No Plain Jane

Theatre reviews and musings (mostly) from Adelaide

Tag: Nexus

Thoughts: Myth; or, art, feminism, and the critical juncture.

Subtitled “A study on the female species” (perplexingly omitting the word “of”) Erin Fowler’s Myth is a danced commentary on visions and stereotypes of women over time.   Fowler with co-choreographers and performers Jessie Oshodi and Mikaila Roe dance their way through images of this species: ancient perceptions of a goddess; 50s ideals of a housewife; Barbies to be manipulated; nothing more than a tease for men. Presentation of these images accompanies spoken text written by Fowler, the documentary style of Patrick Clements’ voice observing these women.

The small stage and flat seating of Nexus is hardly conducive to a good dance presentation, but Fowler, Oshodi and Roe all do well containing themselves within the space, without seeming constrained, and stay away from too much low and floor work.

The three emerging artists are technically strong, although at times sections of choreography had a tendency to delve into presentation of steps to show technique, rather than working off a through line from the choreography.  Regardless, much of the choreography is intriguing and does well to show off the strengths of the still young dancers: Oshodi particularly strong with a powerful presence in her jumps.

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Almost a review: Lists of Invisible Things

A list of some things I like:

  • Australian accents
  • Songs sung in Australian accents
  • New writing
  • New Australian writing
  • New Australian musical theatre writing
  • Female singer/writer/actors
  • Young female singer/writer/actors
  • Glitter
  • The thought “Why?”
  • The thought that if my favourite colour is purple and your favourite colour is green, but I don’t see the same green as you, and when you see green you’re actually seeing what I call purple then aren’t we seeing the same colour and so then isn’t our favourite colour the same?!
  • The fact that, while this seemed like great logic when I was 12, I have a science degree and can tell you why it’s wrong.
  • Disco Ball lights
  • Intertwining stories
  • Making intertwining stories add up
  • Small shows, small stories
  • Being afloat, aloft.
  • Short hair
  • Review writers who don’t use silly tricks like writing a list
  • Using tiredness as an excuse for calling something a review when it isn’t really a review at all
  • Trying to make sense of it all
  • The idea that maybe you should see this show before you read this review
  • The idea that you should see this show

Emerging Melbourne artist Caity Fowler has penned and stars in this small and simple one-woman musical, playing in the small down-stairs Gallery at Nexus.  Her Alice moves afloat and aloft, 14-years-old, and dead.  But, the word dead tastes too hard.  Perhaps it would be better to say she has moved on, into a place where sounds have colours and words have tastes.  A place where when a thought gets so big you can’t possibly hold it in your brain, it can fit in a jar – a big jar – and then be kept safe to think about.

It’s a young play.  It’s written by a young person, and I suspect from my date-of-the-night’s response, it’s a play for young people.  I like this.  I like this.  I like this feeling that this is a little play which was crafted for me. (I like the fact that I wrote I like this three times in a row and didn’t pick it up until I proof read.)

In Alice’s world, music is orange and blue and purple.  And Fowler’s composition does seem to travel this spectrum.   Songs about fights between mothers and daughters, about love between husbands and wives, about teenage crushes and teenage thoughts, about trying to make sense of something senseless. Her full and round Australian accented singing voice wraps around words and ideas and lives.

In Alice, Fowler is looking back, and in Alice’s mother and aunt, she is looking forward to the line women travel as they grow older.   While she sometimes leans too much on stage on differentiating characters through differentiating voices, I am still, at 22, close enough to 14 to see myself at that age in that character: in fights and in bargaining; I’m close enough to my 14-year-old self that I know that that is how I would play my mother.  While sometimes trying to figure out who everyone was and everyone is can be confusing, the puzzle makes it all the more fun.  While sometimes the songs don’t flow enough from or into the scenes… I don’t care.

It’s not polished.  You can often see the marks where it joins, the gaps where it doesn’t stick, the places which were built over.  But I don’t think it’s trying to be polished (and that makes a good excuse for this review not being polished).   This is not only a brand new play; it’s a brand new Australian musical, written by a young and talented young woman.  And I have a huge soft spot for all of those things. I don’t think it needs to be polished.  Or rather, I can’t be the one to say how it needs to be worked on.  I would love to see it polished, and worked on, and grow.  But, just to see it the way that it was – a tiny play in a tiny theatre about questions and thoughts so big they need to be kept in jars – was magical.

SCRATCH Theatre presents Lists of Invisible Things written and performed Caity Fowler.  Directed by Sally Bourne,  Assistant Director Emma Clair Ford, Musical Director by Jen Kingwell, with band members Jen Kingwell and Pip Fowler.  At Nexus Gallery, 6pm until Feb 25.  More information and tickets.

AdlFringe Diary 2: Week Minus One

I’m going with the adage slow and steady wins the race, and so have only seen five fringe show so far.  Of course, I say only five, and then think about how the Fringe actually opens tonight, so perhaps you’re not convinced.

In the warm up week, I’ve spent some lovely afternoons and nights in the Garden of Unearthly Delights, which had their opening last Tuesday.   While the top end of the Garden seems to have become a bit garish and gaudy with the almost overwhelming scale of arcade amusement rides, this doesn’t detract from the open lawns and lit trees and dancing Dutchmen of the Eastern End.  Garden reviews have been written for Stevl Shefn and His Translator Fatima, The Wau Wau Sisters Are As Naked As The Day They Were Born Again!, Nothing Is Really Difficult and Cantina, with Songs To Make You Smile rounding out the five (twitter lengthed review: A lovely show with a lovely voice, but a tad repetitive and narrow for those who didn’t grow up listening to songs from that era).

I’ve also spent two nights at two launches: Accidental Productions launched their fringe program at their lovely new Hutt Street Fringe venue CitySoul, and the launch of the Coopers Urban Garden Experiment which Nexus has set up in their courtyard, creating a gorgeous piece of greenery within the brick and concrete jungle which is the Lion Arts Centre of my second home.

Because I was in the Fringe Parade last year, I remember quite clearly the less than delightful 40-odd-degrees it was that evening.  In retrospect, it perhaps seems better than today’s rain.  Chookas to all for opening; hope you don’t get too wet!