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Act/React

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: Anywhere Festival 2019 Preview Night

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Review: Anywhere Festival 2019 Preview Night

Lights, camera, action… If the 8 May, 2019 Anywhere Festival Preview Night is anything to go by, the 2019 Anywhere Festival will brighten Brisbane, Noosa and Sunshine Coast days and nights. Well, at least during 9-26 May.

The Preview Night is a great addition to the Anywhere Festival program. A chance to sample over 14 different shows, with easy access to a bar and snacks. In a little over two hours, the audience had the chance to see tasters of acts that ranged from acrobatics to music, and improv to theatre—with a fair sprinkling of comedy,  a hefty portion of ‘live’ radio plays, and at least one B-Movie.

I spent most of the evening either congratulating myself on tickets already booked, or wondering how I might squeeze an extra show into the next few weeks. So the challenge is trying to draw up a shortlist of recommendations. At this point, I think my top tips for the festival, based on the Preview Night, include:

Hold My BeerThe second-half of the Preview Night started with a sizzle, thanks to the steamy ‘carne sutra’ extract from this show.  Excellent circus and acrobatic moves, choreographed to a very apt soundtrack. Half Hitch (who also hosted the Preview Night) only have five shows during the Anywhere Festival. Based on the Preview, I have a feeling this will soon be a Festival sell-out.

Pictures include Inflight Entertainment (Riley Cope), Tales of an Urban Indian (City Bus, Craig Lauzon), Hold My Beer (‘Carne sutra’), and B-Movies Live cast at the Anywhere Festival Preview Night, 8 May, 2019. Pictures credit: Creative Futures Photography

Inflight EntertainmentLooks as if this show is definitely a reason to make the trip to Caloundra Air Museum. The Riley Cope Creative team have obviously been on many flights in order to prepare this closely-observed and funny “high altitude musical cabaret.” With only six shows this crowd-pleaser looks likely to be a Festival hot ticket. Perhaps the time to opt for ‘first class’?

Tales of an Urban IndianOne of the many things I love about Anywhere Festival is that events can take place literally… well.. anywhere. So where better to see a piece about the “guy who sits next to you on the bus” is… of course… on a bus. Fresh from sell-out performances in Canada, Craig Lauzon performed an extract of the Talk is Free Theatre City Bus show, Tales of an Urban Indian. I can’t wait to see the rest of this funny (and, literally moving) show.

‘Live’ Movies and Radio Shows: Ok. I am cheating a little here as there were three extracts on Preview Night that fit this particular billing. The B-Movies Live team (Lightning Bolt Creative) are bringing their entertaining format of B-movie-recreations back to the stage (this year complete with some great cardboard heads). But with only three nights this year, their die-hard fans may just snap up all the tickets before the undecided make their choice (yes.. sorry… had to get an election reference in somehow…). Even with only one half of the Smooth Pineapple duo at the Preview Night, I can see that their shows at The Sideshow are going to be a lot of fun. With only two shows, their advertised ‘classic sketch comedy’ is going to be very fashionable (and very sold-out). And if you are looking for a different take on radio comedy, then the two Radioplay Hours (The Coffin in Studio B and Little Women)  may be both educational and fun (with the possibility of getting to operate a wind machine!).

Of course, I can’t close without mentioning Titanic: The Movie, The Play,  brought to the stage (sorry, boat—as it is at The Queensland Maritime Museum) by Act/React. Following on from the success of the Act/React/Maritime Museum combination last year, I can’t wait!

There were so many other great acts in the Preview. I had better get back to reading the program and see what else I can get to see. Well done to the Anywhere Festival organisers. Another great festival is now… open!

 Catherine Lawrence

Audience notes: The Anywhere Festival Program (and ticket sales) is at https://anywhere.is/The reviewer attended the Wednesday 8 May 2019 Preview Night (7:00pm), Metropolitan, Spring Hill.

Main Image: Smooth PIneapple. All Pictures Credit: Creative Futures Photography.

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Review: Kiss of the Vampire Squid

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Review: Kiss of the Vampire Squid

Yo Ho Ho. The lights dim, and the crew join their “new recruits,” with a reassuring “don’t worry, we’ll get some salt in your blood.” Extracting a few key pieces of information from the audience (for the second show, a frightened octopus named Bella), the company then cast a very tall, improvised tale.  Sorry, I mean, “the real story of Bella the frightened octopus.”

Pictured: "Jack," Kiss of the Vampire Squid: Picture credit: Geoff Lawrence, Creative Futures

Pictured: "Jack," Kiss of the Vampire Squid: Picture credit: Geoff Lawrence, Creative Futures

I don’t want to spring all of the surprises of the evening. On 12th May, there were a lot of European stereotypes (perfect for Eurovision weekend), some spectacularly amusing accents, a fez, a tale of love and loss, a crewman called Jack (aren’t they all?), and a Norwegian octopus. As an improvised piece, the tales told during the last three evenings of the run of the Kiss of the Vampire Squid may differ. But I am certain they will be at least as funny.

Tall tales and creepy stories of the sea have to be enjoyed on a boat. So where better than sitting on the deck of the HMAS Diamantina. Even the curlews got in on the act with the occasional creepy wail to augment the excellent work of the accordion player. Act/React have a team who work well together. The device of the narrator keeps the show on the road, and the other actors on their toes as they react to changes in the various scenarios. Some great observations about inter-European rivalries, appropriate costumes and makeup, and excellent props all help in creating a really enjoyable 60 minutes.

Picture: The Narrator in control,  Kiss of the Vampire Squid . Picture credit: Geoff Lawrence, Creative Futures Photography.

Picture: The Narrator in control, Kiss of the Vampire Squid. Picture credit: Geoff Lawrence, Creative Futures Photography.

Anywhere Festival is Brisbane. A chance to experience new works which reimagine different places across the city. Kiss of the Vampire Squid is Anywhere Festival at its best: a fun evening that will always echo around in my mind any time I am near the Maritime Museum. I’m sure every evening will be different…so, if funds allow, go to all 3 remaining shows and get a chance to see some very funny improv.

Verdict: Go. It’s a fun evening, and a chance to see what Anywhere Festival is all about.

Audience tip: Arrive early so you can have a quick look at part of the Queensland Maritime Museum, and enjoy fantastic views of the Brisbane skyline. Dress for the cool evenings (you’re outside, but seating is undercover). Buy a drink on your way onboard (on-site bar a very reasonable $2-$5). PG (sexual references & occasional language). 60 minutes.

Pictured: Kiss of the Vampire Squid. Picture credit: Geoff Lawrence

Pictured: Kiss of the Vampire Squid. Picture credit: Geoff Lawrence

Presented by ACT/React, at Maritime Brisbane (the Queensland Maritime Museum).Only three more performances (17th, 18th & 20th May) so get in quick. Tickets are available at the Anywhere Festival website. $22. 

Catherine Lawrence

The reviewer attended the Saturday 12th May performance.

Pictures Credit: Geoff Lawrence, Creative Futures Photography.

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