Reflections: Frankenstein at the National Theatre (via ntlive)

This is theatre of ideas, forcing us into a world scarily similar to our everyday. A world where humans can be reanimated. A world of the uncanny-valley, the creature himself – a collage of flesh and meat – abhorrent less because of how it’s come about and more because of how startlingly human he his, but not so accurate to be an actual man.

This is the creature’s story. A story of longing and loneliness, of bigotry and monsterism.

What if – a man is born fully made, though horrible to look at he is a sympathetic as any new born, what will become of such a man if they are abandoned and left to fend for themselves? Who will they turn too? What will they seek out?

This is the question behind Frankenstein. It is heart breaking in its answers.

Continue reading “Reflections: Frankenstein at the National Theatre (via ntlive)”

Reflections: Apollo 13 Mission Control @ Brisbane Powerhouse

The set of apollo 13 showing audience in their roles

Raise your hand if you like a bit of Tom Hanks in a tin can?

You know what I mean. The movie Apollo 13. It is just bloody good fun, in that whole will he or wont he kind of way. Spoiler. He does.

Question. Take this story based on the events of the ill-fated Apollo 13 mission and then stick it on stage where the audience (or at least a good deal of them) is in mission control and what do you have?

Well, want you don’t have is the will he or wont he. Not because there isn’t a Tom Hanks in sight, and certainly not because the fundamental story isn’t gripping. It is, regardless of familiarity.

But perhaps primarily because of the way it is done. This is an experiment in immersive theatre where the audience is involved in the re-telling of the drama. This is it’s strength and it’s weakness.

Continue reading “Reflections: Apollo 13 Mission Control @ Brisbane Powerhouse”

Review: I Love You, Bro – La Boite

Charming, delicate, and deliciously self-mocking this lovingly crafted one man show is an absolute winner.

Johnny is a fourteen year old logged onto a chat room as LBJ. There he meets Markymark. A football star a couple of years his senior. Markymark mistakes LBJ to be a girl. Oh the deliciousness of it all. What pranks could a fourteen year boy pull on the older lad? Well, not so much of a prank. No, in fact, Johnny falls in love with him.

For serious right? Well, yes, but also a lot of bloody fun.

You see, what is poor old Johnny (as LBJ) going to say to him when he wants to meet? That’s right, Markymark is a regular horny teenage boy who’s going to want to see this LBJ in the flesh (if you get my drift), I mean, really wants to see this LBJ. Clearly this isn’t going to work for Johnny. And so the real deception begins. LBJ gets a step-brother, then another step-brother (actually Johnny) then a dangerous ex-boyfriend out for revenge, parents, obviously – and well – the cast of fictitious characters begins to outweigh the actual. Indeed a veritable army of online handles come into existence all designed to help Johnny get his man. And does he? Well, you’ll have to see it.

Our hero is brilliantly writ and played. The language walks this beautiful balance of teenage innocence crossed with an adult sophistication able to comment on the shear absurdity of the increasingly complex story Johnny creates.

Sure the play captures unrequited love, but perhaps more interestingly, there is a real art to the way Johnny goes about playing his creations. Throwing himself deep into the lie, so even he begins to lose sight of the real.

I Love You, Bro is one of those rare theatrical treats where we get to be kids and adults, where we laugh, where we barrack for our hero, where we go on the roller-coaster too. Although it is based of an English story, it’s Australian theatre at its most fine.

Recommended for all. Take a date, take you’re mum, take your son. Either way you’ll get a good laugh and a fine night out.

Show watched Thursday 22nd July 2010.

Playing at La Boite Theatre at the Roundhouse. Season extended until 15th Aug 2010.

Review: Tender – Metro Arts & …and moor theatre

Tender is an honest and hard working play on loss and love.

A young man and a woman are very much in love, the sort of love that creates lines in the mind, defines the personalities within that love, and everything else as being without. Joyous and serious.

Only, the man is gone, missing – traumatically so.

The woman? As if unable to live or redefine herself without him, has forgotten – unable to even make new memories. Past and present get muddled, identity gets consumed, and love gets tested.

The parents of the missing young man are split – torn between between their love for their son, their feelings towards their damaged daughter-in-law, and their need to keep their only grandchild in their life.

The mystery? Can this perfect love survive even this most tragic of circumstance. A difficult and worthwhile endeavour.

Strangely this production doesn’t quite succeed in wrenching us through that same knot of anguish so evident on stage, despite some fine performances and beautiful design. However where it does succeed is perhaps more important, for the production wraps you within an Australian aesthetic – a dramatic aesthetic as much as a design aesthetic – that quietly seeps into you giving both the performance and the audience that feeling of belonging – yes, it’s meant to be there on an Australian stage, and yes, we are right to be here, to prefer this flawed Australian struggle to an import.

This play then as much as anything is about claiming within us a space for Australian drama – how do an Australian husband and wife react at the loss of a son? how does a young Australian wife fight against her inner demons? And importantly, how does this make us Australians feel.

And so for me, perhaps even because of its flaws, it made me feel love and perhaps quietly proud.

Recommended of those seeking Australian fiction, for romantics, for those engaged in the Australian aesthetic.

Show watched 30th June 2010.

Playing at Metro Arts until the 17th of July.

Review: The Clean House – QTC w Black Swan

This theatrical comedy of class and love takes delight in making a jumble, in the mess and joy that is people’s lives and loves.

A doctor needs her house cleaned – she likes a clean house – only she doesn’t like telling people to clean it. She hires a Brazilian girl, who frustratingly is depressed over the sudden and comic-tragic passing of her parents – the greatest joke tellers in the world – and so doesn’t want to clean. This girl – what does she do? She passes her days thinking up the perfect joke, whilst secretly, the doctor’s sister does the cleaning for her.

Matters get complicated. The husband (also a doctor) falls in love with another woman. A beautiful South American lady.

So, on the surface? The Clean House – Four women from diverse backgrounds, two from South American, and two sisters from North America, are thrown together by a philandering husband who perhaps should know better. That he doesn’t, is what kicks this play forward.

This decidedly American take on love and loss adds a new vigour to the aging drawing-room comedy genre. But more interestingly it politely presents difficult truths about the growing class divisions (often on race grounds) that have been developing within the North American social fabric.

The playwright Sarah Ruhl is taking swift and fast aim at both North and South American cultures and I can imagine that on Broadway a production similar to what I saw would sparkle as each of the playwrights arrows hit their intended target.

In Australia, it still works but instead of that beautiful uncomfortable feeling you get when a play challenges you, instead we get to laugh at the funny Americans (North and South). This is still pretty good.

The audience I watched it with was split, with some of the more hard nosed theatre types not feeling it went far enough. That said, there were many delicious and heart felt laughs coming from the older set. The Clean House then, is four great female roles with terrific performances, a touching and pleasing story, and fun to boot. Something quite rare on Australian stages.

Recommended for Baby Boomers and Up, Ladies Social Groups, and for those that like their theatre passionate and kind.

Show watched Preview, Mon 28th June 2010.

Playing at the Cremorne Theatre unitl July 31st.