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'The History of the Devil’ - Metro Arts
‘The History of the Devil' - Metro Arts
Review by Yasmin Elahi | 29 November 2023
Metro Arts’ New Benner Theatre transformed into a court room for Polymorphic Productions’ ‘The History of the Devil’. Written by British horror writer Clive Baker, the play puts the devil on trial for his wrongs. With an unlikely prosecution and defence team, they battle it out to determine whether Satan is truly as bad as everyone says. This show incorporates elements of surrealism, fantasy, comedy and horror with a running time just shy of three hours.
The minimalist set design of tables and chairs gave the illusion of a Courtroom while leaving stage space for blocking and action.
Lighting design by Nathanial Knight was captivating and a highlight of the show. From the flickering fires, snow and rain, fireworks and a bird strike, Knight expertly handled the technical elements of the show. He used lighting changes to denote scene changes and made up for the lack of elaborate set and prop changes. Sound design by Ewan Robertson was immersive. The soundscape spanned the entire show, with forest sounds underscoring the dialogue. At times the repetitive soundtrack became a little distracting and smoother transitions between click tracks would have led to a more immersive environment.
Director James Kable did well to utilise the entirety of the stage. For the most part the blocking was logical. The absence of props and emphasis on mime was disappointing, as ropes and letters would have been a simple but effective addition to add interest and believability to the piece. The show is a long one and it would have been nice to see more daring and riskier directing as this is a show that can handle directing that pushes boundaries. Overall, the directing felt a little safe. Commendation must be made to the cohesion of the cast and the professionalism and certainty with which they delivered the multitude of lines each had.
Connor Scoble embraced his role as the Devil. A younger casting choice than what was expected, he managed to command attention and was physically dynamic on stage.
Lisa Hickey led the prosecution as Kate Lamb, among other characters. Her many characters felt distinct and her commitment to each role was evident.
Thomas Eastwood was believable as Samuel Kyle, the reluctant defence lawyer. Again, Eastwood played multiple characters with gusto and was one of the strongest actors, bringing an earnestness and gravitas to all of his roles.
Tiana Varcoe played Jane Beck, the younger of the two prosecutors, as well as a plethora of other characters. Her physical acting was impressive and her scenes as Pia Shim were captivating.
Sandra Harman played Verrier, the devil’s helper, along with other characters. Like Hickey, Harman was committed to each role.
The highlight of the show was Sherri Smith. She stole the stage and provided a hauntingly convincing performance as the witch. Vocally and physically she encapsulated that role and held the audiences’ attention.
Alexis Beebe played the Judge. Her role was the most comedic and she interacted well with the other characters.
Ben Postle was captivating as Belial, among others. Opening the show, Postle set the tone for an intriguing evening. His interactions with the audience were stealthy and he brought a devilish charm that almost overtook that of Scoble’s. It would have been interesting to see him cast as the Devil as it was clear Postle had potential and a brooding darkness.
The lead cast was supplemented by ensemble members who played smaller roles. Each were credible in their roles and formed a unified cast.
Overall, ‘The History of the Devil’ was an interesting show. Part comedy, part horror and altogether confusing it leaves audiences questioning the Devil and who is truly to be believed. It is a script with a lot of promise and it would have been nice to see the director and actors push the boundaries to elevate this show to something special. As it is, the show’s technical aspects and a few key performances make this show an intriguing but rather conservative evening.
'Falsettos’ - Javeenbah Theatre
‘Falsettos' - Javeenbah Theatre
Review by Yasmin Elahi | 26 November 2023
The quaint Javeenbah Theatre on the Gold Coast served as the perfect venue for William Finn and James Lapine’s musical ‘Falsettos’. Accompanied by a three-piece band, the talented cast and masterful direction proved for an entertaining and tear-jerking evening of entertainment.
The Broadway musical follows the story of Marvin, who leaves his wife and child to live with his boyfriend. Originally written as two one-act shows, the different chapters of Marvin’s life have been brought together in a weighty sung-through musical.
Director Jake Goodall did an exceptional job directing this show. With a small cast and an even smaller stage, he managed to keep the blocking dynamic, conjure up beautiful and poignant tableaus and keep the audience entertained throughout the entirety of the rather long show. Blocking decisions were deliberate, set and prop design and placement skillful and scene transitions smooth.
Musical direction by Rachel Love was adept. She handled the complex and elaborate score with ease. Each of the performers appeared confident in their melodies, words and timing. The band, led by Matt Pearson was fantastic and accompanied the performers with skill and expertise.
Choreography by Charlotte Schmidt was clever. The strategic use of movement in certain musical numbers fit with the story and music and never felt out of place. ‘March of the Falsettos’ was particularly eerie and charming.
Lighting design by Colin Crow was powerful. The lighting choices throughout the show highlighted the action and emotion playing out on stage perfectly. Sound design by Mikaela Murphy was good however at times the band overpowered the vocals and overall it was difficult to understand what was being said.
Set design by Corinne Meunier and Jake Goodall was intelligent. The chess board overlaying the stage and the cube units full of tchotchkes provided the perfect backdrop for the action. Props by Tex Houston and Jake Goodall were practical and used to great effect throughout the show.
Costume design by Natalie McDonnell, Christine McLachlan and Tex Houston was effective and complemented each of the characters. The costumes for ‘March of the Falsettos’ were alluring and contributed greatly to the intrigue of that number.
Jesse Kennedy was a believable and likeable Marvin. His natural rapport with the audience invited them to feel for him and sympathise with his journey. Vocally, he was wonderful and his moments with Whizzer in Act Two were especially heartbreaking.
Hunter Wall was a standout as Whizzer. His characterisation and stage presence were magnetic and vocally he was the highlight of the show. His performance of ‘The Games I Play’ and ‘You Gotta Die Sometime’ were soul stirring and the chemistry he shared with Kennedy was truly magical. The final scene between the pair would bring a tear to any audience members’ eye.
Dominic Bradley did well as Mendel. His performance of ‘Everyone Hates His Parents’ brought a moment of much needed levity to the show. It appeared he may have been a little under the weather at this particular showing but that did not stop him from pushing through and delivering a delightful performance.
Kiran Sen was charming as Jason. The young performer had a magnetic stage presence and vocally kept up with his adult counterparts. Niamh Smith was robust as Trina. Her performance of ‘I’m Breaking Down’ was wickedly darkly comedic. Kristy Smith-Wood embodied Dr Charlotte. Her performance of ‘Something Bad is Happening’ was weighty. Emily J Hayes was believable as Cordelia and her chirpy personality served as a good foil for Smith-Wood’s serious Dr Charlotte.
Overall, Javeenbah Theatre’s production of ‘Falsettos’ was stirring. The masterful direction of Jake Goodall brought this weighty story to life, handled with care and delicacy by the talented cast. Some moments from this production, especially those towards the end of Act Two will no doubt stay with the audience for a long time. This production truly does justice to what is a heartfelt and special musical.
'The Amateurs’ - Ad Astra
‘The Amateurs' - Ad Astra
Review by Yasmin Elahi | 19 November 2023
Ad Astra’s final play for 2023 was Jordan Harrison’s ‘The Amateurs’. With a small cast, the intimate theatre served as an appropriate venue for this niche show. Set in the 14th century, the story follows a group of actors, attempting to outrun the plague. Unexpectedly, the perspective shifts and the fourth wall is broken – with the actors addressing the audience as themselves. One actor then transforms into the playwright and provides a lengthy monologue about their childhood. Another monologue follows before the audience is returned to the 14th century and the conclusion of the play.
Director Susan O’Toole Cridland did well to deal with the rather scrambled script. Though Act One was comprised of many short scenes, her directing enabled the action to continue and flow rather naturally. The small stage was used well and for the most part the action was interesting.
Lighting and Sound Design by Russell Jensen was smart. The lighting and sound effect when the Physic was talking about the fire was a technical triumph and very memorable.
Set Design by Kim Phillips, Tim Cridland and Dan Kennedy was unique. The use of a raised stage brought interest to the set and the wagon was skillfully constructed. The prop containing images of Noah’s animals was imaginative and in keeping with the 14th century setting of the show.
Julia Cox excelled as Costume Designer for this show. Her papier mache masks denoting the 7 Deadly Sins were effective and haunting. The costumes were believable for the period of the show and the special effects were expertly achieved.
Matthew Filkins was larger than life as Larking. He brought some comedic levity to the role and played well against Lia Davies’ Rona.
Maddie Armit was an intriguing Hollis. Her tender sensitivity and feisty disposition were well balanced and her monologue in Act Two was dynamic and held the audience’s attention.
Isaiah Harrison was earnest as The Physic. He had a sincere believability that played against some of the other over the top personalities.
Greg Scurr delivered the standout performance of this show as both Gregory and then the playwright himself. Scurr’s stage presence made him magnetic to watch and his rapport with the audience when addressing them as himself felt natural. As Gregory, he was instantly likeable and won over the audience almost immediately.
Lia Davies played Rona with gusto. Her expressive face and clear speaking voice contributed to her passionate performance.
Max Phythian played Brom with heart. Though perhaps the smallest role, Phythian’s was the most intriguing – with a backstory that is never fully explored. His return in Act Two was a polar opposite performance and entertaining to watch.
Overall, director Susan O’Toole Cridland and the cast did well to stage a rather enjoyable production of what is a confused, scrambled script that lacks motivation, any real storyline or point. The actors did their best to force the audience to care about them and their plight but the flaws in the script of ‘The Amateurs’ cannot be overcome, no matter how good the acting or directing.
'A Murder is Announced’ - Nash Theatre
‘A Murder is Announced' - Nash Theatre
Review by Susan O’Toole Cridland | 11 November 2023
I must make a confession. Despite being involved in theatre for over 30 years, I realised on the way to New Farm Nash Theatre to see their latest ‘who dunnit’, that I have actually never seen an Agatha Christie on the stage. How it has taken me this long, I cannot really explain as I love a good murder mystery.However, the advantage was all mine as it turns out, as I went in with no preconceived notions, no idea of what was to come, and no idea who the guilty party was!
Director Sharon White on the other hand is an expert at navigating a Christie (or a Christie adaption) on the stage, having been at the helm of a number of these.And her expertise shows in every moment of this show. White uses the stage masterfully and plays each suspenseful moment just right – the energy remained high and tight throughout the whole production. Her clever direction, along with the script adapted by Leslie Darbon, threw red herrings left, right and centre and we were left consistently wondering not just who was the murderer, but would we see more deaths as the weekend continued?
Set design by White and Phil Carney took us to where we needed to be – into Little Paddocks manor. It allowed the cast to move easily around the stage while keeping us well in the illusion of spending a peaceful weekend relaxing in a beautifully kept manner – were it not for the pesky newspaper announcement of the murder that was about to happen of course.
There was not one performance that let this show down in any way. While I may not have the room on this page to name each individual, every actor on stage embodied their characters physically, emotionally and, where suitable, comically. Crowd favourites were Ellie Bickerdike as Dora Bunner and Caitlin Cleary as Mitzi. Their energy was contagious and their comic timing resulted in many laughs from an appreciative audience. The role of Miss Marple can be a daunting one to take on as it’s such a famous character, but Linda Morgan handled this like a pro. Catherine Stark makes her stage debut as Phillipa Haymes and, from an audience perspective, matched the talents of the more experienced actors on stage with her (and credit goes to all for this). If this is Catherine at the beginning of her acting journey, I am excited to see what her future brings. For me, the night belonged to Phillipa Dwyer as Julia Simmons and Brendan James as Patrick Simmons. The banter and chemistry between these two from the moment they are introduced to us as siblings is very believable. Their characterisation, movement, motivation and accents were on point from start to finish.
There is a school of thought out there that maybe it’s time to put these types of shows to bed. That the story and the style is outdated and has ‘been done before’. Well I say to that train of thought – what a bunch of codswallop! Don’t misunderstand me. I do love new work. As artists we desperately need to continue finding and developing new works. But there are many reasons as to why the true classics have upheld their value for all this time – and why it’s actually an Agatha Christie that holds the record for the longest running show on West End (speaking of which, anyone putting on The Mousetrap soon, because I am there for it!).And just for those of you who want to know, The Mousetrap has been performed in Londin since 1952 and has been playing at its current home since 1974! When you have charming characters played impeccably by skilled actors under the watchful eye of an experienced and talented director then these classic stories guarantee a great night of thoroughly good entertainment. The audible gasps of surprise, murmurings of excitement and bursts of laughter on the night very much prove this. Sign me up for more!
'Live at Frankie’s' - Redcliffe Entertainment Centre
‘Live at Frankie’s' - Redcliffe Entertainment Centre
Review by Yasmin Elahi | 17 October 2023
Performer Thomas Armstrong-Robley took the stage of the Redcliffe Entertainment Centre to perform his tribute show ‘Live at Frankie’s’. Supported by a four-piece bank, Armstrong Robley performed some of the most beloved songs from Frank Sinatra and Frankie Valli.
As an avid performer, Armstrong-Robley has performed his cabaret shows on cruise-ships, taken to the stage in a variety of musicals and dabbled in directing,
most recently directing ‘Jersey Boys’. At the Redcliffe Entertainment Centre, he has most recently taken the stage in ‘Grease’ and ‘Oliver’, both performances being fantastic and very well-received.
The stage was set as one would expect for a cabaret show; the band displayed proudly on stage, microphone stand and obligatory stool – for the performer to sit and perform more intimate numbers with the piano.
Lighting design was dynamic and helped to bring interest to the staging. Sound design was perhaps louder than necessary and there appeared to be an issue with the instrument microphone levels, as the bass guitar was more prominent in volume than the grand piano, which was unfortunate as pianist Matt Rofe had some delightful solo moments.
The show was just shy of two hours with no intermission. Armstrong-Robley took a moment to step off stage as the band continued to play. This would have been a natural place for an intermission, which would have broken up the show and allowed the audience a chance to stretch their legs.
The set-list was well curated, with a variety of well-known and lesser-known songs from these two icons of the music industry. There was a mix of up-beat hits and ballads and the performance culminated with perhaps the most iconic Sinatra song ‘My Way’, which was a nice way to end the concert.
Armstrong-Robley has his own style and it may not be to everyone’s taste. While there is an argument to be made for modernising classic songs (something Michael Bublé has made a name for himself doing), Armstrong-Robley’s insistence on changing the melody lines of essentially every verse of every song was frustrating. At times, the orchestrations of the songs were so altered it was hard to recognize them at all.
In addition, his habit of changing and rearranging lyrics, though novel, again detracted from the essence and beauty of these famous songs. It is clear Armstrong-Robley is a talented performer and it would have been nice to hear him perform some of these songs in an authentic manner.
Between songs, Armstrong-Robley would interact with the audience. His onstage demeanor was very relaxed and made the audience feel at ease. This contributed to the cabaret style of the show.
Overall, ‘Live at Frankie’s’ was a pleasant concert. For those that are fans of Frank Sinatra and Frankie Valli it is an opportunity to see their songs performed in a very different way. For purists expecting to hear performances reminiscent of the originals, this show is not for you.
'The Little Mermaid' - Queensland Musical Theatre
‘The Little Mermaid' - Queensland Musical Theatre
Review by Yasmin Elahi | 13 October 2023
Queensland Musical Theatre ventured under the sea for their latest production ‘The Little Mermaid’. Based of the beloved Disney movie and with all the well-known characters such as Ariel, Flounder and Sebastian, this show is one for audiences young and old.
Director Deian Ping relied heavily on projections for this production. The blocking was natural and used the large stage well. Solo performances garnered a stillness, which enabled audiences to appreciate the vocal talents on display without distraction. The ship wreck scene was cleverly directed.
Musical director and conductor Julie Whiting led the orchestra with aplomb. Vocally, the ensemble numbers sounded full and the solos were performed faithfully to the original orchestrations.
Choreography by Julianne Burke was at times in keeping with the underwater theme. Some of the ensemble choreography was modern and reminiscent of an eisteddfod rather than a musical, while at other times blended well with the story. Flotsam and Jetsam’s movements were the most convincingly aquatic. The sea gull tap number was well choreographed and executed and the biggest dance moment of the show.
Lighting design by Tom Dodds was lovely. The watery affects of the lights projected onto the curtains during the Overture and Entr’acte immersed the audience into the underwater setting of the show. The use of lights from multiple positions enabled some beautiful lighting transitions and enhanced the action on the very bare stage.
Set design by Gerard Livsey was minimal. The show felt very much like a live-action movie, with the animations in the background. The use of haze, smoke and bubbles conjured up a nautical vibe and Ariel’s rock was iconic and well-constructed. The rocking boat in ‘Kiss the Girl’ was cleverly constructed and exceptionally effective.
Costumes by Deian Ping had a nod to the iconic, with a contemporary spin. Ariel’s mermaid dress was beautifully beaded, as was her wedding dress. Sebastian’s red suit, complete with matching trainers was striking, as was Flounder’s headpiece and Ursula’s dress. Flotsam and Jetsam’s costumes were incredibly well conceived and effective, as were the seagull costumes. Though some of the ensemble costumes felt out of place under the sea and could have been more sea-life inspired, overall the costumes of the leads were professional and impactful.
As is usually the case on opening night, there were sound issues. The microphones often had delays in being brought up, meaning dialogue was missed. Overall, the clarity of the sound was poor and a lot of the dialogue was muffled and difficult to follow. For those that know the story well, this is not a huge issue but is certainly disappointing.
Sophie Mason was a delightful Ariel. Vocally, her voice was well suited to the Disney princess she was playing. Her high notes were sweet and magical and her rendition of ‘Part of Your World’ did not disappoint. Her American accent was very consistent and her characterisation convincing.
Matthew McKenzie was by far the star of this show. He burst onto the stage with a magnetic stage presence and energy. His accent, commitment to the character and rapport with the others was flawless. Vocally he performed at a level deserving of a Broadway stage. ‘Under the Sea’ and ‘Kiss the Girl’ were energetic crowd favourites received by thunderous applause and much audience cheering. An absolutely exceptional performance as Sebastian by McKenzie which alone makes this show a must see.
Rhona Bechaz was commanding as Ursula. Her stage presence and physicality was every part a villain. Her performance of ‘Poor Unfortunate Souls’ was rousing and very memorable, proving to be a wonderful culmination of Act I.
Aden Lowry and Isaac Cain as Flotsam and Jetsam were exceedingly convincing as Ursula’s evil eel sidekicks. Physically and vocally they were synchronised and gave huge evil energy.
Alessia Lily Monteverde was sweet and vibrant as Flounder. Her acting and vocal ability did not pale in comparison with her adult co-stars, despite her young age. Her ability to scoot around on roller shoes made her the perfect speedy side-kick for Ariel. She took command of ‘She’s in Love’ in a number that was exceedingly joyous to watch.
Overall, Queensland Musical Theatre’s production of ‘The Little Mermaid’ was a faithful retelling of the classic Disney story. Though the set design was minimal and at times the large ensemble seemed superfluous, this show is worth watching for the standout performances of Matthew McKenzie, Rhona Bechaz and Sophie Mason. And for those with little children, it is a charming and immersive underwater experience.
'Every Brilliant Thing' - Metro Arts and THAT Production Company
‘Every Brilliant Thing' - Metro Arts and THAT Production Company
Review by Yasmin Elahi | 4 October 2023
Metro Arts’ New Benner Theatre played host to THAT Production Company’s latest one-man show, ‘Every Brilliant Thing’. The play by Duncan Macmillan with Jonny Donahoe tells the story of a young boy who creates a list of brilliant things in an attempt to assist his suicidal mother. The audience follows the boy’s journey from childhood to adulthood, all the while accompanied by his ever-growing list.
Director Timothy Wynn transformed the New Benner Theatre into the round, with mismatched dining chairs replacing the classic theatre seating.Various hanging lightbulbs with different shades provided the lighting for the show and several rugs denoted the stage area. This unique staging fit well with the theme of the show. Wynn’s directing was natural and organic. His blocking ensured no portion of the audience was neglected and the actor’s movement was purposeful.
Sound design by Wil Hughes was precise. The soundscape was executed flawlessly and enhanced the action on stage. Lighting design by Nathaniel Knight was subtle but effective. Manipulation of the various lightbulbs hanging from the ceiling allowed focus to be directed to certain areas of the stage at pivotal moments in an unobtrusive way. The flickering of lights to denote certain emotional moments was impactful.
Jason Klarwein was instantly likeable as the show’s one actor. His rapport with the audience was easy and his personable nature contributed to the success of the show – which is largely focused on audience participation. Klarwein relied on members of the audience to serve as the other characters in the story. His improvisation skills ensured the show remained on track, despite the unpredictability of audience answers.
Interestingly, the audience members that were chosen formed an integral part of the show. Organically, the story moved and changed as more audience members became involved. The feel in the theatre was relaxed, in what at times was more of a group therapy session than a performance. Though the subject matter of the show was at times very heavy and dealt strongly with suicide, there was a certain warmth coming from Klarwein that managed to keep the show somewhat uplifting and prevent it from sinking into a dark and depressive state.
Overall, ‘Every Brilliant Thing’ was a unique one-man show. Relying heavily on audience participation, this production managed to draw the audience into the story, bond with one another and ultimately come away feeling enlightened, aware and entertained.
'The Sound of Music' - Redcliffe Musical Theatre
‘The Sound of Music' - Redcliffe Musical Theatre
Review by Yasmin Elahi | 30 September 2023
Redcliffe was alive with the sound of music as the Redcliffe Entertainment Centre played host to Redcliffe Musical Theatre’s production of ‘The Sound of Music’. The Rodgers and Hammerstein classic musical was brought to life by a cast of talented adults and children, accompanied by a 16 piece orchestra.
Highly regarded as the best musical of all time, ‘The Sound of Music’ follows eccentric nun Maria as she becomes governess for a strict Captain’s seven children. Set against the backdrop of WWII and the impending Nazi regime, this musical bridges all emotions and carefully balances seriousness with frivolity.
Director Madeleine Johns utilised the large stage of the Entertainment Centre to good effect. The set design by Jonathan and Madeleine Johns cleverly encompassed the stage. The grand staircase served as the focal point of the set and was cleverly used for the iconic ‘So Long, Farewell’. The use of the fly tower to transform the stage into the Abbey, complete with stained glass windows was also cleverly conceived. The set change for Act II’s ‘Edelweiss’ was visually striking.
Musical Director and Conductor Rhonda Davidson-Erwin led the orchestra with aplomb. The musical direction of the singers was classic, keeping true to Rodgers and Hammerstein’s original orchestrations. The music and vocal performances certainly were the highlight of this show.
Costumes by Madeleine Johns and Karen Van Den Bos were authentic. It is clear a lot of attention has been paid to costuming this production. The children’s matching uniforms, nuns’ outfits and Maria’s various dresses were all tailored well and formed a cohesive look on stage.
Lighting design by Chis Walker was effective and complemented the action on stage without being obtrusive.
Stephanie Collins was charming as Maria. Her voice was beautifully suited to the role and her manner with the children was earnest and believable.
Loic Valmy was commanding as Captain Von Trapp. His vocals and acting ability were compelling and his rendition of ‘Edelweiss’ was stirring.
Amanda Hutton was powerful as Mother Abbess. She led the nun’s choir with assurance and her Act I finale ‘Climb Every Mountain’ was rousing.
Jamie Taljaard and Erickson Illustre played Baroness and Max believably. Their rendition of ‘How Can Love Survive’ was charming and a nice inclusion of a lesser-known song.
Ashlee Herman and Lucas Van Stam were an innocent Leisl and Rolf. Their performance of ‘Sixteen Going on Seventeen’ was vocally very sweet.
The Von Trapp children were played at this performance by Toby Bailey, Zoe Hitchcock, Benjamin O’Regan-Lambert, Zola Bulan, Maeva Kota and Tiarna Douglas. All embraced their various characters with dedication. Vocally, their voices blended beautifully and each child performed confidently and with professionalism.
The nun’s ensemble must be mentioned. Their rendition of ‘Morning Hymn/Alleluia’ was soul-stirring. What a striking way to begin such an immense show. The harmonies and vocal clarity of the performers were joyful to experience.
Overall, Redcliffe Musical Theatre’s ‘The Sound of Music’ excelled vocally. For such a well-known show, it is important the musical numbers are respected and this production delivered an authentic interpretation of the original show.With such an experienced creative team at the helm of such a beautifully written and classic musical, ‘The Sound of Music’ delivered talent, musicality and charm.
'Assassins' - Beenleigh Theatre Group
‘Assassins' - Beenleigh Theatre Group
Review by Yasmin Elahi | 30 September 2023
Beenleigh Theatre Group’s Crete Street Theatre is playing host to nine individuals who made it into the American history books for all the wrong reasons. ‘Assassins’ is one of Stephen Sondheim’s lesser-known works. The one-act ‘revusical’ bends the laws of place and time, intertwining the lives of these dark individuals in a world where they interact, communicate and share one common goal: to assassinate the President of the United States.
Director Isaac Brown cleverly utilised the stage. His blocking choice and character direction were spot on and his use of the set and props enhanced the storyline. The execution of Guiteau was a very clever directorial moment. Brown’s director was well-thought out, energetic and visually-striking.
Musical director and conductor Ben Richards deftly led the music for this production. The ensemble numbers and solos were vocally strong and the orchestra dynamic. As notoriously difficult as Sondheim is, with Richards at the helm the musical timing and melodies never fell short. The only drawback was diction at times could have been better. With such a wordy score, some of the lyrics were hard to understand. The orchestra brought the delightful element to this show of live music which, in community theatre is such a wonderful privilege.
Lighting design by Chris Art, Donovan Wagner and Isaac Brown was exciting. The use of lights positioned in unique places enhanced the mind and space altering premise of the show. There was also a slight carnival undertone of the show which was made more immersive with the lighting design.
Set Design by Isaac Brown was truly inspired. The construction of the set utterly fit with the theme of the show. The American flag painted on the floor, multi-level stage and exposed orchestra were truly perfect for both the venue and the show. Not only visually appealing, but the set design was also incredibly practical and worked seamlessly with Brown’s blocking choices.
Costumes by Trinette Avery were realistic and fit the many decades from which the characters originated. The Proprietor’s costume was the most impressive, as was Fromme’s infamous red cape.
Michael Lewis excelled as John Wilkes Booth. As the first and arguably most important assassin, Lewis embraced the character, accent and persona of Booth with commitment. His voice was beautifully suited to the role, his rich dulcet tones bringing the music to life.
Mark James played Charles Guiteau with gusto. Again, fully embracing the character and imbuing personality into the role. His vocal performance was also very strong.
Matt Bennett played Leon Czolgosz convincingly. His strong accent was consistent throughout and his scene with Julianne Clinch was tender and believable. Andrew Kassab as Giuseppe Zangara and Nicholas Hargreaves as John Hinckley both also embraced their characters and gave committed performances.
Dan Konstantinos was wonderful as Samuel Byck, the depressed Santa Claus. His performance was disturbingly funny and his accent once again flawless.
Amelia Burton as Lynette Fromme and Alison Pattinson as Sara Jane Moore were the only female assassins in the show. Their scenes were dynamic and Pattinson provided comic levity in a show that is so heavy.
Adam Goodall was a breath of fresh air as the Balladeer. He appeared between the scenes, sometimes singing to the audiences and at other times interacting with the characters, acting as a quasi-narrator. Goodall vocally excelled in this role.
Michael Ware played the Proprietor, who among other things, takes on the role of the various presidents. His character served almost as a death knoll. When he appeared, the audience knew another assassination was near. Ware commanded the stage with presidential authority and commitment to the character was unwavering.
The leads were supported by a small but capable ensemble, including child Addison Kallio who played Billy. At such a young age, Kallio did remarkably well including in her solos.
Overall, Beenleigh Theatre Group’s ‘Assassins’ assembled a very talented cast of performers in this niche Sondheim show. Led by a talented director unafraid to take theatrical risks, this production pushed boundaries both creatively and with its subject matter. Though the show is by no means a classic musical, this production is worth seeing, if not for the wonderful creative talents that are on display.
'One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest' - Ghostlight Theatre Co.
‘One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest' - Ghostlight Theatre Co.
Review by Aaron Evans | 23 September 2023
In the deep bowels of an American asylum, a new patient named Randle McMurphy is forced into the bleak realm of an abused psychiatric facility that focuses more on power than mental health. As McMurphy tries to help his fellow inmates, Nurse Ratched is determined to return her order to her world.
This is an iconic piece of theatrical history, and director Susan O'Toole Cridland has delivered a magnificent interpretation perfectly. Cridland's use of choreographed scene changes keeps the audience enthralled with their uniformed, zombie-like approach to changing scenes as if everyone is trapped in their mental prisons - while her use of space and character work generates a captivating piece of theatre. Using stylised imagery to show the 'treatments' was a lovely touch. The blocking felt like a natural progression throughout.
The acting in this piece drew us all in. Each performer kept the audience invested in the story. Jon Darbro as McMurphy delivered an outstanding, award-winning performance of a man trying to survive in the system. Darbro related to the audience and ensured each moment he had was not wasted. The contrast is Izabela Wasilewska's cold Nurse Ratched, who perfectly gaslighted all the actors into following her way. Richard Rubendra, as the Chief, gave a powerful performance that gripped us throughout. Yasmin Elahi and Janelle Kerr stole their show in the party scene with great comedic and dramatic showings for such minor roles.
While all the other staff gave great performances and the inmates respectfully gave incredible showings, the show's highlight was Julia Cox as Billy. Cox was a relatable, loveable inmate who immediately got the audience's sympathy. Cox's commitment captivated me throughout. From little facial expressions to body language, Cox delivered an unforgettable performance.
The set may have appeared simple, but using the other stage for the doctor's area was a nice touch. The colouring of the walls gave a false sense of ease. Lighting and sound packed a punch that flowed effortlessly with Cridland's vision of the play. From the breakage of the electronics to the live microphone, the added level it delivered was fantastic. Costuming made the piece's authenticity relatable with great staff uniforms and bland inmate uniforms. The added colour for Candy Starr and Sandra gave a visual hint of who these people are.
Though the show has closed, it was one people should have seen. How this production addressed mental health and individuality made the show essential and relevant to how mental health can still be seen. Ghostlight rose to the occasion, delivering detailed and nuanced performances. I thoroughly enjoyed the immersive experience of 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.'
'Twelve Angry Jurors' - Ipswich Little Theatre
‘Twelve Angry Jurors' - Ipswich Little Theatre
Review by Susan O’Toole Cridland | 17 September 2023
Following the closing arguments in a murder trial, twelve jury members must decide the fate of the accused – a young, inner-city teen accused of murdering his father. With two witnesses, no credible alibi and physical evidence stacked against him, this should be an open and shut case. So when one man stands against the others, tensions rise to the surface and hidden agendas are revealed as the juror’s morals and values are called into question.
Director Aaron Evans and I can certainly relate on what an incredible text this is.Having directed this show last year, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Could I be impartial? Could I let go of my own ‘vision’? Would I start reciting the dialogue? What I was met with was a reminder that the beauty of art - it really is in the eye of the beholder. Evans’ production was so very different from what I knew. From the script to the staging to the vastly differing characters.I was sold from the moment I walked in the door and was met with the twelve jurors already in the jury room.Having not yet had a proper look at the program, I found myself trying to guess which juror was which based purely on facial expressions, body language and costume. I really enjoyed the playful take on your usual ‘housekeeping’ announcements being presented as though we were also jurors and our bailiffs were laying out the way of the land for us.
The set was simple but effective – Evans’ clever decision to stage this show in the round allowed us to really feel like we were in the same room as the jurors. The stage is small compared to others – only 4 x 4 and yet the staging didn’t at any time feel cramped. Evans’ clever use of various bits of space throughout the theatre allowed the jurors to move freely and naturally. Not limiting the actors to being seated only around the table allowed for us to witness the different dynamics of the developing relationships – whether they be good, bad, or downright ugly.
This show is very much an ensemble piece and really relies on each actor being fully present at all moments throughout the entirety of the play – and this team of performers delivered just that. For the most part, performances were extremely measured with some delightful shifts in attitude, opinion and mindset. You could literally hear the audience gasp in surprise as each new twist and turn was revealed and I was left with no doubt that every audience member was enthralled. This is not an easy feat in such a dialogue heavy script. Special mention must go to Adrian Carr, Jason Nash and Shane Mallory who played Jurors 3, 8 and 10 respectively. Carr and Nash were worthy adversaries to each other as they often went head-to-head in their verdict. Both these roles are incredibly easy to over play and lean towards a stereotypical ‘villain vs hero’ but Evans’ direction and the two actors’ commitment to their roles ensured that the characters were delivered truthfully and honestly, whilst still allowing their passion in their conviction speak volumes. Mallory as Juror number 10 really took us on an unpleasant journey of becoming more and more unlikeable. As the show progressed, number 10 unveiled his true bigoted colours. It’s no easy feat to play such a divisive character with such authenticity, but Mallory made no apologies and held back no bars in this role.
It's easy to see why this piece has become a favourite for so many. It is story telling in its very essence. The audience is taken on such a wild ride from beginning to end in this production, with talented and committed direction and acting. The season may have sold out but do yourself a favour - reach out to Ipswich Little Theatre to see if you can get on a wait list or if there are any groups that may be able to offer you to purchase one of their tickets. I promise, you won’t regret it. But you don’t want to be guilty of not at least trying.
'The Friday Night Effect' - Underground Theatre Company
‘The Friday Night Effect' - Underground Theatre Company
Review by Grace Wilson | 28 August 2023
Underground Theatre’s production of The Friday Night Effect was a delight to witness. The show follows the story of three friends, Colette, Jaime and Sadhbh on a wild night out, but by the end of the night Colette will be dead. This interactive show took audience members on a hell ride through choices and disastrous consequences that led to a loud and rowdy audience that was shocked and moved by their peers' choices.
Jordon Riley’s direction of this piece is to be commended - bringing a bright spunk to the show and seamlessly integrating traditional theatre practices and interactive audience involvement. Character movement and use of space were utilised effectively within this direction, and each movement section was intentional which should be applauded. This direction was supported by an incredible and effective set design, utilising a strong green and pink colour scheme which gave strong retro funk vibes that set the tone of this piece. The use of several retro TV screens at the back of the stage, which were used to prompt audience choices, elevated the set design and immersed the audience completely. Lighting, sound and costuming should also be commended in this performance. Light and sound changes indicated a change in time and place and costumes that felt real and relevant to the characters pulled this performance together.
But it was the actors who brought this show to life - a stellar cast who put their all into this show. Cherie McCaffery, Grace Lofting and Roxanne Gardiner played with such an incredible connection to each other that it felt as if we were in the lounge with these girls. Their relationship and chemistry drew the audience in and led them into a false sense of security. Gardiner’s portrayal of Jaime was sophisticated and fun, portraying the more mature girl in the trio, and making the audience yearn and laugh in many areas of the play. Assisting Gardiner was an equally strong portrayal by Lofting with the character of Sadhbh, a young sex worker who deeply cares for her friends. Balancing the internal struggles of someone dealing with alcoholism and her intense feelings about her work and her boyfriend, Lofting gave an impressive and well-thought-out portrayal of this character. Finally, McCaffery’s performance as Colette was incredibly intense and well-structured. To portray a young girl living with bipolar disorder and an abusive relationship while also simultaneously showing episodes of extreme highs and lows shows the commitment of McCaffery to her character. Supporting the three leads were comedic and strong performances by Ziggy Enoch and Lucas Stokes who played some of the men present in the girl's life. Enoch’s switch from the abusive boyfriend Brian to street robber in the streets of The Valley was impressive to witness and caused outrageous delight to the audience. Stokes' performance as Jerry, the older lover of Jaime, was strong and captivating - almost providing a moment of brevity to several of the hectic moments in the play. This cast of five together had such intense chemistry and connection, it was hard to fault any area of the performance.
Overall, Underground Theatre Company’s production of The Friday Night Effect showed just how incredible student theatre can be. An incredible cast equalled with an equally impressive technical crew delivered such an impactful show that it was hard not to walk away without asking yourself: ‘What would you do?’
'Item' - Metro Arts
‘Item' - Metro Arts
Review by Yasmin Elahi | 17 August 2023
Dance Masala inhabited the New Benner Theatre this month in a contemporary dance show that promised to challenge the romance and romanticism of Bollywood. ‘Item’ was part dance, part discourse in a 60 minute show that oscillated between love and rejection and revealed everything which glitters is not always gold.
The stage was bare, except for an intricate hanging tapestry which served as the backdrop and projector screen. Lighting by Steven May enhanced the
dancers on stage. His use of swirling projections, strong reg lights and spotlights punctuated the choreography and enlivened the action.
Director Lisa Fa’alafi intertwined video projections, recorded interviews and live dance numbers, choreographed by Andrea Lam, to convey the intended message of the show. The concept of the show was unique and relevant for today’s more socially conscious society.
The opening number was clearly a love letter to Bollywood movies and all they encompass. However, as the evening wore on the audience was introduced to the more sinister side of Bollywood. Lifting the curtain on common practices, marginalisation and dangerous messages of consent, the dances became more serious, the moves less joyous. After bringing the audience to such a place of awakenment, they were abruptly thrust into the finale, which again sung the praises of Bollywood movies and all they encompass.
The structure of the show was somewhat problematic. Though technically, the projections and live performances blended seamlessly, the recorded content was lengthy and outweighed the dances. Audiences attend live theatre to see live performances, not watch a screen. Though the choreography for the dance numbers was well thought out and the opening number began with a bang, other times it felt repetitive.
Dancers Janaki Gerard, Mugdha Khatavkar, Andrea Lam, Ashwin Singh and Angela Nair Skinner performed well together and used both their acting ability and dance experience to convey emotion through movement. The audience interaction was unexpected but brought levity to the evening. Bringing audience members on stage to join in the curtain call was perhaps the highlight of the evening.
Overall ‘Item’ was an eye-opening and educational show about the reality of Bollywood. Though the balance between recorded content and live performances was problematic and the takeaway message confusing, it was an informative evening that will have audiences thinking twice next time they see a Bollywood movie.
'The Addams Family' - Phoenix Ensemble
‘The Addams Family' - Phoenix Ensemble
Review by Yasmin Elahi | 4 August 2023
Phoenix Ensemble’s Tin Shed is alive with the undead for their production of ‘The Addams Family’. Directed by Shane Webb, this musical version of the classic TV show is equal parts gloom, laughter and heart.
Wednesday Addams is all grown up and has found her first love, a bright and bubbly Ohioan named Lucas. When Lucas’ parents meet the Addams, accompanied by their undead ancestors, it turns into one memorable dinner
party. With music and lyrics by Andrew Lippa, ‘The Addams Family’ boasts a soundtrack of memorable tunes and powerful ballads.
Direction by Shane Webb was subtle and loose. Memorable moments include the opening number and the use of the table in the ‘Full Disclosure’. Choreography by Isabelle Quayle was contemporary with a hint of the macabre. The best choreographic moments were those which heavily characterised the undead qualities of the ancestors. Musical direction by Nicky Griffith, assisted by Lily Colmer, was outstanding. The ensemble numbers and each of the solos were musically superb and the orchestra was flawless throughout.
Lighting design by Maddy Bosanko was clever and the use of shadows and darkly coloured lights to conjure up the mood of the Addams family manor was well thought out. Set design by Breanna Gear was gothic. The moving pillars were a clever piece of set design, as was the staircase. The immersive set design, which stretched across the walls of the theatre, and the subtle Ouija board on the stage floor highlight Gear’s attention to detail.
Alex Smith triumphed as Gomez Addams. His comic timing and tender, genuine affect towards his wife and Wednesday made him an instantly likeable character. Matched with Smith’s beautiful vocals, he was a pleasure to watch. His rendition of ‘Happy Sad’ was easily the most moving number of the show.
Kate Retzki was an elegant Morticia. Her poise and grace gave her a regality, though at times she seemed perhaps a touch happier than the icy Morticia is classically played. Regardless, Retzki embodied the character physically and vocally and was a good deadpan foil to Smith’s comedic Gomez.
Micheal Enright was outstanding in the role of Wednesday Addams. They did not put a foot wrong and gave a showstopping performance. From their physical characterisation, embodiment of the character and stage presence, Enright stole the spotlight in every scene they were in. Vocally, they excelled in every number with ‘Pulled’ an especially triumphant moment. Enright as Wednesday Addams is a performance not to be missed!
Jeremiah Rees excelled in the role of Pugsley Addams. As the youngest member of the cast, Rees delivered a wonderfully confident performance. His singing and characterisation matched that of his adult co-stars.
Kurt Schouten charmed as Uncle Fester. As the audiences’ guide throughout the evening, Schouten may not have had a large role but his appearances were memorable. His rendition of ‘The Moon and Me’ was both comedic and stirring.
Ange Schoemaker embraced the role of Grandma. Her physicality and acting choices made her exceedingly convincing as an elderly, slightly unhinged woman. She embraced the role with gusto and contributed to the creepy, gothic feel of the show. As did Jo Burnett as Lurch. For a role with few lines, Burnett made a strong impression when on stage.
Chloe Jones was beautiful as Alice Beineke. A ray of rhyming sunshine, Jones had a voice as sweet as her character’s sunny disposition. Her rendition of ‘Waiting’ was incredibly powerful and she blew the audience away with her exceptional vocals.
Michael Chazikantis as Mal Beineke was a wonderful foil for Jones’ Alice. The chemistry on stage between them was believable and their scenes heartfelt. Together with James Bird as their son Lucas, the three actors formed an all-too-perfect family. Bird’s performance was full of youth and energy and he complimented Enright’s strong Wednesday well.
Overall, Phonenix Ensemble’s ‘The Addams Family’ was a creepy and kooky night out. Though at times the direction seemed unrealistic and the ensemble slightly messy, that did not take away from the exceptional performances of the leads. The talent contained within this one cast is not to be missed in a show that will have audiences clicking their fingers all the way to the safety of their own homes.
'Beethoven and Elgar' - Queensland Symphony Orchestra
‘Beethoven and Elgar' - Queensland Symphony Orchestra
Review by Grace Wilson | 29 July 2023
Saturday the 29th of July was alive with the sound of music at Queensland Performing Arts Centre with two performances of ‘Beethoven and Elgar’ by Queensland Symphony Orchestra - a tribute to some of the greatest composers of the West. For 90 minutes, Brisbane audiences were treated to three selected works that ranged in composition and tempo from Ludwig van Beethoven and Edward Elgar. Joseph Swensen delighted patrons at both the .
matinee and evening show, and the venue was buzzing with anticipation from all ages.
Beethoven’s Overture to Egmont, Op. 84, opened the night with a musical conversation between the ensemble to set the mood. Flourishes of different sections, from the woodwinds to the strings, gave context to the original performance of this piece - as incidental music within Goethe’s 'Egmont', a stage play about the Spanish rule over The Netherlands in the 16th century. Written to accompany this triumph of a story, the piece follows through the natural movement of highs and lows of the play, before ending in a huge flourish of strength and power that shook the full house.
Following this, Beethoven’s Concerto No. 1 in C for Piano and Orchestra, Op. 15, led by talented pianist Jayson Gillham, brought the house down to a more light but hopeful focus on the piano (Beethoven’s specialty). Gillham was the star of this piece - intense artistry that was well supported by a vibrant ensemble that kept the audience on edge. Bubbly and airy, this piece showed off the skills of the pianist through the Allegro con brio movement, decorated by flourishes of stringed solos that heightened the mood of the piece. The Largo brings an even lighter moment of brevity to the piece, with soft piano solos accompanied by strings that tug on the heartstrings. Finally, the concerto ends with the Rondo: Allegro, a fast and lively piece that contrasts the previous - moments of call and response partner with decorations that show off Gillham’s talent. After a strong finale and several rounds of applause, Gillham offered an encore that finished off Beethoven’s concerto in a timely fashion.
Following this concerto was Edward Elgar’s Symphony No. 2 in E flat, Op. 63. The piece opens with a similar Allegro vivace e nobilmente, a noble quick energy movement that contrasts the delicacy and also the ghostly tones of the strings. This leads perfectly into Elgar’s Larghetto movement: a funeral theme that brings together the richness of the strings supported by the heartiness of the brass. The following Rondo snaps the audience back into shape, fast and upbeat, carried by the woodwinds and strings. The final movement, Moderato e maestoso, brings back the artistry and delight of the first movement to top off this hour-long delight of a work. A story carried by pure symphonic momentum left the audience wanting more.
Overall, the Beethoven and Elgar concert held by Queensland Symphony Orchestra was a journey of music across the West. Both pieces were carried and performed with craftsmanship and artistry that impacted the audience and left them with a finer appreciation for two of the world’s most influential composers.
For more information visit www.qso.com.au
'Top Girls' - Ad Astra
‘Top Girls' - Ad Astra
Review by Yasmin Elahi | 22 July 2023
The latest production at Ad Astra’s black box theatre is ‘Top Girls’ by Caryl Churchill. The play, which centres around the constructs of feminism and the sacrifices a woman makes for success, was appropriately staged by a totally female-identifying cast and production team, led by director Mikayla Hosking.
Top Girls’ is an interesting exploration into what it means to be a successful woman. Set in the late 1970s at a time when feminism was making waves, the
play begins with a dinner party of famous women throughout history, then transitions to England and follows the protagonist Marlene, as she climbs the corporate ladder. The storyline is non-linear and at times confusingly disjointed with a flimsy plot line. It ends rather unexpectedly with no particular resolution and leaves the audience somewhat underwhelmed.
Director Mikayla Hosking used the intimate space well. Her staging concept, especially her use of the curtains along the back wall, was inspired and led to impressive and effective scene changes. The plethora of characters were well developed and their interactions with one another natural. Her casting choices were perfect and Hosking should be proud of the stellar team she has assembled.
Costumes by Xanthe Jones were in keeping with the era and suited the various characters well. Lighting design by Claire Yorston was unobtrusive and complemented the action on stage. Her use of hanging bulbs to connote the feeling of an office was well thought out.
Aurelie Roque was outstanding in the role of Marlene. She took command of the stage from the second she stepped onto it and her presence was noticeable throughout, even amongst the hub-bub of the dinner party and the hustle and bustle of the office. She was believable as a powerful corporate climber and her accent was unswerving throughout. As the protagonist of the play, the audience was in safe hands with Roque, who served as the only consistent touchpoint in this perplexing play.
Natasha McDonald was equally as compelling in the roles of Isabella Bird, Joyce and Louise. Each of her characters were entirely different and she embodied each with dedication and aplomb. Her accents were equally as consistent as Roque’s and their scene together at the end of the play was unnervingly realistic. These two women were captivating to watch and easily stole the show. Their rapport with one another was comfortable yet tense (as familiar relationships often are) and both delivered complex, multi-layered and intriguing performances.
Chelsea Doran played Dull Gret and Angie with heart. Though she had few lines as Dull Gret, her physical embodiment of the character conveyed all that was required. As Angie, Doran’s intensity and fragility was endearing, yet there was a darkness brewing beneath. Her scenes were emotionally taxing and she drew the audience into her journey.
Anastasia Benham played Pope Joan and Mrs Kidd with gusto. Her portrayal of Pope Joan was enthusiastic and her monologue powerful. Benham brought a multi-layered performance as Pope Joan, skillfully balancing comedy and sincerity. As Mrs Kidd she was quiet and vapid but retained the same intensity. Benham portrayed the two completely different yet compelling characters with ease.
Emmy Moore, Brigitte Fremme and Jazz Zhao rounded out the cast. Each woman embodying multiple characters with a variety of accents and backgrounds. As an ensemble, the cast worked well together with chemistry and authenticity.
Overall, ‘Top Girls’ is a play that centres around feminism and the sacrifices that come with being a powerful woman. Though the script is confusing and the plotline unclear, this production was made special by its performers. The exceedingly talented women that took the stage and held the audience captive for two hours, as well as those working backstage, were the real top girls in this show. Their performances are not to be missed and this production has once again cemented Ad Astra as a major player for quality theatre in the Brisbane theatre scene.
'Children of the Black Skirt' - Lost Child Ensemble and The Curators' Theatre
‘Children of the Black Skirt’ - Lost Child Ensemble and The Curators' Theatre
Review by Yasmin Elahi | 13 July 2023
Angela Betzien’s gothic fairytale ‘Children of the Black Skirt’ was brought to life in the heritage-listed Christ Church in Milton by Lost Child Ensemble and The Curator's Theatre. The 19th century church served as a fitting location for this haunting show, which utilised the space in a unique way to bring a semi-immersive quality to the production.
‘Children of the Black Skirt’ follows the story of five children who stumble upon an abandoned orphanage. Whilst playing dress up with the tattered clothes they discover, their bodies are inhabited by spirits of children from the past, who share their stories and are released from their forsaken childhood.
Director Helen Strube used the space in an alternative way. Utilising the entire length of the church, chairs were arranged down each side. This enabled a much larger playing area for the performers and brough an immersive quality to the production. Unfortunately, sight lines from the back row were at times obstructed and the length of the performing area made it difficult to take in all the action. However, Strube’s use of the space was dynamic, deliberate and well thought out. Her unique use of the props and set pieces to conjure up the spirit world and enhance the children’s stories should be commended. The physical acting as well as spoken work was cohesive, polished and effective. Strube’s handling of the sensitive subject matter of the play was respectful and her directing choices did justice to the text. Her repeated motifs throughout the show brought cohesion and order to the play.
Set design by Bill Haycock enhanced the natural architectural beauty of the venue. His use of a monochromatic palette and the children’s sack-like costumes brought an authenticity to the piece. Special commendation to Rosa Hirakata for her design and construction of the black skirt costume; equal parts beautiful and terrifying, it was almost another character in itself.
Lighting design by Nathaniel Knight was powerful. His use of lighting outside the many windows of the church brought a realistic and unique element to the show. His use of the lighting within the theatre was subtle yet effective and complemented the action onstage without being obtrusive.
Soundscape by Peter Goodwin was layered. Australian native sounds blended with children’s whispering voices further reinforced the eerie, Australian gothic genre of the play.
Lisa Hickey was commanding as The Black Skirt, among other characters. The unique physicality of her characters was consistent and reliable. At times, her performance leaned into the farcical realm perhaps too much, taking away some of her power and chilling presence. Overall, Hickey embodied The Black Skirt, Harold Horrock and Lost Child with commitment and dedication. As a role that is mostly silent, Hickey’s ability to act through her face and body to convey a story is to be commended.
Malika Savory played the New One and others with naivety and tenderness. Her transitions into other characters were obvious and each character she played was distinct from one another. Savory imbued her performances with a haunting and ethereal quality which was quite mesmerising to watch.
Vivien Whittle played the role of Maggie and others with dedication. Her accents were confident and consistent and her stage presence was powerful. Her raw, emotional portrayal of the mother whose children were taken was heart wrenching.
Special commendation to Mikeal Bobart and Shahnee Hunter who stepped into their respective roles with 8 days’ notice. It was impossible to tell they had only recently joined the production. Bobart’s acting ability and accents were flawless. She portrayed her characters with gusto and energy. Hunter played the Old One and others with sensitivity. Again, both of these performers did an exceptional job stepping into their roles with such short rehearsal time. Each did not miss a beat and formed and integral part of the play.