There’s a Welsh word that I’ve heard explained as meaning a ‘homesickness for a home you can never return to’, and that word comes to mind when thinking about Belloo Creative’s new work, Rovers, a two-handed, sixty-minute nostalgic yarn starring Roxanne McDonald and Barbara Lowing and directed by Caroline Dunphy.
Belloo’s intention was to bring together and celebrate the veterans of Australian theatre after twenty-one years apart and place them under the award-winning pen of Katherine Lyall-Watson and the result is a beautiful rambling reunion full of fun and easy charm.
In part autobiographical, the women conjure memories of their artistic, their life’s journey while Lowing encases her story with-in that of her intrepid great-Aunt, Barbara Toy, whose solo journey across the outback of nineteen-fifties Australia must have enchanted the child that would grow into the story-teller before us. The two stories collide in time, converge in the red centre as Toy, a woman whose conquering of the desert may lend itself to other metaphorical struggles in her life at the time, meets up with Jessie a sharp-witted Aboriginal woman who becomes her guide and soul sister. Decades later, Lowing and McDonald were also together in Uluru, under those same stars, connecting as only women at the edge can.
The performance space, temporary for the Brisbane Festival Theatre Republic, was a perfect little dark corner of the world in which to share in this tale. With little props and little needed, a water tank sits centre stage and doubles as Toy’s faithful Land Rover named Pollyanna, and tyres become horses and a long length of marine rope becomes…. well that’s part of an in-joke you’ll have to seek on your own.
McDonald and Lowing slip in and out of form, lowering the fourth-wall one moment and cantering playfully into character the next; the rules and shapes used to make this ‘theatre’ seemingly disappear as if these two characters may have just got up from the audience, in the throws of telling their tale and continued, animated. Indeed, as the audience enters the space they are greeted by a wandering, ruminating McDonald who, with cup in hand, shoots the breeze with whomever as we all wait for the lights the cue. Through-out the piece there are cheeky reminders that this is after all, just a performance.
As young women we look for role models in a world that wants to keep us from knowing just what is possible for our kind. We seek out those who will help us dust open the paths that the world wants to keep concealed. As we age, we hope that we have somehow along the way contributed to passing on that story stick to another generation of non-conforming women, even if by accidental inspiration.
Lowing and McDonald, two old girls reunited, must feel accomplished as they look back at their lives and the examples of strong women that they have become. It’s a bitter-sweet moment when Lowing lays back in the old iron tub, longing up at the stars and regrets nothing but perhaps wishing to taste it all again. A wake, not a funeral, a celebration of life and a life lived just so.
Belloo Creative are well worth keeping track of. A company of woman that bring surprisingly diverse and high quality works to the stage. Check out their website http://www.belloocreative.com or follow on Facebook for updates.
Check out Aussie Theatre for the review of the Brisbane 2018 show. Frankly, the new Frank, was Fantastic!
In the lead up to their appearance at the 2017 Commonwealth Games, the Blue Roo Theatre Company have wrapped their annual performance at the Judith Wright Centre. The troupe closed out the 2016 season with the super-serious Opera Queensland collaboration of the tragic tale of Orpheus & Eurydice, and so opted to entertain their 2017 audience with a variety-styled gala penned and devised by the performers themselves.
The Now! festivities were launched by Blue Roo favourite, Caitlin, who led the opening ensemble in a vocal piece to get the bagpipes a piping. Now! gave the Roos an opportunity to showcase their comedic nous with an all dancing, all singing extravaganza. It’s hard to pick favourites however, impressive performances from: Nicole in a Tick Tock rap who had the house cheering, Liam and Ben at the Bus Stop delivered cracking Shakespeare with ‘Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow”, orated by Liam, and Ben responding with As You Like It, 'All The World's a Stage'. And Nick’s humourous reflection on falling in love with The Sound of Music was utterly joyful.
The show was woven together by a news studio mock-up hosted by Maggie Moment (Bridget) and Tony Today (Brendon) who deliver a pun-filled introduction to each sketch. Such delights as Moreton Bay, a fishing story with Daniel at the helm. The crew, Daniel, Marisa, Joel, Emily, Laura and David are stranded, and sinking; well-trained comedic timing on the part of Daniel and Laura, sees them hitting their mark as the ensemble tries to think and cheer their way out of sinking.
A Flashmob busts up the silence with an energetic sequence; the embodiment of energy, a rocking soundtrack for this performance adding an edge but perhaps the most sensational moment in the show was the transformation of Nick Thorly into Rosie Rhubarb, the sparkling social commentator who delights us with her Hollywood Happenings. With all the fun and frivolity well received, the show winds up with a touching tribute to Carlos, a cornerstone of the Blue Roo family who passed away last year and is sorely missed by the team. A piper plays You’re the Voice, by John Farnham and we are left to contemplate such wonderful images of Carlos at his performing best. A true gift for all in attendance.
As always, Blue Roo take you in for an hour long show and return you to the world a little better off than when you handed in your ticket stub. A journey into the bleachers that never disappoints.
Let’s get one thing out of the way right off the mark, this is a shallow puddle of a romance between a powerful female music diva, Rachel Marron (Paulini Curuenavuli) and a white, ex-secret services agent, Frank Farmer (Kip Gamblin) who rides into town to rescue the stubborn little-lady from a dangerously obsessed stalker (also a white dude, Brendan Irving)........ more
With an unsettling clarity on the peculiarities of human behavior (once removed), Wireless proposes that privacy is an invention without a future....... read the review
The classic comedy by Michael Frayn (Writer) opened last week leaving audiences gasping and groping for air like stranded carp on a concrete pathway....... tell me more.
HeartBeast Theatre have stepped outside of familiar territory with the staging of Antigone, not by choice of production (which is always reliably edgy) but rather by taking things into the underground. Their latest offering of Jean Anouilh’s adaptation of Sophocles great tragedy is showing in the wonderful, historic venue of the Spring Hill Reservoir (2-17 June) and it is well worth a chilling evening out on the town.
As we descend into the tomb-like cave (very fitting for the story of a woman doomed to be buried alive), we are met by an ‘Ab-fab’ version of Eurydice (Eleonora Ginardi) who is our host and chorus for the evening. The audience collects a drink and decides on seating, freely wandering amongst the characters who are stationed in the various wings of the reservoir (there is no back-stage here). The atmosphere is one of a subverted temple or ancient museum with rooms devoted to worship. We were team Antigone from the outset so took a seat in her corner and gazed on her light-puddled image as she mused in the distance before her ominous curtain-call.
A noticeable flaw of proceedings was evident right off the mark with Ginardi, in the role of the Chorus being inaudible due to the use of a microphone for her narrative. I’m not sure what the thinking was behind this and whether Keegan O’Neill (in charge of sound) was comfortable with it or indeed if it sounded different when the Reservoir was empty but with-in the wonderful natural acoustics of the bunker filled with bodies, Eurydice and all her lines were lost to the muffle of amplification. The other actors, using raw voice only were easily comprehended. Hopefully this is revisited for the remaining shows.
A delightful exchange between Antigone (Bek Schmidt) and her Nurse (Linda Shapcott) introduces the story; Antigone is sprung sneaking back into her room in the early morning. Nurse thinks she has been out chasing love. Ismene (Jane Schon) (Antigone’s sister) arrives as Nurse leaves and, knowing of Antigone’s plan to bury their brother who was cast by Creon as an unworthy terrorist, Ismene tries to talk Antigone out of the dangerous deed, unaware that the task is already accomplished. Bek Schmidt as Antigone is superb. Schmidt has a lovely darkness and focus that is believable inside the mind of the defiant and honourable heroine and yet in the scene where Antigone has been discovered re-burying her brother and she is dragged to the stage bound by thick ropes at her wrists, tugged and tormented by the guards who, dressed hyena-like are both terrifying and ridiculous, Schmidt’s frame takes on a delicate dance of defiant yet utter fragility.
Creon, the King and Antigone’s uncle, is a surprising departure from the original image under the performance of Patrick Farrelly; A business suited, Irish accented, large statured presence that easily brings the character into our modern-day culture. The bullish Creon somehow elicits a tiny bit of sympathy in this guise, is it his softness? Or his ‘man in the grey suit’ legacy? Or the way in which he so gently goes about business with the blood of love on his shirt. It’s indescribable, but quietly unique.
Anouilh’s version of Antigone subtlety transforms an ancient script into a powerfully relevant modern classic. Jean Anouilh lived in German-occupied France in the 1940’s and David Paterson (Director) quite rightly relates those themes to the ideological wars being played out on today’s world stage (a revolution in many regards). An unexpected production value gifted by the reservoir was revealed as the cold crept in amongst us during the crescendo of the performance. Suddenly we found ourselves with a slight shiver in those dank surrounds as if the tragedy unfolding around us had seeped into our bones. Antigone is playing in the Spring Hill Reservoir until June 17. Bookings can be made online at https://heartbeast.com.au/antigone/ for just $33 a ticket. Both a venue and a Theatre Company that are well worth the effort.
For those who haven’t experienced immersive theatre at this level, it’s like falling into a ‘Choose your Own Adventure’ book cross-pollinated with a reality version of the Cluedo board game........ wtf?
There are only two truths when contemplating a Pentimento offering: firstly, you never know what you are walking in to and secondly, you will love the hell out of whatever you find....... find out more.
Someone needs to see all the things.