Produced by Metanoia Theatre
Director: Greg Uflan
Metanoia Theatre situated in the Mechanics Institute Brunswick cleverly used its design skills and the acting skills to produce Chekov’s 3 Sisters.
A very small acting space well utilised by the company by judicious use of boxes, screens, and of all things, leggo.
The performers had unusual costuming with old suits and jackets with the borders and epaulets done in white paint. The standard of production was quite good and the actors were well balanced but occasionally some of the dialogue was rather quiet.
A pianist played throughout the performance as background music mostly quiet but sometimes a little loud making it hard to hear the cast.
To give the Russian feel to the story come actors spoke Russian (very well) and on one occasion an interpreter read from a book at rear of stage giving the translation about what was said.
An unusual evening of theatre, actors doing a good job, set changes went smoothly and the audience enjoyed the evening.
Arround the World in 80 Days
Alex Theatre St. Kilda
Director: Terence O’Connell
A challenge for any director and three performers is the production of Jules Verne’s Around the World in 80 Days.
A very successful interpretation of the well known story by Tony Halse who adapted the story for the stage and Director Terence O’Donnell who made sure it was the success he looked for.
The stage setting was well cone with a giant clock at rear showing the time changes across the journey, many cogs and wheels and boxes used to denote ships, trains and even an elephant. The scenic design was magnificently done by Merinda Backway, the costuming excellently handled by Lucy Wilkins.
The lighting which really set off the production was skilfully executed and designed by Jason Bovaird.
The players were as Phineas Fogg the adventurer who was challenged to go around the world in 80 days was played by Ian Stenlake. Fogg’s manservant, Passepartout was played by Pia Miranda and Inspector Fix from Scotland Yard was played by Grant Piro.
Each player also played all the individuals one met on such a trip varying from porters, public servants, consular officials, sailors, sea captains, etc.
A very hectic performance which each player interpreting the roles with the aid of changes of hats, changes of costumes and all changing accents to suit the respective characters.
Ian Stenlake, Pia Miranda, and Grant Pia captured their roles with finesse having a great rapport with each other which eventuated in excellent performances. An excellent night of theatre thoroughly enjoyed by the opening night audience.
Artefact Theatre Company. Photography Theresa Harrison.
Director: Emily O’Brien-Brown
A story of Catherine, a young lady who looked after her father, a famous mathematician, in his last years. Catherine has inherited her father’s genius but worried that she might inherit his debilitating mental illness.
A well set stage of the rear of a Chicago weatherboard house where the action takes place on the rear veranda.
Catherine was played by Madeleine Jevic. A great positive performance capturing the moods of such a character. Her sister Claire was played by Anna Burgess. Another good performance of the sister who sis not inherit their father’s genius but had moved to New York and supported the family. Burgess has a good stage presence and carried the role with aplomb.
The father’s former student Hal was played by Mark Yeates. Well presented, with a good rapport between himself and Jevic. A well done performance.
The Father Robert was given a stirling performance really capturing the character as envisaged by Roy Baker.
The four players all projected well with an equally good rapport giving a positive evening of theatre.
A Different Way Home
Chapel Off Chapel.
Director: Zoe Warwick.
A one man production performed by Michael Dalton. A black comedy which conveys the need for families to communicate.
The stage was well set, audience right was the entrance to a English flat with a hallstand. Stage centre were two chairs, a glass cabinet containing the crockery one would expect to see in such a lounge room. Audience left was the kitchen area.
Act 1 was Leslie, as Leslie Michael entered placed his hat on the hallstand moved across to the left chair and sat. Then he talked to the audience as if we were one person just having called in. This was very effective giving the feel of intimacy and that the audience was one person. Leslie told us about his life, occupation his sister and her family and every now and then asked if we would like a cup of tea getting up to make it then going back to his chair without doing anything.
Michael presented the character of Leslie excellently, capturing all the finer nuances of the middle aged bachelor living with his mother, and keeping up the correct accent of Leslie.
The second act we meet Maureen, Leslie’s younger sister. Her story varies somewhat from Leslie which is the essence of the play showing the need for families to communicate. Michael was Maureen and gave a superb interpretation of Leslie’s sister. One would not recognise that the two characters were actually played by one man.
A wonderful interpretation of two different and contrasting characters and a very successful evening of theatre.
St. Martins Youth Arts - I Saw the Second One Hit
St. Martins Youth Arts Centre
I Saw the Second One Hit.
Director: Clare Watson.
Fourteen years ago two planes flew into two towers and like Romulus and Remus millennia ago, ignited a battle over Western Civilisation.
As the towers fell in New York, twin girls were born in suburban Australia.
I Saw the Second One Hit asks us to take a look at this different world that these twins, now teenagers, inhabit their beliefs, their fears, their politics and their calisthenics.
Upon entering the Tower Theatre at Coopers Malthouse Theatre you were assailed by a TV broadcast of an American breakfast show of the morning of 9/11.
The stage was set with only a chair in the centre and a back curtain of reflective strips.
Enter a young teenager who sat in the chair and told the audience of her life, She was joined through this narrative by her twin sister and each told their own story. They called themselves mirror twins as one was left handed and the right handed. For the conversation scene they were dressed in suits and then went off stage returning in costume designed as opposite pattern.
All the time the TV broadcast was going on and the girls using calisthenic moves struck different poses.
The girls were twins Juliette and Madeline Hemphill born in 2001. Their timing was spot on, projection and voice excellent and these two teenagers have a good future in theatre.
But Wait …There’s More
Melbourne’s own Circus Oz returns to the Big Top at Birrarung Marr for the4 June/July season. But Wait … There’s More is a satirical look at today’s culture of infobesity and consumer overload around all the STUFF, STUFF and STUFF.
Opening the audience saw a large wicker basket on stage. Then! The top opened and out came a musician who went across and started playing. He was followed by the rest of the cast all coming from out of the box. In fact your correspondent was told that they all jammed on each other as the basket was brought in.
An amazing cast all experienced in all aspects of circus, each has a specialised performance but all can do everything.
An unusual unicycle performance was done by Kyle Raftery and April Dawson.
Kyle rode the unicycle then April joined in with an acrobatic display on Kyle’s shoulders, swinging around Kyle’s neck and all the4 while Kyle was unicycling around the ring. Then he moved onto a larger (about 2metres) where they continued in with on one occasion April was standing on Kyle’s shoulders while circling.
Derek Llewellin gave an amazing display on a large hoop and then together with all the cast on the flying trapeze. The cast were very experienced and gave a delightful and comic performance.
Another twist was the diving through hoops. This time the hoop was square in the shape of a TV screen. Two performers had a game controller then one dived through the TV and the other controlled his movements by the remote. Then the two did the diving backwards and forwards above and below. An enjoyable twist.
A medium style circus but with the performers reminiscent of a large circus. A pleasant evening thoroughly enjoyed by the audience on a particularly cold Melbourne winter evening. However the Big Top is well heated.
A circus cabaret fusion
Directors: Carita Farrer Spencer and Hayden Spencer
National Institute of Circus Arts.
NICA second year students precented Pescardo a presentation of their works cone cabaret style and set in the ocean.
This was very effectively done with the lighting and costuming plus movements adding to the conception of underwater.
Opening we saw scuba divers swimming up and down. A two storied set with the students on the upper story watching the scuba divers plus singing with a band.
The usual performance of circus arts such as foot juggling, trapeze with a twist. One performer was caught in a net and was raised and lowered while doing the exercises associated with this act but looking like struggling to survive which unfortunately didn’t.
Then members came out with fish baskets actually containing Indian Clubs. A magnificent display of juggling from two to eight performers tossing to each other.
In the rear we saw a student on a unicycle on the slack wire. Very well done.
Another good scene was the drowning sequence where the whole cast swam around trying unsuccessfully to save a human swimmer.
The finale was exemplary with the two deceased victims appearing as angles complete with wings.
A very high standard of circus arts particularly considering the production was performed by the second year students.
Sexy Galexy's Manliness Mission - Reviewer Naja Kemp
Your Ultimate Destination for This Year's Melbourne International 2015 comedy Festival Show
"Sexy Galexy's - Manliness Mission"
A Live Interactive Comedy cabaret DRAG KING SHOW with audience Participation including; Dance, Music and Film Media.
From The Aussie Bush to an Award-Winning DRAG KING!
"Manliness Mission" is a Captivating Insight on; 'How to Get Your Guy On!' - says "Sexy Galexy".
With insatiable curiosity I headed out to a "THE 86", A Bar and Cafe Club at 185 Smith Street Collingwood it has a Venue Room, with a dance floor, D.J. Booth, Seating and a Stage with Gold-Trimmed Long Red Curtains, also Sexy Bar Attendants serving up Excellent Cocktails.
The audience gathers, the Curtains part. In Rapid-Fire Action and with a Bolt of Stage Luminescent Pyrotechnics a Goddess Transforms into a Legendary Dazzlement DRAG KING DYNAMITE!
This "MANLINESS MISSION" is Astoundingly HYSTERICAL!
"SEXY GALEXY'S IMPECCABLE COMICAL MOJO - is on
"SEXY GALEXY" the Very Saucy Comedian, Liberates Herself from oppressors, who Lack in 'SPARK', Sexy conquers stagnant attitudes. "SHE SEXY", The Great Redeemer serves up to US; A Prime Cheeky Visionary Stage Surprise!
See this show "MANLINESS MISSION" in The Comedy Festival and I can Assure You, that You will Crawl out-of-your old shag-pile Skin of Restriction, turning Perception Reversals around as "SEXY GALEXY" Lists All of Her Manskills even unshakeably true; to Her, CHIC-MENSWEAR-CUSTOMISING on a QUEST for Original Manhood Styling, which is much more than just 'Sporting a Great Beard'!
"SEXY GALEXY'S MAN-MERGING THEOREM." Likened to the Mathematical fibonacci Sequence on:- "What It Takes To be A Man''!
The KEY FORMULA :- A MAN MAKE-OVER!' Demonstrating to SHOW-UP all of Us, that remain fixed in some State of Obsession, Duality of Programmed Twisted Barbwire.
With Spicy Acuity "SEXY GALEXY" will Cut - the Barbwire, showing Mastery of Intuitive Creativity - Amazing Us with HER, Original Ideas in 'MAN-SCAPING; HAIR SCULPTING, Man-Dancing, Man-Fighting (she even educates on, How to Treat the Ladies Right and everyone all Ecstatic with Excitement!)
The Resulting Equation = Self-Realisation 'PEACOCKING' An Ultimate Dance-Off; 'Every Angle of the Dangle'. "YES! DAZZLE MAN-TASTIC, EMBRACE YOUR INNER MAN and GET YOUR GUY ON!"
- states Sexy Galexy!
Be 'Populace Heroes' and 'Stand Tall'! Have a innuendo - 'GET LEI'D PIZZA' down at THE 86 CLUB; FEEL LIKE a Super-Hero in the Club's Bathreoom ie. 'Superman Wallpaper'. Take On "Sexy Galexy's The Mun-cho-Man super Hero - MANLINESS MISSION"; You can even Photo Shoot "Sexy" after the show!
A triumphant show, bursting with Laughter. Congratulations to "SEXY GALEXY" and Director "CAT COMMANDER"' to whom I reward with excellence and have become an 'Enthusiastic Devotee'!
Season: March 27 - April 19 - Fri & Sat: 8PM - Sun: 7PM at THE 86, Address: 185 Smith St. Collingwood.
Rooftop at Crown
Inspired by the absinthe-drenched cabarets of Late-19th century Europe, Absinthe is an adult-themed cocktail of circus, burlesque and vaudeville for a 21st century audience, hosted by the outrageous Gazillionaire and his sidekick Penny.
The over 100 year old Spiegel tent was erected on the roof of Melbourne’s Crown Casino. Seating 750 opening night was fully booked and no one was disappointed in the show.
Opening with the chair juggler who built a tower of chairs while holding a drink tray and wine bottle the performer couldn’t have done better, with the audience holding it’s collective breath throughout the performance.
An act not often seen these days was the young lady fire eater. What she did with the fire sticks was something your reviewer had not seen before. There was the usual into the mouth and out then setting various parts of her brief costume on fire with amusing after effects. Added to the performances were the angels around the perimeter of the central stage giving comic performances with one young lady a very good singer keeping the entertainment going while the different items were set up.
Of course we had the MC for the evening, the outrageous Gazillionaire and his very attractive assistant. Their patter would bring a blush to a sergeant-major and definitely not a show for the younger generation.
The production also had some wonderful acrobats and trapeze artists with an interesting dance with a balloon, what can be dome with a giant balloon will astonish you. Then we ballet dance pas de deux like never been seen before. Wonderfully executed and a terrific rapport.
The finale was an high wire act. A little restricted by the space but absolutely amazing with double deck wire walking plus a wheel put to good use.
An interesting evening of circus entertainment in an unusual venue the Spiegel Tent on the roof of Crown Casino.
Avenue Q the Musical
Chapel off Chapel
Director: Stephen Wheat
Musical Director: David Wisken
A story of the people who live on Avenue Q, their troubles, friendships, romances and lives.
A large cast comprising of people and puppets. Each puppet was handled by one to two people. An admirable fact was the puppeteers did not try to be ventriloquists but the expertise of the puppeteers was such that the audience forgot the humans and concentrated on the puppet characters.
The human element was the building superintendent Gary Coleman yes the TV Gary Coleman excellently portrayed by Zuleika Khan. Christmas Eve was given a great and positive interpretation by Leah Lim. Christmas Eve’s boyfriend was Brian played by Michael Lindner. Another great performer and a perfect foil for Leah.
The puppeteers were absolutely excellent. Never faltering in the performance and as I said earlier one forgot that the puppets were not human. They were similar to the Muppets but the storyline certainly wasn’t.
Good music and the cast have wonderful voices. A mention must be made about the superb lighting Jason Bovaird is to be highly praised for such a wonderful display which certainly added to the success of the production.
A definite production not to be missed and the opening night audience couldn’t get enough. So keep your eyes open for Trifle Theatre Company.
Don Bradman Lives Next Door
Writer/Director: Cenarth Fox
A play set in heaven about two of the world’s most famous cricketers, Dr. W. G. Grace and Sir Donald Bradman.
A two handed play with David McLean as Dr. W. G. Grace and Damian Jones as Fred Ashley-Cooper writer or edited more than 100 cricket books and thousands of cricket obituaries. He worshipped Dr. Grace.
A small stage with some garden furniture and covering the rear of the stage was a screen in which various scenes were imaged. For heaven there was a garden scene and as the play moved on the various scenes of the cricket life of Dr. Grace and Don Bradman appeared on the screen. Very effectively done and added to the story of the play.
Cenarth Fox on to be congratulated on his research into the two great cricketers and even audience members who were not cricket followers learnt something and enjoyed the production.
David McLean was Dr. Grace. A stirling performance capturing the correct arrogance of such a personality.
Damian Jones was Fred Ashley-Cooper the writer who wanted to write a book about Dr. G. Grace. A great performance as the writer who on occasion got under the doctor’s skin and then getting out of trouble. Both actors balanced each other with finesse and projected well.
Cricketers and non-cricketers will certainly Love this play. Not only it has good acting, amazing historical interest but both players have been trained in musical theatre and gave some scenes straight out of vaudeville with straw hat and cane.
A very enjoyable evening of theatre and definitely a show not to be missed.
Cirque Du Soliel
Opened in Melbourne Wednesday January 21at the famous Flemington Race Course Totem took Melbourne by storm.
Totem is circus designed to be a fascinating journey into the evolution of mankind.
Opening scene is described as Carapace. A giant turtle represents the origin of life on earth. The cover is whipped away and the carapace skeleton is revealed to be partially built of gymnastic bars. These were excellently exhibited by Jonathon Buese, Umihiko Miya, Roman Ponomarov, David Resnick and Caoliang Wang.
Amazing performances by these artists.
Following the Carapace was hoop dancer Eric Hernandez Costuming was outstanding, inspired by the traditional ceremonial clothing of a number of North American Indians it added to the hoop dancing. A visual and excellent treat of what can be done with a simple set of hoops all done to the beat of drums thus keeping up the North American Indian flavour.
Then we had the rings trio. A set of rings lowered from the roof with two young men competing with each other until a young lady arrives to show them it’s done. A very spectacular production with the competition between the three adding to the normal rings exercise. Performed by Yann ARNAUD, Vladimir NOVOTNY, Gael OUISSE Alevtyne TITARENKO, Olli TORRKEL.
After the ring s was to me the one of the highlights of the evening and one of the most amazing pieces of juggling and balance ever viewed on a stage. Five young ladies entered on specially made light weight seven metres high unicycles. After circling the ring and doing some terrific moves they then removed tin basins from their heads and placing one at a time on one foot tossed them onto each other’s heads. Then they all circled one member and kept firing the basins by foot onto the solo performers head. This, mind you, wile still balancing and riding their two metre unicycles. The team members were BAI Xiangjie, HAO Yuting, HE Xuedi, WU Yurong and YANG Jie.
Then appeared the fisherman (clown) a rowboat entered from audience left whereupon Phillippe THIBAUDEAU promptly lit a fire in the boat and started to fish. A great piece of comedy enjoyed by all.
Pavel SAPRYKIN was the hand balancer. Using a circular stand Saprykin exhibited his very high talent as a hand balancer.
The Crystal Ladies, Marina TSODIKOVA AND Svetlana TSODIKOVA followed with foot juggling. Dressed in costumes shimmering with crystals the two girls juggled crystal impacted cloth squares with up to four cloths spinning in the air swapping form foot top foot and then across to each other. A magnificent display of the juggling art.
Then came evolution. Entering the stage the first primate, then the apes and Neanderthal man, Cro-Magnon man and finally today’s man in a suit with a briefcase and answering his mobile phone.
After intermission we saw Marcus FURTNER with his devil sticks Great manipulation of what can be done with plain ordinary sticks and all done to a Spanish beat.
Guilhern CAUCHOS and Sarah TESSIER showed what can be done on the fixed trapeze. Besides being excellent trapeze artists they added to the performance with their romantic play on boy trying to impress girl and he results of this impression.
Chris CHIAPPINI was the scientist representing reason and the quest to understand the universe. He had a laboratory with a large transparent cone in which he stepped and juggled many different balls all with interior lighting and changing colour with each move.
Jan MONASTERO and Phillippe THIBAUDEAU entered one in a motorboat and the other water skiing behind. The usual fun ensued with in and out of the boat.
This was followed by hoop dancers Eric HERNANDEZ and Shandien LARANCE.
Again dressed in North American Indian fashion these two gave a great display of hoop manipulation finishing with the hoops as a circle and an eagle.
Then another highlight, on a small 18 metres in diameter round stage shaped like a drum were Denise GARCIA-SORTA and Massimiliano MEDINI. Dressed in white and silver North American Indian style the pair were on roller skates. Magnificent performance whirling around on such a small area what the two could do had the audience’s hearts in their mouths.
The finale was the Russian bars. Two men to each bar holding each end while a third man stood on the centre and was tossed into the air doing all types of exercises normally seen at the diving pool. They were tossed this way and that, from one bar to the other without a mishap
A wonderful evening of entertainment with excellent lighting, amazing stage presentation with the use of film techniques giving a realistic theme to the various scenes.
A triple bill of short contemporary circus works as part of the Melbourne Fringe Festival 2014.
The National Institute of Circus Arts is presenting 7, a gripping triple bill performed by second year students.
7 days in a week. 7 colours in a rainbow. 7 seas. 7 continents. 7 deadly sins…
The number “7” is significant and varied in its interpretation and meanings which s why it was selected as the theme for this triple bill.
Number 1 was called On the 7th day.
With Corie Hurry on the chair balancing. What a remarkable performance with chairs rising and Corie moving up with the chairs showing amazing talent and professionalism.
Mark Graham and Steven Finnegan raced in and started to quarrel then each hopped into an Ariel hoop suspended from the ceiling and what they did was most unexpected. Rising and falling, swinging back and forward to each other and doing gymnastics as the hoops were moving. A remarkable performance.
Madeline Robbins gave a great display of hula hoops. Opening the performance with one hoop and what she did was intriguing but then more and more hoops came her way and she started with them all together around her waist then with a few twists she had the hoops up and down across her whole body.
Mark Graham, Steven Finnegan and Stephanie Mitchell nearly brought the house down with their interpretation of what can be done with handstands.
Number two was Apartment7
Life in a flat occupied by students. On stage were various white goods common to home life such as refrigerator, washing machine and a sofa. Well out of the refrigerator came one student, out of the washing machine was another and the sofa had two girls sitting on same when through the middle came another student. This scene included National Express with the whole cast, Dance Trapeze with Elke Uhd, more handstands with Stephanie Mouat, Fridge Adagio with Maggie Fayne and Marty Evans, and a special highlight was Ping Pong Manipulation with Marty Evan, Adam O’Connor-McMahon. What those two could do with ping pong balls absolutely astounded the audience. This was followed by a slack wire performance by Simone Sallé who amazed all with her sense of balance and flair of showmanship.
This was followed by all the cast n the clothes scene. Clothes flying across the stage while various members of the cast are in and out of the fridge, rubbish bin and washing machine. The last item was the high wire act. Curtains were drawn across the rear of the stage to reveal a high wire rigged out. There were two performers. Adam O’Connor-McMahon and Stephanie Mouat. They commenced with what one would expect then came the stunner. Adam walked across with Stephanie standing on one foot on his head. Adam walked back and forward with Stephanie on his head with both looking quite relaxes as if it was the normal thing to do. An amazing performance.
Number three was #ashtag 7
A world of touch screens, keyboards and smiley faces where the pandemonium of automation and computerisation are brought starkly to our attention.
This was shown by the whole cast with intro acto followed by Jilibalu Riley, Miriam Cawley and Alex Jean with aerial forest. An amazing up and down ribbons from the floor to the ceiling. One thing seemingly not taught at NICA is the law of gravity. The ease which the students climb the ribbons, the aerial hoop, the Chinese Pole and he cloud Swing flabbergasted the opening night audience.
A wonderful evening of circus and when you realise that these are the second year students what is in store for the third and final year performances.
The Last Confession
A play of power and tradition set in the Vatican at the time of Pope John Paul 1st who wanted to bring the church into the 20th century against the wishes of the Curia who consider they know what is best for the Church.
The play centres on Cardinal Giovanni Benelli who is responsible for the election of the Cardinal from Venice Albino Luciano to become Pope John Paul 1.
The opening scene is between Cardinal Giovanni Benelli and his confessor, where Cardinal Benelli is threatening to publish his last confession which is about what happened to Pope John Paul 1st who mysteriously died only after 33 days in office. His ideas and possible removal of the leading bodies of the Curia made the death even more suspicious.
The stage was set in front of St. Peters and comprised of several doors which alternately reversed to show the exterior and the interiors.
David Suchet played Cardinal Giovanni Benelli who was a narrator as well as the investigator into the death of Pope John Paul 1st.
A marvellous performance from the man better known as Agatha Christie’s Monsieur Poirot. On TV he has a soft Belgian accent, on stage his diction was amazing no matter which way he faced the audience could hear him clearly, A strong clear voice echoing across the whole auditorium. His acting could not be faulted and when he appeared took over the stage but when he was not the centre of the play he in no way upstaged his fellow performers.
The cast of 20came from Canada, Australia, England and the USA. The players worked well together in a smooth well directed evening of theatre.
David Suchet at the media launch told us that when told about the upcoming world tour he insisted on Australia being included because the majority of his fans of Poirot were Australians. He has now visited Perth, Brisbane and Adelaide and after Melbourne on to Sydney. He is so impressed by Australia that he wants to come back each year for two months.
Venue: Crown Casino Roof
A new type show arrived in Melbourne Thursday March 13. After a successful season in New York and Sydney, Melbourne has now played host to a wonderful evening of entertainment.
An unusual venue that of the roof top of Crown Casino, completed with outside bar, tables and chairs, a takeaway food caravan and most interesting, one person hammocks to enjoy your drink and Melbourne’s balmy Autumn weather prior to the show.
The Spiegeltent is erected on the roof. An interesting history. The Spiegeltent is a large travelling tent, constructed in wood and canvas and decorated with mirrors and stained glass.
The Famous Spiegeltent perhaps the most lavish decorated of all was built in 1920 in Belgium and holds 300 – 350 people. It is now owned and managed by Australian pianist and theatre producer David Bates.
This venue is ideal for the production Empire a variety show of contortionists, quick change artists, roller skating, of burlesque, acrobatics and the finale the most amazing balancing act ever seen.
The show opened with Miss A in a plastic bubble suspended above the audience. A wonderful display of contortionist art.
Oscar and Fanny, the hosts of the show took over next with an hilarious quick change exhibition. A hoop was raised over Fanny then dropped and she was completely changed in a second or two. Then Oscar tried it and the female audience were treated to a strip completely unexpected.
This was followed by Memet Bilgin Rigolo with a large spinning top which ran up and down a large piece of driftwood. An interesting and ingenious performance.
Denis Petaov and Maria Beseimbetova were roller skaters. The circular centre stage is only 3 metres wide and what these two skaters did was absolutely incredible. The audience had their hearts in their mouths watching as they spun around with Maria flying through the air in various positions.
The hosts Oscar and Fanny returned with a burlesque act assisted by a “volunteer” from the audience, rather raunchy but very entertaining.
Yasu Yoshikawa demonstrated various hoops rolling around with great timing and leaving the audience wondering how he did not come off the catwalk.
Followed by Vlad Ivashkin and Aiusha Khadzh Khamed who gave the evening a magnificent routine where Vlad tossed Aiusha up onto his hands she standing on dame plus some beautiful movements.
Oscar and Fanny returned with a banana routine which your correspondent will not describe, but hilarious non the less.
Last and left the whole audience absolutely amazed was Memet Bilgin Rigolo with the most incredible balancing act ever seen. Commencing with a feather balancing on a small palm branch he added branch after branch 14 altogether then the whole is suspended on one branch balancing on the floor. One puff of breath to the feather and the whole collapses.
A very great evening of perhaps cabaret leaving a standing ovation for the opening night.
La Mama Courthouse Theatre
La Mama Courthouse Theatre
Translated by Greg Ulfan & Joseph Sherman
Director: Greg Ulfan
La Mama produced Anton Chekov’s Uncle Vanya at the Courthouse theatre. Primarily a basic stage set comprising of three tables to the rear, three boxes used as tables, desks and cupboards. Lego pieces scattered across the floor and used as food, wine bottles, glasses and assorted props as required. All articles efficiently used.
The production seemed a little slow with several pauses which are instrumental to the plot but did seem a little long. Background music was by guitarist Chris Bolton who had the correct volume for such a background piece but your reviewer feels that a balalaika would have given more atmosphere to such a traditional Russian play.
The performances ranged from reasonable to well! One very hard to understand with the dialogue was Sonia played by Ruth Sancho Huerga. Ruth a Spanish performer’s dialogue was incomprehensible when spoken rapidly, her performance was fair but she played the Spanish woman too much instead of the Russian young lady who actually owned the estate her father wished to sell.
Her father a retired professor Alexander Serebrakoff was played by Scott Gooding. A good stage appearance but did not appear to have captured the role successfully.
Marina, in the story the old nurse, played by Zoe Stark who also played MME Voitskaya mother of Serebrakoff’s first wife did not quite get the age of her characters correct. Helena, Serebrakoff’s second and much younger wife, was played by Stephanie Osztreicher. A fair performance but perhaps too much made of the physical side of such a character.
Uncle Vanya was portrayed by Joseph Sherman who gave a strong performance but at times went too much ‘over the top’. The doctor Michael Astroff , was played by Leslie Simpson. A good stage presentation but like Sherman a little ‘over the top; in his performance. The impoverished landowner who was always there but nobody seemed to notice was Ilia (Waffles) Telegin. Portrayed by Eric Myles also a guitarist and gave a small performance as part of his role, projected well and was a fair performer.
Overall a slow play with some too long breaks and the cast seemingly not working together as on would expect.
Cranked Up - Circus Oz
Circus Oz opened its Melbourne season with Cranked Up to celebrate its 35th birthday and the beginning of the building of the new specially designed headquarters.
The theme of Cranked Up showed this with the cast dressed primarily in overalls and general builders outfits.
This company are amazing with normal circus acts only put together in their own inimitable way. The backdrop was the skyline of Melbourne with a large crane in front of same. The band was placed in front of this and the show ring was in front of the band. The audience was in a semi circle around the ring.
The artists were amazing. There appeared o be no specialists, each artist not only was talented in one way but could do many other circus tricks from clowning to acrobatics., from aerial to tumbling and many could juggle.
One girl juggled a table on her feet from the top of the table to balancing each leg on her feet. Other artists balanced on rolls and boards. Even just to balance the boards on the rollers was hard enough then to balance one’s self on the top was sheer genius.
We had the usual trapeze artists and balancing on each other’s shoulders.
The show was a little jerky with what appeared to be too long breaks between items.
But the opening night crows certainly enjoyed the evening and it was great to see our own home grown show that now travels the world back in its home city.
NICA Leap of Faith - Circus in Motion
National Institute of Circus Arts Australia
Leap of Faith – Circus in Motion.
Director: Matthew Jessner.
Leap of faith is performed by 24 students from the final year Bachelor of Circus Arts.
Director Matthew Jessner said. “The show is about the individual and collective engagement of the artists on stage more do than an act of decision to perform feats. It is that instinctive moment when it all has to converge and manifest as theatrical action”.
An amazing display by these final year students with the expertise of long term performers. One lesson apparently not taught in this course is the Law of Gravity because when you see the Chinese Pole Performers, the ribbon acrobats and the trapeze gravity does not appear to be of any significance.
The varying performances are basically familiar but these students add a theatrical touch with a positive rapport between performers, moving swiftly and excellent timing between items making the evening flow smoothly.
Some items leave the audiences’ hearts in their mouths such as falling from the top of the building onto a crash mat and the trapeze.
Not only does the performance show the abilities of the students as circus performers they also show their skills in the dance with the finale of Act 1 a group ensemble choreographed by Danny Golding.
A wonderful evening of entertainment and with the high standard of performance you know that you will see these students perform across the world in top companies.
Thursday January 2 saw the Melbourne opening night of Cirque du Soliel’s OVO.
OVO is a circus of human performers and no animals like the old fashioned traditional circus. The performers do all the traditional tumbling, Ariel, contortionists, juggling, stilt walking etc. But! With a great difference.
OVO takes you into the day in the life of insects opening with Dragonfly of Orvalho, Ants, Cocoon, Butterflies, Firefly, Creature, Flying Scarabs, Web Spiders, Fleas, Spiderman, Secret Love and Crickets.
Dragonfly was portrayed by Vladimir Hrynchenko. An unusual piece of apparatus shaped like a sloping S with a handstand on top where Hrynchenko showed amazing talent at balancing on his hand plus sliding along the slope. A great display of athleticism and balance.
The normal juggling with the feet was done by the Ants with a difference. The barrels were shaped like kiwi fruit slices and corn cobs. They lay on their backs juggling with their feet and not only juggled the articles but with each other. Tossing one ant across to the other over and above. Excellent timing and presented very smoothly.
Other highlights were the Flying Scarabs. The team dressed as scarab beetles were on the trapeze high above the audience with three spots, one each end and one in the middle. The aerialists took off from each spot and gave a superb example of trapeze work.
After interval we had the Web Spiders. A contortionist dressed as spider and in the middle of the web showing her extraordinary flexibility.
One of the major highlights were the crickets on the trampoline and the rock wall
Very spectacular the performers were dressed as crickets and climbed up and down, across and around the wall as if they were real crickets Not only did they climb up and down but with the aid of the trampoline they were transported from the floor to the top in one easy leap. When you had several up and down in perfect timing the result was spectacular.
The costume design was amazing using polyester, lycra, stretchy fabrics, crystalette, transparent fabrics and expanded foam creating the designer’s version of what she thought insects would look like. The result certainly gave the overall impression of insects and with the different types of apparatus not usually seen in a circus the effect given as the company planned a day I the life of an insect.
A great evening of entertainment and Melbourne’s opening night resulted in a standing ovation.
Weatherwise an unpleasant evening with a top temperature of 40 centigrade but with modern technology the Big Top was air conditioned and the audience was most appreciative. The season ends March 24 do do not miss out and book on www.cirquedusoleil.com/ovo
The National Theatre of Great Britain and Global Creatures R05_0003R05_0004
New Year’s Eve Melbourne saw the Australian premiere of War Horse the acclaimed story of Joey the horse and World War I seen through the eyes of the forgotten members, the horses.
The State Theatre stage was all black with a tear like white strip across the stage. This was used as a screen with projections of the country side, villages, the war and peace.
A large cast of performers showing farmers, horse traders, villagers, army men and officers on both sides.
Added to the performers were the puppeteers without whom there would not be a show.
The storyline of course is about Albert Narracott who raises the horse Joey from a foal only to see him sold to the army. So Albert is determined to go to France and find Joey.
Some of the dialogue was not to clear and speaking to people after the show your reviewer was told by some non native English speakers that they found some of the dialects very hard to understand. During sections of the production there was the song man who gave a singing narration but could not be understood too clearly.
The acting was good and the way Albert played by Cody Fern worked with Joey was outstanding,
The puppets made the production. Each horse was controlled by three men, two inside the body and one at the head seemingly leading the horses around. The realism was so well done that the audience did not see the puppeteers but accepted the horses as being alive. Joey and Tophorn started out as rivals and became friends but although both were the puppets and stars of the show the audience accepted them as real horses with their own personalities particularly the scene where they are struggling to tow a piece of heavy German artillery one could feel their strain and anxiety.
There was also a puppet goose being pushed around on a wheel but again the personality was such that it appeared real. The feeling for the puppets was so great that when Joey’s friend Tophorn succumbed there were many tears from the audience.
Although the script seem to lack a little the overall production was amazing. The war scenes really took one to the battlefields of France and the suffering the French went through. The story did not take sides as it showed the war from the horse’s point of view and this worked very well. The film clips gave the feel of the period and the countryside.
A great evening of entertainment unfortunately with a few minor flaws which did not stop the Melbourne opening night audience rising as one giving the show a standing ovation which is rare in Melbourne.
Opening night guests
NICA Made to Fit
National Institute of Performing Arts
Co-Directors: Mean Jones & Meredith Kitchen
Made to Fit is a performance that features the Second Year Circus Artists.
Although Second Year artists these young performers rate very highly in their chosen specialities and showing how versatile they are.
From trapeze to wire walking, tumbling to contortion, and aerial rings to adagio.
The artists not only perform circus specialities they turn them into a story acting it out by the use of the many and varied talents.
The wire walkers were just such an example. There were three wires of three different heights and the students not only balanced themselves in the traditional method, they moved from one level to the other, they danced and one rode unicycle on same. An outstanding performance.
The vertical ribbon performers seem to forget the law of gravity with the movement up and dropping form the ceiling height leaving the majority f the audience with their hearts in their mouths.
Using commonplace objects such as a modern plastic rubbish bin wheeled in by a student which opened to reveal three young girls followed by a young man. To fit four people in was certainly an art of contortion.
While individual items were being performed other students were crossing the stage in the most individualistic ways possible from a unicycle to wheels and double wheels.
There were individual items, group displays, comedy and dancing all nonstop and everyone doing a little of all.
A very interesting evening with all the members of the audience left breath taken at he high standard of the second year students.
Don Juan on Trial
Melbourne French Theatre
Director: Marco Romero
Set-in a French chateau where La Duchesse se Vaubricourt, La Comtesse de la Roche-Piquet Mademoiselle de la Frotte, Madame Cassin and a nun named Hortense de Hauteclaire have all fallen victim to Don Juan. As punishment for his sins it is agreed that Don Juan will be forced to marry his most recent victim.
The production is only spoken in French, there were two screens one on each side of the stage area where the full dialogue was in English. This must have been a little disconcerting for the actors as sometimes the English was read quicker than the dialogue was spoken causing occasional laughter before the spoken word reached the comedy lines.
The stage was simply set with a piano on audience right, chairs on audience left with scrims to the rear with varying scenes projected on same. Candles were across the rear of stage and the piano giving the feel of an old building.
Damien Kenny was Don Juan. Puzzled as o why he had been summoned and much to the disappointment of the ladies he claimed not to recognise any of them. A good performance and a positive stage presence.
His valet Sganarelle was played by Marc Buret who caught the character as envisaged. La Duchesse se Vaubricourt was played by Catherine Jackson-Grose projecting well and the correct feeling for the role.
La Comtesse de la Roche-Pique was performed by Rachel Audigé. Audigé caught the essence of such a character giving a fine portrayal. Mademoiselle de la Tringle a novelist who denies even knowing Don Juan much less been seduced by him. An arrogant role well performed by Catherine Blanchy.
The last victim, who Deon Juan was supposed to marry, was played by Magali Berquand. A wonderful portrayal with Berquand really capturing the shy young girl who was not quite all she seems.
A highlight of the evening was given by Ana Gonzalez as the nun Hortense de Hauteclaire. A small person with a French nun’s habit but very forceful and when a long dialogue, very emotional was completed and she stalked out the audience broke into loud applause.
Séverine Roman was Madame Cassin. Another good performer with the correct stance as befits the period. The maid Marion who denied falling for Don Juan was given a good interpretation by Lilia Kessouar.
Angelique’s brother and Don Juan’s friend Le Chevalier de Chiffreville was played by Fabrice Castain . Castain played the role with expertise giving a moving and touching performance.
A great evening of theatre and although in French in an English speaking country this did not deter the English speaking members of the audience. With the screens giving the translations and the clarity of the performers the play was easy to follow and for those of us who studied French in their high school days it was amazing how much cam back.
The Melbourne French Theatre is definitely one to add to your director
Director: Gary Young
To celebrate the 60 years of Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap the rights have been released for a limited period.
The Australian tour opened in Sydney and now is at the Comedy Theatre Melbourne.
Set in a snowed in boarding house run by Giles and Mollie Ralston who have just bough the old mansion and this is their first time as boarding house proprietors
A magnificent set of the Great Hall at Monkswell Manor. Full wall panelling, large rear window showing snow falling throughout production. A fire burning on audience left with respective chairs, tables and fittings suited the period. Gus Murray was the co-proprietor Giles Ralston. A good English accent with a plus stage presence giving an understanding performance of the character.
Giles’s wife Mollie was played by Christy Sullivan who caught the character as envisaged. A nice performance and a good rapport with Murray.
Linda Cropper was the retired magistrate Mrs Boyle, an unpleasant character always criticising the Rolstons lack of knowledge on how to run a guest house Cropper gave a stirling performance as Boyle really capturing the type of character as written.
A light-hearted touch was given by Travis Cotton as the architect Christopher Wren. A rather disturbed young man well performed by Cotton. The mystery late comer Mr Paravicini was played by Robert Alexander. Another great performer with Alexander having a good stage projection with the character.
The mysterious young lady Miss Casewell was given a good interpretation by Jacinta John. Major Mitchell was played by Nicholas Hope who had the bearing of the military man as envisaged. Another good performer. The policeman Detective-Sergeant Trotter who arrived on skis during the storm was performed by Justin Smith. Smith gave the correct style of a policeman interrogating the guests using the soft touch and the antagonistic touch. A proper police feeling as the role called for.
Costuming and hair styles were correct for the period of 1952 creating the atmosphere as expected for this Agatha Christie delight.
Nutcracker on Ice
The Imperial Ice Stars
Artistic Director & Choreographer: Tony Mercer.
The Imperial Ice Stars returned to Melbourne and the State Theatre with their new production The Nutcracker on Ice.
Many of the performers were seen in the last tour of Swan Lake on Ice and showed no loss of talent but only improvements.
The original ballet story was followed fairly closely but with some additions making an entertaining evening. The movements were taken from normal skating competition moves but by having such a storyline gave greater scope to the performers to enhance their expertise and not be hampered by the rules of competition.
The opening scene is set in the home of Dr. Pavlov on Christmas Eve. A party is being held and we meet Dr Pavlov’s daughter Marie and her brother and sister and their friends enjoying the evening. A wonderful set of the interior of a St. Petersburg home with terrific costuming for the performers. A very busy skating scene with each guest showing their techniques and trying to outdo each other. After seeing competition skating it was enjoyable to see the skaters so obviously enjoying themselves showing off their talent without the restrictions of competition.
Not only do the cast skate but Herr Drosselmeyer skated by Vadim Yarkov not only an excellent skater but a surprisingly good magician much to the delight of Marie and siblings. Marie was performed by Anastasia Ignatyeva capturing the feel of the little party girl and giving an exquisite example of skating. Her pas de deux with the Nutcracker Prince, Bogdan Berezenko, left the audience in raptures.
The second scene after the party was well done showing a corner of the party room brought down to mouse size plus mouse hole where the evil Mouse King and his cohorts entered. Again a very energetic scene what with Marie and the Nutcracker Prince fighting off the mice with the aid of two cats. Some superb skating by all members.
The second half was through the land f the Snowflakes to the Prince’s Kingdom of Sweets. Here we see the dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy and a solo by the Prince.
This was followed by Chocalot the Spanish dancers who not only skated excellently but were accompanied by fire with small wands with fire at each end.
China was represented performing the tea dance. A wonderful interpretation of the art of skating, dancing and acting.
Followed by La Cafè from Arabia who not only skated with expertise but did aerial tricks on two ribbons as if they were on a trapeze.
Following La Cafè Candy from Russia and four Cossack dancers not only skated but gave great acrobatic feats.
At the end of the show (story) the company let their hair down relaxing by skating across the stage in every skating move one can imagine.
A fantastic evening well appreciated by the Melbourne audience.
Eat, Pray. Laugh!
Her Majesty’s Theatre
Dame Edna says Farewell Possums
Melbourne’s Her Majesty’s Theatre was the chosen spot for Barry Humphries’ final bow for Melbourne audiences. While his famous creations are not officially retiring, Australia’s greatest Dame insists that this will be her final Australian tour
And one evening no one will ever forget.
Opening scene was a typically Australian suburban backyard. Audience right was the back of a house with an outside dunny well used during the sketch. A lawn, an outside shed, a barbecue, a hedge to the rear and a grand piano also covered with lawn.
This is the home of Australia’s famous cultural attaché Sir Les Patterson. And on came Sir Les, his usual blustering self spluttering all over the stage, starting the barbie then dragging a young couple up from the audience, the young lady to butter the bread and her partner to cook the rissoles while Sir Les disappeared into the dunny with the appropriate sound effects.
He introduced his gardener Wang with the usual racist remarks. Wang was also the pianist doing a great job in spite of Sir Les. Sir Les then introduced a new character but as the show is still touring I won’t let on more than the character is easily recognisable and very relevant to the news today. In fact it was heard that maybe it is too relevant and may shock some people. Needless to say the whole Sir Les’s act is very politically incorrect, racist, abusive and disgusting and the audience loved it. Only Barrie Humphries could get away with it.
Beside Sir Les Patterson there were two couples both dancing and singing plus an acrobat and some scenes with the five were a great addition to the evening.
Then the next scene was the ghost of Sandy Stone reminiscing about his old life and what happened to his wife after he passed on. Barry was brilliant in all scenes showing the magnificent showman that he is.
After interval the set was now a hedge to the rear and empty in front. Then the entry of Dame Edna Everage. Nothing minor about this entry. Behind the hedge entered a full size elephant covered in gold and in the howdah Dame Edna. The four dancers and the acrobat helped Dame Edna off with the aid of a ladder but Dame Edna didn’t quite make it genteelly.
A laugh a minute for the rest f the evening and a Barry Humphries show is one not to sit too near the front. What with a lady texting and someone drinking water nothing escaped the Dame’s eyes and embarrassment all around. Several audience members were called up. There were a couple of refusals but four eventually succumbed.
Then Dame Edna threw gladiolas inter the audience and the ushers brought around enough for everyone to have one. The completion of the show was a framework of gladiolas through which was projected a film compilation of Barry Humphries life in the entertainment world Barry then came out as Barry Humphries thanking the audience and then leading the singing with everyone waving their gladdies.
A typical evening of Barry Humphries showing the skills of this master showman and indeed if it is really his final tour that is one person who will be sorely missed not only in Australia but across the world.
NICA Lucy and the Lost Boy
A new Circus Work featuring NICA’S Graduating Artists
The Graduating Class chose to show off their three years study chose to do same as a story Lucy and the Lost Boy.
Inspired by the evocative and bold street art of Melbourne’s iconic laneways the story combines rich imagery, bold visuals, Live and sampled music alongside breathtaking circus and street based choreography.
It shows three guardians of the street in helmets, green overalls and yellow shirts trying to catch graffiti artists.
The company come out in hoodies miming painting graffiti. This is shown by the use of film on the large area of wall at the rear of the performance area. The film clips we see Melbourne, various areas where the action takes place and the view as one enters is scaffolding and a wall of graffiti.
The company skilfully perform acrobatics, pole climbing, slack and tightrope walking, balancing, net and rope climbing and trapeze.
This is not achieved with the usual equipment. By using green large rubbish bins, wheelbarrow, a large rubbish container the performances are amazing and bring home all sorts of possibilities.
The skills of these young artists is of a very high standard shown by the ease in which each performs their role. There are various costume changes, skilfully and smoothly done; live and recorded music, chases in and out of various objects and people with not an accident happening even as it looks like everyone will bang into everyone else.
A very successful evening and the future looks bright for the 2012 graduates
How to Train Your Dragon
Melbourne was the venue for the World Premiere of How to Train Your Dragon Arena Spectacular and inspired by the Academy nominated DreamWorks animated film How To Train Your Dragon.
RZO Dragon Productions, Global Creatures, the masterminds behind the phenomenon Walking with Dinosaurs-the Arena Spectacular, and DreamWorks Theatricals have brought high flying, fire breathing dragons to life in an unprecedented live entertainment event for a world wide audience.
HiSense Arena was the Melbourne venue and looking at the size of the dragons no other venue could possibly given the area required.
The storyline is about a Viking village whose members are out to kill dragons. But Hiccup, the chief’s son has other ideas much to his father’s disgust.
He befriends Toothless a friendly dragon who helps him in his quest. Toothless is a medium size dragon who takes Hiccup flying around the arena. The audience were overwhelmed by the dragons, the animatronics were absolutely amazing such as the dragons had definite personalities. There were the standard style dragons, some not quite so familiar and Red Death the giant dragon with a 60 metre wing span.
The scenes such as the Viking village, the Dragon Arena, the cages, the countryside, the ocean and islands were all done by the use of film projected on the rear wall and the floor. Scenes with Hiccup flying and falling and climbing were skilfully done by Hiccup on the back of Toothless and on the cliff side falling and climbing were done by Hiccup hanging on a rope while the film moved around him accordingly. Also when the Vikings were attacking the dragon’s nesting grounds the same effect was used. This proved most effective giving the illusion that the scenes were really happening.
Hiccup was given a wonderful, good projection and energetic performance by Ramian Newton. His girl friend Astrid, was played by Sarah McCreanor. An excellent performance and not easy as on several occasions not only flying on the back of Toothless but suspended from the ceiling while she and others fought the dragons in the air.
The cast comprised of world class circus and acrobatic performers who had all their skills put to the test and very successfully too. A show not to be missed and although aimed at the younger generation the parents and grandparents certainly seemed to enjoy the evening.