Posts Tagged ‘the judy


Circa Zoo Showcase


Circa Zoo

Judith Wright Centre

Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts

1 December 2013

Reviewed by Meredith Walker




At last month’s World Theatre Festival 2014 launch, Artistic Director  of Brisbane Powerhouse, Kris Stewart, referred to Brisbane as a circus city. It would seem Ruth Hodgman and Lewis Jones at The Judy agree, with leading Australian contemporary circus group, Circa, having made its home there fro some time.


Since 2006, Circa has toured its innovative performances across the globe to critical acclaim. Behind the scenes of its mainstage triumphs, however, is a youth workshop program, and it was its youth performance troupe – Circa Zoo – that was on display last weekend, presenting two shows to an almost full house of supportive audience members, as part of its Training Centre showcase.


UpDownUp is an out-the-box style of show, literally, as it features nine nimble performers of various ages emerging from a large box to balance, tumble, flip and manically hula-hoop in a series of gymnastic moves. And while ensemble synchronicity may still be developing, the skill of the young performers is undeniable. Then there is Brink which begins with a single spot-lit dancer as hint of the focussed acts to follow.


With lithe movements, performers use the traditions of the circus to impress, particularly through their rope and aerial work. Indeed, the whole show is not so much a circus as a celebration of strength and skill (and balance that would impress any yoga guru).


While all performers were given chance to showcase their variety of skills over the Circus Zoo’s 85 minute duration, the show could have been more succinct. Choreography is clichéd at times, however, this suits the comic tones of some routines and the consequential vaudeville flavour is playful and fun. The enigmatic soundtrack, which features both artsy and upbeat remixes of familiar songs is another highlight.


Though stripped back in its presentation style, the Circa Zoo showcase revealed plenty of compelling moments.


The calibre of talent on show indicates that the future of our circus city is certainly in capable hands.



Kupka’s Piano


The American Dream-Song: New Music in the USA

Judith Wright Centre

Judith Wright Centre Theatre Rehearsal Space

Friday November 29 2013


Reviewed by Guy Frawley




Kupka’s Piano has finished their 2013 concert series with a one night only performance of The American Dream-Song: New Music in the USA. Following on from their exploration of new Italian music in September’s To Roam With Love, The American Dream-Song, as the name suggests, is an exploration of modern music, heavily influenced by composers from the USA.


It’s great to see such a talented  group of young artists coming together to not only perform but also to explore and present a style of music that they are all obviously passionate about but that doesn’t often get top billing. Three of the five pieces performed throughout the concert were Australian premieres, one of the pieces a world premiere and the majority of composers sampled are under 40. The performers were: Hannah Reardon-Smith (flutes), Macarthur Clough (clarinets), Angus Wilson (percussion), Alex Raineri (piano), Alethea Coombe (violin), Katherine Philp (cello), Samantha Mason (saxophones) and Luara Karlson-Carp (vocals).


The concert explored a number of different themes within the music, with a heavy focus on the ideas of counterpoint, instability and surprise. My personal favourite of the evening was the opening piece Only the Words Themselves Mean What They Say composed by the young American composer Kate Soper and performed by Hannah Reardon-Smith and Luara Karlson-Carp. They commented afterwards that this piece had required a long rehearsal period for them to get it just right and I can certainly believe that. The two blended together Karlson-Carp’s voice and Reardon-Smith’s flute until you weren’t sure which you were actually listening to.


Such control and skill is a pleasure to witness, especially when it’s clear how much the performers are enjoying themselves.


This has been an exciting year for Kupka’s Piano, selling out a number of their concerts and receiving glowing reviews from the modern music community that has come out to support the young group. Liam Flenday, a founding member of Kupka’s Piano and a composer of one of the pieces being premiered, was able to announce during his introduction that the Judy has invited them to return in 2014 for another series of concert performances.


It’s great news to hear that the Judy will be continuing to support this eclectic musical collective and their 2014 season will be kicking off on the 21st of March with The Machine and the Rank Weeds: An exploration of the mechanic and the organic in modern music.



Kate Soper / Wet Ink: Only the Words Themselves Mean What They Say (2010-2011) from EMPAC @ Rensselaer on Vimeo.


The Dark Party


The Dark Party 

Judith Wright Centre

28 – 30 November 2013


Reviewed by Josh Kirwan


Josh has been galavanting around Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast with me doing work experience this week. I thought I’d throw him in the deep end and take him to

a) meet some of the movers and shakers of Queensland theatre (thanks friends, for stopping doing what you do long enough to talk about what you do!)

b) experience a show that might not be to his liking

c) challenge him to get his thoughts together and write a review for us




A trio of melancholic, pathetic hobo clowns discover real laughter, true sorrow and a lot of pain.

Laugh and squirm as they do their worst with all the toys they never got for Christmas – swords, staple guns, angle grinders, rat traps and car batteries.

The Dark Party. It’s sideshow noir to rattle your cage.


the dark party


The grim and macabre series of events in The Dark Party had me grinding my teeth down to the gums. In an almost sold out theatre at the Judith Wright Centre, The Dirty Brothers put on their sideshow noir performance called The Dark Party. Full to bursting with crazy ideas and cringe-worthy stunts, I would not advise the weak of stomach to go and see this show.


Admittedly, I must be one of the last people to talk about this show, as it debuted in Melbourne in 2008 and has been presented all over Australia, New Zealand and Europe to packed houses and critical acclaim. One theatre in France even squeezed an extra 100 people into their 800-seat auditorium. Now however, they are back for a three show run at the Judy.


I must say that I’m still not sure whether I enjoyed it or not! Sometimes I just wanted them to stop what they were doing and let me leave, and at other times I was enthralled and wanted them to hurry up and do the stunt so I could see what was going to happen.


the dark party_sparks




Many from the audience said that they spent much of the time with their eyes closed or hiding behind the chair in front of them and yet I didn’t shut my eyes once. I don’t know if I should be worried by this, but I will admit that I had some kind of sick fascination – I just had to watch what was happening, no matter how awful or painful it was. I suppose that the point of doing stunts like that is to challenge us…and I think some small part of me did enjoy it.


However I don’t think I will ever be able to look at a staple gun, a violin bow or a car battery in the same way ever again! With their sideshow stunts consisting of one fellow stapling flowers to his chest (and tongue!) in lieu of a lei while another plays a saw, one man stabbing himself in the face with a small knife and another lifting up a car battery with his nipples after shocking himself with jumper cables. Did I mention they did the Zorba over mousetraps and rattraps? INSANE is the best word I have in my arsenal to describe these three gentleman.




It has to be said that these three performers, in addition to their amazingly high pain threshold, have a good sense of what they are doing. Megan Hanson put it perfectly when she wrote, “No words are spoken but their facial expressions and movement say it all, achieving a perfect balance of comedy and tragedy. They’re a bit like sad clowns, but with mohawks”. They make us go from wanting to cry when the big guy appears to be pulling himself on a rope attached by a meat hook in his arm, to making us laugh out loud when they invite us to throw ping pong balls at their heads (handed out during the opening of the show) while wearing cones around their necks, imitating the clowns at sideshow alley. This was the ideal method to engage a dubious audience.


It cannot be denied that these three have a good sense of how to please a crowd. While I am fairly certain that most people enjoyed it, I know for a fact that not everyone did. But that is just the way of art/live theatre I suppose; some people will love it and some people will hate it.



Make the trip to experience this performance before it finishes tomorrow (Saturday), even if only so that you can be sure, 100%, that you don’t ever want to see a show like this again.


Rumour Has It return season


What else is happening at The Judy? Plenty! Secure one of the last remaining seats for Adele: Rumour Has It (the return season) 11 -14 December  (you can still get a ticket for the up-late show!), and tonight only, if you can beg or steal a ticket (it’s officially sold out – well done, team!), catch Kupka’s Piano, the final of a series of “expeditions” in 2013.


Taking its name from Bohemian painter František Kupka’s iconic 1909 painting The Piano Keys, Brisbane-based contemporary music ensemble Kupka’s Piano aims to entice audiences into hearing new sounds, new structures, new musical ideas. This ensemble fills a much-needed place in Brisbane’s music scene, profiling the best and latest from European, Australian and international modern art music. If you miss them this time, keep an ear close to the ground next year when they’ll be back!


Kupkas Piano


Women In Voice: 20th Anniversary


Women In Voice

Judith Wright Centre, Red Chair & Annie Peterson

Judith Wright Centre

15 – 19 October 2013




Honouring 20 years of amazing female artists with a stunning array of distinctive voices.


The iconic music series Women In Voice comes to the Judith Wright Centre for the very first time! Cabaret, rock, soul, disco and pop will collide for a 20th birthday celebration like no other, featuring Carita Farrer Spencer, Annie Lee, Naomi Price, Alison St Ledger and Jac Stone.


Women in Voice is a phenomenon. A courageous concept showcasing talented female vocalists in an upfront, uncomplicated manner, resulting in one of the liveliest, funniest and longest-running series Brisbane has ever produced.


Annie plusCarita plus 

From humble beginnings, Women In Voice has come a long way, but it’s still a bit of a pot luck show, with an emcee who talks more than she sings this time (Alison St Ledger) and a line-up that doesn’t necessarily include your favourite styles of music, songs or singers. What the WIV series continues to do, after 20 years, is to support old and new female vocalists in Brisbane, providing a platform and a loyal following.


The epitome of the so-called “WIV Tragic”, St Ledger belts out the big numbers, including the Propellerheads and Shirley Bassey’s History Repeating, a lacklustre opening number, which she makes up for in the final emotional number; a stirring tribute to the WIVs we’ve lost – Chrissie Amphlett and Sue Dwyer. Over 20 years there have been 68 WIVs and St Ledger is one of the stalwarts. We’ve also seen Annie Lee – she of The Kransky Sisters – and Carita Farrar Spencer. These two seasoned performers bring their own brands of comedy to the stage and I adore them both. On opening night the audience seemed not quite as enamoured of Lee (she takes a bit of getting used to, like Flacko or The Birdman), but Farrar Spencer brought the house down with her Diva De Janeiro act, a hilarious drunken Diva performance, honed especially for us “Lisbon” folk. Farrar Spencer sure knows how to entertain a crowd! Her style is unique, and her comic timing impeccable.


Newbies, Jac Stone and Naomi Price hold their own, with Stone establishing a brand new set of followers the second she appeared on stage (there was an intake of breath near me and all around, whispers of “gorgeous girl!”), and a lovely, mysterious voice; simultaneously simple and age-old. This girl is a faery; an old soul who must have had previous lives in the clubs of Paris and New Orleans.


Price offers a different study of herself with an all-male-sung song set, having established herself as Queensland’s Christie Whelan long ago, but lately, with her sell-out Adele show. Jason Robert Brown’s I Could Be in Love With Someone Like You was a treat for JRB fans (I think there were three of us), and John Farnham’s Burn For You is the kind of new classic only Price can create…from out of thin air. This was completely unexpected and just beautiful. Get it on an album, girlfriend, quickly! Price brought an additional level of sophistication to the evening, purely by being the self-assured, super talented performer that she is.


I loved Lil Fi’s special guest appearance, complete with ukulele (the woman is just fantastic), but I was sorry there were no other WIV faves included in the line-up, though I spotted a couple more in the audience, among them Kacey Patrick, and I enjoyed the girls’ homage to Patrick’s extraordinary vocal bird calls.


The musicians who share the stage with the singers in this series are led by MD Stephen Russell, who is also Pianist, and Jamie Clark (Guitar), John Parker (Percussion) and Helen Russell (Double Bass) – they are superb, suiting every style.


Women In Voice: 20th Anniversary is completely sold out but when it comes around again, at least you know to book early and enjoy an eclectic mix of performances, showcasing some of Australia’s best female performers.




Confessions of a Control Freak


Confessions of a Control Freak

Judith Wright Centre & Belinda Raisin

Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts

15 – 17  August 2013


Reviewed by Meredith Walker


A cabaret for the over-committed.


Frances is caught in the rat trap of this multi-tasking, multi-vitamin, multi-media modern era. When she attempts to trade now now now for a little namaste, her carefully controlled existence rapidly unravels, revealing the virtues of procrastination and the joys of mixing yoga and alcohol.


Returning to Brisbane direct from the Melbourne Cabaret Festival, former ballerina and self-confessed control freak Belinda Raisin (Rabbit, April’s Fool) is joined by pitch-perfect pianist Jamie Teh. Totally blind since birth, Jamie boasts the best ears in the business.


Pianist and Composer Jamie Teh 

Musical Director and Composer Jen Teh 

Creative Consultant Alison St Ledger 




Confessions of a Control Freak is a show of stand-up and song that clearly illustrates how life is indeed a cabaret. Channelling her alter-ego, list-loving lady Frances, Belinda Raisin invites the audience into her personal hysteria, one confession at a time. It is a performance that progresses from perkiness to poignancy within the space of an hour.


It begins with revelation of the virtues of procrastination and the merits of mixing yoga and wine, yet surprisingly moves to a point of heart-felt emotion as Frances contemplates crossing children off her ‘to-do’ list. Frances may be a caricature, however, through this conclusion, Raisin creates an unanticipated depth of honest reflection to her character.




The show is as much celebratory as reflective. After all, a performance in which audience members are served red wine from a roller-blading RSA-licensed leading lady cannot take itself too seriously. This is reinforced by its soundtrack of catchy cabaret-styled songs, ranging from A Spoonful of Sugar (to help the medicinal wine go down) to Adele’s Someone Like You longingly lauded to one of Frances’s deceased pets.




Confessions of a Control Freak is very much a festival show and, as such, it is well suited to the communal cabaret environment at Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts. It is a chaotic ride and one that is loads of fun due to its relatability to all caught in their own ‘mess of me’ or just those who like to vacuum in roller blades.