Review: Dead Cargo – !Metro Arts Independents 2011

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Another week, another show – this time from the !Metro Arts Independents 2011 series. It’s always fun to be at the first performance of a premiere play; there are no preconceptions, nothing to prepare you for what is to come. Well, I lie (a little) about this, having chatted last week with Nigel Poulton the director and also co-writer (along with long-time collaborator Tim Dashwood).

Nigel warned me that some audiences may be confused by the play. He went on that it was, among other things, ‘about’ hanging on to things long past their use-by date – whether those things are psychological or material – obsessions, preconceptions, needs, words, things, and even people.  So, as I sat pre-show looking at the dozens and dozens of suitcases on the set of Dead Cargo, I began to start threading together the clues Nigel had given me with what I could see in front of me. I had the suitcases sorted; they were the material expressions – symbols – of the ‘invisible baggage’ we carry about with us. Right.  I was starting to feel a bit more confident – getting my head ready for the kind of play that I’d be seeing. I fancied it would be a bit of psycho-realism with expressive movement.

I knew about the movement – see the aforesaid interview re Meyerhold’s Theatrical Bio-Mechanics in Related Articles (below). I knew the script had been written by Messrs Poulton and Dashwood – what to expect in that regard? No idea – this would be a first exposure to their work, at least for me. The set – great by the way – looked messy, deliberately so. Was it meant to stand for the detritus of our lives, maybe? At this point I ran out of clues and started chatting with a friend. What I didn’t do was to read the program. As it turned out, I’m glad I didn’t because there was a clue in the Director’s note which would have sent me on quite another track to the one I pursued during the show and on the drive home. So I’m going to riff a little in this review on how a play – or this particular play – worked on me, about how it sent me down particular tracks in my head. Continue reading Review: Dead Cargo – !Metro Arts Independents 2011

A system made for actors: Nigel Poulton (Interview 14)

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As we chat last week about his latest project, I begin to wonder whether Nigel Poulton’s been working too long with ballet companies; he’s got his current company – the Dead Cargo cast – training at 5.30am during the rehearsal week. Now, that’s intriguing in itself. How has this come about, I wonder.

Nigel is one of Australia’s – and possibly one of the world’s – busiest fight directors for the stage. Recent gigs abroad have taken him to the NYC Ballet, the Metropolitan Opera, the Washington Opera as well as to assignments closer to home like Opera Australia, Circus Oz, MTC, STC, QTC, Belvoir, Kooemba Jdarra and Playbox. For Bell Shakespeare he has been the Company Fight Director since 2003. He’s the past President of the Society of Australian Fight Directors Inc., and a respected, meticulous, and very patient teacher who demands the best of his students. I can attest to this having studied under his direction some years ago. Continue reading A system made for actors: Nigel Poulton (Interview 14)

Dead Cargo: !Metro Arts Independents

Metro Arts fires up The Independents 2011 with DEAD CARGO, a highly physical new production from in-demand fight director and movement specialist Nigel Poulton and his long-time sidekick, Tim Dashwood.

A contemporary absurdist work that is at turns twisted, hilarious and profound, DEAD CARGO takes a comic look at a bleak world where slippery time and questionable morals make for muddy waters. Immerse yourself in the surreal and surprising world of DEAD CARGO . Tickets are on sale now.

SEASON: 9 – 26 March
WHEN: Tuesdays – Saturdays, 7:30pm
BACKCHAT: Wednesday 16 March, Artist Q&A session after performance
WHERE: Sue Benner Theatre, Metro Arts
TICKETS: $12 – 20, booking fees apply
INFO & BOOKINGS: www.metroarts.com.au

Review: Hamlet in the box ‘Ugly-beautiful’ La Boite Theatre

This entry is part 3 of 3 in the series Top Posts of 2010

Originally published 15 February, 2010

Toby Schmitz as Hamlet Photo: Amelia Dowd

Let it be known, nothing sums this show up better than its poster: a soaking wet Toby Schmitz (very Trainspotting) arms raised as he pulls his hair back … with just a fine whisper of pubic hair on show. Whilst grabbing my tickets from the box office to see this not-so-subtle erotic piece of marketing on sale for three dollars a throw, I could understand how (if I were a Year 11 school girl) I’d have begun hungrily digging through the bottom of my school bag, gathering change from my tuckshop visit in order to pick up a copy. You get this feeling throughout the show: it’s sexy, cutting, and brutal, and it’s made for the 21st Century Twilight obsessed kid.

Ophelia is seen texting on her mobile phone, the Gravedigger grabs a quick digital pic with Hamlet, letters and messages are sent over an odd Star Trek-like video system. In addition (and I promise I’ll get to the finer points of the actual performances in a moment) it would be hard to find a group of more beautiful actors without resorting to Photoshop. Berthold has assembled a sexy cast, and he knows it. Skin (and on one occasion, full frontal nudity) is shown without hesitation, often in pairing with the four or five rock-opera style contemporary songs.

Hamlet’s play, in particular, makes you feel like you’re at some kind of incestuous drunk dance concert, and I’m not totally certain that this isn’t exactly how Shakespeare would have liked it.

You can’t begin to truly look at the show without placing it in its larger context. Continue reading Review: Hamlet in the box ‘Ugly-beautiful’ La Boite Theatre