Review: Escape from the Breakup Forest – Mixtape Theatre Collective at Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts

Main Image: Simon Hall

I first saw this show in its infancy, at the USQ Arts Theatre in Toowoomba. It was a one-man job (well, one man and one puppet) created by Steven Pirie who was a first year theatre student at the time. It was raw, fun and silly, but most importantly, it was the seed that grew into the marvellous Escape from the Breakup Forest that made its Brisbane debut in the Shopfront of the Judith Wright Centre on Saturday night.

The show is now a three-hander and comes to us from the Mixtape Theatre Collective. Hailing from Toowoomba, Mixtape is proudly regional and relatively new. Read more about them here.

Directed by Claire Christian and Ari Palani, Steven Pirie is joined onstage by Dan Stewart and Ell Sachs, who play a host of minor characters and manipulate Curly the puppet with obvious joy and skill.  The plot is thus: Geeky teenage boy, Josh (Steven Pirie) meets quirky teenage girl, Emma (Ell Sachs). They fall in love and embark on a five-year relationship. Girl dumps boy for reasons unknown, boy collapses into an abyss of self-loathing and all-encompassing hatred for three years. One morning at the end of the third year he wakes up in a fantasy forest, ‘the breakup forest,’ and must embark on a quest to escape (whilst also overcoming his loss), with the assistance of a puppet spirit guide, Curly (Dan Stewart). Continue reading “Review: Escape from the Breakup Forest – Mixtape Theatre Collective at Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts”

Review: End of the Rainbow – Queensland Theatre Company and QPAC at the Playhouse

Image (supplied QTC): Christen O’Leary

At the time Judy Garland was destroying herself behind closed doors and on stage at Talk of the Town nightclub during her last concert season I also happened to be in London.

It was the winter of 1968-69 and I remembered seeing snow then for the first time. I didn’t, however, see any of Ms Garland’s shows during that 5 week season not only because I couldn’t afford it, but also because I wasn’t interested. Judy Garland was somewhat passé, known less for her artistry and more for the sad scandals that continued to plague her life – a bit of an embarrassment, really and old, after all.

I remembered hearing about her death in 1969 and, although finding it sad, was not surprised. At the time of her death aged 47 – what I had thought of as old – she was already iconic but the legend that was ‘Garland’ – the tragic, self-destructive artist – continued to grow after death. It was via the legend that I got to know about Judy Garland and heard her songs and saw her movies and watched black and white documentaries of her performing solo and with daughters Liza and Lorna and then Liza talking about ‘Mumma.’

Then, along comes Peter Quilter‘s semi biographical play with music End of the Rainbow in a co-production by Queensland Theatre Company and QPAC. First produced in Sydney in 2005 and subsequently world-wide, this big, new production directed by David Bell focusses on the last seven months of Judy Garland’s private life – that time we ‘shared’ London – she in a suite at the Ritz Hotel, me in a basement bedsit in Shepherd’s Bush. Continue reading “Review: End of the Rainbow – Queensland Theatre Company and QPAC at the Playhouse”

The Mixtape Collective (Interview 34)

Steve Pirie, Dan Stewart, Claire Christian, Ari Palani
Steve Pirie, Dan Stewart, Claire Christian, Ari Palani

It’s a wet Toowoomba morning outside. Inside the Metro Cafe up by the Toowoomba Railway Station it’s warm and welcoming, and I arrive to find the Mixtape Collective (Steve Pirie, Claire Christian, Ari Palani and Dan Stewart), smiling-faced with empty coffee cups in front of them. They’re ready and waiting for our chat. It’s a good sign.

I want to talk to them about how this little outfit operates, how they began, why, how it’s going and, more specifically, how they’re preparing for their Brisbane debut and the all-important-for-a-new-play second production of Escape from the Breakup Forest which played the city’s Empire Theatre last July. I order coffee and to get the ball rolling ask how everything is going. Continue reading “The Mixtape Collective (Interview 34)”

Review: Ink and the Unknowns – Harvest Rain Theatre Company at Mina Parade Warehouse

A note from the Editor: I’ve always wanted to see a children’s show through the eyes of a young person. When Greenroom was invited to Ink and the Unknowns, I approached one of our reviewers, Sita Borhani, and asked whether her regular theatre-buddy (her 7 year old daughter Layla) would care to write about the experience for us. I was delighted when both Layla and Layla’s mother said, ‘Yes.’ So, here it is from Greenroom’s latest reviewer. Thank you, Layla and thank you Sita for transcribing her verbatim response to the show.

The Night I Went to See Ink and the Unknowns by Layla Borhani.

The night I went to see Ink and the Unknowns was a Friday. When we walked into the theatre, it was kind of freaky because it was really dark and there were frozen people. It made me feel scared because the lights were all the same colour – blue, and the people were camouflaged. When we sat down the set looked black and grey and I could hardly see anything that was on it, but when the show started and more lights came on, I could see shelves with little boxes, and all sorts of things, and also where the people were hiding.  It looked like a mysterious place where I’ve never been before, a really old place, everything was torn to rags.

It was pretty cool when the Unknowns found Ink, because no one in the audience noticed that he was under the cloth – he was really camouflaged!! Ink was really funny because he kept putting all these weird faces on, that made me laugh. He was my favourite character!

The Unknowns were funny and scary at the same time, their costumes were black and dark purple and grey and they suited the set.  Ex was my favourite unknown because she could do magic with string. I think Ink was confused to meet the Unknowns, because he’d been in another world and he didn’t really know where he was. He was starting to enjoy himself in the new world, but some of the Unknowns didn’t like Ink, because he was causing a big difference in their world.

There was a lot of dancing in the show. I liked the part where the machine kept telling the characters what type of dance to do. When it said “Bush Dance” they all danced with a bush! And when it said “Hula” they all danced with a hula hoop! It was funny. The dancing was cool, because they did really amazing arm tricks, and hip-hop, and it wasn’t boring. The music really matched the dancing, and the set and costumes.

It was awesome when they took light from Ink’s lightbulb and threw it at all the places that didn’t have light, to make them light up. I think the Unknowns had never discovered that light before and they needed Ink to light up their home. There was a fight over Ink’s light, and they dropped it and it smashed. I didn’t understand why Ink died.

I didn’t like how they didn’t talk, I would have understood it more if they talked. When they made sounds I kept getting excited that they were going to say something, but they never did. Next time they do the show maybe they could talk. Also, it was hot it the theatre, and I couldn’t see very well. I think if there were cushions to sit on, that would be better for short people. But I still had a good time.

The End.

A Mother’s note: The show was fabulous. Original, winning work from composer Maitlohn Drew and choreographer Callum Mansfield, who is, in my opinion, Harvest Rain’s greatest asset. Dancers Cameron Whitten (Ink), Maureen Bowra (Ex), Hannah Crowther (Why), Lauren Heidecker (Dubble) and Tom Markiewicz (Zed) were all incredibly accomplished and engaging within the post-apocalyptic setting. Funny, captivating and a show for all, Ink and the Unknowns had an all too short season from 27 Feb – 2 March.

About the Reviewer: At the ripe old age of 7, Layla is already quite the theatre buff. When she’s not taking in a show or fending off two younger brothers, Layla likes rap music, wearing boys’ clothes, reading books, and playing the drums. Although never shy of voicing an opinion, this is her first written review.