Review: The Flu Season – Vena Cava

Take a simple set-up, a man and a woman are in a facility where they are being treated by a Doctor and a Nurse for unknown concerns. Add a dose of love – the man and the woman fall in love. Then sprinkle with old man cynicism – the love goes sour.

And what do you have? Well – The Flu Season is one of those plays that catches you unaware. Like you’re playing a game a friendly game of touch football, it’s fun, you’re running about, you get to touch girls, then suddenly someone kicks you in the bollocks. It was an accident of course, but the shear shock of it jolts you into a giddiness where you want to go and have a lie down for a while.

Fortunately for you, if you’re lucky enough to catch this play, when this kick comes, you wont be caught with you pants down.

Indeed The Flu Season is at times a fun ride with a wistful humour, and at others a dose of cough mixture. Such material is difficult to pull off. However the students at QUT have done well showing an alertness to the text atypical for such a youthful cast.

This production is not perfect by any stretch, however, it is some of the best student theatre one can expect to see. It is an opportunity to see young people being pulled and stretched, sometimes beyond their skills, sometimes rising to the challenge. And I, for one, had a great time.

Recommended for lovers and haters alike.

Show watched 25th May 2010. Playing at The Studio, Kelvin Grove Campus, QUT until Saturday 29th.

Review: Stockholm – Frantic Assembly @ La Boite Theatre

A couple, young and hip, the sort you’d be intensely jealous of were they not so sensuous and sexy (in equal doses) are planning a trip to Stockholm. But before they can get there they must first get past their own neuroses and jealousies.

This intense and deeply human two hander is a narration on love, neurosis, and co-dependency, all told through drama and dance – the text of the dance being that feeling you get when words escape you, and the only way you can express how you feel is to move – very appropriate when dealing with the subject of love.

It is a complex work, and yet at times very funny with a bawdy vitality more akin to a pub after everyone has had one too many drinks. I enjoyed this lowest common denominator humour and indeed for my mind it framed and humanised some of the seriousness that followed.

The production values are very high with a tangible design which reaches into the action forming and controlling the performers, almost capturing them in their roles.

Frantic Assembly in association with Sydney Theatre Company have devised a work of unabashed theatricality, a tipsy joy-ride into couple-dom.

Recommended for adults and couples.

Show watched 29th April, 2010. Playing until the 22nd of May

Stockholm @ La Boite

Review: The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

This French film from 2007 is despite its subject a celebration of life and living. Adapted from a memoir of the same name, the reality behind the drama gives it a haunting quality that stays with you for some time.

The hero of the movie, a journalist, wakes to find himself with locked-in syndrome. This rare medical condition has the victim paralysed from the neck down, unable to speak, vision and hearing impaired, he can only communicate through blinking. This slow and painful process doesn’t sound like the subject of film, yet through some expressive film making we get a window inside the life of this anti-hero.

We are introduced to the important people in his life, how their relationships change, and don’t. The landscape is both real and fiction, it is a place where history, future and imagination combine, with an ending as surprising as it is moving.

This is beautiful adult movie making. Recommended for lovers, romantics, and dates.

Watched 21 March 2010. Available at your local video store.

Review: Heroin(e) for Breakfast

This funny dark drama shows the joy and horror of drug abuse, framed through the wit and theatrical whimsy of this young and energetic UK theatre troupe.

Act One, seduction. In this beautifully theatrical proposition the play asks what happens to a group of young hip disjointed adults when Heroin – in shape of a hot Marilyn-esque blonde – is invited around for breakfast. The seduction is part lust, part desire, part need. Heroin wants to be wanted, needs to be in control of their lives. That they willingly secom only adds to the honesty of the work.

Act two, destruction. Now heroin must have her pound of flesh. Relationships come undone, old scars get reopened, and the horror that heroin causes to peoples lives comes to the surface.

This work was well performed by the young cast and was well received by the early twenties audience which filled the theatre.

With an adult eye for guidance this is just the sort of show I would strongly recommend to all young people as they face adulthood and questions of sex, relationships, peer pressure and mind altering drugs.

Show watched 14th March 2010, as a part of the Adelaide Fringe.

Review: The Snow Queen – Theatre Simple

Ostensibly for children this adaptation of the Hans Christian Anderson fable is expertly crafted by the people at Theatre Simple.

Taking multifarious roles the five actors weave this tale of love and courage, taking us on a young girl’s journey as she attempts to save her close friend from the snow queen.

It is a story of growing up, of finding independence, and of living with a honest heart.

Theatre Simple have taken this basic premise and turned it into something quite delightful. The afternoon I watched the kids and adults alike were enthralled as the actors with the simplest of changes created the world of the snow queen in front of us.

Indeed it is children’s theatre, but I defy even the most cynical of oldies to enjoy it.

Show watched 14th March 2010. Played during the Adelaide fringe.

Review: Rap Guide to Evolution – Baba Brinkman

The Rap Guide to Evolution is exactly that, a comedy show on evolution rapped in rhyme. And a fun time can by all, if you’ll only open your mind.

Honestly, I really don’t know a lot about Rap. The whole thing comes off a bit alien. But that’s the joy of this show. Baba’s wit and clarity of thought both impresses and informs. I went from a Rap virgin in Baba’s capable hands to Gangster hip.

The teen girls in the front row mirrored my own learning curve only they came for the Rap and learnt about evolution.

Indeed Baba really knows his stuff, this secular monk draws parallels we can all understand, to take our hand on this narrative of scientific thought. He is a friendly on the battlefield of creationism vs evolution explaining it to us so we don’t feel like a drongo.

But it is his deaply humanistic ideals that is the real pleasure. Standing up and rapping for our common humanity. Bravo.

If you want to know more about rap or evolution, or how they inform each other, I highly recommend this show.

Show watched 13th March 2010. Playing at the Adelaide Fringe.

Review: Yuri Wells – Hayloft Project

Tucked away in a freight container at the back of the Garden, this alluring show packs some hidden punches, or perhaps not so hidden if you read the show blurb.

I hadn’t. All I had was a recommendation and some odd mumblings about an aged care nurse. Indeed Yuri Wells the title character in this one man show is an aged care nurse, he has a good relationship with his boss, and finds it difficult when his patients die. He also kidnapps a girl and puts her in a chest.

This delicate beautiful work of theatre is oddly easy going. Yuri Wells is so likeable and performed so winningly that despite the horror of this situation there is still a lot of love in the room.

It is this odd love that is most unsettling. And also why I applaud this work.

Recommended for those that like challenging and beautiful work.

Show watched 12th March 2010. Playing through the Adelaide Fringe.

Review: The Event

Part lecture, part performance, part event this monologue on communication is both an ironic meta-narrative on theatre and intimacy, and an off beat farce of our own mundanity.

The man in the light is a stage actor, he says as much. Our willingness to believe this and everything else he says just because he is the man in the light becomes the text for the next hour. And indeed it is a humourous text at times litered with theatrical in jokes.

The real interest is in the sub-text. The creators are challenging our understanding of what can constitute a play. Indeed challenging other artists to use dramatic conventions to explore non-dramatic forms. The strength of the argument resting on the success of the play.

But was it a play? Sure, we were told as much by the man in the in the light.

Recommend for theatre audiences.

Show watched 11th March 2010.

Review: The Hamlet Apocalypse – Danger Ensemble

Part physical theatre part meditation on mortality, this unique production contrasts the actors own mortality with the themes of death and loss found in Hamlet.

Using a countdown we understand that the end of the world is approaching and willing or otherwise this set of six physical theatre performers find themselves playing Hamlet.

It certainly helps to know Hamlet as the scenes whip by in raid procession. Personally I liked this, it’s a part of the joy of watching good physical theatre performers strut their stuff.

And indeed it is these self aware intensely honest performances that really grab you in this production. I’m not entirely sure they have managed to add anything great to the cannon of Hamlet, yet this original concept is entirely praiseworthy as much for where they succeeded as they didn’t. This is one of those rare exceptions in the fringe, where despite limited resources this small theatre troupe have created art from performance.

Recommended for those that know Hamlet, or have enjoyed physical theatre.

Show watched 10th March 2010. Playing through the Adelaide fringe.