24 March 2012

March review previews

Beyond the Neck: A Quartet on Loss and Violence
Red Stitch Actors Theatre
15 March 2012
Red Stitch
to 14 April

April 28 1996 may seem a long time ago, but for some it will always be yesterday. We may remember reading their stories and swore we'd remember the names of the 35 people who died so cruelly at Port Arthur, but asked now, only one name comes to mind. Tom Holloway's exquisite and harrowing Beyond the Neck: A Quartet on Loss and Violence is a personal reflection on his visiting Port Arthur and a delicate exploration of the lonely suffering following violent trauma.

Four fictional people visit Port Arthur today. There's a teenager who lost her father in the massacre (Philippa Spicer), a tour guide who was there (Roger Oakley), a young mother on a bus trip (Emmaline Carroll) and a boy on a family drive (Marcus McKenzie). This brave and exciting writing and captures the communal pain of Port Arthur by moving away from the unfathomable enormity of the horror and telling four personal stories that started with violent trauma. 

They narrate their stories in a four-part choral-like structure that deceptively offers safe distance, but really allows the hidden emotions to drive the work and seep into our hearts. Like a soprano, alto, tenor, bass score, each have solos and their moments of harmony soar, but it's the disruption of their dissonant notes and changing rhythms that create the tension that demands the pain and relief of resolution. 

Arts House & The Suitcase Royale
14 March 2012
North Melbourne Town Hall
to 18 March

Aussie Aussie Aussie loves big things. From Kingston's Big Lobster to Goulburn's Big Merino, we flock to tacky ugly giant critters, but it's taken The Suitcase Royale to show us how much we need a giant zombie wombat to visit in the middle of nowhere.

Indie style meets 70s ozploitation at the Blue Lagoon caravan park. Brothers Mayor and Daryl Grogan are still running the holiday spot and programming its Danish film festival, but they're the only ones left alive after attacks by zombie wombats. When a Stranger arrives with his crumpet gun, it's time to take control and face their demons – and the zombie wombats.

Zombatland is the newest experience from the Joseph O'Farrell, Miles O'Neil, Glen Walton and newest Royale Tom Salisbury, on lights. It's not possible to passively watch a Royale show. They play live music, acknowledge each other and invite the audience share their wonderful game of pretend that is so real that you'll never again look at a cuddly wombat without a slight shudder of fear.

Its out of town try out was in Edinburgh and there are only a handful of performances in their hometown. This is cruel and unfair. The chaotic joy as they nipple-cripple the zeitgeist deserves to be shared with as many people as possible.

St Martins Youth Arts Centre presents Canberra Youth Theatre
10 March 2012
St Martins
to 10 March

Developed by emerging artists at Canberra Youth Theatre in 2011, Cockroach by Sam Holcroft is a confronting and uncensored look into the hearts and minds of young people reaching towards adulthood.


It's disappointing that in a three-night season, the second night had such a small audience. Youth theatre may not have the polish of experience, but it's one of the few ways to really see how young people see the world (and us).

How To Train Your  Dragon: The Arena Spectacular
Global Creatures and Dreamworks
8 March 2012
Hisense Arena

It's impossible to not love a life-sized, fire-breathing, doe-eyed dragon. Surely I could have a small one as a pet?

How To Train Your  Dragon: The Arena Spectacular is based on the Dreamworks 2010 film. Created in Melbourne by the same team who made Walking With Dinosaurs: The Arena Spectacular, its home town is first to see the new spectacle that will spend the next years travelling the world.


La Mama
7 March 2012
La Mama Theatre
to 18 March

Writer, actor and creator Caroline Lee remains an unmissable force in independent theatre.  Stripped is a solo performance about the nakedness and exposure of death that strips away the pretence of performance to its core of raw emotion.

Working with her long-time collaborator and director Laurence Strangio and lighting designer Paul Jackson, this is Lee's stage adaption of the novel she started when studying Professional Writing at RMIT, and which was serialised in Meanjin and supported by the Marion Eldridge Award and City of Melbourne's arts grants. 

The Most Excellent and Lamentable Tragedy of  Romeo and Juliet
The Zoey Louise Moonbeam Dawson Shakespeare Company
2 March 2012
to 11 March

Is there anything as all-consuming as first teenage love? We may smile with gooey nostalgia, but remember what that first heart break felt like and how no one understood because no one could love as strongly as you did? Romeo and Juliet is about that kind of teenage love and Zoey Dawson's all-female version lets us see the story from the heart of a teenage girl.

Dawson creates theatre from an authentic and positive female perspective, and her work continues to remind me of what love was, is and always will be like.

As a teenager, I adored Juliet's suicide because it proved the power of great love. As an adult (possibly older than her parents), it's almost impossible to see any romance in such a devastating choice. By telling it from Juliet's perspective, Dawson and her remarkable and delightfully surprising cast (Brigid Gallacher, Carolyn Butler , Devon Lang Wilton, Laura Maitland, Naomi Rukavina and Nikki Shiels) ensure that it can't be seen as a social tragedy out of the young lovers' control.


And the Birds Fell from the Sky
Arts House and Il Pixel Rosso
29 February 2012
North Melbourne Town Hall
to 18 March 2012

Only two people at a time and experience Il Pixel Rosso's And the Birds Fell from the Sky. It's described as an immersive video-goggle performance but it feels like dreaming.

In the newly opened (and wonderful) warehouse space at the back of the North Melbourne Town Hall, you're taken to a small room and given new ears and eyes. With ear buds, black-out goggles with their own screen and a voice telling you what to do, there's no choice but complete trust as you become the lead character in a 20-minute trip with three clowns, who may or may not be on your side.



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