Posts Tagged ‘dirty beasts

06
Jul
15

Revolting Rhymes & Dirty Beasts – perfect school holiday entertainment!

 

Revolting Rhymes & Dirty Beasts

shake & stir

Roundhouse Theatre

July 4 – 11 2015

 

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward 

 

It’s a rock concert, a Hip Hop film clip, a fairytale, and a favourite book brought to vivid life, all rolled into one and all PG-Rated. It’s the perfect solution for some school holiday fun that the whole family will enjoy, really. 

 

 

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More a reflection of my lack of conviction in a situation as a parent than any annoyance at the response of a volunteer at the venue, I found myself, in teacher tone, addressing an usher about a drink before taking our seats at The Roundhouse on Saturday. I’m accustomed to pouring wine from a glass into a plastic cup in order to take it into the theatre, but I was surprised to be told that Poppy would need to do the same for her drink, which was in a pop-top sealed plastic bottle. I almost laughed out loud. Seriously?! You want my jumping-up-and-down-excited nine-year-old to take her seat in the theatre with an open cup of diluted juice? (Don’t ask! We are having sugar talks at the moment). As Poppy dutifully uncapped the bottle and poured her juice-water into an enormous plastic party cup (she’s an excellent pourer and transferrer), I wondered what other mamas would do. I can think of a couple that would simply say, “No. No thanks, I think I know my child” and another couple who would actually laugh and say, “Are you joking? THINK about what you’ve just said!” And I wish I’d said something other than okay and put the bottle-with-a-lid-shut-tight in my bag because sure enough, right at the end of the show, Poppy accidentally kicked the cup, spilling the remaining slightly sticky contents over the floor beneath her seat. OH, OOPS, WHAT A SURPRISE (I said sarcastically, silently in my head).

 

As a fairly conscious parent and a first aider from way back, my immediate response is always to check for danger, assess any injuries and avoid further catastrophe while keeping anyone involved calm and quiet. There are times when Sam makes it clear that this is not the correct response, that it’s too calm and without consequence for the culprit (he is referring to our child). But more often than not, the consequence is in the disaster, and in this case, Poppy was embarrassed and upset because she knew I had felt the better option was to not do what the usher had told her to. Also, she slipped and fell against her seat BUT IT’S OKAY SHE’S OKAY.

 

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Why am I telling you this? Because going to see live theatre is about the whole experience, and often parents tell me it’s too hard to take their kids to see a show. If the venue makes it harder than parents already perceive the trip to be, who can say when they’ll be back?! Fortunately, nothing has ever deterred me from taking anyone to the theatre and Poppy is a resilient child, so despite her moment of mini-trauma (not only is she resilient but she’s also very dramatic. I don’t know where she gets it from), we agreed that Revolting Rhymes was the BEST EVER! AGAIN! Perfect school holiday entertainment for the whole family, nothing should keep you from enjoying this show.

 

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If you’ve been around for a while you’ll know how much I love shake & stir, one of the country’s most professional and engaging theatrical teams, with such broad appeal they can consistently sell out work that reinvigorates the likes of Roald Dahl, Shakespeare, George Orwell, Harper Lee, Emily Bronte and Bram Stoker (trust me – there’s no doubt Dracula will sell out!).

 

It seemed unlikely that shake & stir could make a slicker, funnier show than last year’s Revolting Rhymes & Dirty Beasts but that’s exactly what they’ve done. Having had it on the road for some time (they just returned from a sell-out season in Hobart at the end of a national tour), the team has cranked up the pace and polished every aspect until this production sparkles even more brilliantly than before.

 

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With the A-Team of design teams on board (Josh McIntosh, Jason Glenwright & Guy Webster), this show was always going to look and sound fabulous. The colours and textures – rich, warm autumnal tones, tulle and brocade – are vaguely reminiscent of the curtains in Captain Von Trapp’s house, which Maria makes into play clothes for the children. Yes, I know those are greener, but don’t tell me you didn’t think of them too. The overall aesthetic is one of magical rainy day dress ups and cubby house construction using tablecloths and sheets and pillows for hosting soft toy high tea parties. Perfect!

 

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shake & stir think of everything.

 

The wonderfully talented, comical ensemble comprising Judy Hainsworth, Leon Cain, Nelle Lee & Nick Skubij strikes the right chord with an audience who are already vocally ready to participate, having sung at the top of their little voices before the show, “I GOT BILLS I GOTTA PAY!” (shake & stir always have the best pre-show soundtrack!).

 

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Thenadier style, the actors pop up from under trapdoors in the revolve – the only set piece, brilliantly designed and utilised – and each performer tells us, “You think you know this story… You don’t!” There are giggles and then shrieks of laughter, from kids and parents (and from Leigh Buchanan, next to me, and Billy Bouchier and Paul Dellit in front!), as small bold voices call out, “Yes we do! YES WEEEEE DOOOOOO!” The atmosphere is vibrant and silly and fun. It feels like so many children’s birthday parties when at any minute things could turn to utter chaos, but a pretty distraction or little bit of structure is re-introduced at precisely the right time in order to avert disaster.

 

Director, Ross Balbuziente, like the perfect host, cleverly manipulates every moment of Revolting Rhymes, from the grisly to the ridiculously funny.

 

With the opening sequence setting a cheeky tone and a cracking pace, we can’t wait to see what comes next…again!

 

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It was fun. It was hilarious. My favourite was Little Red. She was awesome. She was really funky, a tomboy instead of being a pretty little girly-girl. It was funny when she took the pistol out of her knickers. She was funny but you couldn’t trust her.

 

The porcupine one was funny and it was funny how she was so scared of the dentist, which was quite like real life because most people are actually scared of the dentist.

 

It was funny when the man dressed up as one of the ugly sisters. And Cinderella had to run home in her underwear and that’s just so different. In the Cinderella we are all used to her gown turns into rags so it’s much funnier to see her in her underwear.

 

And I loved the three bears, especially the mum because of her accent. This mum is my mum’s favourite character. She says Nelle is a scream. That’s something her mum, my Nanny, would say.

 

Mira said the crunching noises were a bit disconcerting…

 

It tells you more about the stories, like there is more to the stories, like the secrets of the stories.

 

It’s sometimes scary but not too scary.

 

It’s important that it looks good, that theatre looks good – the lights and the costumes are gorgeous, awesome – otherwise we’ll stop watching and just talk because we haven’t seen each other in such a long time.

 

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Revolting Rhymes & Dirty Beasts is holiday money well spent, perfect entertainment for all ages. You don’t need to be a child or take a child to enjoy this one. You just need to stick to your guns if challenged by an usher over a drink! Must close Saturday July 11!

 

 

11
Jan
14

Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes & Dirty Beasts

 

Revolting Rhymes & Dirty Beasts

La Boite and shake & stir

The Roundhouse

January 8 – 18 2014

 

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward

 

This famous wicked little tale
Should never have been put on sale
It is a mystery to me
Why loving parents cannot see
That this is actually a book
About a brazen little crook…

 

You think you know this story… You don’t.

 

In a previous life, Jason Glenwright must have been a rock star because he sure knows how to light one. And if Josh McIntosh did not dress royalty at some stage I’ve got my readings wrong. Whether or not you’re any sort of theatrical aficionado, you’re likely to recognise the design work of both these gentlemen by now; it’s pretty distinctive and I’m not the only one to have raved about it in the past. Also, Guy Webster’s sound design, including perfectly timed sound effects that have the kids in fits of giggles, adds to the wonderful theatricality and simple joy of this production, obviously lovingly inspired by Roald Dahl’s witty words and Quentin Blake’s original delightful illustrations. Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes & Dirty Beasts was always going to be a hit with the kids, but to win over the grown ups within the opening ten seconds using music, lighting and a revolving stage is quite a feat! If you’re a stranger to shake & stir’s shows, this one will be the first of many, I guarantee it, and if you miss it, you’ll be doing yourself and your kids a huge disservice. Why not book now and come back to read the rest?

 

It’s a rock concert, a Hip Hop film clip, a fairytale, and a favourite book brought to vivid life, all rolled into one and all PG-Rated. It’s the perfect solution for some school holiday fun that the whole family will enjoy, really.

 

And I mean THE WHOLE FAMILY. REALLY. These four performers are awesome, and the company already has a massive secondary school following so don’t think twice about booking the extra seats for the teens, they’ll love it! And Dads will surely remember fondly, their fave Revolting Rhymes, as well as (and I don’t mind being the one to point it out!), find themselves completely captivated by Nelle Lee, who is always absolutely gorgeous to watch.

 

You might recall last year’s co-pro between shake & stir and La Boite Theatre Company, the sell-out holiday hit Out Damn Snot!, and you might wonder what will come next, because this is a winning formula, and a winning partnership between two of Brisbane’s most progressive and most popular theatre companies. I love that this time slot each year, towards the end of our longest, hottest, sometimes most tedious school holiday run, can feature well-loved children’s stories turned upside down and inside out, challenging and entertaining all ages. Seeing the shake & stir show before school goes back is one tradition I’m more than happy to help establish.

 

Revolting Rhymes & Dirty Beasts. Image by Dylan Evans.

 

Despite a couple of gruesome moments, Poppy and the other opening night kids laughed along with their parents at shake & stir’s bold interpretations of Dahl’s updates to the classic fairytales. A self-sufficient, savvy Little Red Riding Hood whips a pistol from her knickers and shoots the wolf that gobbles up her grandmother, in order to make herself a beautiful fur cloak, and later…well, we won’t give that one away but if you love your accessories, you’ll love the haute couture reference. We also see a different side to Jack (of Beanstalk fame), and (naughty, nasty, selfish) Goldilocks. That conclusion is bit of a shocker, be warned, but we can’t help to feel that the “brazen little crook” deserves her untimely end! One of my favourite characters is Nelle Lee’s Mama Bear, of solid New York Jewish stock. But Poppy loved Little Red the most because she was different. “You wouldn’t like it if everyone was just the same as you,” she told me. “She was brave and spunky.” Wait. Does my daughter not consider herself to be brave and spunky? Oh, right. “In a different way. She has to survive in the woods, Mum.” This makes me picture my child having to survive in the woods, and in my vision she is something like Little Red and Laura Ingalls Wilder. Anyway, I equate this to Poppy having a Hunger Games type idol, which concerns me little since the best women in history have always been able to defend themselves, and this Little Red is so reminiscent of Sondheim’s Red Riding Hood in Into The Woods that we can’t help but adore her, admire her, and fear her just a little.

 

They are all absolutely sensational characterisations.

 

Revolting Rhymes & Dirty Beasts. Image by Dylan Evans.

 

We love the revolving stage, ideal for The Roundhouse space, although it’s not set completely in-the-round, it’s used effectively to hide and light and reveal performers and props; this is particularly evident in The Three Little Pigs. A single piece of fabric serves multiple purposes, and basic costume additions during the course of the show remind us that it doesn’t take much more than the imagination to conjure a story, but of course the technical and theatrical elements certainly help to make this a slick one. The pace is fast; the script, straight from “the world’s number one storyteller”, is funny and the performers engaging. They are Leon Cain, Judy Hainsworth, Nelle Lee and Nick Skubij, a tight, super talented ensemble guided by Director, Ross Balbuziente. We know from the very first moments that this is a clever crew, who get precisely what it is their audience wants; they are up for fun and games, and deliver with ease a multitude of clever and entertaining character voices, sharp moves (choreographed by Sally Hare), and retellings of our favourite Roald Dahl rhymes and stories. The 90 minutes fly by and Poppy whispers loudly to me, “Is that all? Oh.” She wishes there was more to come. And perhaps there will be.

 

When you love a show, do you let the company know?

 

If we keep up with shouting out loud about what’s great, venues and presenters know what they need to keep bringing back! You could email them, but why not leave a comment on their Facebook page or Instagram account? Tweet your 140-character review? The social media presence of both these companies, especially shake & stir’s online presence, is inspiring and heartening. This is a company who hears us and continues to create crowd pleasers without compromising their own artistic objectives. This means we are regularly treated to an incredible selection of top notch theatre in Brisbane, guaranteed quality, for artists and audiences alike. More of this, please shake & stir!

 

Revolting Rhymes & Dirty Beasts. Image by Dylan Evans.

 

In Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes & Dirty Beasts there are some slightly gruesome life lessons and a heap of fun for everyone. It’s a gorgeous looking production, with not a dull moment, but if you hesitate for even a moment you WILL miss out! And that WOULD be criminal. Treat yourself and your kids to this production before the holidays are over and you have to return to the real world!