Review: Show Me Yours, I’ll Show You Mine: La Boite Indie and Tamarama Rock Surfers at Roundhouse Theatre

Image: Sarah Walker

Indie theatre – you just never know what you’re going to get, do you? I mean, you can grab a paper programme and try to guess as you sit yourself down next to some skinny-jean clad, high-haired hipster and a couple of girls dressed like your nanna, but really, anything could happen. It’s cheap, it’s cheerful, and sometimes it’s just spectacular.

The 2012 Melbourne Fringe and (the other) Greenroom’s award-winning Show Me Yours, I’ll Show You Mine, directed by Scarlett McGlynn has been brewing since November 2011, when Tim Spencer conducted his first interview with “Not Nick,” a male sex worker. What followed was a series of interviews designed to reveal, challenge and ultimately be shown theatrically to “open up a dialogue around the inherently complex issue of sex work.” Continue reading Review: Show Me Yours, I’ll Show You Mine: La Boite Indie and Tamarama Rock Surfers at Roundhouse Theatre

Review: Joy, Fear and Poetry: La Boite Indie & Natasha Budd at the Loft, QUT Kelvin Grove

Image: Adam Shambrook

I love kids. No really, I do. Despite currently enduring three of them younger than seven years old, I never seem to tire of their small moments of genius – moments that make you truly believe, if only just for a second, that they are really just short adults.

Joy, Fear & Poetry, written, directed and designed by Natasha Budd, a Brisbane writer, is a “collection of ideas, perspectives and experiences sourced from over 100 children and performed by a cast of 7-12 year olds.” It’s currently showing as part of La Boite’s indie festival, and features two different young casts, who explore the ideas of joy, fear, poetry, art and life in a 60-minute mish-mash of live performance and improvisation, pre-recorded voice-overs, projected script and light and sound production. On opening night I had the pleasure of seeing the wonderfully rainbow-coloured cast ‘A’: David Ishimwe, Hayley Billings, Darcine Abbas, Olivier Nsengiyumva, Kaito Nelson, Ashleigh Geissler and Laurianne Gateka. Continue reading Review: Joy, Fear and Poetry: La Boite Indie & Natasha Budd at the Loft, QUT Kelvin Grove

Review: Home – Nest Ensemble and La Boite Indie at Roundhouse Theatre

Just to the left of centre, but endearingly universal, sits Home, the new production from the Nest Ensemble, and the latest addition to the La Boite Indie season. There are many astonishing parts to the production, not least of which is that Home is the second outing for the Nest Ensemble in the last six months. It was only in May that they premiered Eve as part of Metro Arts Independents. For those that see both, it represents an interesting discussion about the difference between the two venues and their indie programs.

Home premiered last year with Metro Arts. I didn’t catch it then, but I’m grateful to see it now. The premise is simple. Margi Brown Ash tells us stories from her life as an actor, wife and mother. She travels to Egypt, New York, Sydney and Brisbane. At the heart of every tale are questions of belonging. These are stories you want to hear. Continue reading Review: Home – Nest Ensemble and La Boite Indie at Roundhouse Theatre

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 Hamlet Apocalypse – The Danger Ensemble and La Boite Indie at The Roundhouse

Back to the theatre last evening for the first performance of the final production in La Boite’s 2011 Indie program. It’s The Danger Ensemble’s The Hamlet Apocalypse directed and designed by Steven Mitchell Wright. It’s had previous seasons in Melbourne and Adelaide, and it’s now back home. Last night was the first time I’ve caught a piece from The Danger Ensemble and I’m very glad I did. Its intelligent, gutsy theatricality and complexity will please some and, just possibly, repel others. Whatever you do, leave your preconceptions in the foyer. As the website has it

The Hamlet Apocalypse is a dsytopia of the now generation, a silent party, a desperate plea, a rambunctious prayer… Seven actors stage Hamlet on the eve of the apocalypse. As the line between fiction and reality blurs; the actors, their characters and their worlds collide and are distilled into the simplest of human states. It’s about the power of death and the value of life.

The sheer energy of the ensemble at work and of the production itself is mightily affecting. Certainly, you cannot hide in the usual safety of the dark auditorium. Dane Alexander‘s sound and Ben Hughes‘ lighting are terrific and cruel!  From the moment you enter you are caught in the spotlight – literally. The show gets its claws into you and, from this point until the final blackout, you are jumping in your seat.  For 75 minutes there is no exit, no retreat for audience or performers … Continue reading Review: The Hamlet Apocalypse – The Danger Ensemble and La Boite Indie at The Roundhouse

Review: Colder – La Boite Indie & Michelle Miall at The Roundhouse

Images: Al Caeiro

The first of the La Boite 2011 Indie season productions, Colder by Lachlan Philpott, opened at Brisbane’s Roundhouse Theatre last week. Directed by Michelle Miall and performed by a cast of six actors, this play is a tonal poem of melancholy. Like slow, sad rain falling on the heart, Colder washes its audience in a threnody of loss.

You’ve got to love the range and confidence of independent theatre in Brisbane right now. Sure, there are hits and misses – as there must be – but, as someone said a while back, it’s indie work with its daring and devilry that’s the life-blood of the wider theatre culture in this country. The indie voice heard in productions around town can be raucous and potty-mouthed, silly or serious. Sometimes the voice is delicate and challenging – as it is in this one.

I’m a sucker for poetic theatre – the theatre of poetry – whatever you want to call it. I fell for the poetry – the beauty and un-selfconscious lyricism – of Philpott’s text in Colder. Having said that and, despite the buzz of the play’s language, the work feels too long in the playing – is this the production’s pacing or the length and structure – even the nature – of the text itself? I wondered at the number of characters in the work and the inclusion of incidental interludes and monologues. Was it these which seemed to be holding up the core narrative?

The play revolves around David (Chris Vernon) the enigmatic central character who disappeared first (and for a few hours) as a child on a visit to Disneyland, and then, never to return, as an adult in Sydney. The play’s action is contextualised within the gay community of Sydney, and was inspired by one of the writer’s friends who went missing some years ago.

The cause of David’s disappearances comes late in Colder. In direct audience address he speaks of being haunted throughout his life in pursuit of the figures of a man and a boy – the father he knew only briefly and the confident boy he could never be. It only hints – but that is enough – at how and why David remains missing.

In any case, Colder is less of a mystery than a psychological exploration of the effect David’s disappearances have had upon his friends and acquaintances (Kevin Spink and Kerith Atkinson in multiple roles), his lover Ed (Tony Brockman) – but especially upon his mother, Robyn, who is played by Alison McGirr and Helen Howard in younger and older versions of the same character. We walk in their shoes wondering why and how for much of the play. The ensemble of six are in fine form and, under Myall’s direction, handle Philpott’s lovely text very well indeed.

Colder is a play that may have some asking how a text which relies more on voice than on embodiment can be improved by staging. Is it better suited for the vocal orchestration of radio where ‘the pictures are better’ for example? Michelle Miall’s production is far from static, but characters give witness, they narrate, and they describe more often than they interact. The play is not particularly dramatic but that’s no burden. This is the nature of Lachlan Philpott’s script, of course and, anyway, hoorah for poetic theatre.

What is gained in its staging – in breathing the same air together in the same room – is the embodied experience of grief and its effects which are as uneasy to watch as any forensic investigation must be. This is what the actors’ physical presence adds.

Design by Amanda Karo, lighting by Daniel Anderson and composition and sound design by Phil Slade mesh beautifully, as they should, for Michelle Miall’s most satisfying production of the difficult and cold road of the grief-stricken.

Colder plays at The Roundhouse Theatre as part of La Boite’s Indie 2011 season until 9 July. Check the La Boite website for session times and booking details.