Wednesday, 11 October 2006

Apple + Charlie: the story, Oct 11, 2006

Apple + Charlie: the story
by Nadine Cameron, Music and lyrics by Nadine Cameron and Cam MacIntosh

Melburne Fringe Festival
Wesley Anne, 250 High St Northcote, until Oct 14, 2006

Reviewer: Kate Herbert

The Fringe Festival provides an arena for artists to experiment in a public. Great works can be created on the smell of an oily rag.

Despite the best-laid plans (and other platitudes) and some musical talent, Apple + Charlie just does not cut it as music theatre. Nadine Cameron and Cam MacIntosh wrote plenty of songs - perhaps too many - but the show has significant flaws.

Everybody on stage busts their chops to make a show but only the musicians demonstrate any technique. Despite common assumptions, being able to walk and talk does not make one an actor.

Cameron’s script is about a couple called Apple (yes, the fruit) and Charlie. They are in love, break up, get lonely and reunite. All this is apt material for a musical but the execution lacks skill.

The script is shaky, ignoring basic elements of theatrical form and style, music theatre conventions, narrative structure, characterisation, dramatic tension, staging and directorial method. Apologies to all the cast and creative team who obviously worked hard, but this show needs some assistance for a rewrite, recast and re-direction.

The numerous short songs range from rock to ballad but the two tunes at the very end are more memorable than others. The problem is that, unlike a rock gig, in a musical the lyrics need to be audible and comprehensible because they advance the story and develop character and relationship.

Bridie Lunney, a visual artist, makes a valiant effort as Apple but the dialogue limits any characterisation. Jimmy Stewart, singer from alt-country band, Clinkerfield, is more comfortable belting out a number than with dialogue.

There are too many characters, the focus too often shifting away from central characters, Apple and Charlie. Awkward scene changes are frequent and unnecessary. The stage is crowded with so many people coming on and off it is impossible to develop the narrative. There is an S and M couple, a performance poet and a mad mate but the “dream demons” with their fat devil tails, were really the last straw.

Incorporating film footage is very popular but it needs to be integrated into the form and the mix of voice and instruments is crucial.

Apple + Charlie is a valiant effort that just doesn’t work as theatre - yet.

By Kate Herbert

No comments:

Post a Comment