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Anywhere Festival 2015

Review: The Anywhere Festival 2015

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Review: The Anywhere Festival 2015

Pictured: Anywhere Festival at the Toowong Bowls Club. Picture Credit Geoff Lawrence, Creative Futures Photography.

Pictured: Anywhere Festival at the Toowong Bowls Club. Picture Credit Geoff Lawrence, Creative Futures Photography.

The last few weeks have been an enjoyable, challenging, enlightening, and entertaining time. No, I haven’t been on holiday. But I have been on a tour of many “new” places in Brisbane—or at least, places that were almost all new to me, and certainly were seen in a new light. Performance spaces I have visited this month included a bowls club, community centre, cafes, rehearsal spaces, pub back rooms, CBD offices, an antiques centre, and a car park. Anywhere. So much so that, when describing the festival to friends, I have taken to describing it as the “Anywhere but”  festival (that is, anywhere but a theatre).

For the Anywhere Festival is a great concept. It reminded me of days past, supporting a student show as we scraped together the money for a production which travelled to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. In a way, the Anywhere Festival is a fringe festival without the distractions of events taking place in the main stage spaces. A chance for those works in progress to build confidence (and contacts), test the waters, and make changes before they fully step out into the world.

I am happy to report that the Brisbane has an arts community that is alive and kicking, as it steps out into the world. In the case of The Jazz Age Dance Cabaret, definitely high kicking. There are a number of talented playwrights, directors, actors, and performers who have spent the last few months in an intensive period of writing, developing and producing shows to bring many of the nooks and crannies across Brisbane to life.  And, in doing so, managed to entertain audiences, create happy memories, and provoke discussions and debates that have sometimes continued for many days.   

Of course, the 2015 Brisbane Anywhere Festival has not all been local talent. It was great to see that the success of the event has attracted performers from further afield, who have raised the money to bring their shows over to Brisbane. For example, the Perth-based Toy Soldier Children’s Theatre Company brought The Happy Prince to the Parlour at the State Library of Queensland. And I am glad they did, as it appeared to be a perfect transition from family story-time to theatre-going; a charming, gentle, magical event which entertained an enraptured audience.

This was not the only show which took inspiration from history, or from earlier works. The Jazz Age Dance Cabaret delivered on the promise of a “delicious journey through the 20s, 30s, and 40s,” as well as teasing out more contemporary references to the Jazz Age. Students at the Aboriginal Centre for the Performing Arts went much further back in time for their inspiration—bringing a highly physical and fast-paced production of a 1743 play, The Servant of Two Masters , to their car park.  A number of productions I saw drew on 1800’s.  Of course this includes the re-telling of Oscar Wilde’s 1888 short story in The Happy Prince. But also The Poor Slob & The Good Fairy centred on a film re-imagining of an 1899 Parisian cabaret script by Alphonse Allais. And the Flowers Theatre Company production of their new play, The Mayne Effect, also invited us to step back in time; to reflect on the treatment of the Mayne family, and the effect of the rumours swirling around the 1865 deathbed confession of Patrick Mayne.

Many of the shows were new works, often appearing for the first time as works in progress. It’s a brave writer/director/producer/performer who lets us, as audience, take what is almost a look backstage. A time when a new work is taking its first tentative steps out into the world, for feedback and constructive criticism, must be difficult at the best of times. It must be even harder when you have had to put the work together with little or no external funding, prevailing on the support and encouragement of friends and family.

So it was particularly interesting to see that the new works had family and relationships as a recurring theme; what Alexander Bayliss had one of the characters in Learning to Love Gravity describeas  “the ones that complete us: our friends, our family…our gravity.”  I was lucky to see some great new works. Nathaniel Young’s Arrivederci  was probably the funniest show I have seen for a long time.  Alexander Bayliss’s Learning to Love Gravity was fascinating, particularly with the use of physical theatre within a theatrical piece.  Emily Vascotto’s The Mayne Effect challenged us to think about the nature of the rumours that surrounded the Mayne family—and even whether what we know as history might be ‘true.’ And Sophie-Jane Huchet’s Mediocrity (Everything You’ve Ever Wanted) encouraged the audience to reflect on our how we deal with our own “devil within,” and what exactly is “everything” we have “ever wanted.” They were great shows, and I look forward to seeing future developments of each of the productions. I shall be looking out for them.In saying that, I of course also enjoyed the works based on earlier scripts or stories. It was too hard to pick out just one show that I would want to see again. You’d have to go and see them all yourself, and make up your own mind.

Hats off to Paul, Ruby, Alex, and the Anywhere Festival Volunteers. I hope that the producers, directors, and performers involved in all of the Anywhere Festival Brisbane 2015 shows have had at least as much fun as I did. And are inspired to not only continue developing those ‘in progress’ projects, but to think about where they want to be next.  Brace yourselves … all those involved in this year’s event.. I’m going to say it so no groans please…get planning, fundraising and writing now… roll on Anywhere Festival Brisbane 2016.

Catherine Lawrence  

 

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Review: Mediocrity

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Review: Mediocrity

Pictured(L to R): Harvey (Christopher Batkin), Joker (Callum Pulsford), and Loretta (Jackie Sutton ), Mediocrity (Everything You’ve Ever Wanted), 23 May 2015. Picture credit:          Geoff Lawrence .

Pictured(L to R): Harvey (Christopher Batkin), Joker (Callum Pulsford), and Loretta (Jackie Sutton ), Mediocrity (Everything You’ve Ever Wanted), 23 May 2015. Picture credit: Geoff Lawrence.

One source offers the synonyms of 'patchiness,' 'unevenness,' and 'weakness' for ‘mediocrity’ (and suggests the antonym of 'excellence'). Magnetic North TC’s first work was far from mediocre: a thought-provoking work in progress that was a pleasure to watch.

Writer/Director Sophie-Jane Huchet is to be congratulated for creating an insightful and provocative window into the mind and insecurities of the newly post-education, let-out-into-the world 20-something’s. A story which is not only that of young adults today, but is one that their parents will also relate to. On their Facebook page, Magnetic North TC describe themselves as “an independent ensemble committed to innovative, insightful theatre telling ‘stories from people like us.'” For me, they told a story that’s about all of us. Or at least stories about all of us who have grown up post-war facing ‘First World’ problems. Having left parental support behind to set up life with the love of our life, we all come to realise that life can soon become filled with the mundane. Those bins need to be put out after all. Having been convinced that we are going to be the next big thing, suddenly we can feel that no matter how hard we try, we are not quite the success we thought we might be.

The show introduces us to what the publicity describes as “two ‘newly adult’ Brisbanites.” Loretta (Jackie Sutton ) and Harvey (Christopher Batkin) have set up home together, sharing dreams of being successful in their chosen careers. Little do they realise that they are actually a household of three—with the constant presence of Joker (Callum Pulsford).

Pictured (L to R): Joker (Callum Pulsford), Harvey (Christopher Batkin), and Loretta (Jackie Sutton ), Mediocrity (Everything You’ve Ever Wanted), 23 May 2015. Picture credit: Geoff Lawrence.

Pictured (L to R): Joker (Callum Pulsford), Harvey (Christopher Batkin), and Loretta (Jackie Sutton ), Mediocrity (Everything You’ve Ever Wanted), 23 May 2015. Picture credit: Geoff Lawrence.

The cast were excellent. Not only did they work well together, but I believed in the relationship created between Loretta and Harvey, and how they responded to the nagging doubts and pressures resulting from the hamster wheels they had each selected. Joker was a wonderful contrivance for us to learn more about the pain Loretta and Harvey each felt, and how they responded to the pressure of being seen to be successful. The ‘Facebook’ scene with Loretta and Joker, and the ‘Apple author’ scene with Harvey and Joker were spot on: well-written and beautifully acted insights into the insecurities of each character.

And Callum Pulsford created a mesmerising Joker—clearly having as much fun playing the character as it was to watch. Acting as a disdainful conscience, petulant gremlin, and impatient puppeteer, the Joker was a convincing“devil within.” From the first moment when the audience entered the room, he was a menacing, alert, and compelling figure.

Pictured: Joker (Callum Pulsford) in Mediocrity (Everything You’ve Ever Wanted), 23 May 2015. Picture credit: Geoff Lawrence

Pictured: Joker (Callum Pulsford) in Mediocrity (Everything You’ve Ever Wanted), 23 May 2015. Picture credit: Geoff Lawrence

Congratulations also to the team behind the scenes, including Andy Green (AD/producer and Batman—surely one of the best job titles I have seen during the Anywhere Festival), and stage manager/designer Tiff lane. Tiff, I loved your work as you silently mouthed the script to ensure the sound cues were absolutely perfect.

Many of the venues selected for the Anywhere Festival have their challenges. The Toowong Bowls Club is a great venue, and a popular choice on a Saturday night. The Club was hosting a stag party, a number of birthday celebrations, and Mediocrity (Everything You’ve Ever Wanted).  As verandah was full, we were not outside on a suburban porch, but inside the confines of a small apartment. I felt the staging really suited the script. We were drawn into the cramped environment of a small first home, where much of the action takes place on the living room sofa. Despite the rising noise levels from the 40th birthday celebrations taking place next door, the cast drew us in to the show, ensured we could hear what they were saying, and kept our attention.

I left the production reflecting on the final note of optimism: the couple grappled with their Joker, and decided whether they valued success above happiness. During the performance, the Joker had engaged with the audience as well as with the couple. So perhaps some of us left the show reflecting on our how we deal with our own “devil within,” and what exactly is “everything” we have “ever wanted.”

I hope you get the chance to see the show for yourself. Although I saw the production on the last night of this run (23 May 2015), I am sure we will hear more from Magnetic North TC, and will certainly keep a look out for the further development of Mediocrity (Everything You’ve Ever Wanted).

 Catherine Lawrence

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Review: The Poor Slob and The Good Fairy

Pictured  : Lola the Vamp, in   The Poor Slob & The Good Fairy ,    May 2015. Picture Credit:  Geoff Lawrence .

Pictured: Lola the Vamp, in The Poor Slob & The Good Fairy, May 2015. Picture Credit: Geoff Lawrence.

The Anywhere Festival is a great opportunity to see new work, and visit fresh venues around the city. The Sip Café has a great location, and it looks like it serves a good breakfast: just across the road from the river at 54 Vernon Terrace, Teneriffe. I shall certainly look to pop along again and sample the menu. However, I did wonder what passers-by thought was going on as a dozen or so of us sat in a semi-circle, on Sunday evening, watching what might have appeared to be striptease. Memo to self: re-read the description of an event booked a few weeks earlier before you go.

I was part of the audience on the final night of the short Anywhere Festival Brisbane run of The Poor Slob & The Good Fairy, staring Lola the Vamp. Dr Lola Montgomery is a graduate of Griffith University’s School of Humanities, with a PhD in burlesque—and was film director, film and burlesque performer, and show producer. The show was a combination of silent film (with appropriate background music), interspersed with burlesque performances by one of the film characters ‘in the flesh,’ and concluding with a performance of ‘Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien.'

Le Pauvre Bougre et le bon génie, the 1899 Parisian cabaret script by Alphonse Allais is a witty, 600-word, short story about the encounter between a poor chap, absinthe, and what I thought of as the spirit in a bottle (a genie—or in this performance, a fairy). Directed by Lola Montgomery, and starring Lola The Vamp,  Eric Meredith, and Mina Von Lustern, the re-imagining of the story as The Poor Slob & The Good Fairy was first shown at the Cannes Film Festival in 2007. The audience on 17th May seemed to find some of the earlier lines of the film amusing, but there was less laughter as the story unfolded. I quite enjoyed the film: Mina Von Lustern (William Ferguson) played the character of the waiter with style, Lola The Vamp was a coquettish and alluring 'Good Fairy,' and the sepia tones and typeface for the script were well-chosen.

I also liked the idea of the fairy interrupting the film: bringing it to life, and perhaps also a reference to intervals projectionists needed when changing show reels for early films. I had anticipated that the live performances might link in more closely with the story told in the film (I am guessing that perhaps these were representations of some of the Parisian dancers and performers that the “poor slob” was to spend his last francs on?). But I would suggest that the interjections would be better achieved if there was a corresponding shift in lighting and sound. A fellow Anywhere Festival reviewer commented on lighting and technical problems on the opening night. At the end of the run we experienced fewer technical issues, but I struggled a little with the sound and lighting. For example, I missed most of the short introductory speech. I also felt that the lighting needs to be addressed (even if just with investment in a couple of lamps). I am all for creating an atmosphere, but there is a balance to be had between low light and being able to see (and hear) a performer. Rather than heralding the change in pace with music and lighting, Lola the Vamp had to tell the audience that “this is the burlesque bit.” But perhaps that’s all part of the new burlesque, or retro-burlesque, which I now discover is part of Australian Absinthe Culture (see absinthe.com.au).

I am sure that show will continue to evolve and develop. As Lola the Vamp noted, in the concluding speech, events such as the Anywhere Festival allow performers to test their work out and to experience ‘self-producing.’ Perhaps with a bigger budget, better lighting, and more robust technical equipment, the show will be more successful. For future publicity, I’d suggest that the producers consider adding in a more accurate estimate of running time, and perhaps also make the age guide part of the show description (there was an MA15+ reference, but only next to the running time, under the address). Paying audiences might expect that shows will approximately to the time advertised (17th May was the final night of the short run, when the show ran for half of its advertised time). Of course, if they had noticed the show was advertised as 90min then potential audiences would have also seen the MA15+ guide. And, after all, perhaps few under-16s would be out in Teneriffe at 830pm on a Sunday; they’d be getting an early night before calling in for their Sip Café chia and coconut pud in the morning. 

Catherine Lawrence  

Main Picture: Lola the Vamp, in The Poor Slob & The Good Fairy, May 2015. Picture Credit: Geoff Lawrence.

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Review: Arrividerci

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Review: Arrividerci

A literal translation of Arrivederci is “until we see each other again”—a phrase generally used in Italian to say “goodbye.” And that is probably the limit of my knowledge of Italian phrases. But I now know where to go to brush up on Italian, or tolearn more about Italian culture, having last night visited Brisbane’s Casa Italia Community Centre(the New Farm home of The Dante Alighieri Society). The welcome was warm, and I’d certainly go back to Casa Italia.

But for only five nights in May this year, Casa Italia has been transformed into Giancarlo’s—a pizza restaurant with a core of regular customers, supplemented by a number of Anywhere Festival patrons. For only $18, Arrivederci ticket-holders had a chance to relax in cabaret-style seating—sampling free pizza which accompanied drinks purchased at the bar.  Best of all, we had a chance to enjoy a highly entertaining and accomplished comedy.

Hats off to the talented Nathaniel Young: playwright, character actor, producer, director. The play was beautifully crafted, and I really enjoyed his performance as the younger brother. It’s a disarmingly simple story. Maria (Sara Forgione) and Giovanni (Nathaniel Young) have moved from Italy to Australia, where they run Giancarlo’s pizza restaurant. Matilda (Vanessa Reddan) is a new employee—a media studies student who is yet to convince her mother that she can hold down a job. I wasn’t convinced that Matilda had a career in floor-sweeping, but it was lovely to see that this particular media studies student had learnt a lot of about life and relationships from various films and TV shows. Vanessa Reddan revelled in the opportunities of the role as Matilda—making us laugh at her geeky references, and love the way her character steps up to the challenges of the new job.

And so the scene is set. As Maria says, “everyone has a story.” Over the course of Matilda’s first night at Giancarlo’s, we meet their regular customers, and learn a little about their stories.

Picture: Mr Parikh (Shannon Haegler ), and Mrs Fitzgerald (Tammy Sarah Linde).   Picture Credit: Geoff Lawrence.

Picture: Mr Parikh (Shannon Haegler ), and Mrs Fitzgerald (Tammy Sarah Linde). Picture Credit: Geoff Lawrence.

In the program notes, Nathaniel Young credits his cast with helping with a range of tasks, including re-writes, directing, and promotion. He certainly has attracted a great cast comedy actors to perform as restaurant customers: the Embassy’s Mr Parikh (Shannon Haegler ), local paragon Mrs Fitzgerald (Tammy Sarah Linde), and the lovelorn Bill Buckley (Patrick Dwyer). Tammy Sarah Linde makes the most of her part, and the interactions between Mrs Fitzgerald and Mr Parikh, and also with local postman Bill Buckley, are beautifully worked. Shannon Haegler creates a highly-believable Mr Parikh—generating many laughs, but also taking us with him as he confesses the true nature of his work. And Patrick Dwyer convinces us we have met Bill “honey-buns” Buckley, the postman with a heart who wants to deliver letters his way.

Picture: Matilda (Vanessa Reddan). Picture Credit: Geoff Lawrence.

Picture: Matilda (Vanessa Reddan). Picture Credit: Geoff Lawrence.

It would be remiss of me not to mention a couple of musical references in the evening. In 1980, Joe Dolce had a number one hit in Australia with “Shaddap you face.” Apparently about a rebellious Italian boy, the song went on to have a number one chart position in over ten countries, and clearly has inspired our playwright. Oh, and …slight spoiler alert…there is a “Big-Lipped Alligator Moment” … but I won’t say any more.

The venue was perfect for the show—and the show perfect for the venue. But it would be easy to see that, with very few changes, this could also be a story that would work in many locations:  Greek clubs, Chinese restaurants, Polish societies, Spanish restaurants…  Equally, it would be a great show for secondary school students—to attend or perhaps even to put on themselves—giving teachers the opportunity to tease out discussions about multiculturalism, identity,  ‘nature versus nurture,’ friendship, and honesty.  So I do hope that Nathaniel Young can add grant-writing to his long list of skills. This is a show that would benefit from Arts Queensland funding, or other philanthropic support, to ensure it reaches a wider audience.

I was lucky to see Arrivederci at the end of its brief 5-night run as part of the Brisbane Anywhere Festival 2015 (I saw the show on 22nd May 2015) . So I hope that, in the true sense of the term, that we may soon be seeing Arriverderci again in Brisbane.

Catherine Lawrence  

Main picture: Maria (Sara Forgione) and Giovanni (Nathaniel Young) in Arrivederci, at Casa Italia Community Centre, 22 May 2015. Picture credit: Geoff Lawrence.

 

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Review: The Happy Prince

Prince  (Courtney Turner, Director) and  Swallow  (Gemma Sharpe), in  The Happy Prince , at the  State Library of Queensland , as part of the  2015 Brisbane Anywhere Festival .  Picture credit:   Geoff Lawrence .

Prince (Courtney Turner, Director) and Swallow (Gemma Sharpe), in The Happy Prince, at the State Library of Queensland, as part of the 2015 Brisbane Anywhere Festival.  Picture credit: Geoff Lawrence.

 

The Happy Prince was advertised as being ‘suitable for children 4+ years and anyone who wishes they could fly’, so I met the entry criteria. I arrived as a curious member of the audience, and left having been completely charmed and entertained. I was not the only one. For a short run of only six shows, the Parlour at the  was filled with lots of very happy princes and princesses (and their parents).  

Oscar Wilde’s short story, The Happy Prince, may have first been published over 120 years ago, but it was brought to life on May 10th, 2015.  The Happy Prince is a moral story, with moments of both joy and sadness. A lively Swallow helps the Prince to transform the city below—putting friendship, and a concern for others, ahead of his desire to reach the warmer Egyptian climate. There were a number of children who moved closer to their parents as the performance unfolded, but all left with big smiles, and the occasional skip in their step.

The Perth-based Toy Soldier Children’s Theatre Company are to be congratulated for creating an event which appeared to be a perfect transition from family story-time to theatre-going. From the moment of their arrival, each member of the audience was welcomed to a special occasion. Adults and children all elected to be measured up for their own paper crown, and each carefully took on the responsibility of carrying a special feather as they were escorted to their seats. As the show began, and during many of the quieter moments of the performance, you could have heard a pin (or feather) drop. Everyone was spell-bound—enjoying the beautiful moves of the Swallow and energetic performance of the talented Gemma Sharpe. Courtney Turner was not only a skilled producer and director of the show, but is also to be congratulated for standing in at the last minute to replace Maja Liwszyc (who was unwell on Sunday 10th May).

Prince (Courtney Turner, Director) and Swallow (Gemma Sharpe), in The Happy Prince, at the State Library of Queensland, as part of the 2015 Brisbane Anywhere Festival. Picture credit: Geoff Lawrence.

Prince (Courtney Turner, Director) and Swallow (Gemma Sharpe), in The Happy Prince, at the State Library of Queensland, as part of the 2015 Brisbane Anywhere Festival. Picture credit: Geoff Lawrence.

The performance included ample opportunity for audience participation: energetic story-writing with a feather quill, acting as Egyptian mummies, and applauding the audience volunteer (well done Matt) who acted as the match-girl. The cast were available at the end of the performance for “dress-ups” and pictures with the performers, which was a lovely touch.

Prince (Courtney Turner, Director), in The Happy Prince, at the State Library of Queensland, as part of the 2015 Brisbane Anywhere Festival. Picture credit: Geoff Lawrence.

Prince (Courtney Turner, Director), in The Happy Prince, at the State Library of Queensland, as part of the 2015 Brisbane Anywhere Festival. Picture credit: Geoff Lawrence.

Director/Producer (Courtney Turner) and Gemma Sharpe, together with their behind-the-scenes team, created a charming, gentle, magical event which entertained an enraptured audience at the State Library.

The set was suitable for a travelling production—sparse but sufficient, in combination with the costumes, to spark our imaginations (set/costume by Kelsey Cross). CD’s of the story and music were available on the day to fund further travels of the Company (music specially composed by Brisbane-based Richard Grantam and Wayne Jennings). I managed to see the show in its last performance, but let’s hope that it will soon come back to Brisbane so that a wider audience gets the opportunity to enjoy The Happy Prince.

 Catherine Lawrence

  

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Review: Learning To Love Gravity

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Review: Learning To Love Gravity

Lara Croydon (Performer—The Orphan), upside down, and Sarah McLeod (Performer—The Stranger), standing, in  Learning to Love Gravity  at Brisbane’s Powerhouse, 10  th     May 2015. Picture credit:   Geoff Lawrence .

Lara Croydon (Performer—The Orphan), upside down, and Sarah McLeod (Performer—The Stranger), standing, in Learning to Love Gravity at Brisbane’s Powerhouse, 10th May 2015. Picture credit: Geoff Lawrence.

One of the many great things about festivals (and festival fringe programs) is that audiences get to see many works at an early stage in the creative process. This is not new in Brisbane. Brisbane Festival has previously had a number of ‘work in progress’ events. For example, I particularly enjoyed Expressions Dance’s First Ritual (an ‘in progress’ show which combined commentary from the choreographer/director with excerpts from the work in 2010, before the production returned to the Judith Wright Centre a year later). Having had the opportunity to see the briefing the year before greatly enhanced my experience of the final production. Much in the same way, I am looking forward to seeing future iterations of Learning to Love Gravity, a work in development presented by PlayOn Productions  and Vulcana Women’s Circus at the Brisbane Powerhouse Stores Building.

Alexander Bayliss (writer) has taken an early idea, suggested by Lara Croydon (Performer-The Orphan), to produce a text that encourages us to reflect on the importance of “the ones that complete us: our friends, our family…our gravity.” The 30 minute work centres on the interactions between the gravity-fearing Orphan and the visitingStranger (Sarah McLeod). The two performers worked really well together, capturing the child-like nature of their characters with some great comic timing.

Sarah McLeod (Performer—The Stranger) in Learning to Love Gravity at Brisbane’s Powerhouse, 10th May 2015. Picture credit: Geoff Lawrence.

Sarah McLeod (Performer—The Stranger) in Learning to Love Gravity at Brisbane’s Powerhouse, 10th May 2015. Picture credit: Geoff Lawrence.

The concept is a simple one: a smooth amalgam of theatre and circus. Being a gravity-loving person myself, I am always impressed by those who can move effortlessly from silk to trapeze, or even spend significant amounts of time suspended upside down from the rafters. To engage in such physical theatre, while acting and speaking at the same time, was even more impressive and enjoyable to watch.

Lara Croydon (Performer—The Orphan) in Learning to Love Gravity at Brisbane’s Powerhouse, 10th May 2015. Picture credit: Geoff Lawrence.

Lara Croydon (Performer—The Orphan) in Learning to Love Gravity at Brisbane’s Powerhouse, 10th May 2015. Picture credit: Geoff Lawrence.

Until I read the program, available at the venue, I wasn’t aware that Learning to Love Gravity was what the Director’s note referred to as a “first showing” (Steve Pirie, Director). I must admit, I was expecting a little more circus, or physical theatre, and perhaps a little less of the spoken word. But it’s a work in progress, and I realise that this balance may shift as the piece develops and lengthens.

I do hope that, as the work progresses, there can be more investment in the lighting (particularly of some of the work ‘in the rafters’). I also felt that the venue didn’t always help with the sound; the performers may need to slow down some of the speeches a little, as the sound can echo around the space. But these are small quibbles, and didn’t affect my overall enjoyment.

I saw the show on 10th May, 2015. There are three more opportunities to see this work in progress as part of Brisbane’s Anywhere Festival. It is on again on 22nd, 23rd, and 24th May, 2015.

Learning to Love Gravity shows just what is Pozible with crowdfunding support. Congratulations to all the people who ensured it became part of the Anywhere festival. I’d suggest you invest $19: take the opportunity to make your own mind up, and help the team fund the next stage of work on Learning to Love Gravity.

 Catherine Lawrence

  

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Review: Jazz Age Dance Cabaret

Pictured: Jenny Usher (Director/Choreographer/Performer), in Top Hat n’Tails, at   The Jazz Age Dance Cabaret  . Picture credit:    Geoff Lawrence .

Pictured: Jenny Usher (Director/Choreographer/Performer), in Top Hat n’Tails, at The Jazz Age Dance Cabaret. Picture credit: Geoff Lawrence.

For an afternoon or evening of sequins, feathers, high-kicks, close harmonies, and energy, there is no better place to be than the Woolloongabba Antique Centre. The Candy Shop Show promised performers singing and dancing their way through the Prohibition and Speakeasy’s of the 20s and 30s and reliving the melodic harmonies of the 1940s. Their production delivered on that promise. I saw the matinee on 9th May, 2015, where Jenny Usher (Director/Choreographer/Performer) was joined on stage by Erin Coates, Maureen Bowra, and Natalie Renouf. The high-energy musical theatre production had plenty of opportunity to see their combined “over 12 metres of legs” as the audience enjoyed a “delicious journey through the 20s, 30s, and 40s.”

The music was well-chosen, there was a wonderful balance between dance and song, and the costumes complemented each of the set-pieces. The cast, ably supported by Kym Brown (stage manager), produces an hour and a half of high-class entertainment that is educational and fun.

Pictured: Jenny Usher, Erin Coates, Maureen Bowra, and Natalie Renouf. à la Moulin Rouge!, in The Jazz Age Dance Cabaret (9th May 2015). Picture credit: Geoff Lawrence.

Pictured: Jenny Usher, Erin Coates, Maureen Bowra, and Natalie Renouf. à la Moulin Rouge!, in The Jazz Age Dance Cabaret (9th May 2015). Picture credit: Geoff Lawrence.

Song and dance routines were interspersed with short talks, contextualising the change in dance and musical styles with film excerpts and newsreel footage. This gave the cast a chance to make a number of quick costume changes—moving with a flourish from the flappers of the 20s, to the top hat and tails of the 30s, and Andrew’s sisters-style uniforms of the 40s.  In the second half, the cast touched on a number of aspects of the modern revival of the jazz age—complete with performances of CandyMan (in sailor suits of course), music and dance from Chicago, and even racy red outfits à la Moulin Rouge!

The Jazz Age Dance Cabaret (9th May 2015). Picture credit: Geoff Lawrence.

The Jazz Age Dance Cabaret (9th May 2015). Picture credit: Geoff Lawrence.

I found myself thinking it would be an ideal Mother’s Day gift: a chance to shop in the Woolloongabba Antique Centre, enjoy interval refreshments at the 1950’s Milk Bar style cafe, and settle the family into vintage cinema seats to enjoy a performance of high-kicks and close harmonies.  Shoppers longingly peeked through the curtains, clearly wishing they’d also invested in a ticket.

Only four more performances remain in the Anywhere Festival Brisbane season. I’d recommend you snap up any remaining tickets if you can. Sequins and feather boas optional (for the audience).

Catherine Lawrence

The reviewer attended the matinee performance on 10th May, 2015

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Review: The Mayne Effect

Walking 500m down George Street on Friday 8th May, 2015—from Brisbane Square, where a local radio station event was in full swing, to the heritage-listed Harris Terrace—I felt I had been taken back to the Brisbane of 150 years ago. The Flowers Theatre Company production of  The Mayne Effect takes place in one of the few tiny pockets of post-colonial heritage buildings still remaining in Brisbane. The director/producer (Gabriella Flowers), and writer/producer (Emily Vascotto), invite us to step back in time and reflect on the treatment of the Mayne family, and the effect of the rumours swirling around the deathbed confession of Patrick Mayne. The production uses the beautiful Georgian Heritage listed building to great effect. Instead of watching the action unfold on a conventional stage, the director moves the audience through a number of the rooms in the property, enabling us to watch life in the Moorlands family home. The play opens a window into the full horror of living under the threat of inheriting the family madness, and living a life where marriage is not an option. The cast drew us in to the motivations and lives of each of the siblings, as we see their own experiences from the inside. The true horror of the pressures faced by each of the siblings was also powerfully shown on the visit of Florence (Olivia Hall-Smith).  Hall-Smith’s portrayal gives us a wonderful insight in an outsiders’ view of the lives the family led, when Florence comes to see her beau, William (Kyle Barrett), and friend, Mary Emilia (Raechyll French).

Many Brisbane residents will be familiar with The Mayne Inheritance, a popular book by Rosamond Siemon which was also adapted by Errol O’Neill as The Mayne Inheritance : A Play (First performed at the La Boite theatre in 2004). The deathbed confession of Patrick Mayne, and agreement by his children that they would not marry, resulted in philanthropy that has had a major influence on Brisbane and Queensland.  The Mayne Effect encourages the audience to reflect not only on the treatment of the Mayne children, but to question the nature of the rumours that surrounded their family—and even whether what we know as history might be ‘true.’

The Mayne Effect is well-served by its cast of seven actors, most of whom take on more than one role. Paul Harper-Green draws out the light and dark of the character of Patrick Mayne—with the tenderness of his relationship with his wife and the robust nature of his life as a butcher. Each of the siblings is created as a believable and distinct character, each with their own approach to dealing with the family tragedy. We feel the joy and pain of William and Florence. I found the act where Rosa (Chloe Ingall) and Issac (Nicholas Ryan) sat around the kitchen table particularly confronting, as we see the frustration and sorrow of the two older children. Equally, the act where James (Marshall Stay) and Mary Emilia are sitting in their parlour as they receive the news of Issac’s death, shows the pressures faced by the two remaining children.

I for one will be popping back in to look at the portraits of James and Mary Emilia Mayne in the The Mayne Centre that bears their name, and be re-reading The Mayne Inheritance. Congratulations to each of the members of the cast, and to all involved with the debut show of the Flowers Theatre Company. I look forward to seeing where their next production in Brisbane takes us.

 Catherine Lawrence

 

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Review: The Servant Of Two Masters

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Review: The Servant Of Two Masters

Main Picture: Truffaldino (Joshua Thaiday and Sydney Blankett).  Picture credit:        Geoff Lawrence     .

Main Picture: Truffaldino (Joshua Thaiday and Sydney Blankett). Picture credit: Geoff Lawrence.

Brisbane’s Aboriginal Centre for the Performing Arts (ACPA) clearly offers a great program for young artists to master their craft. On Thursday evening (7th May), a talented cast of Diploma and Advanced Diploma actors brought a highly physical and fast-paced production of The Servant of Two Masters to the stage – or rather, to the car park. Experiencing the show in the East Brisbane car park was an experience I’d recommend. The ACPA red-brick buildings, adorned with wrought-iron and stained-glass, provided the perfect backdrop for the actors. Over the course of just under two hours (the production includes an interval) the actors worked their large performance space—entertaining the audience with their acrobatic skill, humour, and enthusiasm.

The show is advertised as fun and hilarious, and the audience were treated to a range of comedic styles, including witty interplay, farce, and slapstick. The whole cast kept the pace moving, giving us a stage fight and even a choreographed dinner. Credit is due to Natano Fa’anana, of Flipside Circus, who worked with Truffaldino (Joshua Thaiday and Sydney Blankett) on some of the more acrobatic moves. Yes, I did mention two actors for the part of Truffaldino. Although the title highlights the play is about one servant and two masters, this production has an unexpected twist (took me a few minutes to catch on!). This draws our attention to the importance of the various pairs throughout the play, and has the two actors working very hard in their central role, as we are taken through some of what Brighella (Beata Kennedy) calls “the things people do for love.”

Pictured: Clarice and Beatrice (Tia Webb and Tanielle McHugh), The Servant of Two Masters. Picture Credit: Geoff Lawrence

Pictured: Clarice and Beatrice (Tia Webb and Tanielle McHugh), The Servant of Two Masters. Picture Credit: Geoff Lawrence

Director, and Head of Acting, Stella Majewsky, focused our attention on the interplay between the various pairings, which worked really well. The audience loved the physical humour of the exchange between the two “old men”— Pantalone and Doctor Lombardi (Aretha Delaney and Jade Lornas-Ronan). I particularly enjoyed the interplay between a number of the pairs as the story unfolded: Clarice and Beatrice (Tia Webb and Tanielle McHugh), Florindo and Silvio (Sean Dow and Graham Taylor/Joshua Thaiday), and of course between Smeraldina (Kalarni Murray) and her paramour. Each pair brought the script alive, and allowed the individual actors (masked or unmasked) to shine.

Servant is a classic, and for me was well-served by this production. It’s free, but is only in Brisbane for two more nights. I recommend you get down to East Brisbane this week. If you do go, remember it is outside. Expect some car noise, and bring a warm jacket and some refreshments for the interval. There is plenty of parking on site if you are unable to use public transport, or want a place to leave your bike while you enjoy a classic Italian comedy. And, if you don’t make it, then do look out for the ACPA crew around Brisbane as I understand they also perform at the Judith Wright Centre and Cremorne theatre during the year.

Catherine Lawrence

The reviewer attended the performance on the evening of 7th May, 2015.

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Hello: Anywhere I Want to Be

As a new reviewer, joining the Anywhere Festival volunteers, I was asked to write a short note of introduction, highlighting what I hoped to see at the 2015 Festival...

Having recently completed my study at The University of Queensland it’s great to be able to spend some time seeing the latest, brightest, challenging and entertaining work that Brisbane has to offer. As I particularly enjoy theatre, cabaret, contemporary dance, festivals, and Indigenous art, the Anywhere Festival is an enticing box of delights to choose from. I am looking forward to seeing a range of Festival events, and to sharing my experiences as a reviewer as I tag along behind Geoff (who is a volunteer photographer).

If I had to pick just one show that I would really like to see it, I’m probably not alone in wishing I had bought a ticket for The Mayne Effect. But finding out that the Mayne show sold out weeks ago has not put me off working my way through the Anywhere Festival program, and finding a large number of other must-see events. The Servant of Two Masters, at the Aboriginal Centre for the Performing Arts, deserves to be sold out – and not only because it’s free. It is a great script, and I am really looking forward to seeing this production. Then again, I can’t wait to see The Jazz Age Dance Cabaret … or perhaps I should have mentioned…

Keep watching the website for recommendations, photographs and reviews—or check out the Anywhere Festival program and see anywhere you would like to be in Brisbane this month.

About the author: Catherine Lawrence is a Post-completion Fellow at the School of Communication and Arts, at The University of Queensland, with a particular interest in Australian community festivals.

 

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