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.
Written by Thomas Banks & Gayelene Carbis By Platform & Straightjacket Productions At 45downstairs, from Sat Oct 31, 2015 Reviewer: Kate Herbert on Sat Oct 30 Stars: *** Full review also published in Herald Sun online on Mon Nov 2, 2015 and thereafter in print. KHs
Looking for love is hard enough in this world, but when you are a young,
gay man living in a regional town and you have a disability, that search
becomes even more complicated.
Banks is an engaging, playful 24 year-old who lives with cerebral palsy, but
that’s not stopping him having a full life doing jobs that include disability
advocate, usher, actor and writer.
Someone Like Thomas Banks, a short performance about his life, Thomas addresses
the audience directly and, although his speech is often difficult to decipher,
his message is always clear: he wants love and he wants to communicate with
people and engage fully with the world.
Thomas looks for love and friendship online where he can express himself
fluently in writing without having to rely on verbal interaction.
However, sometimes things goes awry when he meets prospective partners
in person and, in one hilarious first date encounter re-enacted by audience
members, Thomas asks too much too soon, his date scarpers and Thomas foolishly
considers pursuing him.
Thomas makes fun of his own pushiness, his need to text a new beau ten
times a day and of his desire to chase the men who reject him or delete him
He reveals that he wants a partner to be cute, that he visits gay saunas
four times a week (Is he exaggerating?) and that he likes older men.
His joyfulness and joking are tempered with distressing stories about
being bullied on the bus as a child, being rejected when a potential lover
first sees his disability and being mistaken for a drunk then beaten.
Thomas employs various devices to tell his story, including his Stage
Manager (Canada White) translating unclear dialogue for us, even when Thomas
insists that we’ll get the gist without her help.
He uses an electronic translator to convert his typed words to speech,
while his thoughts and Facebook posts appear as dialogue on an upstage screen.
Freeman’s direction keeps the play personal, amiable and simple as Thomas tells
tales of love lost and won then lost again.
In addition to audience members, White and an enthusiastic Auslan
interpreter (Lynn Gordon), a further character, Rodney (Lee Mason), joins
Thomas on stage or, more precisely, on screen.
Rodney’s counselling and interviewing techniques challenge Thomas’s choices,
motives and relationships while providing clarity for Thomas’s indistinct
In this very personal story, we join Thomas’s quest for a life with
meaning and his search for love in all the wrong places – a search with which
everyone, with or without disability, will identify.
By Kate Herbert
Performed by Thomas Banks
White – Stage Manager & Lorraine
Freeman – Director
Barry –Macauley - Dramaturg
Mason – Rodney (on video)
Performed by Thomas Banks
White – Stage Manager, Set Designer & Lorraine
After Bram Stoker, by Little Ones Theatre & Theatre Works Theatre Works, Oct 30 until Nov 14, 2015 Reviewer: Kate Herbert Stars: *** Full review also published in Herald Sun online on Mon 2 Nov 2015 and thereafter in print. KH
Amanda McGregor, Kevin Kiernan Molloy, Alex Aldrich - photo by Sarah Walker
movies merge with pantomime in this irreverent parody of Bram Stoker’s Dracula
featuring that lusty, fanged vampire as a comical composite of Bela Lugosi,
Buster Keaton and Gloria Swanson.
Stephen Nicolazzo’s production, two women (Alexandra Aldrich, Catherine Davies)
share the role of Count Dracula who switches gender, age and sexual preference
as often as he changes hairstyle and costume.
early scenes between Aldrich’s Dracula and Janine Watson, who is compelling as his
unwitting victim, Jonathan Harker, are the most entertaining and skillful, featuring
classic, silent clown routines, sharp comedic timing, snappy choreography,
comic grotesquery, broad gestures and facial expressions.
stylised, hedonistic feasting is a highlight, with Dracula (Aldrich) and his
under-dressed underlings (Kevin Kiernan Molloy, Morgan Maguire) ritualistically
tantalising the blokey, bemused Harker (Watson) with food, drink and sensual
30 minutes, the crispness of this gothic style is lost, the story and
characters become confusing, the timing flabby and the theatrical devices
overwrought, leaving the next hour much less coherent and professional.
the program notes that outline the narrative machinations, an audience has
little chance of following the characters’ journeys, particularly when they
change gender, costume and even the actors playing the roles.
Davies is a luscious, lascivious young Dracula in his/her blood red gown,
Amanda McGregor’s Mina is a feisty man-girl, while Molloy’s Van Helsing is a
comical cross between religious maniac and fitness freak.
Zoe Boesen is suitably delicate as Lucy, Dracula’s virginal victim, but Brigid
Gallacher, a fine actor, is wasted in the extraneous role of the imprisoned
stage design (Eugyeene Teh) with its glittering silvery-black floor and sheer lamé
drapery captures the gothic castle of Dracula as well as the silent movie
atmosphere is heightened by an evocative soundscape (Daniel Nixon) underscoring
the entire show.
is a valiant theatrical attempt that is entertaining in its artifice, parody
and campery, but it cries out for clarity and consistency.
Director Stephen Nicolazzo
Set Design Eugyeene Teh
Costume Design Eugyeene Teh and Tessa Leigh Wolffenbuttel Pitt
Lighting Design Katie Sfetkidis
Sound Design & Composition Daniel Nixon
Performers: Alexandra Aldrich, Zoe Boesen, Catherine Davies, Brigid
Gallacher, Amanda McGregor, Morgan McGuire, Kevin Kiernan Molloy and Janine
Alex Aldrich -photo by Sarah Walker
Amanda McGregor and Zoe Boeson -photo by Sarah Walker
Written by John Livings Chapel off Chapel, until Nov 1 2015 Reviewer: Kate Herbert on Wed Oct 28, 2015 Stars: *** Full review also published Herald Sun on Friday 30 Oct 2015 (p87). Should be online at H-Sun on Monday Nov 2. KH
The Bugle Boys L-R: Maxene (Jon Jackson), Patty (Michael Dalton),
and LaVerne (Andrew Dessmann)
servicemen sporting 1940s wigs and blue, satin army uniforms doing a parody of
The Andrews Sisters in a World
War II Concert Party and you get Bugle
This spoof, written and directed John Livings, features
three local singers in drag playing the famous wartime sisters, Maxene (Jon Jackson), Patty (Michael Dalton),
and LaVerne (Andrew Dessmann).
responsible for tribute shows about Etta James and Marvin Gaye, but Bugle Boys
is a naughtier, less respectful mockery that relies on caricatures, cheeky
repartee and innuendo as much as it does on memorable songs.
is bumpy, cueing needs tightening and the writing of comic banter is a little
flabby, often predictable and almost always spicy and suggestive – just like a
performers do plenty of eye rolling and mugging to the audience to heighten the
jokes but better comic timing would give the gags an edge.
by Mark Jones provides strong harmonies, although they are obviously not as
close as The Andrews Sisters’, while Greg Riddell playing piano on stage gives
a zippy accompaniment.
Jackson’s Maxene gets progressively more soused as she/he sucks
on her hip flask of Bundy and totters clumsily across the stage, but his
falsetto singing (Maxene was the soprano) is one of the highlights,
particularly in I Wanna Be Loved and Bei Mir Bist Du Shön.
Dalton, who is known for his drag character, Dolly
Diamond, gives Patty a wheezing, earnest quality as she leads the trio in its
repertoire of tunes and narrates the details of their chequered childhoods and
Dessmann’s LaVerne is sassy,
dim and, according to all their gossip, promiscuous, which makes him seductive
and salacious as he sashays around the stage, singing and dancing his saucy
choreography (Jeremy Hinman).
There are plenty more songs to appeal to devotees of
The Andrews Sisters, including: Rum and Coca-Cola, Alexander’s Ragtime Band, Is
You Is Or Is You Ain’t My Baby and, of course, Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy, with a
real bugler onstage.
You won’t get a genuine homage to the Sisters in
this one-hour cabaret/comedy but, if you like a drag-show parody, Bugle Boys
may suit your taste.
By Kate Mulvany, based on the book by Kit Williams By Griffin Theatre Company & State Theatre of South Australia Melbourne Festival Southbank Sumner Theatre; 22 to 25 October Reviewer: Kate Herbert Stars:*** Review published in Sunday Herald Sun on Sun 25 Oct & later online (on or after Mon 26 Oct 2015).KH
beautifully illustrated and wildly successful children’s puzzle book, Masquerade,
was the first ‘armchair treasure hunt’ and the hunt continues in Kate Mulvany’s
play based on this UK publishing phenomenon.
To create the script, Mulvany uses the
characters, locations and riddles that Williams embedded in his vividly
coloured, intricately detailed illustrations.
In a simple story, the Moon (Kate Cheel)
falls in love with the Sun (Mikelangelo) so she sends her servant, Jack Hare
(Nathan O’Keefe), to deliver to the Sun her message of love with a gloriously
bejewelled, golden amulet that depicts a running hare.
this tale of love and mortality, Mulvany cunningly weaves a second narrative thread
about Joe (Jack Andrew), a child suffering cancer and trapped in his hospital
room, and his mother, Tessa (Helen Dallimore), who diverts him with readings
Joe’s story mirrors Mulvany’s own childhood cancer
and her enchantment with this same book that soothed, cheered and distracted
her during her illness.
Jack Hare reaches the Sun but has lost the
amulet and forgotten the love message, so Joe and Tessa continue the story as
they hunt for the lost amulet in a passionate, possibly ill-fated desire to
save Joe from mortality.
O’Keefe is engaging, spirited and impudent
as Jack Hare who addresses the audience directly, inserting modern references,
cheeky asides and jokes.
Dallimore is warmly genuine as Joe’s mum and
her profound need to save her son is trumpeted in her impassioned blues lament,
while Jack Andrew is sympathetic as her ailing child.
brings a melancholy narcissism to the Moon and dizzy charm to Tara Treetops,
while Zindzi Okenyo is a riot as the dancing Fat Pig.
Williams’ book relies on images and a few
succinct, well-crafted lines of text, but the dialogue in the play is more
wordy and sometimes too dense, slowing the pace of the action.
Although William’s paintings cannot be
perfectly translated to the stage, Anna Cordingley’s costumes capture much of
their vibrancy and playfulness.
Co-directors, Sam Strong and Lee Lewis,
place Joe’s prison-like hospital room in the centre of the fantastical world of
creatures and dreams that his imagination conjures as mum reads the book.
The production could be tighter and
faster-paced and some judicious dialogue editing and snappier cueing could
contract the show into a single act.
Some well-placed, sharply choreographed
physical comedy and dance and a few short, singable songs for kids would
enhance this production and probably make it more accessible for children.
Live music and songs by Mikelangelo and the
Black Sea Gentlemen lend the flavour of gypsy music and European folk tunes
with their featured accordion, violin and guitar, although some of the songs are
repetitive in style and tone.
Pip Branson’s feisty, versatile violin gives
resonance to The Man Who Plays the Music That Makes The World Go Round.
The blend of sadness, joy and concepts of mortality
may be unsuitable for small children, but families can go on an ‘armchair
treasure hunt’ with Joe who is inspired by a book that allows him to escape his
pain, however briefly.
Co-directors: Sam Strong and Lee Lewis Music: Mikelangelo and the Black Sea
1984 by George Orwell Adaptation by Robert Icke & Duncan Macmillan By Headlong (UK) Melbourne Festival Playhouse,
Arts Centre Melbourne, Oct 16 to 25, 2015 Reviewer: Kate Herbert on Fri 16 Oct 2015 Stars: ****1/2 Review also published in Herald Sun online on Mon 19 Oct 2015 and thereafter in print. KH
Cast of 1984 by Headlong; pics by Manuel Harlan L-R: (Parsons) Simon Coates; (Martin) Christopher Patrick Nolan; (Julia) Janine Harouni; (Winston) Matthew Spencer (rear as O’Brien) Tim Dutton; (Charrington) Stephen Fewell; (Mrs Parsons) Mandi Symonds; (Syme) Ben Porter
most alarming thing about this theatrical re-imagining of George Orwell’s 1984,
adapted by UK company, Headlong, is that Orwell foreshadowed in 1949 a
dystopian future that resembles our present.
and governments currently have control of, and demand even more intrusive, unfettered
access to our personal information and, in 2013, Edward Snowden alerted the
world to a clandestine surveillance program run by the NSA.
wrote 1984 after the horrors of Nazism and World War II, but when Britain still
suffered post-war trauma and food rationing and Stalin’s Soviet Union ruled the
all-powerful Big Brother and the repressive Thought Police of the tyrannous
government in 1984, reflect but predate the East German Stasi secret police and
its citizen spies.
In their stage vision of 1984, Robert Icke and Duncan
Macmillan conjure a compelling theatrical landscape as well as provoking
vehement political discourse.
direction is crisp, uncluttered and seamless while their adaptation synthesises
Orwell’s message into a concise, riveting script with a crystal clear concept,
searing narrative and credible characters, all delivered by an impeccable ensemble.
production is unnerving with its sense of impending doom, its mental torment, Shakespearean
violence and gruesome, graphic scenes of torture.
in Orwell’s book, Big Brother controls and maintains surveillance on the lives
of Winston (Matthew Spencer), his lover, Julia (Janine Harouni), and his oppressed
comrades, monitoring their every movement and word via ubiquitous telescreens
sins against the state include: writing in a secret journal, desiring love, Thought
Crime that includes negative thoughts about Big Brother, and defying the state.
transgressions that we view as merely human needs or choices, are considered
seditious and are punishable by death and being ‘unpersonned’, meaning that Winston
will be erased from all public records.
Ministry of Love is actually about hate, The Ministry of Truth deals in lies, the
population is deprived, starved, brainwashed and oppressed into conformity with
Big Brother’s regime while inconvenient truths are written out of history.
repressive, regressive world reverses social values: ‘War is Peace. Freedom is
Slavery. Ignorance is Strength.’
Icke and Macmillan’s interpretation,
Winston’s mind slips between reality and horrific unreality so that he cannot
discern whether he exists in the oppressive world of 1984 or in the world of
those who read his journal a century later.
balances Winston’s naive heroics with a brittle, dogged rebelliousness that
makes us cheer his pluckiness but want to shout warnings to shut up and keep
his head down.
Dutton is disturbing as the smiling villain, O’Brien, with his quietly threatening presence and ever-watchful gaze as he prowls like a
lion stalking its prey, peering through grimy windows.
cast creates a disquieting atmosphere of routine tinged with menace, playing
characters such as the insidious spy, Martin
(Christopher Patrick Nolan),
anxiously cheerful Mrs Parsons (Mandi Symonds) and her fearful, rambling
husband, Parsons (Simon Coates), who are terrified of their spying child who is
a product of indoctrination.
Old Charrington (Stephen Fewell) is deceptively
harmless while Syme (Ben Porter)
constantly giggles nervously.
design (Chloe Lamford) may look like a benign, wood-panelled library but its smoky
windows, secret doors and corridors make it threatening even before it
transforms into the starkly lit, sinister torture cell, Room 101.
ominous environment is heightened by huge video projections (Tim Reid) overlooking
the stage and the pounding, buzzing static of the invasive soundscape (Tom
Gibbons) and evocative lighting (Natasha Chivers).
Big Brother is watching so hang on to your identity with both hands.
O’Brien Tim Dutton Charrington Stephen Fewell Julia Janine Harouni Martin Christopher Patrick Nolan Syme Ben Porter Winston Matthew Spencer Parsons Simon Coates Mrs Parsons Mandi Symonds
and Directed by Robert Icke and Duncan Macmillan
Designer Chloe Lamford Lighting Natasha Chivers Sound Tom Gibbons Video Tim Reid
By Michael Dalley Butterfly Club Tues 27 Oct -7 Nov, 2015 at 8.30pm
Here's a show I'm keen to see later this month. KH
From Media Release (this is not my review):
Michael Dalley is bringing his hit show of
the Adelaide and Melbourne Cabaret Festivals ‘Rituals of Art and Hatred’ to The Butterfly Club.
Over the last decade, he has charmed
audiences with his highly theatrical cabaret shows, including ‘Vaudeville X’, ‘Urban
Display Suite’, ‘Intimate Apparel’, and ‘Death in White Linen’. Whilst being
thrilled to have won two Green Room Awards, Dalley is still livid at not winning
the other ten for which he was nominated.
Michael Dalley is the master of satirical
song writing. ‘Rituals of Art and Hatred’
is acompilation of the best songs of
Dalley’s career such as, ‘The C Word’s
Back in Town’, ‘Shit Art of the Mornington Peninsula’, ‘The Passive Aggressive
Filipino Amway Lady’, and ‘I Love
Private School Boys Doing Satire’.
Accompanied by his long time musical
coordinator John Thorn, Dalley performs songs parodying today’s social
conventions and affectations. Underscoring his material is the tension between
his revolutionary impulses and his aspirational, bourgeois lifestyle.
Possessing a winning personality paired
with an educated and insightful intellect, Dalley will have you laughing at the
world, and more importantly, yourselves. “My
duty is the truth. I’m not one to patronise. I’d much prefer to break your
heart than flatter you with lies.”
of Art and Hatred’ will take you on a pilgrimage
from the profane to the ridiculous. Come and be blessed!
Creator: Andrew Schneider Arts House 15-19 Oct Performance Space 122 New York; Melbourne Festival I have not seen or reviewed this show but it looks interesting. KH
Andrew Schneider; pic by Sarah Walker
Andrew Schneider; pic by Sarah Walker
From Media Release:
Blending physics lecture, pop culture and personal revelation, YOUARENOWHERE exposes cracks and anomalies in the cosmos, dissecting subjects from quantum mechanics and parallel universes to missed connections and AA recovery steps. Incorporating an array of visual and aural effects, creative coding, interactive electronics and wearable sensors, YOUARENOWHERE conjures a fluid and shifting landscape of sensory overload. Battling glitchy transmissions, crackling microphones and lighting instruments that fall from the sky, Andrew Schneider transforms physical space, warps linear time and short-circuits preconceptions of what it means to be here, now. YOUARENOWHERE imagines the awe and discomfort of meeting oneself. What happens when you view yourself from the outside? How do you hold on to yourself when confronted with an exact replica? Which one is real? Which one is you? And what happens next? Creating original works for theatre, video, and installation since 2003 and rooted at the intersection of performance and technology, Schneider’s work critically investigates the over-dependence on being perpetually connected in an always-on world. Schneider creates and performs award-winning solo performance works, large-scale dance works, builds interactive electronic art works and installations, and was a Wooster Group company member (video/performer) from 2007-2014. Performance Space 122
Conceived by Adena Jacobs & Aaron Orzech, adapted
from Euripides By St. Martins & Fraught Outfit; Melbourne Festival
TheatreWorks, until 23 Oct 2015 Reviewer: Kate Herbert Stars: **
Full review also published in Herald Sun online, Fri 16 Oct, then be in print at a later date. KH
The Bacchae ensemble; pic by Pia Johnson
you are expecting to see Euripides’ The Bacchae think again, because this
production has more in common with a Little Mix concert than Greek tragedy.
Adena Jacobs, uses (and I mean uses) nineteen girls in their mid-teens and one
younger boy in this ill-conceived, impenetrable exploration and deconstruction of
– well, something Euripides did not write.
Bacchae suffers irrevocably from focusing on style and form over content and is
pretentious rather than audacious.
let me say that Kelly Ryall’s music, performed throughout by a pianist, string
trio and percussionist, with harmonies by a few girls, is evocative albeit
a dimly-lit, far upstage depiction of the birth of Dionysus from the thigh of Zeus,
one girl steps forward to ramble about her morning ritual of dressing and eating
vegemite toast, then rather earnestly says, ‘I am the god, Dionysus, son of
Zeus. If you do not believe me, I will punish you.’
other banal, poorly staged scenes, the girls lounge around, check their phones,
nibble snacks or stare at the audience with little apparent understanding of
the purpose of their gaze.
cast performs with an unsatisfying blend of the provocative and the uncomfortable,
presenting a series of vignettes that look like soft-core pornography.
girls are stripped to bikinis – one to only her knickers – their faces are masked
and their adolescent bodies are slicked with oil as they writhe and cavort,
wave strap-on phalluses, simulate sex, thrash their hair and one even bleeds
gold paint from her crotch.
her exploration of the Maenads, those wild, violent, demented female followers
of Dionysus, Jacobs could have learned much about such convulsive, trance-like
states from Okwui Okpokwasili in Bronx Gothic, a Melbourne Festival show from
ritualistic scenes in The Bacchae are probably intended to feel dangerous,
edgy, confronting and impassioned but they end up looking overwrought, tame and
fault, of course, is not with the cast of teens but with the directorand her collaborator (or should we say
co-conspirator?), Aaron Orzech, who are the adults in the rehearsal room asking
young women to perform such cryptic, incomprehensible material.
production smacks of exploitation and does not in any way illuminate the issues
it so boldly pronounces in its Media Release.
the age-appropriateness of the piece and ask, ‘Is this good theatre?’ The
answer is a resounding, ‘No!’
the way, it is recommended as suitable for audiences 16+.