If this play were a comedy, you might be tempted to toss in a phrase like 'sex in the kitchen' for impact. Stockholm, however, is most definitely not a comedy, and whilst there's sex-play aplenty in the kitchen in the STC production currently playing at La Boite Theatre, this reviewer left the auditorium on opening night feeling, well ... gutted ... a not inappropriate reaction given the play's content and a set wall which features some wicked looking knives. This forensic dissection of a relationship from Brit writer Bryony Lavery works through the senses and probes the mind; it's a powerfully realised 70 minutes of vital performance that could happen nowhere else but on stage.
Sometimes you see a work that triumphantly displays its theatricality; Stockholm is one of them.
The play's title gives a clue to the thread running through the work, a syndrome that encompasses the love-hate relationship between captor and the captured, the powerful and the powerless, the torturer and the tortured. Todd and Kali (incidentally, the Hindu goddess of death, and wife of Shiva) reminded me a lot of another warring, dramatic couple - George and Martha, albeit in the kitchen with knives rather than in the living room with booze where Albee sets Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? It's the same, drawn out dance of death, both couples locked in an embrace designed to hurt and to go on repeating itself ad nauseum. Indeed, those knives on the wall can also call up an impression of an abattoir; you just know there's going to be blood on the floor before the night is out. Stockholm also creates a good-looking, middle class world for its well-heeled characters to inhabit - that designer kitchen and smart chat are just veneer on a surface. Finally, there is a palpable feeling of isolation in this self-absorbed world, one that excludes all but the protagonists.
Continue reading Review: Stockholm ‘The poetics of cruelty’ – La Boite Theatre
[pullquote]Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these broken wings and learn to fly
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to arise. (Paul McCartney: The White Album)[/pullquote]
Two people in a room locked in a battle of wills; menace under a veneer of (relative) politeness; conversation peppered with mundanities; phrases cut off; topics shift; and the air hums with tension. They could leave, but don't. Harold Pinter? No, it's David Harrower and Blackbird, the latest from the feisty 23rd Productions in La Boite's second offering for their 2010 Indie series.
The ghost of Pinter lurks around the edges of this Brit psycho-drama and 2007 Olivier Awards Best Play winner from Scotsman, Harrower. It's easy to see why. There's something terrible haunting the protagonists, Una and Ray; something from their past has taken over their lives. Obsession, betrayal, blame, grieving, a fling at healing - all drive the play's action as each rakes over events from years long gone. Every beat is masterfully crafted into a duet that probes society's notions of morality set in counterpoint with individual desire. Continue reading Review -Blackbird: 23rd Productions
Disney's High School Musical
Director: Lewis Jones
Designer: Greg Clarke
Lighting: Tim Panitz
Musical Director: Andrew Eunson
Vocal Coach: Sita Borhani
Choreographer: Kath Davis
The matinee performance of High School Musical which I saw this week was full of families; it was a Sunday afternoon after all. They loved it; they cheered, they screamed ... heavens, it was like the good old days of the Beatles back in the 60s, and if that doesn't date me, nothing will. Of course, the series of Disney movies had prepared the kids and their adults for the stage show, and I suspect for many of the audience, it was their first experience of live performance. If so, then it should bring them back again and again. I believe audience members had the principals lined up after the show for autographs during the week. Now there's fame for you!
The Empire's community musical productions are always eye-poppingly good, and are led by a professional production team of director, designer, musical director, and choreographer. As a result, production values are always high. Amateur performers - actors, dancers, and musicians - learn on the job under the mentorship and tutelage of professionals. Over the years since the annual (now twice-yearly) musicals have been in production, many Empire alumni have gone on to further performance studies and professional careers.
As to High School Musical ... well, whilst this reviewer found whatever plot there was to be corny in the extreme, and that it was difficult to separate one song from another - they all sounded the same to me - I loved the production realisation on the Empire's big pros-arch stage. Greg Clarke and Lewis Jones the designer-director team we've seen at work on many former Empire productions worked their usual magic supported by Musical Director Andrew Eunson and Choreographer Kath Davis. Despite my reservations about the book and the music, there was no doubting the energy and the terrific singing-dancing and acting talent that exploded from the stage of Toowoomba's Empire theatre. The cast didn't stand still long enough for a head-count, but I'd say about 40 actors - all of whom, except for the two 'adult' cast members, looked to be about 17 - got the opportunity to work in a wondefully realised version of the show. Add to the roll-call professional and mentored backstage technicians, creatives, musicians and front of house volunteer staff (the Empire's legendary Friends' Group), and you have an outstanding community theatre program, a model for the rest and one for the city to be proud of.
GUEST POST: Lucas Stibbard makes theatre, sometimes as an actor, sometimes as a director/facilitator, sometimes as a teacher and, memorably, once as a stage-manager. He has done so for himself as well as for companies such as Bell Shakespeare, Queensland Theatre Company, State Theatre Company of South Australia, La Boite, Metro Arts, DeBase Productions, Hothouse Theatre, Kite, Queensland University of Technology, the Aboriginal Center for the Performing Arts, the Queensland Arts Council and Windmill Theatre Company. Lucas is one-quarter of the Escapists whose shows include Attack of the Attacking Attackers!, boy girl wall, and the in-development Revenge of the Revenging Revengers!. Lucas studied at USQ. For context, some of his favourite shows have been – Gatz (Elevator Repair Service), Anna Karenina (Shared Experience), C-90 (Daniel Kitson), Roadkill (Splintergroup) and 11&12 (Theatre des Bouffes du Nord) – so if you didn’t enjoy those you probably shouldn’t trust his (highly subjective) reviews. He is partial to cardigans, gin and his wife. Follow him on Twitter @LucasStibbard
WORLD THEATRE FESTIVAL at Brisbane's The Powerhouse
Is there anything the Powerhouse doesn’t want to take a crack at? Comedy Festival? Check. Queer Film Festival? Check. Jazz Festival? Check. Cabaret Festival? Well they did put on something that looked suspiciously like one when the real Cabaret fest moved … anyway point is, adding to the litany of cultural extravaganzas offered by the Brisbane Powerhouse we have the World Theatre Festival, or WTF if you want to look edgy and impress the kids (it’s almost swearing ooooohhhh!).
Starting last week and continuing its programming till Sunday, the Powerhouse is playing host to a number of exciting acts from around the country (ok here and Melbourne) and around the world (well, the UK). So I guess you could call it the “Theatre from here, Melbourne and the UK festival,” but it doesn’t have the same edgy-ness, does it? Continue reading WTF! It’s another theatre festival!!
National tour of 'The Kursk' by Sasha Janowicz Dir: Michael Futcher. Matrix Theatre and Critical Stages at La Boite Theatre Brisbane, September 1-12, 2009.
Australian Stage Online "... another triumph for Matrix Theatre."
The Australian "Speed blurs emotional effect ..."
Courier-Mail "Chilling ... powerful ... electrifying ..."
OurBrisbane.com Performing Arts Blog "The play is moving, horrifying and lyrical ... a stunning production"
Groundling "The Kursk: a flagship for Queensland's independent theatre"
Absolute Theatre612 ABC Brisbane: Nigel Munro-Wallis "...a strong, riveting story - the type of drama that will have you thinking long after you have left the theatre. Director Michael Futcher has again proved himself to be a talent of national significance in his re-designing of the piece. It loses none of its suffocating impact in the larger venue - probably due to the physical closeness of the audience on three sides of the action. If you missed it last time then make sure you catch it during its current season at the Roundhouse. You'll be glad you did. Five Stars."
Time Off: "The Kursk is as much the story of loved ones watching and waiting with the rest of the world. Adding to the mounting tension, thanks to brilliant sound and lighting design, there are some truly heart stopping moments."
Curtain Up: Brisbane Theatre Reviews: " ... an excellent script which translates to a compelling theatre piece in the docudrama style."
Stage Whispers: Ken Cotterill "Simply put, this is theatre at its very best."
Other Reviews and Interviews (interstate and international)
Sydney Morning Herald: " A shipshape staging, but this drama about the doomed Russian submarine takes water."
Time Out Sydney: " ... strong stagecraft in a production very much worth catching at Darlinghurst Theatre before its short run is up."
Canberra Times: " intensely moving and riveting production ... a powerful theatrical experience that reminds us that we all share a common humanity and a duty to act. Janowicz's poetic homage to the dead and prophetic plea to the living closes with Chekhov's 'We should bury the dead and mend the living.' This outstanding production of Janowicz's finely acted work reminds us that there is much to mend before yet another lesson in history remains unlearnt."
Sydney Morning Herald: Multimedia presentation narrated by Sasha Janowicz and the cast.
RT Moscow: Submarine Tragedy Remembered Across the World
The Moscow News: Australian playwright Sasha Janowicz told the wire service that it took him seven years and two trips to Russia to carefully study the tragic events and write the play.
Making History With History: the Kursk interview (Alison Mooney for Scene)