No Plain Jane

Theatre reviews and musings (mostly) from Adelaide

Month: September, 2012

Briefs: Face to Face; Into The Dark

I’m not entirely sure when my life got so busy. Or, perhaps, how I used to fit it all in. I’m currently in Newcastle to speak on a panel called I Started A Blog … Now I’m a Critic for the Crack Theatre Festival as a part of This Is Not Art. Over the next fortnight, I will be in Melbourne, where I am producing Sepia in the Melbourne Fringe, and then it is down to Goolwa for the Regional Arts Australia conference Kumuwuki / Big Wave. I then have a couple of projects I’m working on when I’m back in Adelaide, that I can’t wait to share.

In light of this, I have edited down two pieces I worked on and then were relegated to the “to finish when I have time” pile. I know I can be rather less than brief, perhaps this is the start of a new experiment.

Face to Face was the second stage adaptation of an Ingmar Bergman film I saw this year. I unfortunately didn’t find the time or brain space to write about Persona at Theatre Works, but Alison Croggon does a wonderful job of capturing how the team took this story that was told originally in a film exploitative of the medium, into a play exploitative of its medium. In Face to Face co-adaptors Simon Stone and Andrew Upton approach from a similar place: taking the screenplay and not the film, they create a work which is of the theatre.

In Face to Face we watch the unraveling of the life, and subsequently the mind, of Jenny (Kerry Fox). Through the sparse set (Nick Schlieper), times and places roll over and into one another: the movement of sets on and off the stage in unison choreographed movement with the cast brings some of the most powerful visual images to the work.

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Review: The Splinter

This mother and father have much to be thankful for. Their daughter Laura, just four years old, has come back after who knows what she went through in the last nine months. She’s not talking. She’s taller. Harder somehow. But she’s back. That’s all that matters, isn’t it?

Until the questions start to pop up. Why isn’t she talking? Why does it appear she doesn’t remember who her parents are? Why does it all seem just a little off? For the mother this is easy: her daughter has returned, they can move on with their lives. For the father, it is not. Questions, doubts, apprehensions become bigger and bigger, until they are all he can see.

You can never return home, the saying goes. So when a lost child returns home, what home could they possibly be returning to?

The Splinter is a deliciously spooky play from writer Hillary Bell and director Sarah Goodes. In the intimate space of the Wharf 1 Theatre they have created a haunting work in which the world within the play, the world of the theatre, and time all seem to be stretched and played with. Although just 75 minutes, the world of the play seems to slow time: the unease of the play enveloping.

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90 hours and 137 cakes later

I am back in Adelaide after my whirl-wind trip to Sydney. I saw a few shows (a couple of reviews pending), caught up with some wonderful friends (including two favourite fellow arts writers), and spent over fifty-hours surrounded by cake and feminist performance art.

Over the four days, I asked who gets to call themselves a feminist? and does it matter if young women aren’t feminists?; I thought about the difference between a “cook” and a “chef” (and an “artist”); I interviewed a young show baker and the VP of the young, feminist, CWA, the Perth Belles; and I thought about the state of internet bullying. I summarised the room with 57 Hours, 46 Minutes, 38 Seconds to go; 42 hours, 51 minutes, 40 seconds to go; at the end; and out the other side.

I read-up on my favourite CWA cookbook rules; gave two notes on egg anatomy; linked to My Drunk Kitchen, and instructions for the perfect icing colouring. I documented what I didn’t feel like doing on my worst morning, and pushed through to write the piece I’m proudest of through the whole process.

If you have the time, please check out the whole website. There are hundreds of photos, many more essays from Ianto Ware, and quite the collection of baking-related youtube videos. You can also watch the final cake judging – an incredibly bizarre and regimented set of rule-based judging for a theatre critic to witness.

Thanks to those who followed along the way – we were absolutely blown away by the scale of online engagement. And massive thanks to Brown Council for having me – you can feed me cake and ask me to write about feminism anytime.