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Review: High School Never Ends - A Double Bill

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Review: High School Never Ends - A Double Bill

It’s always great to see new work in an Anywhere Festival, and particularly in a venue that enhances the experience. Tremayne Gordon’s High School Never Ends: A Double Bill included two short, one-act plays (High Hopes, and the longer Book Return), both performed by Izzy Cameron and Jordan Jeckells. Both plays are set in high schools, which meant that the Montessori International College Pavilion provided an excellent setting for the double bill. And both plays reminded us that the lessons with most impact are not always learned in the classroom—and that the shortest of friendships can have the longest impression on our future.

Arriving in the dark, it was a little difficult to read the carefully-placed chalkboards that set the scene for the first of the two plays. Walking along the candle-lit boardwalk, we followed the timeline that had taken school friends Addy and Drew from their first meeting through to being ‘Prom’ King and Queen. So we were primed and ready for the first piece, and the countdown to the end of high school, and what might happen next. Cameron and Jeckells created a highly-believable duet—from the fascination with the frantic kissing going on just off-stage, through to the difficult decisions facing new high school graduates (uni or not, home or travel, study or work…).

Pictured (L to R): Izzy Cameron and Jordan Jeckells in High Hopes (High School Never Ends: A Double Bill). Picture credit:  Creative Futures Photography .

Pictured (L to R): Izzy Cameron and Jordan Jeckells in High Hopes (High School Never Ends: A Double Bill). Picture credit: Creative Futures Photography.

After a 15-minute interval, the stage was reset for Book Return and the audience were invited to return to the Pavilion. This second play was also about the impact of school, and of a short friendship that had a significant impact—told from the perspective of Andy (Jordan Jeckells), and illustrated with flashbacks to his short time getting to know a new student (Izzy Cameron), and the lessons Andy learned from their very different life experiences.

Pictured (L to R): Jordan Jeckells and Izzy Cameron in Book Return (High School Never Ends: A Double Bill). Picture credit:  Creative Futures Photography .

Pictured (L to R): Jordan Jeckells and Izzy Cameron in Book Return (High School Never Ends: A Double Bill). Picture credit: Creative Futures Photography.

The two plays provided an enjoyable contrast, and Cameron and Jeckells were well-cast, creating four believable characters with a lightness of touch and command of the ‘stage.’ And they were both adept in drawing out the humour from each script.

Any non-theatre space can  offer some challenges. Covering the breadth of the room did distract a little from the opportunity to build toward the conclusion of Book Return, and  I wasn’t too enthusiastic about the red smoke haze in the countdown for High Hopes. Perhaps in a future iteration, the Director (Daniel Dosek) might reconsider the use of the two sets of louvres, and find another means of highlighting the pressure of the ‘countdown’ in High Hopes, and a different venue might allow for a less linear blocking of Book Return. Each change might increase the intensity of the experience of the two short plays for future audience.  And I would love to have seen perhaps a triptych of plays, with a third one-act piece rounding out reflections on different aspects of the school friendships.

Verdict: Tremayne Gordon’s entertains with reflections on learning from the high school experience, and solid performances by Izzy Cameron and Jordan Jeckells

Pictured: Jordan Jeckells in Book Return (High School Never Ends: A Double Bill). Picture credit:  Creative Futures Photography .

Pictured: Jordan Jeckells in Book Return (High School Never Ends: A Double Bill). Picture credit: Creative Futures Photography.

Audience tip: 60 mins, including a 15 minute interval. 12+. Smoking and some haze/smoke effects. High School Never Ends: A Double Bill (High Hopes & Book Return) ($20) had only three performances during the 2019 Anywhere Festival (7pm, 24-26 May, 2019). Drinks available for purchase on-site, and can be taken into the performance.

Catherine Lawrence, perspectives

The reviewer attended the Saturday 25 May 2019 performance (7pm), at The Pavilion, Montessori International College, 880 Maroochydore Road, Forest Glen.

Pictures Credit: Creative Futures Photography.

 

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Review: Jane Austen, Action Figure

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Review: Jane Austen, Action Figure

The Girl Guides Hut was a great choice of venue for Jane Austen, Action Figurea feminist 36-scene play that touches on the challenges of identity, working motherhood, love, the female orgasm, heartbreak, leaving home, travel, reputation and being a writer. I am certain there are many occasions where women feel that they need superpowers, which might have accounted for an audience that was almost 90% female at the performance I attended—or perhaps the reputation of 3B Creative, and of Anne Grant (Director), drew a strong local following for this sold out show?  

The idea of a play about Jane Austen, where the reviewer refers to the play as being feminist and with 36 scenes may fill some readers with dread. But playwright Elaine Avila has crafted an entertaining play, interweaving many stories from different generations that frequently drew chuckles of recognition from the audience (male and female).  Anne Grant has created another Anywhere Festival success.

Pictured: Jane Austen (Louise Tasker) in Jane Austen, Action Figure. Picture credit:  Creative Futures Photography .

Pictured: Jane Austen (Louise Tasker) in Jane Austen, Action Figure. Picture credit: Creative Futures Photography.

Each of the 13 actors had the opportunity to shine. I particularly enjoyed the story arc that included the challenge of being a single mother (Libby Glasson created a beautifully-judged, hard-working Mother, during her interactions with Sahana-Rose Hoare’s suitably-childlike Daughter). Equally, the scenes that featured Jane Austen (Louise Tasker)—particularly when with ‘Grey Matter’—were enjoyable and memorable.  Jude Pippen (Left Brain) and Joy Marshall (Right Brain) were funny, and absolutely on-point as the voices of doubt and encouragement—and Tasker’s performance was a delight. We saw how Jane Austen could be understood as a heroine as she juggled the frustrations of being a writer in an era where she was expected to provide free child-minding and find a suitable match. Sharon Grimley played a number of roles to great effect (including as a funny Guide [conjuring stereotypical Guide leaders perhaps?], and an entertaining Agatha), and I particularly enjoyed her scenes as Aprhra Behn, with Lover (David Readett).

Pictured (L to R): Child (Sahana-RoseHoare) and Mother (Libby Glasson)) in Jane Austen, Action Figure. Picture credit:  Creative Futures Photography .

Pictured (L to R): Child (Sahana-RoseHoare) and Mother (Libby Glasson)) in Jane Austen, Action Figure. Picture credit: Creative Futures Photography.

The Director (Anne Grant) used the space to great effect, the costumes and props were perfect (Stage Manager, Robin Hungerford, no doubt supporting the fantastic quick-change work by the cast), and the sound provided a suitable backdrop without being too invasive (Bruce Hamilton, Errol R J Morrison). Of course working in a Girl Guides Hut has limitations )perhaps a few additional/alternative light sources next time?), but this didn’t affect the experience for the audience.

I’d love to have had the chance to attend a ‘Q&A’ with the creatives and cast, and to hear more about their work on the piece. Perhaps an idea for any future Anywhere Festival shows produced by 3B Creative? Oh, and if you are interested, a quick internet search will get you a gift-boxed Jane Austen action figure, complete with quill pen… to sit alongside your Shakespeare action figure, of course… But seeing the Show may have made a more lasting impression.

Pictured: Just look at those costumes! Jude Pippen (Left Brain) and Joy Marshall (Right Brain). Picture credit: Creative Futures Photography.

Pictured: Just look at those costumes! Jude Pippen (Left Brain) and Joy Marshall (Right Brain). Picture credit: Creative Futures Photography.

Verdict: Great performances, and excellent use of the space, in this thought-provoking (and funny) show.

Audience tip: 90 mins. 15+ (some sexual references).  Toilet facilities are only available outside the performance space (adjacent portaloo), so ushers do encourage patrons to ‘visit’ before taking their seats. Wheelchair access across grassed area. Jane Austen, Action Figure ($22) had a total of six performances during the 2019 Anywhere Festival (17,18, 24 and 25 May, 2019).  If visiting another show at this venue, arrive early, BYO snacks and enjoy the stunning view.

Catherine Lawrence, perspectives

The reviewer attended the Saturday 25 May 2019 performance (2pm), at the Buderim Girl Guides Hut (111, Burnett Street).

Pictured (L to R): Jane Austen (Louise Tasker) watching Jane’s Brother (William Wallace) ‘editing’ her letters Picture credit: Creative Futures Photography.

Pictured (L to R): Jane Austen (Louise Tasker) watching Jane’s Brother (William Wallace) ‘editing’ her letters Picture credit: Creative Futures Photography.

Pictures Credit: Creative Futures Photography.





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Review: The One Room of the House

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Review: The One Room of the House

Key information for anyone attending this is show is D49.  The University of the Sunshine Coast is not huge, compared with other campuses. But if the A4 signs have disappeared from the bit of the campus you arrive at, you will need to know this key nugget of information in order to get to the show.

I’d also suggest you aim to arrive early. Unlike many of the shows and events I have been to in Queensland—and certainly at most of the established, non-AnywhereFest traditional theatre venues, which seem to start fashionably late—this show is likely to start on time. Indeed, for the show I saw on 7th May 2017, the 3pm performance started 6 minutes early. This did mean that many of the members of the audience didn’t get to see each of the 7 monologues. Which was a pity as one of the best performances of the show was therefore over by 3 minutes past 3 (‘Gluttony’).

The advertising suggests that the production questions whether the 7 deadly sins are “still considered the big bad? Or do they now have a celebrated place in us all?’ Certainly there were some interesting re-imaginings of what might be defined as ‘sins.’ For example with ‘Wrath’ ( a double monologue considering the frustration of a trans offspring), and with ‘Pride’ (gay pride? Or the pride of a grandparent whose interpretations of Biblical texts lead to a strong belief that homosexuality is the only way).

Pictured: Tamara Collins (Sloth).Picture credit: Geoff Lawrence, Creative Futures Photography.

Pictured: Tamara Collins (Sloth).Picture credit: Geoff Lawrence, Creative Futures Photography.

The strongest performances were by Georgia Toner (Gluttony) and Tamara Collins (Sloth). In the hands of Collins, the ‘Sloth’ monologue was moving and believable; we felt the pain, anguish and sheer weariness of the wife who had elected to bear the IVF twins. We sympathised with her frustration and anguish at the response of her wife, understood her concern that “my babies are feral, and they are trying to kill me,” and worried at her decision to hide the anti-depressants.

The show is set in ‘the one room of the house’—which the Director/co-author (Anthony Borsato) explains as being inspired by the escape that can be had in spending time in the smallest room. Time for reflection,  and for honesty. Given that the toilet is often the ‘smallest room’ in the house, it is an interesting observation that this small room often provides the freedom and space for introspection.  I certainly would like to have see more of an emphasis on the confines of the ‘smallest room’ space—which was best performed during the Sloth monologue. 

This is a student production (University of the Sunshine Coast Ursa Major Theatre Association) and I congratulate all of the participants for their enthusiasm.

Ticketshttp://anywheretheatre.com/listings/one-room/. 51 minutes. The show has 6 performancesduring the Anywhere Festival (tickets still on sale for 14th and 21st May)

Catherine Lawrence

The reviewer attended the 7th May 2017 (3pm) performance.

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