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

Sep 26

FAIRWEATHER – OZ ASIA FESTIVAL – 4.5K

An evocative, haunting multimedia performance incorporating spoken word, visual imagery and music, “Fairweather” is based on the life and work of the enigmatic artist Ian Fairweather.

Composer Erik Griswold, artist Glen Henderson, and poet/narrator Rodney Hall have come together to present his story in a way that reflects Fairweather’s paintings : their multi-layered nature, rhythm and repetition, and the restricted tonal palette that he used.

The music, performed by the Zephyr Quartet and by koto/bass koto virtuoso Satsuki Odamura, along with the visual imagery incorporating many layers of photographs, drawings and paintings, and the text drawn from Fairweather’s own writing work beautifully together in this presentation of the extraordinary stories of this complex artist’s life.

Hopefully there will be other opportunities for the public to see this remarkable work which was first aired at the Brisbane Festival in 2013.

Space Theatre

Saturday 23 Sept 2017

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

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