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2014 Theatre Reviews - July 25-May 6

 

Pale Blue Dot

By Kathryn Marquet

Directed by Michael Futcher

La Boite Theatre Company

Roundhouse Theatre

Kelvin Grove

Brisbane

 

ERIC SCOTT July 24, 2014

 

IT has not taken long for the talented actor Kathryn Marquet to make her writing breakthrough. Her two previous plays Other Countries and Conqueror were shortlisted for the Queensland Premier’s Drama Award and last year she joined La Boite as a Playwright in Residence.

It was there that she developed Pale Blue Dot which David Berthold included in this year’s main house program. And, with the help of a top production crew and an exceptional cast, it had a highly appreciated opening night and for me provided great entertainment.

Pale Blue Dot is a good play. It is well structured, has believable characters with depth, great dialogue and a wicked sense of humour. It is comedy about aliens, alienation, and the thought that we are not alone in the universe or our own world. It also cleverly links the four main characters into each other’s story and we watch the events send a ripple effect through their lives.

Joel Pinkerton is an Insurance fraud Investigator who is sent to check out a claim from Greta, a German immigrant who says her daughter, 16-year-old schoolgirl Storm, was abducted by aliens. The UFO abduction insurance had been introduced by his company as a publicity stunt a few years ago. Now someone has made a claim.

As he investigates the possibility of the abduction he is drawn to conspiracy theories and becomes alienated from his own wife, Holly and their newborn baby girl. Joel is not a happy investigator; in fact he is a bit of a softy who loves his wife madly.

Joel’s journey from disbelieving investigator with a wife being driven insane by a constantly crying baby and a husband hardly ever at home, to a UFO believer and back again is fascinating and often hilarious.

This was a tour-de-force performance from Hugh Parker. He created a very real person, with problems with which many a married man would associate. I loved the way he coped with his ever disintegrating life and tried to understand and comfort his hysterical wife. There were times when he made me laugh and others when my heart went out to him.

But then each cast member was in the same league as they fitted into the skin of the characters.

Lucy Goleby was superb as Joel’s wife Holly. It was an astonishing debut for someone who only graduated from NIDA last year. Her comedy timing was spot on and her mood swings so real it was like being a fly on a wall in a real domestic set up. Then she slipped into a hoodie and became Louise, a raging UFO nut at the local UFO appreciation society.

Brisbane actor Ashlee Lollback made her La Boite debut as Storm, plus a couple of very sexy aliens, and again, what a marvellous debut. She sizzled in a silver lamé body suit and then became a sweet and confused schoolgirl and later the would-be teenage seducer of poor Mr Pinkerton.

To top of this remarkable combo came Caroline Kennison who played Greta, with a marvellous mix of German-Aussie accents and she managed to be both funny and dramatic at the same time.

Then she gave one of the funniest performances of the night as Deirdre Spinnaker, the host of the UFO society who was a cross between Edna Everage and Mrs Brown and as funny as both of them. She almost stole the show

But as well as all this fine acting it was an equally brilliant technical production.

Josh McIntosh’s flying saucer-like set, with high-ceilinged curtain at the back, Gordon Hamilton’s fabulous soundscape, and Jason Glenwright’s spooky lighting, were pivotal in the success of the show.

The visual image was completed by amazing special effects from optikal bloc which helped to create the fantasy of aliens and the harsh reality of real life.

It’s a show that will have appeal to a wide range of theatregoers and comes highly recommended.

It continues until August 9. Bookings: 3007 8600.

1984

By George Orwell

Adapted for stage by shake & stir Theatre Company

shake & stir and QPAC presentation

Cremorne Theatre

Queensland Performing Arts Centre

South Bank

Brisbane

 

ERIC SCOTT July 18, 2014

 

I THOUGHT that after thoroughly enjoying this production of Big Brother in 2012, it might be a bit too early to watch the same production again, but I enjoyed the 100 minutes of intense drama just as much as I did before.

It is still an exciting nights at the theatre from the opening video that informs of the chilling fact that “Big Brother is Watching You” and the creation of doublespeak through the rebellion of Winston Smith and Julia to the horrific and realistic torture scenes.

After the show in 2012 I realised I had never actually read the book despite it sitting in my bookshelf. So I took it down, dusted it off, and read the whole thing. It is such a great story with memorable characters and the play is very close to the tone and language of the book.

The fabulous mufti-media work from Optikal Bloc was just as impressive. With the Big Brother image, the blurred war footage and softly lit colour scenes they blended image with reality and created a really powerful piece of theatre. Also, like the previous Brisbane production, many nights are already sold out.

Orwell wrote the story in 1948 as a warning against totalitarianism but every time the propaganda TV screens belted out some pompous message about the glorious achievements of the people and the wonderful leader, I was reminded of North Korea today.

The first time I saw the play I had forgotten about the horrors of Room 101 but knowing it was there this time made it even scarier. It certainly gave rats a bad name

The show opens with two minutes of hate – and the first thing that popped into my mind was Question Time in our own House of Representatives. Governments of all persuasions are experts at spin and doublespeak and it is certainly alive and well in Canberra at the moment.

The adaptation of the novel was done by Nelle lee and Nick Skubij. They brought the feel of the book to the stage and it had lost none of its literary power, Lee also played the role of Julia while Skubij was also in stage as Charrington and Syme, two of the down-trodden citizens

The director once again was Michael Futcher, who has a complete understanding of the mind of George Orwell and of his writing. He brought out the best in his actors.

The company also brought in two of the best designers, with a drab and intimidating set from Josh McIntosh and terrific lighting with lots of dazzling explosions from Jason Glenwright.

The third shake & stir creative Ross Balbuziente played two roles and just like the others created truly Orwellian characters, particularly Parsons, the poor citizen who has been denounced as a thought criminal by, as he proudly tells us, his own daughter.

There were two other actors involved on stage Bryan Probets as Winston Smith and David Whitney as ever-smiling O’Brian. Is he a freedom fighter, or a Big Brother stooge?

I thought Probets was electrifying in his performance in 2012 and again, what a performer. After a tour of 31 stops countrywide I don’t know how he kept up the incredible energy and intensity of his role, but he did. The guy must run on adrenaline. He was fabulous as Winston Smith, one of the few citizens who could remember the past and unscramble the doublespeak.

We just followed his ill-fated battle against the system and his doomed romance with Julia, who was probably the only a true free spirit in the region. But even she had her own doublespeak life. While she was romping in the woods and on the bed with Winston she was spouting Big Brother’s lines about the evils of sex.  She was played nicely by Nelle Lee who managed to look sexy even in her drab overalls.

Whitney was the only newcomer to the cast – O’Brien was played by Hugh parker last time. He was different, a much oilier, snaky man, but he still brought a chill to the stage each time he entered and was the perfect foil for Probets in the ongoing cat and mouse game.

The production continues at the Cremorne until July 31. See it if you can get a ticket. Bookings: qpac.com.au or 136 246.

The Breakfast Club

By John Hughes

Adapted by Drew Jarvis

Directed by Susan O’Toole Cridland

Brisbane Arts Theatre

Petrie terrace

Brisbane

 

ERIC SCOTT June 30, 2014

 

IT IS big task to take a cult movie like the 1980s John Hughes classic The Breakfast Club and turn it into a stage play, let alone allay the ghosts of the stellar cast that featured in the film.

It was a film that mirrored the lives of teenagers in the 1980s and the problems they faced. It was a favourite genre for film director John Hughes, with other films like Pretty in Pink and Sixteen Candles – both of which also stared Molly Ringwold.

The teens of the time responded well and made all the films box office hits, and it would seem that the people who saw the film in the 1980s were at the theatre on opening night to relive the experience as it took on a nostalgic flavour of good times past.

The Arts theatre did an impressive job with the adaptation and it succeeded with honours. I was even more impressed later when I discovered that the adaptation had been done by Brisbane writer Drew Jarvis.

It was a brilliant job and made for a terrific stage play that I am sure will be picked up by other community theatre groups. I would hope it is anyway.

Opening Night was a top night, with a full house that appreciated the work that went into the production. I thoroughly enjoyed the show and the performances.

The story is about five American college students, strangers to each other, who through various misdemeanours are to spend Saturday in detention to write an essay about how they see themselves.

Drew Jarvis had the unenviable task of playing the unhappy and pompous Richard Vernon the supervising teacher. He pops in every now and then to throw some abuse at the detainees and try to stop them squabbling. It not the easiest of roles to play, but he did well and maintained his character all the way through

So this is very much a character play and Susan O’Toole Cridland did an exceptional job in her casting and keeping the American accent reasonably steady.

The five diametrically opposed students are Claire, the airhead “popular” girl, Allison the apparently shy girl, Andrew the college jock, Brian, the apologists for everything and everyone and the rebel with no particular cause, Bender.

And it here that the magic happened as the characters began to interact and their stories came slowly out. Each had a secret angst, each had problems at home, and each was defensive and insecure.

The cast worked well together and rather than bring a carbon copy of the screen characters to the stage they created convincing new ones. Sympathy flowed from one to the other as the actors exposed the inner workings of the the people they were creating.

Rochelle Newman was Claire the talk-to-the-hand snobbish little rich girl who would not be seen dead in the company of any of her fellow detention buddies during school time. She gave a lovely performance of naivety and bluster as she tried to cope with the lesser mortals she was in detention with.

Jonty Martin was Brian, the softly spoken – sometimes too softly spoken – boy who seems to be a born appeaser and victim. It was a solid performance from a young actor with not a lot of experience.

Christo Barrett-Hall was just about perfect as the sporting hero; aggressive yet a gentleman when it came to looking after the girls, especially from the rebel Bender, who was an aggressive, nasty piece of work, with a chip on both shoulders and no respect for himself or anyone else.

Jeremiah Wray was Bender. He was tall, athletic looking and a fine actor with strong stage presence. I loved the way he suppressed Bender’s anger and his aggression when he needed to, right up until the time he exploded in frustration and his situation in life.

 They were all good and worked perfectly off each other, but for me the star of the show was Liv Wilson as Allison. She really has a special talent and is one of the actors who attract attention all the time they are on stage. Even when she was just sitting and staring blankly she was working.

I was staggered afterwards when I read the program to discover that she was just fifteen years old. I would say she has a big future.

There was one minor complaint: each of the characters in turn showed their true anguish at their situation and each in turn began to shout angrily. I felt there could have been different ways of showing anger from such diverse characters rather than the repetitive way it was done.

It continues until August 2. Bookings: Phone: 07 3369 2344; Email: bookings@artstheatre.com.au

The Naked Magicians

Brisbane Powerhouse

New Farm

Brisbane

 

KELLIE SCOTT June 20, 2014

 

I HAD no interest in magic – but that was before The Naked Magicians came to the Brisbane Powerhouse.

Who knew that male nudity, female strangers being asked to kiss on stage and sexual innuendos could spice up some old magic tricks?

Magicians Christopher Wayne and Mike Tyler are right when they say “good magicians don’t need sleeves, great magicians don’t need pants”.

Some of their tricks I’ve seen before, like when I was 10, but it didn’t matter because the flare (or is that penis?) and originality they brought with it made it all worthwhile.

So don’t be disappointedt when stunts involving rope, cards, straight-jackets and mind-reading start – because it all comes with a little something extra!

While some women were frothing at the mouth to get on stage, others were hiding behind their handbags to avoid being asked to get involved.

There were plenty of men in the crowd too – and lucky for them the full frontal nudity isn’t as long-lived as the promos would have you believe.

But don’t worry; you’ll see some of the crown jewels – if that’s your thing.

The boys are performing at the Brisbane Powerhouse for the next week or so and tickets are reportedly selling fast. Get yours at www.brisbanepowerhouse.org 

The Effect

By Lucy Prebble

Directed by Sarah Goodes

Queensland Theatre Company and Sydney Theatre Company

Bille Brown Studio

South Brisbane

 

ERIC SCOTT June 13, 2014

 

THIS is a new play, it premiered in the UK barely two years ago and yet it feels like an “old fashioned” play. By that I mean is has length, in-depth characterisation, a solid storyline and heaps of conflict to keep an audience fascinated for the entire length of the show. It has everything a good drama should have. In short, it is a ripper of a play.

It also has some bad language but none of it for sensationalism and simulated sex scenes, beautifully done, that actually add to the storyline.

There are a lot of laughs in this tale of two people thrown together in clinic where, stuck in isolation for four week, are to test a new anti-depressant pill. There is also violence, mystery, sadness, and joy.

Tristan is a regular in these little forays into pharmaceutical science while Connie is a first timer.

Tristan is a happy-go-lucky young man who knows how to break the clinic rules and get away with it. He sneaks in mobile phones and cigarette and even knows a secret way to the outside.

He challenges Connie constantly, flirts with her and generally ruffles her feathers while Connie does her best to dissuade the young man from, flirting with her, even to the point of confessing that she is in a relationship with an older, once married man. But during the course of the days of forced comradeship they fall in love.

Now is it true love or is it caused by the drug and which one of them is being fed the placebo? They are vital and hovering questions that hang over the whole play. 

Meanwhile the woman monitoring the trial, Dr James, has a past that somehow involves Toby, spokesman for the company trialling the new pill. He is man with a vested interest who is determined to ensure that the human trial will be successful.

So this quartet plays off each other to create a fascinating and compelling two hours plus of on stage drama. The tension and suspense keep rising as the secrets are revealed and the play cruises to a completely unexpected climax.

The writing and creation of characters is superb and the plot weaves perfectly in an abstract pattern that links each character to the other and draws them to the unexpected conclusions.

I have to hand it to director Sarah Goodes. Her casting could not have been better.

Anna McGahan is Connie and she showed why she is seen as one of the best actors in the country, she was simply brilliant as the apprehensive newbie.

Then she switched from the cocky and aggressive girl of her initial interview to a neurotic, fearful almost bipolar woman and then to a normal, caring loving person. It was a joy to watch her switch moods and show us the complicated creature that Connie was.

Mark Leonard Winter was Tristan, the brash over-confident man who lived for fun and adventure. He is taking part in the trial to earn pocket money for his travels, planned to begin immediately after he leaves the clinic.

He starts his flirtation with Connie just because he can, but then thinks he has fallen headlong in love. He pours out his heart to Connie but then they both start to think: Is it real or not?

He also produced brilliant wild mood swings as he switched from being a simple, but nice bloke to an angry and aggressive man. He made it look obvious that something was going wrong in the experiment.

Angie Milliken was Dr James. She was a cool as her subjects were irrational. I loved the way she played the psychiatrist with measured tones, never subject to anger or even irritation. She was a professional researcher to the core. But then she softened and made unprofessional decisions that showed that she was not all that she seemed.

The cool, calculating lecturer and company front man Toby was played by Eugene Gilfedder and he rounded off the perfect cast as he slowly released the past that lay between him and Dr James.

It is a play to savour long after you leave the theatre.

It continues until July 5.

Stiff

By April Phillips

Directed by Damien Lee

Studio Theatre

645 Wynnum Road

Morningside

Brisbane

 

IT has been a while since I was at the Studio Theatre and there have been some changes, all to the good. The churchlike bench seats have gone, replaced by very comfortable theatre seating that really add to the intimate atmosphere. 

The café and foyer too have been relit with much more cosy soft lighting.

It was all very impressive.

The show playing at the moment is Stiff a sort of a Carry On movie on stage. It’s full of very English vulgarity, sexual innuendos, and lots of bodily function jokes and a cast of weird and wonderful comedy characters.

Author April Phillips is in fact a Kiwi, but she really understands English comedy and apparently the play is inspired by the English comedy TV series of old.

The story is simple. Happy streetwalker Angel Delight inherits a the Withers funeral parlour from her long lost biological father. The snag is that she can’t sell it for five years until the company hits its century. So she decides run an undercover brothel and brings some of her street sisters to staff it.

Angry at being passed over is former employee Robert Swipe – and he cops it very often when everyone uses his first name initial with his surname. He is determined to sink the operation and get the parlour for himself.

Angel was abandoned as child and is convinced she is an albino Negro because she likes soul music. She was played, complete with stocking tops and naughty outfits by Paige Celliers.

She is basically the stooge to the comedians with Isabelle Dodin, dressed in slinky leather gear and a punk haircut playing the S and M discipline mistress Roxanne Paine. She’s a zany character who loves her little torture chamber just off stage.

Then we have a delightfully ditzy blonde streetwalker– Sherry - who was played very nicely by Bonnie Logan. She had the audience in stitches with her delivery of some hilarious dumb lines. I enjoyed her character the most.

Michael Dion played the obsessive-compulsive transvestite, Delilah.

The unfortunate R. Swipe was played very convincingly by Andrew Nathan. It’s not a role with a lot of meat to it. He is basically a foil for Angel, but he held his own with the feisty girls.

Dallas Fogarty played a couple of roles, one was probably the most difficult he has ever had to face.  He made his entrance early on as the lawyer who read the will, but returned later as the dead Judge Beaton.

The naughty judge went to the brothel for a bit of punishment from Roxanne and, despite being told “don’t put your feet in the water” did so.

We weren’t given any details of what his actual punishment fetish was, but it resulted in a large flash and a sizzled former judge. Dallas then had to be dragged on stage wearing a t-shirt and jockey shorts, plus some tummy padding which led led to one of the funniest and vulgar segments of the night.

This was when the girls decide to embalm him ready for his funeral.

The things they did with vinegar, paint thinner, cotton wool and tampons has to be seen to be believed. And all the time this was going on Dallas never moved a muscle.

It is then that the judge’s wife, Mrs Beaton, played by Jo Castle turns up, happy to see her depraved husband in his coffin. And so leads on to the typical farce ending.

There are also ghost and coffin jokes by the score. It is a funny play riddled with double entendre jokes.

It continues until June 13. Bookings: (07) 3216 1115 or www.stagedoordinnertheatre.com.au

Educating Rita

By Willy Russell

Directed by Deirdre Robinson

Sunnybank Theatre Group

Corner Beenleigh and Mains Roads Sunnybank

 

ERIC SCOTT June 7, 2014

 

EVERY now and then I see a community theatre production that proves beyond doubt that all the best actors don’t necessarily make the professional stage. This was one of them.

The two actors in this two hours-plus two-hander are both working parents who do what they do for the love of it. And they made the audience love them too with finely honed performances with excellent comic timing and an understanding of the drama beneath the comedy.

The performances held me glued to the chair and totally absorbed as this familiar story took on a new and fascinating life. It was like seeing the play for the first time.

Educating Rita is not easy to produce for a community theatre: it has just the two actors and a lot of time-lapse scene changes. (Act one consists of seven scenes running from January to May, and Act two a further seven running from September to December.)

Act one runs for almost 90 minutes while the second is less at 50 minutes. So not only are there an enormous amount of lines to learn, but the pair must have enough stamina to do the long act with flagging.

Director Deirdre Robinson did a fine job with her casting and direction.

The story tells of the relationship between a young Liverpudlian working class hairdresser and Frank, a middle-aged university lecturer.

Thirty-something, married but childless Rita, whose real name is actually Susan, is unhappy with her husband and dissatisfied by life in general. She is an intelligent girl who never had the chance to show it, so she starts a search for a more satisfying life by signing up for an Open University course in English Literature.

 The play opens as 'Rita' meets her tutor, Frank, for the first time. Frank is a middle-aged, alcoholic lecturer with a very jaundiced view of life.

Paul Marshall played Frank while Sarah Mehmet was Rita. And they truly slipped into the skin of their characters.

Frank is such a down, miserable person that it would be easy to fall into the trap of could-have-been poet, who despised the students he taught and despised himself for his dependence of alcohol and yet was still searching for redemption.

The cynical humour in his lines was well delivered, he won every laugh in the script, and his slide into maudlin anger was as good a drunk scene as I’ve seen on stage. He was the perfect foil for the effervescent Rita and was totally unselfish in giving her the leads she needed

Sarah Mehmet was absolutely convincing as Rita. Her gradual change from the ignorant put-down housewife and hairdresser to an erudite, confident woman was masterly and her exchanges with her tutor were sharp and beautifully timed. It was like watching a game of tennis where the experienced player was slowly but surely overtaken by the brash newcomer.

Sarah’s Liverpool accent was faultless and consistent. It was only talking to her after the show I realised actually how good the accent was. It never lapsed once and, for me the highlight of the exchanges between the two protagonists was when Rita, rooming with an upper class, yuppy, tries to “improve” herself with self-taught elocution lessons and starts to talk “posh”.

It was just hilarious, but the magic came because when she tried out her new vocal tones, she slipped back into Rita’s own voice every so often, as she should, and not once was it anything but Liverpudlian. That was complete mastery of character.

I was very impressed.

I thoroughly recommend this one to any0n who enjoys good theatre.

Book Tickets Online NOW or phone (07) 3345 3964.

The Magic Hour

By Vanessa Bates

Directed by Chris Bendall

Queensland Theatre Company

Bille Brown Studio

South Brisbane

 

ERIC SCOTT May 22, 2014

 

THE Magic Hour actually ran for closer to two, but it certainly was magical.

It began with the set, a beautifully lit open space with a corrugated and wood gypsy-style caravan and the trappings of an Aboriginal outback camp site designed by Alicia Clements. Props and costumes were cleverly tucked away in various drawers, and windows and shutters opened and closed to add another dimension to the stories,

Joe Lui’s lighting design shone brightly on the caravan and let the edges drift into darkness; a perfect setting for some dark tales.

Ursula Yovich wandered onto the set, talked to the audience, and checked how her pumpkin soup was cooking on her bush stove. Then she began telling her stories and, with a variety of shawls, fur, wraps and coats, body language and a change of vocal tone she created many different and very real characters. The props were hung out on a washing line at the end of each story, which gave the show a neat continuity.

She had the sell-out audience enthralled and proved what a brilliant storyteller she is. She weaved a spell as she retold six traditional fairytales penned by Vanessa Bates that were set well away from the original locations.

The script would have been one of the most inventive and fresh I’ve seen for a long time.

The language was sweet at times, at others it came in rhyming couplets and then switched to abrupt, and violent language as the often gentle and damaged characters turned to anger.

It truly was fairytales like you’ve not heard them before. Why: because they were told from angle of other characters in the story. The essence of the ancient tales remained while the people became modern and fractured; the sick, the dispossessed, druggies, the victims who had slipped through the cracks.

We saw Little Red Riding Hood’s story told by her Gran. It was the tale of a Karla, young girl who was trapped in the small town and the drunks that inhabit it. She runs away from home constantly, is “man mad”, and disobeys orders from everyone from her parents to the town cop.

She meets her wolf in the woods – a hairy, tattooed stranger who she takes to live at Gran’s house. Gran, only in her thirties feels she has no way of dealing with the errant child who dresses in boots mini-skirt and a red hoodie bought in an op shop.

But she deals with the wolf in her own way and ends the segment by singing, very nicely and very clearly a song called I Know a Path, one of several songs created by Joe Lui

We saw Cinderella’s tale told from the view of Collette one of her ugly stepsisters. She was not the pampered greedy pet of the fairytale but a sad, face-picking, self harming adolescent who is sadly envious of her step sister’s success with the prince rather than jealous.

Rosie’s tale was created from Rumpelstiltskin, She was a nervous lady who had been set up with a date by her father. She calls herself a spinster who spins and spends her time with her date talking about spinning wheels and her different techniques.

“My dad says I could spin straw into gold,” she says. Then she meets a very small man and tells him of her desire to have a baby. She gives the man her personal details and goes home to await his visit.
In the second act the story of the Frog prince is hilarious and Ursula does the whole thing with a pair of sock puppets that represent upper crust Dad and his spoiled princess of a child and simply uses her voice for the Frog and Mother. This is one you need to see.

Rapunzel is re-worked cleverly. The girl is a foundling, and grows up in her tower – a high rise council flat. The woman who found her is overly-protective and refuses to let the girl, with her long red hair, out of the flat, for fear of “stalkers”. Then the “prince” arrives and drastic action is called for.

The final tale was Jack and the Beanstalk with Jack and his junkie parents and his desperate need to be “good” and to help his mother out of the trap she is in.

Very clever indeed was this allegorical retelling. It is a delightful theatrical evening.

It continues until May 31. Bookings:  www.queenslandtheatre.com.au or 136 246.

Boeing Boeing

By Marc Camoletti

Directed by Cameron Castles

Centenary Theatre Group

Chelmer Community Hall, Cnr of Queenscroft and Halsbury Streets

Chelmer

 

ERIC SCOTT May 17, 2014

 

       WITH farce being very much on the outer by professional and community theatre these days there are few such plays floating around, so I was looking forward to dose of fun and idiocy with the 1960s hit comedy Boeing Boeing – and a good belly laugh.

I got that all right with the Cameron Castles-directed production at Chelmer.

It was off to a slow start in the long first act, (two combined) but it soon gathered pace as a trio of gorgeous, leggy, air hostesses and a marvellous French maid popped in and out of the various doors (six of them and an exit) in sexy short skirts and occasional towel.

Bernard played by Michael Civitano lives in a big apartment in Paris and has three fiancés, al of them international hosties who fly to a strict timetable around the world. With some clever mathematics Bernard has a perpetual cake that he can eat all the time.

Then an old school friend, Robert turns up out of the blue and we all know that Bernard’s well-laid plans will gang aglie, as Robbie Burns would have said. And of course, with the aid a new generation of faster aircraft, they do: disastrously.  His timetable is shot to pieces and the girls return up expectedly at irregular intervals.

When Robert enters he appears a bit light in the brain department and is a clumsy uncoordinated sort of blokes who does a lot of body twisting as he squirms around always doing and saying the wrong thing. A tribute I think to Jerry Lewis, who played Robert to Tony Curtis’s Bernard in the movie version,

Andrew Wallace’s performance warmed up to create an hilarious knock-about character with perfectly timed double takes, pratfalls, sexual innuendo in fact everything that a good actor in a farce should do. It was a terrific and funny performance.

And he showed that there was more to him that a clumsy nerd as he began to follow in Bernard’s romantic footsteps, and aspired of living the same dream.

Mind you the girls were a lot more than the pretty faces they certainly were.

Carri-Ann Smith was Gloria, the gum chewing Yank from Pan Am; she created a nicely happy-go-lucky girl who didn’t love Bernard as much as he thought she did. It was a bright performance.

I enjoyed Kaitlyn Woods as Lufthansa’s impatient Gretchen. She was definitely not a girl to cross! The sweet and loving lady was prone to attacks of Hitleritis when things did not go her away. Her harangues were beautifully timed.

Leanne Shellshear was the third fiancée - the explosive Alitalia hostess with the mostest, Gabriella. Again it was a defined performance, a very stereotyped Italian beauty, but just what a farce needs.

The three of them worked perfectly in tune with the men as poor Robert tried in vain to keep his friend out of trouble as Bernard blithely walked into trap after trap after trap.

It was a laugh a minute as we watched Bernard’s descent down the slippery road of deceit as he went from confident lover to a quivering mess of fear and panic.

In the middle of all this chaos was Berthe the tall, elegant very Parisienne maid, played with marvellous deadpan and credible French accent by Cathy Bull.

She “came with the apartment” says Bernard and he is glad she did because she is no way judgemental of his “triple life” and is happy to keep the bedrooms in character for each of his “guests” and to make sure the right food is on the table. Of course the changing timetable upset her routine too, but she got through it all with a Gallic shrug and nicely muttered French curses.

How she kept that straight face through all that mayhem I’ll never know, but she did and it all added to the fun of a well produced, laugh a minute farce.

It continues until May 31, Bookings can be made on-line at www.centenarytheatre.com.au. All inquiries to 0435 591 720.

 Machina

By Richard Jordan

Directed by Catarina Hebbard

Presented by La Boite Indie

The Loft,

 Kelvin Grove

Brisbane

 

KELLIE SCOTT May 10, 2014

 

SUICIDE and social media: one a rather taboo subject, the other all we hear about. One ends a life, the other consumes it.

In a new play written by Richard Jordan, Machina explores the act of suicide in the world of social media.

Fast forward probably not that far into the future and you’ll discover something like Machina. A social media platform that seems to entwine Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tinder and so on.

What you haven’t already experienced, however, is the ability to upload your conscious on the World Wide Web, sacrificing “real life” as you know it – to die but not in the traditional sense. And that is what David did.

Ultimately, as director Catarina Hebbard says, the play is about relationships. While the messages about social media and its destructive nature were strong, the most powerful element for me was the loss and confusion family and friends experience when one takes their own life.

Kaye Stevenson as Isobel, David’s mother, is brilliant as she portrays her struggle to understand her son’s death.

Sister Amanda is equally tormented and Luisa Prosser delivers her journey from ignoring her feelings to owning them well.

The stark set is an effective platform for the story to play out where we are witness to all character transformations including costume changes rear of stage (some actors play several roles). It sounds messy but it’s not, the process is formatted and the actors do it well.

Jack Kelly as Scott and Liam Nunan as Tom deliver excellent performances and are the core examples of how social media affects the ability to have “real” connections with others.

Judy Hainsworth as Hannah is your typical oddball and uses her knowledge of the online world to connect with Amanda – which consequently helps Amanda come to terms with her brother’s death.

Peter Rasmussen as Adam delivers a suitable performance for what was a very unlikeable character - the type to ignore his friend at the table while he trawls online using his smartphone, and at home spends hours online searching for sex.

The story isn’t just heartache it also has some humour in snippets of computer classes where mature-aged students try to wrap their heads around the technological age.

This is a great show for a 15 to 40 year-old audience who can fully appreciate how social media affects our lives.

I wouldn’t be surprised if several people deleted their Facebook accounts or at least turned their phones off for the evening after the show.

Machina runs until May 24. Tickets www.laboite.com.au.

4000 Miles

By Amy Herzog

Directed by Anthony Skuse

La Boite Indie

Roundhouse Theatre

Kelvin Grove

Brisbane

 

ERIC SCOTT May 6, 2014

 

THIS is one of those play with no real plot; it’s a series of conversations, arguments and reminiscences that is, rather than a story, a segment from the life of a young man and his grandmother.

21-years-old Leo arrives in New York after a 4000 mile bike ride from Seattle in the West of the US. 91-year-old Grandma Vera had no idea he was coming and assumes he is to stay with her overnight until he reunites with his girlfriend Bec.

But there something wrong, something had happened to Leo on his rite of passage trek, on which he set out with his best mate and Bec and ends up completing it on his own.

His overnighter stretched into weeks and he steadfastly refused to talk to his mother about his problems or his reasons for leaving home or even allow Vera to do so. Leo is mixed up – and a very rude and aggressive young man. He tossed four letter words at Vera in a way I never would have spoken to my Grandma and I doubt very few others would either. He wasn’t very nice to his girlfriend either.

He came across in fact as a petulant spoiled brat with an unnecessary chip on his shoulder. They were an extremely odd couple but joined by the warmth of family ties and loneliness.

We did get to meet Bec and a girl he picked up on a night out – Amanda, but the relationship between the savvy Vera and the confused Leo formed the base for this, slightly overlong word play.

Director Anthony Skuse is an academic and his notes tended to be a bit of an esoteric  and intellectual discourse on the script with references to other playwrights - Arthur Miller and Tony Kushner for two. Kushner I don’t know, so maybe I missed something.

There was mention too of politics in the notes, which seemed obscure because, apart from a short conversation about communism there was little dialogue regarding the politics of the day or even yesterday. Again maybe I missed something.

I saw the conversations and the conflict and laughed a lot at some funny lines and exquisite comic timing from Diana McLean who played Vera. She made some of the conversations hysterical with her acid comments and dry Jewish wit. There was also something familiar about her character, she was an old woman who reminded me of my Grandma, and I am sure she had that universal appeal to many members of the audience. She was a universal Nana with her ability to listen and to chastise fairly.

Her telephone conversations too with her across-the-hallway neighbour brought hoots of laughter from the audience.

Stephen Multari played the troubled Leo well and created a complex but generally unlikeable young man. When we meet Bec it is obvious that that something bad happened on the road trip and that it wrecked their relationship.

Joanna Downing played Bec hesitantly as she tried unsuccessful to mend fences until she realised there was nothing left of their relationship at all.

The funniest moments in the play occurred when Leo brought home the very drunk and amorous Amanda. She was beautifully played by Aileen Huynh. Her timing was almost as good as Diana McLean’s and her drunken antics brought screams of laughter from the audience.

I found the play funny and interesting at times, but it was not something I will remember fondly in the future.

 It continues until May 17. Bookings: 07) 3007 8600.