Saturday, 25 December 1993
Icheka: Return of the Heathen by Bad Lot Theatre Company
Take Me as I Am, with book by Patrick White and score by Marky Mark and Girlfriend
Dec 25, 1993
By Kate Herbert
Published in The Melbourne Times, Jan 1994
We are too often faced with politically incorrect theatre nowadays. Icheka: Return of the Heathen is a bi-lingual, bi-partisan, bisexual romp by Bad Lot Theatre Company who are renowned for their earnest commitment to devising sound political theatre in an avant-garde form.
Icheka is about a boy who runs away from his right-wing Canberra parents to join a circus. The narrative, by Faye Bunny, Binkata: Eyes of the Hunter was written after exhaustive research into families of politicians and circus performers. It is authentic and demanding for an audience, weaving together themes of dislocation, migration, separation, feminism and witchcraft.
The direction is masterly, integrating enormous puppets, latex masks and Indonesian shadow puppets, fire-eating and acrobatics with a powerful text in an eclectic soup of theatrical genres.
"Theatre must transform and transport its audience," says director Ben Leather-Jacket in his Fitzroy studio; and transport people he does. The whole performance takes place on the express train from Melbourne to Geelong. The sense of desolation is heightened by the oil refinery background to the final scenes - and also by the fact that the audience is now stranded in Geelong ‘City of Oil Refineries without a paddle or a return ticket.
Icheka is sensational theatrical experience. Take a blanket.
Meanwhile in a major musical venue, is a don't-miss, revamped musical: Take Me as I Am, with book by Patrick White and score by Marky Mark and Girlfriend. This is a playful look at disasters perpetrated by Australian Prime Ministers this century.
You will recognise tunes like Take Me Back to the March Election, sung_by John Hewson, the ever-popular Malcolm's Trousers, Hey Mama There's a War up North, Harold Forgot his Snorkel, and Paul Keating's new hit I'll see your Queen and Raise You a Republic plus more old faves.
Get amongst the revivals for summer before they go back to the dead.
KATE HERBERT 25.12.93
Wednesday, 15 December 1993
1993 Kate’s Theatre Picks
Kate Herbert Dec 15, 1993
Published in The Melbourne Times, December 1993
During 1993, Melbourne's vibrant theatre scene kept on churning shows out in spite of funding cuts. Although '93 was a less prolific season than '92, it was a year of fine imports, musical and other revivals, more adaptations and deconstructions of texts and plenty of mono-dramas.
There has been limited local fare to inspire, but the Rumanians won my award for extraordinary moments in theatre with Titus Andronicus. The passion and intensity of performances, images and the provocative style were a treat during the festival. Another foreign, passionate, if fairly conventional gem was the Abbey's
Dancing at Lughnasa (Irish) and Trestle's State of Bewilderment (English) captured Leunig's eccentric world on stage.
A musical done well can still be the greatest night in the theatre. Chamber Made Opera's, Don Leaves Linda, was an extraordinary piece of witty music-theatre. High Society has great songs and changed cast more often than its underwear and 42nd Street was a fabulously extravagant, tongue in cheek production. Even its opening night party was a theatrical feast of posing, over-dressing, sycophancy and extravagance.
The pre-publicity budget alone could subsidise the Performing Arts Board. Jan Friedl's Sweet and Bitter Conversations captured the poignancy and drama of Brecht's songs in a way that Mother Courage could not without voices of quality.
TV and film stars hit the stage with a vengeance. Warren Mitchell was inspired in
I'm Not Rappaport along-side the wonderful Kiwi, George Henare. In MTC's
Much Ado About Nothing, Hugo Weaving was a very sexy Benedick with comics Michael Veitch and Kim Gyngell clowning on the side lines. Jackie Weaver was applauded on her opening night entrance in Shadowlands
Mark Little flew in from the UK to play the 80's mongrel entrepreneur in The Temple
for Playbox. The MTC consolidated both financially and artistically under Roger Hodgman and Carillo Gantner handed the baton at Playbox to Aubrey Mellor. Anthill's move to the Gasworks sent the company into crisis and its resultant $80,000 deficit caused a delay in funding allocations for '94.
Theatreworks lost its general grant as did Woolly Jumpers and Melbourne Writers' Theatre now has a venue (Courthouse) and no funds. Arts Victoria thought it would see better return on individual project grants which is probably true. Projects seem to be the way of the world yet again -and doesn't Melbourne do them well?
Kosky's Faust was expensive and weird while IRAA had yet another artistic hit with
Agamemnon This company is by far Melbourne's most consistently interesting under director Renato Cuocolo. It's visit to Vienna in July with Trojan Women put Melbourne on the map in Europe. $5 Theatre had another winner with The Master and Margherita.
Two solo shows were glittering moments. Anthill revived Kids' Stuff with Julie Forsyth playing the kid's role impeccably and William Yang's Sadness touched our souls with a rare honesty and beauty.
La Mama kept on programming new works as it should, but at times too frequently. Two week seasons were too swift and there were a number of shows selected inexplicably. One great success at La Mama was The Eye of Martha Needle by Bruce Thompson. It had a delicacy and integrity in script and style, which was rare this year. Another was Good Morning Midnight, a fine adaptation of Jean Rhyss's novel which assembled the whole of 1920's Paris within the confines of La Mama.
But the greatest dramatic tension was at the opulent opening night party of 42nd Street at the Hyatt Ballroom. Amongst the ice sculptures the lobster and backless gowns, we watched Gareth Evans shake hands with John Hewson and waited with baited breath to see who would use the judo throw first. Can't beat real life for drama!
Kate Herbert 15.12.93
Wednesday, 1 December 1993
1993 Reviews Kate Herbert, The Melbourne Times
The following are all reviews published in The Melbourne Times during 1994.
They will all be uploaded at some time in full. KH March 2012
Mary Hickson transcript
Aubrey Mellor interview
Station + Station
Ass saw the angel
5 Gays named Moe
All My Sons
Below the Belt
Tight Shorts & Duet For One
Pale Blue twinset
Behind the Play
Back to Back
Czajor Award 93
Death & maiden
Reviews Com Fest 93
Wed to Come
Road to hell La Mama
12 Angry Women
Angel of Graveyard
Leso Play 9/7
Feet of Clay
Dinner With Andre