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Review: 35mm: A Musical Exhibition at Flight Path Theatre

Review by Bella Wellstead

A group of friends reunite. Flirtation ignites. Love blossoms. Loss lingers. With the click of the camera, time stops and everything is memorialised. Inspired by the photography of Matthew Murphy and written by Ryan Scott Oliver, ‘35mm: A Musical Exhibition’ is a song cycle of vibrant yet fleeting vignettes. This production, directed by Little Triangle Co.’s Alexander Andrews and with musical direction by Jeremy Kindl, captures those little moments that make us human, in all their desire, delusion, and devastation.

35mm opens on a mostly bare stage, the boundaries of which are delineated by a thick white line that runs along the floor. The musical ensemble lines the back wall, obscured by concentric camera focus rings that hang from the ceiling. The set simultaneously situates and obscures the setting of the production. What it makes clear is that photography is central to ‘35mm’ – photography which captures a collection of experiences, lived as they are across time and space.

‘Stop Time’ – the opening number performed elegantly by Kira Leiva as The Observer – does little to clarify the context in which the audience finds themselves. Throughout the show, we are left to gather the clues, reflecting on resonances between the characters’ lives and our own to build out the world of the production.

Lighting design by Paris Bell is dynamic and trim, beautifully complimenting the minimalist set design whilst drawing the audience into the song cycle as it ebbs and flows throughout the space. Bell masterfully balances stark whites, warm washes, and haloes of backlit red to immerse the audience in the nebulous space in which these friends unite to tell stories.

As The Sage, Mikayla Burnham is magnificent. She moves with grace and control through the periphery of love and heartbreak. Burnham’s performance of ‘Leave Luanne’ is a particular standout. She commands the stage from the centre, surrounded by a wrapt and kneeling crowd as she spins the yarn of the scorned, yet ever-loyal wife Luanne.

Nina Carcione shines as The Lover, fawning boldly over The Adventurer (Brodie Masini). Her performance is suffused with an unabashed vibrancy. She sweeps carelessly across the stage to her timid beau, solidifying the threads of love and lust that run throughout the production and infusing their opposites-attract romance with jocularity.

Jack Dawson’s The Angel provides a delicate contrast to Carcione’s zeal. His willowy movements are perfectly complimented by the hope that lingers in his voice. The Angel functions as an elegant anchoring point for The Dreamer – played by Aaron Robuck – whose clarity and leadership draws the group together. The stability of the romance between these two characters is reassuring as it plays out alongside the swift, volatile, and ultimately disintegrating relationship between The Maverick (Oli McGavock) and The Seeker (Izzy Hanly). Jenna Woolley (The Queen) contributes to the ensemble with gusto.

Musical accompaniment by Chris “Bouey” Bouhabib, Aidan Brown, Jeremi Campese, Austin Hall, Alex Paterson, and Alec Steedman is brilliant. The ensemble works with expert cohesion, floating effortlessly between genres. In addition, their playful interactions with members of the cast are a delight to watch.

Although inspired by the photography of Matthew Murphy, the significance of Murphy’s work gets lost in translation between his portfolio and the stage. Where ‘35mm’ is originally intended to have no narrative arc, Little Triangle Co.’s production aims to emphasise the themes of love and loss. Andrews seeks to develop characters’ relationships to one another throughout the duration of the show. However, the song-cycle structure inhibits the depth of these relationships whilst leaving the audience to search for character, context, and clarity. As such, ‘35mm: A Musical Exhibition’ exists in the liminal space between abstracted affect and a romance narrative. Despite this, the show is a joy to experience. Characterised by magnificent musical performances, masterfully restrained design, and detailed tableaux, ‘35mm’ is a wonderfully accomplished production.

Image Supplied


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