17 September, 2010

Baaaa! Murder in the Dark/February/Time at the Sydney Fringe Festival

It's been too long in between theatre visits for me, so on Friday night I braved the cold and visited the New Theatre for a Sydney Fringe triple bill...

Murder in the Dark
The world's fascination with whodunnits and crime shows is indicative of one thing: A killer's mind is a fascinating and terrible thing. It's a point of view so different to the norm, so twisted out of the usual day to day grind that it makes people want to know why and how it happens.

This stage adaptation of Margaret Atwood's Murder in the Dark is a view into one such mind. Through a series of small snippets we are drawn into the life of a killer, never quite sure of what is going to happen next.

While occasionally this production feels a little disjointed, over the course of the piece it becomes apparent how it all fits in together. The cast (Richard Drysdale, Samantha Neaves and Scott Clare) do an amazing job, moving seamlessly through the harshly cut scenes. Awkward silences, the addition of well chosen music and crafty use of lighting only adds to the eerie atmosphere, helping to make sure the audience isn't feeling at ease. Overall a very solid piece.

February is the shortest piece of the triple bill, but as a child of Sydney suburbia it's one that spoke volumes to me. Two girls, both trapped in the suburb of their childhood but for very different reasons, are reliving the past and recounting the events that have brought them to where they are today.

The emotion in this piece was absolutely incredible - I was actually blinking back tears at times. Madeleine Jones (Clare) and Felicity Keep (Frankie) really manage to capture the spirit of their characters and they work so well together - there's one particular scene where they are both fighting for your attention and I can tell you, it's not easy to choose either.

This particular piece could easily have been sustained for longer, as there's so much more that could be explored and brought out. As it is, I was left wanting to know more, yet at the same time I had so much to think about from the complexity and twists in the plot. One thing I was definitely left with was how some things just don't change, even though the times apparently have.

After dealing with the heavy issues of Murder in the Dark and February, Time is a little bit of comic relief of the black variety. A successful single woman, an uninvited guest and a few surprise discoveries all add up to an entertaining show.

The story is a well worn idea that has been done many, many times (fans of Terry Pratchett and Monty Python will recognise it for what it is pretty quickly), but the cast and the script really it carry it through and give it a breath of life. Shannon Rae Kappes (Samantha) and Christopher Sellers (the Guest) have an incredible rapport on stage, bringing a sense of the normal to something that is anything but.

I found this production a little predictable (I'm blaming that on my love for all things Pratchett) but that's no bad thing, especially with this piece's place in the repertory. It also doesn't hold back with making the audience question their very existence - there's something about the way Samantha learns how to live for the moment that really gives you a jolt.

I really enjoyed the entire repertory - each of the pieces has their own mark and left you thinking about something different, yet they fit in very well together. I also found that the themes of the Sydney Fringe were very well represented. Spot the black sheep...

Murder in the Dark/February/Time is on at the New Theatre as part of the Sydney Fringe Festival. $24/$20 concession.

06 September, 2010

Melbourne, part two.

I promised more about Melbourne. Perhaps the most important thing I discovered when I was there was this: I am hopeless at taking pictures and documenting a trip. Why? As soon as the camera comes out I'm constantly stopping to take pictures and I'm not shy about trying to get a different angle of the world. This of course means it takes me about half an hour to get one hundred metres down the road.

As such, on a trip with limited time and a long list of things I want to do, photos tend to take a backseat. It's my own fault I was perpetually in a rush during my stay... but luckily I plan to go back soon. Next time the trip will be more leisurely. I hope.

On Saturday night I caught up with some friends. The original plan was to eat and drink at Borsch, Vodka and Tears in Windsor, but the place was far too busy for us to get a table. We ended up at TGI Fridays. I actually found this tremendously exciting as we don't have one in Sydney. To celebrate, I ordered something I had not had in years. A Long Island Iced Tea.

It's from Long Island

It was as delicious and potent as I remembered. It also had the side effect I seem to have erased from my memories of previous experiences... and that's the side effect of it making me think that a Pina Colada is a BRILLIANT idea, because I want the tiny plastic cocktail-toothpick pirate sword that holds the garnish together.

I'm told that there is a picture of me brandishing said pirate sword cocktail stick, but I haven't seen it yet.

After feasting on deep-fried macaroni cheese and burgers, we wandered back down Chapel St and managed to get a table at Borsch Vodka and Tears, where we proceeded to drink our way through as many different Polish vodkas as possible. I personally had Żubrówka (one of my favourites) on the rocks, Wódka Żołądkowa Gorzka straight up (delicious!) and an Apple Pie - Spiced vodka, apple juice and cinnamon.

Apple Pie

Much more civilised, don't you think?

I will definitely be revisiting BV&T on my next trip to Melbourne.

Another thing that absolutely knocked my socks off in Melbourne was the Tim Burton exhibition at ACMI. If you get the chance, go! There are no cameras allowed in there so I don't have any exciting photos... but the view into Burton's head is weird, wonderful and at times a little disturbing. There's drawings, sculpture, video and movie props and it was far bigger than I thought it was going to be. When I walked out I was reeling from the sheer volume of amazing that was in there!

A shoutout also to Mr Johan Vonshag who sent me to the best coffee in Melbourne. You rock, sir.

03 September, 2010

I am a bad blogger

But then, you all already knew that.

I think it stems from having so many ideas and so many things I want to say. I sit down to post... and stuff comes out. Just a jumble of words that really, really don't reflect the fact that I am actually capable of stringing a sentence together. There's no coherent idea or structure that comes through.

While this is probably caused by my not actually sitting myself down and writing enough (thereby causing a metric shit-tonne bucketload of ideas trying to fight their way out every time I do), I'm choosing to blame the internet. Purely because the internet must be to blame. MUST. It's certainly to blame for the fact that every time I have an idea I start wondering if I could fit it into a 140-character space, therefore it is at fault for my inability to write longer pieces. It's also to blame for several pairs of shoes, countless books, lots of clothes and various other things that I don't quite need but that's not for here.

So, where was I?

Ah yes. Melbourne! I took the time to visit the place recently after a hiatus of several years. Joss Whedon was coming to town and a fellow geeky friend stood over me telling me I should go until I bought a ticket gently reminded me that it would be a great idea. He was right! Joss was funny, interesting and inspiring. It was an opportunity I am glad I didn't pass up.

I was (recites alphabet in head while counting) ten rows back and mere metres away from one of the audience question mics, so I managed to snap this pic (as usual, all pics in this post are enabled for clicky-embiggen):

Joss, chargin' his lasers

I know he looks demonic, but I think that adds to the Buffy-esque charm.

Other than a wonderful evening with Joss, I also spent some time enjoying a plush hotel room (where's the fun if you don't splash out a little every now and then?), shopping (but of course! pictures to come at a later date), catching up with some friends and wandering through Fitzroy Gardens.

Fitzroy Gardens is probably one of my favourite places in Melbourne. I love walking through the gardens from the East, feeling like you're so far away from everything... only to emerge in the CBD. The times I've spent in the gardens it's usually been quite quiet as well, which only helps the illusion.

Stairway to...

Reflections of a path


(Notice the balloon stuck in the tree?)

More Melbourne to come...