Monday, July 11, 2016

Theatre: Hobo (★★★)

By James Taylor
Jeffrey the Cat Productions
Directed by Ian Wilkes
Designed by Chris Brain
Performed by Maitland Schnaars, James Hagan and James Taylor
Blue Room Theatre
Until July 16

In James Taylor’s Hobo, a perfect storm of evils collides at the dead end of an alley. Among the excrement and urine, vermin and bottles of plonk, the homeless and destitute eke out a volatile and vulnerable half-life.

Hobo maintains an impressive authenticity, especially in its portrayal of chronic drunkenness and mental confusion.
However, the play is uneven in both its text and staging.
Part of the issue is in performance. James Hagan is a wonderful and imposing actor but his presence here, the sheer volume of him, is just too much for this play in this small space.
He needs to dial down so that Hobo can be heard and understood with the clarity it warrants.

Read the complete review in The West Australian

Wednesday, July 6, 2016


by Nathaniel Moncrieff
Black Swan Lab
Directed by Stuart Halusz
Set design Frances Danckert
Costume design Lynn Ferguson
Sound design Brett Smith

Lighting design Joe Lui
With Adriane Daff, Rebecca Davis, Luke Hewett, Greg McNeill and Igor Sas

STC Studio until July 17

Luke Hewitt and Rebecca Davis
 The sad true story of Julia Pastrana, a Mexican Indian woman who was a sideshow attraction in the mid-19th Century, has been made into a sumptuous, generally successful but not especially remarkable, stage play by the writer Nathaniel Moncrieff, the director Stuart Halusz and the Black Swan Lab, the development project of the State Theatre Company.
Pastrana was the archetypal bearded lady, due to a cruel congenital condition that led its sufferers to be promoted as ape men and bear women.
The challenge of bringing Pastrana to the stage is deftly and sympathetically achieved by not representing her deformities. Adriane Daff, in a fine and touching performance, gives a sympathetic portrait of a wounded woman without the prurient distraction of her condition.
Luke Hewitt’s Theodore Lent is also convincing. The play is as much a picaresque exploration of the complete moral failure of a man as it is the tragedy of his victim.

Rebecca Davis threatens to run away with the show as Lent’s mistress, the acrobatic Marian Trumbull. The remarkably lengthy Davis makes it easy to see how she would be a hit in the ring or between Lent’s sheets, and she brings desperate power to her characterization.
The show is beautifully staged. Joe Lui moodily and imaginatively lights Frances Danckert’s revolving set and Lynn Ferguson’s rich costumes, and Brett Smith’s sound design and original compositions add greatly to its atmosphere and appeal.
Despite all those advantages, A Perfect Specimen ultimately lacks dramatic ambition. The narrative is determinedly linear, never truly taking us inside its characters or off its rails.
That does, of course, make this strange tale clear and easy to follow, but that comes at the expense of greater opportunities it could have taken, and deeper insights it could have found.

Read the complete review in The West Australian   

Friday, July 1, 2016

Theatre: Coincidences at the End of Time (★★★)

Written and directed by Scott McArdle
Second Chance Theatre
Designed by Sara Chirichilli
With Nick Maclaine and Arielle Gray
Subiaco Arts Centre
Until July 2

By the time Scott McArdle’s Coincidences at the End of Time gets under way, things have come to a decidedly un-pretty pass. Outside the beat up café Peter (Nick Maclaine) has holed up in, whopping great fire-breathing lizards are barbecuing whole neighbourhoods and a flesh-eating mist is gurgitating the survivors.
The waitress has been reduced to a smear of ash on the wall, while Peter has either had some pretty lucky escapes from the general misfortune or he’s disastrously bad at opening the café’s fiddly tomato sauce sachets.
For those of us familiar with the fashion for dystopia and apocalypse that infects our indie playwrights, the tea leaves are easy to read.
Of course – it’s a rom-com!