Greetings from an Anywhere Reviewer

Greetings from an Anywhere Reviewer

Hello there Theatrefriends—I’m Jono and I’m gonna be one of Anywhere’s reviewers this time round in Brisbane. I’m pretty stoked to be seeing about fifteen shows throughout the festival, and to be sharing my thoughts about them all on this here blog. I’ve been reviewing film and writing prose for years, though I only found my way into the rabbit hole that is the world of Anywhere just last year, cowriting under Vena Cava on the beautiful library for the end of the world.

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REVIEW: Becoming Bette

REVIEW: Becoming Bette

All of the Bettes.. but one in particular

Frangipani shadows and poolside sounds on a balmy March evening make way for a dazzling display of diva, feathers and flesh. Elizabeth Scales has raised the curtain on her all-woman show, Becoming Bette, with a dancing goddess projected in all her glory onto the slowly rising skyline of the Mackay CBD. Latin rhythms linger as Scales beholds the beauty of Miss Brazil until with a slight of hand, she dexterously turns the tale inward and we lean in, listening. Read More

REVIEW: Jazz in the Alley

REVIEW: Jazz in the Alley

Mackay’s speakeasy delight

Review by Elizabeth Scales

As I stroll down Wood St enroute to Mackay’s premiere Martini Bar, Dirty Martini’s, the warm night air is filled with the sound of jazz. As I enter the venue, it becomes clear that the Mackay audience is fully enthralled with the idea of reliving the 1920’s – the place is filled with flappers. Read More

REVIEW: 2015: When We Were Idiots

REVIEW: 2015: When We Were Idiots

The penguin is back!

Review by Elizabeth Scales

Xavier the penguin is back and this time he is taking his audience back from the future to see what life was like in Mackay in 2015. That’s right, the best timetravel tour guides are penguins with their historical knowledge, which is incredible, colourful and occasionally accurate (so long as it’s history before 2015. Anything be between 2015-2115 is just “a different kind of true!”). Read More

REVIEW: Mining My Own Business

REVIEW: Mining My Own Business

One Comedian’s pot of coal has become a bag of diamonds

Review by Elizabeth Scales

Mackay, Moranbah, Dysart, Middlemount and Glendon certainly got a special treat with the programme of the Inaugural Mackay & Isaac Region Anywhere Festival… They were treated with the hilarious Xavier Toby and his new show, Mining My Own Business – based on his new book (with it’s sequel due for release in August) about his time as a FIFO worker in Central Queensland.

Having been working the comedy circuit, visiting festivals and fringes the world over for some time, Toby is certainly refining his skills as a witty, intelligent and very quick on his feet comedian. Having witnessed his latest stand up show in both Mackay and Moranbah, it is clear that Toby is at home behind the mic and ready for anything that the audience has to throw at him. Read More

REVIEW: Let, Please?... Yes Please. More please!

REVIEW: Let, Please?… Yes Please. More please!

Review by Elizabeth Scales

A dancer, an epic beard, two squash players and a lot of sweat! As I enter the amazing Squash 52 centre on Brisbane Street, the emotion and excitement of the highly competitive and physically taxing sport that is squash, fills my senses and expectation of non-stop night of energetic entertainment. Stepping into this packed squash centre is like stepping back forty years in time. Somehow retro and yet completely trendy, squash is on the comeback! Read More

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

REVIEW – It Sounds Silly

It Sounds Silly is collaborative work between young local performers and the highly regarded dance company Chunky Move. It was such a delight to have them performing in the Wells Street Mall this evening and the locals knew it, with a crowd packed around all sides and some punters watching through the glass doors at the entry of the cinemas. Whilst the set-up seemed simple, there was a lot of extra lighting and sound equipment involved to create a performance space in the open air of the mall that produced a very slick space.
It Sounds Silly used a combination of movement, video, sound and lights to explore themes of childhood which were beautifully rendered in the use of air guitar and hairbrush microphones. The professional dance members were obvious within the cast and their strength, grace, fluidity and spirit were easily recognisable and entrancing. The collaboration was uneven and seemed to work best when the kids were accentuating the trained performers in their routine, rather than leading in movement as the youths were (understandably) unable to execute the choreography with equal finesse . When the kids were really able to shine was in the story and spoken word elements of the pieces, such as when each youth stated their fears on the microphone. Becoming part of the story through words and pedestrian movement was not only successful but also more engaging than attempting advanced contemporary choreography. Entering the space with their hats full of toys together, was a really great example of the kids working strongly together as a whole to be part of the narrative and a persuasive and successful way to use their bodies to tell the story. I would have liked to see more of these moments as an accentuation to the honed skills of the professional dancers who deserved more time to really their skills and passion for dance. There were some really perfect moments in the piece where the kids were able to embrace their creativity and enthusiasm which allowed them to really shine, regardless of the dance level they are at. It almost feels as if It Sounds Silly is not quite finished. Perhaps with another series of workshops it would move from a dance work that is entertaining to become something truly engaging and inspiring.

Review: It Sounds Silly

This is a dynamic and mesmerizing dance work that clearly showcases Frankston’s talented youth. The charming concept of childhood memories and fears is the basis for this theatrical performance. It is presented in the ideal place to attract an audience as the mall is a popular meeting spot, close to shops, restaurants and the cinema.

There was a huge sense of anticipation among the large crowd that gathered in Wells Street Plaza due to the impressive set up. There was scaffolding rigged with professional lighting bars, a sound system and big video screen. A dramatic atmosphere was built as night fell and the performance space was set with a central sculpture of white mattresses as splashes of color and white flashes of light circled the ground.

The opening was strong with the entrance of the performers to freaky music with different tableaux and creative choreography. The sheer talent, energy and commitment of the dancers shone through. There was a lot happening on stage with so much to look at and be totally engaged by.

I loved the air guitar sequence and all the funny stories of the innocence and naivety of childhood. I found the line of performers admitting their fears quite fascinating as they ranged from the humorous to the serious and all of us could relate.

The use of the mattresses was clever, transforming them into monsters, beds, tumble mats and a group house. The special effects of the lighting, sound and even a smoke machine all added to this wonderful piece. The simple yet effective costumes of black pants and colored windcheaters enhanced the narrative with the change to all white tops at the end. And to use the projection of letters onto the tops to spell out sentences was a visual delight.

This impressive combination of dance, storytelling and video was well received by the large audience. It is wonderful to see such a high calibre performance is a free event as it allows all Frankston people to experience the wonder, joy and power of the Arts. Well done to Chunky Move and the Frankston Arts Centre for presenting a polished, highly entertaining and wonderfully creative piece of theatre.

(and of course to Anywhere Theatre Festival for making all of it happen!!)

Review: Periphery

This is an intriguing dance piece that deserves more exposure. It has the clever concept of the audience standing outside a shop’s front and looking in through the windows to view the performance.  It is slightly voyeuristic and fascinating watching through the glass.

The show begins with the 3 talented performers in the dark, using torches as the light source, moving around the space. Then a lamp is switched on to provide a flood of light allowing us to fully see the dancers. There are interesting shapes made with their bodies, fluid movement and strong repetitive actions. The slow motion sequence in particular is highly effective. The ending is a fascinating twist as we are invited into the shop, the torches come back on, we are circled, then left as the performers exit the shop and then watch us from the outside.

A lot of effort and talent is evident in the performance but I felt a little confused as to the possible storyline and there was no sound system playing the music. Instead there are signs up advising the audience to use their smartphone or soundcloud app to access the music. My advice is to let the audience know this as they wait so that they can set it all up before the show. As for our group, only 1 phone was operating which made it very hard to hear the music.While the dance does stand alone without it, I believe a sound track adds to the mood of a piece and helps the audience connect to the work more. Plus walk ups would be alerted by the  music, notifying them that something is going on as “Periphery” is a unique dance performance that should be seen.

Review: DON’T LOOK UP

Review: DON’T LOOK UP

dontlookup1Getting into YMCA’s Skate Park in Frankston is a bit of a circus feat in itself. Once you have maneuvered your way around one of Australia’s largest skate parks and its temporary building site fencing, all is forgotten.

Hip-hop, electr
onica, rock and funk fill the park from speakers perched on the banks of the skate bowls pumping out appropriate tunes to suit each act.

The Affinity circus begin their acrobatic act with synchronised balance, dance and tumble, much to the surprise of Frankston’s local SkaterBoys.

Three agile fellas and one light-footed lass make up the awesome foursome as they back flip and leap frog their way through the first half of the show, with more than your average hop skip and a jump through double skipping ropes, small wooden rings and hula-hoops.

dntlookup2The second half of the show sees the performers move into the deeper kidney shaped bowl with a ton of hula-hoops.  In what my 5yr old son describes as ‘swinging like giant eyeballs’, hula-hoops are spun on almost every body part with a mighty blue hoop taking centre stage.

Affinity’s female acrobat is quite literally thrown into the air like a red-headed rag doll, albeit smiling from ear-to-ear to ease the audience.

 

Affinity’s ‘Don’t Look Up’ challenges the way you usually view a circus act, from above rather than below.  There might be a few fumbles in the tumbles, but nothing more than you would expect from an outdoor action packed, fast paced acrobatic performance.

Review: Don’t Look Up

“Don’t Look Up” is a stunning visual display of strength, balance and finesse. It is a must see for young and old alike as the 4 highly skilled performers impress with a range of acrobatics, gymnastics and tricks.

The Frankston Skate Park provides the perfect backdrop for this energetic and inspiring performance. It is a clever idea to present this piece outdoors among the local skaters with the skate bowls as the stage areas. It gives the audience such a wonderful vantage point to actually look down upon the performers and see the amazing feats done from a different perspective. Plus you are close to the action which makes it even more exciting.

There were lots of “wows”, “oohs” and clapping from the small but enthusiastic audience as the performers stunned us with their range of impressive stunts. Their repertoire included precision tumbling through rings, skipping with a number of ropes together in unison and the incredible swinging of many hoops. A highlight was the use of a huge blue hoop where the performers flung themselves in and out of, and around the deep skate bowl. It looked very dangerous and exciting.

All the routines were wonderfully put together displaying the total trust and team work of the highly skilled performers. It was a delight to watch and simply be in awe of their talent and athleticism.  It was totally engaging,  professional and performed with complete showmanship.

Don’t miss this energetic, fun and inspiring performance by Affinity.

P.s It’s a good idea to take a blanket to sit on the cold concrete. Though the show is so good that you probably won’t notice.

Review: Suburbia

DL_suburbiaPrepare to be  unnerved whilst being taken completely out of your comfort zone on a drive that may challenge and haunt you! This is one “show ” that really needs to be experienced yourself.

I don’t want to give too much away in this review as it will spoil your adventure. Suffice to say, “Suburbia” will elicit a whole range of emotions from you as you embark on this journey through the streets of Seaford.

It is a very intimate experience as you travel in the back seat of a Honda Jazz with 2 others and are exposed to a number of snapshots of scenes. A cd sound track plays while you drive around, creating a sound scape of dialogue and different moods.

Some scenes you watch while sitting in the car with its headlights acting as a stage, so to speak. Actors get in and out of the car at various times as do you. Some moments are intriguing and a sense of the sinister is built up like at the Seaford Wetlands where you witness a rather disturbing scene.

Other times the scene is played out right in front of your eyes in the front seats of the car. It is very close, almost voyeuristic and it certainly made me feel uncomfortable at times. I felt vulnerable in the back seat, unsure of what might happen next and where we were going. I never felt unsafe though and still encourage you to take the journey too as this is certainly an unforgetable experience.

“Suburbia” made smart use of the many parks and roads of Seaford which provided the backdrop for this experience. I particularly found the pier an eerie yet beautiful place, perfect for another moment in this theatrical piece.

Some scenes appeared to be linked yet others were quite random, leaving you feeling a little disconcerted which I expect was the aim.

I did find the middle part of our journey seemed to be filled with just driving around the streets and I wanted to experience more snapshots like the beginning ones which were very powerful. I also felt more could have been made of the pier scene and we could have been witness to more conversations/moments in the car with the actors.

Credit must go to the creators of “Suburbia” as they have developed a thought-provoking and totally different theatrical experience that will stay with me for a long time.

Review: A Mad Tea Party

Tea-PartyFirst things first; I love a tea party, so when I was invited to drink some tea, in a cup and saucer no less, and on soft scattered cushions in the garden… I was sold!

My children were enchanted by the crazy characters they encountered immediately and even more so when these talented young folk began to speak, dance, twirl, sing and perform circus acts (sometimes all at once). There are the usual fart and burp jokes that are always a hit with the kids and a highlight is the Red Queen eating her jelly!

The gorgeous estate of Mulberry Hill is the perfect location for this piece and the performers make great use of the lawns, pathways, verandah and the intriguing doorway in the hedge. There is enough of story plot of the tea party to be relatable for the children who are familiar with the characters.

The narrative is supported by an engaging choice of music ranging from Step-dub to classical excerpts from the Clockwork Orange track, right through to live vocals accompanying the ukulele.

There were slight problems with some of the sound tracks crackling, which might have been the wind interfering with the equipment and whilst Alice has a gorgeous singing voice, she needs to project more with her text to match the other performer’s vocal levels.

However the presentation is a very sensory piece and a feast for the eyes. I really admired the costume design that had a steam punk flavour to it.

If you prefer coffee, take some extra cash along for the barista and there are tasty afternoon treats that are available. And make sure you leave enough time to explore the substantial historic grounds.

A really lovely afternoon of entertainment for Primary aged kids and their parents. You will feel like you have visited another little world.

Review: A Mad Tea Party

Tea-PartyThis was one party I was certainly glad to be invited to!

The Mulberry Hill historical house was the perfect setting to follow Alice “down the rabbit hole” with its grand white walls as our backdrop, a balcony, columns and a paved garden path all surrounded by a glorious hedge.

We, the audience, were warmly welcomed into the intimate performance space by the characters who wandered among us and chatted to us before the show.

My son was delighted to have the White Rabbit sniff him and Tweedledum ask what world he was from – already immersing us into this fantastical environment.

From the moment we entered the grounds, it was evident we, the audience, were a special part of this performance, sitting on blankets and pillows with the action taking place in and around us with the catwalk- like central pathway, the grassed areas to our sides and the raised balcony.

Many scenes encouraged our participation like the Red Queen’s jelly eating, Tweedledee and Tweedledum’s “trying” to scare Alice with our silly faces and noise, the Dormouse’s story sitting among us and a favorite of my son’s the “dunny can thunder fart” which evoked lots of giggles from the audience.

This performance was a visual feast with spectacular displays of acrobatics, dancing and singing. Stand out moments were the clever inclusion of Alice’s rendition of “Sweet dreams” on the red ukulele  with her beautifully haunting voice and the Red Queen’s entrance with her powerful eyes, stilted movement and clomping of her heels which lead dramatically to the striking dance displaying her total control over the other characters.

The costumes added to the whimsical feel of this production with lots of different textures in the fur and ruffles of the animals, the colors of Tweedledee and Dum, and the clever simplicity of the White Rabbit.

While there was much energy, good fun and playfulness, there were also incredibly touching moments and complexity which ensured the adults were also fully engaged in the story. The paper dolls dance and the evolution of the caterpillar and Alice with the emergence of the butterfly and Alice’s realizations about who she is were all powerfully expressed through movement.

At times, some of the voices were hard to hear due to performing outside in the elements as there was competition with the wind and birds, and more over the top exaggerations and “madness” would have been welcomed in some of  the characterizations.

All in all, this was a truly delightful production that totally engaged children and adults alike, displaying the various skills of the talented cast in acting, dance and acrobatics. It was a magical performance that left us all smiling and wanting to visit Wonderland again.

Review: A Mad Tea Party

I’m not sure what Charles Dodgson aka  Lewis Carroll would make of this contemporary adaption of MHTP performed on the steps of the home of Sir Daryl Lindsay.

This member of the famous artistic Linsday family was the least talented together with his brother Lionel. Norman Lindsay being the most prolific along with the most talented brother Percy and sister Ruby. I suspect the reactionary Daryl would disapprove of allowing a talented group of performers to occupy the outside entrance of his home Mulberry Hill.

On a cold winters day, this troupe warmed the hearts and minds of an attentative audience. The skills of acrbatics and the attracting of a positive reaction from audience participation along with a high standard of acting from the entire cast made the show well worth the trip. Don’t miss this outstanding production.

**** stars out of 5

date: Sun 24 Aug 14 @ 1:00pm Mulberry Hill 385 Golflinks rd Langwarrin Sth

 

Review by Vic Langsam