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Brisbane review - Mayhem in June: an exciting innovation

By Lilian Harrington


Production:  Mayhem in June

Company: Beenleigh Theatre Group at Crete Street Theatre

Writer /Composer/Director:  Nicholas Hargreaves

Location: Crete St Beenleigh

Season:  3-4 May

Bookings: Try booking


Opening to spontaneous applause,   Mayhem  in  June  a musical, made  its inaugural performance at Crete  Street Theatre, Beenleigh.   It is an exciting innovation           by Beenleigh Theatre Group, (BTG), who have encouraged  one of their own young members, Nick Hargreaves, to realise a dream and complete a musical he has written, composed and directed for the stage. This project has  been  supported by the Regional Arts Development Fund (RADF),  in partnership with the Queensland Government and Logan City Council, to support arts and culture in regional Queensland.   The funding  helped  this 19 year old, make his debut as a  composer and writer,  and to work shop Mayhem in June before staging it.

The story  is  about  a  Year  11  student  Peter Baxter , who arrives at a new high school  and tries to reinvent himself  and take on the role of  Choir Master or  Chess Master, but is given the role of Vice- Captain instead. Extra curriculum activities are  important  in  the  high school , but  Peter finds that there are divisions  within the groups, so friendships  form  and fail, along with the politics, and the  relationships developed  in high school clubs.  

 The   story is  told  from  Peter’s  point of view . He writes everything   down as if   he’s playing a game of chess.   He sets out the moves as  he  sees  them , in his  notebook  like a  game  of  chess  and pre-empts   all the moves his friends make over twelve months, (as if they are part of a game of chess). He spends his time calculating the next move.

The talented team of youthful actors have put their heart and soul  into  this  new production  and  worked  towards  an  energetic  stage  presentation.  The  ensemble  work  was  well  organised  and  the  choreography  and movement was carefully blocked,  but some aspects of the production left  the actors challenged e.g. the  orchestra  was  positioned up stage, above the action.  While this placement worked visually, it tended to drown out the singers at times and so it made it harder to hear the lyrics.  The lyrics were important as they conveyed the narrative. Further,  there  was  an  imbalance  in  the  sound  level which made it harder to hear some of the dialogue.  For  those  who  were  musically  adept , this was a challenge.  It  could  be  put  down  to  first  night  jitters , but it seemed to create a challenge for some of the singers at times, who sang off note, or too loudly on occasion. The  instrumental  work  was  effective  and  well  thought  out  despite  opening night issues.

The  technical  effects,  set,  props, and  costumes, were simplistic and effective ;with  some special lighting and animated effects; The  chess  pieces  were placed  strategically on stage to signify  the moves created by Peter Baxter (Harrison Port), who narrated the story through song and dance and detailed events in his notebook.  Supporting the competent and talented Harrison Port, was Mal, (Anika Jocumsen),   who has a background in the arts and is currently studying at QUT and  Diane (Zara Lassey), who played multiple roles effectively and brought humour and pizazz to her characters, which received a good audience response.Mayhem in June has been thoughtfully written and composed and while some further attention needs to be given to the vocal levels, Nick Hargreaves and his team need to be congratulated for the work they have achieved on this musical which received a warm, audience response.   




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