GAMES By Henry Naylor – Gilded Balloon – 4.5K

By Peter Maddern

Henry Naylor has made quite a name for himself as the playwright for a series of works that resonate with contemporary issues – his Arabian Nightmares series will be long remembered.

In Games it is hoped that he is dealing with an issue that is behind us though certain aspects of current UK politics may suggest it is not. Helene Mayer (Avital Lvova) is the 1928 Olympic fencing champion, a single minded pursuit that calls upon the strongest of nerves as well as determined training and talent. By 1936, she seeks to win gold again but now having a Jewish father clouds the scene. Gretel Bergman (Tessie Orange-Turner) is much younger, a school girl when she first meets Mayer, but her prowess is in more team minded pursuits but her goal is the same. As a proud Jew, she too is caught up in the ghastly games played by the Nazis to identify, shame, exclude before the Berlin Games.

Naylor carefully plots our way through the two women’s similarities and differences both of their own perspectives and of the way they are treated. While the outcome for Bergman is clear cut, that for Mayer is much more equivocal and sure to generate as much debate as his other works have done.

In typical Naylor style as well, both actors produce powerful performances – in Lvova Mayer’s face of steel, in Orange-Turner a vivaciousness that is immediately both infectious and in stark contrast. The set is plain but immediately evocative.

It all amounts to great theatre and not to be missed by serious theatre-goers this Edinburgh Fringe.

Kryztoff Rating   4.5K

GOOD MANNERS GONE BAD – JAMES MCLEAN – GILDED BALLOON – ROSE THEATRE – 4K

IMG_3697By Peter Maddern

For his latest work, but on his first visit to Edinburgh, James McLean takes us back to that bane most of us faced – the job interview for the job we’d rather not to have.

In this, Peter Hart confronts Viktor Popov, ‘a legitimate businessman’ for a position in his new restaurant and night club. His good manners win him the job and an adventure that a less polite man might have escaped; the feckless Richard, the punchy patron and the proprietor’s daughter and secret.

Having seen Mclean’s work over a number of years in Adelaide, this is his most accomplished show to date. His characterisations are sharp, the wit prominent, and his singing of reconfigured nightclub staples a treat. The slow build up develops into a frightening farce but the polite boy holds his nerve and his life to tell the tale.

Kryztoff Rating 4K

THEATRE – Creditors – The Space – 4K

Peter Kowitz and Matt CrookBy Peter Maddern

For this production Duncan Graham has adapted the 19th century original of Swedish playwright August Strindberg. Typical of his works Creditors combines the then new style of naturalism with deep investigations of psychology, something the writer wastes no time introducing as the play opens with an older man, Gustav (Peter Kowitz) counselling the much younger Adolph (Matt Crook), the budding artist, for purposes the audience must await to discover.

From there the intensity of the exchanges ratchets up, first between those two, then between Adolph and his wife, the feisty Tekla (Caroline Craig) and finally Tekla and Gustav. It’s a style that needs pinpoint accurate delivery and all three cast members deliver on what must have seemed like, at times, a daunting commitment.

Many of the themes, especially those explored by the men, may seem confronting – more reasons why men are bad – and the self-determined Tekla, suited up in a fiery red dress and out to live her own life must have been even more so to Strindberg’s first audiences in and around 1890.

But Tekla proves to be a person of substance, not cowering to the attacks she must endure behind a wall of victimhood. She stands her ground and, by play’s end, proves her worth in the face of what proves to be inadequacy around her.

All three players do great work. Kowitz mixes a calculating nature in his torrent of hurt with aplomb. Craig is strong and forceful but not overbearing while Crook plays the emotionally immature with a welcome lightness and humour.

Adapting works to the modern day is fraught with danger; the impact of mobile phones and social media renders what was once impossible (and plausible) not so today. The references to Instagram and leaving their phones elsewhere don’t really add up but no harm is done by it all. Matt Crook’s get up perhaps not so; his hair particularly seems to parody his hipster world rather than represent it. Ailsa Paterson’s set of warm colours with the infinity pool beyond takes us to a resort even though exactly where is never discussed and doesn’t much matter.

This is solid and enjoyable theatre requiring of full attention if the parrying of intellectual barb and sword and the resulting expositions of strength and weakness that director David Mealor so admirably extracts from his players is to be fully appreciated.

Kryztoff Rating   4K

THEATRE – Brothers Wreck – Odeon – 4K

Nelson Baker and Dion Williams in Brothers WreckBy Peter Maddern

In her program note, writer and director Jada Alberts writes “..it may be second nature to think that tragedy won’t happen to you. But this is not something Indigenous Australians have the luxury to dream.” From there it doesn’t take long in her 2015 work Brothers Wreck for that very thing to happen.

This is a tale of unending torment for an underclass that seems to find taking a trick beyond them for often no fault of their own – self harm, sickness and accident all seem to conspire against life with stasis.

Twenty something Ruben (Dion Williams) is constantly under the pump and seemingly trapped in a defensive state of mind that defeats the purposes of those who seek to help him, his sister Adele (Leonie Whyman), his mate Jarrod (Nelson Baker) and Parole Officer David (Trevor Jamieson).  The set of grey replete with Chris Petridis’s diffused pale light along with its chain link screen doors seems often as much a prison as it does a home; the incessant whining of Kelly Ryall’s soundscape and the equally persistent rain adds to the sense of capture and pressure from which release is so hard.

Aunt Petra’s (Lisa Flanagan) arrival helps drive the narrative that in family lies the potential for what is required to survive all this.

This joint State Theatre and Malthouse production in the nicely revamped Odeon Theatre is unashamedly about and performed by indigenous members.   Though sometimes hard to decipher words, Williams is a force that sustains the plot. Lisa Flanagan lifts the whole production with her other-worldly wisdom.

While Albert’s note continues into polemic, her play keeps asking us – relatively wealthy, comfortable theatre goers – to consider how this world exists for people in a country as fortunate as ours. It’s a difficult tale well told.

Kryztoff Rating   4K

ADELAIDE CABARET FESTIVAL 2018 – MISSION SONGS PROJECT – 4.5K

by Riccardo Barone

images (14)

The Mission Song Project has been performing a collection of Australian folk songs wisely harmonised and arranged by the ensemble accompanied only by a guitar most of the time. Research and ethnomusicology have had a happy result with this performance, as far as the repertoire consists in indigenous music from the 20th century, outcome of travel and investigation all around the country.
The audience looks completely overwhelmed by its enlightenment definitely worth a ticket.
It’s a honour to have the opportunity to travel all around Australia getting familiar with the huge amount of heritage coming from our land, without  leaving my chair.
The songs have been performed and structured with an alternated lead singer giving dynamism and colour to the evening. They have been performing for Womadelaide and their music aired on sbs chill radio.
Fully informative, all chairs were filled for the night.

Kryztoff rating: 4.5k

ARCHIE ROACH + TIDDAS – Dancing With My Spirit

ACF 2018  – Dunstan Playhouse  –  Friday 22nd June

Review by GARY CLARKE

Touring together for Archie + Tiddasthe first time in around 17 years Archie Roach and Tiddas  came back together to perform “Dancing With My Spirit” their newly released album.   Back in the 1990s  Archie and the trio of Lou Bennet, Sally Dastey and Amy Saunders a.k.a Tiddas, recorded demos produced by Jen Andersen.  Reviving those demos is what led to Archie and Tiddas releasing the new album and touring Australia this year.   Everyone is a little older and much water has passed under the bridge since  those times.

Tiddas disbanded in 2000 and Archie’s career continued with many other collaborations, becoming the elder statesman of Indigenous performers, engendering both admiration and reverence from every corner.

Archie suffered some very serious health problems in recent years including a stroke followed by a lung cancer diagnosis affecting his ability to perform and sing.   This night, he at times showed some shortness of breath and was a bit tentative in his movement.  All the more impressive that he performed for almost 80 minutes and once he had warmed up he was belting out songs like a man twenty years his junior in that inimitable, warm, resonant voice that tells you Archie hasn’t left building.

TIDDASTiddas were in good spirits and good form, backing Archie, then weaving their lovely voices around his and eventually reviving Tiddas original configuration of  a talented, stylish, irreverent female trio.  Their rendition of “Anthem” totally rocked and the audience were enthralled,  eventually joining in with an extraordinary version of “Wild Mountain Thyme”   And yes, I  too was singing along  at the top of my voice, along with 80% of the audience.

The Dunstan Playhouse was packed to the rafters for this rare re-union.   PeArchie Roach 2018rforming for just the two nights in Adelaide this was one of their best in the tour so far.   It is unlikely we will ever be graced with these artists performing live together again. I hope I am wrong.  But I wasn’t taking any chances and judging by the turnout for this gig neither was anyone else.   The whole show is produced beautifully by Jen Andersen who accompanies on a plethora of instruments along with a well appointed guitar and rhythm section.     This includes Keyboardist Bruce Haymes,   Archie Cuthbertson, the original percussionist from those demos and guitarist Craig Pilkington . Roach credits Anderson and Pilkington as being pivotal to the remastering of Dancing With My Spirit.  When Archie Roach and Tiddas perform  it is like visiting  old friends around the campfire telling yarns and singing songs we all know by heart.   And heart is just what Archie Roach and Tiddas are really all about.   It’s music for the heart that warms the soul and gets us up and Dancing with the Spirit.

Remarkable        .5K

CABARET FESTIVAL – JASON KRAVITS – OFF THE TOP! – 4K

jason_kravits

Witty, clever and a master of silliness Kravits displays a formidable talent for infectious comic improv cabaret.
As we arrived at our Banquet Room tables pen and paper were awaiting our suggestions : words to live by, a place, a thing, an adjective, a short phrase, our last text sent or received. Kravits, transformed into Adelaidean Curtis Turnworth, took a suggestion sheet from the pot after already introducing a song, but before announcing its title. This led to hilarious combos such as a fun, swinging song titled ‘Love Hurts’ (featuring a solo on toy xylophone) and a folkie love song called ‘Go the Crows’.
As a teenager Curtis leaves Adelaide to pursue his dream of a Broadway career (described in a song called ‘Bugger Off’) and ends up stuck on a roundabout in Canberra. His rescue story involving a truck driver is told in ‘Eat Cake’.
A highlight was Louisa Fitzharding joining Kravits in a duet in which they were time travellers and ill-fated lovers singing ‘There’s Trouble Ahead’. Admitting that he has been a failure at love and seeking enlightenment on the topic, audience member Maria was invited onto the stage. Maria and husband Sanjay were delightful, their story amusingly eccentric, and they seemed to relish being in the spotlight.
After an elaborate lead into a song about a wonderful place to which he feels a strong connection Kravits was faced with having to come up with a song about… Varanasi. Appearing to know very little about Varanasi he was helped along by pianist John Thorn who contributed such gems as “it’s in India, they have good food there, and they have… a cricket team”.
He was amazingly well supported by the band consisting of drums, double bass and piano. Their task cannot have been easy but they seemed to relish it.
The finale was a manic medley made up out of the remaining suggestions set to a Russian tune with ever increasing tempo, foot stomping and hand clapping from the audience. Purportedly a song written by Nikita Kruschev, it had the audience in stitches.
Kravits kept his audience engaged and entertained throughout. This was a fun night in true cabaret style.
4K

SONGS FOR THOSE WHO’VE COME ACROSS THE SEAS – Slingsby Theatre

ADELAIDE CABARET FESTIVAL   –  Thursday 21st June 2018  Dunstan Playhouse

Review by

GARY CLARKE

With a respectful acknowledgement of Country this talented cast of five cast off into unknown waters.   I  have seen several of the individual performers previously but never a Slingsby production featuring these  artists together.   The set was a mysterious  backdrop of  projected images on huge sails…  The Stage veritably dominated by a cluster of musical instruments, microphone stands, amps,  electronic gee-gaws and a full set of drums and percussive instruments.     Cameron Goodall introduced the vehicle;  a book about An Island In Time that his Grandma gave him when he was a child.   This is an imaginary musical journey sailing into the waters of allegory.   The premise is based on the generation and evolution of a volcanic “island” to a complex and thriving ecosystem  in balance  with itself over time.

Then the interlopers arrive and gradually dominate the ecosystem and the island.  They begin to break up into factions and fight over territory, destabilising everything and destroying the balance of this Eden.  They turn their attention to another Island nearby and set off for a new life.   Eventually the Island returns to its previous balance and the new Island is destroyed leaving a barren lifeless rock,  adrift in a cruel sea.    The scene zooms out further and further until we see the Earth, alive and its antithesis  Mars .     The musical performances are excellent and the set and animation is poignant in its simplicity.

Leah Flanagan and Cameron Goodall at times harmonise their voices so beautifully and one could easily imagine them performing together as a duo in other guises.  The multi instrumental, multi talented troupe played up a storm.    Satomi Onishi on drums and percussion with Quincy Grant, Cameron Goodall, Leah Flanagan, and Gareth Chin, each taking turns on vocals  and variously on keyboards, piano accordion, saxophone, banjo, ukelele, guitars,  clarinet etc steered us through the treacherous seas of our emotions.   Directed flawlessly by Andy Packer.

While this show would stand on its own via it’s music, performances and artistic and creative displays it really is far more.   The story alludes to the plight of refugees perhaps fleeing to an Island like ours.  No less poignant and appropriate that this show had its World Premiere on World Refugee Day.  It speaks to the proclivity for humans to drift out of balance with their environment with the macro view of Earth and Mars as island planets adrift in the cosmos .  Perhaps a lesson of what may happen to an “Island” in time.   It is a   delightful show, clever, original,  a little quirky, exotic, creative, meaningful and oh so very entertaining.   That’s a winning formula for me.            4.5K

ADELAIDE CABARET FESTIVAL 2018 – NOSFERATUTU – 5K

by Riccardo Barone

images (15)

Una furtiva lagrima of blood, pizza, spaghetti and buongiorno.

The audience found hard to leave the Banquet room still absorbed by the endless, emotional, energetic, hectic flow.

Tears are mixing up with laughts; the existential Shakespearean (in)human condition of Nosferatu is touching everyone’s heart, feeling heaps of pity for his traumatic childhood, or for his classic ballet dancer dreams crushed on his dad’s abusive wall, in favour of  his sister’s ones.

Being Nosferatu could be really dramatic. Dealing with his centenary age sum up with tiredness, loneliness and tedious life.

Perhaps, between a bite and another, a partner will make this no-life a little bit more yahooy, especially if she egregiously sings.

The show’s rhythm is fast, there is no time to think about the train of thoughts that just passed; probably the climax will be sarcastically interrupted, tragically cut off, emotionally censored, with one teary eye looking at the past and the other eye focused on the pleasure which the present can offer.

An exemplary trio (violin, cello and piano) was commenting the tragicomic scenes with re-arranged excepts from Tchaikovsky’ s Swan Lake and pop hits.

“Love. Betrayal. Death.”

Kryztoff rating: 5k

CABARET FESTIVAL – Joanna Allen – Space Theatre – 4K

By Peter Maddern

Recurring performer at the Cabaret Festival and local girl made good Johanna Allen premiered her new show last night, this time about Cake. It may have been a topic a little less indulged in than last year’s expose about gin, but Allen was in fine form with her melodious voice carrying sweetly whether comfort eating on Cole Porter or making marshmallows  with Material Girl.

Enough to make you hungry for more, much more, Johanna Allen makes you musically yearn for all those delightful indulgences that we usually get shamed about by the rowdies but this is one overdose of sugar you don’t have to be embarrassed about. Enjoy it with tea or coffee.

Kryztoff Rating   4K