Posts Tagged ‘romeo and juliet


> < R&J


>< R&J

La Boite Indie & Breadbeard Collective

with the support of QPAC

The Roundhouse

13 – 30 November 2013


Reviewed by Meredith McLean


Ten people aged 18-25 gather in a room. They play, dance, fight, kiss and talk about life, love, violence, sex and death. Taking Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, they remix the work by hanging new meat on the skeleton of the story. As the tale takes hold, the party dies down and the group sees the bloody consequences of their experiments.


Helpmann Award nominee Lucas Stibbard leads a cast of Brisbane’s bravest emerging artists in this deconstruction and reconstruction of the greatest love story ever told.




>< R&J and its opening night has been awaited by many with baited breath. Even one of my own sources in the theatre community was contemplating travelling from the Gold Coast to see it. A lot of excitement was riding on this one. Would it fly or flop? Generally I avoid asking this question before going into a show. But I couldn’t help myself this time. I’ll tell you now, >< R&J soared.


This show truly needs to be seen to be believed. It gets meta, it gets comical, it gets personal, it becomes interactive, it becomes multi-media designed and explosive, it focuses on meta and the Real again. It becomes emotional and bends and turns and laughs and changes and lights up. By the end of the show you feel like you have befriended the cast. You come for the tragedy, but you stay for the interconnected stories you thought you’d never laugh or cry about.


This is what contemporary theatre should aspire to be.


When the show first opened I did have a moment of doubt. The team employs words and imagery on the screen. This is well and good and they made a solid delivery in this media form, but it is a common hallmark of a QUT production. It had me concerned this would be a rehashing of a Vena Cava production and nothing particularly unique. I also choked on the hipster vibes at first. References in the first ten minutes to High Fidelity and covering the song Love Will Us Apart by Joy Division on a ukulele is very cliché hipster chic. All they would’ve needed was The Smiths playing and a guest appearance from Michael Cera and they would have all the pieces of a hipster set.


But this retelling of Romeo and Juliet thankfully did not head in that direction. It’s a show that engages Y Generation more than anyone, but it maintains sincerity and inclusion for all the audience without getting bulked down in being too “quirky”.


The physicality of the show is superb.


The cast in their ever-changing roles was so fluid to transform. Each and everyone of the cast could change from a bum to an astronaut if they wished and I would not have noticed. But there are no astronauts in this show – only star-crossed lovers and those around them.


I lost count how many pop culture references I found. But the songs, the stunts, the lights and the burning creativity of this piece keeps you alert and hungry.


I have seen many performances of Romeo and Juliet. Some were entertaining, some were true to the text and some were absolutely horrible. I vowed never to say this about any version of a Shakespearian classic, and certainly not one as well known as Romeo and Juliet.


This is by far the most impressive performance of the text I have seen yet.


I’m looking forward to seeing what The Breadbeard Collective comes up with next.




How many La Boite Indie shows did you see in 2013?






La Boite Indie is one of Australia’s leading platforms for independent theatre.


This year you’re invited to help La Boite choose one of the six independent groups to move to QPAC in 2014.



EDC: Natalie Weir’s R&J and Carmen Sweet


Natalie Weir’s R&J (Act 1 – Passion) and Natalie Weir’s Carmen Sweet

Expressions Dance Company

The Noosa Long Weekend Festival

Thursday 20th June 2013


Reviewed by Xanthe Coward 



Rhiannon McLean Carmen Sweet


See Barry Alsop’s images here


From age to age, one classic story is as timeless as love itself… 

Winner of Outstanding Achievement in Choreography at the 2012 Australian Dance Awards, Natalie Weir’s R&J presents three versions of events inspired by the star-crossed lovers at the heart of Shakespeare’s greatest love story. Exclusively for the Noosa Long Weekend, EDC will revisit the explosive first act, transporting audiences to the beating heart of the modern-day club scene where passion and desire erupt in a dangerous and tragic love triangle.  



This iconic tale of Spanish heat and gypsy passion unravels when naïve soldier Don José has his heart ignited by the fiery Carmen, discarding his childhood sweetheart and deserting the army. Josè’s attempts to tame the freedom-loving beauty are futile, and when she leaves him for the famous toreador Escamillo, all three are engulfed in the flames of jealousy and revenge. Opera’s most famous femme fatale is stripped. Weir’s Carmen is a free spirit; dangerous, volatile and vulnerable, brought to vivid life by three dancers playing her different states of mind and alter egos.


The only dance event of the Festival in 2013, Expressions Dance Company (EDC as the rebranding goes), could have sold out twice over. The full house included many young dancers and their mums and dance teachers, from various Sunshine Coast schools and studios. With the Noosa area schools best represented (NPDA REPRESENT!), I couldn’t help but wonder where the rest were. Surely, a chance to se the acclaimed Queensland company on home turf is more appealing than making the trek to Brisbane on a cold, rainy night? I know, sometimes I make that trek up to four nights a week, and it’s really not as bad as many Coasties make out, but I also appreciate seeing so much top notch stuff, so much closer to home during the Festival.


Actually, it’s moving day today (can you believe we’re moving house in between rehearsals for West Side Story and The Noosa Long Weekend?), so I haven’t been tweeting much! Tonight I have the opportunity to see David Pomeranz’s Chaplin: A Life. In Concert & Meow Meow, and I’ll be letting you know how both those shows go.


EDC did not disappoint (they rarely do). This was indeed, as the Festival program promised, “a delectable double-bill of two enchanting short works.” Poppy and I were excited to see so many young friends in the audience and we enjoyed the buzz before the show began. (We also enjoyed our own little “supper club” at Gaston after the show had ended. Poppy and Jason swapped magic tricks, and we had the best duck spring rolls, dumplings and dessert!).


Natalie Weir’s R&J (Act 1 – Passion)

Natalie Weir’s R&J is, I believe, just one version of three – the first act revisited for this performance – and now I wish I’d seen the other two at some stage. It’s not new news, but nevertheless, it’s a bold statement to set this age-old tragic tale in the throbbing modern day dance club scene. Something about setting the story in this environment seemed cruel! But even Poppy, at seven, missed nothing and look, I’m never sorry to have taken her to a more sophisticated re-telling of any classic story…it’s never too soon to start talking about making good choices when it comes to party drugs.


Representing a mass of moving bodies on a dance floor can be a challenge, can’t it? But EDC opened this piece with a stunning cinematic scene of writhing figures under coloured lights, which established immediately, a sense of intimacy, urgency and helped to build the anticipation for a well-known story. It’s not like we don’t know how it ends, but the thing about a new take on anything is that we like to see how we GET to the end!


The star-crossed lovers are superb in their roles, the passion is there, and we really feel for them, as Juliet becomes the prize in a fight on the dance floor between Romeo and a Capulet dude, whose final blow is a king hit, knocking Romeo unconscious. This gives Juliet the opportunity to demonstrate her grief in a beautifully executed solo before taking a few too many party pills and dying in Romeo’s arms.


I’m under the impression we have no new young male dancers on the Coast at the moment, because if we did, they could would should have been there to see these guys. This is the kind of contemporary dance that is easy to watch and wonderful to remember. We know the story, despite the twists and turns in its retelling, and the dance is so good that, unlike when I was growing up dancing and wanted to be living that life on stage, I watch now and want to live that life IN MY LIFE. That applies more to Carmen though. Obviously, I don’t want to OD at a dance party.


Natalie Weir’s Carmen Sweet

I love Bizet’s Carmen. It was my first favourite opera, and for me it still trumps all the rest in terms of story, character, sound, and entertainment value. And this reading of his Carmen absolutely blew me away. With three Carmens in one last night, we were able to consider the various aspects of the famous, flirty, fiery woman. Her vulnerability doesn’t always come through in the opera, but we see it in Weir’s piece. We see the passion, the ambition, the determination, and with just six EDC dancers, to the sumptuous sound of Shchedrin’s Carmen Suite, we see the jealousy, rage, and the ultimate revenge. It was a double-bill of bold love affairs and death!


After seeing Sheridan Harbridge perform during her sold-out Supper Club at berardo’s on Wednesday night, her own sexy version of Habanera: “L’amour est un oiseau rebelle” (Love is a rebellious bird), I wasn’t sure how hot this show would be, but hot it was! The dancers are in fine form, and it’s easy to see why Elise May received the Outstanding Performance by a Female Dancer Award for her work in this production. She seems to channel every aspect of the sultry, sexy Carmen, and watches while her two alter egos (Michelle Barnett & Riannon McLean) play ruthlessly with her heart and mind. The performances by Daryl Brandwood, Benjamin Chapman, Thomas Gundry Greenfield and Jack Ziesing are equally compelling and technically proficient. I’m so impressed with this show; it left me on a high, and not the Juliet pill popping one. I’m continually impressed with Natalie Weir’s work and I can’t wait to see more from this company. Let’s hope we see them back in Noosa next year.


Again, I’m going to say to Sunshine Coast artists and teachers, FIND A WAY TO SEE THE BEST IN YOUR FIELD! When the shows come to you there’s really no excuse. The Noosa Long Weekend Festival showcases artists who you can’t afford to miss if you’re truly serious about teaching and/or working on your craft, and the ticket prices are excellent value (it was just $55 for EDC’s 90-minute performance at The J Theatre).


Unfortunately, considering the number of dance lovers on the Coast, that’s it for dance at this year’s Festival! But there are still plenty of events happening over the final three days of the Festival, including the sensational Festival Highlights Celebration Concert on Sunday at the Outrigger from 12pm – 4pm.


Book online


And what’s next for EDC? When Time Stops September 6th – 14th at QPAC’s Playhouse.


Book online



A Tender Thing: Romeo and Juliet Remixed

A Tender Thing

Powerhouse Visy Theatre

Full Circle Theatre & Brisbane Powerhouse

9th – 18th May 2013


Reviewed by Xanthe Coward


A Tender Thing

Romeo and Juliet Remixed:


It’s the story of star cross’d lovers…but not as you know it.



Another Romeo and another Juliet in a strikingly different love story.


Re-imagining the text of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, British playwright Ben Power has remixed the greatest love story ever told to create an achingly beautiful new story of two older people.


Commissioned and premiered by the Royal Shakespeare Company in 2009, and featured at the World Shakespeare Festival at Stratford in September last year, this 80 minute work for two actors is a provocative new tale of love and sacrifice.


Playing at the Visy Theatre at Brisbane Powerhouse until May 18 is a beautiful take on Romeo and Juliet, which was commissioned by the RSC for its premiere in 2009. Reimagined by Ben Power (literary manager, dramaturge and playwright), yet using Shakespeare’s words, we see for the first time in Australia, this intriguing, very gentle version, which presents the star-cross’d lovers at the end of their life together. In fact it could be any couple, at the end of their life together.


The themes are ageless, universal; if you see nothing of yourself in these characters or in their relationship, you’ll recognise your parents, or your grandparents, or somebody else you know well because they are quite beautifully drawn here by the actors, if not completely settled as individuals. Don’t worry, they will be by the time you see it. The best thing that can happen between now and the rest of the season is that each actor borrows a little from the other. I’ll explain in a minute but first, I’d better tell you this:


Full Circle Theatre allowed me to see the preview, which is not something I make a habit of. As you’ve read here before, it’s understood that a preview is part of the rehearsal process; a final chance to “get things right” before the season opens. So it’s unusual to review a preview but I knew I wouldn’t get the chance to see A Tender Thing otherwise. And as far as previews go, Thursday night’s was pretty slick.



Imagine if Romeo and Juliet had lived, and enjoyed a long, happy life together?



Director, Linda Davey, and actors, Flloyd Kennedy and Michael Croome, have taken the playwright’s notion of a “re-mix” and run with it, offering insight into the stuff of long-term relationships; the bit that happens after the honeymoon. It’s tough, isn’t it? I know. And I know you know. Preach. Choir. Not gonna’ do it. Sam and I have been married for ten years (and together for almost fourteen), and I know there have been times when he’s wished he’d had an obliging apothecary just up the road and around the corner. There have been TESTING TIMES. There have been times when neither of us remembers what brought us together. Or kept us together. Or will keep us together.



There are times when we talk about things that are NOT THEATRE RELATED AND NEITHER OF US KNOW WHO WE ARE.



A Tender Thing certainly makes you think.


Freddy Komp’s thoughtful design lets us into several private spaces within the one setting; a lived-in weatherboard beach cottage, such as we anticipate seeing in a traditional staging of David Williamson’s work. Clever use of recycled timber, sand, bark and living plants in the intimate Visy Theatre lets us get close to this couple in the comfort and familiarity of their home.


An evocative soundscape and score (Scott Norris) works with moody lighting (Daniel Anderson) to highlight the twilight years of the relationship. Many memories are stirred in me – sound and images will do that – they’re simple things, from early on in my own marriage, like putting on Robbie Williams’ DVD Swing When You’re Winning to act like a sage smudge in the house when the other half is feeling down. I’m not sure the shifting, melting images thrown across the back wall made me feel the same way (in fact, they turned my thoughts to recent discussions with artists about combining live theatre and MRI images, so I was thinking, “Yeah, that could work! Let’s do it!”). In the end, as things so often do, the images become clearer and serve as a vivid reminder of the beginning.





While Kennedy’s work on the preview night came across as slightly self-indulgent, Croome’s vocals needed attention. It seems, from some recent examples we’ve been seeing around and about, that the connections between the breath and the voice, and between the voice and the body are perhaps not getting the same attention as they once were. I’ve been thinking about this lately. Are we too focused on being multi-disciplined and self-serving now, ready to forge a career in The Arts Industry and yet still not ready to take on a role? I recently saw a mature age student in a new drama course on the Sunshine Coast absolutely kill Juliet’s Gallop apace piece. It was a lusty, fiery delivery that left no doubt in our minds about the meaning of the monologue, even without (as the treatment of the text in this context demanded) her interrupting a younger student’s performance and schooling her on Juliet’s intent. Wow! We get it! Bravo!


A Tender Thing

I expected this pair, with their training and their “two lifetimes worth of experience” to give us a complete master class on delivering Shakespeare. As I mentioned, both Kennedy and Croome will have settled into their roles and taken a little of the other’s expertise on board by the time you get to see this production. And you should see it, particularly if you’re a theatre practitioner, or somebody in a relationship. There are some perfect moments, including Kennedy’s, “I have forgot why I did call thee back”, Croome’s take on the arrival of morning (this scene is so perfectly reversed we wonder why the lines were ever given to Juliet), and his unfailing, endearing support of his beloved wife, particularly in their dance together, which is perhaps the most telling, moving moment of all. Again, I thought of The Notebook. And of Up.


We know this story so well (if you don’t, you’ll certainly enjoy the show, however, a deeper knowledge of Shakespeare’s original text will enhance the experience), and this is that familiar tale, only it’s dressed in a beautifully coloured, patterned and textured new coat. It’s a brilliant cut-and-paste job by Powers, a study of ageing and enduring love; layers and layers that will get you talking (or mulling over) your own relationships and those around you. Full Circle Theatre have indeed succeeded in producing dramatically significant work that allows us to explore and return to ideas and thus see the familiar from a new perspective.




Auditions: Risk Theatre’s R&J

Risk Theatre


Risk Theatre

are holding first round auditions TOMORROW for their upcoming production of Romeo and Juliet.


All applicants welcome regardless of experience.


For all queries please contact Director, Shane Webb on 0410 195 577.


Come get your Shakespeare on!



Risk Theatre


QTC’s Romeo and Juliet

Romeo and Juliet

Queensland Theatre Company

QPAC Playhouse

26th April – 13th May


I wonder… Does a favourable review earn the best seats in the house, commonly known as The Stalls? I only wonder because I fear the next seats allocated to me by QTC may be in what is commonly known as The Foyer.

Romeo and Juliet is probably one of the few shows staged in the Playhouse that I can honestly say looks just fine from the balcony. I can say that because that’s where I was sitting on opening night. The guy next to me enjoyed the show, and adored my fragrance. It was Lancome’s Poeme. Before the show started and as we were leaving, he told me how divine it was. I told him that divine is better than offensive and that sometimes it brings on a migraine, though certainly not consistently enough to have to get rid of the stuff. I used to wear vanilla oil to the theatre but that only made people hungry! (Try it! It smells delicious!).

The distinct advantage of the balcony seats has to be the frequent glimpses of interesting reflections on the surface of a pool of shallow water, reflections that may be missed by those sitting in the stalls. Under utilised, this body of water is perhaps intended to be more symbolic than practical. The first impression it makes upon us is a powerful one. A single drip drops into the pool, breaking its surface and sending out ripples, which continue across the surface of the stage, reminding us that every little cause has its multiple effects.

I was waiting for somebody to fall dramatically into the water and die with a splash but of course neither Tybalt (Ross Balbuziente) nor Paris (Tim Dashwood) do… this sacred space is reserved for the very attractive corpses of our young lovers, Romeo and Juliet, played by Thomas Larkin and Melanie Zanetti, who, for the record, are aged 25 and 27 respectively.

You might have noticed some excitement about the marketing surrounding this production? Some controversy? Yes. It was about the same level of controversy that surrounded the release of an image of Paul Bishop and Veronica Neave in 1996. For the full story this time around – and for his always-excellent notes – read Baz McAlister’s piece in the program. This time, we see Neave as Mercutio and she is a delight to watch– elfin and acutely aware of herself in the space, as one would expect from a seasoned professional. Her movement is at once both agile and fluid. Although I thoroughly enjoyed Neave’s performance, I can’t help feeling she was not the Mercutio needed in this production; I’d like to have seen another dazzling, dynamite male actor complete the Montague gang! Many of his quips and those directed towards him would make more sense. I’ve seen this level of gender-blind casting done before and it wasn’t entirely successful then either. Enough of the PC casting, okay? It’s not surprising anymore and it’s not offending any of us to put a man in a male role! I know! Full circle! Woah!

I had to laugh when a friend revealed that he had told QTC’s Artistic Director, Wesley Enoch, that this show should be called Romeo ABS Juliet. I came away with exactly the same impression. You see the young men in this production are extraordinarily… ripped. Let me say that again so that it’s clear to those who, like me, come away disappointed by the lack of nudity elsewhere in the production (false advertising?).

The young men in this production are extraordinarily RIPPED.

Have they spent more time working out than rehearsing?! I remember the boys in high school, for a Rock Eisteddfod (as it was then known), in which they were (shirtless) cowboys, having to paint on abs like these guys have! The physiques are to be admired and with shirts unbuttoned and left wide open they are certainly supposed to be on display. If it were not so bloody impressive, it would be comical, like scenes from Baywatch.

n.b. a scene not unlike the one captured by Rob Maccoll in the image below was actually seen in an episode (during Season 9) of Baywatch.

Nikki J-Price and Lisa Wilson have choreographed fight sequences that are more balletic than athletic, which are perfectly underscored and pretty but at times lacking in the authentic passion and aggression demanded by a plot that is driven as much by long-held hatred as it is driven by love. The shrill vocals that open and close the show resonate briefly with me, with such a jarring, scarring quality that they remind me of the crucifixion in Jesus Christ Superstar or those terrifying moments in the Stampede in The Lion King (Composition and Sound Design by Phil Slade).

So. Okay. We know the story. SPOILER ALERT! We know it’s not a happy ending. It’s like watching Titanic, isn’t it? Big ship hits bigger iceberg and sinks, right? Romeo and Juliet is about a couple of kids from opposite ends of town who fall in love and through a terrible misunderstanding, somebody else’s mistake; die.

Larkin and Zanetti make a gorgeous couple but Larkin need not stoop! Stand up straight, sir! Zanetti is, after all, accustomed to being the height she is and feels fine, I suspect, having to look up at you! The awkward posturing continues away from Zanetti and we get used to it, along with a few other odd staging decisions. That aside, these two are pretty perfectly matched and mirror each other’s innocent joy and some sense of deep passion, however; this is no Spring Awakening! Perhaps, given more time, we would have seen – and felt – more of the highly anticipated “sizzle” between these two. Zanetti has achieved admirably, the whirly, heady (and headstrong), heedless, impressionable, delightful state of a fourteen year old and the production benefits enormously from her energy.

It feels like the action could be happening anywhere because the set looks like nowhere on Earth. Bill Haycock’s design certainly doesn’t lend itself to old Verona but more to giant, old, rancid cheese blocks (and I’m aware that some people like their cheese like this), which are supposed to inspire visions or vague memories, for those who know it, of The Globe, where Shakespeare originally staged his works. Instead, I can’t help query sight lines and the wisdom of building baby poo coloured walls on any stage for the good of any production. The costumes (and I like the costumes, also by Bill Haycock) clash or become lost against it. Somehow the lighting  (by David Walters) doesn’t help when I expect it to. Although the gentle water effects are simply beautiful by the time we come to join Romeo and Juliet in their tomb, before then it’s like the ugly lights have come on and everybody has carried on dancing, regardless. Did no one learn anything from Summer of the Seventeenth Doll?

To state the obvious, there’s a great deal of talent in this cast and I did enjoy insightful, measured performances from Norman Doyle as Montague and Steven Tandy as Friar Lawrence. I enjoyed Andrea Moor as the-mother-that-could (but won’t) Lady Capulet and Steven Grives as Capulet, though I abhor him for his treatment of his daughter, Juliet…a sure measure of his hitting the mark! I’d like to see the younger members of this ensemble play a little more together too…clearly it’s time to get to see some shake & stir!

IMHO this Romeo and Juliet is Caroline Kennison’s show. As Nurse, Kennison reveals the true wit, pace, pathos and humour of the Bard’s words and sounds more Australian than Shakespearean but when staging a “contemporary” production, that’s okay, isn’t it? I mean, that’s the point, isn’t it? Don’t we want Shakespeare to stay accessible and relevant? Jennifer Flowers and QTC give Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet such a sexy, contemporary, fun, fast treatment (at 2 hours without interval, it will be too fast for some, without time to stop and smell the roses. I suspect somebody remembered that we all have TV and Internet attention spans now and directed accordingly) that you will just have to see for yourself, whether or not it is to your taste, rancid cheese walls and all.


Romeo & Juliet: Rocket Boy Ensemble

Reviewer: FAIL. This is a review that has been lost in my macbook since February but now, finally, here it is! Apologies to Rocket Boy Ensemble. Looking forward to seeing more of your work, guys. Thanks again for the coffee, cupcake and kindness. Your FOH family are the sweetest around. x

Romeo and Juliet 

Rocket Boy Ensemble

Buderim Uniting Church Hall 

10.02.12 – 12.02.12 



The idea was a crazy one, a group of misfits getting together and putting on a show. We all had experience but had never been let loose without a responsible adult present. Anything could happen! It was a little bit scary but in a good way. There were a few bumps and tears along the way but all in all I have to say this was a life changing experience, in which I (and I know the rest of the team) learnt so much, not just from the experience, but from each other.

Danielle Carney, Director.



Rocket Boy Ensemble presents ROMEO AND JULIET from Benjamin Kerwin on Vimeo.



Rocket Boy Ensemble has landed on the Sunshine Coast! A brand new, self-made company of young and ambitious performers, they are all about to take off to uni in various cities. With any luck, their fearless leader, Producer and Director, Danielle Carney, has something else up her sleeve and will entice them home again so that we may enjoy a second brave production soon. Their debut is impressive. It’s Romeo and Juliet on a (self-confessed) check out chick’s budget, which honours the text and brings a fresh set of youthful eyes to the story of sparring families and star-crossed lovers.

In a small church hall, in which the last show I attended, some years ago, was a nativity play, on a Sunday night after a big weekend, I sit for 15 minutes before the show starts, in front of three actors: Ryan Forbes (Romeo), Robert Steel (Balthazar) and Lizzie Mahoney (Juliet). It was certainly a longer wait for the actors than for me (and it was almost too long, lessoning the impact, though giving me time to take in the simple set, dressed in detail by Designer, Vanessa Fernandez; one corner for the Montagues and the other, for Juliet, a Capulet). In typical secondary school ritualistic style, the company attend and share the Prologue (and later, the Epilogue), holding artificial tea light candles and brokering that special deal with their audience: we are actors playing parts and we are going to tell you a story. And it works. This device also worked well to end the piece, leaving the audience in their affected state, wrapping up the tragic story without breaking the spell.

As Juliet, Mahoney is suitably wide-eyed and innocent, in good voice and in love with her Romeo, however; each famous monologue is carelessly rushed and I feel this is more an indication of Mahoney’s inexperience and lack of confidence during those times on stage when there is nobody else to work off, rather than any lack of skill. She has sufficient skill, a great deal of natural ability and a strong stage presence. Mahoney is sure to work with some strong directors, tutors and/or coaches on interpretation, breathing and delivery in the future. She seems, just in those moments by herself in the space, to lack the confidence she exudes in other scenes.

Her Romeo, Ryan Forbes, is gentle and unassuming; he’s a scholar and an indie gentleman. He seems a quietly confident actor and is well matched with Mahoney. Forbes is well supported by Steel as Balthazar, Tom Jermyn as Benvolio and Caitlyn Elliot as Mercutio. It’s interesting transgender casting and it works, but only because Elliot is up to the task, giving us a Mercutio with more bad-ass-goth-rock-chick attitude than a black leather-clad Pink. The unspoken attraction she has for Romeo does not go unnoticed and adds an additional, intriguing, layer to the banter between them. Elliot also gives us her best Lady Capulet but struggles to assume “older” and “mother” (to be fair, just as some young mothers do). Although she is as risqué as I expect any Lady Capulet to be, with her slightly oriental sexy vibe, she doesn’t quite have the maturity – or perhaps, in this case too, the confidence – to pull it off. The mother-daughter relationship is a tough one to nail with both actors being so young and we lose a little bit of lovely depth there. In contrast, in all his strident youth, Joseph Lai is an imposing and abrupt Lord Capulet. Again, it’s such young casting for a man whose “dancing days” have long since past (as a director, you use what you’ve got or you choose a different show) but with his tall stature and a depth of voice that grants immediate seniority, Lai is convincing enough. The audience visibly shudders when he throws Juliet to the floor and turns his back on her. I hope Lai will attend open auditions for our professional companies this year. The voice alone is going to be of pretty immediate value to one of them.

Interesting casting also, is Ellen Parker as Nurse; not the elder, wiser, nurturing mother figure we have come to know typically as Nurse but a young, flippant, BFF hippie chick! Parker’s energy and vibrancy gives this relationship a new, fresh boost of sisterly sorta love but of course, if we are paying attention to the text, the lines don’t always add up. It’s forgivable because somehow, all the pieces have already fit together and the picture is very clear.

Alex Wickett is the hate-driven Tybalt and holds his own in a number of challenging scenes. We see a glimpse of Wickett’s versatility when he returns as the Friar. Props must go to Fight Choreographer, Joseph del Vecchio, who should certainly pursue the craft if it is his preferred line of work as we are always in desperate need of edgy fight choreography in this country! Perhaps it is, indeed his line of work (I’ve not heard the name before), in which case I will beg his pardon for writing of him as if he is another student. In such an intimate space, the fight scenes (and the final scene) leave indelible impressions upon us.

For a high school graduate/uni student produced piece, Carney’s Romeo and Juliet shows us that the youth on the Sunshine Coast are just as talented as we thought…and also, that some of them are willing to lay everything on the line and work even harder than we ever realised they might. Rocket Boy Ensemble’s work is indicative of the type of theatre we would like to see regularly on the coast and locals will need to continue to support it so it can happen more often (and over a longer season). Keep an eye out for Rocket Boy’s return. Being suitably impressed, we’ll certainly keep you up to date with any future endeavours here.




la boite’s shakespeare: as you like it

As You Like It 

La Boite Theatre Company

The Roundhouse

18.02.12 – 24.03.12

La Boite’s theatre is perfect for Shakespeare: it’s open and alive and allows actors and audiences to come together to share the joy.”

La Boite Theatre Company’s Artistic Director, David Berthold.

Have you ever been a part of Woodford Folk Festival’s shared joy? For the first show of La Boite’s 2012 season, David Berthold has brought a little bit of Woodford to The Roundhouse Theatre and it’s truly wonderful. The Forest of Arden IS Woodfordia and Berthold’s As You Like It is full to overflowing with the same joy, love and good karma. Bill Hauritz will be pleased.

Boasting exceptional performances and containing the best bit of fight choreography we’ve seen at La Boite, indeed; the best we’ve seen in Brisbane in a good while, by (Lead Fight Director this time) Justin Palazzo-Orr, this is a show for everybody. It’s funny and witty and heaps of fun. We are reminded by this play, that Shakespeare’s writing is so good, not only does it stand the test of time but also, it continues to appeal to all sorts.

Probably the most convoluted of the comedies, with a massive cast – in terms of programming, it often loses out to the more popular Twelfth Night – the plot of As You Like It may be unfamiliar. In simplest terms, the love story is central: girl meets boy, they fall instantly in love, girl disguises herself as boy, boy meets girl disguised as boy and they hang out in the forest together, become mates and wed, the girl’s true identity revealed on their nuptial day. Duke Senior and his merry men also inhabit the forest – their commitment is more permanent, their lifestyle a good deal greener and they provide much of the perspective of the play.

Director, David Berthold and Designer, Renee Mulder, have created, with suits and city skirts and jeans and flannel shirts, the look and feel of last year’s Woodford. Woodford has changed since its humble beginnings in the Maleny show grounds and the new mood has been perfectly captured. Rosalind (the remarkable Helen Howard) and Celia (Helen Cassidy) wear black, Cue-style suits and the latest season’s chunky suede shoes, which is just as well, because in narrower heels it’s a challenge to tread the shredded playground rubber that covers the floor of the theatre. As the god, Hymen, in his glittering, high-heeled disco diva boots, Alec Snow is a standout amongst student interns and puts to shame with his confident strut, many of the women in the audience (no offence, no-less-confident women in the audience. It’s just that Snow got to rehearse and as such, he looks to be a contender for the next run of Priscilla)!

Centre stage is a circular dais, which suddenly rises, in a simple, beautiful and breathtaking reveal, earning surprised applause from the opening night audience. Colourful lanterns, indie folk music (props to vocalist Lucy-Ann Langkilde, ready for a Chai Tent chalkboard gig), Tony O’Connor style forest sounds by Composer and Sound Designer Guy Webster and pretty, dreamy lighting, all amber and blue and pink, thanks to David Walters’ trek-out-to-the-Amphitheatre-after-the-Lantern-Parade-passes-by inspired lighting design, all combine to bring the magic of Arden Forest to our midst.

It’s not just the design that is stunning. The performances are superb. We can see the company at work on the next generation of actors, with a stronger focus on training and mentorship this year (there are eight interns in this production), doing their bit to close the gap between accomplished performers and the new, eager actors. Holding their own, in that middle ground where the graduates dwell, are Luke Cadden and Dominic Nimo, in their La Boite debuts.

Bryan Probets, as the jester Touchstone, manages to steal the show early on and later, whips up the audience in a riotous chorus; an old-fashioned, call and answer, effortlessly interactive theatre moment. His comedy is cleverly marked and he appears completely relaxed – delighted in fact – to be entertaining us. How lucky are we? The other exquisite moment in this piece belongs to Trevor Stuart, as Jaques. His delivery of the famed “All the world’s a stage” seven ages of man monologue is magnificent. If it has never stayed with you before, it will linger with you now.

All the world’s a stage,

And all the men and women merely players;

They have their exits and their entrances,

And one man in his time plays many parts,

His acts being seven ages. At first, the infant,

Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms.

Then the whining schoolboy, with his satchel

And shining morning face, creeping like a snail

Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,

Sighing like a furnace, with a woeful ballad

Made to his mistress’ eyebrow. Then a soldier,

Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard,

Jealous in honor, sudden and quick in quarrel,

Seeking the bubble reputation

Even in the cannon’s mouth. And then the justice,

In fair round belly with good capon lined,

With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,

Full of wise saws and modern instances;

And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts

Into the lean and slippered pantaloon,

With spectacles on nose and pouch on side;

His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide

For his shrunk shank, and his big manly voice,

Turning again toward childish treble, pipes

And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,

That ends this strange eventful history,

Is second childishness and mere oblivion,

Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.

Kate Wilson and Hayden Spencer, play their parts beautifully; the first, kind and wise and generous as Duke Senior, as comfortable in the forest digs here as if it were home, high on the Range, and the second, the mincing miss shepherdess, Audrey, in his hippie mountain chic attire, posing and pouting to make us laugh ‘til we cry. Kathryn Marquet brings Phoebe to life.

Helen Cassidy is a lovely Celia and she is well paired with Helen Howard as Rosalind. These two are a celebration of the sisterhood! Howard is a striking woman and it’s easy to watch her every move. That being said, it’s just as easy to be completely distracted by the Adonis good looks of the Bard Boy of Brisbane, Thomas Larkin, in the role of Orlando. We’ve seen his naked torso for some time now, in an image for his upcoming role (Romeo) in QTC’s Romeo and Juliet. But you know this. You’ve seen the poster and you’ve had your say on Twitter too, I’ll warrant. For those who have been living under a tree at Woodford, Larkin’s co-star, Melanie Zanetti, looking extremely young (just as Shakespeare intended… half her luck) has been the subject of some controversy, stirred by a single complaint from a woman on the Gold Coast. While I look forward to seeing him in Romeo and Juliet, as Orlando, we see Larkin in his best role to date.

As You Like It is a show of superlatives. Whether or not ideas are borrowed, this is a brilliant interpretation; it doesn’t miss a beat. If you’re feeling like a bit of a lift, this is the best show you can see in Brisbane this month. It’s gorgeous, guaranteed to please. It’s what the world needs now; love, sweet love, and pure, unadulterated Woodford-all-year-round shared joy. Do yourself a favour and see this one. It’s guaranteed to reinvigorate your soul and warm the cockles of your heart.