It's Dark Outide Theatre production by Perth Theatre Company

IT’S DARK OUTSIDE

Synopsis: Sundowning Syndrome is a psychological phenomenon associated with confusion and restlessness in patients experiencing forms of Dementia. The term ‘Sundowning’ comes from the unexplained nature of a multitude of behavioural problems which begin to occur in the evening or while the sun is setting. One of these behaviour problems involves a person wandering off into the surrounding areas off a home, house or care facility. This unexplained departure from the domestic, a voyage into the wild, become the starting point for It’s Dark Outside.

Review: Perth Theatre Company state on their twitter account that they create smart, fearless, playful and entertaining theatre. They do not lie. It’s Dark Outside is a dialogue free hybrid theatrical production packed full of emotionally stimulating music, puppetry and several ingenious projectory mediums. This beautiful imaginative and insightful tale of an elderly man’s dementia left very few with a dry eye in the audience. Arielle Gray, Chris Isaacs and Tim Watts should be over the moon with their achievement in their portrayal of this sad disease so many elderly people face in Australia and around the world. I found their interpretation true to fact in mannerisms and body language of a person suffering from confusion. This team worked so cohesively together, the production was well paced and clear, sweet, tender and relatable to any human soul of any age. These three theatrical musketeers did not lack heart in their performances, dedication to their craft revealed in their delivery. Their puppetry skills were smooth and uninterrupted. Other creatives involved must be mentioned for their provided talents. Anthony Watts set construction was simple and production savvy, Rachael Deases musical composition was the emotional driving force that assisted the actors in presenting a universal language in conveying feeling and mood. Seamstress Penny Mazzucchellis work was top-notch, the puppets and masks conveying so much with the one frozen expression, that tended to morph depending on the body language presented in the moment. I thoroughly enjoyed this production from the moment it begun, so captivating in every aspect. Though the heart of the story is a sad reality of the aging mind, this company did not lack in providing humour having many moments that made the audience giggle. It is a production that will make you laugh and make you cry.

A curious exploration of what could possibly occur in the reality of a confused mind it left me wanting to ensure I create great memories to have and to hold in my future old age. I left the theatre both inspired and moved by what I had experienced. This production is an experience, you would be silly to miss the opportunity to see it. Appropriate for children and adults of all ages It’s Dark Outside is playing at The Riverside Theatre in Parramatta only until May 29th. This show is touring all over NSW and Australia so do check where at the provided website for more information.

http://www.perththeatre.com.au/show/its-dark-outside/

GO SEE THIS SHOW, it is wonderful, it won’t disappoint! An hour of powerful theatre.

8 GIGABYTES OF HARDCORE PORNOGRAPHY

Synopsis: They met online. She’s a nurse in her forties, brats for kids, trapped in a loop of catastrophic debt. He’s in IT, miserably married and trapped in his own loop of nightly porn-trawling. Both of them crave something else – but not necessarily each other.

Review:
8 Gigabytes of Hardcore Pornography written by Declan Green, has a title of curiosity and intrigue. The expectations on what this play revolves has been varied. Mine was without expectation in regards to content or execution of the curious. My expectation was based on the amount of people who told me I must see this play. With urgency they said, ‘I must see it!’ Having already acquired a ticket, and my sources being of the utmost trust worthy my expectations were that this play would move me in a way that a play should. Change me, have me thinking and re thinking, having wormed its way into my psyche with tremendous prevail without warning. Did it? I was not disappointed, it did all those things.

Declan Green and Director Lee Lewis have created a piece of theatre to be surpassingly proud of. It is a story of the vulnerability and rawness of being human at its quintessential core. My initial reaction to the characters played by Andrea Gibbs and Steve Rodgers was of anger and frustration. I found them both as characters infuriating and deeply selfish, not of their own fault I must add but the society in which they live in, in which we all live, in that our lives are controlled by an ever-increasing world of technology that has bred and continues to bred humanities inability to communicate with one another within our reality. We increasingly seem to escape into the un obtainable fantasy that is continuously feed to us by self-made technology and presented false human connection that is becoming more supplementary like our diets. What are we feeding our hearts and souls?

The nameless characters Him and Her are on journey’s that have you examining your own life and being grateful for the good you do possess. Both these characters having lost grip on any reality what so ever. Their yearnings came across as needy and pathetic, I struggled to sympathise with two people who I felt had allowed themselves to be victims to their own realities instead of taking responsiblity for it and finding something positive to turn their lives around with. We all fall short to fear and failure, a fault in our humanity, we seem to give our attention to what we don’t have more than to what we do have. This was a humbling reminder which assisted me in putting down my finger of judgement to these two people. I am too just like them, I just hoped my choices in life lead to a life lived in appreciation of what I do have not the latter. A more vital awareness surged through me about my choices in my everyday, they do add up to a life.

Both Andrea Gibbs and Steve Rodgers delivered compelling performances that were brave and forth right without apology. Emotionally the stakes grew for both, with all considered both actors achieved a mountain of terrain with exploration of a text that could be interpreted any which way depending direction and self exploration. Their guided performances by the very talented Lee Lewis must have been a rehearsal period full of questions breeding new questions into how to reign in the soul of these characters and make them able body, how ever jarred and broken they appeared. Brokenness and hardship is presented by a multitude of masks, masks we all wear. I was lucky enough to be able to study these characters from a more out-of-body view as I did not relate so much to the realities in which they were holding burning torches for. I must say though, if you are an audience member who can relate or even see a reflection in whom these characters are in a more literal sense it would indeed be a confronting matter. In response I could only determine would result in a defensive shut down or an opening of a personal emotional Pandora’s box.

Mention must be made to the visual creatives involved in this production, Marg Horwells set design was plush and on the verge of creepy and secluded which was well-fitting for the piece. Matthew Marshalls lighting design was smooth, photogenic and exposing. Composer Rachael Deases Compose translated the mood well with her creation, which was not over powering but complimentary and beautiful.

Andrea Gibbs and Steve Rodgers as Her & Him photo by: Brett Boardman

Andrea Gibbs and Steve Rodgers as Her & Him
photo by: Brett Boardman

Once leaving the theatre I soon discovered I had had a physical reaction to the play, my body had responded to what it had experienced. Tense and in a daze I had to stop around the corner to literally shake off the experience of being in the presence of two people shedding the darkest parts of themselves so openly. The human soul is like the universe never-ending with much discovery to come. Human evolution is terrifyingly being manipulated by the technology in which we have created for ourselves. Will our humanity be programmed out of us? Will our natural capability for human contact and interaction be replaced by the likes of artificial intelligence? My thought process for this play had the same pathways to conclusions and questions of our future the same as after watching the movie ‘HER’ starring Joaquin Phoenix (do see this also, if you have not already). Meeting love on-line is a norm now days, its success rate varies. We are on it more and more trying to find that connection we all desire for. Is it stunting our evolution? I suppose we will only find out in time.

8 Gigabytes of Hardcore Pornography is a stellar new play by Declan Green to whom I wish its continuous success. I do hope this play thrives beyond the walls of the Griffin, whom continue to house consistently tremendous theatre that is honest and with out wankerey. A deeply exposing play in all means of the word, it will speak to your humanity like all good art should, in ways you will not expect.

SCENES FROM AN EXECUTION

Synopsis: Venice 1571. An artist is commissioned to create a masterpiece, a celebration of one of the most decisive military victories of all time, the battle of Lepanto. A 1000 square foot immortalisation of Christian dominance over Islamic barbarism. But the artist creates instead a bloody and horrific condemnation of the State. Therefore, drastic measures must be taken.

Review: Newly formed theatre company Tooth and Sinew I quote “Are looking to change the face of independent theatre in Sydney. With direction, design and performance that is both highly theatrical and brutally honest, it aims to make its mark.” Reading the programme and seeing the calabar of artists across the board involved in this project, Tooth and Sinew have set themselves a high bar of expectation for themselves and their audience. I was excited to see what this company had to deliver with such highly skilled artists. I also had an admiration for their mission statement, myself being a firm believer that Sydney’s independent scene needs strengthening. Independent should not differ from its professional counterparts due to the minor difference between the two, so often being finance. Of course this is a huge part of staging a production but quality should never suffer because of it. The stigma of independent theatre has been created due to a lot of terrible unthought out productions that have left a bitter taste in the mouth of the general audience who attend. This is NOT the case for Tooth and Sinew, the moment you step into the quaint space of the Old Fitz you are delivered excellence.

Set Designer Andrea Espinoza’s design is elegant and complimentary to the story, no edge wasted or without consideration, a simplistic design with purpose. The set was enhanced by the addition of Ben Brockman’s ambient lighting design and Christie Bennett’s rich gold and red palette based costumes were ‘off the hook’ excellent.

Director Richard Hilliar must be commended for his efforts in bringing this piece of theatre to life. It would not have been an easy feat. Playwright Howard Barker has written an epic production that is extremely rich textually, poetically written hemmed in by politics and religion. It would have taken a tremendous amount of commitment and focus for Hilliar to ensure his actors knew who their characters were and their intentions. Hilliar delivered a well rehearsed production. The text moved swiftly, stage direction was purposeful and clear. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the continuous pattern of triangles which were formed by props or persons. Triangles (if you studied Art History) were a significant process of the Renaissance movement in creating powerful imagery. I couldn’t help but wonder if this was as deliberate as I hoped it was. It was as visually unctuous as a painting itself.

Lucy Miller, as Galactia the artist in the spotlight, delivered with great conviction, vigour and passion. Miller had this character by the balls. Her choices were purposeful and without apology. It would have been tone setting and interesting to have seen her without makeup for this role though as I felt it masked her character slightly. This for me would have assisted the rawness in her femininity. That extra pinch of salt to an already seasoned performance.

Jeremy Waters, as Carpeta an average painter and Galactia’s lover played his character with an emotional frustration with tremendous energy. Waters was brave in his delivery, at times having some very striped bare moments that were blush worthy. Waters choices in physical expression to convey his characters anguish though over the top at times rung true to Carpeta’s situation. An enjoyable performance from start to finish.

Katherine Shearer, as Dementia/Rivera and Nicole Wineberg, as Supporta played Galactia’s daughters. Both ladies showed great spirit and naturalism in their performances which balanced some of the more animated characters in the story. Wineberg who often narrated to the audience what was unfolding on stage carried herself strongly from start to finish. Shearer gave the audience a vibrant performance with beautiful humourous under tones.

Peter Maple, as Prodo the man profiting from his ailments was funny and heartbreaking in his performance. Maple’s character tortured by Galactia’s words responded with a performance that left you feeling compassionate towards his case. An enjoyable watch throughout the story.

Brendan Miles, as Suffici/Sordo gave both his characters a vulnerability and vanity that was pleasing to watch, reminding us all that personal opinion on ideas or art is subjective in the eye of the beholder. Miles performed love-able characters, even though at times they came across a bit pig-headed. Miles had a gentleness in his delivery that had you loving them anyway despite this.

Lynden Jones, As Ostensibile the religious figure of State, gave a portrayal remarkably accurate to life. Passive aggressive in nature, Jones performed with an air of dignity and control about his character, secretive in his physicality a well paced performance.

Mark Lee, as Urgentino was a highlight for me, Lee’s stage presence demanded attention, you could not deny him your complete focus. Lee was animated in his delivery, a childish and fun caricature of a selfish rich powerful member of the State. His portrayal of Urgentino was full of charisma and humour. Lee has a tremendous ability to capture the imagination of the audience in his performance, their attention all his. A delicious performance.

Scenes from an Execution is a food for thought play. It’s content though based in 1571 Venice reminds us that though times may change, human nature seems to not have evolved as much in regards to power, artistic opinion, public opinion and power shifting persuasion. Who decides what is creatively sound? Good or bad? How does one become so hated then so loved? Through out the centuries artists like Galactia have been imprisoned and suffered greatly for their convictions produced in their art. Religious and political fear still controls so many in their opinion and acceptance or denial of others expression. This work is an epic exploration of thought regarding these matters. It has you checking your own personal views, in fact if you allow it, it too can feel very personal. There is a lot to digest and take into account, be ready to focus. What I took from this play was a challenge, sticking to your convictions is not often easy nor is dealing with other people’s projected fears and insecurities. Howard Barker has written universal questions for us to consider. See this play, Hilliar and company have produced a work of art that leaves ample room for the imagination to run wild. Tooth and Sinew have produced a gallant show!

13th May- 31st May at The Old Fitzroy Theatre, Woolloomooloo

THOM PAIN (based on nothing)

Synopsis: THOM PAIN in his quest for salvation will stop at nothing, except maybe a piece of lint, or the woman in the second row. In a surreal but touching exploration of death, rejection, love and fear, Thom Pain questions as much as he reveals, yet affirms life’s worth through a realisation of its unpredictable splendours amid its predictable mediocrity.

Review:

Julie Baz and company have done the wise thing of honouring Will Eno’s work with simplicity. This poetically written piece of theatre indeed needs no distraction by set design or flashy lighting techniques. The writing speaks for itself, it is witty and humourous, dry and thoughtful, crass at times and Thom Pain himself is both plain and complex.
The play itself whether due to the flow of the writing or the choices of direction felt very much more like spoken word or a dishevelled poetry reading, which I personally thoroughly enjoyed. David Jeffery playing Thom Pain begins the play in the darkness giving some account of himself with out the audience being able to see him. When we do get a glimpse of the man it is by several failed attempts to light a cigarette. This rawness of lighting technique was beautiful and mirrored the mood of Thom himself. David Jeffery’s interaction with a somewhat shy and reserved audience once lights were up was focused and at ease. Jeffery’s delightful and comical interaction with a late patron at the beginning of the show was highly amusing, I felt he was prepared for the possibilities of heckling of all sorts from his audience. In this case I have to say I wish I had been amongst more willing patrons, non the less the performance was solid and engaging. Julie Baz’s choice of musical support was perfectly placed to give a more enhanced sensation of the thought being discussed. Being taken on a journey of the mind is successful when the heart follows, the romance of life tagged swimmingly along with the mediocre themes of life. This production indeed travelled beautifully from the get go therefore I must say that providing an interval for this work was highly unnecessary and would have much preferred to persevere with Jeffery’s to the end of thought without interruption. Why this was provided was unclear and believe it should be extracted.

Thom Pain (based on nothing) is a discussion of the art of nature which is humanity, warm and scared, cold and fleeting, longing to be loved and to love. Life is indeed worth living through all it’s emotional and mental imageries that affect the heart and soul. Salvation is discovering and accepting this. Thom Pain himself concluding it is great to be alive, and of course he is right.

Thom Pain runs only a short while 5-10th of May at the Old Fitzroy. Get a ticket and treat yourself.