Posts Tagged ‘horizon festival


The Cold Record


The Cold Record

Horizon Festival

Brisbane Festival, The Old Ambo, ArKtype / Thomas O. Kriegsmann

Black Box Theatre, The Old Ambo, Nambour

August 28 – 30 2019


Reviewed by Xanthe Coward



Kirk Lynn (Rude Mechs) wrote a story about a 12-year old boy who tries to set the record for the most days leaving school sick; during the process he falls in love with the school nurse and punk rock. Director of The Cold Record, Alexandra Bassiakou has fine-tuned Eli Weinberg’s sensational performance without losing the raw edge of reality. There’s an immediate and intimate connection between actor and audience, which comes from Weinberg’s easygoing manner, and our proximity to him, but also from the headphone verbatim approach to the production. In this country at least, Roslyn Oades is probably best known for this evolving performance form (her headphone verbatim piece, Hello, Goodbye & Happy Birthday toured extensively, and received critical and audience acclaim). We sense the same spirited energy here from just one dynamic performer.


Weinberg greets us in the foyer of The Old Ambo and leads us to the show’s secret location. We’re invited to enjoy a non-alcoholic beverage or local craft beer – Larry’s from Your Mates – and create a mix tape together, sharing the long-lost stories of our pre-selected punk rock song. Our mixtape on opening night comprises hits from the likes of Blondie, The Jam, The Sex Pistols and Blink 182. There are satisfied nods and some cool modified mosh pit moves, some long-lost memories that spark some other memories (LIVID 1994 in Davies Park, anyone?), lots of laughter, especially about the patience, and the intricate timing and precision required to record our favourite childhood/teen era radio tracks on old-school cassette recorders with the simultaneous push of two buttons, and general agreement that post-punk is a legit choice, as is Blondie. We’re thrilled that our listening and life choices have been validated, and that we’ll get to hear the mixtape in its entirety after the show, when the link appears in our inbox. The question arises, “What about all the other mix tapes from all the other shows?” Can we look forward to a Rude Mechs Cold Record Spotify playlist at some stage? The conversation is relaxed, and fun – but there’s more to the show, in fact, it hasn’t really started yet. Except it has… The nostalgic, casual lounge party vibe puts us at ease, almost dulling us into a false sense of security before Weinberg begins throwing us curve balls. And then there’s the ending.  




Weinberg is super relaxed and personable throughout, expertly manipulating the mood over the 28-minute arc of the show to take us on his rollercoaster ride through the final year of elementary school. We rally with him against the world of adults and unreliable friends. The group’s support is something of a special communal theatrical thing; people are visibly affected and because of our close proximity we can properly sympathise. Our eyes rarely stray from Weinberg’s, his 12-year old innocence a piercing gaze, challenging us to respond honestly to his musings about life, death and love, or not at all. Throughout, Weinberg wears the headset with the sound of Lynn’s voice in his ears, in real time telling the entire story a beat ahead of his own performance.    


The lasting impact of this performance is something interesting. While the story belongs to one young boy, the intimacy of its telling gifts his lived experience to each of us. We’re given the time and space to recreate, in minds and hearts for a moment, our own private version of first love, lost love, friendship, family, victory, grief, and getting up and getting on with it, without necessarily relieving or healing any wounds along the way, however; in the moments between we become aware of these feelings, and simply let them be what they will be until we make time to sit with them (or walk or run or dance with them). Neither live performance or life promises a quick or easy fix. 


Are there wounds that only music can heal? Is there music that only keeps us crying, bleeding, dying? 


The Cold Record goes to Brisbane Festival after this weekend and if you’re near, you’d be crazy to miss it. In fact, if you think you don’t have the time or the need to experience this neat, sweet, completely surprising and captivating one-man show, it’s likely the thing you need most.



The Bookbinder

The Bookbinder

Trick of the Light

Old Ambulance Station

August 24 – 26 2018

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward

New Zealand theatre company, Trick of the Light, captivates audiences of all ages by bringing back the oldest and simplest traditions of storytelling with The Bookbinder. Shared intimately with a Sunshine Coast crowd in the Old Ambo Station’s Black Box Theatre in Nambour during Horizon Festival, this whimsical story of a young man who risks his life to fix a careless mistake and stitch the world together again, is a delight for children and adults alike.

The moment a small, dark-haired girl in a hoodie sits on a big red cushion on the floor below the performer (Ralph McCubbin Howell), she has my attention. Her face is expectant. Her eyes are wide and her lips upturned in a gentle, satisfied smile before anything has even happened. It’s the quiet thrill of being at the theatre! She radiates pure joy just being there, in those minutes before the show starts. She reminds me of Poppy at the same age. She reminds me of me…

Then there are the cheeky grins on the faces of two boys as they rock back and forth, laughing; the most gleeful cosmic eggs ever seen. There are times when they lie back, supporting their heads with their hands, fingers interlaced and one ankle crossed over the other at the end of outstretched legs, completely enthralled. The adults in the audience are just as focused, and just as appreciate after, and not just because they’ve had someone else entertain the kids for the last hour. 

And all it is, this little show, sans special effects or projections or additional cast members or costumes or set, is a guy with a book and a lamp at a desk, passing on the tale of how the world was once in great peril, and how it was saved by a young man determined to make up for his careless ways.

The performance is polished and retains that elusive magic that’s still possible to see in the everyday if you look for it, as if we’d never left our living room and, without power or charged devices to amuse us during a blackout, someone had started speaking…storytelling… We’re reminded of up-late sleepovers, The Princess Bride, and The Neverending Story.

Without giving anything away, while there’s a sense of blame and guilt and recompense, to look beyond the single soul’s conflict is to see in this story our responsibility as human beings on Earth to do a job a) properly b) carefully and c) completely until it’s done. A slightly old-fashioned notion, perhaps, that to do something properly and completely, with appropriate attention to detail, will go some way in setting the world right. 

A proper hero’s journey is undertaken by the bookbinder’s new apprentice in order to save the day, and with beautiful and insightful symbolism, he doesn’t need to win the girl – the maiden – in the end, but instead, the old crone’s approval. If only every potential romance began with such wisdom and foresight! In this way, we have a more satisfying ending than most, even without knowing precisely what happens to the apprentice once the story comes to an end and the book is closed. As in life, we’re left to wonder a little.

In Ralph McCubbin Howell’s accomplished performance we are treated to a number of characters and accents, offering multiple ways of looking at the world and the lessons offered by our experiences in it, as well as enchanting puppetry and the manipulation of everyday objects transformed, a key aspect of the storytelling and this company’s specialty. Co-written and directed by Hannah Smith, it’s the care and attention to detail that makes this little show a massive accomplishment.

In its humble way, Trick of the Light’s award winning The Bookbinder is a beautifully conceived tale for all ages, rich with detail and lingering meaning delivered via deceptively simple means.

Sunshine Coast based performer and theatre maker, a graduate of USC’s Masters of Professional Practice (Performing Arts), Joey Kohnke, enjoyed the show and a workshop, which looked at some of the tricks and techniques used in creating The Bookbinder, presented by Trick of the Light and Sunshine Coast Live!

Joey: The show was loved by both the young and adult audience who packed comfortably into the Blackbox Theatre in Nambour. We are buffeted between awe, simplicity and laughter and were certainly enthralled by this awesome ‘little show’.

Then, on Sunday, a group of 15 inspired artists, theatre lovers and students returned to the Blackbox theatre in Nambour to play, devise story and discover “poor-theatre” stage crafting tools and techniques deftly transmitted by Hannah Smith and Ralph McCubbin Howell.

We embraced and experimented with a range of material; time, scale, language, rhythm, space…as we stepped our way into their constructive universe. The quality of the work was high and we had a lot of fun. I loved the mixed age group and artistic diversity of the participants, whose personal stories and objects informed our imagination and enhanced our storytelling.

I especially enjoyed devising and re-working our ensemble presentations. I also appreciated the brief stage of the process that allowed actors to become editors for other groups, with our modifications welcomed.

I steal away with one of Ralph and Hannah’s many suggestions for construction. It is simple but rich in instruction:

“…take something out, add something in.”

Storytelling is a dynamic on-going organism but minutely sculpted on a masterful framework.