Jul 19

FILM – Embrace – 3.5K

embrace-movieBy Peter Maddern

When Taryn Brumfitt posted a before and after selfie on Facebook two years ago, the image went viral and attracted views in the millions. What was different about the image was that it was not your standard diet or exercise miracle but one of her pre and post child birth, with the latter being, how does one say it, more fulsome than the former.

The reaction Brumfitt received came from mainly women around the world and inspired her to crowd fund a documentary on this topic of how women can present themselves, living as we do in the digital world. Her premise is that the fashion industry, most notably represented in women’s magazines (and particularly on their covers) perpetuates a fiction, where even the models presented, thanks to Photoshop, don’t match how they are in the flesh, so to speak. And if that is their case, what hope the rest of the world?

At the core of film, Taryn Brumfitt, a bundle of infectious enthusiasm if ever there was one, heads off for a world tour to meet various people who contacted her at that time and others she lined up; from the engaging, such as the German actor who finds the fascinations of the paparazzi tedious to a particularly creepy New York plastic surgeon. Add in two ladies who had suffered accidents – one the loss of a facial nerve during surgery, the other burns when caught in a bush fire and the message gets hammered home that who you are matters much more than matching some magazine’s statement of how you should look.

To be sure this a film by a woman about women for women – of all ages – but perhaps in that it sustains a superficiality, drifting over the issue of what is it biologically in our evolution that has got us to that point – that is, what is about the opposite sex (if anything) that drives this craze and societal curse?

Embrace has struck a hurdle with a MA classification due to a short segment that focuses on women’s vaginas – ‘Vulvagate’ as one compere put it – but that classification should not deter mothers taking their daughters to see this documentary especially given pressures on younger people to fit in have never been greater given the impact of social media, the one and the same that got this project going at the outset.

Kryztoff Rating  3.5K

Jul 12

THEATRE PREVIEW – The Matchmaker – Independent Theatre – Goodwood Institute From 5-13 August

Matchmaker handbill frontHaving started the year with a hugely successful production of that most famous of plays “Hamlet”– Independent Theatre is now turning its sights on one of the American theatre’s best-loved comedies – Thornton Wilder’s 1954 Edinburgh Festival hit –

THE MATCHMAKER.

This classic comedy was first staged at the Edinburgh Festival and Theatre Royal Haymarket in London’s West End, before opening on Broadway in 1955 at the Royale Theatre, completing its run of 486 performances.

The wild success of the play led to two film adaptations, most notably Hello, Dolly! with Barbra Streisand in the lead role.

However the play itself is still regarded as a far richer and funnier experience and Independent Theatre is proud to bring it the stage once again.

Money – if you’ll pardon my expression – is like manure.  It’s not worth a thing unless it’s spread about, encouraging young things to grow.”  Dolly Levi

New York, 1886.  The Statue of Liberty has just been unveiled.

Widow Dolly Levi is a woman who “arranges things”.  She also likes liberating things – especially stifled people and idle wealth!  She is hired by the rich, pompous merchant, Horace Vandergelder, to prevent his niece from eloping with “an artist”, and also to find Horace a new wife.

However, Dolly has other ideas.  She has set her own sights on Horace, and embarks on a scheme to get him to propose.  Her machinations include Horace’s two young clerks, whom she encourages to head into New York for a day “on the razzle”, and a pretty, widowed milliner and her assistant.

After a series of hilariously farcical situations involving exploding tomato cans, cross-dressing, hiding in wardrobes, and secret rendezvous at a New York restaurant, everyone finds themselves paired with their perfect match.

Along the way, Dolly and her friends have surprisingly topical things to say about the aspirations of the young, and the equitable distribution of wealth.

Thornton Wilder’s classic comedy was turned into the hit musical “Hello Dolly”, but is, itself, far richer and funnier than the musical.

Stars Bronwyn Ruciak as Dolly Levi and David Roach as Horace Vandergelder.

Jul 11

THEATRE – Price Check the Musical – 4K

By Peter Maddern

Who would have thought as we sustain another drudge through the colour-hyped up aisles of our local supermarkets that there too lie the environment for all the horrid things that haunt us elsewhere in our lives. Things like mean spirited managers, burning ambitions and unfound love.

Cerise de Gelder and Sean Weatherly’s Price Check the Musical takes us there in a spirited and amusing romp through the lives of three staff members, Zayeeb (Fahad Farooque), the dedicated fruit and veg manager, Narelle (Catherine Campbell), the frustrated check out chick and David (Weatherly himself) as the loyal but ambitious store manager in waiting.

They come against their store owner Mr Butler (Rory Walker) and the aged and infuriating customer Mrs Zimmerman (Jacqy Phillips) without whom life would be probably be working okay.

Supported by four attractive and ever smiling ensemble members, the events on the floor and in the coffee room play themselves out with Walker particularly good as the almost maniacal and mean owner for whom all produce represents a profit and every day is just one more in the countdown to Christmas that starts in October.

The songs and lyrics are for the most part excellent and while patrons will hear the influences of the likes of Sondheim and Irving Berlin, they retain a proudly Australian feel with plenty use of the local vernacular. A rollicking good overture at the outset may well have also added to the mood.

Price Check refreshingly also eschews most concerns for political correctness, with Farooque playing with great joy his role as the new Australian, keeping the locals off balance as to what he gets and doesn’t about the local language and ways.

New musicals are tough ventures and Sean Weatherly and Cerise de Gelder’s dedication to the task over ten years is commendable. One can only hope it finds further supporters for future productions. Price Check makes shopping more fun than it has ever been before. Check it out.

Kryztoff Rating  4K

Jul 06

THEATRE – Straight While Men – The Space – 4K

Chris Pitman, Lucas Stibbard, Hugh Parker in Straight White Men ©Kate Pardey

Chris Pitman, Lucas Stibbard, Hugh Parker in Straight White Men ©Kate Pardey

By Peter Maddern

In this play, acclaimed New York writer Young Jean Lee asks her audience ‘what should straight white men do in a world that rewards diversity?’ In the present world of straight white men rebellion as seen through Brexit votes and Donald Trump, it’s a very pertinent question to ask.

An American family gathers for Christmas at the well-appointed home of their recently widowed father Ed (Roger Newcombe). The sons are in their thirties, Jake (Chris Pitman) the divorced banker, Drew (Lucas Stibbard) the expert in telling everyone else how to live their lives but who is still unmarried and Matt (Hugh Parker), back living at home after failing at most things and laden with tuition debts.

The play eventually focuses on Matt and the reasons for his unhappiness but to get there Lee expertly creates a myriad of interactions that will resonate with members of white straight families in the audience – the child like rompsing, the petty jealousies and plays for supremacy amongst the siblings, the  family ‘traditions’ of Christmas, the generational gap between how careers are made and that deep undercurrent that all extended family Christmases tend to have; that once a year is more than enough for such gatherings.

It’s a sad and almost troubling tale even if the play’s resolution probably goes too far. But getting there is often great fun with the skill of the writer very much in the ascendancy as the strain between narrative and character development is skilfully balanced and expertly played by Jelk’s team.

Kryztoff Rating  4K

Jun 27

CABARET FESTIVAL – Yana Alana – 4K

cabaretlogoBy Peter Maddern

It may well be regarded as typically Adelaide that Yana Alana needed to dress for her show but nothing she wore distracted from the strength of her performance; big, ballsy and brilliant in equal measures.

Backed by her two piece supporting band, the Paranas, the title of her show, Covered, alluded to not only the dress code imposed upon her but also the show’s content – a series of song covers and lyric quotes that supported her various on stage pyrotechnics and costume changes.

At times perched upon Table 26, others high above the stage, Yana Alana uses irascible wit in the style of Meow Meow and a seeming desire for self-combustion to delight her audience; an approach that seemed destined to break her stage orders, especially during her homage to the joys of shopping at Dotti.

Great fun amidst the foul language, Alana is a force of nature and a certain joy that seemed undiminished by her rare display of on-stage modesty.

Kryztoff Rating   4K

Jun 26

THEATRE – Noble Cause & Boiled Cabbage by Tony Moore – HST – 3K

By Peter Maddern

Tony Moore has penned two interesting short one act plays and then pinned them together in one show at the Holden Street Theatres.

The first, Noble Cause, probes the currently vexed issues of whether freedom of speech gives the power to say anything and does dedication to a noble cause allow any action to further that cause. This debate plays itself out when a certain Mr Smith (Stephane Avril), a government agent worried about issues of security, arrives unannounced in the office of left leaning history professor Bruce Linden (Brian Godfrey) to discuss his new book now in the hands of its proposed publishers.

While Moore is at pains in his program notes to say the play attempts to take neither side, it is Smith who is possessed of the better and more cogent arguments, a task that Avril delivers with sharp edged precision and confidence. Still, such an impression may come from a somewhat one dimensional and under prepared performance by Brain Godfrey who seemed simply out of his depth in the verbal fisticuffs he is embroiled in. Whatever, given most modern theatre’s current trend of using the stage as a stump for a rousing polemic, Moore’s take on this debate was nothing other than refreshing.

The second work, Boiled Cabbage, is an absurdist piece that traces the rapid evolution of women’s roles (if not rights) in English society arising from the passage of the Second World War. From subjugated and suffocated under Victorian norms of behaviour, Boiled Cabbage allows us to see how circumstances permitted the blooming of female life through, first, a need to undertake factory work, to nursing, mixed families and then tertiary education, all within the space of a decade or so.

Shannon Gray is excellent as Janet, the bright as a button teenage girl who throws herself into the fray of opportunity and revels in each and every advance the War and immediate aftermath opened up, reporting back home every so often on how life is changing.

Boiled Cabbage also deals with the evolution of language, away from clichés about race in particular, advances eventually embraced by the dutiful ever positive Mum (Joanna Webb) and soldier son John (Jabez Retallick) while Dad (Brian Godfrey) remains a relic of the way things were and as he would like them to be.

The script here is not as assured as for Noble Cause (not that comedy is ever an easy undertaking) but the basis of an engaging farce exists with all the cast up and about with the exception again of Godfrey who labours along, providing little sparkle to compliment his fellow players, his evolution from history professor seeming no more than adopting some sort of working class English accent.

All up, Moore’s work deserves attention; it is bright, challenging and entertaining, presenting some different views from the norm, which, with some better casting, may produce rich rewards for its audience in iterations ahead.

Kryztoff Rating  3K

Jun 25

The Adelaide Cabaret Festival – 2016 – The Birds – The Space Theatre – 3K

By Tom Eckert

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To walk into The Space Theatre occupied by The Birds is to feel like you are walking into the dimly like smoke halls of burlesque past. Women lounge lasciviously around the hall awaiting you to take your seat.

From the outset this takes the form of a typical burlesque show. Each individual performs a routine with the occasional input from other members displaying various costumes, attitudes and feats.

Each individual act is very impressive in The Birds. Highlights are some phenomenal athleticism displayed on a course rope in place of the more traditional silks and a blindfolded trapeze act.

In a divergence from the typical one of the cast members is a  male made up into a very convincing and glamorous diva who has potentially the most impressive and powerful falsetto I have ever heard delivering a number of ballads with the clarity and high tone purity of an Italian Prima Donna.

I personally feel that the show could be improved with a stronger sense of longitudinal narrative, each feature appeared disconnected with the rest and so there was disrupted flow. In addition, the characterisation of each performer could be developed further as the personalities conveyed felt a little two dimensional which decreased the potential for the audience to invest in the narrative of each feature.

Kryztoff rating: 3K

Jun 24

3.5K – The Adelaide Cabaret Festival 2016 – Starman – Sven Ratzke – The Space Theatre – 3.5K

By Tom Eckert

 

 

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Sven Ratzke, a Dutch man performing the work of Bowie inhabits the Space Theatre like a moody wolf prowling the stage (and occasionally the auditorium). He owns the space he occupies and does so it the most flashy of ways.
This man has a reservedly rich voice comfortable in all registers that belies the power, agility and sensitivity behind it. There is a strength there that gives the impression that it would be equally comfortable singing classical arias as he is the recitative of the opening bars of Space Oddity. With a flair for costuming and holding an audience, Ratzke does not miss a beat and in fact barely pauses for breathe throughout the show.

His back up band more than match him for ability with delicate instrumental arrangements of Bowie’s classics executed with admirably precision. In addition, the synth effects are utilised to exceptional effect to recreate those sounds so idiosyncratic to the original tracks.

An often underutilised element, the technical stage work also added a great deal to the experience. With  an extensive lighting rig used to phenomenal effect to truly modulate the emotive landscape throughout the piece as well as adding a deal of gravitas to songs.

An unfortunate detractor  from the show is Ratzke’s banter between tunes. His camp comedy style, whilst at times very entertaining, leans a little too heavily towards slapstick which ultimately takes away from the shine of the musicianship and the musical dignity of the homage to a recently passed talent that the show makes out to be.

A strong performer who loses out a little to cheap jokes and easy laughs.

Kryztoff rating : 3.5K

Jun 24

CABARET FESTIVAL – Dash Kruck – 3K

cabaretlogoBy Peter Maddern

As Mr Kruck’s (aka Lionel) examination of Wikipedia revealed, cabaret can take many forms yet its constituent elements pretty much remain the same. Throw in a good opening, some sex, booze (lots of it preferably), a narrative to draw the audience in and a rollicking good finish and you have the archetypal cabaret show.

Here the combination of the loss of his boyfriend, Neil, and the tauntings of his fearsome German analyst, Griselda, have Lionel alone and terrified on stage in front of a hundred strangers and little but the aforementioned source to get him through an hour.

It is a brave, almost a scary brave approach to a show though Kruck’s comic prowess gets him through with undiluted gin proposed as the shield that weathers the storm of his self-consciousness.

The songs and arrangements of Benjamin Kiehne and Chris Perren are serviceable even if Kruck’s voice is not exactly a pristine machine. The deep introspection of his latter numbers probably played well to the same sex partners listening in and those up for an amusing challenge would enjoy the mania.

But while the struggle for his audience was not as great as Kruck portrayed for himself on stage, 60 minutes proved as much as one would want, even with a cold night to greet one on departing.

Kryztoff Rating 3K

Jun 22

CABARET FRINGE PREVIEW – ¡VIDORRA! – Fri 24th & Sat 25th – Nexus

FLAMENCO COMPANY LIVES THE HIGHS AND LOWS OF “¡VIDORRA!” – A LIFE MEANT TO BE LIVED  (ALL PROCEEDS TO THE LEUKAEMIA FOUNDATION OF SA)

24-25th June, 9pm, Nexus Centre, Adelaide.

Marduk Flamenco’s latest production ‘¡Vidorra!’ presents a night of passionate Spanish music and dance in an intimate cabaret setting.   ‘¡Vidorra!’, roughly translated “a life meant to be lived”, expresses through music and dance the range of emotions in everyday life. For the artists of Marduk Flamenco, this is particularly important as it reflects the highs and lows of life experienced by a close friend of the company, recently diagnosed with Leukaemia.

From the joy of an Alegria to the despair of the Solea, the dancers and musicians highlight Flamenco’s ability to express the variety of emotions in life. “Flamenco allows us to convey through music and dance how we feel, regardless of whether that emotion is playful or more serious. It is something that goes beyond the individual and is more a shared experience” says guitarist Marduk Gault.

Flamenco’s sense of community is evident through the dancers’ ‘jaleo’ (shouts of encouragement) as they cheer each other on through fast-paced footwork sections and slow expressive dances. Guitar, Cajon (flamenco drum) and Flute entwine together to complement the dancers’ footwork and hand clapping in a showcase of the sounds and emotions of Flamenco.

‘¡Vidorra!’ is dedicated to the company’s close friend, with all proceeds donated to the Leukaemia Foundation of South Australia. Two shows only – don’t miss out!

For more information contact: Peter Fernee / mob 0422 000 971 / peterfernee@live.com.au

http://www.cabaretfringefestival.com/marduk-flamenco-presents-vidorra/

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