Posts Tagged ‘benjamin schostakowski


Elizabeth I


Elizabeth I

Brisbane Powerhouse & Monsters Appear

Brisbane Powerhouse Visy Theatre

December 1 – 3 2017


Reviewed by Rhumer Diball



At a glance, Elizabeth I is a one-woman show about Elizabeth, a seemingly ordinary royal enthusiast from Sydney. When delving a little deeper, it becomes apparent that this production is also a one-woman show about the Virgin Queen’s ghost entering the world of 21st century Australia. When tentative and vulnerable present-day Elizabeth, and fearless, resilient Queen Elizabeth I join forces during an inciting threat of doom, the far-removed females combine the paradoxes of history to present a surprising development of wits and self worth.


Despite all of her endearing qualities and quirky antics, royal enthusiast Elizabeth is introduced to the audience as a faltering woman who relies on small pleasures and simple prospects to fill up her modest life. She loves her pug, is working her “dream job” managing complains at a Sydney pharmaceuticals company, and gains most of her thrills from office parties and unrequited desires for mysterious work colleagues. However, when a number of tragic developments multiply before her, Elizabeth is propelled down a terrifying path that leads to life threatening danger in a single afternoon. Lost and helpless she calls up her love of historical monarchs to source the power needed to face her looming peril. With this comes the hilarious yet harrowing entrance of the infamously powerful Queen Elizabeth I, and with her a split from a single character’s journey to a more complex battle between two women’s considerably conflicting attitudes towards danger and intimidation.


The Virgin Queen enters Elizabeth’s body as a kind of guide to offer commanding counsel and an essence to drive effectual action. With a simplistic, relatively supernatural usurping of Elizabeth’s internal control, the frail and susceptible woman is engulfed and her inner warrior is released. Within moments following her introduction Elizabeth I reveals her dated historical perceptions of gender roles and attitudes towards physicality and its dictation of power. However, her value of inner strength and devotion in times of confrontation is a welcomed reinforcement of modern day empowerment for any woman, let alone one as uncertain and self-doubting as Elizabeth. The contrast between the women through time and stance is an exquisite dynamic that pushes the piece beyond a playful fusing of timelines and closer to a more profound reflection of past, present and future musings.


Sole performer Emily Burton’s performance is rich in personality yet sweet and endearing as modern day Elizabeth. She matches vulnerability with admirable comedic timing and keeps the character entertaining in office-based contexts that could have quickly become tedious. As the two Elizabeths Burton showcases her diversity, combining a meek and charming demeanor with a guttural and commanding presence in a sharp retort. She portrays a delicate amalgamation with a controlled splitting of characters, or personalities if so inclined, while fixated from a singular spot on stage. Burton’s control of movement, body positioning and inner strength is what truly makes this complicated hybridisation work; her ability to bring out the shades of light and dark within both Elizabeth characters is impressive, and it is executed with evident depth during moments that require stark contrast.


Director Benjamin Schostakowski also deserves praise for his ability to lead Burton’s detailed delivery of the two women. Overall Schostakowski manages to embrace the piece’s melodrama and predictable plot developments and harness their impact in a hilarious fusion with effortless style. His control of pace and surprising contrast strengthens the work’s evolution from comedic charm to thrilling theatricality as the plot progresses towards the climactic cliffhanger.


Notable mentions must also go to this production’s stellar design team. Neridah Waters’ choreography and Wil Hughes’ sound and AV design compliment one another fluidly to layer atop the comedic yet intrinsic elements and enhance Burton and Schostakowski’s coordinated craft. Jason Glenwright’s lighting design holds the shows’ realistic beginnings together with imaginative depth, as well as exploiting moments of mystical proportions with sophistication and pertinence. Glenwright goes from creating simple yet beautiful atmosphere to exploring eery environments to differentiate the Elizabeth psyches. Through smooth alterations and understated overlays Glenwright progresses from playing with sparkling disco dance floor or flashing thunderstorm to splitting the stage and the characters’ essences visually through juxtaposing green and orange hues. As distinctly different colours cast across the space and divide Burton’s body, the Burton’s physical performance of the two Elizabeth’s is extended into a purposeful yet beautiful manipulation of space.


With powerful creatives joining forces, Elizabeth I at Brisbane Powerhouse’s Wonderland festival is an exhilarating first instalment of a what looks to be a promising full-length production in the future.


Elizabeth 1 – a chat with Emily Burton


Elizabeth 1

A Chat With Emily Burton




Ascending to the throne at age 25, Elizabeth I of England reigned for 45 years.


What you might not know is that she secretly considered herself an artist.


A ghost-like vision of The Virgin Queen takes her audience on a shamelessly theatrical trip into her deep dark artistic pursuits, poems of pugs, a knack for knickers and mountains of makeup.


Part historical fan fiction, part stand-up comedy, and part late night slow dance – welcome to the strange and wonderful world of one of history’s most powerful women.


Emily Burton is an actress, theatre-maker, and teaching artist. Her past main stage productions include: Single Asian Female and A Midsummer Night’s Dream at La Boite Theatre Company; and The SeagullOedipus Doesn’t Live Here AnymoreA Tribute of Sorts at Queensland Theatre.

Since graduating from University of Southern Queensland in 2010, Emily has collaborated on numerous independent theatre projects including the multi award-winning A Tribute of Sorts, for which she won a Matilda Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role. Premiering at La Boite Theatre Company, A Tribute of Sorts was then awarded a return season at the Queensland Theatre in 2014 which boasted a second sell-out season.


Emily has toured nationally with acclaimed theatre companies, Dead Puppets Society on The Harbinger, and Grin and Tonic Theatre Troupe. Emily has worked as a teaching artist across Australia with numerous companies and organisations and has a particular passion for bringing the arts to isolated, regional areas of Australia.


Emily says ‘When you’re dealing with a character like Elizabeth I, who is so familiar to many people, the challenge becomes about finding a way of portraying her that
hasn’t been seen before. Luckily Ben and I have stumbled on a very strange version of the story, one that also humanises her in a funny way. We go to many different places and periods in the show, it’s ridiculously fun’.


How do you tackle a role such as this, one of history’s most powerful women?

The more I learn about Elizabeth I, the more I’m amazed by her contradictions, her courage, and her public vs private persona. I’d be more intimidated, I think, if I was taking on a Cate Blanchett-like interpretation of the character. The brilliant thing about working with Ben, however, is that we’re just jumping whole-heartedly into our own interpretation – which means things can get a little wild and weird. And Elizabeth I isn’t the only character we’re dealing with in this show…


What drew you to her, and to this production?

Ben came to me with a rough concept and these poems that Elizabeth I had written. We found them hilarious because some of them are so….well, awful. They reveal Elizabeth as a very normal, flawed person. You don’t often see this version of Elizabeth in the history books. That’s what started it all.


How did you prepare? (do you watch all the films or none of them?)

I watched the Blanchett films and parts of some TV shows, but what proved to be the most helpful thing was a massive collection of Elizabeth I’s prayers, poems, speeches and letters. She truly had an incredible intellect. She was writing letters in Latin at the age of twelve. When you immerse yourself in someone’s personal writing you begin to pick up unique traits. For example, I noticed she gave some people she cared about nicknames. All the nicknames are animals – Frog, Little Crow, Ape (poor soul who got given the nickname Ape!). These kinds of discoveries are absolute gold as an actor. Little clues and ideas as to how you might choose to portray them on stage.


Have you co-created and co-written with Benjamin?

Yes, this show has been a collaboration between the two of us. It’s being produced as a new work from Monsters Appear.


Are there any obvious or not so obvious parallels between women in Tudor England and now?

I imagine there’s a person far more qualified than me who’s written a PhD thesis on that topic! I certainly find that contemporary women (and men for that matter) have a lot more in common with historical figures like Elizabeth I than they might at first suspect. Elizabeth was a human (even if they thought otherwise back then – they considered her Holy).  She worried about whether she was doing the right thing, she didn’t want to let anybody down, she was in love, she grieved her friends when they died – I can relate to all of that and I think audiences can too.


Are there any particular aspects of The Virgin Queen’s reigning period that you have enjoyed bringing to light?

Without giving too much away, there’s some dancing in the show that I’ve found particularly enjoyable! However, it’s probably important to note that this isn’t an historical period piece; we don’t overtly look at specific events from Elizabeth’s life. We have integrated significant elements of her life far more subtly into a new story. There are plenty of films and television out there that focuses on major events of Queen Liz as an historical figure. We didn’t want to give an audience something they’ve already seen. We hope to reveal a more vulnerable version of Elizabeth, inspired by her poetry, letters, speeches and prayers. We’ve been more drawn to the strange facts and knowledge about Elizabeth’s life like how many dogs she owned and their names, and why she owned a brooch in the shape of a frog. It’s our attempt to humanise her in a really, well, daggy, unique way. Personally, I find that appealing and she becomes far more relatable as a character on stage.


Can you talk about the style of the show?


As one might expect from Ben and myself, it is a show that will look beautiful and sound strange. We’ve created the show for touring and festivals so it’s quite stripped-back and minimalistic. The show isn’t 100% about Elizabeth I – there’s another character too, a woman from a different time, who calls upon Elizabeth I for help in a time of crisis. The show is part comedy, part tragedy, part seance.


Can you talk about your vocal work in this show?

I did a lot of research into what kind of accent Elizabeth should have. Because there is no recording of her voice, no one really knows how she sounded. This allows some freedom, but there is a tricky balance to strike – Ben and I didn’t want to pick an accent so extreme that it becomes a distraction for the audience, but you still want something that represents her status and time period. Hopefully we’ve found that balance. With a second character in the show, I’ve been working on vocal transitions between these characters quite a bit. It’s a part of my job that I find particularly fun!


What are your top tips for performers to keep a healthy voice, healthy body, healthy mind?


Well, the voice and body are relatively simple (although certainly not easy!) – eat healthy and exercise. Sleep is absolutely vital for me and is something that I think a lot of people underestimate!


Keeping a healthy mind is less simple. Mentally, spiritually, self-compassion is incredibly important. Ultimately though, my best advice for other performers would be: Don’t try to be everything, just be you. That is your strongest asset. Use it in every moment.


Can you talk about working with Benjamin Schostakowski?

It’s been a series of ongoing disasters. In the best possible way. Strangely, we both became new parents within two weeks of each other, so we have been making a new show with the added delight of raising newborns. The scheduling has been interesting to say the least. I love working with Ben. It’s rare to find a creative companion where you collaborate so easily. When we’re working together the ideas seem to bounce along and flow very easily. We have the same unusual, warped, sick sense of humour. We make each other giggle, which is fun.


What’s your favourite part of the creative and rehearsal process?

Well, usually it’s getting to work with the other actors and finding that unspoken language within an ensemble, but considering this is a one-woman show, that doesn’t really apply here! I also particularly enjoy the process of pulling a character apart and searching for all their quirks and mannerisms, then slowly building them up again. I’m a perfectionist, so I love getting down to the nitty-gritty details.


What does down time look like?

Rare, now that my husband and I have a new baby. But overall pretty normal I think. Every day usually ends with me and my husband on the couch with wine watching television! We’re watching Star Trek at the moment. Stranger Things next. Ooooo, and binging Selling Houses Australia…that’s normal, right?


Are you the person at the party who gets funnier as things get louder / quieter / later?

I’m the person who doesn’t go to the party. Or if I do, I’m with the other introverts in a corner giggling and talking about how much we’d prefer to be quietly drinking beers over some nerdy boardgames.


What’s the significance of presenting the show within Wonderland?

Wonderland’s a fantastic space for performers, and I’m really proud to be associated with a program that so strongly supports Queensland artists. That’s vitally important. There seems to be a dwindling number of roles for Brisbane/Queensland performers, so a festival that provides opportunities for us to show what we’ve got is exciting. Wonderland will be the premiere for this new Australian work. We’re planning to develop it more and tour it to festivals/other companies in the future, which is an exciting prospect.


Do you subscribe to a particular method/approach to acting?

No. Whatever works for you is the right way to do it. I do think there’s a danger in subscribing too much to one method and limiting yourself. I’ve learned a lot from my mentors that you’ve got to keep yourself open. However, having said that, I’ve studied/read nearly every acting method out there. I think it’s important to keep a wide range of tools in your toolbox, so to speak. Personally, I’ve found every show/character is different and I tend to use different methods according to what it needs.


What are your top three audition tips for actors?


When you can, read the whole play.


Learn your lines.


Don’t build your audition off what you “think” the director might want. That’s impossible to know. Build your audition as to how YOU would perform it. A director wants to see you, that’s all.



What do you love about performing?

Comedy is the best drug.


Live performance, connecting with an audience, all believing in the make-believe for a little while, is the greatest reward.





Can you tell us about your training and getting a foot in the door of a highly competitive industry? (What keeps you in it?)

I studied acting at university – and generally speaking, I still advocate for training at an institution. Mostly, for the community that it connects you with. Community is everything. Apart from that, it’s all about auditioning and saying yes. My connection with Ben came about because I did a super small reading at La Boite years ago that I just got through uni mates. Once you get a gig, be kind and be pleasant to work with. The more positive connections you make, the more work you tend to get – in saying that, I’ve just had over six months where I haven’t done much work, and you get patches where the tide goes out – but that’s true for everyone. You’ve got to find a way to be okay with that. That’s the job. It’s certainly hard, but I stay in it because I love it and I believe (perhaps rather romantically) in the power of theatre and it’s ability to move people and affect change in the world.


How do you feel about work / life balance?

It’s like a beautiful destination, always on the horizon, that I never actually arrive at. Like everyone else, I’m still figuring it out.


What would you be doing if not acting?

A psychologist, probably. Or Speech pathology. Dog groomer? Although I must say I’ve enjoyed helping to write this show and other writing I’ve done this year. Or maybe I’ll just run away and open a fruit barn, get some bees and chooks and live in the country somewhere. 


How do you feel about arts awards?

They’re very nice, but not important.


What do you feel are the strengths and challenges of Brisbane’s performing arts scene?


In regards to challenges, Brisbane seems to mostly have the same challenges as the rest of Australia. Audiences are getting smaller and we need to get creative about how we solve that. I don’t think the answer is solely in getting more funding from the government. Often it feels like we look to that as the answer that will solve all our problems, but in my experience, more money doesn’t mean more work OR better quality work.


In terms of strengths, Brisbane has some of the most creative artists in the country, even in the world. As a state, we generate a LOT of new work. We’re very good at that. While we aren’t necessarily always accepted down south, (for reasons that are unknown to me) internationally, we are incredibly successful.


What’s your next challenge?

I’m thrilled to be performing in the Opera House with the Dead Puppet Society as they take their show The Wider Earth to Sydney Festival next year. I’ll also be reprising my role in Michelle Law’s Single Asian Female when it’s remounted at Belvoir Street Theatre next year.


What’s your next treat/trip away/special event/break?

Christmas! My family lives at Coffs Harbour, so very much looking forward to the beach, beers, and fresh seafood!



Emily Burton stars in Elizabeth 1 during Wonderland Festival 2017 (November 23 – December 3) at Brisbane Powerhouse December 1 – 3.

Book here.



Opening Night Style at La Boite: A Midsummer Night’s Dream



Opening Night Style at La Boite: A Midsummer Night’s Dream



On Wednesday night we walked into Benjamin Schostakowski’s head and experienced a Dream like no other!


You can read my review here.



A Midsummer Night’s Dream


Dress Code: This is La Boite. Wear boldly whatever you like.


Pre-show drinks: La Boite




Pants: Lilya


Top: Zara (Honey Birdette worn under)


Shoes: Siren Shoes Australia


Hair: unstyled. Can you tell? 




A Midsummer Night’s Dream


A Midsummer Night’s Dream

La Boite Theatre Co

Roundhouse Theatre

February 11 – March 7 2015


Reviewed by Xanthe Coward



“A wildly original take on Shakespeare’s magical romantic comedy.”






Alright. That may be, but I have a few questions about this one. Firstly…


Who killed Kenny?! PUCK?






So the faery servant is not altogether dead in this production, but he is actually mostly dead. Or, he is reborn as an alien who channels himself using the magic of television. Or whatever. We hear his voice – well, sort of; it sounds eerily similar to the evil voice in The Child, to which I’m currently listening – and we never actually see him. Oh sure, Oberon sees a version of him, but DOES HE EVEN REALLY EXIST? Who’s to say? Read it how you will; of course the absence of Puck will seem awesome and inspired to some, of course – of course! – but to me it smacks of too much cleverness. Why mess with A Midsummer Night’s Dream? I don’t believe Shakespeare’s characters need to be transported to a terribly different time and place in order to make the old stories relevant to new audiences, or whatever, unless you are Sam Mendes. (I do hope you’re keeping up with the NT Live screenings at a cinema near you because THAT is how we reinvent the classics, kids). #ntlive #nuffsaid


Where is the magic here?

Because the magic of A Midsummer Night’s Dream is its magic.


Four awkward teens find themselves entangled in a god-awful love quadrangle. A sextet of amateur drama enthusiasts earnestly rehearse a play for a wedding. The Godfather and Godmother of the fairies are locked in a bitter argument over an adopted child, which they seek to resolve through the careless application of dodgy witchcraft.






In Benjamin Schostakowski’s brave reimagining the magic is almost entirely lost. Where are the faeries? Why must Titania speak to them (and for them) when they are clearly, according to this version, not really there? It seems she is going slightly mad! Or is it just me?! Why do we need to dream the Dream so differently? Other than making a mark as a director, putting one’s own stamp on it and all that stuff, why go to such lengths to pluck out and dispose of all of the gleaming, glistening, beautifully coloured tail feathers? As I know it, the Dream is a peacock, or Amazing Mayzie, but now we see it stripped (though not edited; it’s a long show!), and without the magic we are left with Gertrude McFuzz. Before medication. Poor Gertrude. (Sorry, Gertrude).






When we re-stage a classic, a well-loved text, we have to ask, “What’s the message now?” What do we want the audience to take away this time? Has this story changed? No. Have these characters changed? No. We still have lovers (and faeries and crazies) among us. In theory, the story and its characters can be thrown into any setting, but in practice does the (insert superlative here) conceptualisation continue to serve the story?


Having enjoyed intelligent conversations with so many people about so many productions over so many years I’m ready to hear the triumphant cries of “genius!” And “inspired!” (No doubt I missed most of them at the after party. It was late. There are roadworks every night. There is school every day, and there were four more fabulous shows to get to last week!). I’ve said the same, loudly, about A Tribute of Sorts. I loved it! But Schostakowski’s “wildly original take” on A Midsummer Night’s Dream has missed the mark, despite its moments of inspired genius. Do you know what I love most about this production? That it happened. That Chris Kohn had scheduled it, that Todd Macdonald & co have supported it, that everybody involved was up for something new, exciting and daring and IT HAPPENED.






I had high expectations, which prevailed upon sighting Dann Barber’s beautiful, cluttered set (everything brought onto stage stays on stage); it’s an interior not unlike the country house in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe (or what the Year 7 drama students might imagine Darkwood House to look like), with a great, grand central staircase and incredible detail in the dressing of the space, right down to the carpet on the stairs, the suitably slightly garish wallpaper, and the props placed on shelves and side tables, creating an old fashioned feeling of the typical homely, cosy, hoarder’s precious mess. It doesn’t strike me as particularly Australian but, y’know, whatever.






More importantly, why is there no beauty in it? My initial intrigue turns to dismay when nothing more than the obvious is done: the house is a house is a house. Another missed opportunity perhaps as far as lighting states go (although the next night, at Sex With Strangers, I spoke with Lighting Designer, Jason Glenwright, about it and he didn’t seem to mind in the least), when we have no magical dappled forest lighting. It’s. A. House. I think sometimes the obvious choices annoy me. We see no subtlety, no subtext; everything is exactly as it seems. Except in the acting choices, and perhaps as the lamps flicker… More of that kind of magic too, please!






The Mechanicals are another example. They come this close to bringing the house down with their silly antics and sure, they’re funny, but they should in fact be so excruciatingly bad that they become holding-your-belly-hilarious. The performances within The Most Lamentable Comedy and Most Cruel Death of Pyramus and Thisbe are actually fine. Oh, but wait! The most delicious, wicked, tongue-in-cheek comedy comes with the actors’ focus exercises and warm ups! The focus exercise gets me every time, each one a masterclass in comic timing and the magic of a good ensemble. Absolutely hysterical! HA! #sittingacrossfromseanmeelaughing #comedygold


It’s a reduced cast, boiled down to six instead of the usual twenty or so, and it’s an inspired (and economically sound) idea that doesn’t quite work. We wait, old-school high school musical scene-change style, for costume changes. Despite being mostly hilarious, and winning over the majority of the opening night audience with his vocal and physical work, Kieran Law’s Lysander, Bottom, Pyramus and the ass are too similar. (For the uninitiated, the latter refers to the donkey he becomes when Bottom is transformed by Puck’s magic spell). And can I say; what a missed opportunity it is to just die! “I die. I die. I die.” And he does. Sigh. Sometimes I wonder how much is the director’s choice, and how much is left to the actor’s discretion? I wonder again as Pacharo Mzembe (Demetrius) runs and leaps about the space shirtless and shining with sweat, months before he will return to this stage in Prize Fighter…is it not yet selling well? Now it will! You know I have no problem with admiring a well maintained male (or female) form on stage (or screen) but what should have been completely natural, joyous and boisterous reeked of  a marketing stunt akin to an etsy crafter friend taking advantage of Ryan Gosling’s memeness to self-promote in your newsfeed. #yesmemenessisawordnow #heygirl





There are plenty of lovely moments, to which Law and Mzembe contribute, and the girls are great. There is much to enjoy. After the show, when I wonder aloud at my simultaneous delight and frustration with the four of them, despite mostly gorgeous performances, Julia reminds me, “You have to be in love with the lovers!” OH YES. (Am I? Am I in love with the lovers? Perhaps I would be by the end of the season).






Well, if you LOVE Kathryn Marquet you’ll LOVE her sighing, gasping, whimpering, wailing, plain ol’ little Hermia. I loved her Snug, and for what purpose its interpretation I cannot tell you, but I LOVED Marquet’s delivery of what becomes a Slide (Sydney) worthy performance poetry piece (think Maureen in Over the Moon). The interpretive dance, which opens the play within the play? Not so much (Choreographer Neridah Waters). I’m glad many on opening night enjoyed the sequence – it feels like a fond, funny throwback to A Tribute of Sorts – but like so many aspects of the production it’s a token gesture, and perhaps that’s the point. #tryeverythingonce








Speaking of A Tribute of Sorts, of the four lovers, Emily Burton is the standout. Her Helena makes the most sense in this context, and her performance keeps me captivated. Burton has been offered here, like everyone else, a couple of very OTT moments but she’s the only one who manages to make each one completely plausible. Her facial expressions make this Helena more animated than perhaps you’ve seen before, and the effect – she – is beautiful.


Christen O’Leary, as you will know if you’re a regular here, is one of my favourite physical performers. She has a voice, yes, and as Hippolyta, she uses it effortlessly to command and cajole. We won’t mention the Helen Howardesque hair. (Why is it we are still all having so much trouble finding perfect wigs for productions? Huh? Please send help!) Anyway, sans wig, as Titania O’Leary flits and flirts and seduces her way around the space like a proper nymph, and I expect more to come of her relationship with Bottom as the ass. There is nothing more yet. It feels, so early in the season, as if they are holding back, being very careful in that bathtub! Somebody send them to Wicked for research! (N.B. There are no complete clips of Steve & Jemma yet, sorry). Anyway, she talks with faeries that are not there and voices their few lines, as I’ve said, creating what comes across as a slightly mad Ophelia vibe. Again, this may have been the vibe we were going for! WHO’S TO SAY? #theresrosemarythatsforremembrance





We also enjoy a strong, sure performance from Brian Lipson (Theseus & Oberon), and in both his guises he reminds me of somebody…ah! That’s it! #teamgilfedder





There are many who will very loudly, quite rightly adore this production, and thank goodness, because we know from past experience that in the meantime, the critics of the critics will only talk about how wildly I’ve missed the point. Maybe so. But there is something lost in translation here, which cannot be glossed over by a sparkly press release or an over zealous, super supportive review in praise of originality, the rise and rise of the indie theatre makers and the need to support them, and the desire to seduce the next generation, and yet… #stageitandtheywillcome


This truly new take on A Midsummer Night’s Dream gives us lots to talk about, and lots to look forward to because it’s clear Schostakowski has a gift. We see its promise, its glimmer, like the Arkanstone tumbling away through the masses of superfluous, distractifying treasure (#sorrynotsorry #ozspeak), and what I’d love to see again now is the return of the trust in the work; a return to the simple magic of theatre, without having to prove a thing, whatever that thing might be.


This Dream might be your thing. Find out!


Images by Dylan Evans







A Tribute of Sorts

A Tribute of Sorts

A Tribute of Sorts

La Boîte Indie & Monsters Appear

The Roundhouse

24th October – 10th November 2012

Reviewed by Sam Coward


This show had its start at the Brisbane Powerhouse earlier this year, enjoying a showing in the Scratch Series during WTF. A Spectacular of Sorts became A Tribute of Sorts


It was strange to see a proscenium arch in the roundhouse, but as we’ve seen in the La Boîte Indie season already, anything goes. As we saw again on Thursday, at the opening night of Benjamin Schostakowski’s A Tribute of Sorts, anything did! A warm and receptive opening night house attended to kick off what I’m sure will be another sell-out season for La Boîte and a personal triumph and a fitting farewell for the enigmatic Adam Brunes. Well, sort of. Children of War (14th November – 1st December) completes the 2012 season.


Benjamin Schostakowski’s brand of humour had the crowd in stitches from the get-go. A simple story beautifully told; an inappropriate love story and an alphabetically presented series of unfortunate events served with a delicious double dollop of rich black comedy that had the hallmark laughter followed by heads hung in shame. (You can’t laugh at that!).


Schostakowski’s pen has crafted a delightful romp, with only a few flat spots that I’m certain will evolve as the season progresses. The direction is light and nimble and has clearly allowed the performers a wonderful opportunity to play.


A Tribute of Sorts Dash Kruck & Emily Curtain

Dash Kruck, as the anal-retentive, highly motivated, “professional” Ivan, is disarmingly charming. His comic timing and deadpan delivery provide a stable foundation for the early comedy of the piece.


Not to be outdone, Emily Curtain shows us a wonderfully wounded and pathetically love struck Juniper. She beautifully manipulates her long limbs awkwardly, and her comic delivery, like Kruck’s, inspires belly laughs and dry-retch moments. It’s an empathy earning, honest performance and a mini showcase for Curtain’s stunning vocal sound effect ability. What a talent! Who knew?! *removes tongue from cheek*


The comic style of the piece brought to mind the dark humour of The Kransky Sisters. Some clever devices are incorporated and a vintage setting creates depth and shadows. The ending may prove unpopular but I loved it! You can’t laugh at that! But I did.


A Tribute of Sorts is richly dark, irreverent and piss funny. You’ll love it and then hang your head in shame for laughing so hard!






Following the 6.30pm performance of A Tribute of Sorts

La Boite Indie Unlocked