Posts Tagged ‘kate wild


The Sound of a Finished Kiss


The Sound of a Finished Kiss

Brisbane Powerhouse, Electric Moon & now look here

Brisbane Powerhouse Visy Theatre

June 13 – 16 2018


Reviewed by Xanthe Coward



When an old mixed tape is unearthed, four friends rewind to Brisbane in the 1990s. Through a series of monologues interwoven with the songs they loved, they relive the events which shattered friendships and scattered friends to the four corners of the world.


There is undoubtedly more lively material than any of the music ever released by The Go-Betweens and if you’re not a fan, this might not seem like the show for you, but wait, there’s more to it than that. And when you make art, is it not right that you should make it the way you want to, using the soundtrack you want to, without having to tick funding application boxes, or satisfying sponsors or producers who are under the misguided impression that their dollars equate to creative talent or artistic decisions better left to the artists? Right. Here we have Kate Wild’s show, not yours, and not mine, and it’s clear from the outset that it’s a labour of love.



I love the story, which is penned by Wild with nostalgia and style, complete with colloquialisms and local references, which might not have the same impact anywhere else in the world, but here where everyone can picture very clearly, as we did during Zig Zag Street, the share houses and cracked coffee cups and odd, stoned characters at late night share house parties, the in-jokes and the bin references are appreciated. There’s a poetry and honesty to this work that leads us gently from four corners of the globe to our own back yard, begging us to recall the details of a decade. Nothing from your life? No one you know? Look closer. No hammer here with which to shape society, not really, but a mirror held respectfully within our reach while we gaze and wonder and remember, if we’re willing, crazy, hazy days and nights.



I adore these performers – Lucinda Shaw, Lucas Stibbard, Kat Henry and Sandro Colarelli – in their element as actors who can sing and move proficiently, and certainly in the case of both Shaw and Colarelli, as singers in their own right. This is clever casting, giving Stibbard another recognisable, relatable, beautifully underplayed super sensitive sad guy (you know, he can play happy people too!), and having Henry fill the shoes of a sweater-wearing, box-ticking, wide-eyed and impressionable Toowoomba girl on a fierce/lonely/dissatisfied life journey, Shaw delightedly swivelling and swaying and dancing her way into all our hearts, despite the distinct feeling at first that she doesn’t fit in here, and Colarelli – what a master, of sensual presence, poise and too-cool, disdainful and casual connection, enthralling us even as he reaches demurely for a mic hidden beneath the floor. I don’t know how we’ve managed to keep him in Brisbane… Can we still say parochial things like that?



Beneath some beautiful lighting by Christine Felmingham, Sarah Winter’s design puts us right at home in any number of share houses during uni years, making use of various levels and all four corners of the intimate Visy stage, and placing the accomplished musicians (James Lees, Ruth Gardner, Richard Grantham, Brett Harris and Karl O’Shea) behind a scrim and in an actual Paddington living room. Really. I swear it’s our place off Latrobe Tce. Or Susan’s Kelvin Grove house. Or Marnie’s Red Hill house. Or Lyndelle’s or maybe Annie’s parents’ place. Or a random St Lucia address that preceded coffee and gelato and too much wine and table soccer and intense conversations with actors and the Italians after knockoffs under the Eiffel Tower on Park Road… The memories come flooding back and I think there are probably really bad late-night, red-eyed, smokey, blurry photos of the parties in any or all of these spaces. You know, actual photos, in photo boxes, that have never been seen on social media (and nor will they ever be). 


This is one of the marks of a decent show, though, isn’t it? It pulls you in, even as you resist and don’t recognise much of the music (I don’t mind telling you that right through uni I was still listening to a heap of Single Gun Theory and Indigo Girls and show tunes and I don’t remember what else), and it doesn’t let you go until it’s time to leave, and drive home through all those roadworks (six sections, people, SIX SECTIONS OF ONE LANE OPEN ONLY AT 40KM/HOUR), and marking devising pieces before morning. No wonder I’m tired.



The Sound of a Finished Kiss is such a sweet new thing, I want to challenge the makers to lift it a bit and find the places it can continue to keep us engaged; these are in between sections of dialogue, with a number of the songs going on for longer than necessary, sometimes by two or three verses, so at 90 minutes it feels like the show drags at times. The pace at one point is helped considerably with the fun and ironic execution of Neridah Waters’ choreography.


With its deep insight and some dark and topical content, its wonderful reflection on an era and its bunch of misfit, perfect-for-each-other friends (yeah, c’mon, now you know them), this production could literally bring the party to wherever it shows. Like Soi Cowboy (it was one of those amazing creative developments, like Hanako, which I’ve never finished writing about and yet often reference), and unlike many others confidently charging you full price for the privilege of seeing them, this is one of the few new works to actually, genuinely be ready for their opening night, only begging the most minimal work, only in my opinion, before a return season somewhere, surely. 


The Sound of A Finished Kiss closes on Saturday. It’s not just for The Go-Betweens fans. Go see for yourself.


Production pics by Greg Harm



A Slight Ache & The Lover


A Slight Ache & The Lover

now look here

Metro Arts

March 8 – 19 2016

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward

If the problem can be solved why worry? If the problem cannot be solved worrying will do you no good.

– Santideva


Who are you?

– Edward, A Slight Ache, Harold Pinter

RICHARD Is your lover coming today?


… It’s the husband asking and it’s the husband who returns at three, as the leather jacket clad lover, for a little bit of afternoon delight. We realise that this English middle class married couple, in an effort to spice up their love life, enjoy some regular role play, and in-role erotic games of cat and mouse in the parlour, frequently ending up under the table. I vaguely worry that a vase of fresh flowers on the tabletop above them will come crashing to the floor during a fit of cloth-concealed passion. But there is something very reserved about their fantasies. Everything left to the imagination. And certainly nothing broken. Imagine! There’s something generally very reserved about the couple and despite Kerith Atkinson’s beautifully prepared 1950s housewife contrasting nicely with her whore, I don’t feel convinced that Danny Murphy is the ideal husband and lover for her, which makes it impossible to believe the relationship. I should be swept up in the couple’s absurd antics, and a little shocked and delighted by their coping mechanisms, and I’m not.

Everything is funny; the greatest earnestness is funny; even tragedy is funny. And I think what I try to do in my plays is to get this recognisable reality of the absurdity of what we do and how we behave and how we speak.

– Harold Pinter

It’s very clear that Pinter admired women, and saw that society, in general, too often does not. Or didn’t in 1963 when The Lover was written, originally for TV. In The Lover, Pinter shows us that women can successfully fill multiple roles and men – this man at least – cannot. After a time, Richard becomes frustrated, tired and confused, and simply wants, once again, to come home to a wife, not a whore or a mistress. (He goes to great lengths to explain the differences between them. It’s very simple, really).

SARAH I must say I find your attitude to women rather alarming.

RICHARD Why? I wasn’t looking for your double, was I? I wasn’t looking for a woman I could respect, as you, whom I could admire and love, as I do you. Was I? All I wanted was…how shall I put it…someone who could express and engender lust with all lust’s cunning. Nothing more.

Like Albee’s earliest plays, Pinter’s early work sits on the Absurd shelf, right by Realism, with its uncanny insight into human paranoia, projection, dissatisfaction and assumption. Yes, it’s Realism, but not as we know it.   


An African drum ritual is appropriately odd (but not). It precedes a flashback to another time, another place, another rendezvous… The beat starts slowly, quietly, intensely before quickening; they both play – she scratches the skin with her nails – and it’s strange, unsettling, and hilarious. I’m not sure it should be quite so amusing. Pinter’s comedy is subtle, tucked away into the dark corners of his Realism, but Director Kate Wild has teased it out into the open, like a daydream, giving her actors some opportunities to play. But I’m unconvinced and this production is frequently funny because the chemistry between Atkins and Murphy is so awkward… Of course, others consider it the perfect casting, which is fine. And intriguing.          


Why do you think the conversations in your plays are so effective? 


I don’t know. I think possibly it’s because people fall back on anything they can lay their hands on verbally to keep away from the danger of knowing, and of being known. 

Zac Boulton – the milkman, John – appears at the door with the milk, although it’s clearly cream he’d like the housewife to take. He’s quite persistent! It’s a distraction, and one we can’t help but imagine she’ll go for, but no; it’s Pinter, not a Hollywood team of writers, and she remains faithful to her husband, her lover.


Is there more than one way to direct your plays successfully? 


Oh, yes, but always around the same central truth of the play—if that’s distorted, then it’s bad. The main difference in interpretation comes from the actors. The director can certainly be responsible for a disaster, too…

Zac Boulton is the mysterious Matchseller in A Slight Ache (written originally as a radio play and adapted for the stage); it’s Boulton’s most disciplined performance to date, without dialogue yet demanding intense focus. There is very little movement involved but his deflated, decrepit posture and noisy shuffling is a perfect capture of sadness, and his shaking is the whole world imploding. Of course we have to wonder if he’s real, or if he might be a figment of Edward’s imagination. Murphy is far better suited to this role and brings to it a measure of consideration, calculation and inner terror that prompts us to consider our own imminent death. His perspective on the wasp’s purpose in the world, and his rather cold treatment of it in the opening scene serves as a neat summary of the themes in the play. (He traps it in the marmalade pot, while the wife watches on, alarmed and grateful to her husband and protector for keeping them out of danger. Because so much danger in their hum-drum lives).

No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path.

– Gautama Buddha

Pinter demands that we consider our mortality and our identity by drawing attention to the mundanity and imagined menace of the every day. Murphy’s Edward is suitably suspicious and increasingly terrified of the Matchseller, an imposter, eventually rising and filling the role that Edward relinquishes. Of his two roles in this double bill, Edward is the character that Murphy embodies and delivers in the most affecting way. And by the end, when he is crazed and confused and drained of all life force, we feel more for him then for Flora, who doesn’t miss her husband and protector because either he is replaced by the Matchseller or he has become the Matchseller. We’re never really certain but I decide that he has become the man, who becomes younger and stronger as Flora’s attention is lavished upon him. As Flora, Atkinson offers on a silver platter, vivid descriptions of her well-kept garden, and the oddly seductive imagery of the final interior scenes; she’s a 1950s housewife after Salome.


Wild has assembled a creative team (including Costume Designer Penelope Challen & Lighting Designer Christine Felmingham), to take the muted colours and larger pieces of a comfortable middle class life – a table, a sofa, a hat stand, a chair – out of their natural surrounds and position them on stage beneath gentle light and within a soundtrack of too-cute tunes. As much as we enjoy the music though, scene transitions (the passing of time, the changing of clothes) needn’t take an entire track… Atkinson’s wardrobe is noteworthy, the very essence of classic Chanel meets contemporary Marc Cain (The Lover) and Burberry (A Slight Ache). 

It’s rare to see Pinter done well so if it’s your bag, baby, see this double bill before it finishes on Friday.

Excerpts from The Paris Review


The Seagull – now look here


The Seagull

now look here

Metro Arts Warehouse

March 3 – 14 2015


Reviewed by Xanthe Coward 


It’s Chekhov, but not as you know it…




“You can’t do Chekhov with bad actors.” Director, Kate Wild



“I”M SO UNHAPPY!” #sochekhov


I know of three productions of The Seagull happening this year in Brisbane alone. QUT (April 22 – May 2), QTC (August 29 – September 26) and now look here (until March 14) are all indulging in a bit of a Chekhov Crush. And I can understand why. We love Chekhov’s language, we love his dismal characters, the hopelessness of everyday life and the shrewd and sorry observations that we laugh about…so we won’t cry. There is tragedy in each fleeting moment of comedy, and there’s never a happy ending. Chekhov’s intensive study of the humdrum and dull horror of daily life makes me grateful for the abundance of love and joyful activity in my own.


AND particularly with the guidance of an intelligent and insightful director, Chekhov is glorious food for actors.



Chekhov is to actors what Colin Fassnidge is to foodies #usethewholepig



In this case, our director is also writer, adapting the original text over the course of an intriguing year, which involved workshops with various actors. (In fact, Kate Wild tells me after the show that amendments were being made right up until opening night!).


This adaptation impresses me greatly, and learning about Wild’s association with London’s Young Vic doesn’t surprise me at all, since it’s the NT Live productions that consistently show us how a classic can successfully be reimagined for contemporary audiences. Wild’s version of Chekhov’s classic is pared back and relies on the actors’ ability to present real characters, really. No, REALLY. There’s nothing that is surface level, no token anything here. Deeply inspired performances, which come directly from the text (just as Mamet wishes), mean we are privy to a new world of old-school values; it’s the same dysfunctional family but shown in more modern light. The language and the references are updated so that a whole new audience might not even think to question the origin of the play. The contemporary outback setting is about as far removed from 1800s Russia as we can get, however; it’s not dissimilar. Created with nothing more than a curtain, a table and chairs, some lamps and three white curved timber structures, which become walls and door frames and seats and a bed, the scene is sensitively, economically realised, and is made all the more poignant in the suddenly silent, extremely small space of the 4th floor Warehouse in the Heritage listed Metro Arts building on Edward Street (Designer Gordon Fletcher). It’s as if we’re in the room with them. It’s salon theatre in disguise…


Wild told scenstr, “I’ve seen a lot of innovative work, a lot of very creative directors doing a lot of very exciting things. But I felt I wasn’t seeing a lot of text-based theatre being done very centrally with a very simple sort of aim of telling a story. So I think I needed to show what theatre could be like if we went back to the basics and I made it very writer and actor led rather than maybe led by the concept of a director.”




Wild fills the gap with this production, a beautifully configured statement on the value of reinvention whilst simultaneously honouring theatrical form and tradition and never losing sight of the story. The cast is superb, with fine performances from Louise Brehmer, Michael Forde, Matthew Filkins, Pip Boyce, Peter Cossar, Kevin Hides, Ayeesha Ash, Thomas Hutchins and Lizzie Ballinger. Special mentions to the gently placed Blake La Burniy, the quietly competent Kristian Santic and Courtney Snell (Stage Manager), and Erin Murphy (Composer & Musician). Murphy’s cinematic underscore makes my heart ACHE.




Ballinger is feminine and fragile and wild, improbably beautiful as the aspiring actress, Nina. She is fierce and tragic, truth and hope and loveliness all rolled into one. Her easy movement, rich vocal work and bright eyes make her a joy to watch. Hutchins is our tall, dark and brooding doomed writer, Kostya; oh, how we feel for him! Again, the character is wholly realised by the actor, his nuanced voice and movement (and again, the eyes have it), convincing us utterly. This is Hutchins at his best, deeply invested and heartbreakingly believable. In this intimate space we feel a part of every move, every word, every breath, including his last. There is need of a true sound effect to finish though, and with it would come genuine shock and a real sense of loss, rather than the gradual realisation of the situation, which we understand from Irina’s confusion and the doctor’s measured reaction. Hides nails it; his doctor is the epitome of gentility, compassion and honour behind a sparkling family friend smile. I find myself watching him watching the others… It’s the strongest, sweetest performance of the night.






As Ilya the farmer Cossar delivers his best performance to date – such is the magic of perfect casting – and as his long-suffering wife, Boyce, although she is Ausssie chook lit mis-styled, is in fine form. It takes me a little while to warm to Ash as Masha, but when she finally settles she is lovely and detached and just as dissatisfied and downright miserable as she ought to be. And Filkins’ Boris?  He’s the perfect love-punched poet, disarming and frustrating. Damn those well to do, attractive, creative types in suits, huh? A-hem.





Wild’s adaptation condenses four acts into two and if you don’t need to hit the highway to get home you can be in bed before 11pm…unheard of! This Chekhov rocks! I actually want to buy a copy of this adaptation from Wild since it’s the first time I’ve been truly swept up in the complexities of the story without questioning anybody’s objectives. Drama departments everywhere will want it! Venues everywhere will want it…hello, La Boîte?



If Wild is here to stay, be sure to see whatever it is she does next. Hers is a sophisticated yet simply stated theatrical world in which we feel warm and welcomed and challenged. If you want to experience a more intimate, honest and personal form of live theatre this year, this is The Seagull you should see.