Review: B Movies Live!

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Review: B Movies Live!

It’s always great to see a team which was responsible for a previous Anywhere Festival success make a welcome return with a new Show. In 2016, the B Movies Live team produced what I described as “a must-see for fans of the classic genre.” Three years on, Willem Whitfield (Director) and Kristian Fletcher (Producer) have returned, bringing an ambitious program of three triple features back from the vaults, and each for one night only at the Fortitude Valley Heya Bar: bugs (12 May), dinosaurs (19 May) and vampires (26 May). Perhaps I didn’t choose wisely enough. It may be that the 26 May Dracula-esque ‘vampires’ night would have been a better choice. However, although many of the audience got into the spirit of the triple bill of Godmonster of Indian Flats, The Valley of Gwangi, and The Lost World, it wasn’t as enjoyable (or anywhere near the same standard) as the 2016 Frankenstein Meets the Space Monster.

There was much to like about the 2019 Show. The concept is great, with opportunities for entertaining send-up (identifying awful, and unsurprisingly ignored, B-Movies and bringing them back onto the stage). The goodie bags and opportunities for audience participation added to the fun (if you have a group of friends looking for an enjoyable ‘team’ event, you might enjoy it). The venue worked well, and I should imagine ensures that, whether at capacity or playing to much smaller audiences, everyone gets the same experience (drinks and food are on hand and, although there was noise from the neighbouring spaces, it didn’t distract). The costumes were suitably home-crafted (best costume of the night had to be Ghoul Shadows’ sheep monster), the retro use of the overhead projector for the silent film captions was a nice touch, and the soundtrack was well-chosen and managed (Stephanie Williams). The actors’ enjoyment kept the audience engaged and entertained—particularly with the great circus star accent by Hannah Mason, Cecile Blackmore’s various cameos (absolutely on-point, from the fantastic silent movie participation through to the entertaining old crone), Willem Whitfield’s cowboy, Kristian Fletcher’s informative narration, and Ben Kasper’s kazoo work.

However, the overall result just wasn’t to the standard of the 2016 Show. Perhaps my expectations were just too high, having previously seen Frankenstein Meets the Space Monster. On Sunday, the Show started late and finished early, and I left wishing that the team hadn’t spread themselves quite so thinly. Perhaps a return to having no more than two movies on any evening, and investing the development time to have a better result, would have led to a better experience for this audience member. Perhaps it needed to be worse in order to be more enjoyable (it was advertised, after all, as 'the worst show on earth!'). Or perhaps I should just have planned to see the 26 May vampire night. If you’re going along, let us know what you think.

Verdict: Some highlights, but I hoped for more. Certainly not to the standard of their 2016 Anywhere Festival Show.

Audience tip: Food and drink available at the Heya Bar on the night. Tickets for B Movies: Live! available on the Anywhere Festival Website ($25). Advertised as 15+ and 120 minutes (approx. 90 minutes for the ‘dinosaurs’ show on 19 May). The final B Movies Show in the 2019 Festival takes place on 26 May (7:30pm).

Catherine Lawrence

The reviewer attended the Sunday 19 May 2019 performance (7:30pm), Heya Bar, 351 Brunswick Street, Fortitude Valley.

Picture Credit: Creative Futures Photography.

 

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Review: Inertia, The First Law

Congratulations to the team at Anywhere Festival for attracting interstate and international acts for the 2019 Festival. The program for 2019 included a new work by Sydney-based RelativityMC. Inertia: The First Law is set in the Plant Room at Flipside Circus, which provides a pared-back environment and an intimate space in which to experience the Show. The three performers—Fin Casey (Moose), Maddison Costello, and Megan Casey—have together developed a piece is part circus (strength, acrobatics, dance, and balance), part original music and song, and part science lesson.

Don’t be put off by my mentioning science. This is a compelling piece of circus that demonstrates their combined versatility; from the raw energy required for some very taxing pieces of balance, through to their controlled ability to sing and share facts about laws of motion.

Pictured: Fin Casey jumping onto Megan Casey's back in   Inertia: The First Law   .  Picture credit:  Creative Futures Photography .

Pictured: Fin Casey jumping onto Megan Casey's back in Inertia: The First Law. Picture credit: Creative Futures Photography.

And it all made for some very memorable moments.  I winced as Moose jumped onto Megan’s back (twice), I marvelled at Moose’s jump from the top of the piano, I was impressed by Megan’s ability to sing after a particularly strenuous piece of acrobatics, and I enjoyed Maddison’s ability to do the splits (or balance on fellow performers’ heads) as well as to play the piano while balanced on her head.

The lighting was well-thought through (a nice touch with the red gel for Casey’s standing back-flip), the music added to the experience (with the home-built piano very literally incorporated in many of the moves), and I came away reflecting on the laws of motion, of balance and of circus. Yes, as an Anywhere event it would have been great to experience this in a music room or a science classroom—but perhaps this will come in a future development of the Show.

It’s a pity that Brisbane audiences only have three opportunities to see this new work. I am sure Sydney audiences will be lining up to see the piece when the performers return home.

Pictured: The cast of  Inertia: The First Law  (Megan Casey and Fin Casey, supporting Maddison Costello). Picture credit:  Creative Futures Photography .

Pictured: The cast of Inertia: The First Law (Megan Casey and Fin Casey, supporting Maddison Costello). Picture credit: Creative Futures Photography.

Verdict: Circus as science lesson, music as circus, science with song. A fascinating exploration of balance and motion.

Audience tip: Tickets for Inertia: The First Law available on the Anywhere Festival Website ($18). The 40-minute Show has a very short run of only three nights (15-18 May, 2019: 7pm).

Catherine Lawrence

The reviewer attended the Friday 17 May 2019 performance (7pm), Flipside Circus, 117 Mina Parade, Alderley.

Pictures Credit: Creative Futures Photography.

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Review: In Flight Entertainment

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Review: In Flight Entertainment

One of the best aspects of Anywhere Festival is the opportunity to visit new spaces across Brisbane, Noosa and the Sunshine Coast… spaces which are literally ‘brought to life’ by the performers and creatives of the many festival Shows. So where better to have a little Inflight Entertainment than at the Queensland Air Museum?

Riley Cope (Writer, producer and performer) has obviously been on many flights in order to prepare this closely-observed and funny “high altitude musical cabaret.” The cast welcome passengers to the Emu Air flight ('first class' getting to be seated first), the crew of our flight to Bali discover that their colleague, Jessica, is not going to make it, and they all try to keep the news from their manager, Riley. Adding a little bit of spice to the mix are the lovable ‘Bogan’ duo (yes, Georgia Vella and Katherine Ernst are each in the cast list as ‘Bogan’ - as well as making appearances in the musical numbers). The three attendants are led by the experienced former-Qantas stewardess Patsy (Lucia Di Giorgio), and are often called upon to not only provide refreshments to the passengers, but to also lead a number of musical interludes (Peyton Cole and Ashleigh Lindsay join Di Giorgio in numbers that include Nine to Five).

Pictured: The cast of  In Flight Entertainment  at the Queensland Air Museum. Picture credit:  Creative Futures Photography .

Pictured: The cast of In Flight Entertainment at the Queensland Air Museum. Picture credit: Creative Futures Photography.

The Show follows the format of a musical revue, providing a vehicle for the multi-talented Riley Cope (he sings, he dances, he acts, and he can make you laugh): quite a bit of song and dance (often established tunes with some slightly re-worked lyrics), interspersed with some comedic moments and even the occasional pre-recorded video. But what is a flight without an in-flight movie option, after all?

Highlights included: the fabulous (and very funny) crew-member extraordinaire, Derek (Andrew Freeborn) handing out the obligatory ‘chicken or fish’ food options; Cope’s dance moves during the duet between Jessica (Cope) and the Air Marshall (also Freeborn); the Bogan pill-popping and upgrade moves; and of course, Patsy’s solo number with the cigarette. The crew clearly also had a lot of fun with the double entendre/slightly smutty opportunities for the pilot’s connection with Patsy (Pilot also played by Andrew Freeborn). And hats off to the production for having live music (led by Greg Crease on piano), and for having such a great set.

Pictured: Derek (Andrew Freeborn). Picture credit:  Creative Futures Photography .

Pictured: Derek (Andrew Freeborn). Picture credit: Creative Futures Photography.

The Show is an enjoyable 90-minute addition to the Anywhere Festival program. For me it was at its best when parodying the flying experience. Perhaps a future version of the Show might benefit from the addition of a Director to the credits, and tightening up/shortening some of the musical numbers in favour of some more lines for Freeborn, Cope and Di Giorgio.

Having made the trip to Caloundra for this Show in the evening, I will definitely return to see the Museum during the day. It looks as it is worth a trip, even if the Emu Air team have departed for warmer climes.

Verdict: Travel always broadens the mind… an entertaining sketch show/revue.

Audience tip: Tickets for In Flight Entertainment are available on the Anywhere Festival Website ($35-$45). The 90-minute Show has a very short run of only three nights (16 May 6:30pm only, plus 17-18 May, 2019: 6:30pm and 8:30pm on each evening). Arrive no more than 20 minutes before your scheduled departure. Drinks available at a donation bar. Slight smoke haze and some strobe lighting. Outside but under cover.

Catherine Lawrence

The reviewer attended the Thursday 16 May 2019 Opening Night (6:30pm), Queensland Air Museum, Caloundra.

Pictures Credit: Creative Futures Photography.

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Review: Skyward

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Review: Skyward


Skyward is a great concept. Built on the friendship between Jo Willans (Soprano) and Georgia-Elizabeth Bale (aerialist), the Show combines live music, video projections, aerial hoop and tissu, with a beautiful voice and selection of relaxing music. On arrival, members of the audience were encouraged to sit on the floor (mats and cushions provided) or in seats facing the ‘stage,’ and we all received a copy of the program which spoke of mindfulness, and how “the movement, music, poetry and imagery of Skyward are designed to mellow and move you.”   

There were many things I enjoyed about this production: the interactions between the soprano and aerialist (particularly when Willans performed on, and with, the hoop), the selection of costumes, the tissu work by Bale, the incorporation of the video projections (Michael Owen)and some of the musical choices (Toby Saltwell [cello] and John Woods [piano]). In addition, it is always fascinating to see the ‘behind-the-scenes care and hard work of the crew (Ashleigh Freed and Ruby Simpson).

Pictured (L to R):  Georgia-Elizabeth Bale (aerialist), and Jo Willans (Soprano). Picture credit:  Creative Futures Photography .

Pictured (L to R): Georgia-Elizabeth Bale (aerialist), and Jo Willans (Soprano). Picture credit: Creative Futures Photography.

The Anywhere Festival challenge for any aerialist is finding a suitable space to perform. In an ideal world, it would have been wonderful to experience this show by a beach, or with a water view. But the video projections were used to good effect to establish that mood, playing against the brick walls of the space. (Credit is also due to the space and hosts. Vulcana work out of a great space, which has hosted many memorable Anywhere Festival performances (including the 2015 Learning to Love Gravity and 2018 Invisible Things).

The collaborators’ aim was to create 45 mindful minutes. For a future iteration, I would suggest the team might wish to look at how they could minimise the breaks between each piece (reducing the entrance/exit process, to sustain the flow of the program). I would also suggest that the audience might be encouraged to adopt a more mindful engagement with the performance. Perhaps to look ‘Skyward;’  to set aside cameras and other electronic devices, particularly if seated in the floor area, so that everyone can experience the work firsthand.

There were only two performances  of Skyward in the 2019 Anywhere Festival program. Let’s hope that the team find other places and spaces for future performances which build on this concept.

Picture (L to R):  Georgia-Elizabeth Bale (aerialist), Jo Willans (Soprano). John Woods (piano), and Toby Saltwell (cello). Picture credit:  Creative Futures Photography .

Picture (L to R): Georgia-Elizabeth Bale (aerialist), Jo Willans (Soprano). John Woods (piano), and Toby Saltwell (cello). Picture credit: Creative Futures Photography.



Verdict: Keep an eye out for future creative collaborations between this team.

Audience tip: 45 minutes. Late arrivals not admitted, so arrive early for any future productions.

Catherine Lawrence. perspectives

The reviewer attended the Sunday 12 May 2019 performance (8:00pm), at Vulcana (adjacent to The Brisbane Powerhouse, New Farm, Brisbane.

Pictures Credit: Creative Futures Photography.

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Review: Titanic: The Movie, The Play

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Review: Titanic: The Movie, The Play

Act/React have done it again—producing a sure-fire highlight of the Anywhere Festival program. Yes, the Show is outside. Yes, you may not get to sit in your seat for the full 60 minutes. And yes, it probably helps a little if you have seen Titanic (the 1997 film). But this is a funny, fast-paced romp through aspects of the film, which is guaranteed to entertain (and may even give you the chance to play a starring role).

The plot of Titanic: The Movie, The Play is similar to that of the film. But you really don’t need to have seen the film to keep up with the Show. And just in case you missed it, here’s a quick **spoiler.** Girl in unhappy engagement travels with excessively wealthy fiancé on the maiden voyage of the ‘unsinkable’ Titanic… meets poor boy… falls in love/poses naked for him to draw her… escapes the sinking Titanic… loses poor boy… leaves fiancé …has an amazing life… comes back to see the salvage trip many decades later (telling the story of her love and loss in flashback).

The Act/React version doesn’t follow the film format too closely, however. The play is shorter, much funnier, and very slightly lower in budget with a smaller cast. Last year Act/React performed the memorable Kiss of the Vampire Squid. In 2019, they have returned to the Queensland Maritime Museum.  In the best tradition of Anywhere Festival, the team have again drawn on the Museum for inspiration and set—this time turning their improv minds to the challenge of re-staging a rather lengthy film to create a very funny, immersive 60-minute play.  Co-directors and writers Gregory Rowbotham and Nathalie Bochenski (together with fellow writer Dan Beeston) have another hit on their hands.

Titanic: The Movie, The Play appeared to be more highly-scripted than last years’ Anywhere Festival Show, with the cast keeping their allocated roles for the full run. This didn’t affect the entertainment value, as the team have pulled together a great cast (with many members also playing important roles in costume and set design). Drew Lochrie plays the role of Billy Zane with enthusiasm and panache—and is a great foil for Daren King’s charming Jack (in particular during their ‘altercation’). Nathalie Bochenski is a fabulous Rose (with the support of her ‘bunch of Roses,’ of course), and Elizabeth Best plays Molly Brown with great relish (and gets the best costume). Scott Driscoll has to get the ‘best beard of the festival award,’ and is a very memorable Captain… in particular when wearing the wheel for one his speeches (set & prop design by Scott Driscoll and Daren King, and costume design by Amy Driscoll).

Watch out for the iceberg, dolphins, that drawing, and the not-naked scene. And play ‘count the film references’ if you can (wait until you see Super Mario… who knew he was in Titanic?). It’s not quite as romantic as the film, but it will make you chuckle, you have a chance to be part of the action, and the only tears are likely to be of laughter. This is an enjoyable start to an evening, or a post-work treat—and is definitely a great ‘ice-breaker’ for a first date.

Verdict: Don’t die wondering if you’d make a great Rose. Get a group together, take the family, or go on your own. Buy a ticket while you can.

Audience tip: 60 minutes. Suitable for all ages. Dress for the Brisbane early evening (you are outside—although there is the opportunity to ‘huddle’ at various stages). Arrive up to 30 mins early and buy a drink at the bar (run by the friendly Queensland Maritime Museum volunteers, with proceeds to support the museum) and have a quick look around. There are four more performances of Titanic: The Movie, The Play (18, 19, 25, & 26 May). Tickets are available at the Anywhere Festival website ($24 concession and $29 standard).

 Catherine Lawrence, perspectives

The reviewer attended the Sunday 12 May 2019 (6:00pm) performance at the Queensland Maritime MuseumSouth Bank, Brisbane.

Picture Credit: Creative Futures Photography.

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Review: Charlie

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Review: Charlie

Charlie is a three-part event. Arrive early and you can catch some creative dance moves as the performers warm up (this also helps those unfamiliar with the campus layout, as you can follow the music when you get to the Great Court). The 6pm Main Show then has two key components: a creative, play-focused theatrical event, which concludes when the larger ‘dance crew’ join them onstage for some great singing and enthusiastic dance.*

I use the word ‘stage’ loosely, as the show takes place outside. The audience sits on the grassy knoll (some deckchairs and bean bags provided), while the main action takes place on the concrete surface, under a decorated and beautifully-lit pergola. It’s a well-chosen spot for Charlie: suitable for play, for connecting and for relaxation. It is cold at this time of year, but it’s a fantastic spot, set against the backdrop of some of UQ’s iconic sandstone walls.

Pictured (L to R): Michael Doust and Sarah McGill in  Charlie . Picture credit: Creative Futures Photography.

Pictured (L to R): Michael Doust and Sarah McGill in Charlie. Picture credit: Creative Futures Photography.

The show is interactive, rather than immersive, beginning as the cast start to look for Charlie. Charlie is the main word spoken during performance, and there is a real sense of a child-like seeking for a friend and a wanting to connect and play. Tone and actions indicate whether the words is used as a question, an invitation, encouragement or admonishment. Willing audience members were invited onto stage to join in, and each performer created different playful moves, drawing on props which included a much-loved teddy, flowers, a notebook, pompoms, a scarf, and even walking sticks.

Screech Arts is certainly an organisation to follow. Their last show, The Box, was a highlight of the 2018 Anywhere Festival, and it was great to again have the opportunity to enjoy the work of this creative and enthusiastic group. Congratulations to Directors Martina Cross and Lisa Alsop, the support staff (Sarah McGill, Julie Stewart, Niala Lewis, Timothy Searle), and their technical and stagehand volunteers (Amily Chen, Wendy Kinyanjui, Lauren Archer and Rupa Pun) for their work in creating this show with the performers.

Picture : Dale Gonelli and Danielle Stewart in Charlie. Picture credit: Creative Futures Photography.

Picture: Dale Gonelli and Danielle Stewart in Charlie. Picture credit: Creative Futures Photography.

If I had to pick my three favourite moments from Charlie, I’d probably settle on: first, the arrival and speech of the self-styled “Boss Man” (Dale Gonelli—funny, with a wicked grin, great comic timing and wearing a fantastic tie); second, the story-telling, where the performers gathered to hear the words of Danielle Stewart, where each line of the tale was beautifully illustrated by individual members of the cast; and, third, the song and dance crew song performance of the Legally Blonde The Musical song Omigod You Guys (infectious enthusiasm from of the dance crew members: Mags Doherty, Eve May, Tom Hinds, Haley Rickards, David Rodriguez, Matty Fortunaso, Yuki Hashimoto, Tia Van’t Hof, Lisa Alsop, Lucy Foran, Carlos, and Justin Stewart).

But there was so much more I could have picked: the conga line (with very active participation by Julie Stewart); the centre-stage performance by the green bow tie-wearing Joseph Surawski; the grumpy-let-me-sleep humour of the blue-clad Sarah McGill; the pompoms interventions by Miranda Sherman; the enthusiastic crowd management by the orange-clad Wendy Chauncy and red-clad Niala Lewis; the flirtatious use of the bunch of flowers by Alex Procopis; the singing, the well-chosen costumes (I loved the sparkly green scarf and hat, worn with great pzazz and during some great dance moves by Michael Doust); and the great choreography. Perhaps the audio tracks could have been tightened a little (occasionally too repetitive), but that’s a minor piece of constructive criticism.

Pictured; The enthusiastic song and dance crew in Charlie. Picture credit: Creative Futures Photography.

Pictured; The enthusiastic song and dance crew in Charlie. Picture credit: Creative Futures Photography.

Charlie was… to quote from the introductory audio… “artistic, sophisticated, […]. and with no pink dinosaurs” (I hope I got that verbatim?). Wacky, fun, joyful, inspiring... and free. Just wrap up warm.

Verdict: Only two more shows, so catch it if you can.

Audience tip: 60 mins. Suitable for all ages. The performance is outside, so take a blanket and wrap up warm. And if you are not comfortable in a deck chair (or using a bean bag) then take your own seat or picnic blanket. Charlie had only three shows during the Anywhere Festival (6pm Saturday performances on 11, 18, and 25 May, 2019). Information at https://anywhere.is/listings/charlie/ (FREE, with free weekend parking across campus. The Show is also part of the UQ Theatre Festival. If you don’t know the campus very well, aim for the Great Court and then follow the music (the grassy knoll is just outside the Great Court—effectively ‘behind’ the Merlos coffee shop).

Catherine Lawrence, perspectives

The reviewer attended the Saturday 11 May 2019 performance (6:00pm), at the Campbell Place Grassy Knoll, Campbell Road, The University of Queensland St Lucia Campus, Brisbane.

Picture: The cast of  Charlie . Picture credit: Creative Futures Photography.

Picture: The cast of Charlie. Picture credit: Creative Futures Photography.

* Warm-up moves by the Dance troupe performed by Danielle Stewart, Joseph Surawski, Alex Procopis, Jasmine Cox, Miranda Sherman, Aidan Chauncy, Annabella Maguire, Joseph Lee, and Michael Doust (with support staff Julie Stewart, Sarah McGill, Niala Lewis and Timothy Searle.

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Review: Tales of an Urban Indian (City Bus)

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Review: Tales of an Urban Indian (City Bus)

Everyone has a different bus trip technique. For some, it’s a chance to catch up on a book, email and the news. For others, a chance to enjoy the view or ‘zone out’ before getting to their destination. Every new stop brings potential interruptions—perhaps someone panhandling, or even just wanting to sit next to you and chat. Tales of an Urban Indian reminds us that everyone has a story to tell, where ‘tuning in’ to the chatty person next to you may be the best possible investment of your time. They may make you laugh, and may even make you cry, but they’ll certainly give you food for thought.  Tales of an Urban Indian (City Bus) is a not-to-be-missed experience: a one-man, 20+ character, 90-minute tragi-comic show on a moving bus.

Yes. That's right. This Translink bus does move. We all joined the bus at Stop 15, and took a journey around Brisbane (complete with occasional stops), fully immersed in this memorable show.

Simon Douglas (Craig Lauzon) is a contemporary Canadian First Nations man, whose conversation charts a life that began on a British Columbian Reserve, and moved to the streets of downtown Vancouver. There are very few props in this immersive performance: a backpack (containing only a few pictures/photographs, and a bottle), a bus, and a well-judged soundtrack (with great stage/bus management by Erica McMaster). But that is all Lauzon needs to conjure up a cast of perhaps 20, and a story about ‘choices.’

Pictured:  Simon Douglas (Craig Lauzon) in  Tales of an Urban Indian (City Bus) . Anywhere Festival, Brisbane, May 2019. Picture credit:  Creative Futures Photography .

Pictured: Simon Douglas (Craig Lauzon) in Tales of an Urban Indian (City Bus). Anywhere Festival, Brisbane, May 2019. Picture credit: Creative Futures Photography.

This is serious stuff. Set in an environment where suicide can be contagious, and drugs and alcohol appear to be an inevitable path. Tales of an Urban Indian (City Bus) is a story about the lived experience of a First Nations man—including his experience of the challenges of racism, homophobia, discrimination, survival and identity.

But it is also very funny. Highlights for me were the appearances of Simon’s priest, and of his friends Daniel and Nick. And also of the many women in his life: including Rhonda (his agent), Brenda (the love of his life), and his grandmother (kyé7e, complete with the ‘fly-swatter of fury’).

Pictured:  Members of the audience, pictured with   Simon Douglas (Craig Lauzon) in  Tales of an Urban Indian (City Bus) . Anywhere Festival, Brisbane, May 2019. Picture credit:  Creative Futures Photography .

Pictured: Members of the audience, pictured with Simon Douglas (Craig Lauzon) in Tales of an Urban Indian (City Bus). Anywhere Festival, Brisbane, May 2019. Picture credit: Creative Futures Photography.

The possibly semi-autobiographical script is well-crafted (Darrell Dennis), and the play is sensitively directed (Herbie Barnes). Lauzon offers an acting masterclass: using the space well, connecting with individual audience members and commanding the space through occasionally athletic moves. We all laughed, some of us cried—and I am certain we all came away thinking about our ‘meeting’ with Simon, and about the First Nations experience in Australia. The 2pm, 11 May 2019 show in Brisbane was the 500th performance of this play—which has travelled across Canada and further afield. Every show will be different: different cities, different views, different buses, and different times of day or night. Most importantly, there will be a different experience for each member of the audience. A big audience will restrict the space for movement, a smaller audience will have a more intimate connection with the performance. But what every show will have in common is an up close and very personal insight into aspects of the lived experience of First Nations people.

Don’t avoid it because you think its serious stuff. Don’t avoid it because you think its ‘just’ about Canada. Go because you get to see a great, often-funny, immersive Anywhere Festival event.

Verdict: A tour de force. Take your school group. Bring your friends. Go. Don’t miss this bus.

Pictured:  Simon Douglas (Craig Lauzon) in  Tales of an Urban Indian (City Bus) . Anywhere Festival, Brisbane, May 2019. Picture credit:  Creative Futures Photography .

Pictured: Simon Douglas (Craig Lauzon) in Tales of an Urban Indian (City Bus). Anywhere Festival, Brisbane, May 2019. Picture credit: Creative Futures Photography.

Audience tip: 90 mins. 12+ some coarse language, and adult themes (alcohol, drug and sexual references). Be on time (no one wants to miss the bus). The meeting point is Stop 15, New Farm (outbound—that is, adjacent to New Farm Park). Tickets are available at https://anywhere.is/listings/urbanindian/ ($32). Further performances twice a day (2pm and 7pm) on 12 May and then 14-19 May.

 Catherine Lawrence

The reviewer caught the Saturday 10 May 2019 bus (2:00pm).

Pictures Credit: Creative Futures Photography.

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Review: Wondered

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Review: Wondered

Lewis Carrol’s Alice in Wonderland is a favourite of many children (of all ages); a fairy tale intertwined with clever punning and themes of identity, curiosity, time, and the perils of growing up. Many well-known lines from Alice have almost become part of everyday speech or jokes: “off with his head,” “I’m late,” “curiouser and curiouser.” Even if it is increasingly difficult to separate out which are from the original book, or are references to the Disney (1951) or Tim Burton (2010) films. 

The original story is ‘through the looking glass’… an inverted world-view from the perspective of the dreaming child. Wondered is what might be described as the Grimm version of this well-known and loved tale, retold as the dreams of the very mad “Hatter” (Reagan Warner).Following early performances dating back to 2015, the 50-minute show has returned to the Brisbane stage as part of the 2019 Anywhere Festival. The table is set, and Hatter wakes his guests for the start of his tea party. “The Tweedles” have already arrived, and are eating their way through the sweets (Dee [Gary Farmer-Trickett] and Dum [Trent Sellars]). Ches (Lindi Milbourne) is elegant in her furs, and catching up with her knitting—gradually unravelling a very large red ball of wool. And Hatter is anxiously waiting for Alice (Elodie Boal) to join them.

As you would expect, with an award-winning play that was first seen four years ago, and has been performed on a number of occasions by an almost identical cast, the 2019 production of Wondered  is polished and tight. Warner gives a strong central performance, creating a highly-believable, mad—and occasionally manic—Hatter. Farmer-Trickett and Sellars are a great double act (although occasionally reminded me a little too much of the film-versions of Malfoy's henchmen, Crabbe and Goyle), and Milbourne’s Ches purrs (that is, is exactly as we would hope the Cheshire Cat could be re-dreamt). Alice may have grown up a little since she last met Hatter and the residents of Wonderland, but Boal's Alice (and yes, Boal is the writer, director and Alice) is the perfect combination of wide-eyed wonder with a fast progress to realising that going to sleep may be final.

Pictured:  The cast of Wondered (Lindi Milbourne, Elodie Boal, Reagan Warner, Gary Farmer-Trickett, and Trent Sellars. Picture credit:  Creative Futures Photography.

Pictured: The cast of Wondered (Lindi Milbourne, Elodie Boal, Reagan Warner, Gary Farmer-Trickett, and Trent Sellars. Picture credit: Creative Futures Photography.

There’s much to love about this production, but perhaps the space might have been more 'Anywhere'. The Sideshow is a great space, with the bonus of a bar which serves coffee and some food (albeit occasionally a little warm, and with the noise of the fans and some cars rumbling by). But it is all too easy to succumb to setting  it up as a traditional theatre. In the spirit of Anywhere Festival, it would have been great to see Wondered in a venue that enhanced the experience: tea rooms? an outside space for a picnic? a sleep study centre? Bedlam (perhaps created within Boggo Road Goal)?

However, the punning and wordplay are great (‘special-tea,’ ‘par-tea’, ‘rom-puss’), the cross-references to the original play are beautifully done (even down to the fatal ‘eat me’ cupcakes), the cast relish their roles…and I will try not to ‘let the cat out of the bag’ by including spoilers about how Wondered ends. If you’ve ever wondered, you’d need to get along to The Sideshow by 17 May 2019.

Verdict: Don’t wonder… if you have the time…. get along to The Sideshow and see how Wonderland might be re-imagined.

Audience tip: 50 mins. Adult themes (death/simulated killing) and limited smoke haze. Aim for the front two rows if you can, and be ready to be warm. Wondered has two shows per evening (6 pm and 8 pm) on Friday 10 May, Sunday 12 May and Friday 17 May. Tickets are available at https://anywhere.is/listings/wondered/ ($20).

 Catherine Lawrence

The reviewer attended the Friday 10 May 2019 performance (6:00pm), at The Sideshow, 349 Montague Road, West End, Brisbane.

Pictures Credit: Creative Futures Photography.

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Review: Hold My Beer

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Review: Hold My Beer

Hold My Beer is a fun, fast-paced 60-minutes that is a circus and live music homage to some of the many things that seem to happen in pubs or at parties. From the designated driver ‘selection’ and drinking games, though to the looking-after-your-mates check-ups and balance competitions… and everything in-between (fortunately, at this show, without the vomiting and hangovers). All with great acrobatic flair and well-chosen musical numbers—where the musicians (Kristy Stanfield and Sheldon Jadamson) also try out their circus moves, and the circus performers (Regan Henry, Elyse Fitzpatrick and Kelsey Adams) demonstrate their versatility and musical skills.

Picture : Regan Henry, Kelsey Adams, Sheldon Jadamson, Kristy Stanfield and Elyse Fitzpatrick, in Hold My Beer ( Creative Futures Photography ).

Picture: Regan Henry, Kelsey Adams, Sheldon Jadamson, Kristy Stanfield and Elyse Fitzpatrick, in Hold My Beer (Creative Futures Photography).

This is a fun 60-minutes—for the performers and audience alike. There were a number of ‘wow’ moments (yes, there were gasps from the audience at times), applause for some great balance and strength work, and a lot of laughter. It was the first time I have seen a pub arm-wrestle include head balancing, the ‘juggling acrobats’ was great fun (and not just for Sheldon), and the frenzied ‘change places’ was as impressive as it was fast.  One of many highlights of the evening was the ‘carne sutra’—or what can happen when you have consumed sufficient shots to try to pick up  that attractive person at the other end of the bar (here including a very literal pick up). But there was also hoola-hooping, bottle-manipulation (I feel Kelsey had watched the film Cocktail?), snooker-cue balancing and of course the exceptionally difficult put-your-finger-on-your-nose-and-stand-on-one-leg trick (which Reagan took to another level).

Picture (L to R):  Regan Henry, Kristy Stanfield (with accordion) and Elyse Fitzpatrick in  Hold My Beer  (Creative Futures Photography).

Picture (L to R): Regan Henry, Kristy Stanfield (with accordion) and Elyse Fitzpatrick in Hold My Beer (Creative Futures Photography).

The music added a special twist to the evening—with some great accordion work, piano, guitar and trumpet-playing. Some of the tunes were recognisable (particularly the three/ten-part audience singing!), with the words of most songs tailored to the show. I loved the a capella singing (to the clapping rhythm that included glasses on the ‘bar’), although quite how everyone had enough breath after the previous 50-minutes is beyond me.

Performing a fast-paced show in a small space is not without challenges (more space for run-ups occasionally required, and we all worried that there might occasionally be insufficient headroom for the acrobatics). But I am sure that, with more performances, this team of five talented artists can only improve on what is a great concept, and an already great show.

The 9 May, 2019 performance took place in Open House, a new arts/creative venue, adjacent to the popular Vulture Street bar, The End. The performers worked the room—including audience participation (get ready to limbo)—and had thought through the impact of the shape of the space on sight-lines. Some of the action took place closer to the audience members standing at the back of the room, but it is definitely worth arriving early and queuing to get in, as the seating area is not raked. Sitting close to the main stage (the black mats) will give you the best possible view of the acrobatic moves—although you will be near the bar if you are at the back.

There are only four remaining performances  of Hold My Beer in the 2019 Anywhere Festival program—one at The End, and a further three at Bloodhound. I’d be interested to know if many of those 260 tickets are still available. Buy one if you can.

Picture (L to R):  Sheldon Jadamson, Elyse Fitzpatrick, Kelsey Adams, Regan Henry (near ceiling), and Kristy Stanfield in  Hold My Beer (   Creative Futures Photography)  .

Picture (L to R): Sheldon Jadamson, Elyse Fitzpatrick, Kelsey Adams, Regan Henry (near ceiling), and Kristy Stanfield in Hold My Beer (Creative Futures Photography).

Verdict: A great cocktail of acrobatic skill and live music. Buy a ticket if you can, and get there early to get the best view.

Audience tip: Buy ahead (don’t risk being yet another person arriving to be told that no, they cannot ‘just’ fit one more person into the room). Queue to get seat at the front. If you get the chance, take a seat as close to the main ‘stage’ (the black mats) as possible. 60 minutes, adult themes (including references to drinking games).

 

Catherine Lawrence, perspectives

The reviewer attended the Thursday 9 May 2019 Opening Night (7:00pm), at Open House (adjacent to The End), 73 Vulture Street, West End, Brisbane.

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Review: The Lady Diamantina Bowen Tour 

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Review: The Lady Diamantina Bowen Tour 

One of the many great things about Anywhere Festival is that performances activate—literally bring to life, reinvigorate or reinterpret—interesting spaces around Brisbane. The Lady Diamantina Bowen Tour is a fascinating opportunity to learn more about the influence of Lady Diamantina Bowen (the wife of the first Governor of Queensland), and to reflect on the establishment of the early colony and many of the places at the heart of the Brisbane CBD. An added bonus is that participants in the Tour have the opportunity to take a short stroll around Old Government House, prior to a walk (and short waltz) through the two-storey building which culminates in a very pleasant conversation over tea and cake. A charming way to spend a few hours, and a chance to reflect on the challenges of life in mid-nineteenth century Brisbane.

Bringing influential Brisbane women to the forefront appears to be a passion for the multi-talented Natalie Cowling, who variously describes herself as “heritage enthusiast, actor, tango dancer, trumpet player, jazz singer, poet, presenter … storyteller [and] bowerbird”. During the 2018 Anywhere Festival, Nathalie told the story of Rosa Praed, and many other influential Brisbane women, in the successful walking tour/promenade performance of HerStory.

Picture:   The Lady Diamantina Bowen Tour  (Natalie Cowling). Picture credit: Creative Futures Photography.

Picture: The Lady Diamantina Bowen Tour (Natalie Cowling). Picture credit: Creative Futures Photography.

For the 2019 Festival, Nathalie conducted her own detailed research on the life and times of Lady Diamantina Bowen (and her contemporaries). The tour touches on the family background of Lady Diamantina de Roma, on the challenges of life in Brisbane, the work to establish early society life, and even on the impact of Queen Victoria on the family life of the Bowen household. The audience is encouraged to interact with the performance, and to reflect on the impact that the Lady Bowen had during her eight years in Brisbane (1859-1868)—including her work in areas of education and health.

Picture:  Tea and cake for some of our group at the  The Lady Diamantina Bowen Tour  (Natalie Cowling). Picture credit: Creative Futures Photography.

Picture: Tea and cake for some of our group at the The Lady Diamantina Bowen Tour (Natalie Cowling). Picture credit: Creative Futures Photography.

At the end of the tour, we all sat down with Nathalie/Lady Bowen and had the chance to ask a few more questions about what we had learned, and the process of her researches and development of this one-woman production. And then left the building with a renewed interest in some of the people who established what is now the Brisbane ‘world city,’ and a better understanding of the important role played by the people who established what is now Old Government House.

Mother’s Day is just around the corner. This production would make an ideal gift for family members (of any gender), and for Brisbane residents and visitors. And if you are unable to make it this weekend, the tours continue throughout the Anywhere Festival (9:30am and 1:30pm performances on Thursdays and Sundays in May) and also during June.  One to look out for and excellent value at only $25 per person (including tea or coffee—and cake).

Verdict: A perfect gift—for Mother’s Day, family, visitors…or to yourself!

Audience tip: Tickets for The Lady Diamantina Bowen Tour are available at the Anywhere Festival websiteThe tour includes a gentle stroll around and inside the building, and stairs up to the second floor (so be prepared to be on your feet for an hour before your seated conversation over tea and cake). Old Government House is opposite the QUT Theatre, and the meeting point for the tour is by the Lady Bowen Statue (on the side of the House facing the Brisbane River—they may soon have an Anywhere Festival Banner to add to the existing signs).

Catherine Lawrence, perspectives

The reviewer attended the Thursday 9 May 2019 performance (1:30pm), Old Government House, Gardens Point, Brisbane.

Pictures Credit: Creative Futures Photography.

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