No Plain Jane

Theatre reviews and musings (mostly) from Adelaide

Tag: AC Arts

Fringe Review: Skip

One Point 618 is a local dance theatre company, creating work for both adult and young audiences. Skip forms part of their educational program – a short dance work for young children directed by Katrina Lazaroff based around two friends (Rebecca Bainger and Emma Stokes) who, while out playing, come across a field of sneakers which seem to have magical powers.

As they leap from pair to pair, the friends find themselves taken over by the shoes, and act in a way that perhaps they didn’t expect. From shoes that make them dance, to shoes that make them feel like their feet are on fire, to shoes that make them sing, the couple run around the stage making all manner of fun.

A logical role of the shoes (as logical as one can be with anything expressing some sort of magic) is never completely firmed down. At times the same shoes seem to convey different dance styles in the wearer; the power balance between the shoes and the dancers is variable; sometimes the same shoes are used in different roles. But perhaps this picking on Skip for some confused logic is being persnickety, for the role of this work is not to explore the power of footwear, but to revel in the fun of dance.

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Fringe Review: Executive Stress / Corporate Retreat

At AC Arts, a selection of Adelaide’s top level stressed executives gather for a corporate retreat. Ten will be selected for the “Elite Squad”, an intensive training and testing program which will tell us who is the most achieved in the corporate world.  The team from Applespiel are here to work with the squad, instructing them on how to become the best they can be. It will take drive, determination, and doggedness – from Applespiel and from their Elite Squad: the corporate world isn’t for pansies.

As the audience arrives for Executive Stress / Corporate Retreat, we are asked to sign up for the Elite Squad, where our names and photographs are taken, we are supplied with a tie, and ranked according to our dress and timeliness.  As an introduction, we are asked to play a warm up game: Cross the River. Yeses to one side, nos to the other. Here, I begrudgingly must admit I am a hare and not a tortoise, but quietly actually think that is better.

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Fringe Review: This Is It

Auteur director Dara Gill is bringing to Australian audiences his first feature film, This Is It.  Gill’s short films have shown great promise, with his final short, That Is All, deservedly winning Best Fiction Short at the Australian Film Institute Awards (now the AACTAs), and screening at many of the world’s most prestigious festivals.  The trademark dream quality which made Gill’s films stand out on the international festival market and have garnered him some what of a cult following on Vimeo, however seem to drag and wear when expanded into a long 125 minutes.

Presented to Adelaide’s press-corps Sunday night, followed up with a Q&A with cast members Frank B Mainoo, Malcolm Whittaker and Natalie Kate Randall (Gill himself conspicuously absent) on Monday, This Is It takes the now well established bleak Australian violent drama (recently seen in films such as Snowtown and Animal Kingdom, but following a long line from The Boys) and tries to meld it with the Hollywood hero film model. The resulting film is a confused mash of genres and ideals: a mad mad’s yells, signifying nothing.

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Fringe Review: Gobbledygook

In a room sits a woman (Aileen Huynh).  In the same room sits her phone.  It’s them, alone. Just the two of them. Well, them, and everyone else in the world: it’s a phone.  Gobbledygook is a series of short scenes of the perhaps agoraphobic woman, too dependent on her phone, but then, would she actually be better off with out it?

Perhaps it is too easy as an arts writer to expect everything to have a “point”, or perhaps, rather, to expect everything has a theme they are trying to explore or comment on. But: I’m genuinely confused as to if Gobbledygook had this or not.

Their fringe blurb tells us:

A theatre work by Bodysnatchers, ‘Gobbledygook’ examines the apparatuses our lives are filtered through; the mess of signal, frequency and wire. A duet for a lone woman and her iPhone, it irreverently tackles the core of contemporary anxiety: who is listening? Anyone?

And yes, some ways the production seemed to be a commentary on the advent of technology on our lives, but it is overall so specific to this character – and, yes, so unrecognisable from myself – that it felt like one woman’s story.  To try and extricate anything more about us as a society just feels fake.

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Fringe Review: The Year of Magical Wanking

This review originally appeared on

The Year of Magical Wanking is Neil Watkins’ one man monologue: a year of dealing with his HIV, living in his dead grandfather’s apartment, with an obsession with violent porn.

While the show’s title will put some off (while enticing many others), the production talks in great detail of subjects which are traditionally seen as taboo, but under Phillip McMahon’s direction, Watkins’ presents these elements of his self-destructive life with fact rather than in crassness.

Much of the subject matter is a risk to place in front of an audience, there is forever the chance that Watkins will horribly offended some people – and no doubt he has – but there in the choice to have such a divisive title is actually needed. There are no pretentions, and nor would there want to be, that this work is for everyone.

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Fringe Review: XXXO

A good cry is something natural to indulge in. Sitting on the cusp of sad mood, it can feel good to let into those feelings and find the trigger which will make it all come out. The sad movie you’ve seen a dozen times. The sad song you can play on repeat for an hour.

Some things that have made me cry recently:

This song and performance:

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Fringe Review: The Disappearances Project

Half-light. Two people sit in two wooden chairs. On the black screen, lights move in and out of view, in and out of focus. They are but reflections, lights’ movement captured in passing. Through the electronica score, we hear the murmur of water.  A voice cuts through.

These are the stories of the people who knew, or who once knew, the people now lost. Missing. Disappeared. Weeks, years, decades. Those left behind wait in limbo. Neither coming nor going.  For those left, a person erased with no method of leaving, a gap in knowledge, an incomplete history begetting an incomplete present, an unimaginable future.

Performers Irving Gregory and Yana Taylor drive us through this verbatim theatre work, through the words of the parents and the children, the friends, the acquaintances who passed for just a moment to share a lipstick. In The Disappearances Project we share a different view of the missing, concentric circles of the people they once knew. Stories that overlap and are undifferentiated. And at their centre: nothing. Disappeared.

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Fringe Review: seven kilometres north-east

The concept of falling in love with a place is an interesting one. A connection to a land or a people, or just that city down the road, which comes as a beautiful and unexpected thing. Love of a person, I think, is easier to intellectualise, easier to convey. It’s always expected that people we fall in love with will be met, are still to be met, while place is a less emphatic thing: it’s expected we’ll posses a connection to a place you grew up, or a place where your family comes from. What is it about a place that can be so taking?

Kym Vercoe, the devisor and performer of seven kilometres north-east found herself taken by Bosnia, and here we are invited in on her bright and happy exploration.

Vercoe is generous of heart, spirit, and performance.  We quickly make friends with this character as she shares with her audience jokes and knowing glances. We follow her through her heartfelt love for Bosnia, before following her through her heartbreak as, half-a-generation after their occurrence, Vercoe is second-hand witnesses to an unimaginable, insurmountable tragedy of the Bosnian War befallen on the people of a land she has loved.

How do we face a reality so awful? How connected are we to people of a place we love, or loved? When these people are no longer living, have not lived for many years, their people not a part of the landscape ever since? How much are we as women, connected to all women?

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Review: Worldhood (And: On the fallibility of being a critic)

Worldhood. Photo Chris Herzfeld Camlight Productions 2011

This review was originally published at Australian Stage Online

Darkness. Silence. Through the dim, white. A large blank page, several meters high by nearly the stage wide. In front, sits the stage. Empty.

Enter visual artist Thom Buchanan. To the white, he brings fast and furious strokes of charcoal. The theatre fills with the scratch and scrape of charcoal against paper, the breath of Buchanan, amplified, echoing around and around the space. The page fills with vertical lines, Buchanan swiftly crafting a forced perspective, the audience finding themselves peering down a city street.

As Buchanan draws he ducks and rises, his whole body mimicking the geometry of his hand and the charcoal he draws with.

Dancer Tara Soh walks on to the stage, watching with intent the rapid creation of a black backdrop, as she begins to follow Buchanan. As he drops, she drops. As he shifts up, right, down, right, left, she shifts up, right, down, right, left.

As she moves out of this holding pattern, Soh continues to create patterns and forms in response to the heightening intensity of sound, as the strike of charcoal and the sharpness of breath continues to intensify in the space. Her body moves in sharp lines and angles.

Other dancers begin to join and fill the space, their bodies too moving and bending with sharp cracks along lines, moving angles and moving planes. Hands grab, arms interlock, bodies in a mass move across the space.

The sound of Buchanan drops away, and as if the voice over to a documentary, we are told about the history of marks, of the precursors to image. Of angles, of composition, of the eventual discovery of how to create a perception of depth on a two dimensional plane.

And that’s just the first fifteen minutes.
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A quick exciting word.

I have a lot of writing to catch up on and post, which I will hopefully make a dent of this weekend, but first some news: I’ve had my first article published on paper, for people to pick up and read at their will, for all of July around Adelaide.  So, if you see The Adelaide Review lying around, make sure you pick it up and turn to page 24, where you can read all about the Australian Dance Theatre’s collaboration with AC Arts dance students in Worldhood.

A World Of Dance - Adelaide Review 2011

Alternatively, you can read the article online here.

As much as I love the power and the freedom of the internet, I am so excited to have my work in print.  It is truly astonishing to me.  Thank you to everyone who has supported me over the past year or so, I couldn’t have done it without you. Hopefully the first of many!