Reviews - 2005

Current - 2004 - 2003 - Pre-2003

Our reviewers are the peers of Adelaide Theatre. They are fellow audience members, directors, actors, committee members, etc, with experience in journalism.
Like other audience members, their reviews/opinions are given on overall enjoyment and value for money so that you may make a more informed choice.

Shows: Come Out 2005
Jan - Jun 2005

Baggy Pants
Emily Loves to Bounce
Madam Lark
Random Girls
The Ides

Riverland Youth Theatre and Vitalstatistix
Waterside Workers Hall, 11 Nile Street, Port Adelaide

Review by Rod Lewis

The extraordinary courage of five women proves as uplifting as it is entertaining in this equally extraordinary workshop piece.

The artists are real-life young mothers who share their fears, hopes and memories of being pregnant at a young age. They challenge the stereotypes of young mothers by telling us their stories, and sharing the bittersweet humour and heartfelt moments behind being a statistic.

Co directors Maude Davey and Lucien Simon use multimedia, mime, audience interaction and short scenes to unveil these women's tales in an outstanding and memorable piece of theatre.

Marisa Mastrocola, who first proposed the concept, stars with Teresa Arnold, Amanda Barton, Nat Dickerson, Alysha Herrmann and Narelle Howard. Each are as talented as they are fearless, putting themselves up for judgement before the audience.

Forget political correctness. These stories are shared without bitterness and without apology and it is damn good. This is what theatre should be about. How unfortunately that the season is so brief.

Not to be missed.

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Little Black Box
Queen Theatre, Playhouse Lane

Review by Stephanie Johnson

“The Ides” is a teenager’s cry from the heart – a scream that reaches out and demands a response.

Anyone who has experienced a difficult passage through adolescence will appreciate this rare insight written by Matthew Clayfield at the age of 17.

This play is a dark, witty and painfully truthful descent into the emotional turmoil that can accompany the anxious passage from childhood to adulthood.

The action is set in a rather bleak high school dressing room. Set constructor Craig Clifford has cleverly conveyed the soulless school décor with a simple black stage and background and a single shabby table.

Director Alyson ‘Daisy’ Brown has used the space wonderfully encouraging the actor’s movement around, over and above the single piece of furniture as well as each other.

Jonathon Wood breathes life and truth into the main character, Fraser. Wood mercurially changes moods, commanding the center of attention on stage and in his peer’s lives. At times he is mischievously childlike, at others wise beyond his years and yet he always conveys the fragility of Fraser’s emotional world.

Mario Spate is a good foil as his mate Julian. The interchanges between the two young men provide some of the most authentic and truthful.

Claire Dunn plays the promiscuous Chloe with a dash of too much sweetness as opposed to street smarts, but nevertheless provides some lovely moments as the topic of teenage sexuality is explored.

Lori Farmer’s natural talent for comedy seems to somehow overshadow the lonely desperation of her character, Katie. As such some of the darker moments go awry whereas the comic scenes are delightful.

Although dark and tumultuous The Ides is not depressing. In fact it is a triumph as it depicts the courage of a young man exposing his vulnerabilities and reaching out for “a little bit of love”. Clayfield opens a very private door into an 18-year-old’s mind and in doing so, sheds light in some very dark places. This is a clever, quick-witted and yet deeply disturbing account, astounding for a 17-year-old.

The Little Black Box company claims to provide “unique theatrical experiences that engage and stimulate audiences”. By bringing Matthew Clayfield’s work to life they have certainly succeeded.

See this 50-minute production and stay tuned, hopefully, for more works by this astounding young man.

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Polyglot Puppet Theatre
Marion Culture Centre

Review by Andy Ahrens

‘Baggy Pants’ used puppets to bring to life an everyday bundle of clothes. It told the story of ‘Singlet’ and ‘Baggy Pants’ who have an adventure beyond the realm of the wardrobe and bedroom floor.

The pieces of clothing were expertly brought to life by puppeteers. They did well to bring out emotion and character from the puppets. When required, the puppeteers blended beautifully into the background with the help of some nifty lighting.

With no dialogue, the puppetry moved along with the aid of a cleverly devised soundtrack involving a mix of children’s voices and sound effects. The theatre, overloaded with colour and garments, was stunningly atmospheric. One had the feeling of sitting beneath a Hills Hoist.

The show would have benefited with more humour or captivating puppetry to allow for the thinness of plot. It seemed the audience were searching for a story to follow – illusion wasn’t quite enough. But the reunion between Singlet and Baggy Pants was an endearing moment which showed that these two little items of clothing had managed to win many hearts.

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Strut & Fret
Botanic Gardens

Review by Simon Slade

Performances in the Botanic Gardens during the day are fraught with difficulties. Factor in the fact that this show is targeted to children aged six to twelve, and it is a testament to these performers that they hold their audience enthralled.

The show begins with a forest walk to the performance area. All the way, we can see Madam Lark, played by Christine Johnston, and her tuba-playing cohort Bluebell, played by Michele Watt.

Christine Johnston has an astounding history. She is one of Australia’s most distinguished cabaret singers, has been the subject of an ABC TV’s Australian Story and is legendary for making the best bird noises in the country.

As much known for her experimental use of voice as she is for her dramatic visual style and unique sense of humour, she has the ability to transform diagrams and even hairstyles into wonderful sounds. Using a head microphone and speakers that Madam Lark had to pass in front of, the excellent mixing saw that feedback was avoided.

Children of all ages were captivated and amused by her bird impressions and her playing of the musical saw, but her vocal performance of “Love Me Tender” as though it was being played on Cowbells brought the house down.

The children then get involved in the show by drawing diagrams, which are then interpreted vocally. This sort of involvement, where the content depends on the child, really engaged the audience and there was no shortage of eager volunteers. Diagrams ranged from the simple and easily sung, to the wild scribble of 4 children at once that left poor Madam Lark looking like she could do with a stiff drink!

At least one audience member must have known about the operatic quality of Christine Johnston’s voice. When her mobile phone rang just after the show had started, the ringtone was Nessun Dorma from Turandot! But perhaps she is not an operagoer, as she proceeded to answer the call and then walk through the rest of the audience having a conversation! All this was about ten minutes after we had been asked to turn off mobile phones!

But even with a distraction like that, Madam Lark was unshaken and unstoppable, rounding out the show with vocal interpretations of the varying hairstyles in the audience!

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Restless Dance Company
State Opera of SA Studio, Netley
Until March 19

Review by Rod Lewis

The youth of today cry out for sustenance in Kat Worth and Daisy Brown's impressive workshop piece that combines dance with echoes of dialogue.

Featuring sixteen fully-abled and disabled youth, we journey through the tumultuous landscape of their mind, set to the original, industrial music of Ian Moorhead.

We see their confusion and distress as they face peer pressure, responsibility and an uncertain future, rarely finding the time to find themselves. But in moments of silence, hopes, dreams, wants and needs float to the surface before being drowned again in the turmoil of everyday.

Their need to be nourished with love and guidance, and the desire to be heard and understood are balanced by the irony that they are in this together but alone.

Gaelle Mellis' triangular set contrasts the action against a tranquil backdrop of deer in a forest, reminding us of the inner space, the time out and the harmony that is craved.

Short but sharp, “Sustenance” is an important reminder to listen.

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Patch Theatre Company
Odeon Theatre, Norwood
Until March 19

Review by Andy Ahrens

For the age 4-8 age group Patch has created a beautiful blend of sound, mime and illusion. Some boundaries are broken as we venture into a mix of visual images and content. It works.

‘Emily Loves to Bounce’ is delicious. From the moment we see a peeping figure emerge from a cardboard box, the audience of both adults and children are drawn into a captivating experience of creative theatre.

The show blends three stories by Stephen Michael King – ‘Patricia’, ‘Henry and Amy’ and ‘Emily Loves to Bounce’. It is intriguing, mystical, funny and irresistible.

Technical aspects are a surprisingly dominant feature for a show designed for children. However, director Dave Brown has cleverly integrated them to successfully enhance the action. Superb lighting design by Geoff Cobham literally carries the show from start to finish. We see lit up boxes on stage literally become characters themselves.

Children have no problems coping with this illusionistic approach. After all, when it comes to imagination, children have the greatest grasp of it.

Like a narration to the story, musicians Belinda Gehlert and Zoe Barry provide a musical backdrop to the creative play happening about them. Performers Jon Bode and Astrid Pill and the two musicians give the impression of children playing in a playground – having fun, having adventure and enjoying being children.

‘Emily Loves to Bounce’ is a masterstroke of ingenuity. It encompasses mime, dance, humour, illusion, music, storytelling and audience participation all in the space of 50 minutes. Thoroughly absorbing.

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Fresh Track Productions
Queen’s Theatre
Until March 19

Review by Nikki Gaertner

The Queen’s Theatre provided a suitable and simplistic setting for Fresh Track’s production of “Marathon”, presenting the audience with the feel of a “road in the middle of nowhere” on which characters Steve (Alistair Scott- Young) and Mark (Roman Vaculik) run in training for the New York Marathon.

The set was simple – a road painted on the ground of the theatre, and so too was the lighting, just providing some colour changes in some key moments of the script. Sound effects were only used to enhance the remote and lonely feel of the road and were effective, but a little too loud in the final moments of the show, drowning out some of the more important lines.

“Marathon” explores the lives and friendship of Steve and Mark as they interact during their intense training run down the road.

Scott-Young does a good job of portraying Steve as the “stronger” (and more arrogant) of the two friends, always determined and refusing to give in to anything as he strives for his goal.

Vaculik also put in a wholehearted performance as the more laidback Mark, who’d rather just give up and stop running. This performance was particularly impressive as Vaculik was the understudy in the original show and came in to perform at the last minute due to an injury of the other lead cast member (Andrew Brackman).

The performers were particularly impressive due to their stamina – the show required them to run for the entire hour, as well as act (and speak clearly enough to be understood) at the same time.

“Marathon” will certainly leave audience members with something to think about as it twists through its storyline, but is probably best suited to older (15+) audiences due to language and content.

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