No Plain Jane

Theatre reviews and musings (mostly) from Adelaide

Tag: The Misery Children

Review: transumer: deviate from the norm, Adhocracy 2011

When was the last time you fcuked things up?  I mean really, did something so left of field, so unlike yourself (so unlike anyone!), so brilliant and wonderful and bizarre that all you can do is feel absolute joy?

For me, it was Sunday.

As you begin transumer: deviate from the norm, you are handed a red bag. In your red bag goes one yellow balloon, one piece of white chalk, and one animal mask.  In your hands goes an “i-torch” – a contraption which sees an iPod touch with large headphones sticking up off a large metal torch.  Onto the torch, you stick a small, plastic animal friend, who you say hello to, and will get back to later.

In a group of ten, you receive your instructions from a pair of mother fcukers.  On the count of three, everyone presses the big red button: Deviate.

Participants listen to instructions, ready to begin.

Listening to our instructions. Photo: Heath Britton

pvi collective’s transumer has groups of people walking the winter streets of Port Adelaide for one hour where they are invited to, well, deviate.  Defy conventions, tell the city what you want from it, laugh in the face of authority, overthrow the institutions. All while making sure to cross at the green light.

In one hour we wrote on chalk on the pavement, we created an urban home for our animal friend, we did nothing at all for one minute in defiance of the working day.  With a yellow ball, we played dodge ball against the monarchy; with yellow balloons, we took part in our own piece of socially acceptable terrorism – blowing stuff up.  In a one-minute, sadistic version of the Beep Test we tried to topple a bank by running in to it.  Again.  And again.  Shoulder blades, mine are currently yelling loud and clear, are not the suggested body part for impact.

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2010, You’ve Been Good To Me

A Thank You, and the obligatory Best Of Worst Of lists

To everyone who has supported me and my blog and my other writing this year: thank you.  This year has been truly magnificent, and getting so much respect for my writing has played no small part in that.  When I decided to not pursue my Honours degree I knew I was making the right choice; I could have never grasped just how right that choice was.  To everyone who has read, commented, subscribed, or talked to me about something I’ve written, you blow my mind.   To the companies and artists in particular who have taken me on as part of the community, in my strange hybrid of administrator / writer / reviewer / blogger / fan, I am eternally grateful.

Even those of you who have given me bad feedback, the overestimation of the impact of this blog warms my cockles.  Those of you who got here by searching for naked pictures of actors or Plain Janes, you creep me out a little and don’t get my thanks, sorry.

After much hemming and hawing over how (and if) to do a Best/Worst of The Year, I eventually decided to just go for the traditional top and bottom five.   Not necessarily the best and the worst, but in a completely subjective analysis my favourites and my biggest disappointments.  I loved 54 of the 88 productions I saw, and most of the rest leaned towards the love over the hate side, so it’s been a pretty fine year.

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Review: Ruby Bruise

There are times when I wish I still existed in the anonymity of the internet.  Where I could write something, and no-one could connect it to a name, or a face, or a person they actually know.  Where I could share the fullness of my brain, and the thoughts that are swimming, and the deepest nerve that a piece of art just hit, and still have it be a secret.

Writing my review of Ruby Bruise was one of those moments. I tried to capture what it was, but in no way did I capture the way it captured me.

This review originally appeared on www.australianstage.com.au

When Ruby Bruise was born, she developed at 10,000 times the normal rate, and this production, devised by director Daisy Brown and playwright Finnegan Kruckemeyer, invites us in on the journey of Ruby’sgrowing old.

The constructed set in the Waterside Workers Hall of billowing sheets, designed by Amy Milhinch and Wendy Todd, is reminiscent of your childhood cubby house: literally in the cubby of stolen sheets behind the lounge or under the porch chairs, and figuratively in the comfort, home, and wonder it brings. And along with that is the childlike wonder that Ruby Bruise pulls us into.

Starting almost as a children’s story, we are invited in to the wonder and escapism of childhood and Ruby’schildhood, as Ruby tells us the story of her growing up.Kruckemeyer’s emotive lyrical narrative, primarily spoken in the third person as Ruby’s life is narrated with an air of reflection, is sweeping and beautiful in its exploration of ageing: in finding yourself and your talents, and in periods and sex and sexuality.

Written with shades of dark and light, Kruckemeyer explores into a deeper darkness than your children’s stories aught, as in the dark the pains and heartaches of Ruby’s life are lain out before us. But in the light, if you look around at the faces of your fellow audience members, you look into the faces of pure unadulterated joy.

The part of Ruby is shared by four: Sarah BrokenshaElena CarapetisNathan O’Keefe, and Ellen Steele. It would be wrong to call them “the Rubies” because they are one Ruby, and together they make a whole person.Ruby Bruise reflects how, just as all of us are made up of different facets of our personality, different parts of our lives affect different parts of us in different ways.

To pretend we are all complete in oneself is silly: we are complete in ourselves, just as Ruby is complete in these four actors. While in shared lines the timing was occasionally off, the strong cast work together to create a wonderful and complete character.

Under Brown’s direction, Ruby doesn’t so much walk through life as dance and play on her advanced journey from childhood to adulthood. Crafting the overflowing facets of Ruby’s personality in the four actors, Brown has created a magic world in which we are privy to the deeply interesting life of Ruby Bruise. Integrating a variety of theatrical styles, including dance sequences, the sometimes heightened theatricality of the piece serves to highlight the extremities of Ruby’s intense personality.

Unfortunately, there were moments where progression of the character and narrative (and accents) were lost, as the play took long diversions into exploring these theatrical styles and the pace stalled. While an extended magic scene was funny and clever, I was itching to find out what happened to Ruby next.

Mark Pennington paints the white canvas of a set by Milhinch and Todd with brilliant lights: the white, sweeping, and cosy tent is coloured with enveloping radiance, of blues, of yellows. Pennington also plays with shadows, as our first and last meeting with Ruby is through silhouette, and as Ruby’s childhood toy grows into a life-sized beast we are again introduced through shadow.

Music by Mario Spate wraps around Kruckemeyer’s prose and Brown’s direction with fluidity which emphasise and highlights the important moments, without ever being overbearing or unwelcome. Sound and lights are operated off to the corner of the stage, and the tapping of the musician’s foot as he plays the piano is just another way in which this play echoes strains of a childhood freedom.

On opening night Spate’s sound design was accompanied by the heavy pounding of the Adelaide rain on the roof, and although it meant some lines were lost, it was the perfect accompaniment to the intimacy of the play. In our cubby house, we were safe, in the light and even in the heartache.

A play in many ways about loneliness and the ways we try to comfort ourselves (or harm ourselves) to stop feeling the pain, Ruby Bruise is ultimately hopeful in that one day you will find comfort and companion: in your self and in others. It is a sweeping story which is in fact a personal exploration of an individual, albeit one whose personality and thoughts are too big to be contained in the body of one.

As Ruby Bruise would say to herself, I say to her: I like you being here.

Vitalstatistix and The Misery Children present Ruby Bruise, devised by Finegan Kruckemeyer and Daisy Brown.  Written by Finegan Kruckemeyer, directed by Daisy Brown, design by Amy Milhinch and Wendy Todd, composition by Mario Spate, lighting by Mark Pennington.  With Sarah Brokensha, Elena Carapetis, Nathan O’Keefe, and Ellen Steele.