Review: Frankenstein – Fractal Theatre at Brisbane Arts Theatre

Images: Geoff Squires

Frankenstein, written at the start of the 19th century, has taken deep root in our culture. It’s a sprawling, gothic-romantic novel, considered by some to be the first science-fiction story. In a way it sits at the door of contemporary literature and points the way to the genres we now take for granted.

It’s a challenging novel to read, and its cinematic and theatrical spin-offs are legion as artists across the decades, fascinated by its subject matter, have attempted to set their own stamp upon it. Millions of words and perhaps as many hours have been devoted to this book, written by the 19 year old Mary Shelley during one rainy summer holiday in Geneva, and in response to a competition amongst her friends, including Byron and her husband to be, Percy Shelley, to see who could write the best horror story. Mary won that bet.

The latest to attempt to tame the beast is independent Fractal Theatre’s adaptation and production for the stage at Brisbane Arts Theatre. No matter the subject they tackle you know you are going to be provoked by Fractal. Their work doesn’t shy away from the intellectually difficult or the theatrically ambitious and Brenna Lee Cooney’s adaptation and direction of Frankenstein is no exception.

Continue reading Review: Frankenstein – Fractal Theatre at Brisbane Arts Theatre

Review: Performance Anxiety – Brian Lucas at Turbine Studio Brisbane Powerhouse

Image: Michael Hills

I 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

Review: The Truth About Kookaburras – Pentimento Productions & La Boite Indie at The Round House Theatre

Images: Kate O’Sullivan

Everything you’ve heard about The Truth About Kookaburras is true. Yes, the cast is over twenty in number. Yes, most of these are men. Yes, almost all of these men appear naked in the first twenty minutes of the show – unashamedly, fully naked. In short, (seriously no pun intended) you get a wrestling wall of penis. And it’s not fleeting. They are touched, fondled, squashed, flicked, twirled and shoved into faces.

It’s good fun. It would be unsettling or slightly weird if perceptions of masculinity weren’t at the absolute core of Sven Swenson’s play. Which they are. Swenson has written, directed (and even features in) this memorable play, which had its first outing back in 2009 at Metro Arts Independents. The Kookbaurras are a fictional Gold Coast footy team, who come under fire when one of the members is killed in their locker room on the evening of a buck’s party. Most of the play unfolds in parallel timelines: the investigation of the murder, and the night it happened. This has some of the structure of a classic whodunnit, but there’s a lot more going on here. Continue reading Review: The Truth About Kookaburras – Pentimento Productions & La Boite Indie at The Round House Theatre

Review: The Chairs – La Boite Theatre

You could infer that the show must truly be something if it’s memorable weeks later in this age of disposable entertainment. You could infer that I have avoided writing this for as long as I could. You could infer a lot of things. Fact is I was asked to write this because I had seen the show and Greenroom was having difficulty finding time to attend La Boite’s latest production of The Chairs by Eugene Ionesco. So what does that mean?

Firstly, it means I hadn’t intended to put my thoughts forward so they have become fractious and disordered in my head in the weeks since I saw the show. Secondly, it means I am looking at the work with the benefit of hindsight and the handicap of its being most of a month ago. There is much to be said for the school of thought that there are two worlds, things as they are and our ideal versions of them. Finally, it means that I have had quite a few discussions with people about their experiences of the work.  As such, I have had to try and find my way back to what I saw and how I felt about it.

I’ll try now.

When it was announced that Brian Lucas would be directing Eugene Gilfedder and Jennifer Flowers in Martin Crimp’s translation of Ionesco’s The Chairs my ears pricked up; there is a lot to like about that sentence. Brian Lucas’ work as a performer, choreographer and dancer is sublime and singular: an idiosyncratic and brilliant mind coupled with a masterful sense of physical performance. Eugene Gilfedder has, in recent years enjoyed a thoroughly deserved resurgence in his work, best described as brilliant and idiosyncratic, and intense. Jennifer Flowers has been a presence in Australian Theatre for decades, recently as tour director on The Year of Magical Thinking and notably in her Helpmann Award nominated turn in Doubt. Martin Crimp is a fine writer – his Attempts On Her Life is a truly great play, and Ionesco is responsible for some of the most memorable plays of the Absurdist movement. So from the outset there was a lot of excitement and anticipation.

Actually, it wasn’t just me, everyone I spoke to beforehand was the same. Maybe that’s why I have waited to write this, taking time to remove the play I wanted from the play I got – there is nothing worse than a review that spends its time talking about what should have been done.

So here’s what I saw. Continue reading Review: The Chairs – La Boite Theatre