Posts Tagged ‘electro-pop

04
May
12

An End To Dreaming

An End To Dreaming

Emma Dean & Jake Diefenbach

Judith Wright Centre

Friday 27th April

Reviewed by Andy Clark

My Favourite Sin(ger)s

Some singers are made to sing together – Emma Dean and Jake Diefenbach are definitely one of these perfect pairings.

I first saw Emma and Jake perform the lead song of their An End to Dreaming show before The Dresden Dolls played The Arena on Valley Fiesta Friday in 2006. That performance was emphasised by the specifically placed members of Zen Zen Zo in the audience, who performed above us, after we were all asked to sit on the floor. The song was a like a multicoloured chrysalis that was beautiful in it’s own way, but is primed for greater things in the future. It was showcased again as their Grand Finale number in 2009 when Emma and Jake did their Downside Up show at The Judith Wright Centre.

Friday night’s performance started with two very young and talented Brisbane singers who may one day be as accomplished as E&J. Pixie and the Halloran intersperse their beautiful songs with simultaneous talking that has been rehearsed to a tee. Dressed like they have just pranced in from the bottom of the garden, these Fairy-like singers bounce off each other’s voices with a lovely balance and only occasionally does the blend of their voices not create a dreamy sense of magic in the heads of the audience. James Halloran’s booming mellow voice dominated their show for me, which is hardly surprising as Indigo (Pixie) is unbelievably, only 16 years old; she is totally enchanting and will be a star before she’s 20.

However, they are but an appetiser for THE Show that is about to be unleashed on the lucky throng. Emma and Jake appear in the middle of The Judy between the tiered seats and the circular tables as if by magic. Cloaked in what look like black capes, they weave their way toward the stage, where their cloaks are seen to be blood red. Their show goes through stages of development from The Darkness with Emma’s song Black to The Light, via The Awakening, The Reckoning and The Healing, with a special moment when they perform the superb Stuck in the Mud.

Jake’s keyboard acrobatics are a sight to behold and he compliments Emma’s piano, violin & melodium. Their voices are very similar and merge and mix with each other so perfectly I hope they perform together forever.

The show climaxes with the 2012 version of An End to Dreaming, which meanders it’s way from deep and dark to spectacular and dramatic and it is a delight to see how this song has evolved into a multilayered, multicoloured butterfly.

Then just when you think it’s all over, they return for an awesome rendition of My Favourite Sins, to cap off an exceptional evening. Next stop for this spectacular show is the New York International Fringe Festival. Maybe the next stop after that should be not Briz Vegas, but Las Vegas?

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07
Dec
10

The New Dead: Medea Material

I saw 3 shows on the weekend so I’ll tell you a bit about each one, over two posts. If I tell you a lot about any one of them, I will come across as being completely impossible to please. Wait. Too late?!

The truth is I am more easily pleased than you would think.

If a production delivers all it has promised to deliver, I’m a happy camper (and by “promised” I mean promised by the media too, inclusive of press releases and the early/out-of-town reviews. And by “camper” I mean theatre-goer, except when, once annually, I actually mean “camper”; the Woodford Folk Festival variety). If not, that is if it doesn’t deliver, I have to wonder why not.

For example, the show I saw on Friday night at La Boite – the last show of their Indie season this year – failed to deliver, despite being touted as one of the must see shows of 2010. In Brisbane, at least. And it should be noted that The New Dead: Medea Material came to Brisbane after seasons at NIDA (2009) and the Adelaide Fringe Festival (2010).

Kat Henry, Director and Artistic Director of Stella Electrika, has an impressive body of work behind her and a whole host of exciting projects ahead of her. I had (very) high expectations of her show.

Heiner Muller‘s text is extraordinary. I wanted to hear it more clearly and react to it more extremely. I wanted to be shocked and horrified and, well…SHOCKED. But there was all this stuff that got in the way of me feeling anything much besides a kind of fascination in the result of the creative process.

We know the story. The story is shocking. It was entirely appropriate to tell the story through a combination of electro-rock-pop-or-something, theatre and dance. It felt like there were many tricks tried and many attempts made to shock –  in fact, just about every device known to theatrical mankind was used, though rarely to great effect. The anime porn, for example, flickering across the screen, was a distraction and what’s more, it was completely superfluous. Guy Webster and Kimie Tsukakoshi had already demonstrated their ability to morph into dancers and I was baffled as to why, as opposed to sitting still and posing, locking eyes only, while the anime figures onscreen made a mockery of their passionate gaze, they did not use their bodies in some Matrix-cum-Karma Sutra inspired porn piece! Was that just me?

For Lucinda Shaw, despite her apparent energy, the show seemed to start half way through it, with the commencement of her stand-up routine. Even then, she took a moment to settle into the accent and never seemed to quite settle into the routine. It was a clever device that didn’t quite work because she appeared to be uncomfortable in it. In fact, she appeared to me, to be uncomfortable from the beginning of the show, with her anxious, frustrated scratching and scoffing of corn chips. In class, I refer to this style as “anxious, frustrated acting” (Julia Roberts’ name often comes up at this point) and I challenge actors to find a more organic, interesting state of being. Interestingly, this role was played originally by Emma Dean.

I loved that Kimmie’s role required her to skate (though, for what purpose, across the space to start? To show us that she could skate?) and dance around a pole a bit BUT – and it’s the same point – why include it if it can’t be convincingly used? USE the pole! The routine was lackluster, underestimating (I’m betting) Kimmie’s ability. Regardless, if Jason were the man I thought him to be (no, not Bernie from Powderfinger, though you would be forgiven for thinking so), he would have left the drum kit for dust and fucked her right then and there on the floor. I’m sorry but there it is. Or was…not. SHOCK VALUE.

The device that really worked for me was the video footage (captured by Alex Duffy) during the final moments of the show, it’s an oldie but a goodie; it made the final horror all the more horrifying. Truly chilling, as it ought to be. Now, THAT is the kind of challenging theatre I had been expecting to see – and feel – all night.  That reminds me…watching Guy watching the screen at this point and earlier, watching him watching Kimmie across the space, we saw his best work; he was focused, connected and he was real and vulnerable.

In short, I didn’t feel that the characters were completely developed, nor that they had any real or lasting connection with each other. Having said that, all three actors are clearly multi-talented and did well to wade through all of the excess, all of the tricks…I’ve even thought of Barnum since.

The clever ideas in this production were like red weed, growing and spreading uncontrollably over everything that was good underneath. I wanted to see more of the good, organic stuff. I wanted to see a selection of the devices used to enhance the text, rather than distract from it.




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