Posts Tagged ‘thomas larkin

16
Sep
17

I Just Came To Say Goodbye

 

I Just Came to Say Goodbye

The Good Room

Theatre Republic – The Block

September 13 – 23 2017

 

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward

 

 

EVERYTHING IS NOT OKAY.

 

Strangely, forgiveness never arises from the part of us that was actually wounded. The wounded self may be the part of us incapable of forgetting, and perhaps, not actually meant to forget, as if, like the foundational dynamics of the physiological immune system our psychological defences must remember and organize against any future attacks — after all, the identity of the one who must forgive is actually founded on the very fact of having been wounded.

 

Stranger still, it is that wounded, branded, un-forgetting part of us that eventually makes forgiveness an act of compassion rather than one of simple forgetting. To forgive is to assume a larger identity than the person who was first hurt…

 

David Whyte

 

In 2002 a DHL cargo plane and a Russian passenger jet collided in Swiss-controlled airspace over southern Germany, killing 68 Russian school students, two pilots and Mr Vitaly Kaloyev’s wife and two children. This story is told plainly and simply, chillingly, in tiny pieces, using surprisingly little text. Intricately interwoven along the way are numbered anonymous apologies and offers of forgiveness (or refusals to forgive or to be forgiven) selected from hundreds of online contributions to The Good Room’s website for their newly devised show, I Just Came to Say Goodbye. All the elements come together perfectly, which is no surprise to those who know The Good Room’s previous productions. We know the formula works; we adored I Want to Know What Love Is, which premiered during Brisbane Festival 2014 and enjoyed a return season at Brisbane Powerhouse in 2015, and I Should Have Drunk More Champagne at Metro Arts in 2013.

 

The Good Room has never let the vampires get in the way of making an original show.

 

Directed by Daniel Evans and co-created with Amy Ingram, Caroline Dunphy, Lauren Clelland and Kieran Swann, this is the work that’s consistently disrupting Queensland’s arts’ ecology, demanding more from artists and audiences, and offering a richer, more complex, lingering and affecting theatrical experience.

 

I would like to have the time to sit in on the company’s creative process and tell you more about it because not enough theatre is being dreamed onto our stages in this way, and not enough of our theatre makers believe they can do likewise. This is largely because our training and our theatrical tradition is still so text-based. (We could argue that The Good Room’s trilogy of shows is text-based, but that would be over-simplifying the work and under-valuing the creative process).

 

 

The company’s next work (I’ve Been Meaning to Ask You) will involve young people in its creative development and performance. For some, it may be their first foray into devising from scratch. (Can we note, it’s simply not soon enough to be exploring the work of companies such as Gob Squad, Frantic Assembly and Complicite at a Masters level!). I hope The Good Room’s process becomes a preferred model of devising theatre with students especially, so we might see the process included in the curriculum for Years 10 – 12. Sure, something like it, within “physical theatre” vaguely happens now, depending on the awesomeness of the teachers involved and the cooperation of admin, however; even with an abundance of new work, we’re still seeing chasms in this country between theatre, physical theatre and dance. (Within an intelligently programmed arts festival the gap is less apparent).

 

The truth is, rarely can a response make something better — what makes something better is connection.

– Brené Brown

 

Despite closing with a burst of silver glitter and opening with an eighties’ daggy dance team dressed in Brisbane Festival hot pink (choreographed by Nerida Matthaei, hysterical!), I Just Came to Say Goodbye is necessarily dark. It delves into a place we don’t like to go, exploring the vulnerability that lies at the heart of our anger and our resistance to forgiveness. Can we ever really forgive another? Can we ever forget the things another has said or done to make us feel such anger/betrayal/bitterness in the first place? What happens when we choose not to forgive? In the case of Mr Kaloyev and – spoiler alert – the family and friends of his victim, there’s no happy ending.

 

 

To forgive is to assume a larger identity than the person who was first hurt.

 

The inability to forgive seems more often than not to lead to violence, a person lashing out against another, staged literally by The Good Room in an impressive extended fight sequence. Choreographed by Justin Palazzo-Orr it must be the longest continuous fight sequence we’ve seen on a Brisbane stage. It’s violent and tender and funny and tragic. Caroline Dunphy’s movement is always captivating but this performance is next level neo-butoh. She’s a wicked nymph, leaping and climbing and crawling all over Thomas Larkin (who has his own stunning image making moments at the beginning of the show), and hanging from him to create a disturbing, broken picture, to be read as a moment of grief, or the resolve of a ghost, or simply, and complicatedly, a reference to some degree of Stockholm Syndrome in the relationship. (Are there degrees of Stockholm Syndrome?). Or it’s something else entirely, depending, I suppose, on what sort of day/week/month/year/life you’ve had. The intimate moment that precedes this suffering though, is unmistakably a representation of the couple’s abject despair, beautifully, tenderly realised. This sort of intimate connection between performers takes time to develop and direct, and skill to replicate, or discover again, each and every night of the season. It’s so desperately sad. Meanwhile, Amy Ingram is a wildcat, and Michael Tuahine is both fierce and funny in attacking and being attacked. Satisfyingly, everyone ends up fighting everyone; it’s horrifying and highly entertaining. There’s certainly a little schadenfreude at work here.

 

 

Anger truly felt at its center is the essential living flame of being fully alive and fully here; it is a quality to be followed to its source, to be prized, to be tended, and an invitation to finding a way to bring that source fully into the world through making the mind clearer and more generous, the heart more compassionate and the body larger and strong enough to hold it. What we call anger on the surface only serves to define its true underlying quality by being a complete but absolute mirror-opposite of its true internal essence.

– David Whyte

 

Jason Glenwright’s apocalyptic lighting comprises search lights and pin spots and a whole lot of blackness. At times, through the haze, we barely see faces but the voices and the silences between the words convey anything we think we might have missed with our eyes. And played in traverse with the audience seated on two opposite sides, we may well miss something from time to time. Just as in life, this is okay; we see what we want to see precisely the way we want to see it. At the other end of the technical spectrum and across the Theatre Republic at La Boite are the bright lights of Laser Beak Man, also designed by Glenwright. The guy is versatile to say the least! Underscored by Dane Alexander, I Just Came to Say Goodbye wouldn’t work nearly as well without its lights to pierce the darkness and a soundscape to scrape our souls (it’s absolutely terrifying, jarring; try not to be affected).

 

FORGIVENESS is a heartache and difficult to achieve because strangely, it not only refuses to eliminate the original wound, but actually draws us closer to its source. To approach forgiveness is to close in on the nature of the hurt itself, the only remedy being, as we approach its raw center, to reimagine our relation to it.

– David Whyte

 

I Just Came to Say Goodbye is a stunning result from what would seem a simple process on paper, but actually, in anyone else’s hands could be a colossal disaster. What Daniel Evans and Amy Ingram appear to do is to throw everything onto the floor – a vast collection of ideas and feelings and responses to real events and crowdsourced verbatim material – pour fuel over it, and set it on fire to create a spectacular event and food for thought, for a life outside the theatre that demands our burning presence.

 

20
Feb
15

Opening Night Style at Brisbane Powerhouse: Sex With Strangers

 

sexwithstrangers_imagebyjoeldevereux

 

Opening Night Style at Brisbane Powerhouse: Sex With Strangers

 

Loved this show so hard! Here’s my review. With any luck, we’ll see it return yet again…

 

Sex With Strangers

 

Dress Code: Smart & sexy

 

Pre-show drinks: Bar Alto

 

Wearing

 

Top: Mesop

 

Leggings: Black Milk Clothing

 

Shoes: Guess

 

 

openingnightstyle_sexwithstrangers_feb2015

 

 

20
Feb
15

Sex With Strangers

 

Sex With Strangers

Brisbane Powerhouse, Thomas Larkin & Troy Armstrong Management

Powerhouse Visy Theatre

February 11 – 21 2015

 

 Reviewed by Xanthe Coward

 

sexwithstrangers

 

Thomas Larkin is Ethan, a sex blogger turned book author who falls in lust with Veronica Neave’s Olivia, a gifted and complicated novelist. When they meet at a writer’s retreat, romance and the digital age collide, as the pair confronts the dark side of ambition and the near-impossibility of reinventing oneself when the past is just a click away.

 

NOMINATED Silver Matilda Award – Best Independent Production

 

NOMINATED Silver Matilda Award – Best Male Actor in a Leading Role

 

NOMINATED Silver Matilda Award – Best Female Actor in a Leading Role

 

The Matilda Awards Night will be held on March 09 2015. See you there!

 

Laura Eason’s Sex With Strangers was one of last year’s hottest shows and it’s back! Well, only for another couple of performances, but I’m sure you heard about it already and went right ahead and booked! DIDN’T YOU? If you missed it last time, as I did due to Noosa Long Weekend Festival commitments, and you’ve missed it a second time, you’re a fool.

 

This is an incredibly neat and deep (as in thought provoking… THOUGHT PROVOKING. WHO ARE YOU?) little show that absolutely deserves the attention it’s attracted thus far. And if recent funding round success stories are anything to go by, it deserves not only this return season but a solid national tour. It’s been the most talked about show of 2014! If you do manage to catch it before it closes on Sunday,  you’ll need to stop by the bar for plenty of that lovely Rymill Dark Horse. If you’re not drinking, too bad; it will be like re-watching the first season of Sex and the City without cigarettes and coffee on hand. You may come away shaking. Just saying.

 

Sex_With_Strangers_wine_2015

 

Coming away (without shaking, more like melting) from this one, I realised just how much I’d enjoyed seeing a “real” play, and not a musical or a comedy or a cabaret or any variation thereof, but a straight-up play, boasting a succinctly written, completely compelling and challenging story delivered by two terrific, totally honest actors bathed in beautiful light (Jason Glenwright & Tim Gawne) and sound (Dane Alexander) in a sharply designed space that actually serves the purpose and structure of the play (Troy Armstrong). Yep. I’m actually that easy to please. Get all the elements right and you got me. All the elements here are exquisitely balanced in simple, beautiful assembly, making this show a special little sexy treat, not unlike the goodie bag Sam brought home after the Fifty Shades of Grey preview event at Event Cinemas last week. (Edmo & Ash; I KNOW YOU ALSO HAVE GOODIE BAGS! BUT YOUR SECRET IS SAFE WITH ME!). Um. Thanks ever so, Totally Adult. Delightful. You can never be sure what will come out of the bag next! Experience it yourself!

 

It’s no secret that I love Thom Larkin. Like, I LOVE Thom Larkin. Is there actually anybody who doesn’t? (If there is they’re JEALOUSSSSS).

 

I ‘reckon we can safely say that Larkin is Australia’s answer to Alexander Skarsgard, with more than a passing resemblance given the right pool of luscious light, and, clearly, the same level of dedication when it comes to maintenance. He’s finally settled into his sun shy skin in Sex With Strangers (Is he goddamn GLISTENING? Like the OTHER OTHER VAMPIRE?). Larkin perfectly embodies the irresistibly brash blogger turned book writer, Ethan, who has made the title of show his, er, business…and pleasure for a year.

 

Paired with the slightly shy, sweet and suddenly sassy properly writerly character created by Veronica Neave, these two radiate the pure unadulterated joy and LUST you wish you’d discovered in Fifty Shades (don’t worry, you didn’t miss it; in Fifty Shades this brand of magnetic attraction doesn’t exist!).

 

sexwithstrangers_kiss

 

Eason’s script has Neave’s complicated character stay quite cold towards Ethan Strange for some time, and Jennifer Flowers’ slick, unencumbered direction keeps Neave at some distance from him until we get to the inevitable romp and removal of shirts and pants and all of those boring inhibitions and what ifs and oh no; I can’t…but I could…oh wait I want to…okay I will! (She’s not silly, and she’s certainly not naive – well, perhaps a little – but she’s certainly conflicted. There is the age difference, there are Internet and IP issues…well, whatever. The thirty-somethings know what I’m talking about!). The frequent sexual interludes (in which Lisa Wilson has had a hand, no pun intended, obvs, but really, seriously; how does he flip Neave like that?!), are just glimpses of what you might imagine happens next, very tastefully, very artfully done. Each teaser is just enough to curl up the corners of your lips (and maybe your toes. WHO ARE YOU?) and inhale the quick, quiet breath you think you’ll have to hold…and then the lights fade and the deceptively simple plot continues with a beat change worthy of senior theatre syllabus inclusion. No, really! Is there a better, clearer example? (You’re right. There’s going to be a more appropriate one…). But wait for the twist! Not altogether surprising, it nevertheless comes as a shock, and we have to reconsider (or not!) our – a-hem – feelings for the sexy rock star blogger boy. Poor Olivia.

 

 

WHAT WOULD SOOKIE DO?

 

 

 

 

YOU’RE WELCOME.

 

Warning: some viewers may experience several degrees of frustration by this stage of the play… Sex With Strangers is quite simply The. Hottest. Show. To. Hit. The. Visy.

 

There might be a few bewildering mixed messages for our younger viewers, but let’s not examine too closely the free love/tap that/blog this/steal that/Tweet this/Facebook that/publish this/claim that/consensual v non-consensual content. Let’s just dive on in and enjoy the STORY and the CHARACTERS and the PASSION, shall we? (And there is well-matched passion on many levels). It’s much more fun that way, like enjoying while it lasts, an illicit affair with a gorgeous someone who has a thing for very public places. What?

 

If you think there’s a more electrifying connection between two actors on stage during the love month of February you must be at the Lyric Theatre. Larkin and Neave need to fly with this one, and take it everywhere. It’s too hot to keep here. Share the love! Don’t we all desire theatre as thrilling as sex with strangers Sex With Strangers?!

 

Final Performances:

 

Today (Friday) at 7pm

 

Tomorrow (Saturday) at 2pm & 7pm

 

Sunday at 4pm

 

sexwithstrangers_imagebyjoeldevereux

06
Aug
12

Treasure Island

Treasure Island

Queensland Theatre Company & Matrix Theatre

Kawana Community Centre

Thursday 2nd August 2012

Reviewed by Poppy & Tayah 

If buccaneers and buried gold

And all the old romance retold

Exactly in the ancient way

Can please, as me they pleased of old,

The wiser youngsters of today

So be it.

Robert Louis Stevenson

Treasure Island is going everywhere, all over Australia. It’s a famous show. It’s a famous book. Did we read the book? We didn’t read the book. There would be boys who already read the book because it’s a boys book, about pirates. It’s a pirate ADVENTURE! But it’s not just for boys, this show, is it? It’s for mums too. It’s definitely for mums because our mums liked it, didn’t they? And it’s for girls too because we liked it, didn’t we? It was excellent!

The story starts with the story being told. It’s a clever start because you know it’s a story and it’s not real. It seems real but it’s not. It’s a play. And that’s the job. To make it real.

It was a little bit scary because they looked like real pirates. They’re actually actors, wearing costumes especially from the theatre. I liked the costumes. There were lots of coats. Pirates wear big coats. And hats. And boots. But Thom had just boys shoes on because he’s a boy in the show.

It was a big surprise to see the skeleton! It scared me out of my skin! I jumped up on mum’s lap and hugged her around the neck!

We could hear the gun shots and the canons. There were real guns. Well, not real real guns but just like the real ones. At the end we found out that that’s a replica. They were nice to take the time to answer kids’ questions. I didn’t have any questions. I just wanted a photo with the actors.

It was excellent!!!!!!!

It was interesting and really exciting. It was so funny. They were really funny.

Tayah’s favourite part was:

at the end when we got photos taken and we got to have a look back stage.

Poppy’s favourite part was:

after the show, when we got to meet the actors and explore back stage. It was all my favourite, I loved all of it but going back stage was my favourite part after the show.

Notes from the Mama:

    • Treasure Island is good old-fashioned fun and fanciful storytelling.
    • QTC’s touring version, by Helen Howard and Michael Futcher, reminds parents and teachers to get the kids away from the screens – big and small – and back into the theatre, where the real excitement is and where the best stories – those that shape our imagination and dare us to dream big – are brought to life on stage in front of our eyes. We believe it. It’s the Tinkerbell factor.
    • This production boasts two generous, energetic and dynamic actors (Joss McWilliam and Thomas Larkin), who portray a multitude of roles between them with an abundance of good humour and a great deal of physical prowess. Ducking in and out from behind the fourth wall and swapping between roles at a rapid pace, these guys give us (Kevin Kline) Pirate King style antics and the kids (and mums) love it!

  • For the really little ones, take some (quiet) snacks and expect them to get a little restless 30-40 mins in (at 55 mins run time, this one’s a bit of a stretch for some under eights. The target audiences are Years 4-7 and Years 8-10).
  • For the older kids/students, read Treasure Island online before you go or BUY OR BORROW THE BOOK. I noticed some secondary school students looking a little underwhelmed (sure, there’s a lot of exposition but there’s also a lot of action!). There were others in the group who were just as excited as the six year olds, to be part of a pirate story for the afternoon! Remember, neither Matrix nor QTC have messed much with the text so the beautiful, rich (old-fashioned) language has been left alone and begs discussion or a revisit if you’re taking a class.
  • There is plenty of scope for follow-up activities, teachers (and parents)! A study of Treasure Island provides such an overwhelming abundance of rich opportunities for further discussion, play and in-depth learning, stemming from its language, history, geography, technology and design, science and arts… let me know if you need an obscure curriculum link!
  • Have you MYO pirate hat with Thomas Larkin? Get the man a Playschool gig!
  • This Treasure Island is not just for the kids. If it’s coming to a theatre near you, take the whole family. Everyone will love it!
  • You might remember the Disney version?! HO-HUM!

Also on tour for Queensland Theatre Company (until the end of August) is Stradbroke Dreamtime, which we saw at Out of the Box.

01
May
12

QTC’s Romeo and Juliet

Romeo and Juliet

Queensland Theatre Company

QPAC Playhouse

26th April – 13th May

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

The young men in this production are extraordinarily RIPPED.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


23
Apr
12

Brisbane’s Real Romeo proposes on stage

The world’s greatest love story has inspired Brisbane’s real Romeo to reveal himself…on stage on Saturday night after Queensland Theatre Company’s first preview of Romeo & Juliet at QPAC!

Tristan Botha, 24, from Forest Lakes, went down on bended knee in front of a full house and asked his very surprised girlfriend, Cynthia Osment, 27, from Oxley to marry him. Luckily for Tristan, the answer was a resounding yes! The audience – and the happy couple – left having experienced a happy ending after all.

Working with QTC in secret, Tristan had conspired to propose to Cynthia with the help of QTC Artistic Director, Wesley Enoch. Wesley announced a “lucky door” prize was the be announced after the production. Other than the co-conspirators, who knew that the prize would be an engagement ring?!

While Romeo & Juliet was more than timely for Tristan’s ‘proposal project’, he says he always knew that he would ask her hand in marriage at a QTC production. “Cynthia has been coming to QTC shows since she was 8 years old. Every Christmas she and her brother would get a 12 month QTC subscription as a present, and they would come to the shows together. Her brother has moved away so this was the perfect way of continuing the tradition, now it is with me,” he said.

Thomas Larkin (As you Like It, Hamlet) and Melanie Zanetti who won the Matilda Award for her performance as Eliza Doolittle in QTC’s Pygmalion last year are QTC’s Romeo and Juliet. They are said to have sizzled on stage in the early previews and look set to bring a whole new audience through our state theatre company’s doors.

Two households. A raging feud. Five days. One forbidden romance.

Directed by the celebrated Jennifer Flowers, Romeo & Juliet will bring the heat of Verona’s streets to Brisbane with a bespoke set, classical integrity and timeless currency.

“We have two exciting young actors, at the perfect stage in their careers to play the coveted title roles; what an opportune time to bring back this tale of love and tragedy,” says Artistic Director Wesley Enoch. 

“Our version of the ever popular classic, Romeo & Juliet, promises to hold true to the original script yet we instil modernity to make it relevant to today’s audience,” he said. “It’s a fiery production of the world’s greatest love story. It is a volatile collision of youth, mortality, sex, light, intensity, fate and time.”

Welcoming back Company favourites and with an all-Queensland ensemble the cast includes Ross Balbuziente, Simon Burvill-Holmes, Tim Dashwood, Norman Doyle, Steven Grives, Caroline Kennison, Andrea Moor, Veronica Neave, Nick Skubij and Steven Tandy, who was last seen in Noosa to direct the sell-out season of David Williamson’s Travelling North.

“It’s been almost 20 years since the Company has presented the tragic romance. “It surprises me how many young people have never seen or even know the story of Romeo & Juliet,” said Wesley. “It is one of the most beautiful and provocative stories for the next generation to see. I love that it is in my first season as Artistic Director at QTC.”

Thomas and Melanie have received notoriety recently over the images used to promote QTC’s forthcoming season. Interestingly, Veronica Neave faced similar furore over the production images when she performed the title role of Juliet for QTC in 1993 (for which she received a Matilda Award commendation). In both cases the images were designed to capture the “essence” of Romeo & Juliet’s story: young, breathless, forbidden love.

Romeo & Juliet 

21 April to 13 May

Playhouse, QPAC

Directod by Jennifer Flowers

Featuring: Ross Balbuziente, Simon Burvill, Tim Dashwood, Norman Doyle, Steven Grives, Caroline Kennison, Thomas Larkin

Andrea Moor, Veronica Neave, Nick Skubij, Steven Tandy, Melanie Zanetti

27
Feb
12

la boite’s shakespeare: as you like it

As You Like It 

La Boite Theatre Company

The Roundhouse

18.02.12 – 24.03.12

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All the world’s a stage,

And all the men and women merely players;

They have their exits and their entrances,

And one man in his time plays many parts,

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

Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms.

Then the whining schoolboy, with his satchel

And shining morning face, creeping like a snail

Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,

Sighing like a furnace, with a woeful ballad

Made to his mistress’ eyebrow. Then a soldier,

Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard,

Jealous in honor, sudden and quick in quarrel,

Seeking the bubble reputation

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

In fair round belly with good capon lined,

With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,

Full of wise saws and modern instances;

And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts

Into the lean and slippered pantaloon,

With spectacles on nose and pouch on side;

His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide

For his shrunk shank, and his big manly voice,

Turning again toward childish treble, pipes

And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,

That ends this strange eventful history,

Is second childishness and mere oblivion,

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

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

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

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