Review – Impromptu Impro

If you are free tonight, Saturday 6th September, grab a ticket for Impromptu Impro. The $25 price gives $20 to Relay for life, a very worthy cause. Not only does most of your ticket go to charity, but you will be assured of a fantastic night of entertainment (and I am referring to the actual performers and not the inebriated woman in the front row who couldn’t stop yelling at the improvisers).

The improvisation games are most of the stock standard choices including; interpreter, movie director, question only and song.

A new game was ‘Kick it’ where chosen performers had to go into a rap which brought the house down and the end challenge was truly a feat of amazement that had me screaming out loud.

The group are really tight and work very well together which is a real credit considering they never really get together to ‘train’ in improvisation as other improv groups usually do.

However most of the cast hail from PLOS which only highlights the calibre of performer that are attracted to the group. The Emcee and creator of the team did a standout job of orchestrating the players and knowing exactly when to bring an improv to the end. He dealt expertly with the hecklers and that same drunk woman who even threw her shoes around the audience at one point.

Fingers crossed she’s not there when you go! A very funny and engaging evening.

Review – ORBIT

Orbit is an engaging performance piece that is an ingenious combination of technology, nature, performance and art. McClelland Sculpture Gallery is always spellbinding and Orbit serves to take its audience on an adventure through the sculpture park as an integral part of the story, really integrating the sculptures into the piece and not merely as a back drop. The narrative gives the audience a voyeristic position throughout the performance and the trajectory allows the viewers to listen to stories, take in the majestic art works and listen to a very clever soundtrack with cleverly chosen pieces. ‘That was really good’, my eleven year old son said at the finish. ‘What did you like about it?’ I probed. ‘All of it, just all of it’. This concept could really be an engaging way forward in theatre for a new generation of tech reliant kids. If you are disabled in any way though, this is not the piece for you. We really worked up a cracking pace through the bush on the sandy and gravelly paths, so if you are immobile in any way, you won’t be able to keep up. I felt that this was a perfect way to absorb art, theatre, performance and fresh air as the sun went down. Nina Barry-Macaulay has created a refreshing and wonderful work.

Review: Impromptu Impro

Don’t miss “Impromptu Impro”- a night of hilarity and belly laughs. Plus it is a fundraising event for Relay for Life so it is an excellent way to support cancer research and have a great night out too! This was a fun-filled, entertaining evening of Theatresports. These are various games where creativity, spontaneity and team work are required and the players from “Impromptu Impro” were most definitely up to the challenge.

The team of 16 were all highly skilled in working with offers, using their imaginations and thinking on their feet. The teams kept being rotated in groups of 4 -5 which meant we got to see all their talent and it kept things fresh. They provided many funny moments for the audience, especially the finale with the mouse traps. Everyone was in stitches laughing.

Theatresports encourages high audience participation through getting ideas from us as to the location of scenes, what they could be doing and possible lines of dialogue. There is great satisfaction to hear your line being used. The MC kept the show moving from game to game and time passed quickly with all the frivolity. Credit to the actors for keeping it mostly PG and not just going for the cheap laughs “If you know what I mean?” The musical accompaniment was clever with sound effects and music to suit the action being played out before our eyes.

The Mechanics Institute was a great venue to host such an event as there was a room off to the side for a silent auction and the large hall suited the sizable audience. There was a party atmosphere entering the hall with musicians playing, some tables and of course it being BYO. There was even a raffle and door prizes.

Definitely go see “Impromptu Impro” not only to marvel at the quick-witted actors, but to have a laugh and support a wonderful charity too.

Review: The Gift

This is a heart-felt production that touched this reviewer. “The Gift” was an honest and brave portrayal of a couple facing an extremely difficult choice. The story line was built up on little scenes giving us insight into the couple, their family and their life.

It was clear from the beginning of “The Gift” that religion would be its foundation and this play would serve as a tool to reach out to audiences in regards to sacrifice, love and healing. The notion of life being a precious gift was explored as well as parents’ unconditional love for their children. This was mirrored in God’s love for mankind. Some songs of worship were included, all of which were sung beautifully and really served to heighten the emotion of the play.

All the set changes were smooth and it was obvious the backstage crew were a well oiled team. The simple lighting proved effective, props were used well and the aged makeup was well done.

It had a wonderful ensemble cast who worked well together to deliver this poignant story. The mother in particular was solid and natural in her acting while the lead female could relax more into her role. There was a slight technical fault with the DVD of Lara’s last goodbye with a delay in the sound which made it difficult to connect to the scene.

Overall, “The Gift” was an inspiring piece, performed with passion and commitment to love, sacrifice and God.

 

Review: I Knew These People

This is my favourite show of the Anywhere Theatre Festival. I loved “I Knew These People”  from its stunning first movement sequence to its creative finale. It brings together 5 powerful episodes, each one a contained piece on its own but when married together, it is an impressive theatrical experience that totally entranced me.

The Grand Hotel is an ideal venue for this collaboration with its ornate mirrors, patterned wallpaper, glass chandeliers and comfortable leather lounges. RAW collective thoughtfully uses each part of the lounge to its advantage (with choreography on pool tables, down a fairylight runway, stairs to the toilets) and takes us on a journey, literally moving throughout the space and figuratively as we meet each character and situation.

Element 1 is a beautiful dance piece which is not only visually magnetic but also incredibly emotive. Followed by a monologue that is well expressed and interwoven with the movement.

Then we meet the formidable Queenie performed by the wonderfully talented Kelly Nash who most definitely holds the show together between each element and I think to an extent steals the show. She is highly entertaining, has a magnificent cabaret voice and certainly knows how to work the crowd. I could have listened to her stories all night.

The aspect that impressed me the most about the show however was its light and shade.  The intelligent  intertwining of the various scenes takes us on an emotional journey of connecting powerfully to our hearts one minute to laughing in the next scene.

And element 4 is one of those heart wrenching scenes that is built so beautifully by Brigitte Jarvis acting as someone with Munchausen by Proxy Syndrome. This starts with information on the screen about the condition then moves skilfully into the lives of Sophie and Peggy, and ultimately into the inner world of a victim. It is confronting, even disturbing at times but oh so powerful that you can’t look  away and the audience is completely riveted and silent.

Then Queenie enters again to shift our focus into complete hilarity as she performs a song about a dating in the modern world which has us all in stitches. She is like our tour guide as she takes us into the next performance space where once again the mood is changed as a stunning dance piece is presented. The sound excerpt used serves as an emotional  backdrop to the sequence and the choreography is mesmerizing.

“I Knew These People” is a sophisticated, well put together piece performed by a highly talented cast. A must see most definitely!

 

 

REVIEW: LOOKING DOWN’S UPSIDE

Of all the innovative angles to approach circus from, looking down into it has got to win the prize.  Acrobatic group, Affinity’s Don’t Look Up at the Frankston Skate Park was sheer brilliance.

Without a safety net in any sense of the words these four young performers dazzled the audience with sensational tumbling, spectacular aerial stunts and stunning Roue Cyr with some pretty fancy jump roping and hula hooping stunts thrown in.

It was real edge of your seat showmanship and downright death defying in some places, but that’s what made it so exciting.

It certainly didn’t hurt that all the performers were totally gorgeous to look at, but the nice thing was that they all took the time to look at each member of the audience engaging them further into the show.

Using an urban skate park as venue was cool and perfect for such contemporary circus. Aided by an awesome Indi music soundtrack, this performance was a fantastic family friendly spectacle that had the audience hooting and hollering throughout.

Enjoying the show outdoors on a Sunday afternoon in Frankston was an added bonus. Don’t Look Up embodied everything the Anywhere Theatre Festival sets out to be. Bravo Affinity.

 – ANDREA LOUISE THOMAS, ARTS EDITOR, PEARL MAGAZINE

REVIEW CIRQUE DU BLOKE ROCKS BAYSIDE

Cirque du Bloke by Three High Acrobats at Bayside Rock was “the best circus show I’ve ever seen!” chirped my teenager my daughter who is not easy to impress. My eleven-year-old son and I concurred.

As an arts writer I see a wide range of performances on a regular basis, yet this one really stood out. Not just a collection of circus stunts, the storyline was fun and thoroughly Aussie including the soundtrack. It follows an ocker couple on their first weekend getaway to the bush with all its iconic trappings imaginatively utilized.

Refreshingly, it was completely wholesome family entertainment.

It kept the audience wondering what would happen next. At one point the bloke took out his ukulele and burst into song and he could really sing! There were so many delightful surprises it would be wrong to describe the show, but I can say I have never seen a lady juggle a log with her feet or seen anyone do tight wire tricks inside a tent! The acrobatics and aerial stunts were breathtaking and a testament to the extraordinary physical strength of the two performers who had an audience of all ages captivated from start to finish.

Lots of gasps and claps were interspersed between the laughs, but what I loved most was the imagination and story in this performance. It was the fastest hour of theatre ever and only disappointed when we realized it was over. Big shout out to Bayside Rock for hosting this show. It could not have been set in a more perfect venue.

ANDREA LOUISE THOMAS
ARTS EDITOR, PEARL MAGAZINE

Review: Don’t Look Up

Don’t look up is a fast and dynamic performance by Affinity Circus and true to its name, you don’t want to look up to miss any of the action. Set in the bowls of the Frankston Skate Park, the audience is given a really interesting perspective and viewing angle to absorb the talent and strength of the four acrobats. They are very well rehearsed, slick and consummate professionals, able to laugh when a trick goes wrong and able to start it again and nail it. The performers have a knack of making eye contact with everyone in the crowd, lending to a shared experience. There weren’t any people in the skate park who could walk past this amazing routine, everyone stopping to view this wicked live entertainment. A fantastic piece that anyone will be awed by.

Review: Peninsula Ferry Tails

This is a delightful play for children yet it also has plenty in there for the adults to enjoy as we all go on a crazy journey with Frank Stone (note the pun) to find the Peninsula tails (or tales).

High participation was encouraged from the start as the performer engaged the children in silly questions and animal balloon making. Simple props and costumes helped add to the fun and there was no shortage of convicts, fishermen, dogs and shark volunteers.

“Peninsula Ferry Tails” is a frolicking adventure due to the energy and expressive skills of the actor playing Frank Stone and the witty script. The performer certainly knew how to work a crowd  from humourously telling a child to stop making noises with his balloon, to incorporating random questions/comments from the kids into the show and quipping one liners for the adults. I was quite exhausted by the end  just from watching his boundless energy and vocal expression, in fact I worried he might lose his voice!

Many references to local icons were included in the clever script. A favourite of mine being Arthur’s Seat, Frank Stone’s teddy bear that was sitting on his seat and then the dramatic break down of the chairlift. Also Melbourne’s key figure of Batman (not the superhero) and the eating of Pal provided more laughs. Every place you would expect to be in there was like Sweet Water Creek and the Aboriginal story of the eels racing along it, Rosebud banksias and Sand Sculptures. I loved the Dromana Drive-In at the end with the screen set up showing a film of Frank Stone at most of the play’s locations. It tied it up all rather neatly and just in time too as I think the play was nearly getting to its concentration time limit for the younger kids.

“Peninsula Ferry Tails” is a fun, energetic play that certainly entertains, educates and celebrates our wonderful part of the world. Well done to all involved!

 

Review: Cirque du Bloke ‘The Weekend Away’

You might expect Cirque du Bloke to be a show dedicated to all things manly, but in this episode ‘The Weekend Away’  the Three High Acrobatics introduce comical couple Bazza and Shazza, as they share their bush camping shenanigans with a comfortable audience lounging on bean bags at Bayside Rock.

The duo start with camp fire stories and humorous game challenges involving audience participation that sets the light-hearted tone for the show. Bazza and Shazza complete their circus skills with both graceful finesse and purposeful clumsiness including an amusing sleeping bag hopping scene, tightrope walking in a tent, log balancing and fishing chair acrobatics.

Jokes are frequent, often and downright cheesy, yet all suitably matched to the style of the act. With a nod to all things quintessential Australian, Bazza and Shazza’s Aussie references will make you chuckle while you tap your feet along to a collection of true blue tunes such as INXS and Jimmy Barnes.

All jokes aside, it is hard to imagine Cirque du Bloke taking place in anywhere but a rock climbing centre given the aerial skills involved with Bazza’s graceful corde lisse tricks and the duo’s hilarious trapeze act. Both performing artists are incredibly powerful, Shazza in particular wows the audience with her almost role-reversal strength to hold Bazza during equilibristic acts.

Although not advertised as a family show, Cirque du Bloke ‘The Weekend Away’  introduces a healthy mix of clean humour and fun tricks that would appeal to most ages. Go see it!

Review: Cirque Du Bloke – Weekend Getaway

This is an awe-inspiring show that puts a smile on your face from start to finish with amazing physical feats and delightful characters. Bayside Rock was a fantastic space for “Cirque Du Bloke – Weekend Getaway” as the sheer height of the climbing walls and colored holds already had us transfixed. Yet the backdrop was nothing compared to the incredible strength, control and agility of the 2 performers.

Baz and Shaz were 2 wonderfully created characters that we all fell in love with. The idea to include a narrative and link all the amazing physical tricks was brilliant as it added a whole new dimension to the acrobatics. We followed the humourous relationship of the couple through their daring each other to feats like popping a balloon with a nail to their hilarious trapeze performing these incredible stunts high in the air whilst chatting about the view of Kmart and the placement of Baz’s hands. It was very entertaining as well as magnificent to watch.

The all Aussie soundtrack of INXS, Jimmy Barnes and Paul Kelly made it all the more engaging. The music also gave the actors the opportunity to ham it up and display their showmanship, especially their routine to Daryl Braithwaite’s “Horses” made us giggle.

Lots of fun was had with camping chairs, balancing a log, tightrope walking through the tent and creative choreography in sleeping bags. All of which was such a joy to watch.

Make sure you take your family and friends to see “Cirque Du Bloke – Weekend Getaway” as it truly is an eye-catching, fun and stunning show.

 

Review: A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Frankston, don’t miss out on this superb piece of Shakespearian theatre! From Page to Stage’s production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is a pure delight. The actors are all well-trained in their craft and have the total ability to bring Shakespeare’s language to life in an engaging and entertaining way.

The sunny afternoon at Ballam Park was the ideal place to sit back and simply enjoy one of Shakespeare’s finest comedies. This play fits beautifully into the garden setting with the woods scene and fairies frolicking.

There was a clever twist to the beginning with the set up of a local wedding and we were treated as the guests with the cast wandering among us, the MC saying corny jokes and even a wedding photographer taking our photos. Then for entertainment, it was decided to have the play performed.

All the cast were brilliant in their multiple roles, displaying vocal control and variety, and strong physicality. Memorable moments were the wonderful interactions between the 4 lovers with the pushing and pulling of Lysander and Demetrius, both vying for Helena’s affections. Puck was typically mischievous especially with the inclusion of modern songs such as “I should be so Pucky” and the hilariously exaggerated death of Pyramus had us all in fits of laughter. These were only to name but a few of the wonderful moments of this fine production.

The actors encouraged the audience’s participation, especially recruiting some young fairies for various scenes and gleefully eating the CC’s on offer from our picnics. There were many clever modern-day references such as the footy scarves, the tricycle and mobile phone coverage. All of which the audience appreciated.

“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” brought Shakespeare to life and held our attention for 2 hours which is a huge feat in itself, let alone being performed outside, near a playground, with lots of children staying still in the audience and the temperature dropping. But this slick, humourous production completely engaged us all. A highly recommended show!

 

Review – Open for Inspection

The premise of Open for Inspection has a lot of potential. Introducing the audience into the space as potential new housemates makes for a lot of opportunity, however this has not been explored very fully through either the text or the performances. When one is shown through a house, there is usually a tour, so it would have been really nice for the audience to have to move ‘through’ the imaginary building. There were some interesting script moments with the argument about whether Frankston is really as bad the reputation that precedes it and the obligatory food theft, cleaning chores and bodies on the couch during the daytime, really served to remind me about the truly awful parts of share-housing.
The actor who played Akira was so busy laughing at himself it was difficult to understand his words and what was actually serious or not. The actress who couldn’t stop crying, really needed to find more light and shade within her grief of another lost boyfriend. The other actors were more relaxed and therefore it was easier for them to be a part of the story, but the script didn’t really have an arc, which is perhaps why movement would have assisted the plot or the experience.
The ‘Nosey next door neighbours’ seemed a contrived way to have two musicians in the show who just waited at a nearby table, strumming their instruments or having conversations which were really distracting and pulled focus from the main story; which actually seemed quite rude behaviour from two mature performers, but perhaps that was the director’s concept and it is evidently confusing. Whilst the blues music at the end was nice to listen to, there was just no explanation for the neighbours whatsoever.
All in all, an interesting concept that really needs some inspiration and craft to pull off.

Review: Open For Inspection

The concept for this piece of theatre was creative and engaging. The premise was we, the audience, were treated as potential housemates and were attending the open for inspection. We all had to wait in an area together and then we were taken through the property, so to speak.

The Chisholm Atrium was transformed into the share house which worked extremely well with the open, bright space with the different areas and plants. We were introduced to the weird garden neighbour next door and the loud musicians. They actually played us a few tunes on the guitar and harmonica much to our delight.

We then entered the sharehouse which was creatively made with cardboard boxes which were labelled stove, fridge and cupboard. Milk crates were scattered around, a large noticeboard full of signs matching the inhabitants’ various personalities and an old couch where one was sleeping covered by a doona. The whole floor was littered with rubbish. The set design really suited the play and space well.

The piece began strongly with the tour and meeting the housemates, in particular Jill was very engaging. The usual disagreements  arose like cleaning, stealing food and even football teams. I liked all the local references to Frankston and was interested in the debate on safety. The play, however, did seem to lose momentum as we shifted back and forth from interactions and stories from the mates. It was sometimes hard to hear what each one was saying and follow the threads of the narrative. More voice projection and enunciation would have benefitted us. Also I felt the storyline did not go anywhere, more tension could have been built between the housemates or deeper connections could have been made.

We participated in the performance by sharing a secret talent and while this was entertaining, it did take a little while. The performance ended with toe tapping music from the neighbours once again.

Overall, “Open For Inspection” was a great idea. It just needed a tighter structure.

REVIEW: SUBURBIA

This performance of Suburbia is so etched in my mind that it will remain one of the most intriguing events I have ever been to.

As a drama that forces the audience to be outside their comfort zone it succeeds. Not knowing what is going to happen next is the ultimate challenge in all theatre productions. Suburbia scores the highest mark.

( It’s a shame that many films and plays are so predictable and if they aren’t, then reviewers 
will make certain going into detailed descriptions.)  

The minimal or silent dialogue worked well, allowing one to make their own interpretation and a superb soundtrack from the car radio added to mystic. Not knowing who the cast are…Were the other passengers in the car actors or audience?  Walking to destinations with unusual coincidences or were they planned? …Possibly!

I believe should I attend Suburbia for a second time, I may see it in a different light. 

Impromptu review from Vic Langsam, audience member