No Plain Jane

Theatre reviews and musings (mostly) from Adelaide

Tag: Physical Theatre

Fringe Review: Clown Lights Stage

In a mix up with the lecture theatres at Adelaide University, Alice Mary Cooper, of the University of Sydney, has been forced to present her APAM lecture in an abandoned room of the Tuxedo Cat. Her lecture, something way too intellectual for me to recall here, certainly has something to do post-modern and post-post-modern performance art in Australia as a process of six-months immersive practice. I simultaneously am horrified at the idea of sitting through such a presentation, and actually completely intrigued and know I would probably take time out of my day to listen.

It’s not to be, though. Alice searches through her bag, and realising she has left her notes in the car she asks us to just sit tight one moment. Outside we hear crash, bang, sirens. Silence.

The door at the rear of the theatre opens, and sliding along the wall, wavering smile under her red nose, is Clown (Cooper). A fan, perhaps of Alice, she is her to save the day and perform Alice’s lecture: if only she can face up to her audience.

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Review: Bubblewrap & Boxes

This review originally appeared on

Luke O’Connor takes special care of his boxes. One day,Christy Flaws arrives in a box of her own. What follows inBubblewrap & Boxes is a series of farcical chases with interpretations of the letters and postcards found in a mailbag.

A generally agreeable show, it fails to rise above mild amusement. The show is at its best – and its young audience the most content – when the show goes back to its title: boxes. The simple pleasure of playing with the boxes: hiding, darting in and out, protection of the small boxes, and not wanting to leave the large boxes. The clowning (and, in particular, the pratfalls) that came with this was the biggest hit with the audience.

The attempt to impose multiple narrative structures, as the two characters take their clues from postcards and letters, is not completely successful. As with the boxes leading the way to simple adventures, the more simple the narrative the more successful the conceit becomes – reading a postcard with a picture of a shark on it gives the actors more to do, and the audience to respond to, rather than an image of the Eifel tower.

Acrobatics are relatively simple, and fluently executed. When they get a chance to play in their roles across the stage, rather than moments of stagnancy, you see O’Connor and Flawshave generous clowning personalities: O’Connor at his best when running in a panic, Flaws at her best when her character shows off.

This show is fine, the performers have talent, and the young audience in the hot Bosco Theatre tent was amused without becoming restless. Yet, it never took any elements and raised the production into something special, beyond much more than an adequate piece of family theatre.

Asking for Trouble presents Bubblewrap & Boxes. Performers Christy Glaws and Luke O’Connor, sound designer Ania Reynolds.

Review: The Red Shoes

Let me lick the dust from your shoes
Let their colour shine through
Like pomegranates
Like red eyes crying
Like bull’s blood
Like the matador’s cloak.

– The Red Shoes, Anna Maria Murphy

Shoes; red, bright, shining; made for wearing.  Made for dancing.

Not to be given up lightly.

Patrycja Kujawska peers in to the suitcase, about to become The Girl. Copyright Steve Tanner / Kneehigh

Kneehigh Theatre’s adaptation of the Hans Christian Anderson story The Red Shoes is physical, haunting, and every bit as disturbing as Anderson would expect.  As leader of the androgynous cast of five, under the direction Emma Rice, Lady Lydia (Giles King) narrates for us the story of The Girl (Patrycja Kujawska), who lost her parents, and who found The Red Shoes.

After Lady Lydia casts The Girl, ensemble members Dave Mynne, Robert Luckay and Mike Shepherd create the rest of the characters that inhabit this off-centre and heightened world.  As they move through the highly physical production, in many moments the narration and dialogue falls away, and we are left with a dance, as the strong (both physically, and in emotion and character) ensemble and production doesn’t need words to convey its story.

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