Kate Herbert is theatre reviewer, Herald Sun, Melbourne & formerly for Melbourne Times. Kate is a director; produced playwright (21 plays). Scripts pub. Currency Press. She worked as actor, comedian, improviser & teacher of Acting, Improvisation & Playwriting. Kate was Head of Drama/Teacher, NMIT; Coordinator of Prof. Writing/ Editing, Swinburne Uni. Read her reviews here or: www.heraldsun.com.au/entertainment/arts. NB Explorer Browser doesn't always work on blog.
What: Love and Understandingby Joe
Penhall Red Stitch Actors Theatre
Where: 80 Inkerman St. St. Kilda
When: Wednesday to Saturday 8pm Sunday 6.30pm
Until: December 20, 2002
Reviewer: Kate Herbert
Three's a crowd - particularly when the
third party is selfish, manipulative and living in your house uninvited.
Penhall's play, Love and Understanding, examines the exhausted relationship of
a young, professional couple, Neal (Vincent Miller) and Rachel (Verity
childhood friend, Ritchie, ( David Whiteley) lands on their doorstep when the
two young doctors are frantically busy.
Ritchie is a
compulsive liar anda journalist - or he
may belying about the newspaper career
as well as everything else.He is fast, seductive, fun and completely
untrustworthy. Ritchie is the worst kind of drug consuming, manipulative
insidiously dangerous. David Whiteley plays this unpleasantly attractive
smiling villain as a jumpy, wretched, bad boy in leather jacket. He is the most
interesting character in the play and Whiteley is the most interesting actor on
two actors' performances are still uncertain. The shifts and balances of Neal
an Rachel are nto quite credible.
Denis Moore keeps the direction clean and simple, concentrating on the
relationships between the three.The stage is
uncluttered so we must focus on the characters.
dialogue is often smart and well-observed. However, there are sections that are
florid or clumsy. Characters talk at each other rather than to each other.
narrative is bleak and the main casualty is Neal and Rachel's a relationship,
Penhall does little to garner our sympathy for any of the three characters.They are not
likeable so it is difficult to care about their lives, foibles and failures.
script, after interval, has a surprise for us. The problem is that the as a
dramatic turning point seems contrived.The play
feels bumpy as it travels to its ending. Penhall's script feels fragmented and
there are several false endings.
Understanding needs some refining and some heart.
The Grand Feeling is a production with
oodles of charm. Directors, Nadja Kostich and Jeremy Angerson, bring to the
stage the stories of three very different older members of our community.
featured players are Frances Barton, Lesley Coles and Djo Soemardjo.
The charm derives from the absolutely
untheatrical manner of the three elders as they unaffectedly tell parts of
their story to us live or on film.
with them are three other performers, singer-violinist, Ria Soemardjo, writer-film
maker Michael Carmody and dancer-choreographer, Tony Yap.
simple and moving stories were discovered in a workshop called All My Love during
white set (Nina Sanadze) incorporatesshadow screens, white chairs and an exceptionally beautiful hanging of
enlarged snowflake designs.
move easily in the space and are invited or assisted onto the stage by the
actors. There is no pressure on them to perform.
They look to
the actors for prompts when they lose the thread of their story, They pause,
change tack or alter the answers to the prompts as they feel inclined.
" I'll do it my way," Lesley challenges Carmody as she steps towards
the audience. They want me to say this but I don't want to," she says
about telling us she might find love at her age.
about their families, meeting their spouses, courting, falling in love and
challenges of age and the failing body and mind.
gasps as Frances tells us she is one of eighteen children of an aboriginal
mother and a White American father. They lived in three rooms and mum burned
the fence for heating in winter.
Yarram in Gippsland, plays waltzes for us and tells of marrying her husband
after only six meetings over three years.
Djo is a
fine, still presence on stage. Parkinson's disease, he says, makes his body and
hands shake. His romance with an Australian woman brought him to Melbourne to
escape the difficulties in his native Java.
Soemardjo is a sublime element in this show. Her violin playing and unusual
vocal quality is transporting.All I can
say is see this. It is delightful.
Pacific Rim San Francisco and Melbourne 2002 Article by Kate Herbert Nov 27, 2002
San Franciscomay be 14 hours away, but it is just the
other side of the Pacific Rim. In
Melbourne and San Francisco, two improvised theatre companies are doing
parallel seasons of TheatresportsTM. On Sundays from July 14th to August 18th at Theatreworks in St. Kilda, a never-seen-before-in-Melbourne, original Canadian format will be played. Says Jenny Lovell, Director of this Melbourne season, “For
the first time, we will be playing an entire season in North American format -
two team challenge competition.” “I have taken a boxing style theme this season,” says
Lovell. “Two teams of improvisers each week will play open challenges, no time
limits, no need to be funny, no holds barred.” “Players will form new teams each week. The strongest two
combinations will compete for the 2002 trophy,” says Lovell. Meanwhile, in San Francisco, two teams are playing the same
game weekly at the Bayfront Theater, overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge. Impro Melbourne has the exclusive rights to TheatresportsTM
in Melbourne. In San Francisco, the
sister company is BATS Improv Theatre. Both are members of the ITI, (International Theatresports Institute) a committee that takes care of the rights and
execution of TheatresportsTM "!
around the world. The two companies have a special relationship across the
Pacific. Several members of both companies (yours truly included) travel
regularly to visit the other city to share ideas and skills. In April, Impro Melbourne hosted Keith Johnstone, creator of Theatresports and three BATS
members visited to share skills for two weeks of workshops. Members of Impro
Melbourne visit BATS Summer School each year. Regina Saisi, Artistic Director of BATS, says,
“ Improvisation has changed form. It used to be bastard short scenes, make
‘em laugh comedy club stuff. Then there was the birth of long form.” She refers to the full length improvised play that is also
explored by Impro Melbourne in its recent season at La Mama. “It is an exciting
time for improvisation”, says Saisi. “I would love to see it more accepted in
the theatre world. It’s always been the bastard child.” One major difference between the two companies is that BATS
has its own theatre, a full-time school of improvisation, offices, paid staff,
classes running every day, a summer school in August and a large performance
group working at three levels and a loyal audience. Australia bastardised the Canadian format in 1985. We were
not satisfied with playful competition and low-key hosts. We wanted blood, a
grand final atmosphere and losers - lots of losers. So we created a form with a knock-out, gladiatorial style
of play, eight teams of improvisers, time limits that left performers gasping
and a crowd that screamed for lollies, bayed for blood and cheered their
favourite teams. It was such a hit, the ABC TV made a series out of it. As a result, during
1987-88, 800 people came every week to watch the live show at the Playhouse.
2000 came to Grand Finals at the
Melbourne Concert Hall. There are
football teams begging for that size crowd. But it seems Melbourne has grown up. The new format
concentrates more on the skill of improvisation rather than comedy. The company
is an ensemble developing new forms of improvisation.
July 14th to August 18th @ 7.30pm Theatreworks 14 Acland Street St Kilda Tickets: $14 Full - $10 Conc and $12 Groups of 10 + Bookings: 9534 3388