Posts Tagged ‘diva

10
Oct
15

Rumour Has It

 

Rumour Has It

Queensland Theatre Company

& the little red company

Bille Brown Studio

October 7 – 17 2015

 

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward

 

rumourhasit_daydreamer

 

Slicker and funnier and more affecting than ever, the little red company’s Rumour Has It returns to Brisbane, this time as a (DIVA) highlight in QTC’s 2015 program.

 

It feels different in the Bille Brown Studio, with a bank of tiered seating behind a section of cabaret tables – the first time we’ve seen this set up here – and it’s not quite as intimate as earlier versions, staged at Stockholm Syndrome, berardo’s restaurant & bar and also at Slide Sydney and Melbourne’s Chapel Off Chapel. Oh, and an unforgettable performance at the Matilda Awards in 2012! Ironically, the most intimate atmosphere was created in April 2013 in a much larger space at the Judith Wright Centre. (Let’s not forget that it was largely due to Lewis Jones’ support at the Judy that this show continued to grow).

 

I guess you never forget your first (few), but this latest version sees the show and its star in their best shape so far. It’s inspired programming for something mostly unseen by the state theatre company’s outgoing Artistic Director, Wesley Enoch. Price tells me she remembers performing for 850 people, a 25-minute version of the show (for QUT’s 25th Anniversary Gala in 2014) in a room so big that some of the guests thought she actually was Adele. This was Enoch’s only experience of the production. Luckily, Rumour Has It has proven to be a sure bet wherever it goes. Are you listening, Las Vegas???

 

I’m certain there’s a Celine show waiting to happen…

More gin, anyone?

 

Nobody but the indomitable Naomi Price could bring us such an authentic, dynamic performance as someone else whilst retaining so much of herself in the show. It’s convincingly Adele but it’s completely Price, and there are very few performers we can count in that particular talent pool. I’m thinking of Catherine Alcorn (The Divine Miss Bette, Go Your Own Way), Christie Whelan Browne (Britney Spears the Cabaret), and Elise McCann (Everybody Loves Lucy). Price has the uncanny ability to read an audience early, set and change the mood as if at the flick of a switch and keep us captivated with her charm, her wicked sense of humour and sheer vocal power. And she can sell a story.

 

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This version of the show (120 mins + interval), updated to reflect the current political climate and Jessie J’s take on the merits of “artists” v “entertainers”, comes dangerously close for half a moment to getting uncomfortably…personal. (Don’t worry, our favourite mimicry of Celine Dion and Amy Winehouse is still in there and again, the patter surrounding each performance is just as good as Price’s impersonations – I hear actual hoots of laughter at this point!). The new addition though – Jessie J making an appearance in Taylor Swift’s place – is absolutely priceless. (If you missed The Voice you might also miss the relevance of this delightful little jab). The impersonation is on point, and bookended by “Adele’s” typical witty wickedness, the final dig landing bang on target, proves once more that we can never underestimate the value of brilliant writing, or of precision timing in terms of its delivery #bangbang #boom

 

Generously acknowledged by Price and rightly so, is her world-class cast of musos and backing vocalists, some of the busiest in the country; together they make a slick, sexy band in a class of their own. They are Jason McGregor (Musical Director & guitars), Michael Manikus (piano), Andrew Johnson (bass), Mik Eastman (drums), Rachael Everett-Jones (vocalist), Tom Oliver (vocalist) and Luke Kennedy (vocalist). With original arrangements by Price, McGregor and Manikus, and vocal arrangements by Price and Kennedy, there’s simply no better sounding company. The creative team is just as impressive: Adam Brunes (writer), Jason Glenwright (lighting designer), Jamie Taylor (production manager & audio engineer and thank goodness, the sound is spot on), and Nathalie Ryner & Leigh Buchanan (costuming). A special mention goes to Dextress Hair’s Rebecca Hubbard, who perfected the wigs for this production.

 

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If everyone involved in this production can keep juggling their creative commitments Rumour Has It – now one of Australia’s most loved original cabarets – might not be local for much longer. With Adele’s third album about to be released, an international stint couldn’t be more perfectly timed… Anyone?

 

If you’ve never seen Naomi Price in “the Adele show”, now’s your chance.

 

Rumour Has It is world class and without a doubt the most entertaining evening of the year. Don’t miss it this time.

 

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Production pics by Dylan Evans Photography

 

 

See more of Naomi Price in QTC’s Ladies in Black

November 14 – December 6 2015

 

Naomi Price joins Andrew Broadbent, Kate Cole, Carita Farrer Spencer, Bobby Fox, Kathryn McIntyre, Lucy Maunder, Sarah Morrison, Christen O’Leary, Deidre Rubenstein and Greg Stone.

Directed by Simon Phillips, the world premiere of Ladies in Black – a magical modern-day fairytale – features original music by Tim Finn.

 

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04
Aug
15

Grounded

 

Grounded

Queensland Theatre Company

The Greenhouse Diane Cilento Studio

July 29 – August 22 2015

 

 Reviewed by Xanthe Coward

 

Grounded_libbymunro

 

If you want to see this year’s best performance and be part of the crowd who’ll say, “I saw her first” when she accepts an Academy Award one day, don’t miss Libby Munro in Grounded.

 

It’s an intense slow-burn one-woman drama and Munro is thrilling in it.

 

libbymunrohero

2013 WINNER of the Matilda Award for Best Female Actor in a Leading Role

 

You might have missed her in Venus In Fur – directed by Andrea Moor in 2013 – and wondered why ever since, since it’s one of the productions we haven’t stopped talking about.

 

Wesley Enoch explains simply, “A diva is a celebrated woman of outstanding talent…and Libby Munro is such a woman.”

 

George Brant’s brilliant insight into drone warfare from the female fighter pilot’s perspective is the best kind of contemporary poetry, without much of the punctuation you’d expect to see on a page, allowing the actor to find the natural cadence of the piece. On many levels it’s a quietly political piece but Grounded will endure and enjoy greater global success because it keeps the human story, like the heartbeat of Tony Brumpton’s soundscape for this superb production, at its core.

 

We walk into the Diane Cilento Studio – used for the first time in performance mode for Grounded – and hear the low hum of either the air con or the soundscape (it’s impossible to tell) and then see the indelible image of a woman in fetal position at the top of a small raked stage, a flight suit set below her. The suit, just for these opening moments, enjoys the most light. When she puts it on she doesn’t want to take it off, and says so. It’s part of her, her identity. It’s how she knows who she is. Later, she admits to having had sex in it. But only once.

 

The body becomes electric, the face becomes animated, almost like a child’s as she tells us with stars in her eyes, and Maverick arrogance and religious reverence, about the thrill of soaring through “the blue” in her Tiger, and laughing and drinking beer with the other Top Guns, her boys, at the end of each shift.

 

Then suddenly there’s the shock, surprise and delight that comes with love and the pink stripe of pregnancy, and the birth of a beautiful baby girl…who needs “attention”. We feel her confusion and commitment to both the family and the air force as she tries to adjust to the military’s version of “work-life balance”. We watch, dismayed, as she takes her place behind a screen every day for 12 hours at a time to become one of the Chair Force, wirelessly controlling a death-dealing reaper drone from a dark trailer in the Nevada desert. You can’t make out their faces but from their movement you can identify, without any doubt, The Guilty. Suddenly, we miss the blue too.

 

Through vivid description, though without morbid graphic detail (the economy of words and the measured pace saving us from the darkest corner of our imaginations), we see body parts flying through the air and what remains of the bodies merging with the grey sand on the screen as The Pilot “lingers”, safe from death, in her $11 million “eye in the sky”. The threat of death has been removed.

 

Can you imagine? The vivid pictures Munro paints with Brant’s prose will sweep you up and along on the journey so be ready; it’s one hell of a ride. You might feel your stomach turn – it’s the G-Force effect – or feel the need to shake it off and get your land legs back after such a tumultuous storytelling event.

 

Testament to the lasting impression this production leaves, on opening night there were many in the audience who stayed sitting in their seats after the curtain call, just sitting…perhaps hoping to be offered something stronger than champagne.

 

In what must constitute the acting masterclass of the year, Munro expertly shows us every tiny detail of her world, just as a “world builder” novelist does. We get a sense of the vastness, the magic of “the blue”, the comedy and tragedy of trying to schedule TV time, sex, sleep, and daycare drop-off “special time” in between 12-hour shifts surrounded by military males (staring at “military age” male targets). And all of this without the aid of over-zealous production elements, which are wisely kept simple, completely unfettered, thanks to an unassuming and super talented creative team, who have allowed the actor to take centre stage. No fancy projections here, just the blue-turning-grey of a quietly commanding abstract design to literally frame the actor…and the perfectly timed sound of a beating heart. (Designer Georgina Greenhill. Lighting Designer Ben Hughes. Sound Designer Tony Brumpton). Not that we can take our eyes off Munro for long to really study anything else in the room…

 

grounded

 

A flawless brunette beauty, tall, slender and strong, even in the most sensitive, vulnerable moments, Munro has the striking looks and arresting presence of a supporting actress envied by leading ladies who fail to cast a similar spell over captivated audiences and can’t for the life of them understand why. The rich, nuanced vocal work is superb and the pace, as we leap across the hours, days, years, is as real-time as it gets. The performance is beautifully shaped and layered by Director, Andrea Moor. The repetition is almost too much at one point, but it serves to help us appreciate the strange routine of virtual warfare, which allows a fighter pilot to get the job done and make it home in time for dinner.

 

When you see Munro’s tour-de-force performance in the intimate space of the Diane Cilento Studio you’ll understand I’m not exaggerating. You’ll come under her spell and know too that she’s something special. She must be the spunkiest, sexiest, most compelling actress on an Australian stage right now. Hers is a sublime performance of a hard-hitting, game-changing text that could mean we won’t see Munro on a local stage for a little while after this season closes on August 22. Better be quick to book. Grounded is not to be missed.