Review: Titanic: The Movie, The Play

Comment

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.

Comment

Review: Charlie

Comment

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.

Comment

Review: Tales of an Urban Indian (City Bus)

Comment

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.

Comment

Review: Wondered

Comment

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.

Comment

Review: Hold My Beer

Comment

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.

Comment

Review: The Lady Diamantina Bowen Tour 

Comment

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.

Comment

Review: Anywhere Festival 2019 Preview Night

Comment

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.

Comment

Comment

Review: Reagan Kelly

Reagan Kelly is a play set in 2013 Brisbane. Focused on one slightly dysfunctional family, the plot incorporates divorce and threatened suicide, all framing a story about the development of new relationships, and seen through the microscope of millennial angst. Although the title suggests that it is all about Reagan (Emily Carr), the most interesting characters are those in her orbit. The most interesting parts of the evening were the interactions between her parents, and the struggles faced by her twin brother (Jeremiah Wray), who so desperately wishes to conform—when announcing his engagement to his girlfriend (Lisa Huynh) while actively pursuing a relationship with Reagan’s ‘gay best friend’, Hugh (Jackson McGovern).

Reagan Kelly is a show of great promise. Advertised as a ‘bitterly hysterical comedy,’ the cast and creatives include a number of people who have worked on other great shows: Producer, Danielle Carney (Retail Therapy), as well as Director Tim Hill and actor Elise Greig (both most recently in the excellent Wheel of Fortune).

The writing was interesting, and it is always great to see ‘Brisbane stories’ on the local stage. Lewis Treston (playwright) melds millennial dilemmas with a touch of farce, and has created a work that deserves better.

There were some highlights. The set and costume design worked well (in particular the costume choices for Kristy!). I liked the use of the videography, and it was a pity that the show didn’t blend more of these images into the performance (for example, as in the Wheel of Fortune). Scenes of the evening were those featuring the divorcing husband and wife, Ewan (Chris Kellet) and Kristy (Elise Grieg). Greig gave a compelling performance as the slightly neurotic mother figure, where the sauce bottle/frenzied fridge-cleaning scene was entertaining and memorable. Jeremiah Wray’s portrayal of the conflicted twin brother, Oliver, was relatable and sensitive.

But perhaps in a future iteration, a director might debate some cuts to Regan’s monologues, move away from stereotyping gay characters, and consider how to better integrate videography in the show?

The audience response was fascinating. If you want to giggle at every swear word and laugh hysterically at sexual references, then this is a show you will find entertaining. But this production didn’t hit the spot for me. Sitting watching Reagan Kelly in the Metro Arts Sue Benner Theatre, I reflected on some of the many great shows I have seen in this building. I hope to add a few more wonderful memories before the building closes—but sadly Reagan Kelly is not one for the great-shows-I-have-seen-at-Metro-Arts list.

Verdict: One for Millennials, perhaps.

Audience tip: 150 minutes (including 20 minute break), Sue Benner Theatre, Metro Arts (16+. Sexual references, coarse language, portrayal of drug use, and suicide references,  and adult themes). The show opened on 20th March and closes 30 March 2019. Tickets $25-$31 plus transaction fee.

Catherine Lawrence

The reviewer attended the Thursday 28 March 2019 performance (7:00pm).

Comment

Comment

Review: #FirstWorldWhiteGirls Spirit Animal

The Brisbane Comedy Festival is certainly not going out with a whimper, with a final week program that includes Judy Hainsworth’s #FirstWorldWhiteGirls: Spirit Animal—a parody of the narcissistic Instagram-able world, featuring two self-obsessed rich white girls. BFF’s Tiffany (Judy Hainsworth) and Maddison (Kyra Thompson) share some legit first world probs—from the heartbreak of Harry marrying Meagan (“I didn’t love him; I just wanted to be a Princess”) to the challenge of creating the perfect flat lay (that’s an Instagram board of your fave items for sale, photographed from above, for those who don’t know).  

 
Picture (L to R): Tiffany (Judy Hainsworth) and Maddison (Kyra Thompson). Picture credit: Geoff Lawrence, Creative Futures Photography

Picture (L to R): Tiffany (Judy Hainsworth) and Maddison (Kyra Thompson). Picture credit: Geoff Lawrence, Creative Futures Photography

 

Occasionally “cray,” Spirit Animal is a fascinating review of everything the self-obsessed millennial is likely to care about: the right outfit, the must-have operation, the latest on-trend food to eat (or avoid), and the newest mindfulness and meditation trends… as well as the ongoing demands of Instagram-ing, blogging and YouTube-ing the lot. All interwoven with a darker #MeToo undercurrent, and references to the mental health impacts of trying to live the perfect life in a far-from-perfect world.

The tightly-written 60-minute show (written by Judy Hainsworth, and directed by Lewis Jones) centres on a number of original pieces—with Disney Princess-style songs (albeit with very ‘contemporary’ lyrics) as well as sprinklings of grunge and rap. Highlights included the crowd-pleasing “I’m better than you,” and the ‘flat lay’ song. Thompson is an excellent foil to Hainsworth’s Tiffany, and the show provides each performer with solos as well as providing some close harmony. I last saw Judy Hainsworth’s work in the fabulous Happily Ever After, and Hainsworth’s versatility and harmonies were also on show in Spirit Animal (both shows under the Musical Direction of Luke Volker).

Some of the older members of the audience might have needed an urban dictionary, but I think they got the message (David even stepped bravely on the stage to learn more about creating the perfect flat lay—one of the highlights of the Tuesday night show).

 
Picture: Drawing on the “7% Indian” in  #FirstWorldWhiteGirls Spirit Animal  (Judy Hainsworth) Picture credit: Geoff Lawrence, Creative Futures Photography.

Picture: Drawing on the “7% Indian” in #FirstWorldWhiteGirls Spirit Animal (Judy Hainsworth) Picture credit: Geoff Lawrence, Creative Futures Photography.

 

I have a feeling that the show would be better-suited to a later evening slot, as the audience energy seemed to drop a little in the second-half of the opening night of this run. #FirstWorldWhiteGirls Spirit Animal is a closely-observed satire that may occasionally step close to the line between humour and offensiveness (such as the “Little Black Babies” song?). But then, that is when satire is working well: constructively criticising, and drawing attention to  issues across society.  Go along and see what you think.

Verdict: Def one for millennials/Gen WE everywhere.

 
Picture: Kyra Thompson. Picture credit: Geoff Lawrence, Creative Futures Photography.

Picture: Kyra Thompson. Picture credit: Geoff Lawrence, Creative Futures Photography.

 

Audience tip: 60 minutes, Brisbane Powerhouse Rooftop Terrace (15+. Sexual references, coarse language, drug references and adult themes). There are six performances of #FirstWorldWhiteGirls Spirit Animal in the 2019 Brisbane Comedy Festival program (6:45pm, 19-23 March—and 5:45pm on 24 March). Tickets $20-$29 ($20 on 19 March, $25 on 20/21/24, & $29 on 22 & 23 March) plus $6.60 transaction fee. Why not keep an eye on the Powerhouse website, and see what else might tempt you (2019 Brisbane Comedy Festival: 22 February-24 March).

Catherine Lawrence

The reviewer attended the Tuesday 19 March 2019 performance (6:45pm).

Pictures Credit: Creative Futures Photography.

Comment

Review: The WonderWombs

Comment

Review: The WonderWombs

Circus has moved forward; it is no longer just simple juggling, acrobatic or other skills in a big top. The power and intensity of circus skills are now used to illustrate all manner of contemporary stories and issues. The Wonderland Festival has brought together some wonderful examples of such ‘serious circus’, including Jess Love’s Notorious Strumpet and Dangerous Girl (using circus to chart her journey through addiction and heritage) and Alex Mizzen’s Invisible Things (peeling back the layers and overcoming her demons).

The all-female New Zealand based Dust Palace combine circus, dance and poetry to highlight feminine issues and gender stereotypes—all performed with a great sense of humour and a rocking soundtrack.

The show opens with a seemingly pregnant woman, dressed as a man, welcoming us to the performance. Or that’s what he might be doing, as he seems unable to utter a word. And is he/she really pregnant or is it part of the show? (actually yes, it is the pregnant Director/Performer Jess Holey Bates).

Picture Credit: Creative Futures Photography

Picture Credit: Creative Futures Photography

Picture Credit: Creative Futures Photography

Picture Credit: Creative Futures Photography

This slight sense of bewilderment and confusion is sustained as you watch a series of amazing circus acts, toned bodies, sensual dance and comedy pastiche. Do I take this at face value or is there a deeper meaning?

I’m sure everyone will have had their own highlights from the performance. For me, the take-off of stereotypical male macho behaviour in the gym, an ‘orchestrated orgasm,’ and an aerial pole dance were all memorable. And if it’s just one, well then it would have to be the aerial pole dance—which elevates the form from a sleazy nightclub performance to a powerful demonstration of strength, artistry and skill.

Picture Credit: Creative Futures Photography

Picture Credit: Creative Futures Photography

Picture Credit: Creative Futures Photography

Picture Credit: Creative Futures Photography

Whether you come for the feminist politics, or just to see the talented performers and some stunning aerobatics, you will enjoy this well-paced show. The hour goes too quickly. As my companion for the evening said, “I’m not sure what that was about but I loved it.”

Verdict: Feminist politics meets serious circus. Worth seeing for the aerial pole dance alone.

Audience tip: 60 minutes, Brisbane Powerhouse Theatre (18+. Coarse language, strobe lighting, nudity, and adult themes). There are only three performances of The WonderWombs in the 2018 Wonderland Festival program (7:30pm, 29 November until 1st December 2018). Tickets may still be available: $45 ($39 concession, and pp for a group of 6+) plus $5.95 transaction fee. Why not keep an eye on the website, and see what else might tempt you at the 2018 Wonderland Festival.

Geoff Lawrence

The reviewer attended the Thursday 29th November 2018 performance (7:30pm).

Pictures Credit: Creative Futures Photography.

 

 

Comment