.

POP QUIZ:

there are too many terrific shows on offer at Brisbane Comedy Festival! You can’t see them all!

What do you do?

 

 

GET ON THE BUS!

 

 

speedthemovietheplay_header

On Friday night I offered to pick up our homestay student and her friend from the Good Life fest in Doomben. It was my fourth consecutive night in Brisbane last week after seeing The Laramie Project, The Seagull and The Naked Magicians. I didn’t mind heading down again because the extra trip meant a) I could stop in to meet one of the fabulous women who is helping me build a new little business (clearly, I wasn’t busy enough!) b) Poppy and I could hang out and do dinner and a show and c) I knew the girls would get home safely with me. 

You may have missed out – it may have sold out – but I’ll tell you about it anyway. Yep. You guessed it! Speed the Movie the Play is a clever little tribute to the 1994 film starring Keanu Reeves, Dennis Hopper and Sandra Bullock. It parodies every aspect of the film, including the absolute ludicrousness of the entire situation. At least, it seemed ludicrous in 1984…let’s not think too much about that. Not surprisingly, the live “little-show-on-a-bus-that-could” has been extended due to popular demand for a third week. And Brisbane Powerhouse says it’s SOLD OUT. If I were you I’d turn up anyway, on any given night, in case there are no-shows. If you can’t see it, head to Bar Alto and then something else. Brisbane Powerhouse is a hip, happening venue and it’s fun JUST TO BE THERE.

speedthemovietheplay_thebus

Speed the Movie the Play is one of those so-crazy-it-just-might-work creations. Just like our Mystery Bus – a Woodford Folk Festival institution and one of our all-time favourite gigs – this show is actually presented ON A BUS. It’s a great gimmick! (And its pretty funny to watch the crowd outside watching the crowd on the bus!).

speedthemovietheplay_theelevator

We hang about by the Powerhouse doors, awaiting instructions, and when everyone is assembled there we enter an “elevator”. It’s the square cousin of The Naked Magicians’ Circle of Mystery and it comes crashing to the basement floor all around us, just like in the movie, only not at all like in the movie because SAFETY FIRST. This is the first indication that this show is going to be DIFFERENT. AND CRAZY. AND FUN. We suspend disbelief. We can sit wherever we like (Poppy wants an up-front seat and I remind her that this company probably doesn’t know about my reluctance surrounding audience participation. This could present a problem. She says, “Well, if they hand you a card just read it, Mummy. That’s all you have to do.” Oh. Right. Of course. No problem.). We follow Jack Traven (Dan Beetson) down the side of the bus, where a madman leaps out and threatens to blow up his hostage.

WHAT DO YOU DO?

SHOOT THE HOSTAGE.

Well, in this instance the hostage escapes with his life, and we are hustled onto the bus (Beetson’s Co-Creator, Natalie Bochenski is already on the bus #crazylady), where a volunteer Sandra Bullock sits behind the wheel!

The bus appears to be moving – sort of – and we laugh out loud while performers clad in theatre blacks travel past the windows with an inflatable palm tree, a bus stop sign and then, wearing box cars on shoulder straps, jostle for position at an imaginary set of traffic lights. It’s very funny because, well, it’s a bit like The Wiggles on ice. No, not Disney’s ice…

speedthemovietheplay_onthebus

The entire plot is condensed into a 60-minute show, so there’s a lot more action than dialogue (and several pauses are probably too long for the intended dramatic effect), but it’s all delivered with tongues placed firmly in cheeks, and willing members of the audience get a good shot at shouting out selected lines from the movie. These are printed on cards and distributed randomly. The guy sitting opposite me reads with some conviction, “I have a wife and kids!” And I get, “I have TWO wives and kids!” Poppy thinks this is HILARE. “AND VERY BRAVE OF YOU, MAMA.” In case you’re wondering, Act/React has given this show an M15+ rating, but I feel this is overly considerate of the company (the only really graphic sexual reference for example, goes right over the eight-going-on-twenty-eight year old’s head), or else they were very kind about the language and some of the jokes used on the night we attended, in which case, thank you Act/React! 

A short, loud, bold show, packed full of wonderfully silly special effects and funny famous one-liners, Speed the Movie the Play is perfect festival fare and probably the most fun you’ll have at Brisbane Comedy Festival.

It may well be SOLD OUT! But go anyway and be a stowaway, or steal a ticket from an unsuspecting punter at the doors of the Powerhouse… OR lament at the bar because you didn’t book early enough and let this be a lesson to you.

The season continues with or without you Friday 13 March 7.15pm; Friday 13 March 8.45pm; Saturday 14 March 7.15pm; Saturday 14 March 8.45pm; Sunday 15 March 7.15pm; Tuesday 17 March 7.15pm; Wednesday 18 March 7.15pm; Friday 20 March 7.15pm; Saturday 21 March 7.15pm

11
Mar
15

The Naked Magicians – again!

 

The Naked Magicians

Samuel Klingner Entertainment

Twelfth Night Theatre

March 5 – 13 2015

 

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward 

 

thenakedmagicians_header

 

On Thursday night a full (super) magical moon seemed the appropriate big picture setting for the return of The Naked Magicians. Chris Wayne and Mike Tyler have been touring the countryside since their debut (and return season) at Brisbane Powerhouse last year, attracting all sorts of capacity audiences. This “tweaked” incarnation of the show though, reflects a very particular brand of entertainment; one to which I hadn’t expected these guys to stoop, but one which seemed ENTIRELY appropriate at this rather dilapidated venue. If you’ve seen these guys before, it’s a slightly different show. (If you’ve seen these guys before, you’ll know to DRINK FIRST!). If the bar had stayed open after the show and the boys had come straight away to meet their adoring fans, and not just those with VIP tix (as much as I appreciate the value of the gimmick) they might have continued last Thursday night to build their apparently vast and very diverse fan base. But I overheard some unhappy punters leaving right away, disgruntled due to the fact that there was no opportunity to buy drinks or meet the boys.

 

I understand the bar at Twelfth Night Theatre is run by vollies…as is the bar at many smaller independent venues, and they don’t do themselves any favours by electing to close early…or to demand cash only.

 

It’s so important that we leave a venue wanting to come back to it!

 

It’s a gross disservice to the artists and producers to cut short such an exciting theatrical event, killing the atmosphere and heading home before the night is over! For some, this was their one-night-out for the week and like the worst one night stand, it ended prematurely. In stark contrast – and I do hope some of you make the trip up our way to see that I’m right, for Cruise Control in April, and for various events during Noosa Long Weekend Festival – the vibrant atmosphere at Noosa Arts Theatre is always so social it’s difficult to say no to the drinks and activity after a show! Just you TRY to go straight home! It’s one of the main reasons Sam and I love working there. It’s currently being renovated again to better suit the needs of its ever-growing theatrical family and subscriber base. The volunteers who take the tickets and work the bar there have such energy and enthusiasm, and there is ALWAYS opportunity to top up our glasses and continue our conversations after the show. In fact, the vibe at Noosa Arts Theatre is a little like La Boite wants to fashion back. JUST SAYIN’. ANYWAY.

 

The Naked Magicians. At Twelfth Night Theatre. (There’s no other theatre like it!). Here it is in a nutshell.

 

IT’S STILL FUNNY! AND THE MAGIC IS STILL GREAT! The tricks are still really good, and if you know how they’re done DON’T TELL ME. I enjoyed the show again, but there were times when I wish I’d had more to drink. Of course, this might say more about the last 2 weeks of my life than it does about the show…

 

This time the humour is base and it’s just not my bag, baby. This sort of humour appeals to the lowest common denominator and along with all the porn that’s still foolishly made by men but not made for women, you’re either gonna’ laugh uproariously in genuine delight, or cringe. Overall, the show lacks the sharp wit and boyish charm of the original season, and perhaps some of its naivety. I can’t quite put my finger on it (“Don’t put your finger there!“), but it’s almost as if advice from their audiences has been taken too literally (“Put your finger THERE!“). THERE IS CERTAINLY MORE NAKEDNESS. But is it too much? I guess it depends on which BITS you consider to be the most entertaining.

 

It’s as if all the cute “Hey girl…” moments have been taken out of the mix and we’re left with the end of the night last ditch drunken efforts to impress. Still impressive is the magic itself, the management of the audience participation (always difficult!), and the easy, bold banter between the boys and the unsuspecting audience members who find themselves on stage and a part of the show.

 

 

heygirl

 

 

I don’t believe the sudden success of The Naked Magicians was ever wholly attributed to their nakedness, remember; they got a lot less naked the first time ’round! Originally the show was punctuated by a whole lot more old world gentlemanly (magicians’) charm, and contemporary, cheeky “sleeves up, pants down” confidence. We still get this in abundance from Chris, and from Mike not so much. Did somebody tell him two nice guys is one nice guy too many?! WHY WOULD THEY DO THAT? I walked away wondering why must we perpetuate the myth that locker room antics are an appealing form of entertainment? But then I guess there are those who love their nipple tassel twirling too…

 

 

thenakedmagicians_front

 

 

This show is actually as much about audience manipulation as it is about magic and nakedness.

 

It’s fun, it’s crazy, it’s funny, it’s still a bit sexy, and in the end, it really is a great, stereotypical girls’ night out, if you like that sorta thing. I’m really a big fan of these guys, don’t get me wrong, but I’m a little disillusioned on this occasion. Others appear to LOVE the slightly crass, outrageous ending that just didn’t do it for me. But that’s just me. I’m keen to see what comes at the end of THIS flashy tour. I’d LOVE to see these guys make it big overseas. I know they’ll be a hit in New Zealand (May 12 – 16 2015)! And maybe a Las Vegas residency is next! But before I’m completely convinced, it might take another pair of eyes yet, to cast a glance over their bits and make ‘em all fit a little more, er, neatly…

 

The Naked Magicians are so excited to be coming to a theatre near you. Go check out these guys for yourself with a great big group of gorgeous friends and have some fun! I hope the venue and the boys look after you!

 

10
Mar
15

The Seagull – now look here

 

The Seagull

now look here

Metro Arts Warehouse

March 3 – 14 2015

 

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward 

 

It’s Chekhov, but not as you know it…

 

theseagull_header

 

“You can’t do Chekhov with bad actors.” Director, Kate Wild

 

 

“I”M SO UNHAPPY!” #sochekhov

 

I know of three productions of The Seagull happening this year in Brisbane alone. QUT (April 22 – May 2), QTC (August 29 – September 26) and now look here (until March 14) are all indulging in a bit of a Chekhov Crush. And I can understand why. We love Chekhov’s language, we love his dismal characters, the hopelessness of everyday life and the shrewd and sorry observations that we laugh about…so we won’t cry. There is tragedy in each fleeting moment of comedy, and there’s never a happy ending. Chekhov’s intensive study of the humdrum and dull horror of daily life makes me grateful for the abundance of love and joyful activity in my own.

 

AND particularly with the guidance of an intelligent and insightful director, Chekhov is glorious food for actors.

 

 

Chekhov is to actors what Colin Fassnidge is to foodies #usethewholepig

 

 

In this case, our director is also writer, adapting the original text over the course of an intriguing year, which involved workshops with various actors. (In fact, Kate Wild tells me after the show that amendments were being made right up until opening night!).

 

This adaptation impresses me greatly, and learning about Wild’s association with London’s Young Vic doesn’t surprise me at all, since it’s the NT Live productions that consistently show us how a classic can successfully be reimagined for contemporary audiences. Wild’s version of Chekhov’s classic is pared back and relies on the actors’ ability to present real characters, really. No, REALLY. There’s nothing that is surface level, no token anything here. Deeply inspired performances, which come directly from the text (just as Mamet wishes), mean we are privy to a new world of old-school values; it’s the same dysfunctional family but shown in more modern light. The language and the references are updated so that a whole new audience might not even think to question the origin of the play. The contemporary outback setting is about as far removed from 1800s Russia as we can get, however; it’s not dissimilar. Created with nothing more than a curtain, a table and chairs, some lamps and three white curved timber structures, which become walls and door frames and seats and a bed, the scene is sensitively, economically realised, and is made all the more poignant in the suddenly silent, extremely small space of the 4th floor Warehouse in the Heritage listed Metro Arts building on Edward Street (Designer Gordon Fletcher). It’s as if we’re in the room with them. It’s salon theatre in disguise…

 

Wild told scenstr, “I’ve seen a lot of innovative work, a lot of very creative directors doing a lot of very exciting things. But I felt I wasn’t seeing a lot of text-based theatre being done very centrally with a very simple sort of aim of telling a story. So I think I needed to show what theatre could be like if we went back to the basics and I made it very writer and actor led rather than maybe led by the concept of a director.”

 

theseagull_theplay

 

Wild fills the gap with this production, a beautifully configured statement on the value of reinvention whilst simultaneously honouring theatrical form and tradition and never losing sight of the story. The cast is superb, with fine performances from Louise Brehmer, Michael Forde, Matthew Filkins, Pip Boyce, Peter Cossar, Kevin Hides, Ayeesha Ash, Thomas Hutchins and Lizzie Ballinger. Special mentions to the gently placed Blake La Burniy, the quietly competent Kristian Santic and Courtney Snell (Stage Manager), and Erin Murphy (Composer & Musician). Murphy’s cinematic underscore makes my heart ACHE.

 

theseagull_theplay_lizzie

 

Ballinger is feminine and fragile and wild, improbably beautiful as the aspiring actress, Nina. She is fierce and tragic, truth and hope and loveliness all rolled into one. Her easy movement, rich vocal work and bright eyes make her a joy to watch. Hutchins is our tall, dark and brooding doomed writer, Kostya; oh, how we feel for him! Again, the character is wholly realised by the actor, his nuanced voice and movement (and again, the eyes have it), convincing us utterly. This is Hutchins at his best, deeply invested and heartbreakingly believable. In this intimate space we feel a part of every move, every word, every breath, including his last. There is need of a true sound effect to finish though, and with it would come genuine shock and a real sense of loss, rather than the gradual realisation of the situation, which we understand from Irina’s confusion and the doctor’s measured reaction. Hides nails it; his doctor is the epitome of gentility, compassion and honour behind a sparkling family friend smile. I find myself watching him watching the others… It’s the strongest, sweetest performance of the night.

 

 

mandrought_rachaeljohns

 

 

As Ilya the farmer Cossar delivers his best performance to date – such is the magic of perfect casting – and as his long-suffering wife, Boyce, although she is Ausssie chook lit mis-styled, is in fine form. It takes me a little while to warm to Ash as Masha, but when she finally settles she is lovely and detached and just as dissatisfied and downright miserable as she ought to be. And Filkins’ Boris?  He’s the perfect love-punched poet, disarming and frustrating. Damn those well to do, attractive, creative types in suits, huh? A-hem.

 

 

 

 

Wild’s adaptation condenses four acts into two and if you don’t need to hit the highway to get home you can be in bed before 11pm…unheard of! This Chekhov rocks! I actually want to buy a copy of this adaptation from Wild since it’s the first time I’ve been truly swept up in the complexities of the story without questioning anybody’s objectives. Drama departments everywhere will want it! Venues everywhere will want it…hello, La Boîte?

 

 

If Wild is here to stay, be sure to see whatever it is she does next. Hers is a sophisticated yet simply stated theatrical world in which we feel warm and welcomed and challenged. If you want to experience a more intimate, honest and personal form of live theatre this year, this is The Seagull you should see.

 

02
Mar
15

Noosa Long Weekend Festival 2015 Now On Sale!

 

Noosa Long Weekend Festival presents our most exciting program yet!

 

You know these events SELL OUT! In fact, many events have already sold well during the exclusive pre-sale for Friends & Patrons. Become a Friend or Patron this year so you don’t miss out again next year!

 

You won’t want to miss David Williamson’s DREAM HOME or CATHERINE ALCORN or ROB MILLS or DUSTY LIVE IN CONCERT or AN EVENING WITH THE QUEENSLAND BALLET or MELODY BECK & JOHANNA ALLEN or ROB MILLS or JULIAN GARGUILO or THE MAGIC FLUTE! GO ON. BOOK NOW.

 

pre-sale

 

There are 3 easy ways for you to secure your festival event tickets:

1. Online

2. Telephone* (07) 5329 6560 – The J Theatre Mon-Fri 9am – 5pm.

* A transaction fee of $3.50 applies to all telephone ticket sales.

3. Counter sales The J Theatre Mon-Fri 9am 5pm.

magic-flute-australian-opera

 

For the first time ever, Opera Australia will bring a fully staged production of its much loved Opera, The Magic Flute to the Sunshine Coast.

 

Direct from Melbourne, the professional cast and orchestra complete with an authentic Egyptian tomb set, lighting, costumes and wigs will perform one night only, on Tuesday July 14.

 

“It’s a magical way to kick off our 2015 festival” said an excited and proud Festival Director, Ian Mackellar. …“It couldn’t have happened without the wholehearted support of Opera Australia Artistic Director, Lyndon Terracini AM and festival event sponsors, Settler’s Cove and Tourism Noosa.”

 

The logistics surrounding this ‘one performance only event’ equates to Noosa’s own G20 manoeuvres.

 

With no existing stage large enough, a 48 foot Semi will roll into town and transform the Noosa Leisure Centre into a major performance space capable of staging the full production of this Mozart masterpiece in front of 700 people.

 

The ability to pull off such an event, confirms the Noosa Long Weekend Festival as the major regional Arts Festival in the Country.

 

President Johanne Wright said “The collective vision of Opera Australia and our sponsors has enabled us to make this special performance accessible to as many people as possible and this will be reflected in the ticket price.”

 

Lyndon Terracini AM, Artistic Director of Opera Australia said “Opera Australia is thrilled to be bringing Mozart’s The Magic Flute to the Noosa Long Weekend Festival. I’m personally tremendously excited about this event and I know all the cast and of course the legendary director Michael Gow are just as excited as I am. It’s a wonderful production…”

 

01
Mar
15

I Might Take My Shirt Off

 

I Might Take My Shirt Off

Brisbane Powerhouse & Sharpened Axe

Brisbane Powerhouse Turbine Platform

February 13 – 14 2015

 

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward

 

 

dashkruck_imighttakemyshirtoff

 

 

Dash Kruck is an absolute starry star. A dead set legend. A really funny, talented guy.

 

His debut cabaret show, I Might Take My Shirt Off, is by far the best we’ve seen for a loooong time on the scene, which you might be forgiven for feeling, is a little flooded at the moment. Let’s face it. CABARET IS STILL THE NEW BLACK. We see so much of it, and so much of it is raved about that when a particularly well written, tightly structured and superbly delivered show hits our stages it’s noted. Not only duly noted, but already returning to Brisbane Powerhouse later this year it seems, if the Facebook comments are anything to go by…

 

 

“I wanna bring your show back, yo.”

Kris Stewart

 

 

TRANSPARENCY. SO IMPORTANT RIGHT NOW #teamgooding #illridewithneil

 

Directed by Emily Gilhome, I Might Take My Shirt Off, shares Lionel’s struggles in love and life, as he pens and performs an original cabaret show at the advice of his hilariously OTT German Nazi-therapist. FACE THE FEAR. Everyone knows cabaret is terrifying, and this is a thrilling show because THERE IS REAL FEAR THERE. Or so it seems. Dash is so convincing in the role that there are times throughout the evening when we actually hold our collective breath and think, “God I hope he’ll get it!”

 

dashkruck_suit

 

Stories of sex, booze, boys and mythical beasts abound. Original songs by Dash and Chris Perren are diverse in style and consistent in quality. There’s not a dull number among them, each has its place and purpose. THERE’S EVEN A HIT SINGLE BALLADY TYPE NUMBER. YES, BALLADY IS A WORD. (I expect to see this soundtrack available for purchase on iTunes next year. Yes, I do). Dash is well respected as an actor and singer (we loved him in A Tribute of Sorts, Spamalot, Spring Awakening, Jesus Christ Superstar, [Title of Show] and the Matilda Awards named him Best Emerging Artist in 2007 and Best Actor in 2012). This show is the perfect vehicle to take him to the next level, put him on the circuit, and get him into the elusive, illustrious INNER CIRCLE OF CABARET.

 

I think I said this about his performance in [Title of Show] –

“On stage, Dash Kruck totes stole the show for me, with his endearingly cheeky, naughty approach to, well, everything in life. His Broadway moves and his ability to connect with those on stage and off. I’m confident I can recommend you go see anything at all that Dash appears in. This includes his kitchen when he is washing the dishes and IGA when he is doing the grocery shopping. Dash is bound to make any event just as entertaining.”

 

NO PRESSURE, DASH.

 

dashkruck_sitting

 

As tender and wonder filled as it is funny, and as skillfully built as any headline act that might come to us with far more fanfare, I Might Take My Shirt Off is a real contender for the bigger festivals, and could do with a return tour after a stint somewhere like, oh I don’t know, OFF-BROADWAY. If you experienced it you know that’s not too far-fetched. It’s so meta too, that theatre and cabaret students (and their teachers) should be in the back row taking notes at every performance. As Lionel ticks off all the elements of the genre, using his devastating break up tale to pull us through the ringer with him, I hear a whispered comment behind me that signals hope for the masses: “So this is cabaret… It’s great! I like it!” HOORAY!

 

dashkruck_martini

 

My favourite parts of the show involve a martini and a dragon. Not at the same time. But I love the implicit 007ness of one and I’m swept away by the mythos of the other, not to mention impressed by Dash’s command of the vocals. I think of Anthony Warlow’s performance in The Secret Garden of Race You To the Top of the Morning (just go to the link and let it play while you read on, because there is no I Might Take My Shirt Off Live at Brisbane Powerhouse recording…yet). Like Elise McCann as Lucille Ball, Dash is confident enough to take his time and allow us to suffer vicariously through him. We believe every word…and every strategically placed awkward pause. N.B. Sitting towards the back of the crowd doesn’t mean Dash won’t see you and invite you to be…involved.

 

dashkruck_audience

 

Dash demonstrates complete trust in the genre and in his wide-ranging ability. A great director will help a performer to realise the possibility of success from the outset. These two – Dash Kruck and Emily Gilhome – are a good match of talent, intellect and guts. To pull off a first attempt at cabaret so convincingly, is a pretty clear indicator that Dash Kruck is here to stay. But perhaps not here here to stay. Dash can take this show anywhere, and like Rumour Has It, Wrecking Ball, and The Divine Miss Bette, I’ll happily see it again and again. There is substance here, and a magical alchemy, which turns crazy late-night gin-conceptualised ideas into theatrical GOLD. I do hope Dash enjoys performing this show as much as we enjoy seeing it, because we’re going to keep demanding it!

 

dashkruck_backbend

 

For more outrageously funny stuff at Brisbane Powerhouse check out the Brisbane Comedy Festival! Until March 22 2015.

 

01
Mar
15

Assemblies For One Body

 

Assemblies for One Body

Metro Arts & Rhiannon Newton

Metro Arts

February 25 to March 7 2015

 

Reviewed by Ruth Ridgway

 

Metro-AFOB-Image-2-event-image-website

 

 

Assemblies for One Body is about the live act of dancing, and the tension between this live-ness, repetition and choreography.

 

Rhiannon Newton, Choreographer/Performer

 

 

Assemblies for One Body was an intense experience on its first hot and humid night. About 30 of us sat in one row of chairs around the edge of the Basement at Metro Arts – a cellar-like room with plain wooden floor and raw brick walls. On the wall opposite the entrance, sound artist Kynan Tan sat at a computer, with eight subwoofers on the floor in front of him, like conical bowls.

 

Choreographer/Performer Rhiannon Newton was in the room, warming up. She stripped down to simple black shorts and singlet, and started performing a movement sequence. The movement style was outwardly relaxed, earthy, with no pointed feet. The apparent softness and ease was deceptive –

 

Newton’s energy and stamina were impressive, as she repeated the sequence over and over.

 

Starting in one corner of the room, she lifted her right leg, and then stepped, jumped and circled to the furthest corner from the starting point, stopping and raising her arm. At a loud electronic click or bang, she started the sequence again.

 

The sound thrummed and reverberated, swelling in intensity (but never to a painful point) and dying away again to more of a low hum. At times the conical sides of the speakers were visibly throbbing. I wondered if they would start to move around the floor, but this didn’t happen.

 

The intervals between the punctuating click grew shorter and the steps smaller and less distinct, and then the intervals lengthened again. Occasionally Newton smiled ruefully at the click signalling the restart of the sequence. The sequence also changed, along with the starting position. With the new movement came a resurgence of energy, which also then waned.

 

On several occasions, the lights (which were full on in the room most of the time) dimmed and blacked out – giving Newton, and the audience, some respite before the next round of repetition. Twice before the final blackout, the audience clapped as this happened, perhaps thinking that the performance had finished, or perhaps in tribute to Newton’s stamina.

 

The performance lasted around 30 minutes. As it went on, I started to wonder how Newton could keep going. Was she going to dance until she dropped? Was she forcing the audience to intervene when we couldn’t bear to see how exhausted she was? Thankfully, she stopped before this point.

 

After the continual movement, the winding down and the increasing tiredness and dishevelment of the dancer, the end was a natural finish. The trajectory of the performance was a building and maintaining of energy, and then an inevitable winding down.

 

In her program notes, Newton says she has a particular interest in repetition. Repetition can be used to induce a trance-like state. Newton’s performance echoed ritual dance to reach an altered state of consciousness (with the cave-like setting adding to the effect).

 

But the variation in movement and pace, and the formless throbbing of the speakers, created a tension that worked against the audience going into a trance. At the finish, the applause was loud and sustained.

 

Book for the show here.

 

Book for Bodied Assemblies Workshop here. Well, try and then see note below. And then call Metro Arts anyway, because you never know…

*Workshop registrations close at 4.30pm, Friday 27 February. A $1.65 booking fee applies to each workshop registration. To discuss workshop options please contact reception at Metro Arts on 07 3002 7100. Ticket price includes one complimentary ticket to the performance Assemblies For One Body

 

 

Trailer – Assemblies for One Body from Rhiannon Newton on Vimeo.




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