The Woolgatherer

THEATRE REVIEW

(Also published at http://theatrevibe.com]

Kerry Armstrong

A theatre performance at La Mama is always an intimate experience. This is particularly the case with its latest production – The Woolgatherer. Sitting in the audience, I felt like an intruder, a voyeur into a deeply personal situation. There were no shuffles or coughs as we sat for two hours on the other side of an imaginary wall, looking into a tiny bedsitting room. But don’t get me wrong; it was certainly not an unpleasant experience.

The two characters – Rose (Laura Wheelwright) and Cliff (Lee Beckhurst) – enter the room at the start of the play and what unfolds is an awkward cat and mouse game between them. His main aim is to get her into bed and my mind boggles at how I’ll cope if this occurs because we are so close to the action! Also it’s obvious that realism is the style chosen by director Kerry Armstrong. Water really boils on the stove, wallpaper peels at arms length and we tiptoe through Rose’s humble furnishings to get to and from our seats. Continue reading

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Wake in Fright

THEATRE REVIEW

(Also published at http://theatrevibe.com]

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Staging the Australian classic novel Wake in Fright poses several challenges, not the least of which is how create the atmosphere of a hot outback town on a cold Melbourne winter night.

Director Renee Palmer, inspired by an earlier stage adaptation of Wake in Fright from Bob Pavlich, has set her own version on a wide performance area, which required rearranging the seating at La Mama’s Courthouse Theatre in Carlton. The cast of eight perform as an ensemble, changing roles as required to convey this alarming story about a town called Bundanyabba in the 1960s. Fondly known as ‘the Yabba’ to the locals who refer to it as ‘the best little town in the world’, we soon realise that it is not a place that any sane person would want to visit. Continue reading

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My Life in the Nude

THEATRE REVIEW

My Life in the Nude by Maude Davey

La Mama Theatre, Melbourne

(Also published at http://theatrevibe.com]

NORTHCOTE TOWN HALL

Maude Davey’s face will be familiar from television and film – most recently The Slap and My Year Without Sex respectively. However, not everyone will be so familiar with her body – unless you are a fan of burlesque and have been a regular visitor to The Burlesque Hour produced by Moira Finucane for many years at 45 Downstairs.

You may even remember the starting point for Davey taking off her clothes in public – back in 1991 when Lesbian magazine Wicked Women ran a beauty competition. Davey won this with a provocative act involving a strawberry. You can see this again in My Life in the Nude at La Mama in Carlton.

Davey has demonstrated great versatility in her career as actor, singer, director, writer, teacher. In her burlesque performances she has shown an equally diverse range of vocal styles and costumes. Several of these vignettes are included in My Life in the Nude. Continue reading

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Drowning in Veronica Lake

THEATRE REVIEW

Drowning in Veronica Lake by Paul Ormsby

Gasworks Theatre, Melbourne

(Also published at http://theatrevibe.com/2013/06/29/drowning-in-veronica-lake/ )

 ‘Who the hell is – or was – Veronica Lake?’ you might ask. An Internet search provides a lot of information about this 1940s actress who developed a drinking problem and disappeared from the limelight – a fairly common Hollywood story.  The challenge for playwright Phil Ormsby, director Simon Coleman and performer, Alex Ellis is to bring it to life for the stage.

As the audience enters the auditorium at Gasworks Theatre in Melbourne, Ellis is already on stage, facing away from us, in a white dress with enormous skirt that falls to the ground, extending across the whole stage in a complete circle. When the lights dim, she turns to face us, revealing a plunging neckline, tiny waist, long tresses of blonde hair and bright red lips. A living portrait of Victoria Lake. Continue reading

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Race at Hampstead Theatre, London

THEATRE REVIEW

RACE by David Mamet

Hampstead Theatre, Swiss Cottage, London

(Also published at http://theatrevibe.com/2013/06/07/race/)

Rape is the topic of the play currently being performed at Hampstead Theatre in London. Change one letter and you get the title of the play and its real subject matter ­– Race. Playwright David Mamet says he spends little time thinking about the themes of his plays (he’s more concerned with plot) but in this one he wants the audience to focus on the theme of race and the lies we tell each other on that subject. Continue reading

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No Joking Matter

NO JOKING MATTER

Melbourne comedian, Stella Young, speaks to Carole Lander about the rise of dwarf entertainment companies, which are demeaning other short-statured performers in the entertainment industry. Continue reading

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Ancient meets modern in Vietnam

The ancient Vietnamese artform Roi nuoc, or Water Puppets, is a popular tourist attraction in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City and you don’t even have to get wet.

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