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Review: Short and Sweet Week 2 at the Tom Mann Theatre

Review By Lee Sarich

6 weeks to go if you dare!

Bodhirattva, written & directed by Jeremy Godwin

‘Everyone likes the cheese.’ The thing about theatre is that it can challenge us. Challenge what we think, and how we live. When it’s done well, it’s subtle, maybe we don’t even realise it till after. There no subtlety here. Just in case we don’t get the allusions between rats going compulsively for the cheese and corrupted human endeavour to get ahead at the cost of any and all around us, it’s broken down for us. Like a lecture. At least if you’re going to attack us can you whisper it, nicely. Eclectic music and the set of a giant loaded mouse trap starts well. Minimalist, but effective costume of blacks and rat mask leaves it up to Jeremy Godwin to carry the performance as Bodhirattva and he does it well. The compulsion to feast conflicting with a desire for self preservation at the expense of others twists and contorts Bodhirattva until he can bare it no longer.

Danny Boy, written by Sandra Fairthorne / directed by Tegan Ware.

Oli and Chester are brothers in a prison visits room. Oli is shabby and broken, burdened by his freedom, Chester alive and in control in his bright orange jumpsuit. Lucca Paijmans, as brother Chester, struggles with guilt knowing he should be doing time too. Oli Stening, brother Oli will have none of it. Battle ensues, between each other and themselves, Chester seeks absolution, Oli redemption. Making up for overdone references to ‘inside’ and a lack of prison sharpness, the brothers find peace as the memory of their dead brother is invoked by a soulful rendition of ‘Danny Boy’.

The Happiest Day of my Life, written by Pete Malicki / directed by James Fitzgerald.

Shereen Nand carries an energetic and entertaining performance as Becca through the ups and downs and downs and downs of several unlucky marriages. I lost count of Beccas’ husbands, represented by the suited, hooded, mannequin-groom and the methods of their demise. Motorcycle accident, slip from a cliff, unfortunate chainsaw mishap. Poor Becca graces through elation to despair in a lightly flowing floral dress and with some well caught stumbles has us waiting and wanting for more. Infused with the joy of her performance there are moments pure, lost in her inner dialogue. All’s well that ends well though, and good use of lighting finds Becca waiting for her next husband, in everlasting hell.

Bridge, written & directed by Debbie Neilson / pot plant productions

Good fun play if a little anticlimactic. Christine Firkin as Sally leads a tourist climb over the Harbour Bridge, complete in bridge climb uniforms, with perfectly annoying high energy mirth. Greg Thornton in Brad and Katie Lees as Sam, the couple from out west argue their way to the pinnacle of their relationship. Good feisty banter with each other and their climb mates. Neil Modra as Charlie the German tourist provides palpable prior climb nerves. Lloyd Darling and Olivia Tegart are Paul and Peggy, Paul is every infuriatingly boisterous American tourist and Peggy his new to be Australian bride, if she can make it to the top. My chest grew tighter with every step she could barely take as the characters clash and collide. Distant sounds of the traffic below add to the apprehension, can anything else go wrong? Of course it can.

The Harsh, written by Alex Dremann / directed by Caitlin Andrews

I was a bit confused to begin with, was I being lectured to again about the evils of eating bacon and smoking as Henry and Nick, Tim Breadmore and David Green, unconvincingly argue? The suits suggest a wedding but it’s not immediately apparent whose. Maybe the lack of life suggests a funeral. Finally someone starts gloating about ‘winning the girl’ and it starts to make sense, sort of. Some promising humour, ‘Are you sick of yourself?’ ‘No, I’m sick of your self.’ We all were. But before a proper argument could develop we get hijacked by rambling musings on morality of self depreciation versus self indulgence. Or something. I’m confused again. Can you sort this stuff out on your own time and give us someone to love or hate? Something to care about?

The groom leaves and the bride appears, Olivia Tegart is stunning as Hannah and is that a real wedding dress? The feeling in fleeting glances between the bride and the best man give me some hope, are we in for some delicious immorality? Looks linger and I’m excited, yes, yes yes!? No. He’s all mature and responsible and reflective, well balanced and sensible. Hannah enjoys a drama free wedding. We enjoy – promise?

Now we are ten, written & directed by Frank Leggett

Another monologue, but not another monologue. Miranda Michalowski is Abigail, and she is about to tell the story of how she killed her father. And why. And leaves it for us to decide, if she was wrong or right. Yes, you have my attention. Simple jeans and a jumper offer no distractions to the dialogue. The story is beautiful and harrowing. I can hear the dogs, see her father, feel her little sisters fear as Abigail walks around a full kitchen made up of no more than a bare chair on the stage. Stepping out of the light into the dimness of memory, she takes us with her where all is clear and now. Pace and tone, right and wrong, justice and mercy. Assimilation.

The fourth wall, written by Stu Boyce / directed by Alyssa Gillgren

A clever look at breaching the fourth wall. Nicola Tabuena and Lucas Boyer as Sharlene and Brock are minding their own business at home when they become aware of a breach in the wall. Working well together, they maintain much of the poise required to manage this breach successfully. The actual removal of the wall becomes a bit drawn out and tedious, if you’re going to tease me, make it exquisite and make it worth it. We get there in the end. Aiden McKenzie and Alyssa Gillgren appear as Xanthro and Raven in brilliant shinning otherworldly attire, about to share some private moments after conquering galaxies or some such thing. The wall had been rebuilt and Sharlene and Brock know they must warn them –just not too soon.

Life, written by Curtis Harrild / directed by Miroslav Nedelijkovic

Brilliant personification of the inner critic. Elias Parker is Matthew, harangued by the Voice – Miroslav Nedeljkovic, as he waits for a therapy session with Mrs Anderson – Alyssa Gillgren. Matthew is perfectly depressed, rolled drooped shoulders, bowed head, deep slow voice and slow movement with two sizes too big dark coloured clothes. Contrasting the sharply dressed Voice, agile and spritely, smiling and scowling. I would have liked the Voice a little more malevolent, he was most the way there. With strength and insight from Mrs Anderson, Matthew steadfastly battles the relentless taunts of The Voice. Just when we think all is lost, hope emerges.

Curtain Call, written & directed by Alicia Badger / Moontan Productions

Some light fun at the directors expense. Andrew Badger as Director Vic struggles to maintain composure as the production crew continually tries to thwart the artistic vision for the curtain call. Alex Fenner as Sam and Alicia Badger as Jo try as much as they can to accommodate the directors wishes, unrealistic or not. Some good laughs as Vic’s vision becomes more and more outlandish and unachievable. James Fitzgerald as Charlie/Chris/Kim/Ash runs interference as Vic flits from demands to requests to tantrums. It’s all too much for the rest of the crew, so while Vic can’t get the sound and lights desired we get the sounds of texts to let us know there’s no one left to leave.

Images Supplied

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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