Kate Herbert is theatre reviewer, Herald Sun, Melbourne & formerly for Melbourne Times. Kate is a director & produced playwright (20 plays). Scripts published by Currency Press. She worked as an actor, comedian, improviser & teacher of Acting, Improvisation & Playwriting. Kate is currently Convenor of Professional Writing & Editing, Swinburne University. Read her reviews here or at: www.heraldsun.com.au/entertainment/arts. NB Explorer Browser doesn't always work on blog.
Tuesday, 22 October 2013
Life and Times, Episode 1, Oct 22, 2013 **
By Nature Theater of Oklahoma, Melbourne Festival Playhouse,
Arts Centre Melbourne Ep. 1 Oct 22; Ep.2 Oct 23; Ep. 3&4 Oct 24; Eps 1-4 Sat
Oct 26, 2013 Reviewer: Kate Herbert Stars: ** Review also published in Herald Sun online on Wed Oct 23, 2013 and probably later in print. KH
Life and Times, Episode 1
need to be prepared for, or to love theatre that is arduous, formalistic and
repetitive to make it through Episode 1 of Life and Times by Nature Theater of
Oklahoma, let alone all four episodes over 10 hours.
members started trickling out the door after 15 minutes and about a third were
gone after interval – not a good sign.
piece, directed by Kelly Copper and Pavol Liska, uses verbatim transcripts from
16 hours of rambling telephone conversations with one woman – a company member
– who chats and reminisces about her very ordinary life.
1 is about her early childhood which comes to life as a patchwork of fragmented
memories and stories about her family, friends, teachers and school, all of
which are set to cheesy music and sung as a poor man’s version of an opera.
is no spectacle here, only relentlessly repetitive, ear-aching singing, or
rather intoning, by a cast of six that comprises mostly non-singers, juxtaposed
against totally unrelated gestures and stylised choreography that mostly
involves bobbing up and down.
felt like a 15-minute sketch that stretched to 3 and a half hours, outliving
its initial comic impact when every ‘um’ and ‘er’, ‘hahaha’ and banal comment was
elevated with operatic absurdity.
movement that is often reminiscent of calisthenics, Chairman Mao exercises or
children’s playground games, accompanies the singing and simple, playful
children’s music played by the live band.
was an extraordinary relief when, after 70 minutes of three women chanting the
stories, three men arrived on stage to break the monotony and introduce some
depth and variation of tone to the vocal landscape.
are certainly some entertaining moments when the voices, musical style and
story elements meet in a happy collision, but much of this interminable show is
like water torture.
program has a manifesto to justify this work as exciting modernism, but you
would need a rhino hide to last 10 hours – and they are planning to make
another 6 episodes!
neighbour, who persevered valiantly until 45 minutes from the end, left with
the doleful comment, “This is like theatre of cruelty”.
was right, and we deserve better than this, despite the fact that this company
is the darling of European festivals.
Directors: Kelly Copper
& Pavol Liska
Performers Ilan Bachrach,
Asli Bulbul Elisabeth Conner, Gabel Eiben, Daniel Gower, Anne Gridley, Robert
Johanson, Matthew Korahais, Julie LaMendola, Kristin Worrall
Composers Robert Johanson
(Ep 1) Robert Johanson & Julie
LaMendola (ep 2); Robert Johanson & Daniel Gower (ep 3 & 4)