Posts Tagged ‘the roundhouse


The Tragedy of King Richard III


The Tragedy of King Richard III

La Boite Theatre Company

La Boite Roundhouse

May 21 – June 11 2016

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward


History is the version of past events that people have decided to agree upon.

– Napoleon Bonaparte

After a questionable start to the 2016 season, La Boite triumphs with The Tragedy of King Richard III – affectionately referred to here as Dick3 – the most intriguing, challenging and satisfying theatrical event of the year so far. An exhumation, a thorough examination by brilliant minds, Queensland Premier Drama Award winners, Marcel Dorney and Daniel Evans, this production not only brings together two of the country’s best writers, but gathers together on stage and off, a truly formidable team of creatives.

Undoubtedly our most fearless director, Evans is able to find compassion in raging fury and irreverent fun in serious ethical and political discourse, creating a new form of theatre; a new style of conversation that challenges and rewards deeply, actors and audiences.

This is the sort of show we expect to see come to us direct from an acclaimed season overseas, and perhaps premiere at Brisbane Festival (September brings Snow Whitethis Shakespeare, and a whole lot more to the table). It’s the sort of show that makes us question everything we thought we knew about theatre and history, and the way we continue to look at the world. It’s a show that turns you inside out, slams you upside down and spits on you, laughing, before reaching out to help you get to your feet again, asking with genuine concern, “Do you want a Milo?”

It’s lucky/exciting/apt for Queensland that our top two companies are starting to make a habit now of giving wings to slightly more unconventional ideas and the support to help them take flight. This one soars and I won’t be at all surprised if, just as La Boite’s Edward Gant did, Dick3 attracts the attention of some of the nation’s other major players. In fact, I’ll be surprised if it doesn’t.


Dick3 is one of the most designed productions we’ve seen in this space (Designer Kieran Swann, Lighting Designer Jason Glenwright, Composer Guy Webster), utilising the very air that exists between light and rain, and the cold, wet ground, surrounding the raised floor with a black catwalk containing hidden trap doors storing a stash of props and wardrobe pieces inside each space, and having performers take hold of lights for good reason, rather than as a token effort to involve them in the meta layers of the storytelling. 

Because this is certainly not Shakespeare. This is very un-Shakespeare – next level Shakespeare – and it comes with the confident “fuck you” of a generation of genuinely passionate theatre makers who strive for a little more than mediocrity (unlike the next), brilliantly combining box office appeal with original experimental storytelling, questioning far more than they end up divulging and forcing us to reconsider the known “facts” of the history of the world and, in this case, one of the most infamous of Shakespeare’s historical characters. 


I’m gazing into blue space when Naomi Price appears in front of me, in a Kate Middleton inspired ensemble, with a hand held mic, which she raises to her mouth after pronouncing very loudly and clearly and properly and powerfully and Shakespearingly, “NOW…”  She firmly, politely tells us to turn our mobile phones to Off not Silent and asks that those who insist on leaving their phones on Silent, raise their gadget in the air and admit it. She asks those who didn’t decide – neither switching to Silent or admitting doing so – WHY? There is laughter and we are immediately relaxed and somewhat thrown by this direct address…

Price proceeds to stride around the catwalk and paint a picture that is so vivid, so real, we feel as if we’re in the carpark in Leicester in 2012, standing, shivering, wondering what’s come before us, and looking down upon the reviled bones of King Richard III.


There is the smell of burning rubber, steam rising, mist swirling, rain falling, blood pooling, blue pouring and splashing and emptying across the stage, the concrete that becomes marble before our eyes, the sponge hump, the gnarled hands, the buckets, the handhelds, the dagger, the sword, the paper crown, the tarp, the blank pages of the book – it could be Harry Potter, an empowering choice for a child actor (he’ll take what he can) – and there is us. Always us, purveyors and interpreters and interlopers; I actually feel unwelcome at times, as if I’m at the wrong dinner party. And this is deliberate, because ultimately, who cares about so much of the history we’re told is true? Is it? If it is, what of it? If we’re sitting there, attempting to intellectualise or justify or reframe in a postmodern context anything that comes from the annuls, it’s shot down in flames and we’re offered an alternate view that suddenly seems more reasonable than our originally held belief. 

Always surprising, this show is the one extra Tequila shot at the end of the night that sees us agreeing with someone we’d presumed would never even make the guest list. Dick3 is an equaliser, a game changer. If the national culture leaned more towards arts than football, this is the match of the season, and could just as easily be seen in a stadium. Imagine that!



It’s difficult to understand the reluctance to more reasonably support arts and culture. More Australians go to art galleries each year than go to the AFL and NRL combined. The creative industries employ more people than agriculture, construction or even mining, and indeed contribute as much as 75% of the economic benefit of the mining sector…

Let’s talk about STEAM rather than STEM. Science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics should all be key parts of our education curriculum. Decades of research shows that artistic engagement nourishes all learning, so if we want an innovative, imaginative and well-rounded nation, let’s have one…

People have a right to arts and culture.


David Berthold, AD Brisbane Festival



Price is so powerful in this space, with the vocals and stage presence to knock you flat. She sets the scene and establishes the connection with the audience, which the performers maintain throughout. We connect with each of them. We’re part of this story, part of history. Amy Ingram is a seductive, deliciously wicked delight, and Helen Howard an articulate, elegant, fearsome creature, just as she should be. In Howard’s hands, the act of lifting a chainmail sleeve from a bucket of blood and putting it on, blood dripping down her flesh and soaking into the fabric of her dress, becomes a fine art, pure (horrifying, mesmerising) seduction. Pacharo Mzembe is a prince, giving everything in this performance, which, having now seen so much of NT Live, appears to have come directly from the West End, such is his mastery of voice and movement, particularly in the thrilling fight sequences choreographed by Nigel Poulton (Assistant Fight Director Justin Palazzo-Orr). These are Poulton’s best bloody, sweaty routines to date, executed with ferocious intent by Mzembe and MacDonald. Todd MacDonald commands the space, his return to the stage a triumph in itself. When he’s not fighting or plotting or spilling blood he’s bringing to life a previously unknown version of William Shakespeare – a very funny one – and allowing himself to be directed by the actors who sit, watching critically, in the corners.


But it’s 14-year old Atticus Robb, in his professional stage debut, who stuns us with a performance that is mature beyond his years, bringing passion and ambition, sincerity and vulnerability to multiple roles, including that of The Actor, Atticus. His is thrilling natural talent, most evident in a Richard III rockstar monologue that steals the show. This kid’s got it.


The Tragedy of King Richard III is bold and brilliant, death-of-theatre-defying stuff, giving the Australian theatrical landscape permission to change again, to carry on evolving, despite its current challenges.

Without bringing Shakespeare to the stage, Dorney and Evans have brought Shakespeare’s essence and centuries of society’s most deeply held beliefs about ambition and power and connection and the human condition to an audience who thought they’d seen everything. Everything that is, until Dorney and Evans’ astute take on anything at all.

NOW… We’ll see if there are others who can keep up with the exhilarating pace set here.

Production pics by Dylan Evans



Revolting Rhymes & Dirty Beasts – perfect school holiday entertainment!


Revolting Rhymes & Dirty Beasts

shake & stir

Roundhouse Theatre

July 4 – 11 2015


Reviewed by Xanthe Coward 


It’s a rock concert, a Hip Hop film clip, a fairytale, and a favourite book brought to vivid life, all rolled into one and all PG-Rated. It’s the perfect solution for some school holiday fun that the whole family will enjoy, really. 





More a reflection of my lack of conviction in a situation as a parent than any annoyance at the response of a volunteer at the venue, I found myself, in teacher tone, addressing an usher about a drink before taking our seats at The Roundhouse on Saturday. I’m accustomed to pouring wine from a glass into a plastic cup in order to take it into the theatre, but I was surprised to be told that Poppy would need to do the same for her drink, which was in a pop-top sealed plastic bottle. I almost laughed out loud. Seriously?! You want my jumping-up-and-down-excited nine-year-old to take her seat in the theatre with an open cup of diluted juice? (Don’t ask! We are having sugar talks at the moment). As Poppy dutifully uncapped the bottle and poured her juice-water into an enormous plastic party cup (she’s an excellent pourer and transferrer), I wondered what other mamas would do. I can think of a couple that would simply say, “No. No thanks, I think I know my child” and another couple who would actually laugh and say, “Are you joking? THINK about what you’ve just said!” And I wish I’d said something other than okay and put the bottle-with-a-lid-shut-tight in my bag because sure enough, right at the end of the show, Poppy accidentally kicked the cup, spilling the remaining slightly sticky contents over the floor beneath her seat. OH, OOPS, WHAT A SURPRISE (I said sarcastically, silently in my head).


As a fairly conscious parent and a first aider from way back, my immediate response is always to check for danger, assess any injuries and avoid further catastrophe while keeping anyone involved calm and quiet. There are times when Sam makes it clear that this is not the correct response, that it’s too calm and without consequence for the culprit (he is referring to our child). But more often than not, the consequence is in the disaster, and in this case, Poppy was embarrassed and upset because she knew I had felt the better option was to not do what the usher had told her to. Also, she slipped and fell against her seat BUT IT’S OKAY SHE’S OKAY.




Why am I telling you this? Because going to see live theatre is about the whole experience, and often parents tell me it’s too hard to take their kids to see a show. If the venue makes it harder than parents already perceive the trip to be, who can say when they’ll be back?! Fortunately, nothing has ever deterred me from taking anyone to the theatre and Poppy is a resilient child, so despite her moment of mini-trauma (not only is she resilient but she’s also very dramatic. I don’t know where she gets it from), we agreed that Revolting Rhymes was the BEST EVER! AGAIN! Perfect school holiday entertainment for the whole family, nothing should keep you from enjoying this show.




If you’ve been around for a while you’ll know how much I love shake & stir, one of the country’s most professional and engaging theatrical teams, with such broad appeal they can consistently sell out work that reinvigorates the likes of Roald Dahl, Shakespeare, George Orwell, Harper Lee, Emily Bronte and Bram Stoker (trust me – there’s no doubt Dracula will sell out!).


It seemed unlikely that shake & stir could make a slicker, funnier show than last year’s Revolting Rhymes & Dirty Beasts but that’s exactly what they’ve done. Having had it on the road for some time (they just returned from a sell-out season in Hobart at the end of a national tour), the team has cranked up the pace and polished every aspect until this production sparkles even more brilliantly than before.




With the A-Team of design teams on board (Josh McIntosh, Jason Glenwright & Guy Webster), this show was always going to look and sound fabulous. The colours and textures – rich, warm autumnal tones, tulle and brocade – are vaguely reminiscent of the curtains in Captain Von Trapp’s house, which Maria makes into play clothes for the children. Yes, I know those are greener, but don’t tell me you didn’t think of them too. The overall aesthetic is one of magical rainy day dress ups and cubby house construction using tablecloths and sheets and pillows for hosting soft toy high tea parties. Perfect!




shake & stir think of everything.


The wonderfully talented, comical ensemble comprising Judy Hainsworth, Leon Cain, Nelle Lee & Nick Skubij strikes the right chord with an audience who are already vocally ready to participate, having sung at the top of their little voices before the show, “I GOT BILLS I GOTTA PAY!” (shake & stir always have the best pre-show soundtrack!).




Thenadier style, the actors pop up from under trapdoors in the revolve – the only set piece, brilliantly designed and utilised – and each performer tells us, “You think you know this story… You don’t!” There are giggles and then shrieks of laughter, from kids and parents (and from Leigh Buchanan, next to me, and Billy Bouchier and Paul Dellit in front!), as small bold voices call out, “Yes we do! YES WEEEEE DOOOOOO!” The atmosphere is vibrant and silly and fun. It feels like so many children’s birthday parties when at any minute things could turn to utter chaos, but a pretty distraction or little bit of structure is re-introduced at precisely the right time in order to avert disaster.


Director, Ross Balbuziente, like the perfect host, cleverly manipulates every moment of Revolting Rhymes, from the grisly to the ridiculously funny.


With the opening sequence setting a cheeky tone and a cracking pace, we can’t wait to see what comes next…again!




It was fun. It was hilarious. My favourite was Little Red. She was awesome. She was really funky, a tomboy instead of being a pretty little girly-girl. It was funny when she took the pistol out of her knickers. She was funny but you couldn’t trust her.


The porcupine one was funny and it was funny how she was so scared of the dentist, which was quite like real life because most people are actually scared of the dentist.


It was funny when the man dressed up as one of the ugly sisters. And Cinderella had to run home in her underwear and that’s just so different. In the Cinderella we are all used to her gown turns into rags so it’s much funnier to see her in her underwear.


And I loved the three bears, especially the mum because of her accent. This mum is my mum’s favourite character. She says Nelle is a scream. That’s something her mum, my Nanny, would say.


Mira said the crunching noises were a bit disconcerting…


It tells you more about the stories, like there is more to the stories, like the secrets of the stories.


It’s sometimes scary but not too scary.


It’s important that it looks good, that theatre looks good – the lights and the costumes are gorgeous, awesome – otherwise we’ll stop watching and just talk because we haven’t seen each other in such a long time.




Revolting Rhymes & Dirty Beasts is holiday money well spent, perfect entertainment for all ages. You don’t need to be a child or take a child to enjoy this one. You just need to stick to your guns if challenged by an usher over a drink! Must close Saturday July 11!




Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes & Dirty Beasts


Revolting Rhymes & Dirty Beasts

La Boite and shake & stir

The Roundhouse

January 8 – 18 2014


Reviewed by Xanthe Coward


This famous wicked little tale
Should never have been put on sale
It is a mystery to me
Why loving parents cannot see
That this is actually a book
About a brazen little crook…


You think you know this story… You don’t.


In a previous life, Jason Glenwright must have been a rock star because he sure knows how to light one. And if Josh McIntosh did not dress royalty at some stage I’ve got my readings wrong. Whether or not you’re any sort of theatrical aficionado, you’re likely to recognise the design work of both these gentlemen by now; it’s pretty distinctive and I’m not the only one to have raved about it in the past. Also, Guy Webster’s sound design, including perfectly timed sound effects that have the kids in fits of giggles, adds to the wonderful theatricality and simple joy of this production, obviously lovingly inspired by Roald Dahl’s witty words and Quentin Blake’s original delightful illustrations. Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes & Dirty Beasts was always going to be a hit with the kids, but to win over the grown ups within the opening ten seconds using music, lighting and a revolving stage is quite a feat! If you’re a stranger to shake & stir’s shows, this one will be the first of many, I guarantee it, and if you miss it, you’ll be doing yourself and your kids a huge disservice. Why not book now and come back to read the rest?


It’s a rock concert, a Hip Hop film clip, a fairytale, and a favourite book brought to vivid life, all rolled into one and all PG-Rated. It’s the perfect solution for some school holiday fun that the whole family will enjoy, really.


And I mean THE WHOLE FAMILY. REALLY. These four performers are awesome, and the company already has a massive secondary school following so don’t think twice about booking the extra seats for the teens, they’ll love it! And Dads will surely remember fondly, their fave Revolting Rhymes, as well as (and I don’t mind being the one to point it out!), find themselves completely captivated by Nelle Lee, who is always absolutely gorgeous to watch.


You might recall last year’s co-pro between shake & stir and La Boite Theatre Company, the sell-out holiday hit Out Damn Snot!, and you might wonder what will come next, because this is a winning formula, and a winning partnership between two of Brisbane’s most progressive and most popular theatre companies. I love that this time slot each year, towards the end of our longest, hottest, sometimes most tedious school holiday run, can feature well-loved children’s stories turned upside down and inside out, challenging and entertaining all ages. Seeing the shake & stir show before school goes back is one tradition I’m more than happy to help establish.


Revolting Rhymes & Dirty Beasts. Image by Dylan Evans.


Despite a couple of gruesome moments, Poppy and the other opening night kids laughed along with their parents at shake & stir’s bold interpretations of Dahl’s updates to the classic fairytales. A self-sufficient, savvy Little Red Riding Hood whips a pistol from her knickers and shoots the wolf that gobbles up her grandmother, in order to make herself a beautiful fur cloak, and later…well, we won’t give that one away but if you love your accessories, you’ll love the haute couture reference. We also see a different side to Jack (of Beanstalk fame), and (naughty, nasty, selfish) Goldilocks. That conclusion is bit of a shocker, be warned, but we can’t help to feel that the “brazen little crook” deserves her untimely end! One of my favourite characters is Nelle Lee’s Mama Bear, of solid New York Jewish stock. But Poppy loved Little Red the most because she was different. “You wouldn’t like it if everyone was just the same as you,” she told me. “She was brave and spunky.” Wait. Does my daughter not consider herself to be brave and spunky? Oh, right. “In a different way. She has to survive in the woods, Mum.” This makes me picture my child having to survive in the woods, and in my vision she is something like Little Red and Laura Ingalls Wilder. Anyway, I equate this to Poppy having a Hunger Games type idol, which concerns me little since the best women in history have always been able to defend themselves, and this Little Red is so reminiscent of Sondheim’s Red Riding Hood in Into The Woods that we can’t help but adore her, admire her, and fear her just a little.


They are all absolutely sensational characterisations.


Revolting Rhymes & Dirty Beasts. Image by Dylan Evans.


We love the revolving stage, ideal for The Roundhouse space, although it’s not set completely in-the-round, it’s used effectively to hide and light and reveal performers and props; this is particularly evident in The Three Little Pigs. A single piece of fabric serves multiple purposes, and basic costume additions during the course of the show remind us that it doesn’t take much more than the imagination to conjure a story, but of course the technical and theatrical elements certainly help to make this a slick one. The pace is fast; the script, straight from “the world’s number one storyteller”, is funny and the performers engaging. They are Leon Cain, Judy Hainsworth, Nelle Lee and Nick Skubij, a tight, super talented ensemble guided by Director, Ross Balbuziente. We know from the very first moments that this is a clever crew, who get precisely what it is their audience wants; they are up for fun and games, and deliver with ease a multitude of clever and entertaining character voices, sharp moves (choreographed by Sally Hare), and retellings of our favourite Roald Dahl rhymes and stories. The 90 minutes fly by and Poppy whispers loudly to me, “Is that all? Oh.” She wishes there was more to come. And perhaps there will be.


When you love a show, do you let the company know?


If we keep up with shouting out loud about what’s great, venues and presenters know what they need to keep bringing back! You could email them, but why not leave a comment on their Facebook page or Instagram account? Tweet your 140-character review? The social media presence of both these companies, especially shake & stir’s online presence, is inspiring and heartening. This is a company who hears us and continues to create crowd pleasers without compromising their own artistic objectives. This means we are regularly treated to an incredible selection of top notch theatre in Brisbane, guaranteed quality, for artists and audiences alike. More of this, please shake & stir!


Revolting Rhymes & Dirty Beasts. Image by Dylan Evans.


In Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes & Dirty Beasts there are some slightly gruesome life lessons and a heap of fun for everyone. It’s a gorgeous looking production, with not a dull moment, but if you hesitate for even a moment you WILL miss out! And that WOULD be criminal. Treat yourself and your kids to this production before the holidays are over and you have to return to the real world!



Out Damn Snot

Out Damn Snot



Out Damn Snot

La Boite and shake & stir theatre co

The Roundhouse

8th – 19th January 2013


Reviewed by Xanthe Coward


“That was 60 minutes of absolute hysteria!”

“MY favourite part was all of it!”

“That was AWESOME!”


La Boite’s first show for the year is a hilarious, high-energy co-production with shake & stir theatre co, the company that brought us Orwell’s Animal Farm and 1984. Well respected for their Shakespeare in schools’ touring program, Out Damn Snot is a little bit of basic Shakespeare for the younger punters…and their parents, with no shortage of gags thrown in for the grown ups.


Remember the original slime show, You Can’t Do That on Television? Out Damn Snot borrows the best part of the hit 80’s program and applies it in abundance. The premise is delightfully simple, the staging is fantastic and for the kids, whether it’s their first time at the theatre or – like my daughter’s – their thirty-something show, Out Damn Snot is undoubtedly the winner this summer.


Out Damn Snot

Amy Ingram and Nelle Lee. Image by Dylan Evans.


Daddy’s Girl Mackenzie is settling in for an afternoon of dress-ups with her best friend and sister-from-another-mister, Kim. The only problem is that Mackenzie’s annoying little brother Heath is hanging around like a bad smell, and so is his forever-running nose. When Heath’s sniffing and snotting becomes too much, the girls decide to take action and devise a spell to turn him into… a girl!


But when Heath sneezes into their makeshift cauldron, disaster strikes and the kids find themselves inside Heath’s nose, where they navigate their way through the snot and nose hairs to meet some interesting characters, all played exceedingly well by Leon Cain, including Booger Bum Fairy, MacBreath B Stinky, Picka D Nose Thump Soul Snot and The Lady of the Nose Flake. Props to Cain for skating through the snot! (If they recognise him, parents who saw Cain’s darker side in QTC’s Kelly last year will enjoy his comedic prowess across these multiple roles!). From these characters, the kids get their unique dance moves, put them together and finally get out…or do they?!


Out Damn Snot


Amy Ingram plays Mackenzie, the bossy big sister, with all her annoying attributes and her own special mission to make her little brother’s life as miserable as possible. In Heath, Nick Skubij gives us an extremely irritating little brother who we end up feeling sympathy towards. Nelle Lee, who almost steals the show with her ninja moves and tightly executed rap number, beautifully brings tough chick, Kimmy, to life.


Anyone with children under the age of ten will recognise the bickering between brother and sister but I expected to see more jostling, and pushing and shoving, pinching and picking at each other. Perhaps the creators didn’t want to perpetuate the negative side of the sibling relationship, or be distracted by their fighting but I found that the bullying was not a big enough issue to really get the final message, which was itself abundantly clear in Kimmy’s statement to Mackenzie that it’s just not necessary to shout and push people around. That sort of lesson is learned better when the stakes have been raised and we see how badly Mackenzie has behaved from the beginning. Sure, she did lots of shouting (there was LOTS of shouting!), but even my niece, the elder sister of two little brothers, observed, “They didn’t even really fight!” It’s not a biggie but a shove here and there and a whining plea for “Muuuuuum!” might add some credibility to that relationship, particularly for the older kids and parents in the audience.


Very cleverly, before the lights go down, you’ll hear the catchy little ditty popular with all ages at the moment and if you’re lucky, as we were on opening night, you’ll be treated to the best pre-show entertainment ever, when pint-sized Gangnam Stylers leap up and give it all they’ve got! For one little boy on Tuesday night, the applause he received from the capacity audience will have made his trip to the theatre extra special. Just being in a theatre is exciting for kids. So take them often! Luckily for us, we have excellent children’s theatre happening in Queensland. (And we have the technology, so you can learn the appropriate moves before you go!).



Out Damn Snot is recommended for kids of all ages but I would suggest, going by the reactions of the little ones on opening night, that you consider arranging a play date for the really little ones and taking primary school age kids to this one. They’ll better appreciate the message, the characters, the little bit of rhyme, the dance and the design elements.


With no less than Josh McIntosh (Designer), Guy Webster (Composer and Sound Designer) and Jason Glenwright (Lighting Designer) on board, you expect exciting things to happen – and they do. In fact, it would be fair to say that this creative team has gone to town on this show! If you’re a regular at The Roundhouse you’ll be thrilled by what they’ve done with the space and if it’s your first visit you’ll be amazed next time at just how versatile this theatre is.


If you’re looking for some fabulous holiday fun, a first trip to the theatre, or a special experience to share with the kids before school and work routines resume, you really can’t do much better than this. Out Damn Snot will have you totes giggling and grossing out! It’s awesome school holiday entertainment!




Steven Mitchell Wright: Children of War

Children of War

On Friday night at La Boite’s Roundhouse Theatre in Kelvin Grove, an epic theatrical event took place.


The Danger Ensemble’s production – La Boite’s final indie installment of the year – Children of War opened.


We asked Director, Steven Mitchell Wright, a few things about theatre, life and art…

The world is no longer safe from art


Can you tell us about your new production, the epic mythical mash-up, Children of War

The work is a part of a larger play cycle that Chris Beckey and I have been collaborating on since late 2009, We have been drawing on different sections of The Illiad and The Orestia across 3 different projects, In God We Trust, i war and Children of War. This particular section of the story investigates the lesser known characters on both sides of the Trojan War. To say that seems almost a blaspheme, that is to say that, that is certainly where we started, but the life of the work has developed it’s own voice, Chris Beckey has shaped the work in a way that sits in a timeless space, the innate history and passion embedded in the myth collides headlong with the brevity and energy of today.  
The work is huge, it’s completely unashamedly epic. It has to be. In a lot of ways it is a departure from the kind of work people expect of me as a director and expect of us as a company but we never promised anything, we allow works to find their own voice and that voice dictates the form and style of the work.

What inspires you to imagine such stories and variations on stories? 
As a company, we pursue relevance and excitement, I think the fundamental question of why? why this story? why now? why these actors? why this space? why bother? It’s those questions that drive the variation on the stories we explore, it’s about aggressively pursuing the now and the why.
Your dreams must be in vivid colour! What’s your process and approach as a director once you’ve seen the possibilities of an idea? Can you describe your directing style?
My directing style is probably best described as a combination of giving the actors and creatives a lot of freedom to discover their voice and reasons for doing the work and then a demanding exactitude for detail and clarity of choice after that exploration has completed. On the floor I am, quite extreme, I find myself going from very quiet and internal to extremely animated. When the energy in the room is working I often find myself pacing or swaying.
Children of War
Do you bring the actors or the creative team in first? 
Actors, I always begin with actors in the space. Whenever possible. It goes back to that pursuit of relevance. I think the voice of the work has to be found through the actors before it is shared with anyone else. I look for the heart of a work through the actors choices and instinct.

You are up to some more incredible things next year, which we are not allowed to talk about yet! What can you tell us about, in terms of upcoming projects/ambitions/ideas?
Ha! I can’t say a lot about next year, except to expect two new works from us. Both very different to each other and again different from what we have produced this year. In writing this, I realise just how different the works are, one is very much about reality and real-real life and the other explores more fantastical and escapist ideas.
Do you think it’s a responsibility of the artists to experiment in form, content and delivery? Do you think this is happening enough (in Brisbane, in Australia), and what is it that helps to grow audiences (in Brisbane, in Australia)?
I think it’s a responsibility of artists to continue to build our culture, to broaden our understanding of ourselves and the world we live in, I also think it’s our responsibility to respect audiences enough to challenge them somewhat. To assume that an audience is not ready for experimentation is simply patronising. I think all work is in a way an experiment, there is a hypothesis entering and sometimes a conclusion drawn at the end of it all. I don’t believe all artists need to be overtly experimental, they need to service their work and they need to speak to an audience.
How do you wind down after a show (each night and at close of season)?
Often very briefly, this year has been insane and by the end of the season we are usually already in rehearsals for something else. I’m actually fairly terrible at taking down time but I’ve been working on it, I’ve been spending more time with friends, music and vodka. I struggle to wind down because I find the energy of a work has a roll on effect for me, I am motivated by it and it drives me into the next thing. I am aware that this isn’t sustainable long term though, so I’m aiming to catch up on cinema, television, books, music and lovers over Christmas.
Children of War
What are you reading?
The Bible, actually…
What’s on your playlist a) in the rehearsal room b) in the car c) in the kitchen at home?
Godspeed! You Black Emperor is a staple to my life. Children of War has forced me to listen to a lot more Ke$ha and T-swizzle (Taylor Swift) than ever before.
For my enjoyment I’ve been listen to Fleetwood Mac (I got kind of obsessed with them during Loco Maricon Amor), Mirah (recently introduced to me), Amanda Palmer’s Theater is Evil album (which is a nice departure from her other stuff, has a depeche mode kinda vibe) and The XX’s new album (which I don’t love, it feels like a sequel to the previous album…)
Children of War
Who would you most like to work with one day and why?
I would love to collaborate with a lot of musicians, A Silver Mt Zion and The Faint spring to mind – I’d love to make a musical with them. I’d love to collaborate with The Blondes on a show. I would LOVE to work with Pamela Rabe and Paul Capsis. Jan Fabre. Michel Gondry. Lars Von Trier. The list could go on.

What strengths have this current group of performers brought to the production? 
The actors are amazing. They are actually just incredible. I am not going to say much more. Come see it.
Children of War
Do you seek out specific feedback from those whose opinion matters to you? Throughout the process? How does that help or hinder the process?
It depends on the process, sometimes, with this project I did. Sometimes, I don’t feel ready for people to see the work until we are in the theatre and with all the elements in place. Often when devising and presenting from a devised space without a scripting process, I don’t bring people in.. when working with a script I feel more comfortable bring people in to give feedback. It’s about energy, it’s also about where the actors are at. 
With what will Children of War leave us? Are there lessons for us?
I don’t believe in telling anyone what they SHOULD leave a work with, I know what I see and find in the work, and I know how I’ve shaped the work and I know what the heart of the work is at – I don’t really believe that my role within theatre is to teach the audience anything. There is a lot in the work and I suspect different people will find different things. If people are engaged, if people are moved then I have done my job.
An incredible opportunity exists for performers, writers, directors and teachers to take part in an upcoming workshop with The Danger Ensemble’s Artistic Associate and the writer of Children of War, Chris Beckey, who will lead participants in consideration and exploration of topics relating to his work as a writer with The Danger Ensemble and Vanguard Youth Theatre. Be quick and book or miss out!
COST: $50 (Full) $20 (Concession) or $10 for patrons who have already purchased a ticket for Children of War (14 Nov – 1 Dec)
LOCATION: Theatre Rehearsal Room, Judith Wright Centre Level 3 
DATE/TIME: Tuesday, 27th November from 4pm – 6pm

FAST Festival: Clickety Clack – Of Hope and Dread – Love’s Labour’s Lost – Shut Up You’re Boring & Ordinary

FAST Festival


Welcome and thanks to another new member of the team, Matty Gharakhanian, who also enjoyed a weekend of FAST theatre at The Roundhouse. We’re looking forward to Matty’s regular contributions, which will help keep us up to date with the latest music and movies. If you’re in an indie film or you’re making music, or if you’d like Matty to get to something that you’re a part of, or listen to an album that you like, make sure you leave a comment to let us know!


Clickety Clack

FAST Festival

Directed and written by Claire Jarvis from Boxed Badger

Queensland University of Technology

QUT Precinct’s The Loft, Kelvin Grove

7th – 9th of September 2012


Reviewed by Matty Gharakhanian


Clickety Clack FAST Festival Clickety Clack was a short and vibrant burst of energy, lasting only 30 minutes but still managing to make an impact.  It centres around four girls as they…wait.  There are no explanations as to why they’re waiting or even what they’re waiting for and none of this matters.  We are offered hints via throwaway lines throughout the play that something bigger is happening. One such example being when one girl says she cannot stand staying inside the box as it’s dirty and there are “squishy” and “squiggly things”.

Clickety Clack delves into the monotonous repetitions of life and contrasting opposing forces (dark and light).  These elements are emphasised by the costumes.  Everyone is dressed head-to-toe in matching black and white outfits.  Not a single drop of colour, excluding some of the girls’ suspenders.  The entire set is made up of a bunch of boxes of varying sizes stacked on top of each other.  There is no music, just empty and deafening silence that makes each natural noise – each bang, knock, clang and click – loud and abrupt.

The black and white costumes, simple set design and lack of music were all great tools to really drive home the point that this was simplistic and minimalistic.  It made you lean in and focus on what was happening and on the four talented actresses.  Because of the simplistic design and layout, the only thing to keep the audience’s interest was the collective actions of the four girls, and they achieved their goal of captivating the audience.  These four girls had clearly defined and different characters that they each played to a T.  The set design, layout and costumes also created a physical representation of the monotonous repetitions of life.

To add to these monotonous repetitions, rules need apply; so one girl was the enforcer of said rules.  She is the mother figure of the other three girls. Her hair is slicked back, sleek, neat and particular, whereas the other girls have frazzled and messy hair; they delight in behaving boisterously and act like petulant children by throwing tantrums whenever they are scolded.  This ended up being an effective way to show their characters.  Because of the well-thought-out hair and costume design, as soon as you see each girl, you instinctively know what sort of mannerisms will be shown.

The dialogue is simple and unassuming and allows each of the four girls to have their own distinct personality: bossy, petulant, boisterous and aloof.  Each of these four dynamics creates hilarious moments as they bounce off each other (at one point, literally).  Three of the girls stomp, run around and create noise that echoes through the room over the drastic silence.  Whenever anything breaks this cycle, we feel, as the viewers, its full impact.

Clickety Clack lived up to its name with its charming and imaginative tale of four girls waiting.  You wouldn’t think much would happen with a description like that, but it just might surprise you.  This short show was fun, quirky, serious and colourful, even when there was no colour.  The actors turned a bland set into a lively and loud one, humming with energy.


Of Hope and Dread (video)

FAST Festival

Directed by Kate Brennan from MUST, Monash University

QUT’s The Glasshouse, Kelvin Grove

7th to 9th of September 2012


Reviewed by Matty Gharakhanian


Of Hope and Dread FAST Festival

Of Hope and Dread explores human evolution and their ability to “symbolise objects, relations, conditions, and existence” through lyrical and interpretive contemporary dance.  As the video describes, “the essential nature of this existence that humans invented was one of an inseparable bond of hope and dread”; it is this bond has become an eternal curse for human species.  This theme of hope and dread is what drives the narrative as the video switches from each dancer and group of dancers to show them discovering and evolving.

The video starts with less than a dozen performers, all locked together in a cage, uncivilised and animalistic as they crawl over each other and swing from bars or begin scratching themselves like excited monkeys.  That is until they discover rhythm and their movements become synchronised.

The movements are repetitive and sometimes frantic, sometimes civilised, slow and delicate.  The music matches each of these moments effortlessly as it switches between heavy bass and beats to delicate or operatic tunes.  Not a single piece of music or dance feels like it’s out of place.  There is a point and purpose to each moment and movement.

Because of the constant repetition in movements and costume, there are no characters that are differentiated from each other.  They are all different but also the same and all go through these, sometimes joyous and sometimes frightening, ever changing lives.

Much like Clickety Clack, their clothing was simple and matching.  Each person was dressed in black pants and baggy, off-white misshapen shirts.  On top of this, there were no props or stage design.  Instead, the entire set was shrouded in darkness with only the dancers themselves on which to focus.

The only breaks from the darkness were occasional lights that allowed the dancers’ shadows to take centre stage and tell a part of the story.  The shadows cast upon the sheet also gave an opportunity for amazing trickery with light and depth perception as some closer shadows appeared like giants in comparison to the others.

Whether their limp forms are being tossed around and used like puppets, creating shapes or disfigured looking bodies, or are danced around in circles in celebration, each movement is meaningful and deliberate and portrays or emphasises a theme.  The fusion of these themes ranged from evolution, control and discovery to emotional and physical reactions.  These all mashed up to create a wonderful and interesting in-depth look at humanity and change.

There were only a few moments of dialogue in a voiceover that described, in an almost textbook-like manner, bodily and emotional reactions to events and the dual and essential nature of the existence of hope and dread.  An entire thought-provoking story was conveyed even though there were only a few moments of dialogue during the entire performance.  In fact, I even felt that this story might have been told effectively, possibly even more powerfully, without the narrator’s voiceover.  This was largely because the dancer’s movements and performances were so expressive and powerful and because the music fit accordingly with each moment and emotion.

Of Hope and Dread was intense, dark and enthralling to watch.  Even though it was the shortest show at FAST festival this year, it managed to have a coherent narrative with a clear and poignant beginning, middle and end.


Love’s Labour’s Lost

FAST Festival

Directed by Bob Pavlich from La Trobe Student Theatre and Film

La Trobe University

La Boite’s Roundhouse Theatre, QUT Kelvin Grove

7th – 9th of September 2012


Review by Matty Gharakhanian


Love's Labour;s Lost FAST Festival

Love’s Labour’s Lost is, for the uninitiated, a lot to take in.  It is originally a play by William Shakespeare, first published in 1598; one of Shakespeare’s early comedies.  The play opens with the King of Navarre and his three friends taking an oath to stave off women while they devote their time and effort to their scholarly studies, even if they find the decision difficult to follow through with.  This all changes when they meet a princess and her beautiful companions, leading these four men to become dangerously tempted.  Love’s Labour’s Lost is a vicious battle of the sexes as each gender, playing as a team, creates ploys and adolescent pranks to best or confuse each other.

Unlike Shakespeare’s original play, Bob Pavlich’s take on this over 400-year-old play shifts the time period to London in the “swinging sixties”.  Most of the cast has strong vocals that belt out songs from the 60’s, which are integrated with Shakespeare’s script and wordplay.  While not everyone was as vocally powerful as each other, their characterisations and stage presence and effortless teamwork were a force to be reckoned with.



Love’s Labour’s Lost is a funny look at how each gender reacts to the opposite sex.  Each character is over the top, larger than life and in this sense, the play works.  It’s funny, it’s witty, and it’s everything you hope to see in a show.  At 100 minutes in length, it was the longest piece at FAST this year, but these energetic performers didn’t let the audience lapse into boredom for a single moment.  I mean it.  These performers were delightful and ended up being almost entirely the reason to see this show.

I’ll admit that at first I was a little wary.  Especially after some failed renditions of this play, such as the bomb-tastic 2000 film adaptation by Kenneth Brannagh.It’s definitely not the easiest play to adapt, especially to modern times.  The old Shakespearean language has become a lost art to most of the general public, and I’ll confess I found myself having to focus a lot more than usual to keep up with the play itself.  But what makes up for that is adding elements of the 60’s via songs and references. One character dressed up as what looked like Janis Joplin, preaching wise words in a booming voice.  The physical comedy was unbelievably and perfectly timed, the characters poked fun at themselves and all of the elements of humour were in evidence.

Unfortunately, it was sometimes hard to see what scene we were in and who was who, as each actor frantically swapped between characters, regardless of gender (often used for comedic effect), despite the costume changes.  The lines between scenes blurred a little.  However, each actor had to switch between characters at a mere moment’s notice and, commendably, they did so without hesitation and were able to change their personality instantly.

If there were any faults, they were barely noticeable as the actors used any character lapses and wardrobe malfunctions in the play as a part of the joke.  Besides, you couldn’t help but laugh as you saw a man dressed as a woman swooning over the opposite sex.  These character changes were impressive since each person had a distinct and eccentric personality.

The cast takes every single flaw and limitation of the production and turns each into an amusing add-on to the play.  They use everything to their advantage and for this, I have nothing but praise for them.  The only piece of set design was a clothes rack used for costume changes and barely any props were utilised, but these weren’t needed.  Each character always had something to do, with or without props.  Not a single person ever stops being in character and all of them play out physical comedy, even if they had no lines and were in the background.  There was always something to watch and this ended up being the big part of what kept the show so entertaining.

There was also a certain level of interaction with the spectators by extending the play out into the audience.  Some people were no longer just spectators, but were partially involved in the play during this moment.

Overall, the story progressed entertainingly and negative traits of the sexes were exploited in comical fashion, such as men being shown as senseless and obnoxious in the presence of women (even howling like animals at one point) and women being shown as cunning.  Love’s Labour’s Lost was a witty new twist on an old story and is just one example this year of why student theatre needs to be better supported.  If they show it again, it’s something everyone should definitely go see.


Shut Up You’re Boring & Ordinary

FAST Festival

Directed by Steven Mitchell Wright

Griffith University Drama

La Boite’s Roundhouse Theatre, QUT Kelvin Grove

7th – 9th September 2012


Review by Matthew Gharakhanian


Michelle Payne

Michelle Payne. Shut Up You’re Boring & Ordinary. Source:


Shut Up You’re Boring & Ordinary is a theatrical investigation into the human need for fantasy and fiction.  This thematically provocative performance pulls apart, steps inside and scrutinizes our belief in magic and the seemingly irrational.  Part song cycle, part spoken word, part dance theatre, Shut Up You’re Boring & Ordinary dissects contemporary pop culture in an attempt to catch the generation it is made for in their natural habitat: drunk, in costume and telling lies.


This is one of the more unusual shows to come out of FAST this year.  Imagine. You’ve bought your tickets, have found your seat and are eagerly awaiting the show to start.  All of a sudden, various characters from your childhood, from fantasy fiction and from pop culture (such as Peter Pan, Harry Potter and Lady Gaga) all come down to share the stage together.  It is the most eclectic and surreal mix of characters and costumes you could possibly hope to see in a show.  There are not many places you could see these famous characters and celebrities in one place at one time.  Plus, who doesn’t love seeing Lady Gaga party with the boy who lived, or with a dancing gorilla?

Shut Up You’re Boring & Ordinary is silly and whimsical, just the way it was meant to be.  It would be hard not to achieve this with this ensemble on display.  The show dallies with varying themes and topics of childhood and growing up; confusion, dreams, innocence and the loss of that innocence, all while injecting humour and looking satirically at the fantasy genre and pop culture.

At times, a lot of things seem senseless and the transitions between scenes feel a little jolted, but in the end this all fuses together.  The jolted nature fits in well with the irrational and abrupt nature of the show, as it also fits in with the seemingly irrational and abrupt nature of fantasy and our current culture.  The show finds its stride partway in, when you get over the initial sense of confusion and accept the random and comical.  From this point on, you can sit back and enjoy what’s in store.

The costumes, adding to these eye-catching characters, are all visually dynamic and become a burst of colour on a fully decked-out and thoroughly designed stage.  To match these costumes, the characters and the actors who play them must step up to the plate and be equally flamboyant, and they each do this quite well.

Because the show pokes fun at pop culture, it often quotes and reuses lyrics from songs or lines from movies and TV series.  This both works and becomes a detriment to the show.  While it’s hard to not be referential to external material, this can feel like a mash-up of famous quotes and lyrics that seem superficially placed, yet strangely appropriate.

The show itself was raw and confrontational, sad and funny, confusing and contradictory yet coherent, but this all somehow worked.  This show effectively took a look at why we crave the strange and fictitious and why we find these heroes, villains and celebrities so fascinating.  Shut Up You’re Boring & Ordinary was a crazy mixed bag of a joyride and should be seen if it is re-staged, if you like to step, from time to time, into the mysterious and bizarre world being created around us.

Shut Up You're Boring and Ordinary


FAST Festival: Here Goes Nothing – CRAVE – Leftovers (from a dream)

FAST Festival

Welcome to our newest theatre reviewer, the multi-talented and intrepid theatre-goer, Emilie Guillemain, who managed to divide her time over the weekend between the Brisbane Writers Festival and FAST Festival. Keep an eye out for more from Emilie during Brisbane Festival and don’t forget to comment if you like her posts or would like to add your POV!

Here Goes Nothing

Griffith University Drama

The Loft, QUT Kelvin Grove

07.09.12 & 09.09.12

Reviewed by Emilie Guillemain

Together we’ll climb into each other’s experiences and slow-dance each other’s secrets. One thing is certain: tonight you won’t be alone. We’ll be together. But you have to surrender part of yourself. Or at the very least – step forward and take my hand. Okay. You ready? Look alive. Let’s do this: here goes nothing.

Channelling the topics of choice, consequence and memory, Here Goes Nothing is a heart-warming play that reflects on the little delicacies of human interaction and connection. Over the course of 80 minutes the audience is faced with tales of love, loss, childhood, confessions and fears.

The show opens with a group of 15 performers dressed in bright and colourful party gear. Cling film is tightly wrapped around their bodies as they huddle together excitedly. As they begin to break free of the Glad Wrap, the audience is immediately addressed.

Who here likes the smell of freshly mown grass?

Who here is afraid of the ocean?

Who here has ever had their heart broken?

The play delves into a series of stories where questions like these are explored. Small and simple pleasures are discussed, along with the more pressing topics of personal fears and heartbreak. While none of the characters are introduced, no names are uttered, the audience learns about them through these series of intimate confessions.

Relying on a simple stage set up (a wall of multi-coloured streamers and 15 chairs) Here Goes Nothing really hones in on the interesting and quirky nature of the characters. The play combines music and dance effortlessly with fruitful dialogue and, as the scenes progress, the audience’s heart strings are tugged repeatedly. We revisit the ways in which we can be touched by love, but all too quickly, learn how it can turn sour.

As an insightful and stunning performance, Here Goes Nothing’s strength lies in its power to connect with the audience through their own experiences. The play explores the sense of touch both physically and emotionally in such a raw and delicate way that members of the audience find themselves laughing, crying, cringing, nodding and shaking their heads.

The final scene is something of true beauty. The characters strip down to their underwear, a soft tune is played as they move between person-to-person and slow dance. With the use of subtle lighting, their shadows create intimate silhouettes on the stage walls. There are gaps in between where some stand alone; the loneliness and distance is apparent in their expression but this doesn’t last as they are soon swept up by a passerby. These series of embraces gently lead into a song and dance number; the characters are alive and passionate. They sing and dance, laugh, scream, and thrash about as their energy electrifies the theatre space. It’s open, it’s real, it’s full of heart – a captivating performance that does nothing short of inspire.

Here Goes Nothing FAST FESTIVAL

Crave: A Takeaway Show

Opiate Productions, QUT

The Roundhouse


Reviewed by Emilie Guillemain

Our Lloyd’s Prayer

Our Lloyd, who art at the edge of existence

Blessed be thy food

Thy pilgrims come

They will be fed

At Lloyd’s as it is like no other

Give us this day our daily bread

And accept thy cravings

As we accept our cravings are against us

Lead us not into waste

But deliver us from hunger

For Lloyd’s is our deliverance

And the power

And the glory

For ever

And never


Are you hungry?

Crave: A Takeaway Show delves into the subjects of hunger, desire and confession. It’s a ride through our deepest cravings and regrets, and the freedom that comes with releasing hidden truths.

Our Lloyd kneels centre stage, surrounded by a pillar of plastic bags. He is ready to serve, ready to quench the thirst and satiate the hunger. The stage is covered in plastic bags, some full of waste, and hanging from the ceiling. Lloyd is accompanied by excitable Jack and Jill, and Ocean – a curious character whose representation still remains a mystery. All 3 appear to be firm “believers” in the power of Lloyd and his ability to cure the suffering that comes with craving. They confess to their desires and in turn, encourage the audience to do the same.

What do you want to forget?

Upon entry into the theatre, audience members are asked to respond on numbered pieces of paper. The paper is then shared among the audience and during the play Lloyd calls out figures at random to confess. There was a break in the performance here where audience participation faltered.

“Stay hungry, stay foolish.”

As the characters’ confessions unfold, they are rewarded with chewing gum from a bubblegum dispenser that rests on Lloyd’s desk.

“Eat, eat into oblivion!”

Crave FAST FestivalThe bubblegum is a fantastic metaphor for how humans choose to satisfy hunger. It’s the incessant chewing that leads us into believing we’re eliminating the craving but by the time we rid ourselves of the gum, it leaves an emptiness and a greater hunger than before. This is brought to the audience’s attention as a cleaner steps onto the scene. He is well pissed off. There is rubbish everywhere but it’s the bubblegum that really grates on him – even after you remove it, it leaves a stain you can’t get rid of.

Crave: A Takeaway Show tackles some meaty issues within the space of 45 minutes. The philosophy of hunger and desire is embedded in the script, however; the rush of the performance hinders character development and results in a gap between the performers and their audience. In addressing the subject of hunger, I believe the audience was left with just that…a desire to discover more about the characters and gain a better understanding of what it really means to “confess”.

Leftovers (From A Dream)

Southbank Institute of Technology

The Loft, QUT Kelvin Grove                                                                                       


Reviewed by Emilie Guillemain

Leftovers (from a dream) FAST Festival

Leftovers (From A Dream) explores the hectic environment between the spaces of dreaming and reality. We’re welcomed into Finn’s story where he is faced with a recurring dream of meeting his father for the first time. They step towards each other, cautious but curious and embrace when Finn is pulled back to reality by his relentless alarm clock and girlfriend, Alba, calling his name.

The play opens with the characters standing with their backs against the wall, a violin and acoustic guitar compliment their breathing. The energy quickly shifts, the dialogue is fast-paced, blended with live music and stylised movement. Sexual undertones are present as the characters briefly touch on the topic of the wet dream, before the scene quickly flicks back to Finn’s recurring dream of meeting his father – a cringe-worthy, yet evidently humorous moment. During the performance the spotlight shifts from Finn to the three other characters – two versions of Alba (real vs dream) and a “Dreamologist”. They share details of dreams they’ve had but as the show progresses, the lines between reality and the dream world begin to blur. Tension between Finn and Alba grows as Alba’s interference in Finn’s desire to meet his father begins to leak into his dreams. The couple attend therapy sessions with the Dreamologist, which provides a touch of humour to the show, as he communicates all of his advice through song.

Due to the fast-paced nature of the play and the dipping in and out of reality, the performance did lose me from time to time. The strength in the performers’ characters and vocality was something that quickly brought me back to focus. I was interested by the idea that dreams are almost seen as a form of escape or at times, an opportunity to chase our desires. But in the end we often become entrapped by them or they take on a different form to what we had initially envisaged.

Finn’s lack of control becomes more apparent as the play progresses, as Alba continues to push and question his desire to meet with his father. She is overcome by jealousy and Finn’s fight to keep her out of his dreams wears thin, building friction between the three as they meet within the dream. The play investigates the themes of fatherhood, control, relationships and the dream vs reality. Leftovers is an interesting look at the power or the lack of, that we have in both worlds.