Thursday 27 October 2022

Girls & Boys, MTC, 27 Oct 2022 ****


Written by Dennis Kelly

By Melbourne Theatre Company

At Fairfax Studio, Arts Centre Melbourne

Reviewer: Kate Herbert


This review is published only on this blog with a verbal review on Arts Weekly 3MBS on Sat Nov 5, 2022.

Nikki Shiels in Girl & Boys image Jeff Busby
In Girls & Boys, Nikki Shiels gives an impressive, rapid-fire performance playing a hilariously combative, loud, brassy and audacious young London woman.


The first hour of Dennis Kelly’s solo play is pretty damned funny, lulling the audience into a false sense of security that they are watching a comedy. However, the hints and cues keep coming, vague non-specific indicators that all is not well in the world of this woman who is evidently a successful documentary film producer, married to a passionate, supportive man who she has always considered a “doer” who encouraged her in her chosen career. She has two young children: Danny the rowdy boy and Leanne her orderly, smart daughter.


Directed deftly and vigorously by Kate Champion on a sparse set (Marg Horwell), Shiels’ performance is riveting, credible and nuanced, shifting from comical to tragic by the end.


Shiels addresses the audience directly with bold, honest, revealing and expletive-riddled stories about the character’s life and her colourful opinions. Speaking in a broad, working-class London accent, she trawls through her youthful past follies, dredging up images of booze-soaked, sex-filled partying, her chequered work history and dubious lovers – the life she lived until she met her husband and settled comfortably into marriage, motherhood and her award-winning career.


Scattered between the character’s evocative and revelatory monologues, Shiels brings the two little children to life as the woman plays with her recalcitrant son and more serious and obedient daughter. These playful scenes depict the joy and love she experiences with her children.


To divulge this woman’s shock revelations about the more recent, awful events in her life would be an unforgivable spoiler. Suffice to say I gasped, clutched my hand to my heart and jammed a hand over one ear (and would have covered both if I could), trying to avoid hearing her story.


Some dialogue is perhaps too didactic, preaching about problematic behaviours of men and the dialogue is perhaps more graphic or gratuitous than it needs to be to make its point. The gear shift in the latter part of the play is somewhat jarring.


Despite these small quibbles with the script, Shiels' performance in Boys & Girls is compelling and absorbing, taking us on an unexpected and shocking ride through laughter and pain.


by Kate Herbert 

Nikki Shiels in Girl & Boys image Jeff Busby




Performer Nikki Shiels
Leanne (image) Hannah Bickerton
Danny (image) Jared Bickerton

Director Kate Champion
Original Set & Costume Designer Marg Horwell
Lighting Designer Amelia Lever-Davidson
Composer & Sound Designer Sidney Millar
Voice & Dialect Coach Geraldine Cook-Dafner
Set & Video Designer Romanie Harper
Associate Costume Designer Sophie Woodward
Assistant Director Stephen Phillips
Mime Consultant Steph Kehoe


Monday 17 October 2022

Naomi REVIEW 16 Oct 2022 ***1/2


NB Trigger Warning: This play deals with suicide. 

Written by Patrick Livesey 

At Trades Hall, Carlton until 23 Oct 2022 

Reviewer: Kate Herbert 

Stars: ***1/2

This review is published only on this blog and I will do a radio review of it on Arts Weekly 3MBS on Sat 22 Oct 2022. KH

Patrick Livesey in Naomi photo by Jack Dixon Gunn

You might not expect to laugh during a production about the suicide of the playwright’s mother, but Patrick Livesey’s verbatim play, Naomi, peppers sad reminiscences with laugh-out-loud stories about Naomi’s character and antics.


In this play, directed by Bronwen Coleman, Livesey (they/them) stitches together extracts from interviews with family members and friends of Livesey's late mother. The extracts are arranged in a roughly chronologically order, beginning with Naomi’s own mother Nan’s recollection of Naomi as a plump, pretty, “sexy” baby. (Yes, an odd way to describe a tot but that’s what Nan thought.)


On a near empty stage, effectively using only voice and gesture to convey multiple characters from Naomi’s life, Livesey shifts from Nan to Naomi’s older and younger sisters, her friend from dental nursing college, her daughter, stepdaughter and second husband, Vince, who is a large-than-life character who boldly describes their fights and Naomi’s volatility.

Monday 10 October 2022

All That Fall – REVIEW – 9 Oct 2022 ***1/2


A radio play by Samuel Beckett

At La Mama HQ, Carlton, until Sun 16 Oct 2022

Reviewer: Kate Herbert


This review published only on this blog. I plan to talk about it on Arts Weekly on 3MBS  on Sat 22 Oct, 2022. KH

Carole Patullo pic Melissa Violet

All That Fall, by Samuel Beckett the writer of Waiting for Godot, was commissioned for radio in 1956 but this is a stage production that gives the flavour of a 1950s radio play performed with the immediacy of a live theatre audience.


The production of this dark comedy, deftly directed by Melanie Beddie, is wickedly funny, absurd and poignant in similar ways to other Beckett plays. 


It is set in a village south of Dublin and tracks the path of a crusty old Irish woman, Mrs. Maddie Rooney (Carole Patullo), as she embarks on her laborious journey on foot to meet her husband at the station on his birthday.

We witness the actors reading from scripts and, as well hearing the sound effects, we are treated to seeing their creation by the cast using a motley array of bangers, clangers, whistles and other items. Walking feet crunch on boxes of stones, trains blow their whistles and rattle on rails, wind blows and voices produce the bleat of lambs, the mooing of cows and a donkey's bray. It adds a dimension that would be missing if the sound effects were created invisibly by audio technology.

Sunday 2 October 2022

The Meeting REVIEW Red Stitch 1 Oct, 2022 ****1/2


Written by Jeff Stetson 

At Red Stitch Theatre, St. Kilda until 23 Oct 2022 

Reviewer: Kate Herbert  

Stars: ****1/2

  Dushan Philips, Christopher Kirby


“We may both give our lives for this thing called freedom,” says Malcolm X in Jeff Stetson’s gripping play, The Meeting. Written in 1987, the play depicts a fictional, secret meeting in 1965 in Harlem between Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, two towering, American black rights leaders, just one week before the assassination of Malcolm X in Manhattan. Three years later, Dr King was also assassinated. Their conversation in The Meeting eerily presages their imminent deaths.


In just 60 minutes, Stetson’s play presents us with the two seemingly opposing views of these men on achieving civil and human rights, revolution, freedom and how to bring about change for black Americans. It is a compelling argument, a competition between two men which, in the play, is not only an intellectual contest but also a physical contest that includes an almost absurdly brief tug-of-war and another test of physical strength.

Saturday 1 October 2022

Measure of a Moment- details only -1 Oct 2022

By Charles Mercovich

At La Mama HQ until Oct 2 2022

Live stream on Fri 29 Oct 2022 - available for 48 hours.

(Query: Digital season at La Mama on Screen after the live season.)

NB: This is NOT a review. KH

 L-R_ Asher Griffith Jones, Jordan Chodziesner -Pic by Cameron Grant