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

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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

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

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