Oct 13

OZASIA FESTIVAL 2017 – RISING – DUNSTAN PLAYHOUSE – 5K

Rising by Riccardo Barone 

Muscles, they move as quickly as fireworks, telling  tales have never been told by a single voice. The human body completely morphs in another creature revealing stories from remote enchanted places.
Aakash Odedra has been practicing his performance for one year. He is very grateful to Lewis Major, his co-choreographer, who has been invited on the stage at the end of the show, which consisted of four different parts: Nritta (traditional indian music arranged by Aakash Odedra) choreographed by Aakash Odedra, In The Shadow Of Man with music by Jocelyn Pook choreographed by Akram Khan, Cut with music by Andy Cowton choreographed by Russell Maliphant  and lastly Constellation with music by Olga Wojciechowska choreographed by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui.
Time passes quickly as Odedra’s  lightning body’s movements giving the audience the right dosage of hypnotic adrenaline.
The audience was extremely enthusiastic, mesmerised by the dense energy enveloping the hall.
Aakash Odedra started his career as a child, studying classical ballet.

Kryztoff Rating  5K

Oct 08

ADELAIDE FILM FESTIVAL – Oddlands – 4K

Sonia Teuben and Simon Laherty. Image by Jeff Busby

Sonia Teuben and Simon Laherty. Image by Jeff Busby

By Peter Maddern

Oddlands is the first foray into screen entertainment for the Geelong based Back to Back Theatre company. What separates Back to Back is its sole use of intellectually disabled actors which, since its formation in 1987, has drawn audiences, locally, nationally and internationally.

When Artistic Director Bruce Gladwin first observed their work as a young graduate he saw it as the opportunity to be involved in the creation of a new art form. That was in 1999, and today his enthusiasm for Back to Back’s work is as strong as ever.

Through the production of Oddlands, he has seized on an opportunity to both take their work to broader audiences and also create opportunities for his team as BtB is often the first port of call by casting agents looking for talent with their teams’ special characteristics.

Oddlands is about two workers, engaged by the somewhat sinister Civix and sent by bus into a dystopia to clean a contaminated area. There, for Des (Simon Laherty) and Tam (Sonia Teuben), all goes well until they come across a surviving human which upsets their normal progress.

Made for showing on ABC TV, the darkly humoured Oddlands plays on the medieval trope of the ship of fools and this half hour suggests further iterations of the main characters and situations could successfully ply themselves across a series.

While Gladwin is accredited with the script he is at pains to point out the collaborative effort with his performers that goes into all their work. Even with the input of Matchbox Pictures and representatives of the financiers Gladwin maintains it is the work of his team that stands up in the final form. Both Laherty and Teuben look very much at ease in this production notwithstanding the different rules and rigours of film making – from big crews lurching around every day to performing for an in- your-face camera rather than a seated audience no closer than five metres away.

This film premieres at the Adelaide Film Festival on Tuesday as it has been supported the AFF’s Hive workshop initiative that matches film makers with creative people from other art forms. Based on the likely success of Oddlands, we should expect more small and silver screen output from the Back to Back ensemble in the years to come.

Oct 08

THEATRE – Men Behaving Badly – Holden Street – 3K

MBB Pic 16By Peter Maddern

Men Behaving Badly was an English sit-com of the 1990s which,, as its name suggests, focused on boofhead males doing their stuff in a rejection or ignorance of the zeitgeist of its and subsequent times towards more caring metrosexuals. This is a world for which boobs, booze and burbs are entirely badges of honour, not just part of the daily toil.  Based on four episodes from that long running series, our prolific director Matt Byrne has spared little subtlety in his show of the same name.

In this, he is more than aided by Rohan Watt’s mostly soaked Gary and Brendan Cooney’s brilliantly brainless Tony. Cheryl Douglas and Georgia Stockham as Deborah and Dorothy respectively suffer their male friends’ various inanities with a grace and patience that the current PC warriors would scorn without remorse. That they are often given the best lines keeps revulsion levels to a manageable state. The use by the boys of straying off script to the other’s detriment and the breaking down of the fourth wall with the audience keeps a connection going that keeps at bay wondering whether sitting at home on the couch would not have been a better way to visit these knuckleheads.

It’s a long way from the wit of Peter Shaver’s Lettice and Lovage (currently also on in the Little Theatre) but screen writer Simon Nye also knows his characters and his audience and Matt Byrne of course has the skills to make it all engaging and good fun.

Kryztoff Rating  3K

Oct 08

OzAsia festival 2017 – SEVER – Elder Hall – 2K

By Tom Eckert

GUAN GONG_preview

Sever by David Harris and Zooma is a collaborative project between the two aforementioned and the Shanghai Peking Opera.

The central premise is a juxtaposition of the old world in the form of the traditional and narrative historical characters of Peking Opera. Guan Yu (pictured) and Diao Chan, with the modern world. Perhaps a comment on one of the most prevalent cliches about China presently.

This is accomplished through a film produced by the previously mentioned individuals that utilises performers from the Shanghai Peking Opera performing in the traditional format, but placed squarely into modern Shanghai and the misadventures that arise from that.

This is supported in real time by a band that mixes instrumentalists and singers from the Shanghai Peking Opera as well as Zooma and his band which have a decidedly more modern makeup, using electric guitars, drum kit and saxophone.

The contrast makes for an interesting experience and is quite entertaining. Much of the film is concerned with the progressive denigration of Guan Yu’s dignity as he finds himself by turn stripped of his regalia, missing a shoe, losing his make-up and ultimately working as a farm hand before rediscovering his former glory.

The nature of the performance is very context heavy and, as it is sung in Mandarin, difficult for non-speakers to follow the story. However it was entertaining nonetheless.

The entire company are evidently extremely proficient performers and musicians. They did however misstep in the second half of the performance where, after the film, Zooma and his band went on to perform their own material as well as experiment with the combination of this and the styling of the Peking Opera. The music was certainly good, but their rock-jazz fusion style was really quite simply not suited to the audience they has attracted with the first half, nor the venue as it would have been more at home in one of Adelaide’s many performing bars. As a result the whole performance fell a bit flat.

Kryztoff rating: 2K

 

Oct 06

OZASIA FESTIVAL – In Between Two – Space – 4K

in-between-two-900-x-600By Peter Maddern

The prospect of spending an hour with two rappers, both with reputations for pushing the right hand spectrum of their volume controls, didn’t totally engage me but, like so much of this OzAsia Festival, I should have been better prepared for what I got.

Joel Ma (aka Joelistics) and James Mangohig are two Asian Australians – one of Chinese extraction, the other Filipino – who have chosen to eschew most of their musical desires for this show in favour of telling terrific tales of their lives and heritage pitched against the prevailing ‘conventional wisdoms’ of Australians across 100 years.

Aided by a rich repository of historical photos, carefully presented on two screens by Jean Poole so as to not provide a distraction from the storytelling, theirs are stories of battles, loves and frustrations with both their families and this country. The result is a very modern Australian profile of a cultural landscape that is as diverse as their lineages. By pushing neither their beats nor their politics, In Between Two asks us all to assess the country we live in today, whether we fully accept our ethnic mix and whether we truly offer an equal opportunity for all in the egalitarian style we like to pride ourselves on.

This restraint is its strength, not that a little hip hop mixed in detracts in any way. Intelligent, provocative and inspiring for all Australians, In Between Two is an ambitious show that delivers for the Festival.

Kryztoff Rating   4K

Oct 05

THEATRE – Lettice and Lovage – UATG – Little Theatre – 4K

Tracey Walker and Sharon MalujloBy Peter Maddern

This play is not about very much. A tour guide in a stuffy boring National Trust home with often surprising views about history (Tracey Walker as Lettice Douffet) meets her comeuppance when her employer, the stuffy Charlotte Schoen (Sharon Malujlo), eavesdrops on one of her presentations.

That these two opposites find common ground and eventually common purpose holds the narrative together but what makes this comedy work is the beautiful and at times sublime use of language by playwright Peter Shaffer. It is a treat in the mould of Oscar Wilde and George Bernard Shaw (and a host since) and like their works this is not diminished by the time since it was first performed – what fun all the aforementioned writers would have with virtual signalling and the PC crowd of today.

But words on a page can sometime not get you very far if the players can’t get them across. In this both Walker and Malujlo exceed, bringing to the fore all their local and in Ms Malujlo’s case international experience. They are simply excellent; the imperturbable Walker and tightly wound ball of Malujlo playing off each other superbly. Timing is everything and with Angela Short’s tight direction both actors never miss delivering on their line with Walker warming to her task as the production advanced, by the end relishing her performance almost as much as her character would have.

Credit must also be given to Jack Robins’ Mr Bardolph; a study in impatience and legal weariness that is refreshed delightfully once the girls hit their stride before him.

This is great fun for lovers of a good laugh as well as those who revel in the wonders of language, a talent for which the English are unsurpassed.

Kryztoff Rating    4K

Oct 05

OzAsia 2017 – The End – Keiichiro Shibuya and Hatsune Miku – The Dunstan Playhouse – 4K

By Tom Eckert

8376

Hatsune Miku is what is known as a vocaloid, or a vocal android. Essentially a software program made manifest with a three-dimensionally rendered avatar. This software is something that any individual can own and then write lyrics and songs that will then be rendered in the voice of the vocaloid. Initially intended for professional music producers and interested amateurs, Hatsume Miku is at present the most successful pop star in Japan, living or otherwise. Not only this but also a fashion icon with a successful advertising career.

Whilst this may seem esoteric and something of a niche interest, the Japanophile population of Adelaide as well as some interested novelty seekers packed into the Dunstan Playhouse with more than a few cosplayers decked out as the animated teen idol.

The stage was a simple set of screens with a fine mesh screen from down stage up to the curtain rig, all to facilitate projection and the generation of a three-dimensional impression.

What followed was a rapture of three dimensional environments and effects directly from the distressed mind of Keiichiro. The images provided a raw emotional display that drew the audience in and served to build the character and imbue her with the suggestion of human experience.

This was all backed by the emotive and powerfully rhythmic electronic music of Keeichiro.

Themes were very fatalistic and morbid and the imagery reflected this. Much of the opera was concerned with questions of identity and the nature of the vocaloid itself, for example – would this personality cease to exist if people were to stop writing songs for it. Lyrics were idiosyncratically Japanese in that they were context heavy with very little explicit narrative detail.

One detracting factor was the propensity for sexualising a character that is described as sixteen years old. All the more disconcerting for the questions raised on agency and therefore what rights this character has. This is a disturbing trend in an age of humanoid robots and digital creations and the ability to manipulate them entirely to the whims of their owners in lieu of humans themselves.

A novel experience that’s raises a number of good questions in this modern age on our responsibility in the creation of artificial personalities and intelligences.

Kryztoff rating: 4K

 

Oct 01

SHONEN KNIFE – OZ ASIA FESTIVAL – SEPT 2017 – 4K

   READY – SET – GO!

The Shonen Knife adventure continues with their trademark high energy fun performances full of positivity and humour.

Lead by Atsuko Yamano on bass guitar and vocals ( she also makes their costumes ), who has been with the band since its beginnings 26 years ago, Shonen Knife is a Japanese girl-pop-punk-rock band that has managed to retain its garage rock sound.

The lyrics are simple, sung in both Japanese and English, and are usually about food ( because food makes you happy ).  If you think it’s not possible for there to be a hard rock song about Japanese noodles – think again.

Atsuko’s sister Naoko on lead guitar and vocals has rejoined the band after an absence ( she also designs the t-shirts).  The trio is completed by the amazingly exuberant Risa on drums.

It is unusual to leave a rock gig surrounded by so many smiling faces and so much laughter.  The encore being a version of Daydream Believer can only have added to the already happy mood of the audience.  This was only the 4th tour of Australia, hopefully they will visit us more often.

They were supported by Adelaide band Satans Cheerleaders performing the music of the Commodore 64 game The Last Ninja.  An interesting choice for support act,  they were playing Japanese influenced music on western instruments.  Proficient and entertaining, they set the scene for the good time rock that was to follow.

4K

Oct 01

OzAsia 2017 – Scary Beauty – The Space Theatre – 3K

By Tom Eckert

00002Skeleton - Ishiguro lab Osaka univiversity © Justine Emard (2)
Image © Justine Emard

Keeichiro Shibuya, a prominent man in the progressive electronic music scene in Japan brings his music and a sophisticated android to Adelaide.

Backed by the Australian arts orchestra, Keiichiro summons soundscapes directly out of a computer imbued with musicality.

The pieces are heavily modified with electrical effects and are written in the spirit reminiscent of  Japanese pop music, heavily utilised minor keys and lyrics concerned with the torture of estence.

The crux of these performances however is the android.  Provided with a profoundly mobile face and a plethora of sensors, the concept centers on the ability of the android to emote and gesticulate in real-time in response to the music, creating the impression that it is performing.

Whilst far from life like, the androids facial features are able to adopt expressions that are strikingly fitting to the mood of the music – setting this performance deep in the uncanny valley.

Scary Beauty raises a series of questions about the nature of performance and the characteristics necessary in the performer to deliver an evocative and emotional experience. As well as this it challenges the ides of what it really is to “perform”.

Whilst still a far-cry from a convincing facsimile of humanity, it is astounding the things that can be accomplished with robotics in this day and age and does give food for thought for the directions that we find ourselves going in.

 

Kryztoff rating: 3K

Sep 28

Oz Asia Festival 2017 – Apprentice – Mercury Cinema – 4K

By Tom Eckert

Apprentice

Apprentice, is film set in Singapore which remains one of the few developed nations that retains capital punishment and the death penalty.

The story follows a young man working as a prison guard as he moves between home and work embodying a claustrophobic existence not far removed from the men he guards.

He is a recent transfer to the prison having spent time in the military as a regular and in other prisons. He describes a past of gangs and drugs and violence, believing that it is only a thin thread of fate that has him on the better side of the bars. This he all reveals to the hangman. The man responsible for the execution of death-row inmates, a man of precision and conviction that appreciates those same values in others. The same man that hung the protagonist’s father for his crimes.

Our protagonist does everything he can to get closer to this man and through a Freudian twist ultimately becomes the titular apprentice of the hangman himself.

With a yellow-hued palette summoning the weight and oppressive heat of Singapore weighing on the characters, the cinematography impeccably summons the restrictive environment of both actual and self imposed prisons – the camera shots getting increasingly tighter as the film progressed towards its increasingly foregone conclusion.

Sound is used to great effect, mostly absent and all the more effective when it was there.

The narrative is one of clearly focused personal drama involving characters that are subdued and all the more believable for it. The acting was refreshingly subtle, relying heavily on bodily expression and placing great faith in the ‘show-don’t-tell’ ethos.

The narrative is strongly supported but an impressive array of subtle and well executed visual metaphor.

The film as a whole deals with grand themes of life and death and capital punishment without lowering itself to the sentimental and philosophising ad nauseum that can so often be seen in similar works.

A clearly focused narrative that is character-centred and supported by well considered cinematography and sound without indulging in the over-the-top spectacle that is rampant through modern cinema. A refreshing and well-executed film.

Kryztoff rating: 4K

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