Posts Tagged ‘the judy

03
Dec
13

Circa Zoo Showcase

 

Circa Zoo

Judith Wright Centre

Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts

1 December 2013

 
Reviewed by Meredith Walker

 

circa-zoo-showcase-34

 

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.

 

03
Dec
13

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

 

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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.

29
Nov
13

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

CHALLENGE ACCEPTED.

 

 

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.

 

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YES. THAT HAPPENED.

 

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.

 

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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

18
Oct
13

Women In Voice: 20th Anniversary

 

Women In Voice

Judith Wright Centre, Red Chair & Annie Peterson

Judith Wright Centre

15 – 19 October 2013

 

SEASON SOLD OUT

 

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.

 

 

19
Aug
13

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 

 

ConfessionsOfAControlFreak4_3FatesMedia

 

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.

 

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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.

 

ConfessionsOfAControlFreak6_3FatesMedia

 

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.

 

ConfessionsOfAControlFreak14_3FatesMedia

 

26
Jul
13

Don’ts For Dancers

 

Don’ts For Dancers

Judith Wright Centre and Matthaei & Canham

16 – 20 July 2013

 

Reviewed by Simone Mutimer

 

Don’ts for Dancers welcomes you to the Lonely Hearts Club, where the scent of desperation mingles gently with the scent of taboo.

 

This absurd session in etiquette, dancing and mating will waltz you through the pitfalls and positives of looking for love on the dance floor. In a world where the cut of your dress, your online profile and the way that you move can spell social success or suicide, find out what happens when these rules are taken to the extreme and translated into contemporary music and dance.

 

Cheaper than a psychiatrist, Don’ts for Dancers is one part self-help session for the left-footed lonely heart, one part arthouse cabaret on crack!

 

WARNING: Heartache, disappointment and the Macarena may be involved. Parental guidance for kill-joys and/or persons who may have been hypnotised into the anti-dancing state is advised.

 

Choreographer and Producer: Nerida Matthaei

 
Musical Director: Nicole Canham

 
Performers: Nerida Matthaei, Nicole Canham, Leah Shelton, Alex Baden Bryce and Lisa Fa’alafi

 
This work has been created in collaboration with the performers.

 

DONT'SforDANCERShero

From the moment we entered the darkened room we were part of the story.

 

The space was set up as a club in the 1920’s with the actors swanning around in character.

 

Our tables were decorated with our dance cards for the night and there was a bar off to the side. Suddenly I found myself excited and nervous wondering if I would have to dance in front of everyone.

 

We all go on an intimate journey with each character as they attempt to perfect their every move with the dance instructor, who is channelling the lesson of Dr Casanova. In an era where social etiquette was paramount – don’t slouch, don’t talk too much, chest out, chin in, not too stiff, not too relaxed – a time when a woman would never refuse a man…

 

We slip through time and into different music and dance, from Swan Lake to Beyoncé, to a world filled with text dating and LOLs, and a place where women are dancing on an equal dance floor with the men.

 

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I can’t compare this performance to anything I have seen before. The whole time I was invested in the characters and their individual struggles. I felt that I connected with them all on different levels, slipping from their own personal strengths and weaknesses, and comparing and competing with each other.

 

I enjoyed the humanness of it all; the vulnerabilities, the shattered confidence, and the pressure to fit in and measure up.

 

As story and movement were beautifully interwoven, the performers broke into beautifully perfect contemporary dance moves and at times, clumsy mismatched steps.

 

The instructor’s constant stress to correct and bring everyone up to a certain standard allowed us closer, as we watched her live through them, pitting her own personal struggles against perfection.

 

The journey was dynamic and fast paced, and I found myself continuously drawn into the story and excited to see what would happen next.

 

In the end, we come to the conclusion that the dance styles might have changed, the fashion and the lingo might have changed, and social etiquette has completely changed. But the search for love on the dance floor is timeless.

 

29
Jun
13

Maureen O’Hara Spends a Quiet Night at Home

Maureen O’Hara Spends a Quiet Night at Home

Judith Wright Centre 

Wed 19th – Sat 29th of June

 

Reviewed by Guy Frawley

 

At the very core of theatre I believe it must do one of three things: To make us think, to make us feel and/or to entertain us.

 

 

MaureenO'Hara2_AdamFinchPhotography-1I’m not at all suggesting it must do all three at once or that they are mutually exclusive concepts. But I believe that all good theatre will do at least one of the above. To my great disappointment Maureen O’Hara Spends a Quiet Night at Home wasn’t able to tick any of those boxes for me.

 

That’s not to say that when thinking back on the 50-minute performance there aren’t individual components that I enjoyed. Whilst I found the jerky and stuttering transitions from song to song (and from genre to genre) distracting, the music used throughout was generally very well chosen. Director, Creator and Performer Belinda Locke also created a lovely set, the soft golden light shining from the waters of the bath were an especially nice touch.

 

After interviewing Locke in the lead up to the opening, I was really looking forward to seeing her show. My curiosity had been further piqued by the fact that I wasn’t really sure what style performance I was going to witness, the advertising material and synopsis hinted at cabaret or burlesque, perhaps even a Noel Coward-esque-dry-martini-in-hand-wry-confessional, but no certainties were provided. However within minutes of the performance beginning I was asking myself where was the show I had read about:

 

Returning home from a glamorous social event, Maureen puts on a records and pours another drink.’ – This part was pretty much straight up like it sounds.

 

As she takes her evening bath, Maureen reveals the vulnerabilities of public life and shares the intimacy of her private moments, seductive nature and deepest anxieties.’ – This is where the crux of my entire critique is born from; I didn’t ever feel as if anything was ever revealed, let alone hidden vulnerabilities and intimate private moments. Any seductive nature…or emotional core of any kind seemed trapped behind the same cold, monochromatic screen as the film clips of Maureen O’Hara that played intermittently throughout the show.

 

It’s clear that this entire production has been born of Locke’s sheer force of will, commitment and passion for her concept. But by taking on so much creative control I wonder to what extent she denied herself external perspective, and how this could have been a far more coherent and enjoyable performance if given a more thorough polish and a workshop phase with a sharper scalpel. In freeze frames, moments of Locke’s performance would have formed interesting tableaux vivants, and I suppose that it is fitting for a performance inspired by a photograph to have so many scenes that would have actually make a pretty great photo shoot. Yet as a performance piece the scenes seemed inarticulate and clumsy, without any tangible flow and often, without purpose.

 

According to the program, this performance is a part of Locke’s PhD in theatre, which leads me to the question of exactly what is the ‘purpose’ and audience for this piece? Academic exploration and empirical learning are as important in theatre as they are in any other discipline, but you need to know your audience and Maureen O’Hara Spends a Quiet Night at Home often seemed to be a performance that was more for Locke than for the audience in front of her.  ‘Theatre as product’ vs. ‘Theatre as academic endeavour’ is what I’m left wondering about, and how often it is possible to faithfully align the two (is there even any pressing need to?). But if presenting one as the other then surely an uncertain audience response should be expected.

 

This piece has left me with a strong opinion as to how and why I felt it failed, but it’s also left questioning my beliefs on what I believe good theatre is, and lead me to engage in discussion and debate on this topic with several others. Which is exactly where I believe academia in theatre can provide us with an important opportunity to discuss, review and challenge the craft.

 

The current incarnation of Maureen O’Hara Spends a Quiet Night at Home has been devised from a previous 20-minute version and I will be making sure to keep Locke on my radar as I’m interested in finding out what will happen to her concept after finalising tonight, her two week run at The Judy.

 

If you’ve seen it then I’d love to hear your take. Do you agree? Or are you wondering if we even saw the same show? Let me know in the comments section below.

 




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