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Review: Homophonic! At La Mama

Review By Alice Mooney

Homophonic! sets out to present and celebrate LGBTI+ composers, artists and musicians past and present. The performance included works from Laura Kaminsky, Naima Fine Fine, Stephen de Filippo and a stunning arrangement of Cole Porter. Each piece dramatically transcends the previous as the performers set out to fulfil a difficult and ambitious set list. The underlying theme throughout this set list, is its diversity in all forms. Homophonic! brings an abundance of individuality on stage, in performance and a long term community following.

Double bassist and MC for the evening, Miranda Hill, was natural, charismatic and witty in her introductions which, from the beginning of the performance, establishes a breaking of the fourth wall to encourage the audience involvement. The opening Kaminsky piece set the tone as soprano, Judith Dodsworth, delivered a moody rendition of Evening Song followed by two contemporary poetic pieces by Candy Royalle and Naima Fine Fine. The first half finished with a successful experimental Tuning Meditation, with the entire audience participating to create an uplifting and rejuvenating harmony. After interval, Laila Engle was brilliant. The flautist executed Stephen de Filippo’s ambitious Pride Prize piece, Star Picc, with conviction and flare. This piece is a techy, breathless, seriously difficult ‘sci-fi-esque’ piccolo mess, and she took us all with her on this avant-garde ghost ride. The quintet delivered a dynamic throng of competitive calamity with pieces by Sean Shepherd. The evening closed with an all-encompassing version of Cole Porters, The Laziest Gal in Town inspired by Marlene Dietrich.

The staging was relaxed, as house lights came up for each intro, performers did not disappear backstage but instead remained spectators around the stage perimeter. This thoughtful effect added to the performance’s depth; as an audience member it was enjoyable watching the performers sitting listening to their peers. While this in no way inhibited the performance, changeovers could have been smoother if only for the benefit of the MC and musicians. However, stage manager, Alice Bennett ensured the musicians filled the stage with each piece bringing with it a fresh set up. It goes without saying that the rainbow braces and accessories were the perfect adornment to an ensemble wearing the traditional black and greatly highlighted the LGBTI+ representation.

I must commend Joy Lee and Alice Bennett on the sound design, there were no faults and a great mixture or contemporary and traditional styles with the added opportunity for a ‘sound bath’. The contemporary piece Stonemaker, by composer Naima Fine Fine was another highlight of the evening. It was a stirring representation of ecological rebirth in the wake of the December/January bushfires. The piece displayed their passion for composition combined with a strong spiritual connection to country. I look forward to seeing and hearing more from them. Finally, Stephen Hodgson’s arrangement of The Laziest Gal in Town was very amusing as well as brilliantly executed by the Consort of Melbourne ensemble. It showcased the height of talent among each performer while capping the night off with a whole lot of sass.

Homophonic! is in its ninth year and it is gaining momentum. Keep an eye out for their regional shows and be sure to look out for them in 2021.

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All opinions and thoughts expressed within reviews on Theatre Travels are those of the writer and not of the company at large.


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