Saturday, September 29, 2012

Steve: two sugars thanks I've had a bad day

Steve: two sugars thanks I've had a bad day has now closed. It played at the Fusebox at the Factory in Marrickville from 27-9 September 2012. By Justin Locke and Jordan Shanks, directed by Antonia Harding.

Steve: two sugars thanks I’ve had a bad day feels like one long in-joke. That’s not to say it’s not funny – it is, in some places more than others – but the humour is a bit inaccessible at times. When I interviewed Justin Locke and Jordan Shanks about the show, they said that the show was “their style of humour”. They’re both funny guys, but if you don’t share their sense of humour, then Steve becomes a bit bemusing.

Steve is (unsurprisingly) the story of Steve, a sixteen year old boy who has had a very bad day. Over the course of the show, we see his mum yell at him, witness his nightmare about not being granted citizenship to the moon, watch him get arrested for public nudity for not wearing a shirt in his own house, and then eventually see him go to gaol, after his court-appointed lawyer (Hotdogs from Big Brother and Up Late with Hotdogs) fails to deliver the goods. It’s as random as it sounds. To call it a ‘play’ is probably a stretch: it’s sketch comedy, really. Unfortunately, because each sketch was based on the same premise (funny man Jordan Shanks harassing straight man Justin Locke, who played Steve), it wore a bit thin after a while. By the time the show got to the scene with Hotdogs, I felt like it lost its pizzazz.

Both performers certainly demonstrate talent and promise, and judging by the audience reaction, they certainly have a loyal coterie of fans who adore their brand of comedy. There are some moments in the show that are genuinely side-splittingly hilarious: I had tears in my eyes during their PSA advertising the wonders of Dubbo. As I said above, however, I found their humour a little inaccessible and occasionally self-indulgent. The show made me feel a bit old, even though I’m a fellow member of Gen Y: I’m pretty sure there were some pop culture references in there that sailed straight over my head. (This is not necessarily a bad thing – a show certainly shouldn’t have to cater to every single member of their audience. But this is definitely a show for Gen Y, and the younger end of it at that.) I think Steve’s situation would have been funnier if it had been a tad more believable: the wacky scenarios basically functioned as vehicles for one-liners, and ideally, comedy should happen the other way around – one-liners rising naturally out of the comedy of circumstance.

I would certainly be interested in seeing what Shanks and Locke have to offer next. They clearly relish performing and both are very natural on stage with great comic timing (though Shanks in particular needs to work on not laughing at his own jokes). It might be time, however, to put Steve to bed. There are some moments in this show that are very funny, but on the whole, it felt to me like it was trying too hard. I’d like to see what Shanks and Locke could do with a blank slate: Steve was a decent starting point, but I think they can definitely improve and grow a lot.

Thursday, September 27, 2012


Over at the Black Sheep blog, I reviewed Last at the Old 505. Read my thoughts about this lovely show here.

You can also read my interview with the show's creator Helen O'Leary - that one's here.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Ninjas and vampires and devils, oh my!

So you know how I've been interviewing people left and right and reviewing nearly every night of the week (and sometimes several times on the same night) for the Sydney Fringe? Turns out that that didn't make me nearly busy enough, because there is a show that I wrote in the Fringe festival as well. It's on at the Sidetrack Theatre on the 27th and 28th of September at 9:30, and it has ninjas, vampires, angels, devils, romance, flips, glitter, a reality TV personality, and lots of fun times in it. Come and check it out!

You can buy tickets here.

You can also check out my theatre company Apocalypse Cow's blog here.

100 Years of Lizards

...and another review from the Sydney Fringe festival! I absolutely adored 100 Years of Lizards at the New Theatre. Read more of what I thought here at Australian Stage.

Rope Burn

Here's another review from the Sydney Fringe! This one's for Rope Burn at the King Street theatre. Check it out here.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Saturday, September 15, 2012

This is My Box

Another review from the Sydney Fringe! Over at the Black Sheep blog, I reviewed This is My Box. Check it out here.

Kelfi and Fikel

Kelfi and Fikel  played at the Sound Lounge in the Seymour Centre from September 14-5 2012 as part of the Sydney Fringe Festival.

Kelfi and Fikel are one of the most energetic and talentic comedy duos I have ever seen. They're fun, and they've known each other since they were ten, and they can seriously SERIOUSLY sing. I thoroughly enjoyed my night out at their show and if you can, I suggest you go and see them.

This is where I would normally launch into a summary of the plot, and Kelfi and Fikel aren't heavy on that. There are some skits, sure, but this is definitely one of those cabaret shows where theme is more important than plot. The show is about the performers, Kellie Higgins and Fiona Della Ca and their longstanding friendship (except perhaps the bit set in the Albury-Wodonga RSL - I doubt that was really something that's happened in their lives!). It covers life, love, loss, mutual ex-boyfriends, breakfast, faux pas, and everything in between. It's offbeat, irreverent, and hilarious. They act it, they sing it, they live it.

There is a small part of me that wants the band to break up. If nothing else, this show demonstrates that both Higgins and Della Ca are able to carry their own shows, and I'd love to see what they could do on their own. This said, they are a stellar team, and I think they'll be working together for many, many years to come. Both are amazing vocalists, and while I'd like to see Higgins get out from behind the piano a little more, she accompanies the show wonderfully. The songs are really their strength, and this is where their comedy really shines. They have an unerring sense of what is funny when it comes to musical comedy: I laughed so much it hurt sometimes! The parts of the show that are more sketch comedy are a little weaker. Perhaps the show's biggest flaw is that it doesn't seem to have a theme to tie it together beyond "we are best friends and we've known each other since we were ten". Higgins and Della Ca are definitely strong enough performers that their show works just fine the way it is, but when it comes to another season, I'd like to see it focused a little bit more in terms of structure. (I'd also like to see them perform in a slightly smaller venue than the Seymour Centre sound lounge - I think a more intimate setting would really suit their show.)

Kellie Higgins and Fiona Della Ca are both incredible performers. What's more, they work brilliantly as a team, without one every upstaging the other (something that is very, very common, in this kind of theatre). If you ever get the chance, I would definitely recommend going to see them. They're great actors and amazing musicians with a great sense for comedy, and they work brilliantly together. I certainly enjoyed seeing their show, and while I think they could hone their act a a bit more, it's definitely worth seeing. And also, like me, they hate audience participation, which is a definite plus! This show is guaranteed to make you laugh and leave you smiling. Highly recommended.

Friday, September 14, 2012

A Trivial Pursuit

More reviewage from the Sydney Fringe: I reviewed A Trivial Pursuit over at Australian Stage. Not exactly my favourite show so far. Review is here.

Still Seeking Other

More reviews from the Sydney Fringe festival! Over at Australian Stage, I reviewed Feet First Ventures' Still Seeking Other. Read it here. It's a super fun show. (It contains the line, "I'm still not reading Twilight - that shit's for wankers!", so no wonder I liked it!)

You can also read my interview with playwright Monica Zanetti here.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Sydney Fringe interview - Helen O'Leary

More interviews! Over at the Black Sheep blog, I had a chat to Helen O'Leary about her upcoming Sydney Fringe show Last at the Old 505 theatre. Have a read here.

The Day The Galaxy Inevitably Exploded and Died

The Day The Galaxy Inevitably Exploded and Died plays at the King St Theatre from 11-6 September 2012 as part of the Sydney Fringe Festival. By Ildiko Susany, directed by Sarah Vickery.

The Day The Galaxy Inevitably Exploded and Died is a dense play. It’s full of philosophy and physics and language and religion, and if you stop paying attention for just a moment, you’ll miss something. There are layers upon layers – perhaps too many layers, because the play moves beyond ‘challenging’ into ‘downright difficult’. What it is, however, is poetic, mimetic, beautiful – and ultimately, I think, very rewarding.
The show, written by emerging playwright Ildiko Susany (whom I interviewed about this show here), is the story of Broon (Cameron Croker) and Enlon (Susany), a brother and sister who are the last beings left alive in the universe. To them has fallen the task of recording the fall of civilisation, humanity, and the universe, even though they have no way of knowing that anyone will ever know what they have known. Is the death of the universe the beginning of a new one, one that will rise like the phoenix from the ashes? Will they, whose atoms once came from the stars, return to the stars and find each other again? Or is there just nothingness at the end of it all?
It would be easy to characterise Broon as the pessimist and Enlon as the optimist, but the dynamic is much more complicated than that. Broon is a mathematician who has calculated the end of the world, but the repercussions of his discovery are slowly driving him mad. As the universe comes to a end, so too does his hope, so too does his sanity: he is losing his own universe, his mind. Enlon is a visionary, a girl who has been tortured (in a genuinely disturbing scene that made more audience members than just me wince) but who somehow has retained something like faith. Her constant desire for her brother to tell her stories is not just a way of keeping her brother’s faith alive but a recognition that even though the universe is shrinking, dwindling around her, the rug about to be pulled out from beneath her, her imagination is boundless. From Enlon’s hope, a new world might be born. Both Croker and Susany deliver genuinely touching performances, real performances (in spite of some truly difficult dialogue).
Ildiko Susany has a very lyrical voice as a playwright, and in some places, The Day The Galaxy Inevitably Exploded and Died feels more like poetry than a play. As mentioned above, the dialogue is dense and difficult, and while I don’t know if this is exactly a realist play, it was a bit hard to suspend disbelief enough to believe that two young people would actually really speak like Broon and Enlon do. (From a purely linguistic standpoint, I doubt that language would develop the way Susany has foreseen here – it’s a sort of amalgamation of twelfth century romance, Victorian novels, lyric poetry, and sci-fi.) Sometimes it sounds like the characters have either swallowed a thesaurus or Wikipedia. This is not to say that Susany doesn’t pull it off, but the language of the play is strange and challenging, to say the least. You really have to pay attention sometimes to understand what the characters are saying.
The show is full of high philosophy and physics and religious concepts, which I can see might be quite alienating for an audience. Let’s just say that my adventures in higher learning certainly helped me out here! This is not to say that high concepts can’t be explored in theatre, because they absolutely can, but I think they were maybe packed in a little too densely here. They were definitely interesting, but if nothing else, I wasn’t quite sure where Broon and Enlon got all that learning from (especially considering the fact they make reference to their parents working in the fields). But if you’re willing to be challenged, then The Day The Galaxy Inevitably Exploded and Died is definitely the show for you. It is superbly acted by Croker and Susany, beautifully directed by Sarah Vickery, and the script is sublimely poetic. If you go, you MUST be prepared to pay attention, to not blink, but I highly recommend you do go.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Sydney Fringe Interview - Justin Locke and Jordan Shanks

Over at the Black Sheep blog, I had a chat to Justin Locke and Jordan Shanks about their upcoming Sydney Fringe show Steve 2 sugars thanks I've had a bad day. Check out the interview here.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Sydney Fringe Interview - Amelia Ryan

More interviews! I talked to Amelia Ryan about her one woman cabaret show Storm in a D Cup (which I've previously reviewed - it's good!) over at the Black Sheep blog. Have a look here.

Sydney Fringe Interview - Ildiko Susany

Interview time! I talked to playwright and actress Ildiko Susany about her Sydney Fringe show The Day The Galaxy Inevitably Exploded and Died. Check it out over here at the Black Sheep blog.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Boxed In

Another review from the Sydney Fringe festival for your edification! This time, it's Dead Cat Theatre's Boxed In at the King St Theatre, which I reviewed over at Australian Stage. Read it here.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

The Sea Project

I reviewed Arthur & Griffin Theatre Company's The Sea Project over at Australian Stage Online - you can read all my thoughts on it here.


I reviewed Ride by Jane Bodie at the Old 505 Theatre as part of the Sydney Fringe festival. You can check out my review here over at Australian Stage Online.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Sydney Fringe Interview - Monica Zanetti

Over at the Black Sheep blog, I interviewed writer Monica Zanetti about Still Seeking Other, her upcoming show at the Sydney Fringe festival. Check it out here.