Posts Tagged ‘silvan rus




Brisbane Powerhouse & Wax Lyrical Productions

Brisbane Powerhouse Visy Theatre

November 9 – 12 2017


Reviewed by Barry Stone



Barry maintains that he doesn’t write reviews, but I love hearing what he has to say about what he sees in Brisbane since he sees everything he possibly can, out of genuine support and passion for the Performing Arts. I’m so pleased he’s agreed to allow me to share his thoughts with you here. Feel free to add your own, below in the comments section. Xanthe


Award-winning company, Wax Lyrical Productions, presents the world premiere of Nineteen, a dark comedy about four young men, Noah, George, Adam and Josh, living in a share house. From the outside they seem like fun, loveable larrikins but underneath the bravado and binge drinking lurks something more sinister.


Nineteen – For me, a play that has been needed for a while. Young men deciding if they will make it to adulthood. The trials of insecurity, the passions of relationships, the recognition of urges and the deceit amongst friends and for one’s self. It is a scary world trying to be what you imagine you should be. Will you be ‘like father – like son’. What is love and what is sex. What is friendship and what is a man supposed to be. The obsession with the physical, the boredom and the drugs and alcohol. Escape or pleasure. A lot is there in the loneliness of growing up.


For many years I have bemoaned the lack of suitable role models for the young man. I have a particular abhorrence of several things proposed as that which should be emulated, such as ‘Be a man’, ‘Stand up for yourself’, ‘Did you fight back?’, ‘Did you win?’, Don’t be a girl’ and ‘Don’t be a poofta’. There is always that obsession – which sport do you follow, don’t dress like a sissy, you know nothing about the kitchen, back-slap but never hug, never show or declare your emotions… Add this to the image in American film and television that all is solved with a gun or a punch. Young men in most sit-coms are portrayed as immature idiots, and selfish like Bart Simpson. Some call it satire, but I bet the vast majority see it as an example. Just like 1984 was a warning not a user manual, as it is now seen.


This original play examines the inner workings of a house of young boys. Their closeted affections, homophobia, misogyny, disappointments, and how they cope, or fail to cope. It is about the need they have for each other, but never let it show. The anger is loud and flies rashly and the can or stubby is opened one after another. No, they are not the great successes in life, but our suburbs are full of them and largely they are ignored. Why are they like this and what is society teaching our young men?


There is a line and a common attitude propagated that all men are either ‘Rapists or Paedophiles’. Read your newspapers and listen to your media. Accusation alone is now guilt. Aspirational victims are everyone’s 15 minutes. Vigilante justice, trial by media and innuendo leave everyone feeling guilty. To me, all freedoms require a generation to sink in. Apartheid, recognition of indigenous importance, women’s liberation, gay liberation…all have been taking time and when the world swings from one to another it usually leaves someone else behind.


Kindness and understanding, acceptance and example are better than accusation and revenge.


I seem to have waffled but this is what for me came out of Nineteen. Writer and Director, Shane Pike, has begun a conversation that I hope is joined with true compassion. He has exposed the private life of some of the young Aussie male. The ignored and dismissed. Fewer trips to Bali and more trips to the theatre, where life is thought about.


Jason Glenwright gave a wonderful theatrical focus on the action, the narration , the asides. And the peak performances of the cast were gripping. The silences most effective, as I recognise that state of severe boredom and inability to articulate what I have seen in the flesh. Diverse as any group of people can be, the actors both differentiated the characters and united them in a common confusion, loneliness and simply being afraid. Scared little boys lashing out at each other because they are so disconnected with the reality of the world and exactly what a relationship should be, who they are and where they need to stand.


Bravo to to the great and gripping talents of Daniel Hurst, Leonard Donahue, Jackson McGovern and Silvan Rus, and thank you for a very fine evening which I do hope both lives on and provokes discussion and a real attempt at true understanding, for from truth will evolve genuine progress.


Queensland in particular needs this big discussion. Less talk about how a sportsman is a role model (no matter how many mistakes he makes) and a little less testosterone, greater respect for the arts and acceptance of the rich diversity we do have. The world or the media seems to be promoting a gender war to add to the class war, the race war, the religious war. Calm the fuck down and stop trying to find which persecuted minority you can join. I am over the victim mentality. Be human and cope. You need not be scarred for life. it is not a fate worse than death, it may be none of your business, you are responsible for your own actions. We all have problems but we are all born with the responsibility of developing a conscience. Choose which battles (not all) you want to fight but educate yourself with facts and then give it 100 percent.


As I have said over and over, I do not do reviews, but I record what comes to me by attending a performance. This is just how it affected me. This one really did provoke thought and unleashed me.


P.S. As if that is not enough there is also some nudity.


Appalling Behaviour


Appalling Behaviour

Brisbane Powerhouse & Wax Lyrical Productions

Brisbane Powerhouse Turbine Studio

February 10 – 13 2016

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward


We deliberate over sitting in the front row or hiding up the back like naughty school kids on the bus. The back row wins, mostly because the Turbine Studio is such a tiny space and it’s possible to be too close to the performer here. I feel like we’ve made the right choice. We’ll behave. Promise. But wait! I spot our friend seated a couple of rows in front and call out to her. She hitches up her skirt and clambers over the chairs to join us before a couple of the boys from Wax Lyrical’s Carrie settle next to me. It’s practically the after party before the show’s begun. (The boys have brought in a couple of drinks each because ONE MAN SHOW. And who ever knows what we’re in for at a festival?).


We’re laughing and chatting as the lights dim, and I have to turn away from the conversation and tune into the guitar and vocals of Silvan Rus, who has singularly established the Parisian bohemian street scene as we entered the space, without the help of a set or lighting state. The painting propped on an easel on stage is of a Parisian scene, boasting a red umbrella held by a couple in an embrace by the Seine, but we knew we were going to be in Paris and just…why is it there? And why are the Playschool blocks covered in newspaper? The nondescript design has me stumped so I decide to stop thinking about it. Rus continues to play throughout, effectively underscoring the show and providing the backing for well-placed lines of dialogue to be made lyrical. The moments of song break up the extended monologue, which tells the tale of a homeless, friendless, hopeless (hopelessly romantic) junkie.

Tom Markiewicz appears, unfurling from a position on stage, although because we’d been in entertaining (each other) mode in the back row I hadn’t seen him there until now. He’s tall and slender, superbly, elegantly tragic in a long black dress, with mascara tears permanently running down his cheeks and red lippy that’s slipped and smudged. He’s dishevelled without losing all dignity, and would have looked the bomb before the rain and hash and drinks took effect. This proudly worn forlorn appearance sets the tone of the show. We know it won’t be a happy ending…


AWGIE Award winning Stephen House, playwright and the original performer of the piece, offers a voice to the voiceless, the lost, the forgotten… Having lived on the streets of Paris himself, and observing homeless people all over the world, House was able to write with raw honesty and rare insight, and the poignancy of one who is able to empathise.

This adaptation, directed by Wax Lyrical’s Shane Pike, offers a view of homelessness and hopelessness through a younger, brighter (though blurred) lens and the production suffers slightly for it. It has the potential to read as a slower burning, much darker, more devastating and directly affecting piece. It’s not that this reading misses the mark, it’s just that I would like to have seen an even greater challenge tackled by actor and director, to tread warily through this incredible story until we’re taken right to the edge of a precipice… It’s not quite shocking enough to drive home the harsh reality of the story, and the homelessness almost gets lost in the complexities of the issues that contribute to that very state.


Perhaps the interpretation of the text and the creation of the role were challenges enough, and that’s fine. A whole generation might have connected more deeply than I. Having said that, Markiewicz is a charismatic performer, bold and beautiful to watch, and I certainly felt a connection, which is rare because few performers are confident enough to meet your eye. Many will select a spot just above you or beyond you, avoiding committing to gazing right at you. Markiewicz gazes, seduces, locking eyes with me and others a number of times throughout the performance, justifying his existence and lamenting about having nothing more valuable to offer us, with which he might prove his worth, or actually contribute to society. We feel his failures mounting and we recognise, if we stop and reflect, our own gratitude for the people who take an interest in us, for the roof over our heads, the food on our table, the drinks in our hands. It’s not a show that’s unsettling enough to make me shift in my seat – there’s not quite enough light and shade (and less ebb than flow) – but the poetic language jars and shocks us occasionally enough to make us sit up and, without pitying him or feeling as if we can reach out in some way, at least take note of our own fortunate place in the world.


Despite the heavy content there are some lighter moments, quite lovely moments, including fond references to the various people and places of Paris, and enamoured prose describing the object of his affection, a pretty whore he refers to as the “Paris Princess”. As the object of another’s affection – or dubious attention – he falls prey to Romano, who must also…survive.

Pike and Markiewicz have teased out a gentle new take on the text. Within this demanding 55-minute performance there are a number of sublime moments, and yet others that would fall flat if it were not for the conviction of the performer. Let’s see this work developed further, and see it again.





The Queensland Shakespeare Ensemble

Roma Street Parklands

August 19 – September 6 2015


Reviewed by Katy Cotter 


After a decade of war against the Goths, the Roman general, Titus Andronicus, returns home victorious but battle-weary. He brings with him Tamora, the fallen Goth queen, and her sons as prisoners. In an act of ritual sacrifice to the gods, Titus kills Tamora’s eldest son, fuelling a bloody and unrelenting cycle of revenge between himself and Tamora. Violent acts are met with more violent deeds, blurring the line between victim and perpetrator.


Seen through the eyes of modern day Australia, Zoë Tuffin’s production serves to remind us of our most primal human instincts. When we have a brutal act committed against us, as an individual or as a nation, our baser instincts are awakened and we demand justice.



But justice can turn to revenge with alarming ease and blood be answered with blood.





Titus Andronicus is one of Shakespeare’s bloody and gruesome tragedies that feeds on revenge and retribution, leaving few alive, who in turn suffer the same horrors as their predecessors. Sounds like our current political system… Under the direction of Zoe Tuffin, The Queensland Shakespeare Ensemble is tackling one (out of many) of the bard’s epic texts in their adaptation, TITUS.


The mood before the show commences is celebratory and jovial as part of the cast forms what can only be described as a medieval rock band, The Gloves of Blood, playing live music. General Titus Andronicus, played by Rob Pensalfini, is clad in garb fit for the battlefield as he sings while strumming a tiny ukulele. His sister Marta, played by Anthea Patrick, wears a flowing gown as she bashes at the drums. This pre-show performance feels an odd way to lead into the main-show, although it prefaces this adaptation, which continues to surprise and subvert expectations.





Tuffin’s knowledge of dissecting a Shakespearean play shines through her direction, as she not only explores the darkness of the text, but also embraces the comedy.



There are moments where the ensemble revel in the complete absurdity of a scene, leaving the audience howling with laughter. This in turn creates different perceptions of particular characters. Silvan Rus who plays Aaron is a stand-out, embodying the words flying out of his mouth with controlled speed and precision. He infuses the character, who is one of the villains in the play, with such an abundance of charm and charisma that the audience can’t help but adore him. Lavinia, played by Johancee Theron, has the most harrowing character through-line and yet Theron’s facial expressions and storytelling through movement and mime are hilariously tragic.


The Parkland’s amphitheatre provides an epic backdrop – a salute to Ancient Rome – with the audience seated onstage among the actors, looking out at the tiers of seats. Tuffin took full advantage of the space, so that not all the action is centre stage. A mention must be given to Steven Tibbits for his beautifully understated lighting design. The simplicity of each state helps forge the tone of every scene without becoming overwhelming.


Do not let the two hour run time deter you from seeing this vivacious and entertaining work; time is seriously a non-issue.


The ensemble unifies to deliver a fast-paced extravaganza, keeping the audience engaged and leaving little opportunity to tune out. The play is timeless and reveals the cyclical nature of human behaviour. Can we ever truly learn from history and evolve? Are we meant to? Or is all the world a stage of repetitions?