Posts Tagged ‘gabriella flowers

13
Jun
17

Screw Loose

 

Screw Loose

Queensland Cabaret Foundation

Queensland Multicultural Centre

7-8 June 2017

 

Reviewed by Katy Cotter

 

 

Arriving at the Queensland Multicultural Centre in Kangaroo Point, I was puzzled as to why I hadn’t been there before. This venue is Brisbane’s best hidden secret, it seems, with a large theatre performance space. As part of Queensland Cabaret FestivalEmily Vascotto took to the stage in her hilarious show Screw Loose. With direction from Gabriella Flowers and accompanied on piano by Ben Murray, Vascotto delves into her experience as a self-confessed stalker. She takes the audience on a journey of past relationships from kindergarten to adolescence to now, with passionate (and somewhat embarrassing and obsessive) stories, and songs of her struggles with letting go. By the end of the show, Emily Vascotto is just a woman scorned, misunderstood. She is far too fabulous and gorgeous for any man to handle. But don’t worry, she’s not one to give up easily, and her search for Mr. Right or MR RIGHT NOW continues.

 

Screw Loose is quirky and unsettling in the best way.

 

I found myself wondering if all these absurd tales were in fact true and taken directly from Vascotto’s life. She introduces herself as “Emily.” Is this an alter-ego?

There is one moment I feel is taken too far. Trigger/Spoiler alert: During one song, a set of keys are used to cut a lover’s name into skin. It went on for longer than necessary and it felt a bit insensitive.

Also, the space seems too large for the show. A curtain drawn to hide the depth of the stage would have created more intimacy. In saying that, Vascotto’s performance is physically spot on. She knows how to work it, never missing a beat, knowing exactly how to draw the audience in. With a flick of her luscious auburn locks, the wink of a smoky eye, she exudes confidence and sass, and is a joy to watch on stage. She keeps the audience on their toes, having everyone falling in love with her and then with a simple twitch of the head or a change in her tone, has us all thinking “this girl really does have a screw loose.”

I am blown away by Vascotto’s voice. Holy moly, what a set of pipes! And it isn’t only during the songs (that she wrote, by the way), but the musicality of her speaking voice, which is just as captivating.

Regarding cabarets and musicals, there needs to be a flow between story and song. The beginning of Screw Loose seemed a little stagnant, though a better momentum was found as the show progressed. It is hard when the only thing on stage is a performer and a pianist – there is nowhere to hide. But more often than not, that’s cabaret. Vascotto has an amazing presence, which she uses to her advantage.

It’s a shame the season was so short but this isn’t the last we’ll see of Emily Vascotto. With this year’s Tony Awards just announced, it seems appropriate to ask, will it be Broadway next?   

    

28
Jul
15

Slammed

 

Slammed

Crosstown Artists

Brisbane Powerhouse Visy Theatre

July 23 – August 1 2015

 

Reviewed by Meredith Walker

 

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Creating a new work can be both joy and challenge and both of these aspects are evident in the realisation of Stefanie Brooke Harper’s Slammed on stage following its release as a text for school study. As a resource, it is a work that promises to explore “the life and hard times of everyone you know” through examination of thought-provoking themes and contemporary social issues, which is, of course commendable in intent, for exposure brings understanding and there are few vehicles for understanding more effective than the theatre. And in this regard, the theatrical fulfilment of the show certainly delivers what it promises on the page and a whole lot more; this is the problem.

 

The story begins in a fictitious but familiar contemporary Australian high school with a classroom scene of teacher trying to engage her Year 10 class, clearly featuring students of varying interest levels, in study of Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice. This is one of many engaging schoolroom scenes, whose exaggerated authenticity produce some genuinely funny moments. These also serve to showcase a naturalism in dialogue and realness of connection with audience members. However, the story of Slammed is about more than just the students, with teachers refreshingly given backstories alongside those of the teenage characters. This allows opportunity to explore a multitude of social issues which, unfortunately, is ultimately to the show’s detriment, as indicated by the increasingly restless audience as the show’s duration approached the 2.5 hour mark.

 

By adding backstory, the play moves beyond dramatic familiarity into the tragedy of real people’s lives, however, this is not used sparingly so works against itself. Minor and unnecessary scenes (such as the provision of an Act Two divorce backstory to an insignificant character, from a narrative perspective) seem only to have been included to ensure coverage of a wide variety of teenage experiences and parenting styles and actually detract from overall cohesion. However, while some of the narrative threads are a little stereotypical in this regard, they are well-written and powerfully acted, meaning that any initial cliché is easily overlooked.

 

The cast is a large one, of varying experience and abilities. Chris Kellett anchors the ensemble in his contrasting parental roles, but features so infrequently that his talents seem wasted. And newcomer Dane Brady, as protagonist Jake Ryan, neglected by his father and abandoned by his mother, is authentic in his conveyance of sullen teenager, to the impairment of vocal projection and audience engagement when so many of his Act One lines are delivered with back to the audience and his poetry slam moment is sans gesture as enhancement of message.

 

In contrast, Daniel Hurst delivers a memorable performance as bullying victim David Lawson, particularly in his poetry slam, which is delivered with an entertaining rhythm that sets it apart from the others, even if its environmental focus is quite superfluous to the central narrative. And as genuine, well-meaning teacher Fiona Finlay, Gabriella Flowers gives a measured, nuanced and natural performance that captures the cadence central to her character’s demeanour.

 

Staging is simple and functional, allowing audiences to look thorough the walls of people’s lives to see that all are slammed in some way. This versatile use of the Visy Theatre space is of particular credit to the show’s creatives, given that the work was originally devised for a standard proscenium stage. However, with scenes established so effectively, the use of technology to announce locations and time of day seems tokenistic.

 

With its fusion of thought-provoking ideas and contemporary, edgy elements, Slammed has much to offer audiences. It is full of moments of truth and connection, making it an easily accessible piece for young people and non-theatre goers. And its passion in dealing with so many important social issues is to be applauded, even if, in its current cluttered form it serves as illustration of the truth of the cliché that less is more.

 

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