Images: Dylan Evans
Brisbane's winter theatre season is in full-swing each year come July. I often remark to fellow theatre-lovers that we're spoiled for choice these days - halleluia! It hasn't always been this way, of course.
Wednesday night last week and we had a world premiere of Kathryn Marquet
's entertaining new work PALE BLUE DOT, directed by Michael Futcher
. It was also the first opening night for new La Boite Artistic Director Chris Kohn
and the first time we've had a play set in Toowoomba. (Cheer for the home town.) Continue reading Review: Pale Blue Dot – La Boite Theatre Company at the Roundhouse
Images: Dylan Evans
It's tempting to discuss the plethora of socio-cultural themes and talking points that always seem to emerge whenever George Orwell’s, 1984
is rediscovered. However, and in the spirit of sparing our Greenroom readers an exhaustive and exhausting deconstruction of the source material, I want to focus more specifically on shake & stir's interpretation, appropriation and ultimately adaptation of the classic novel first published in 1948. Continue reading Review: 1984 – shake & stir theatre company at QPAC Playhouse
I've come late to 1984
; it's well into the second week of a season that was sold out two weeks before opening. Most of the reviews are in and they are unusually fulsome in their praise for a local production. I'm certainly not going to be different in that regard.
1984 is a cracker of a production - intelligent and theatrically clever as are all of Michael Futcher's creations as stage director.
Orwell's horror story of a society diseased by totalitarianism (of either the left or right variety) has been adapted for this production by two of Shake and Stir's Artistic Directorate: Nelle Lee
and Nick Skubij
. Both Ms Lee and Mr Skubij are part of the first-rate onstage cast of five which also includes Ross Balbuziente
, Hugh Parker
and Bryan Probets
who is truly excellent as the hapless and doomed Winston Smith. His skull-like image and haunted eyes are projected large on the huge screen that backs and enlarges the stage action. It complements that of Big Brother and, for those who know the novel, is used in a device at play's conclusion that perfectly captures the tragedy of Orwell's novel. The production also features screen and audio appearances from Alexander Butt
, Veronica Neave
, Naomi Price
, Matthew Welsh
and Walt Webster
. Continue reading Review: 1984 – Shake and Stir at QPAC Cremorne Theatre
Image: Katy Curtain and Norman Doyle - Photography: Amelia Dowd
In a city that looks remarkably like Brisbane, cameras are watching your every move. Riots are escalating beyond control. More and more people are disobeying curfew. In an unremarkable cinema, a political (or pornographic?) film is shown to an ideologically divided crowd. It’s the beginning of an evening that will spin out of control.
This is the world of He’s Seeing Other People Now, written by theatrical rising (and shooting) star and actress Anna McGahan. This is Ms McGahan’s first work as a playwright, and it's directed by well-known local emerging director Melanie Wild.
Overall, the play is dangerously under-developed. The ideas and characters that are presented here seem half-formed and often superficial. Navigating the expositional landscape is difficult. I think the central premise of the play is that the citizens aren’t allowed to touch, but I’m still uncertain.
Unfortunately, Ms Wild’s direction does little to help the audience out. The two performers are asked to play a variety of characters. Some are recurring, others don’t appear more than once. Figuring out who is who is a confusing process. In addition, the staging means a small and two-dimensional performance space. What should be a physically tense hour ends up not packing a punch.
But all of that out of the way, this is a play you should see. I need to admit a bias here: I’m very good friends with optikal bloc, the team behind the projection design. This bias unfortunately means that you may interpret my following comments as disingenuous. I promise I’m being sincere when I say that this is one of the slickest audio visual designs a Brisbane stage has seen in years, let alone for an independent theatre program. The transitions between scenes are sublime and are the hi-light of the production.
The lighting design from Daniel Anderson is beautifully under-stated and intelligent. Phil Slade’s compositions are predictably accomplished and lush. Jessica Ross’ design binds these elements together into a seamless technical package that is simply outstanding.
Norman Doyle and Katy Curtain, the two performers, do their best with what is given to them. Katy Curtain does particularly well to find fantastically comic moments for her characters that give life and badly needed energy to scenes. Barbara Lowing and Lucas Stibbard provide well-performed, funny voice-overs.
There’s a strong theme of meta-theatricality running through the play that I can’t really comment on without spoiling wonderfully surprising elements of the show. The show’s attempts to didactically link its themes to reality lack a clear direction and purpose. I will say this: the final five minutes of this show are worth the ticket price alone. It’s ambitious. Successful or not, it’s sure to be a conversational landmark within the theatre industry for years to come. He’s Seeing Other People Now is sure to start an interesting debate about the limits and purpose of meta-theatre.
Go and see this show if you like to be surprised and you’re part of the Brisbane theatrical community. Being theatre-literate isn’t compulsory, but it certainly helps. If you’re a theatre student, you should absolutely see this piece for its important and unique contribution to new Queensland works. The play’s deficiencies are compensated with a short run time and exquisite technical design. He’s Seeing Other People Now will certainly be talked about.
He's Seeing Other People Now by Anna McGahan plays at Metro Arts Sue Benner Theatre till 21 July. Details on website.