Image: Michael HillsI love that moment an audience shares when they are in the presence of a truly committed performer. It’s a comfortable acceptance, a feeling of safety despite the fact that what you are seeing may be totally unhinged, or bordering on absurd. This was the vibe enjoyed at the opening night of Performance Anxiety, a one-man show that went up at the Brisbane Powerhouse this week. The Turbine Studio has been transformed by designers Kieran Swann (set) and Andrew Meadows (lighting) into an uber-cool, in-the-round cabaret den, with bare hanging bulbs, festive Christmas lights and rows upon rows of shiny wine glasses propping up a slick barman. Centre stage is Brian Lucas - writer, performer and all-round visionary. He is the creator of Performance Anxiety, a 90 minute foray into the behind the scenes psyche of a performer, juxtaposed with glimpses into the anxiety-ridden lives of us ordinary folk. Continue reading Review: Performance Anxiety – Brian Lucas at Turbine Studio Brisbane Powerhouse
a not-for-profit theatre organisation that offers artists the opportunity to investigate and explore their performance philosophy and skills of artistry through an aesthetic prism that meshes heightened theatricality with the organic performance of archetypal, contemporary, local and world stories.It’s a mouthful, but I think Heartbeast’s performance of Beauty Is Difficult at the Trinity Church Hall was true to this manifesto. Trinity Church Hall in the Valley is a beautiful, cavernous and engaging performance space, and punters were received with enthusiasm. A program thrust in hand, we were asked to “back a winner” by placing our name under the character that we thought was destined to die at the finish. I was interested; this sounded interactive. Fun! So I bought a delicious hot chocolate and settled in for a good one. Earning my gold star as a theatre-goer, I’d investigated the premise of the show and was excited to meet its remarkable line-up of characters; Hedda Gabler (Sherri Smith), Emma Bovary (Karen Dinsdale), Anna Karenina (Anna O’Hara), Phedre (Adrienne Costello) and Danni (Judith Turnbull), based on the character of Mrs Danvers from Rebecca (1938). C'est formidable, I thought! These women led a cast of eight actors that meet in a ballroom, somewhere in the after-life. Controlled by a puppet master, they use their beauty and feminine wiles to survive the strange experience (I did wonder how someone could die if they were already dead, but I let it go). Michael Beh, artistic director of Heartbeast and director/creator/costume designer of Beauty is Difficult writes in his notes that his show does, “not tell the story of each of the original texts but dips into them like a stone skipping across the water, allowing the audience to barrack for their favourite femme fatale.” Mr Beh sets out to achieve a great deal in his 75 minute work (no interval) and on reflection, I think this is the problem. Continue reading Review: Beauty Is Difficult – Heartbeast Vicious Theatre Ensemble at Trinity Church Hall
Main Image: Supplied Blue Fish TheatricalIt’s good, isn’t it ... grand, isn’t it? Oh I do love a musical! And as far as musicals go, John Kander and Fred Ebb’s satirical slice of razzle dazzle, the murderous Chicago (1975) is a corker. If you’re reading this, chances are you’re not one of the four people alive that hasn’t seen one of the many hundreds of productions on stage since its Broadway opening or the 2002 Academy Award-winning Hollywood blockbuster, so I won’t bore you with a recap. But I’ll say this - I’ve never met a Kander and Ebb number I didn’t like. As I drove out to UQ's Schonell Theatre for the opening night of Blue Fish Theatrical's production of the duo's best known piece, I was crossing my fingers that this company, who bill themselves as 'Queensland's hottest independent musical theatre company,' would pull it off. Sitting in the dark, the theatre was half-full and the curtain wide-open. Apart from 'CHICAGO' up in lights and the band centre, the stage was bare black, and I immediately knew we’d be stepping into a vaudevillian, concert-style interpretation - excellent, just how I like it. I flicked through the program to check out the designer and was surprised to find there wasn’t one, but three. Director Tony Campbell, Musical Director Julie Whiting and Stage Manager Brett Roberts are billed under Set Design whilst Choreographer Jenny Usher is ‘costume co-ordinator’ - whatever that means. Alarm bells. Too many cooks? Thankfully, by the end of the opening number - Chicago’s anthem 'All That Jazz' - my fears were allayed. This Chicago's design is slick and minimalist with sexy but not 'distracting' costumes. In fact, apart from a few pairs of ill-fitting men’s trousers, the design was wonderfully simple and classy. And what a joy to see a community theatre company cleverly putting their resources into all the right places.
Blue Fish do a good band and this production was no exception. It's jazz and liquor hot ... Julie Whiting and her troupe of talented musicians are just terrificTony Campbell, who clearly knows his way around a comedy, played it safe and directed the show by numbers. If you’re looking for a new or ground-breaking re-invention, you won’t find it here. Then again, if it ain’t broke… Continue reading Review: Chicago – Blue Fish Theatrical at Schonell Theatre