Review: Disney’s ALADDIN

No Disney magic is spared in the touring adaption of Broadway musical hit, Aladdin, based on 1992’s blockbuster animation.

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The first stars of the show are set designer Bob Crowley and costume designer Gregg Barnes. There’s enough glitz in Aladdin to completely re-sand the South Bank beach with glitter and crystals. No detail goes un-bedazzled, and the result is a spectacle that overwhelms like, well, the proverbial Aladdin’s cave. The pyrotechnics are quite literally dazzling, and even my cold, miserly heart lights up for Jim Steinmeyer’s illusion design.

It’s no surprise; Aladdin is delivered by the studios with perhaps the world’s tightest hold on their brand. Yet Disney leaves wiggle-room for some local touches – delivered with wit by our fourth-wall-defying Genie – that warm the audience right up. (“Where do you think I’m from?” he asks Aladdin. “Ipswich?”)

Aladdin successfully translates rather than replicates the film. In fact, the theatrical production gives the show a New York rags-to-riches feel, blending big band and tap into the mix. Instead of Aladdin’s monkey pal, we have three loyal buddies: Kassim (Adam-Jon Fioentino), Babkak (Troy Sussman) and Omar (Robert Tripolino). These guys have great chemistry – their numbers together are a blast (particularly “High Adventure”). It’s a shame most of Babkak’s characterisation comes back to fat jokes.

Aladdin and Lamp - Ainsley Melham_Photo By Deen van Meer.jpg

Hiba Elchikhe and understudy Graeme Isaako are perfectly plucky as Jasmine and Aladdin, and they fill the big shoes of their filmic predecessors in sweet duets like “A Whole New World”. George Henare is an endearing Sultan, and understudy Dean Vince demonstrates that English accents always sound more evil, but it’s Aljin Abella as Iago who really steals the show with his comedic timing – and wicked laugh. Genie is such a charismatic character, and we can forgive understudy Anthony Murphy when his shrill-camp dialogue and singing is often hard to understand. Murphy sure looks the part, and Genie is certainly the character whose freedom we’re rooting for with the most vim, and who earns the biggest applause.

The ensemble deserves kudos, too, as a tireless, dynamic bunch under the supervision of director/choreographer Casey Nicolaw and a team of associates.

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Danny Troob’s orchestration is a highlight, led by music director Geoffrey Castles. There’s plenty of nostalgic earworms from Disney past, with the most striking new songs coming from the original team (music by Alan Menken and lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice, with book and additional lyrics by Chad Beguelin).

It will likely not shock you to know that Disney still has a gender problem (not to mention, famously, an exoticism problem). Where Aladdin’s monkey is replaced with three men with distinct personalities, names and songs, Jasmine’s tiger companion is replaced by nameless women from the ensemble, who march off to leave her alone in her room with an unwelcome intruder. I was disappointed, given the number of thrilled kiddos in the audience, to see Aladdin tap his cheek to request a kiss and tell Jasmine, “Don’t you owe me something for showing you around?” Why not take the opportunity, when you wield such epic influence, to normalise language that supports a culture of consent and nurturance? Shout out, by the way, to Milagros Medina-Cerdeira (make-up design) and Natasha Katz (lighting design) – the only two women listed in a creative team of 22 people.

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It all works out okay: Aladdin gets a new tragic backstory and in the end Jasmine’s dad tells her she’ll be equal ruler once she’s married. These aren’t new criticisms. I might not know how Aladdin’s magic carpet works (no, really, it’s going to keep me up at night!), but the structure of a Disney production is a tale as old as time. So it goes. Ol’ Walt sure puts on a hell of a show, and it was fun watching parents trying to unravel their children from reams of gold streamers.

Aladdin runs until 3 June at the Lyric Theatre, QPAC. You can also enter a lottery, Broadway-style, for cheap tickets throughout the season.

Photos by Jeff Busby.

 

 

 

YOOF ARTS NEWS

I nearly called this YOOF ARTZ NYOOZ and I’m sorry. Maybe it should have been “They Have It Coming”. Anyway. It’s been a fortnight of arts-work by the young and the restless. This is definitely more of a discussion than a series of reviews. I especially welcome input from others who’ve seen or are involved in these shows.

BRISBANE (A DOING WORD)

Brisbane (a doing word)

Vena Cava has outgrown QUT’s Woodward Theatre; the student theatre company launches its new season in the Judith Wright Centre’s intimate Shopfront space. Here, we meet Matty (Patrick Hayes) and his share-housing frenemies, negotiating their place and purpose as 20-somethings in Brisbane. This coming-of-age story unfolds in pieces, benefiting from writer David Burton’s structural experimentation.

Burton’s characters are painfully relatable but never sterotypes. Claire Christian directs a strong cast; we’ve all lived or studied with these eager, energetic, argumentative people. We’ve probably been them. Overall, a little more polish and restraint will allow Brisbane (a doing word) to deftly handle the sensitive topics it tackles without losing its sense of absurd humour.

BRISBANE (A DOING WORD) ran at the Judith Wright Centre from 20 to 22 March 2014.

PERSPECTIVE/WOOLF PACK

Khalid Warsame at Brisbane's VOICEWORKS Launch

Express Media (or its Queensland representative … me) launched Voiceworks #96, the Perspective issue, at Avid Reader. Voiceworks Mag publishes and offers professional development of the work of Australian writers under 25. This was such a great night with superb readers (pictured: Khalid Warsame). Avid put on the ritz for us — what a wonderful venue. Wine all round! We also launched Woolf Pack, a new feminist zine edited by super-cool Brisbane ladies. Good times.

VOICEWORKS and WOOLF PACK launched at Avid Reader on 28 March 2014.

HOMOS IN KIMONOS

Homos in Kimonos

James Halloran and Will Hannagan’s double-bill cabaret (Melbourne Festival Comedy) has come under fire this week regarding its title, which some feel appropriates Japanese culture in a way that is racist. I’m hesitant to weigh in personally — as a white person I realise my privilege means I have blind spots — but I felt the creative team gave a measured, respectful public response in which they apologised and clarified their intentions. It was disappointing to see uncritical responses on both sides of the fence (personal attacks on the young performers and, on the flipside, tiresome attacks on “the PC brigade”).

I rarely feel qualified to comment, but I think there’s space right now in Australia for lots of context-based, critical discussion on cultural intersection in art. I hope that the show’s run stimulates more thoughtful, respectful discussion and fewer facebook shitstorms.

HOMOS IN KIMONOS runs at Melbourne Comedy Festival until 13 April 2014.

BOY&GIRL

Boy&Girl by Oscar Theatre Company

Oscar Theatre Company presents “a steamy cabaret of musical theatre, contemporary and pop where gender is bent and rules are broken” at Brisbane Powerhouse, after a season at Lightspace. Boy&Girl features 25 talented and diverse cast members with a Broadway/contemporary jazz vibe. Jason Glenwright’s moody lighting sets the right tone for a trip down the Weimar rabbit hole.

Now, I can’t call these thoughts a review, as I did not stay for the full show. For me, the highlight of the first half was a 40s wartime swing rendition of “Call Me Maybe” by three charismatic male performers, followed by an emotive solo covering Rizzo’s “That’s the Worst Thing I Could Do” from Grease. Overall, though, Boy&Girl only flirted with the idea of gender-bending: pronouns were swapped, sure, and the boys (but, curiously, not really the girls) dabbled in drag. The jokes were about as cheap as the lingerie. All up, a pretty conservative affair, with the cast unable to nail the sense of sexy-grotesque integral, in my opinion, to queered cabaret.

But none of this would be a fair reason to walk out. Generally, I think it’s pretty poor form to leave a show’s opening night midway. However, just before the interval, 10 men (plus the male host and four men in the onstage band) performed Chicago’s “Cell Block Tango”. This is a song that deliberately subverts language used against female victims of intimate and sexual violence; its power, humour and sense of the uncanny succeeds because, in the context of the song, women have what is normally masculine power. In Boy&Girl, “Cell Block Tango” becomes a deeply unsettling song about domestic violence. In Australia, where one woman a week is murdered by an intimate partner, loosely “gender-bending” the song puts the power back in the hands of those who already have it. I left because I couldn’t sit with an audience that found that funny.

BOY&GIRL runs at the Visy Theatre at Brisbane Powerhouse until 19 April 2014.

DANCE REVIEW: When Time Stops

Words: Tahnee Robinson

We awake in the underworld, on the banks of the river Acheron. The Ferryman (Thomas Gundry Greenfield) is rowing away from us. He will row for most of the performance, quiet and inexorable, as we linger by the river. He is a towering figure, but he is not unkind: he will wait patiently for his charge until she is ready. When Time Stops takes us through the last moments of a life, picked up in a rush of memories before making the final crossing.

Bill Haycock and Iceworks Design’s underworld is a beautiful creation, haunting but without malice, and deceptively simple. Comprised of mirrored surfaces and windows, backlit panes and a hidden door, the set is beautifully atmospheric and very flexible — a must for this performance, which places its entire musical ensemble on stage for parts of the piece. The lighting, designed by David Walters, is ingenious and integral, maintaining the subdued sorrow of the underworld but showing us glimpses of life — elation, love, terror — with a scattering of stars or a beam of sunlight falling across a face.

There are more musicians than dancers; Iain Grandage’s composition is performed by Camerata of St John’s, a chamber orchestra of string players sans conductor. There are 12 of them, and they move around and amongst the dancers as they play. This is no mean feat: creeping a bass, two cellos, two violas and seven violins around a stage occupied by a company of contemporary dancers in mid-flight is an extraordinary work of choreography and focus. The musicians are part of the performance — as they should be; the compositions are integral to the mood of the piece and to understanding what is being depicted.  The strings are perfect for this, their richness and many tones provide a degree of emotional nuance that is essential to our understanding of each section.

When TIme Stops (EDC)There are parts of When Time Stops that are particularly affecting. Broken into a series of moments of profound importance to the dying woman, it is largely up to the audience to imbue these impressions with meaning.  Amongst these segments is ‘First Kiss’, which stirs a sense of sweet nostalgia and innocence, reminding the audience of first-love elation without overstepping into melodrama. Later, there is ‘Scan’, which makes clever use of the set and lighting to imply a medical emergency of some kind — intimations of mortality revisited at the time of death. ‘Time’ is represented by a little silver orb, around which Daryl Brandwood dances with extraordinary feline skill and control; the orb is captured and released with joy and desperation.

The dancing is extraordinary, and each of the seven company members brings an intense commitment and control to the performance. They are uniformly graceful and astonishing, contorting themselves into impossible positions with complete fluidity and a superb awareness of each other. Natalie Weir’s choreography is inventive and intimate; The Woman (Riannon McLean) reviews her life with fear and longing, often reaching out to the visions she sees, embracing her memory of herself or her lover. It’s romantic, and often sexual, without being tawdry or overt; these intimacies are the highlight of the performance, as the dancers lift and hold each other, entwining and separating.

WHEN TIME STOPS by Expressions Dance Company is on at the Playhouse, QPAC, until September 14, as part of Brisbane Festival. Tickets $48–58.

TAHNEE ROBINSON is a Brisbane-based writer. She was OffStreet Press’s visual arts, film and fashion editor.

REVIEW: The Lady of the House of Love

A restaging of a 2008 Brisbane hit, Metro Arts hosts The Lady of the House of Love. Daniel Evans adapts this tragic tale of a lonely, reluctant vampire — bound more by habit and ritual than by her curse — from Angela Carter’s 1979 short story of the same name. (Read my recent interview to find out more about the play’s history.)

Above all, as a one-man production, The Lady of the House of Love reminds us of the power and pleasure of a good storyteller. Sandro Colarelli’s shape-shifting performance is central. Reaching through the rose-laden lattice of an isolated chateau, he seduces us into Carter’s rich text. Choreographed by Neridah Waters, Colarelli is at once narrator, strong man and strange woman, whose beauty “is a symptom of her disorder.”

Sandro Colarelli (photo by Nat Lynn)

Jake Diefenbach’s compositions ensure that The Lady of the House of Love transcends from a good play into an astounding chamber production. (It’s well-worth picking up the soundtrack, coproduced by James Lees and Bryce Moorhead, on the night.) It’s uncanny to hear Diefenbach’s distinctive lyrics and musical signatures sung in Colarelli’s hypnotic voice. At the piano, John Rodgers faces away from the audience, but his presence is front and centre, alongside Colarelli.

David Fenton directs a production that is unashamedly gothic — though not without wit; this feels entirely right, considering the text’s deference to Victorian melodrama. In the music as well as the costuming, there’s a little ’80s goth too. Josh McIntosh’s design and Andrew Meadows’ lighting work together to suggest candle-lit boudoirs, dense with incense and dust, deep in the stone heart of a mountain chateau.

There are a couple of moments wherein the melodrama could be reined in just a touch, but in the Countess’s “cave full of echoes” there is little room for subtlety. And who could deny her a little excess when her worn tarot cards, laid out and laid out again, finally reveal a change of fate — from La Papesse, La Mort, La Tour Abolie . . .

THE LADY OF THE HOUSE OF LOVE runs at METRO ARTS from 26 Jul to 3 Aug. The production’s soundtrack will be available for purchase at Sue Benner Theatre.

THEATRE: The Lady of the House of Love

SANDRO COLARELLI stars in THE LADY OF THE HOUSE OF LOVE, a one-man show adapted by DAN EVANS from Angela Carter’s short story of the same name. Under DAVID FENTON‘s direction, The Lady is a slick, dark restaging of a show that was a Brisbane Festival Under the Radar hit back in 2008. On the day-of-opening-night (26 July), I spoke with the very eloquent Colarelli — a mainstay of Brisbane stage and cabaret — to find out more.

In its early days, [cabaret] always had an element of danger and surprise.

ZF: The Lady of the House of Love arises from cabaret’s “darkest roots”. Tell me, where do those roots lie, for you?
SC: Cabaret in its early years in Europe, was underground, edgy, provocative and subversive, using art and performance in a way that was both entertaining, free and experimental. Almost anything could be said and done and the audience entered the space knowing this underworld of performance was not going to be a night at the opera or ballet. It always had an element of danger and surprise, not least because there was a very real danger in those days that both performers and audience could be arrested by the law and locked up if what was being presented was deemed as morally inappropriate. I’ve tried to use some of those elements to preface the performance of The Lady of the House of Love to signal that I am about to take the audience into a world where anything could happen. It’s an invitation to come on a journey, and this case it happens to be a rather strange one.

ZF: Tell me more about why Angela Carter’s short story so resonated with you. 
SC: I discovered the collection of short stories that “The Lady of the House of Love” came from in a book sale when I was 15. I was intrigued by the title, The Bloody Chamber, and soon became enamoured of all the stories in the collection, but particularly of “The Lady of the House of Love”, because of my teenage fascination with vampires. The central character is basically a freak, she knows it, and she has no control over it, but she longs to be something other than what she is. She’s brave enough to even want death than to linger in the world of ‘eternal life’ she is stuck in. Carter’s quite matter-of-fact approach towards the romantic notion of vampirism and those who never die was both intriguing and humorous to me at the same time.

ZF: Angela Carter’s short story translates to the stage in such a way that, you’ve said, it provides an “irresistible theatrical playground to examine the human condition.” In a one-man show, how is the stage set for such an exploration?
SC: The first thing that struck me about the story, and Angela Carter’s writing in general, are the fantastic, mythical worlds she sets her stories in, masterfully balanced with a mundane reality that acts as a touchstone to our world and daily lives. Mixing fantasy with the domestic. The wonderfully descriptive, rich and poetic prose that she uses is irresistible; she conjures up these worlds of her imagination with a wry and dry humour. This balance really hit the spot with me. The setting of the story, which is fairly contained and features two characters, was perfect fodder for a theatrical adaption into a one-man show. The vampire bride’s power of singing her victims to her gave licence for an intrinsic musical element to be woven into the story with relative ease. The theatrical and musical elements are both equal parts of what I specialise in as a performer.

Sandro Colarelli (photo by Nat Lynn)

ZF: This production ran to rave reviews back in 2008. Last year you featured in another much-loved play to return to Brisbane after some years: Vikram and the Vampire. How does it feel to revisit works such as these?
SC: I love revisiting works. It provides an opportunity to further explore and develop the work in a more rich and satisfying manner. Your enter the rehearsal room knowing what the work is, and therefore can immediately experiment and take more risks. I am an obsessive perfectionist and am always grateful for an opportunity to perfect and try out different ways of approaching nuances in delivering lines, attitudes in character work, and playing with the music.

ZF: Nat Lynn’s gorgeous image (above) seems to have you coiled, ready to spring from your throne. Is there an element of potential energy coiled in the show as well?
SC: Absolutely — the vampire bride at the centre of the piece gives the illusion of a frail and vulnerable aristocratic girl trapped in her no-man’s land between life and death, sleep and wake. Her terrible hunger for blood manifests itself as a deadly predator ready to jump and kill her prey in a second. The image represents this potent and potential energy.

ZF: I recently re-stumbled across Theatre People‘s review of Zen Zen Zo’s Cabaret. Brent Downes wasn’t the only reviewer to describe you (as the Emcee) as the glue of that show — the performer with the most experience across both physical theatre and musicianship. What are the distinct challenges and delights of collaborating on ensemble work and performing a one-man show?
SC: I love collaborating with other people and being able to work relationships and chemistry with other performers. There is a wonderful camaraderie between colleagues when a performing dynamic is working. Its very satisfying. However, I also love doing a one-man show, because I can let my imagination fully embrace the world as I see it and lose myself completely in the story and characters. Particularly when you are doing a story like The Lady of the House of Love, which is close to your heart. Of course, there really is no such thing as a one-man show because the director, writer, composer, musician, designer, choreographer are all there contributing as well.

ZF: You’re right. And there’s is a seriously cool team involved with Lady of the House of Love: Jake Diefenbach, Neridah Waters, Dan Evans, Josh McIntosh and David Fenton. How have you enjoyed working with these talented folks?
SC: I was very lucky to be able too wrangle this group of monstrous talent together for this project. It’s a dream team and I am very grateful that all of them had the time and will to come and play with me, exploring this story I have loved for so many years.

ZF: How are you feeling about opening night?
SC: Nervous, excited, full of anticipation…

THE LADY OF THE HOUSE OF LOVE runs at METRO ARTS from 26 Jul to 3 Aug. The production’s soundtrack will be available for purchase at Sue Benner Theatre.

Judith Wright Centre: Salõn

Timothy Brown (Queensland Ballet, Expressions Dance Company) promises Judy audiences the exotic, the erotic and the sublime in The Salõn. He curates  seven physical performers — with backgrounds in circus and dance — in collaboration with musos Michelle Xen and the Neon Wild. It’s a showcase of local talent with international appeal; don’t miss out.

ZF: Salõn is an ambitious interdisciplinary work. How did you go about getting the balance just right, both in terms of aesthetic and the diverse cast?
TB: It was like creating a lavish yet unpredictable patchwork of acts, styles and artists genres.

ZF: With your dance background in mind, what were you looking for in your seven performers?
TB: The Salon performers are local independent artists who have proven to be outstanding in their fields while also creating their own unique niches within music, circus and dance.

Anthony Trojman — photo by Dylan Evans Photography, design by Blender

Anthony Trojman for Salōn (photo by Dylan Evans Photography, design by Blender)

ZF: Tell me one or two stunning, surprising or strange things about the character or talents of the performers.
TB: Travis Scott is a dancer come pole dancer come swinging pole dancer. This is very unique as there is only a small hand full of swinging pole artists around the world.
Former Expressions contemporary dance artist Anthony Trojman (pictured) is currently completing his honors in physiotherapy, with his last exam a day before we open!

ZF: How was “living work of art” Marchesa Luisa Casati an inspiration for the show?
TB: Marchesa Luisa Casati has always been an icon for me. Although this work is not a biography of the great Marchesa, the concept of icons, divas, and muses being immortalised through art are themes among others the show has drawn inspiration from.

ZF: How important was the Fresh Ground program to the show’s development? (Salõn was part of our JWC’s Space program introduced this year.)
TB: Fresh Ground is a unique program that I think gives the Judy a very important role in the independent arts sector. Artists need to have access to government facilities and support without too much paper work and admin. Just a studio with a speaker can give an artist a chance to create magic for Brisbane audiences and potentially show the world how good we are and what we have to offer.

ZF: If you were to paint a tableau that represented Salōn, what would it look like?
We have quite a few in the show! Very colourful, very diverse with a mix of glamour, grace, rebellion and cheek!

SALŌN plays at the Judith Wright Centre from 22 to 29 June, 2013.

Emma Dean: Beyond the Imaginarium

Brisbanite Emma Dean is in her element in New York, where the difficult-to-define performer has flown to chase her dream of making it big in the Big Apple. She hasn’t had to wait long; with the release of her White EP, the first in a trilogy, she’s already turning all the right heads.

ZF: You’ve been in the Big Apple for a few months now. What’s your favourite New York New, York story from your adventures thus far?
EM:
My favourite New York story happened when I was opening for the delicious Courtney Act at The Laurie Beechman. You may remember her as being the sexy drag queen with the killer pegs who stole she show during Aussie Idol. Just before our last performance, Cheyenne Jackson tweeted about my new single, “Phoebe (With Her Whole Heart)”. I’m a huge 30 Rock fan so I knew him as the devilishly-good-looking Canadian from the show. He is also a big Broadway star and pop singer. That night we got word that Cheyenne was hopping off a plane and coming straight to see me play! He is just as charming off screen as he is on. Quite surreal.

ZF: What’s the biggest difference and most surprising similarity between performing in Brisbane and New York?
EM:
The biggest difference is that I have to give a thorough explanation of my song “Tall Poppy” before playing it. The most surprising similarity is that I still stick out like a sore thumb.

ZF: How has the White EP been received thus far?
EM: We’ll see when the royalty cheque comes through in August, won’t we? Ha ha! In all seriousness, I’ve been amazed at the response. I was a little nervous because this EP was so different to my other bodies of work. But I was pleasantly surprised, especially by the live session youtube clips, which collectively have almost 33,000 views in less than two months.

Emma Dean

ZF: What’s the plan with White/Red/Black trilogy?
EM:
Red will be coming out some time in July then Black will be towards the end of the year. Both EPs will be released digitally and independently and have been recorded and co-produced by the talented man in the bowler hat, Mr Fronz Arp. Red features epic songs about love, lust and heartbreak performed on a grand piano with lush strings and harmonies. Black features rhythmic, jazz-influenced songs from the underground performed on a klunky upright pianaaa, double bass and pots ‘n’ pans! Guest performers on the EPs are Indigo Keane, Fronz Arp, Tony Dean, Janey Mac and my housemates in Ashgrove who became my impromptu clapping ensemble!

ZF: Will you be touring your new work to Australia in the near future, or workin’ on that New York career for a while yet?
EM: I’m creating a new show called “Imaginarium”, which will be an extension of some of my other work. It will be MD’d by James Dobinson and will also feature physical theatre performer and actor, Kate Lee. We will work as a three-piece chamber-pop ensemble incorporating piano, cello, violin, glockenspiel, drum machines, live drums and physical theatre. It would be an absolute dream to come back to Australia with this work. I’ll keep you posted!

ZF: What’s your advice to up-and-coming performers in Brisbane?
EM:
If you are an up-and-coming ANYONE in Brisbane, make sure you give yourself an opportunity to get out and see the world, grow as a performer or artist, support your brothers and sisters and begin to create a community. There is often enough to go around. And when there’s not . . . think outside the box.

EMMA DEAN’s White EP is now available as a digital download from iTunes, Amazon Music or direct from Candyrat Records.

REVIEW: The Nightingale and the Rose (Anywhere Fest)

Directorial team Jennifer Bismire (live production, puppetry and design), Belinda McCulloch (film) and Richard Grantham (music) transform Oscar Wilde’s tale of “love perfected through death” into a multimedia performance piece. Published in 1888, Wilde’s short story tells of nightingale’s sacrifice for a young student in need of a red rose to give his beloved. The parable unfolds through puppetry, text, film and music across seven screens in the Powerhouse Labyrinth and Ruins.

Let’s get any biases out of the way: I know key members of the team, and very much respect their work. (After a while, it’s hard not to know at least someone in any given Brisbane show.) Still, I trust them to trust me to review honestly.

There’s something mystical about shadow puppets. These articulated silhouettes are deftly handled by a large cast of puppeteers (Caitlin Marie Adie, Emily Bruce, Perie Essex, Eloise Maree, Lauren Neilson, Helen Stephens and Sami Van Barneveld).

The garden, across three screens, takes centre stage. At the far left, subtitles tell the Nightingale’s tragic story. On the other side, a live-action film plays out philosophical conversations between the Student and his professors. It’s a very different way to view a show; The Nightingale and the Rose is part-theatre, part-cinema and part-art installation, with the mood of a silent film. You don’t want to miss a thing — but there’s a lot to follow, and missing some (at least from the front row) is inevitable.

The Nightingale and the Rose

The filmed portion introduces new characters to Wilde’s story: two professors who consider the Nightingale’s plight as a thought experiment and guide their lovelorn Student. Wilde’s narration is split between these three figures. With regard to adapting a seven-page story for an hour-long show, it’s a clever idea; however, John Grey, Michael Croome and Tim Gollan’s performances feel unprepared and their dialogue lacks the conviction to transcend its role as a collection of leftover witticisms.

For the show, Grantham has arranged compositions based on works by Lili Boulanger and Olivier Messianen. His evocative performance transfixes, transporting us from the Powerhouse Ruins into the Nightingale’s garden. Still, the presence of the outside world is part of what makes Anywhere Festival different — you can’t stop passers-by chattering, nearby meditators chanting or car headlights flashing, so you may as well embrace the ambient soundtrack. I admired the cast, in particular, as they pressed on during an outburst from a gentleman who verbally abused an usher. (Yes, it’s a ticketed event in a public space — deal with it.)

It’s brave to stage this quiet, thoughtful piece outside of a traditional theatre space. Interestingly, some audience members behave more like cinemagoers: some chat while others even come and go. In last week’s interview, Bismire raised a pertinent question: “How many forms do we have to saturate a contemporary audience with to get across the same story?” Bismire, McCulloch and Grantham’s production is beautiful, but in the attempt to appeal to all types of viewers the story’s simplicity is sacrificed — along with the Nightingale.

The Nightingale and the Rose runs in the Powerhouse Labyrinth and Ruins from 9 to 18 May, 2013. Anywhere Fest.

Can’t Be Artsed #5: All The Things

This week, while I should have been attending to The To-Do List, I instead attended a diverse bunch of artsy gigs. It was pretty rad. I should be studying/working/poeting/editing, but I wanted to at least jot down some thoughts before I lose ’em.

Henry Rollins, May 3

I’d never heard of Mr Rollins, nor his career with punk band Black Flag, before friends gifted me a ticket for my birthday. I decided to head in blind and find out what this spoken-word maestro has to offer on the fly.

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