No Plain Jane

Theatre reviews and musings (mostly) from Adelaide

Tag: David Gadsden

Review: The Moon’s a Balloon

TheMoonsABalloon

The propensity for children to believe in magic is marvelous. They watch theatre with a sense of wonderment, not trying to figure out the trickery or catch the misdirection, but content with a belief that what they’re watching is real. To create a sense of wonder and mysticism in The Moon’s a Balloon, though, Patch Theatre Company uses something better than magic: they use science.

In its most compelling scene, dancer Rob Griffin moves around a solitary balloon, with just enough helium that it lightly skims on the top of the ground. Griffin deftly moves his body around the balloon, and his manipulation of the air surrounding it causes the balloon to move and appear sentient, creating a enchanting duet.

With dancer Katrina Lazaroff, the pair play with balloons that have been weighted and would sit in the palm of your hand, and balloons that extend meters in diameter and softly repel against the ground before falling back to earth. They run with helium balloons, their strings pulled taught to appear solid. Strings are dislodged and balloons fly up into the rafters; weighted balloons fall back down to earth.

Firmly embedded in dance theatre, this textless physical work feels like significant new territory for the company, while still feeling very much of the repertoire. The work was collaboratively created by the dancers and the rest of the creative team, and Lazaroff has previously created dance work for children in Skip also being featured in this year’s Come Out Festival – and it’s exciting to see this audience for the form being engaged in Adelaide.

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Review: The Lion In The Night

Where Me and My Shadow built magic out of light and shadow, The Lion In The Night builds these moments out of innocuous objects that clutter our every day. Wendy Todd’s set is a delight of organised clutter: bric a brac, upended furniture, a washing line and a bath-tub take their place in a combination of objects which at once seem opposed from occupying the same space, while also seeing like a natural combination. These objects come together in ways which of course make sense to the imagination, but with the help of a little stage magic, the imagination comes to life.

Blowing on a lamp and the globe glows brighter, pop on the kettle and you’ll soon be able to hear the whistle, ready for tea. Pedalling away with all her might on an exercise bike, Angelie (Eliza Lovell) races through the night. Theo (Rory Walker) clacks away at an old typewriter, composing a letter which, with the power of dial-up, flies up into the rafters. Into the red and blue umbrella goes the electric beaters, winding up the umbrella until there it is as a satellite dish.

Patch’s production, jointly created by the creative team with director Dave Brown, takes just the essence from Pamela Allen’s picture book by the same name. Rather than a retelling for the stage, strands and images from Allen’s book are drawn out and played upon. Some lines and scenes are taken directly from the book – and Allen’s soft poetry sits beautifully on the stage – but others are new adventures just for these characters. The resulting play is a whopping sixteen scenes in under an hour, but this short, episodic structure works well, as we join Angelie and Theo on short bursts of their imagination. With so many strands it’s easy to imagine the work would get lost or rushed, but instead the work flows along, never disjunctured.

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Review: Harbinger

I’d been suffering with a fever and stomach bug the week before I saw Harbinger, and it was rather horrible, but coming in waves, so I started Harbinger okay.  It then hit me again towards the end of the play, so there was a portion which I struggled to absorb.  It then stuck around for most of the week after I saw the play, and when I finally thought I’d kicked it, it came back while I was writing this review.   I apologise in advance for the level of delirium this was written in.

The Harbinger promo flyer

A short re-enactment, detailing where the marketing for Harbinger came from (in a way which actually, I am informed my Matt Whittet in the comments, is not the way marketing happens at all.  Life is so much funnier in my own head!)

In 2009

Sean Riley: “Look, I’m really sorry Chris, I know I said I would have Skip Miller’s Hit Songs for you, but it just isn’t going to be ready by next year’s season.  Do you think I could have some extra time?  Just until 2011.”

Chris Drummond:  “That will be fine, Sean.  We’ll find someone else to write a play really really quickly.”

Back in the Brink office

Drummond:  “Who do you think we can get?  That Whittet kid, he’s writing something for that Windmill lot, isn’t he?  If we overlap their season with our rehearsal period, we wouldn’t even need to pay for his accommodation to be in Adelaide or anything.  And Windmill always gets good reviews, so we can surely sell some tickets off that!”

He calls Whittet.

Drummond: “Matthew!  Look, we’re not going to get this play we’re supposed to show next year ready in time.  I know we usually go through a long and exacting development process, but you can write us up something really quickly, yes?”

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