Sep 23

OZ ASIA FESTIVAL – UNTIL THE LIONS – AKRAM KHAN COMPANY -5K

A stunning retelling of the story of Amba / Shikhandi ( The Mahabharata ) through the eyes of a woman abducted on her wedding day and subsequently rejected by all, which leads her to challenge notions of gender and time and to invoke the help of the gods in order to exact revenge on those who have wronged her.

Her story is told via brilliant contemporary Asian-influenced dance accompanied by music, sound and song.  The costuming and lighting is elegant and spare and enhances the powerful performances which hold the audience’s attention throughout.  The stage, cleverly representing time and also being used as a vehicle for dramatic percussion, is used beautifully to bring the story to life.  The musicians and singers surround the main characters throughout, symbolising how society restrains and sets boundaries for individuals, sometimes to the detriment of individuals.

The spontaneous standing ovation that the cast received was well deserved.

” Until the lions have their own historians, the history of the hunt will always glorify the hunter.”

DUNSTAN PLAYHOUSE

Fri 22 Sept   7:30pm

Sat 23 Sept  7:30pm

Sep 09

James Morrison’s Academy Jazz Orchestra – Her Majesty’s Theatre – 4K

by Tom Eckert

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Anywhere else people might be skeptical that one of the best musical schools in the country might be found in a isolated rural centre. Not so in South Australia where the James Morrison Academy, which has been founded on the international eminence of its instructors including the eponymous James Morrison, takes in and fosters some of the nations best jazz talent.

Directed by and featuring James Morrison, the academy jazz orchestra has set out on a national tour to showcase their talents. Their 20-piece orchestra demonstrates a grand breadth to their repertoire ranging from Count Basie and Thad Jones to jazz arrangements of Latvian folk songs and original arrangements by the orchestra’s own members.

The orchestra itself is everything you could hope for in a big band. Tight, controlled and with a excellent dynamic range as well as capable of blistering bebop tempos, the soloists also demonstrate virtuosity that, whilst not at the same level as Morrison himself, would hold their own on any stage.

Perhaps most impressive is Morrison himself. Perhaps telling of his decades as a showman, Morrison’s schtick is seamless and casual. Perhaps one small criticism is his tendency to not hold back from the outset, leaving little room for the demonstrations of his superhuman abilities to grow through the show.

Her Majesty’s theatre left something to be desired in way of acoustics. Whilst projecting the bright tones of the band, a lot of the depth did not carry leaving one wanting for the depth and richness one can get in a smaller venue.

Another striking observance is that of 20 members, only two were female. Whilst a band of this caliber naturally has to be merit based, Morrison has an excellent opportunity here to promote the participation of women in Jazz, and the ways he could achieve this is worthy of some serious consideration.

Kryztoff Rating: 4K

 

 

Sep 08

THEATRE – Dracula – Space Theatre – 4.5K

If you are fascinated by special effects or a brilliant use of a revolving stage, then this show is for you.

The story is about Count Dracula, and the tales of Transylvania. This theatre performance features incredible use of the stage where it feels like you’re watching a movie. The lights and sounds synchronised in such a way that it adds to the full effect of the story. The transitions flow very smoothly as if they have employed an editing team to cut the scenes right infront of your eyes.

The acting deserves a good mention as they performed magnificently appropriate to the era. The use of voice changers work really well, which makes me wonder how they were able to do it as it seems the actors only projected their voices. The effects add to the amusement as they have used it in such a convincing way. You can actually feel the fright from the audience. The row of seats move from the jumps of the viewers who did not expect what just unfolded to them.

The show goes on for an hour and 40 minutes, so there will be moments within the performance that will make you think to yourself how this story is still going. However, although it’s all part of the effective narration of the tale, some scenes feel like a drag with the dialogues being a bit too long.

Apart from that, the production is very well put together. The effects and the alchemy of lights and sounds are done very nicely. The atmosphere is a major draw card in this, hence they deserve a 4.5K rating. Definitely a must-see.

 

Kryztoff Rating: 4.5K

Sep 03

THEATRE – Marathon – Bakehouse Theatre – 3.5K

By Peter Maddern

Two mates come together for a jog. Steve (Ross Vosvotekas) and Mark (Adam Cirillo) are twenty or thirty somethings who still recall their mutually shared good times spiced up with harmless rivalries as they pound out the miles.

Written by Edoardo Erba and translated by Colin Teevan, the title Marathon draws upon the Greek legend of Pheidippides, the warrior, who ran from Marathon to Athens to advise of the news of a military victory against the Persians. (The distance of this run is what sets in stone the current day ‘marathon’ run.)

And while this production runs less than half the time the best in the world can pound out the 42kms of such an challange, the mere feat of sustaining a jog on stage like both these characters do for that length of time is enough to get you panting. It is quite a performance especially when you consider both actors at various times need to feign over-panting and exhaustion whilst keeping the story and their underlying breathing going. It was obvious that both Vosvotekas and Cirillo had shed the kilos in preparing for this season.

But the physical side is not the only highlight. Adam Cirillo dominates in drawing upon a wide arrange of emotions and states, from the mad to the humourous as he punches along and up and down the floorboards. He has perhaps an underappreciated ability to convey a character but the opportunity here, with such a sustained presence, allows all to gain a better sense of his capabilities.

Kryztoff Rating   3.5K

Sep 03

FILM – KILLING GROUND – 2.5K

Killing-Ground-film-5By Peter Maddern

When two star struck lovers (Ian and Sam – Ian Meadows and Harriet Dyer) happen upon a remote camping ground in the wilderness little do they know that swearing their love for each other may be the last useful act they engage in. Writer / Director Damien Power draws on a wealth of past Australian horror films when he then introduces two red-neck weirdoes, the impotent German (Aaron Pedersen) and Chook (Aaron Glenane) to commence the harassment and then, of course, the killing as this film gathers pace. Meanwhile, all are not alone as the tent along the banks of the idyll mountainside lake was once filled with a happy family including a toddler.

The highlight of the film is the non-linear plot that, once cottoned onto, allows us to put the pieces of the puzzle – previous and as they unfold – into their correct spots. Sadly for this reviewer the fun of it all disappeared then.

Opinion is likely to be divided between those who like these kind of grossly violent  films with their wafer thin characters, asinine dialogue and deeply remote setting and those who feel they have seen all this before and wonder why we must again. The nice family and the two lovers just add to the cliché and the persistent use of a shotgun as weapon of choice also wears thin in the imagination stakes. How about wiping out a posse of good-looking but narcissistic millennials with sniper shots and poison darts?  Now that would keep everybody cheering til the end.

As a first time production for an aspiring writer and director, Killing Ground reminded me of the flaccid offering of Martin McKenna in his Is the Real World of early last year. I reckon if you want to make a splash one needs to show more imagination than these stories held – they may be low budget but great, new ideas cost nothing.

Kryztoff Rating   2.5K

Jul 22

Kokoda – by Peter Maddern – Star Theatres – 2017 – 4K

ac960f4ccb025268ee2bffe517a39ba9By Tom Eckert

Wandering into the Star Theatre’s space, one is struck by the closeness of the venue. An opera theater on a micro scale, and surprisingly well suited to a one man play.

Kokoda follows the experience of one Private Morris Powell (played by Todd Gray) as he lives through the trials of the Kokoda defence. Burdened with the weight of history and a dialogue laced with undertones of the knowledge of hindsight, Private Powell becomes a representative of the collective ANZAC. A one man play, Private Powell’s insights and commentary summon the ghosts of his brothers in arms and enemies to share the stage with him.

This burden of representing the whole occasionally weighs a touch too heavy on the monologue, leaving the Private’s more individual experiences wanting for gravitas, lost in the whirlwind of historical commentary. So too does the audiences understanding suffer from time to time from the rapid fire ocker accent, which by necessity compromises on diction.

PS04Despite this however, the writing is well paced and sensitive. The script richly evokes the pathos unique to the happy-go-lucky simpleton charm of the Australian larrikin that is so inextricably linked with this time in our history. Thoroughly enjoyable was the wit scattered throughout the play, most evident in quips made in the vernacular of the period simultaneously metaphorical and uncouth, as well as some sharp eyed contemporary political commentary seamlessly inserted.

As well as the writing, kudos must go to the wonderful light touches of sound and light design that subtly and convincingly recreate the environments of Australian summer, jungle and firefight without at any point being overbearing.

Kryztoff Rating:    4K

Jun 16

CABARET FESTIVAL – Pajama Men – 3.5K

indexBy Peter Maddern

This town is littered with the bill posters for stand up comics, especially for the Fringe. Shenoah Allen and Mark Chavez, in Adelaide for the first time, are two Americans who work their magic in tandem, dressed in somewhat plain blue pajamas and non-matching pairs of socks.

Their humour takes us from the cockpit of a plane (where the captain has mislaid the keys), to two TV news presenters, an interview with a strange animal activist and a wonderful card shuffling routine – perhaps the highlight of the hour.

It’s rapid fire, energetic humour with not a punch line missed.

However, the presence of an electric piano and associated pianist does not for cabaret make, so be warned, this is just stand up, very good stand up to be sure but just stand up, pure and simple.

Kryztoff Rating  3.5K

Jun 10

CABARET FESTIVAL – Lady Beatle – 4K

LBBy Peter Maddern

Naomi Price is one of Australia’s leading cabaret performers but armed with a Liverpudlian accent she and her Lady’s Hearts Club band take us back to the start of the 1960s and the Fab Four before they even knew each other. Rolling through the hits that have delighted generations, Lady Beatle tells her story of the fifth Beatle through both yarn and feint of gender that comes to an emotional conclusion.

With Blackbird, Don’t Let Me Down and Lucy in the Sky highlights, Lady Beatle is a stirring walk down memory lane that ends in ostensible displays of audience pleasure that highlight the spread of ages that both this show and the music comfortably traverses.

Kryztoff Rating  4K

May 17

THEATRE – 1984 – Her Majesty’s – 4.5K

unspecifiedBy Peter Maddern

Scarred both mentally and physically by Spain’s civil war and then World War II, George Orwell had but four years to pen his two masterpieces Animal Farm and 1984 before he died as a relatively young man in early 1950. Both of those books tell of the distortions of language and the control over the masses by elites, those with the power wielded without much compunction over those without it, otherwise indistinguishable in look, form or spirit.

Winston Smith (Tom Conway) is gripped by the poison that the world around him is monstrous and that writing about it, his only solace, is both futile as well as likely to accelerate the day they come for him.

This new adaptation created by Robert Icke and Duncan MacMillan and produced by a host of theatrical enterprises including our own State Theatre Company is a visually stunning assault on the senses. Conway is excellent as the troubled but fallible soul swimming helplessly in the murky waters dictated by O’Brien (Terence Crawford with a taut and menacing strut) while Ursula Mills (as Julia) skilfully making her way down the middle road of whether she is Winston’s partner or traitor.

The staging is terrific perhaps highlighted by Tim Reid’s video design where we are allowed access into the intimacies of the bedroom, but  if we are can see them who else may be as well? At times, particularly in the opening scenes voice projection was an issue, leaving the audience to almost sink or swim on picking up the story but none were in any doubt about the white hot events in Room 101.

Often even recycled theatre will mimic events of the day and 1984 is certainly pertinent in a world of fake news, the Trump effect (has 2050 come early?) and social media even if this production was first performed nearly four years ago – an insightful and prescient initiative on a world then forming.

Kryztoff Rating   4.5K

May 05

THEATRE – Private Peaceful – Bakehouse – 5K

By Peter Maddern

History has been reasonably kind to Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig, at least in the English speaking parts of the Western world. Less biased observers may well have lumped him in with other butchers of the 20th century such as Stalin and Pol Pot. For amongst his many atrocities it was he who personally signed off on the orders to kill his own men by firing squad; men, well boys often of the likes of Private Peaceful who, overcome with the terrors of trench warfare just couldn’t go on – all in the name of soldier discipline.

Based on the novel by Michael Morpurgo as adapted by Simon Reade, Promise Adelaide presents Ben Francis in Private Peaceful for an all too short season at the Bakehouse. Tommo Peaceful, like Ben, is 17, a lower middle class boy in somewhere England with ordinary adolescent interests – hanging with his brother and eyeing the girl next door. When the recruiters came his brother and he decided to enlist spurred on as much by patriotism in the name of some God who didn’t seem to be doing his job very well and for fear of being branded a coward by the sticky beaks of the village.

It is hard to overstate the quality of Francis’ performance. Eighty voices and characters in 80 minutes with an accent held strong throughout his pangs of love, the pain of injury and the paralysis of fear, throwing himself around a Bakehouse floor every bit as unwelcoming as the trenches he portrays.

This reviewer last saw him as the jazz singer in IT’s Great Gatsby where his notable performances were nonetheless constrained by staged movement. 18 months on, Ben Francis has blossomed and, in his Peaceful, emerged as one of Adelaide’s most talented male actors, of any age, let alone still as a teenager. His is a performance worth cancelling all prior engagements for. A stunning one man debut!

His work displays all the usual gloss of Rob Croser’s formidable stable of young performers and is aided by his direction and his and David Roach’s staging, one that keeps a rollicking pace and the sound cue button of Stephen Dean red hot with action.

After the schmozzle of Long Tan, Promise Adelaide, Francis and Croser just show that it is often not on the biggest stages in this town that the best theatre arrives.

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