24 January 2011

Review: Carnegie 18 part 2

Carnegie 18
Curtains and Contact
Full Tilt
22 January 2011
to 25 January

Carnegie 18 is four music theatre projects given the opportunity to develop by the Arts Centre's wonderful Full Tilt program. I missed the two program one shows, and if they were anywhere near as creative, original and bloody awesome as program two, I missed out.

Curtains (produced by Maakan Productions) offers the fantasy-come-true cast of Meow Meow, Mikelangelo, Yana Alana and Tina del Twist. Don't expect Melissa, Mikel, Sarah* and Wes; the twisted concept of David Chisholm's creation is delusional characters playing delusional characters.

Telling the somewhat irrelevant story of the 30th anniversary revival concert of the musical Revival with an understudy,  a faded diva and a murder, the characters get to play characters and sing well out of their usual scope. Highlights include Tina singing the torch song intended for Meow (who had to phone and video in her performance; disappointing, but there are few others who are so good that even a video is worth going to see), Yana singing about being famous (and her ongoing reactions to Tina),  Mikelangelo playing Billy Shakepeare singing about The Empty Space and Mikelangelo and Tina's duet as executioners.

The joy of this show lies in knowing the characters who are playing the Curtains characters and at times it's difficult to see the line between the written and the somewhat improvised work. In the post-show Q and A Chisholm said that he hopes to see many different casts, like a UK version with characters from Tracey Ullman and Julia Davies.

Curtains is the third in a cycle of five long form works that Chisholm aims to be completed and presented by the end of 2013 and presented in its entirety.

Contact is Angus Grant's chamber opera about netball, composed for eight sopranos and guy called Bevan.

I'm sure people raised their eyebrows at the idea of a ballroom dancing show that NIDA students developed in the 80s. Strictly Ballroom went to bigger stages and film, becoming an Australian cultural signpost. And who didn't love it!

Contact should be heading on the same zeitgeist-defining path.

The Rangers netball team are from "a suburb not far away" and their finals chances are looking dim as their Goal Shooter has left the team, maybe because "nice boys have sperm too". All isn't lost because  alternative Daisy has moved out from the inner city and her shooting is as cool as her look, but there's no trophy yet as coach Bev is having issues with her past and with her Wing Defence daughter Wendy and Wendy's twin Bevan is dating Goal Attack Gayle.

With a libretto (by Grant and Kate Schmitt) that lets suburban vernacular like "quick sticks" and "I was in with a shot" sound like poetry, a score that will  make school kids pin pictures of sopranos on their lockers, and choreography (by Julia Sutherland) that captures the boredom of drills and the precision of a match without ever looking like a drill or a match, this is a show that bends all the rules to make the a definitive Aussie chamber opera.

And the young cast are no less than perfect.

Contact captures our unique obsession with netball (it's not just women) with plenty of implied jokes for players who understand that it sucks to be WD and that GAs and GSs bitch like first and second sopranos, but the humour is never limited for those in the know.  It's a tale of passion, sport, family, rejection, secrets, love and life in the suburbs that grabbed the hearts and imaginations of everyone in the audience.

Contact has only played a quarter and it will be an unforgivable obstruction if we don't see the full match.

Talk was that program 2 was sold out, but there are limited seats available for the last show on 25 January.

Applications for the 2012 Carnegie 18 series close on 27 May.

* I've seen Sarah's stuff, but never in a review capacity. Sista She were brilliant and Yana Alana and her Parana's should not be missed.

This review appears on AussieThearte.com

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