We have all the time we’ve always had. You’ll still have all of our time, when I’m gone. There’s not going to be any more or less of it..... wtf
Going from strength to strength without looking back, Blue Roo Theatre rounded out 2016 with an exciting demonstration of their growing creative confidence. Co-produced by Blue Roo and Opera Queensland in an on-going partnership, 'Orpheus and Eurydice' (Artistic Directors: Clark Crystal and Jason Barry-Smith) premiered at the Judith Wright Centre to a packed house (sold out shows in fact) in December 2016. The opera is based on the myth of the legendary musician, Orpheus, who resolves to cross over to the underworld to bring his beloved Eurydice back to the land of the living. Composed by Christoph Gluck and first performed in 1762, the Opera is a favourite still holding it’s own with audiences today.
As Act One begins, it is immediately apparent that there has been some serious attention to production design by one of Brisbane’s best designers, Josh McIntosh and Velvet Pesu for costumes. The simple stage is eerie and atmospheric; blue, dull-glowing pillars create an ambient tomb, the nymphs and the shepherds (the Blue Roo Ensemble) lurk behind as they gather in the shadows near the resting place of Eurydice. Orpheus (Daniel Tomlinson, Louise Dorsman) grieves over her body, bereft and inconsolable. Susan Ellis (Opera Queensland) in a wonderful Glenda the Good Witch inspired contraption (bringing to mind a parade float) soon rolls onto stage – Cupid/Amor gives the despairing Orpheus the rules of the game.
The pillars also serve as a very effective gate to underworld for Act Two. Orpheus attempts to traverse the rivers of Hades (Rooer, Joel Dodemont is great in his first solo role as Charon, The Ferryman), the Furies (memorably played by the Ensemble) heckle and refuse to let Orpheus pass and perhaps the best-ever incarnation of Cerberus to-date, three wheelchair Roos roll onto stage sporting fantastic, woven-cane dog heads hoisted high above them.
The partnership pairs an Opera Queensland voice (Jessica Low, Louise Dorsman) and a Blue Roo actor (Daniel Tomlinson, Liam Maloney, Brigid Coote) to provide the vocal and embodiment of the titular characters and this worked well in the heighten drama of the Opera setting. And in another nod to Crystal’s ability to bring onboard some big names in the Brisbane creative world, Bryan Lucas joined the crew this year to direct the choreography and his magic touch is evident as he harnesses the at-times sporadic energy of the Ensemble members and creates beautiful dances and interesting movement pieces that enrich the story-telling.
Gluck’s opera veers from the original myth as Act Three reaches a close; Orpheus has failed the challenge of bringing Eurydice back to the living world without looking back at her, she dies again in his arms and is lost. Orpheus contemplates suicide but Cupid/Amor steps in (this is really an awesome spectacle as an Ensemble member on each side of Ellis, provide the light flutter of ethereal wings) and decides to bring Eurydice back to life (the original myth ends with Orpheus joining Eurydice in the underworld). Either way, the emotional power of the piece remains strong and with the live accompaniment of the Blue Roo Orchestra the experience is true to the opera format.
It is truly inspirational what Clark Crystal and the Blue Roo supporters have achieved over the last few years but even more remarkable is that Crystal doesn’t seem to say this will do. He is driven to continually push their output up a notch, not only telling the world that disabled people can make theatre but showing that disabled people can make professional, quality productions. Keep your eyes out for the Roos in 2017 by following them on Facebook and get along to share in their story.
If you'd like to hear the original myth, I recommend listening to the Myths & Legends Podcast version - An Eternal Flame
The image of Loie Fuller’s billowing flower-like, pink-hued sleeves captured in the 1896 film La Danze Serpentine by the Lumiere brothers is infamous even a hundred years later and this hypnotic image is the starting link in a surprising chain-of-story that stretches back to fifteenth Century Japan, one of Japan's most famous writers caught between his Western celebrity and his longing for a pre-war world of Samurai simplicity, to the creation of a ghost that would go on to embody a world-famous Japanese dancer and the third toilet cubical in the ladies room. Hanako: Desire & Other Secret Weapons is a potent production presented by Belloo Creative and the Brisbane Powerhouse for a very limited Brisbane Festival season.
Ushered through the stage door of the theatre, the opening-night audience was given a clue that this was no ordinary play – the Japanese talent for horror was certainly brought to mind as we found ourselves trapped back stage in the semi-dark, crowded by the other audience members and unsure where to look. After a moment of tense speculation however, we found Hanako (Kimi Tsukakoshi) kneeling down in a pool of light rehearsing the very thing that she was forced to do over and over again for the entertainment of western audiences just like us. Relieved, we were finally guided away from her tiresome death, moved over the bridge into life again and we found our usual safe-seats awaiting us on the other side of the stage.
Jonathan Shankey’s set design is unique, sleek and moody with paper lanterns strung on the lighting rig, the lanterns constantly moving in their own haunted breeze and on the floor, shiny, black, reflective tiles that somehow only reflected the very immediate faces of the actresses giving them a ghoulish veneer as if wading through the heavy ink of the stories that burden them. The mask of Ota Hisa’s face, created by Rodin is encased in a translucent box that sits beside a see-through chair, beautifully representing the mythical powers of the Noh mask, in this case, the actresses real face. The story is strong but the visual poetry is here exceptional. Costumes by Kathryn Walsh embrace the asymmetry of Japans coolest designers (think Miyake), of particular note is Mishma’s half-suit that spoke of his unwilling entrapment between two cultural worlds.
Before she is renamed Hanako by the dramatic Fuller (Caroline Dunphy), Ota Hisa’s life appears quite similar to that of Lady Han in the reworked fifteenth-century play by Zeami (the father of Noh). The original Noh play is about a ‘mad-woman’ (of course) who is cast out of the ‘inn’ by the proprietress because she falls in love with a traveller who gifts her a fan and spoils her for the rest of the guests. As the character of Lady Han falls into madness, Hisa struggles against the identity that is forced on her by a stagnant cultural legacy while Mishima tries to pull her back into it and away from the future world where she happily escapes. Noriaki Okubo is painfully elusive in the role of Mishima, the simmering self-torture of the Japanese artist evident in his steely expression and sharp dialogue (mostly in Japanese). Kimi Tsukakoshi is chilling and yet familiar as Hanako and Caroline Dunphy (also Director and Co-Creator) stars as Loie Fuller, evolving into the over-zealous stage-mother of her adopted (or is that abducted) eastern star-child.
While the suggestion of traditional Noh theatre – more narrated characters than immersive representations - may bring to mind slow and drawn out tedium, Hanako is anything but dull; The Belloo team have produced an action packed, fast paced mash-up of rap music, martial arts, fashion and mayhem as stories about women at opposite ends of time vie for control over the destiny of an eternity of Hanako’s but who will win? We may have had that answer right at the very beginning.
Caroline Dunphy and Katherine Lyall-Watson have created an impressive piece of theatre come history lesson that takes us on an electrically charged, cross-cultural, multi-disciplined journey while Belloo Creative’s format for hosting a production is refreshing with an inspired pre-show art exhibition by emerging artists - many of the pieces were sold. Don’t miss this show but stay away from the third toilet cubical!!
First performed in 1963, Harold Pinter’s, The Lover is a superbly clever play with a fast-paced wit that easily entertains the twitter-impaired attention span of today’s audience. Under the subtle and eloquent direction of Now Look Here Theatre's, Kate Wild, The Lover is paired with the simmering, dark A Slight Ache to form a powerful double bill of Pinter Perfection; a peek at the hoodwinked face of love-on-trial from two very different forces.
Daniel Murphy and Kerith Atkinson perform exceptionally well together as a married couple under both titles. In The Lover, Pinter hides the affairs of a middle aged couple brilliantly with-in the fabric of their own relationship and challenges each to be fulfilled by it. She plays her husbands whore, he plays his wife’s toy-boy until it is evident that while for one, the game is imperative for the retention of that joie de vivre of married life, while for the other it has become tiresome game and must end by foul means or fair.
Wild has chosen to place these two Lovers in their time of creation, trapped in the vice of a late fifties-style marriage – the colourful perfection of the Home Beautiful living-room, the cheery milk deliveries to the door and the appropriate hard-working husband who returns home to his slippers and whisky each and every evening. The hyper-real just-so of their lives lends itself beautifully to the illicit frivolity of their faux-affair and Wild’s choice of cheesy fifties tunes adds to the comedy as Atkinson and Murphy energetically negotiate the character changes. Pinter must have been beautifully on-point when this was first shown, one wonders how confronting the first audiences found it and yet in an age that continues to shop for ‘happiness’ in newly invented styles of partnering that normalise the dirty games that these two play, the crux of The Lover is ever as relevant.
A slight shift in time and tension brings us a couple later in life - the same image of surface perfection but a very different danger simmering beneath the comedic treatment of a wasp disturbing the upper-middle-class garden breakfast being enjoyed by Flora and her vain husband Edward. The devilish relish Edward takes in devising an ingenious way of disposing of said wasp speaks of his domineering, self-righteous character. It is a lurking something that may take a little more effort to interpret on the viewer’s behalf and I suspect that there are a few potential stories being told here depending on the experiences of the viewer. A Slight Ache, begins with the same sort of joviality as The Lover, but that lurking unsettling something is there from the outset; it’s hard to put your finger on it until the Matchseller (a menacingly good performance by Zac Boulton) appears at the front fence. This is a dark character who refuses to yield its identity to the couple and it is clear that this figure has been summonsed by Edward and his neuroses; also clear is that it could be the undoing of Edward if he cannot keep himself together. To me it speaks of the onset of dementia or mental illness, the shadow of oneself the leaches memory and existence and as Edward witnesses the care and attention his wife pays to this shadow the more desperate and suspicious he becomes of it until he becomes the void. Once again Atkinson and Murphy perform superbly, delicately balancing the dark-homour and the plain darkness. While The Lover reminds of that other sharp witted scribe, Coward, A Slight Ache tingled slightly of that menacing Poe.
Without even touching on the raw perfection of Kate Wild’s understated creativity and her sharp-eye for gathering a seamlessly talented cast, her choice of material can be utterly relied on to provide a provocative and rewarding evening staring at the stage. Now Look Here Theatre is definitely one to watch (and support) on the indie Brisbane theatre scene and can be followed via their Facebook page.
Opera in the big house can be distancing for an audience sitting three hundred seats away, squinting themselves blind for three hours trying to make out the shapes on stage while attempting to understand what in the Pavarotti is going on. Step into an Underground Opera Company production however and you will be treated to an intimate and welcoming experience of outright awe without losing any of the grandeur expected of the genre. On the auspicious evening of Friday the 13th, this inspired company opened a rousing new season of Opera in the Reservoir (Sean Denehy, Director) in Brisbane at the historic Spring Hill Reservoir on Wickham Terrace and the audience couldn’t have been more delighted with the show.
Launched in 2014, Opera in the Reservoir was realised when Producer and Founder Bruce Edwards undertook the massive task of cleaning up the 150 year old reservoir which had stood untouched for several decades. Edwards’ mission is to remove concerts from the sterility of purpose-built theatres taking them to breathtaking spaces such as abandoned mines, natural caves and castles just to name a few. Unsurprisingly the first Opera in the Reservoir was a sell-out hit paving the way not only for the continuation of this wonderful event but also the establishment of the reservoir as a full time venue, supported by the Brisbane City Council. So a huge thank-you must go out to Bruce for this awesome gift to our city.
As we descended scaffolding that lead us underground, the orderly brick archways of the reservoir are revealed with a small number of chairs gathered around a central ‘stage’ area for it’s guests and a possum in the rafters who was also ready for the show; the faint mustiness of history creeps up into your nose and you sense that you are somewhere out-of-time. Edwards is our emcee for the evening and as he explains the format of the show it is immediately evident that there are no airs about this tuxedo. His manner is more that of a charming sports announcer that an Opera “toff” and he easily pleases the crowd with his amiable way.
We were treated to a program of Opera and Musical classics ranging from Pagliacci to Don Giovanni to Mary Poppins and there are two possible programs (two casts) that run through the season. The yellow cast were in full swing this evening, comprising of Ashleigh Crain (Soprano), Louise Doorman (Mezzo Soprano), Glenn Lorimer (Tenor) and Darian Di Stefano-Johns (Baritone) with Brendan Murtagh accompanying on piano. All performers are seasoned professionals with impressive backgrounds.
Not only was it thrilling to be close enough to the performers to enjoy their facial expressions and the way their mouths manipulated the lyrics, but it was also a fun education into the conductivity of natural acoustics. The venue loved the voice of Tenor Glenn Lorimer, his vocals seeming to swim around the space with the liquidness of the water it once held and as the four performers moved around and through the audience, sometimes out of sight, secreted behind a wall, their disembodied voices were haunting and absolutely alluring. Sitting immersed in this subterranean splendour, I couldn’t help wondering what could be heard above ground. What a magic moment it would be to hear these wonderful sounds emanating from beneath the ground and beneath the old haunted mill at that.
Stand-out numbers were Il Mio Tesoro (Mozart, Don Giovanni) by the revered and founding member, tenor Glenn Lorimer and Soave Sia Il Vento (Mozart, Cosi Fan Tutti) and of course, the finale Nessun Dorma (Puccini, Turandot) was impossible to surpass even with a sensational encore as the gorgeous performance of Tenterfield Traveller from ‘Boy from Oz’ and I Still Call Australia Home.
Opera in the Reservoir is absolutely for everyone, aficionado’s and opera-novices alike. Having seen opera performed all over the world from Paris’ Palais Garnier to a 13th Century Palazzo in Venice, Opera in the Reservoir rates high up on my experiences. Showing now until November 29, tickets range from $59 to $69 and are available at Ticketmaster (www.ticketmaster.com.au). Such high calibre opera is unlikely to be found at a more reasonable price.
The Blue Roo Theatre Company has rounded out another year of triumphant performance with the launch of Australia’s first ever inclusive opera. The result of their second dynamic collaboration with Opera Queensland (OperaQ) under the Open Stages program, The Bulimba Opera has opened to a packed house at The Judith Wright Centre (5-7 November) and will fittingly close the season on November 14 at Lourdes Hill College not far from where the Bulimba Hotel once stood; the old hotel (predating the current building) is the setting for this history-inspired libretto.
Fly-guy Jimmy is sent off to WW2 leaving his girl, his family and his community heartbroken and desperately awaiting news as they negotiate the economic and emotional toll of war. As tensions in the community rise, spilling over into racist attacks on Chinese labourers some bad news is delivered to the family by General MacArthur himself (the best character yet of crowd-favourite Carlos Heron); Jimmy is missing and presumed dead.
Arguably the tightest Roo production to date Writer/Creative Director Clark Crystal, who began working with troupe in 2009, must be applauded for lifting the Company to a new level of creativity this year. The Bulimba Opera is an epic production; not only in cast size (28 Blue Roos, 4 OperaQ and a live orchestra of 7) but also in dramatic clout. The cast perform with gusto, a plethora of unique songs inspired by the ‘The Beggar’s Opera’ format of writing libretto (the Opera text) to the tunes of famous songs - Crystal uses classic Australian folk tunes here that easily take us home to the old country.
The opera format sits really well with the Blue Roo cast whom all experience disability or impairment in one form or another meaning that to ensure the successful delivery of the text, spoken lines are usually repeated as titles above the stage – much like the surtitles used to translate opera. So this simple device of inclusivity travels really seamlessly into this production. With the OperaQ performers, Susan Ellis, Sebastian Maclaine, Jason Berry-Smith, Jessica Low taking the main roles, the Rousing Roo ensemble are largely in supporting roles but that does not subdue their spirits. Stand-out performances by Liam Maloney and Caitlin Manktelow. Manktelow surprising with such a voice that for a moment it was thought there were five OperaQ performers on stage. I hope to see more from this new Roo.
Once again the Roos have proven that creativity is a great enabler as they continue their journey through performance to thrilling applause of their family and fans.
On Saturday night at their Holy Trinity Headquarters in Fortitude Valley, Heartbeast Theatre unveiled their latest offering, King Lear, the well-known tale of the titular King that generally runs amok and drives himself into madness when he falls foul of his own master scheme.
Taking an Australian Gothic slant on the play (think Hanging Rock), director Jacqueline Kerr has supplanted the tragic characters from the Middle Ages into Colonial Australia complete with its sparse landscape, dangerous weather and spooky sounding wildlife. On entering the performance space we were thrilled with Heartbeast’s usual display of excellent stage design; a long cat-walk stage with a dip in the middle and lone leafless tree at the end made great use of the atmosphere of the old church hall (a relic itself with high vaulted ceilings and plenty of colonial ghosts).
Our misguided Lear (John Evans) makes a big show of dividing his land-wealth among his three daughters based solely on their ability to shower him with inflated flattery. Eldest daughters Regan (Anna Loren) and Goneril (Helen Ekundayo) rise to the occasion disguising their contempt for the old fool with compliments that appeal to his sensitive ego. Youngest child, Cordelia (Jane Schon) is conflicted by her inability to find words great enough to describe her love and as such is spitefully cast aside by the dejected Lear. The house of Gloucester (Brent Schon) meanwhile is simultaneously thrown into turmoil when illegitimate son Edmund (Matt Gaffney) conspires to see the demise of his half-brother and heir Edgar (David Paterson) through a devious plan to implicate his brother in a plotted patricide. These two sad patriarchs find themselves evicted and wandering the harsh outback, lost and abused as their fate becomes somewhat grim.
Loren and Ekundayo as the elder sisters greatly impress with both their performances and their handling of Shakespeare’s notorious language; their pronunciation easy to understand and well received without sounding contrived and their power-crazed characters were delightful. Brett Schon also proved strong and natural in the role of Gloucester and Matt Gaffney was beautifully evil as scheming bastard Edmund. Lear and his Fool proved slightly disappointing; Adrienne Costello who is always a standout joy in Heartbeast productions seemed flat and diluted perhaps in an attempt to comply with the gothic twist, the wit of the Fool was lacking. Evans’ Lear seemed stuck on a steady plain of anguished blubbering that felt unfocused and unending. David Paterson on the other hand played a nicely witless Edgar however a questionable decision to have Poor Tom, rather than dress in beggars rags, smear his body with clay to the sound of a didgeridoo feels risky. Perhaps there was a clever comment here on appropriation but it wasn’t very clear and Paterson himself seemed uncertain and awkward with the action.
Lear in the guise of Australian Gothic is an intriguing idea and makes for a great night of theatre. Another signature of the Heartbeast team are their lavish costumes (designed by Kerr) which set the tone for the evening and didn’t disappoint.
Adorned with the unmistakable stamp of Heartbeast Theatre, Shakespeare’s King Lear lives to die another day and has been treated with a unique reimaging. It is well deserving of a generous audience. Showing now until August 15 tickets are reasonable to $33 and can be purchased online via the Heartbeast website.
Something sensational is happening in Ipswich, a cultural revolution of sorts at the hands of independent theatre company Fractal Theatre and Artistic Director Brenna Lee-Cooney and this is a call-out to all Brisbanites who claim to support independent theatre. Ipswich is not as far away as you remember from your horse-and-cart youth and there is something going on out there that is well worth supporting.
In their second book-to-stage adaptation for the year, Fractal has developed another story that explores the ever-present dark side of the Australian identity (The Untouchable Juli by James Alderidge). It is 1930, depression era Australia and the talented but slightly odd teenager Juli Christo (Samuel Valentine) must carry the burden of rural small-mindedness as he negotiates life as an outsider. The prodigious, mixed-race child of single parent, bible-beating Mother (Gertrude Benjamin) appears mysteriously in a rural town and proceeds to threaten the locals with his unusual but harmless behaviour. The well-meaning convictions of his Mother do little to ease his alienation.
Kit Quayle (Eamonn Clohesy) regales the audience with the colourful story of Christo’s life and their burgeoning friendship, reflecting humorously on his (Kit’s) sensual reaction to Mrs Christo and the foreign-ness of her nurturing bosom and his delight in watching his friend discover music in a backwards and round-about way. But tragedy strikes Juli hard and his fate falls into the hands of his one and only ally. At his son’s request, Kit’s lawyer father undertakes to defend Juli against charges of murder. To save his life however, Mr Quayle must expose Juli’s soul and that may be just as ruinous to him as the gallows.
Fractal under the direction of Lee-Cooney adorn themselves in the nuances of their craft. Even such mundane things as prop changes are treated with visual poetry. To come away from a production enamoured with the way a table is brought to the stage is a wonder and the handling of that table loaded it with a power that reveals itself at pinnacle of the play.
After a few nervous opening-night gaffs the cast performed well. Stand-out moments from Samuel Valentine as Juli, Sandro Colarelli extending from humour to horror between an inept copper and a self-proclaimed prophet and Lisa Hickey was delightful in numerous roles. A Chaplinesque tug-o-war between the caricature police officer (Sandro) and Juli shows-up Fractals skill for injecting moments of hilarity in what would be otherwise tension creating a clever view of life in another’s shoes – in this instance the absurdness of being accused of the theft of something that was thrown away as Juli clings defiantly to the junk-heap accordion that would end up costing he and his mother dearly.
We are constantly decrying the infiltration of foreign productions and stories that lock local talent out of our playhouses but great, independent artists are still out there doing their thing and they need our support. The Untouchable Juli is playing at Studio 188 until July 25 (check-out the very funky Nu Orleans on Limestone Street for dinner) before heading off to the Sandgate Town Hall. Keep an eye out on the Fractal website or follow them on Facebook to keep up with their latest news.
It’s impossible to predict what delights awaits you when planning to attend a Sven Swenson production with intriguing storylines and surprising plot twists assured, the lead-up to opening night is always full of anticipation. Tiptoe, the latest production from the masterly creative team at Pentimento Productions has just finished an incredibly short run at the Brisbane Powerhouse and left an awed audience in its dark and murky wake.
Act one of this frenzied three act thriller introduces us to all the players and impressively runs two scenes at the same time, side by side on a rustically adorned stage that takes us to two places in Logan, 1919. The imbalance of the two time frames and two competing sets keeps the audience slightly confused and has the remarkable effect of quietly unsettling the viewer as the story starts to unravel from both ends of the timeline burning toward the centre of the story which is where our perpetrator lurks.
Angus (James Trigg) and Seth (Sam Ryan) have absconded from quarantine on returning from World War 1 and hide out in an old shack where they have the privacy to explore their passionate love for one another and tend to their illegal still, Spanish flu fearing Logan residents are none-the-wiser.
Playing out simultaneously beside the two holed-up returned serviceman is Binny Broadfoot (Sarah Macleod) in her living room some weeks later. Pregnant and supposedly planning a home abortion she is disturbed by Justine (Caitlin Hill), the barren wife of the weedy and seedy Archie Cutler (Cameron Clark). As the two ends of the play hurtle toward each other (like a stick of dynamite lit at both ends) they are interwoven with the mysterious tales of the death of the revered Snow Cutler (Michael Deed) – Archie’s brother who died at war, and Jurdi Girdler (Gene Von Banyard) a creepy, haunting character that exists on the edge of society; an urban myth like creature that sticks in the nightmares of the locals. The explosive conclusion is truly unexpected. My guest and I both turned to each other with our mouths open and eyes wide once the story had reached its intense conclusion.
Once again Sven Swenson shines out as a master craftsman; the writing is supreme and the characters are complete human beings uncovered from some dark crevices of the human psyche. Swenson keeps his audience well in his grip for almost three hours which is not an often accomplished task. It is arguable that Swenson’s courage to push hard on the boundaries of shock demonstrates his true genius. An example of this? The audience watches a captive Archie Cutler flailing around (full frontal nudity) on the shack floor in a well-orchestrated and extremely graphic rape scene. The extreme nature of the scene is essential to set-up the final reveal and deliver the oomph it requires. If it had had one been one second longer or had one more visually assaulting element however it would risk going too far and endangering the payoff but Swenson knows how to use shock in high doses which others writers may avoid for fear of being confronting or others still overdo mistakenly thinking that more makes the glory.
Of course such brilliant writing serves great actors well and it’s difficult to single out cast members from such a talented, well played line-up; Sarah McLeod was full-on as the brash, provocative, independent Binny; a woman of-her-time and out-of-all-time. James Trigg was powerful as the conflicted queer Angus and Sam Ryan’s tortured Seth made the heart sink in hopelessness.
Pentimento Productions was established in 2009 to produce Sven Swenson’s award-winning work and should be held up as a shining light for Brisbane’s independent theatre scene. If you haven’t yet seen a work from this magnificent team, you are most definitely missing out on some of the best talent that Brisbane has to offer. Show your support for the team by visiting their website www.pentimentoproductions.org.au or keeping an eye out for their next production.
In his monologue The Fever, Wallace Shawn reaches out to his own peers with his idea that their very existence is a bloody, tortuous burden on the poor and powerless of the world. For the Anywhere Theatre Festival, Zachary Boulton presents a dramatic performance of Shawn’s narrative to an intimate gathering inside the West End Market Warehouse.
Our nameless narrator wakes feverish in a hotel room in a foreign country that is wrecked by civil war. In a Kafkaesque meltdown he finds himself on the bathroom floor, vomiting and hallucinating, surrounded by crawling water bugs. He recounts to us a story of a party in a fine restaurant while out in the streets people suffered from, what he comes to see as, the violent fall out of his privileged existence.
Through the course of his sometimes humorous ponderings, our narrator wavers like an out-of-control car as he tries to understand his life and what must be done about the scourge of capitalism and greed. On the other hand he also seems to be trying to talk himself back to the comfort of the status quo after all we can’t give away all our money can we, not when we worked so hard for it and we do so enjoy the Opera.
With such great lines like the judgement of a revolution by its tasty ice cream, Shawn’s writing is charming with a sinister undertone that demonstrates how we, those born to luck, talk ourselves out of blame but, more than that, we turn the actual torture of other human beings into our own personal intellectual dilemma so that we too can feel as if we have suffered.
Boulton, a versatile performer with impressive strength was captivating and passionate for the marathon seventy minute introspection. He literally sweated the words as he spoke them, the stark lights beating on him like he was being interrogated. In fact, the overall feeling of this version of The Fever was that of tense interrogation – were we his peers or his jury? If so, it is an interesting departure from Shawn’s original performances to his friends in their New York Penthouses – you can imagine him cradling a glass of expensive champagne while he candidly shares his moral musings to his ridiculously wealthy friends. Is Anatoly Frusin (Director) trying to turn the spot-light back onto Shawn and call out his lack of action after decades of such eloquent concern?
The Fever by Wallace Shawn is a catalyst for great conversation – you will either sympathise with this character or despise him - as we continue to indulge in a society that talks at length from the comfort of our lounges about what might be done. This great piece of provocative theatre finishes with shows this weekend (May 15-17) and tickets can be purchased online at www.anywheretheatrefest.com
Someone needs to see all the things.