Posts Tagged ‘anywhere theatre festival


The Apology


The Apology

Zeal Theatre Queensland & Shock Therapy Productions

Boggo Road Gaol

May 12 – 23 2015


Reviewed by Xanthe Coward











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…






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.






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?






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.






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!






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?






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?






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”.





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



My Love Had a Black Speed Stripe


My Love Had a Black Speed Stripe

Fractal Theatre Productions

The Hut, Jean Howie Drive

May 13 – 23 2015


 Reviewed by Xanthe Coward










Love me, love my Holden.


Cars and Australian suburban culture go hand in hand. In 1973, author Henry Williams was working in Brisbane’s Acacia Ridge when he wrote the novel, My Love Had a Black Speed Stripe, an ode to the Holden Monaro centred around a racist, misogynist bully named Ron who’s more than a little obsessed with his dream set of wheels.


Fast-forward to decades later, and the lost Australian classic has been doing the rounds on stage for a few years. If you’ve previously missed what amounts to a black comedy of circus, mime, body percussion, film and car-porn poetry, here’s your chance to check it out. You’ll laugh, and you’ll see the iconic Monaro presented as a living, breathing organism.




Refreshingly, My Love Had a Black Speed Stripe doesn’t contain too much obscene language or the graphic sex and violence that so many writers and directors insist on shoving down our throats at the moment (yes, until we’re gagging on it #sorrynotsorry), yet it’s hard-hitting enough to challenge us on all levels.


Brenna Lee-Cooney’s adaptation of Henry Williams’ classic ode to a car is hardcore Australian theatre at its best. Just as well it’s an intelligent company staging it, or we might miss the awful truth behind its bleak, blokey humour and be left with too-obvious crass nothingness.


Deeply entrenched in our culture, and highlighted by the black comedy in this piece, is the insidious dislike of and blatant disregard for anyone who is not regarded as one of our own. Migrants and the wife (and women in general) cop a hiding in this production, and we never see them get their own back because the revenge plot revolves around racist, misogynist Ron and his need to maintain his unique worldview.


Eugene Gilfedder played the multiple roles at La Boite in 2002 as part of The Holden Plays for the Brisbane (Energex) Festival, with Ian Lawson in the directors’ chair. I suspect this production is slightly different…




It’s a tough little show with moments of fluid, silvery, abstract perfection (in case we weren’t getting the correlation between car bodies and womens’ bodies). The physical theatre is at once strange and perfectly suitable, executed with skill and precision by Vanja Matula, Zoe DePlevitz & Beth Incognito. There’s an element of mime, which brings the action at times to a slow dream-like state – is this really happening?! Hot tip: sit towards the front of the room because there ain’t no tiered seating in the hut on Jean Howie Drive.


Colarelli is in fine form as the abhorrent Ron (don’t call him Ronald!), beautifully weighing up some difficult choices in life, like whether or not to ever speak to the “commo” neighbour again, after he’s unable to identify a 5 / 8 ring spanner. I love Ron’s private moments of contemplation, bathed in deceptively soft white light, little philosophical soliloquies (some are pre-recorded and come across with even more menace as he glares at us), which lead us to gasp or groan aloud at his ignorance and intolerance of others – OH MY GOD. Did he really say that?! Yes. Yes, he did.


Having never read the original text by Henry Williams, the end comes as a complete surprise. The lengths to which the man goes to to exact revenge upon the poor souls who don’t fit his worldview… Really, we should have known. But who could imagine? In the first five minutes of the show we see exactly what sort of man Ron has been taught to be. He’s truly appalling but what the WHAT? WOW.


A lesser actor would make a dog’s breakfast of this role, rushing through the crass comparative comments and hurling rather than snarling insults, or indulging in the wrong moments, missing the point entirely.


The violence of the text is juxtaposed against pure poetry in the movement of DePlevitz, Incognito and Matula. Matula is at his best here, in multiple roles, but especially as that annoying neighbour, Mel Moody.




The ensemble’s strength and poise, and their ability to work in perfect synchronicity (in fantastic shiny speedway gear) underscores some of the most beautiful (and comical) moments in the show. Yes! Despite the dark content and shocking conclusion, My Love Had a Black Speed Stripe is, in parts, actually hilarious…well, horribly so.


Side note: Since I finished feeling sick to my stomach through much of Christos Tsiolkas’s Dead Europe, in the car now I’m listening to Jon Kakauer’s Missoula – Rape and the Justice System in a College Town. Some of the accounts send shivers down my spine. It’s the same discomfort I experience while watching Ron run his hand down the torso of his wife, Rose, as the actor backbends into position to become the car’s gearstick.


DePlevitz is wholly Rose and whatever else is required, in terms of car parts, machinary parts, etc, which gives her reading of the role of Wife-with-a-capital-w a deeply disturbing underlying awareness that maybe, just maybe, she deserves more. Have I ever seen this actor in anything before? If not why not? DePlevitz’s performance is heart-achingly on point.




I can’t imagine what this production would be like without its hardcore garage party soundtrack (with voice/guitar/lyrics & additional music by Finn Gilfedder-Cooney), the sound effects and pre-recorded soliloquies, and strangely colourful lighting states (Sound by Michael Bouwman. Lighting by Geoff Squires. Design Nicole Macqueen). I can’t picture a one-man show now that I’ve seen this ensemble’s polished body percussion and streamlined movement applied in the most imaginative ways I’ve seen outside of an actors’ workshop.


As we realise with horror what’s going to happen, and the play accelerates to reach its inevitable grisly end, I forget for a moment where I am. I’m surprised to find I’m exactly where I started, I haven’t moved, perched on the top of my seat with my feet on the actual seat in order to better see the performers who had begun on the black & white linoleum looking floor. I’m gripping the metal top of the chair.



“I watched my Monaro move off like some proud, doomed galleon…”



Terror. Horror. Unspeakable. I CAN’T EVEN. And then the epilogue. And then a rousing curtain call. And then the cold air outside.


I’m so impressed with this slick production. Lee-Cooney has assembled a stellar cast and turned some old-school theatrical tricks to create a deeply affecting, genuinely thrilling production, which I feel should be re-staged in front of the towering brick walls of Brisbane Powerhouse, filmed professionally and distributed to schools and theatre groups everywhere as an example of LOOK WHAT CAN BE CREATED WITH BODIES AND VOICES AND SOUND AND AN EMPTY SPACE.


Be one of the lucky few to see My Love Had a Black Speed Stripe during Anywhere Theatre Festival and you’ll be hearing for years to come about how so many others regrettably missed it.






The Reality Event: GAME


The Reality Event: GAME

The Suicide Ensemble

Bean Cafe

May 12 – 17 2015


Reviewed by Katelyn Panagiris











GAME represents one half of THE REALITY EVENT – a double bill of work directed by Daniel Gough and devised by The Suicide Ensemble for Anywhere Theatre Festival. The premise of THE REALITY EVENT is simple, and the result chaotic…


“This is theatre for the people. Two performances: SUICIDE and GAME. Each plays a part in finding out what your world is really made of. We’ve made something big. But it’s time to burn it down. Come be destructive with us.”


It had been a long time since I’d been this excited for a performance.




As I walked through a dark alleyway on my way to the venue, performers donned in rubbish bags greeted me and directed me to the entrance of Bean Cafe. I knew I was in for a gritty night. The underground café, while small, proved to be an inviting and energetic space – the perfect venue for an “underground” performance. Back in the alleyway, the hosts laid down the rules, the performers were introduced, and inside, the game began. Over the next hour, five performers, supported by their team of audience members, battled it out for the title of winner. I witnessed as balloons were popped with a large rubber object, eggs were thrown at dancing performers and a mix of yoghurt, spam and gherkins was hesitantly consumed.


At this stage you may be having trouble imagining all of this, and that’s because GAME is a work that needs to be experienced.


It’s important to acknowledge that its origins lie in the tradition of performance art more than theatre, with clear influences from international companies such as Gob Squad. GAME has no characters, no set and no script. And without you (the audience), it would not exist.


This emphasis on audience participation and improvisation means that not only will each performance be different, but each audience member’s response to the performance will be different. I get the sense that this individual response is what GAME is all about.


For me, GAME was a playful experience made possible by the vibrant energy and personality of each of the performers. Their commitment was admirable, and their sense of fun infectious. The whole performance felt like an echo of my generation – the type of perverse thing that I’d watch on YouTube with my friends and laugh. While physical audience participation was relatively minimal, I felt engaged and involved throughout, cheering for “Team Pavle” from the sidelines.


As the game progressed and the tasks became more cringe-worthy, I found it difficult to watch. But still, I couldn’t look away. What did this say about me? About my generation? These were interesting questions but I’m not sure they were the ones The Suicide Ensemble was asking. In fact, for all its moments of brilliant fun and dark play, I felt the intention of GAME was unclear. I left the performance questioning the significance of my response in light of their intent: what was the point of this game?


There is no denying that the audience has been considered when creating GAME, however; this type of work, which relies so heavily on the audience’s involvement can reveal a gap between intent and reception in performance. As the ensemble itself says, “In truth, we’re never sure how it’s going to go…because you aren’t there yet.” While GAME is a well-considered and carefully structured piece, I feel there is potential for it to be developed further, incorporating audience feedback from this first development.




GAME has the potential to ask more, to push the boundaries further and to include the audience more completely. But in this underground cafe are the beginnings of a new work that is young, fresh and ambitious.


It’s fun. It’s rebellious, and most importantly it’s the type of work you really don’t want to just hear about second hand.




The Fever


The Fever

A to Z Theatre

West End Markets Warehouse

May 8 – 17 2015


 Reviewed by Xanthe Coward










You might not recognise the name but you’ll certainly remember Wallace Shawn’s presence in Vanya on 42nd Street and The Princess Bride – brilliant! Also a brilliant writer, Shawn has been performing his extended monologue, The Fever, since 1990.


Zac Boulton has brought it to vivid life in a most amusing and disturbing way for Anywhere Theatre Festival.



While visiting a poverty-stricken country far from home, the unnamed narrator of The Fever is forced to witness the political persecution occurring just beyond a hotel window. In examining a life of comfort and relative privilege, the narrator reveals, “I always say to my friends, We should be glad to be alive. We should celebrate life. We should understand that life is wonderful.” But how does one celebrate life—take pleasure in beauty, for instance—while slowly becoming aware that the poverty and oppression of other human beings are a direct consequence of one’s own pleasurable life?


There’s a new breed of performer emerging in Queensland and I’m gonna’ give a shout out to the agency who represents a few of them because people often ask us who they should approach about management. BMEG’s Directors, Rowena Mohr and Mary-Ann Vale, must have recognised a little while ago what we’re seeing now on stage and screen. Some of the names on their books include Dash Kruck, Emily Burton, Amy Ingram, Erica Field, Cienda McNamara, Lizzie Moore, Sam Plummer and The Fever’s Zac Boulton…performers with an entirely different energy, who each have a very real sense of leaping, whole body and voice and heart and head and soul, into a role.


(If you’re a performer with an industry referral you can contact BMEG here).





Zac Boulton’s performance of The Fever, Wallace Shawn’s detailed and dynamic text, is intense and excellent.



It’s physically, vocally and emotionally demanding, challenging the actor firstly to seduce us and gain our trust, which he does by making direct eye contact and introducing us to the imagined insects in the room, and then to hold our attention and entertain us for a full 75 minutes. Around the three-quarter mark it becomes difficult to stay focused. Perhaps the piece is 10-15 minutes too long. Perhaps it’s early onset Festival Fatigue.


Boulton has worked closely with Director, Anatoly Frusin, to create a whole world within a room, a West End space I hadn’t known existed. The performance space is literally a black box with a string of fairy lights, a couple of strategically placed reading lamps, a table and a ceiling painted, like Mr Plumbean’s house, with brightly coloured figments of someone else’s imagination. There’s an octopus and a red and white circus tent… I forget to keep looking for anything else. It’s a good find, a building almost hidden behind food stalls in the Boundary Street Markets, like a poor man’s Metro Arts. It’s the perfect space for this feverish and at times very funny one-man show.


Look at yourself. Look. You walk so stiffly in your kitchen each morning, you approach your cupboard. You open it, and reach for the coffee, the coffee you expect to find on its shelf. And it has to be there. And if one morning it isn’t there—oh, the hysteria!—the entire world will have to pay! At the very thought of the unexpected, the unexpected deprivation, you begin to twitch, to panic, to pant. The shortness of breath! Listen to your voice on the telephone, listen to the tone that comes into your voice when you talk to one of your very close friends and you talk about your life and you use those expressions—”what I need to live on . . .”—”the amount I need . . .”—solemn, quiet, no histrionics—the tone of hysteria, the tone of the fanatic—well, yes—of course—it makes sense. You understand your situation. Without a place to live, without clothes, without money, you would be like them, you would be them, you would be what they are—you would be the homeless, you would be the comfortless. So of course, you know it, you will do anything. There are no limits to what you will do. Without the money, your face would become the face of a rat, your hands would be paws—sharp, nimble, ready to scratch, ready to tear.”


Unsettling much?


To experience this show is to step inside the dark, gritty picture painted by Wallace’s words, which come so fast at times from Boulton’s lips that I notice I’m not the only one leaning forward in my seat to catch them. This is a precarious act of commitment to the performance, considering we’re sitting on bar stools in the back row, like late-night gatecrashers to a private party at a random inner city dingy and unidentified location, probs because every other venue in the vicinity applied lockout at 3am. There’s an alluring sense of secrecy and mystery and possible lowbrow criminal activity, as if the regulars at that inner city bar party have suddenly procured drugs to convince us to stay… Well, haven’t you ever accidentally walked into a place you know you shouldn’t be in? I almost feel like I’m still listening to Christos Tsiolkas’ Dead Europe. Yeah. You know it. Some similar moral and ethical questions there. A bit scary. Scary road trip/travelling listening, ideal for late night home to the Sunshine Coast drives through infuriatingly frequent (STILL) roadworks. Not. At. All.


Boulton’s physicality is bold and very disciplined, allowing us to see him sitting in a chair when there is not one beneath him. His use of a single table – upside down, sideways, back to front and right side up – provides almost all the settings required to tell his tale (a portion of wall and a change in lighting states provide yet another). Frusin’s hand in all of this, I suspect, has been light and sure.


We can actually envisage the blood in the streets, the sweat, the stench, the immense suffering on a daily basis, and what are we thinking? Well, you know, I sponsor a child, I click to donate, I support the bake sale to raise funds for African orphanages, I buy Fairtrade tea, I post via Instagram a picture of me wearing my slippers/white shirt/whatever it is to support a worthy cause this month…. WOW. How pathetic am I???


Sympathy for the poor does not change the life of the poor…


And artists who create works of art that inspire sympathy and good values don’t change the life of the poor.


The Fever is 75 minutes of intravenous Viagra. It forces us to take a good hard look at how we conduct ourselves every day. What choices are we making and how do those choices affect the lives and wellbeing of others? You might not want to think about it for too long. Except you have to. You can’t walk out the door and down the stairs and shrug off this stuff!


The ending is not necessarily satisfactory – let’s say if you hadn’t considered your behaviour before you came in, you will do on the way out – and there’s a little bit of hard work involved, in terms of staying focused on the big issues for over an hour, but it’s a compelling performance with enough lighter moments to break up the tough stuff (only there are times when you’ll wonder whether or not it’s appropriate to laugh out loud!).


Don’t let a little bit of hard work discourage you from seeking out this seriously confronting, extremely physical and beautifully self-assured solo performance by one of Queensland’s most exciting and ambitious actors.






The Jazz Age Dance Cabaret


The Jazz Age Dance Cabaret

The Candy Shop Show

Woolloongabba Antique Centre

May 7 – 16 2015


Reviewed by Jackson Kellaway











Anywhere Theatre Festival: theatre that happens literally anywhere. Even in an antique centre. Woolloongabba Antique Centre. This is where The Candy Shop Show staged The Jazz Age Dance Cabaret.


The Jazz Age Dance Cabaret is a look back to the popular dance and music of the 1920s, 30s and 40s.


Follow the performers as they sing and dance their way through the Prohibition and Speakeasy’s of the 20s and 30s and relive the energy and despair of the war through the melodic harmonies of the 1940s.


When my friend and I walked into the antique centre we were confronted by cabinets and shelves full of colours; shining jewellery, wooden carvings and other knick-knacks with price tags attached to them. After discovering row after row of random objects (“Oh look at this!” “OMG I want this!”), we found the corner of the store that was set up to seat about 40 people, with a small stage at the front.


After doing the typical read through of the program the curtains were drawn, blocking off the rest of the antique world and exposing four cabaret ladies.


This show is a history lesson. The Jazz Age Cabaret takes the audience on a journey through the eras of dance from the roaring twenties to the frisky fifties right up to the popular use of jazz nowadays. With each era comes a different costume, a different style of dance and a different stunning dancer giving us the facts of the decade. Dance styles include the Charleston of course, goose-bump inducing tap dancing and a LOT of Bob Fosse.




The technical elements of the show are basic, considering the space being used. That said, there isn’t much else needed in regards to lighting. For example, a red wash sets the mood for rouging our knees and rolling our stockings down, and all that jazz.


I was disappointed that on opening night the microphones weren’t working 100% (I would love to have heard the beautiful voices). Although they kept dropping in and out the girls handled the challenge professionally. They didn’t miss a beat!


Jenny Usher, owner of The Candy Shop Show and Director/Choreographer of The Jazz Age Dance Cabaret, has put together an elegant, informative and cheeky cabaret show. It is clear that a lot of hard work has gone into the show and not just by Jenny, but also by the other girls, and SM Kym Brown.


A special mention goes to Maureen Bowra who sang and danced with passion and confidence, especially considering the minimal amount of fabric covering her.


The entire cast look like they are having a gay ol’ time on stage, which puts a beaming smile on my face. I wasn’t lucky enough to be pulled up on stage to learn the Charleston but I was on the edge of my seat, having to stop myself from getting up and joining in the dances, however; I fulfilled my need to be on stage once the show had finished!




Me, Maria and the Moon


Me, Maria and the Moon

The Basics Project

That Flower Shop

May 7 – 9 & 21 – 23 2015











Reviewed by Xanthe Coward


A story set at the dawn of time when the power of the heart and the power of the universes gravitational pull forces a drift between desires and the true colours of a lusted heart are drawn to the surface. A classic not-so-classic love story that will buzz the imagination for a long time to come.



star gaze colour


It’s a show in a flower shop – That Flower Shop


It’s located in a random shopping centre complex in Alderley and the shop’s silver roller door is Luke Butler’s backdrop. Stock has been moved to make way for around thirty audience members. This small shop, even without a show in it, lends itself to something sweet and lovely in the way of storytelling.


It is indeed a sweet and lovely show, inspired by Italo Calvino’s The Distance of the Moon and reminiscent of Disney Pixar’s short film, La Luna, Wolfe Bowart’s LaLaLuna and in terms of its structure and storytelling, Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s The Little Prince and The Escapist’s Boy Girl Wall.


In short, Me, Maria and the Moon is delightful.




Producer, Writer and Performer, Luke Butler, in role as the spritely professor, tells a not so classic love story with enough energy to fill a much larger space. At the same time, he creates the kind of quiet intimacy you’d expect of a private conversation on the lounge in a moonlit living room. I almost expected thirty steaming cups of black tea to be magically procured out of a battered old suitcase, which is one of Butler’s versatile props. But it’s opening night and thanks to the pop-up bar outside there’s an abundance of bubbles, wine and beer instead.


me, maria and the moon tea


The Professor is very proper and knowledgeable, and at the same time warm and personable, taking the time to connect with individual audience members. We truly feel we are guests in his humble home on just the right day to hear a tale from time gone by. (On other days he might reasonably be too busy to stop, studying instead the tides or a new planet!). We feel we know him. In fact, The Professor reminds me of Jim Broadbent’s mischievous take on the children’s uncle in The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe.


I see others in the audience smiling throughout the show, enjoying moments of the vivid retelling of the tale of lost love, and perhaps vaguely thinking of their own great (lost) love… The rich layering of bold, young ideas and older, wiser sentiments in a body that becomes frail (while the mind and heart stay strong) make this a story for all ages.


Poppy tells me after the show, “I was listening and looking at him and as I was listening and looking at him he became older and older. His hair became grey as I was watching him!” She loved that the grown ups actually got to the moon because, you know, grown ups so rarely do. “Well, you have to remember how to get there. That jump is tricky.”


A one-man-show is just as tricky a leap, which is why we see so few (and why we don’t expect students to pull together anything of the sort until Year 12). But Butler is a skilful performer who exudes confidence in a polite, good-humoured, well-measured manner. He’s never arrogant or over indulgent. His choices are deliberate and his performance is carefully paced. Overall, it’s a precise, polished production, ready for the next stage of development, and there’s no need to nit-pick here. It’s a show we could expect to see next at Metro Arts or in the Shopfront at the Judith Wright Centre…if it weren’t for The Basics Project’s policy to arrange each production in a space best suited to the story. Perhaps with the right offer of funding and support the company might look to a more conventional theatrical space for the purposes of development. And ticket sales. The beauty of Anywhere Theatre Festival though is that you just might be one of the lucky ones to experience something special in a space anywhere other than a theatre.


Me, Maria and the Moon is whimsical, magical stuff. If you can see it, do enjoy your journey to the moon and back!






Anywhere Theatre Festival 2014 – expressions of interest now open

Anywhere Theatre Festival believes there is a better way for performers and producers than waiting for rare slots in theatres and losing life savings presenting in fringe festivals where there are more performances than audiences members and the entire budget goes on venue hire and paying for everything but the creation of the work.


In 2014 Anywhere is taking a great leap forward from being a coordinated open access festival anywhere but a theatre to be fully curated. Anywhere believes this will provide the best experience for emerging and established artists, audiences, locations and all partners.


Expressions of Interest (EoI) open 7 November and close Tuesday 24 DecemberEven better, the EoI process is really simple.


The festival runs Wednesday 7 May to Sunday 18 May 2014.


Upon submitting your EoI, you’ll be asked to pay $20. Why $20 to express interest? The curatorial team want to know you’re serious (even if you want to present a comedy) and they figure if you can forgo five $4 coffees, then you’re serious… and probably in need of a coffee. They’ve also reduced all the participation fees by $20 from last year to compensate.


Your involvement will be confirmed prior to the participation deadline of 14 January 2014.


Costs are:

  • $310 Standard Participation including insurance
  • $230 Participation (you have your own insurance)
  • $100 per Free Production (for as many instances as you want)

Why pay a participation fee?


In 2013 Anywhere provided an estimated $14,600 worth of services to each production.

In 2014 the services and resources will include:

  • Festival program distributed to 20,000 people throughout Brisbane
  • Leverage festival marketing and public relations opportunities. See how much was generated in 2013
  • Limited number of festival productions to give you the best chance of finding an audience
  • Brokering non traditional performance locations with no charge to you
  • Online Box Office where you can keep track of your ticket sales
  • Central web site for all show information that receives approximately 70,000 hits during the twelve days of the festival
  • Specialised advice from Anywhere
  • Online group of producers and performers
  • Our world acclaimed producer pack with everything from a step by step guide to producing, media lists, venue contracts, marketing, risk management checklists
  • Reviews and photographs by the Anywhere Reviewers and Anywhere Photographers




Key dates for your diary:


  • 24 December – Expression of Interest deadline
  • 14 January – Confirm successful inclusion in festival, with contract and participation amount
  • 14 February – Finalise show details for festival programme
  • Mid March – Proposed Anywhere Launch
  • 7 May – Anywhere FIRST DAY
  • 18 May – Anywhere LAST DAY

Recommended links before you submit your EOI:






Questions? Contact Anywhere Theatre Festival on 07 3102 4683 or to talk in more detail.