Thursday, 24 May 2018

Barry Humphries: The Man Behind the Mask, May 23, 2018 ****


COMEDY
At Hamer Hall, Arts Centre Melbourne, until May 26, 2018
Reviewer: Kate Herbert

Stars: ****
 Also published in Herald Sun Arts online on Thus May 24, 2018 & later in print. (Fri 25 May?). KH

‘Don’t look at Barry. He’s drawing attention to himself,’ said Barry Humphries’ mother when he was a child.


Humphries made a wildly successful career of drawing attention to himself and, in Barry Humphries: The Man Behind the Mask, rather than playing his infamous characters, he uses personal, sometimes revealing storytelling to allow his audience into the life and mind of the man himself.

The show is not gut-wrenching, laughter-inducing comedy but, rather, a relaxed, fireside chat with Humphries directly addressing the audience as he lounges in a leather armchair, strolls across the stage, or leans on the piano to reminisce with his long-term accompanist, Andrew Ross.

Humphries cuts a dashing figure, sporting a fuchsia jacket drawn across his ample girth, and, before telling stories of celebrity and success, he reveals funny or intimate snippets about his childhood in Camberwell, his critical, superior mother and generous dad, and his school days where he bullied and was bullied.

He spins yarns about his life as a university dropout and aspiring, but badly cast actor with the Union Theatre Repertory (now Melbourne Theatre Company), touring bumpy productions of Shakespeare and Noel Coward.

His stories are peppered with acerbic comments, witty repartee, and Australianisms that, sadly, have gone out of fashion, such as ‘You don’t know me from a bar of soap’.

Of course, fans are hanging out for a visit from the vain and volatile Dame Edna Everage, so Humphries delights fans by relating Edna’s evolution from dowdy, suburban Aussie woman into Housewife Superstar.

The highlights are video excerpts of Edna’s outrageous chat show, her gob-smacked guests, Royal Command performance and the unforgettable interview that dissolved Michael Parkinson into giggles.

Humphries tells tall tales and true of intrusive fans, and revisits – on video –other favourite characters: boozy Sir Les Patterson and poignant Sandy Stone.

Older Australians will recognise people, places, expressions and attitudes as Humphries talks about his past in Melbourne, but this show is a tribute to Humphries’ life and achievements and should appeal to fans of all ages.

by Kate Herbert

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

BULLY VIRUS has a new venue for this last week of production!

AFTER THE FIRE AT LA MAMA!

BULLY VIRUS has a new venue for this last week of the production.
Carole Patullo - Geoff Wallis - Jenny Lovell - Pic by Joe Calleri


It is David Williamson Theatre at Melbourne Polytechnic, 35 St John St Windsor. 
(Don't go to High St entrance of Poly)

Shows are still the same days & times:

Wed 23 May at 6.30pm
Thus 24 May at 7.30pm
Fri 25 May at 7.30pm
Sat 26 May at 7.30pm 
Sun 27 May at 4.00pm 

It's been an emotional and difficult week for us, but more so for Liz Jones. and her La Mama staff.

The cast & crew of Bully Virus transferred the show to the Kathleen Syme Centre in Faraday St, near La Mama. 

We did two performances ion Saturday and Sunday in rooms with no theatre facilities, with borrowed chairs and scavenged costumes (the cast's costumes, their own clothes, were burnt) and props, and no lights (we used the domestic dimmers in the room), but we had music (instruments were not in the theatre!)

Both shows were strangely successful, with audience moved not only by the content and the performance, but also by the valiant efforts of the company to solider on after losing our venue and our gear.


Parking & Public Transport at David William Theatre
There is evidently parking in a staff car park after hours: High St and Thomas St.
There is also street parking freely available from 6.30pm, and 2 hr parking before that.

#6 tram goes to Poly High St from city. Train to Prahran station and exit the High St exit.


 Bookings
http://lamama.com.au/2018-autumn-program/bully-virus-may-16-27

Tickets
$30 full,; $20 concession; $10 student tics this week.

COME AND SUPPORT US! 
KATE

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Bully Virus photos -16-27 May 2018

Dress rehearsal photos for Bully Virus

Cast 
*Geoff Wallis
*Carole Patullo
*Jenny Lovell

Photos by Joe Calleri
Jenny Lovell - Carole Patullo - Geoff Wallis - Pic by Joe Calleri

Jenny Lovell - Geoff Wallis  -Carole Patullo - Pic by Joe Calleri


Geoff Wallis  -Carole Patullo - Jenny Lovell - Pic by Joe Calleri


Carole Patullo - Pic by Joe Caller

Carole Patullo - Geoff Wallis - Jenny Lovell - Pic by Joe Calleri

Jenny Lovell - Pic by Joe Calleri


Saturday, 12 May 2018

BULLY VIRUS by Kate Herbert 16 to 27 May, 2018

   
 Australia! Gold Medal Winner in Workplace Bullying!

BOOK NOW:  www.lamama.com.au or 03 9347 6142
Jenny Lovell  & Carole Patullo

Workplace bullying is the new virus and Australia is really good at it! We have one of the highest rates in the world!  Are we proud?

Bully Virus is satirical, moving Verbatim Theatre with actors telling real people’s stories about workplace bullying. Many victims escape to new jobs, most take no action against bullies, some seek compensation. However, bullying claims are frequently denied which compounds the victim’s indignity and anxiety.

Bully Virus does not try to tell everyone’s story or even the worst stories, but it shows that, despite myriad anti-bullying initiatives, workplace bullying is alive and well – and hurting workers.

Bully Virus is directed and written by Kate Herbert and performed by Jenny Lovell, Carole Patullo, Geoff Wallis and Anna Durham (music). The play is developed from interviews with real victims of bullying.

Kate Herbert is a Melbourne-based playwright, director, theatre reviewer, performer and lecturer in performing arts and writing.
Reviews of previous productions:
‘Love Is My Sin is a beautiful and complex layering of Shakespeare’s sonnets with a woman’s voice, a man’s voice and a cello’s voice...’ Joanna Bowen, Aussie Theatre.
‘...an engrossing war of words in iambic pentameter.’ Jim Schembri, Herald Sun (Love Is My Sin).

VENUE: La Mama Theatre, 205 Faraday St. Carlton
DATES/ TIMES:  16 to 27 May, Wed 6.30pm, Thurs-Sat 7.30pm, Sun 4pm
DURATION: Approx 75mins, no interval
TICKETS: $30 full, $20 concession
BOOKINGS; 03 9347 6142 or www.lamama.com.au
MEDIA ENQUIRIES:
Sophia Constantine, Marketing and Communication La Mama
9347 6948 sophia@lamama.com.au
 

Thursday, 3 May 2018

Hello Beautiful!, May 2, 2018 ***1/2


THEATRE
By Hannie Rayson, produced by Performing Lines
At Theatre Works, St Kilda, until May 6, 2018 
Reviewer: Kate Herbert
Stars: ***1/2

 Review also published n Herald Sun Arts online on Thurs May 3, 2018 and later in print (Fri 4 May?). KH


'Welcome to my life', says Hannie Rayson as she bursts enthusiastically onto the stage at the beginning of her one-woman storytelling show, Hello Beautiful!, based on her 2015 memoir of the same name.


Whether she is addressing the audience directly or reading stories selected from her book,  Rayson exudes warmth and a quiet humility tinged with gentle confidence that comes from a successful writing career.

Directed by Matthew Lutton, she reads her stories standing at a small lectern or seated at a desk littered with papers, while story titles and family photos are projected on a screen behind her.

Rayson wears her heart on her sleeve as she reveals her emotional and psychological quirks, and embarrassing or enlightening experiences during her evolution from psychology student at Melbourne Uni, to drama student then, eventually, into successful playwright.

Leaky is a series of witty observations about her childhood and the whispered secrets about ladies' internal plumbing and other secret women's business, while The Snake and the Shared House captures with acerbic wit, the chaos, foibles and grubbiness of life and love as a student in the 1970s in a shared house in Fitzroy.

Other stories address Rayson’s social and political views about feminism, work and the politics of the nation, while the story titled Arthur Boyd is a poignant tale not only of meeting the great artist himself, but also of a tragic turning point in her own life.

Drama School reveals with incisive observation, the quirks of studying theatre at the Victorian College of the Arts in the 1970s and the launch of Rayson’s career as a playwright when she and her colleagues formed the company, Theatreworks.

Hollywood is a hilarious insight into Rayson's experience writing a Broadway musical, and the title story, Hello Beautiful!, reveals a secret graffiti artist in Rayson's beloved Fitzroy.

This hour-long show will appeal to fans of Rayson’s writing and those who value simple, engaging storytelling about ordinary and extraordinary moments and familiar people and places.

By Kate Herbert

Monday, 30 April 2018

Antony & Cleopatra, April 27, 2018 ***


THEATRE 
Written by William Shakespeare, Bell Shakespeare Company
At Fairfax Studio, Arts Centre Melbourne, until May 13, 2018 
Reviewer: Kate Herbert 
Stars:***
 Review also published in Herald Sun Arts online on Mon April 30, 2018 & later in print. KH
Catherine McClements & Johnny Carr
Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra are like a middle-aged Romeo and Juliet, but with an overwhelming lust for power that accompanies their long-standing love.

The play occurs between 40BC and 30BC when the powerful triumvirate of Antony (Johnny Carr), Octavius (Gareth Reeves) and Pompey (Lucy Goleby) form an alliance to rule the Roman Empire, but this unity eventually dissolves into war.

Performed on a pastel design (Anna Cordingley) that merges corporate lounge with plush hotel room, Peter Evans’ production omits any visible signs of military action or violent warfare, focusing instead on the backroom machinations and boozy revelry of Antony, Cleopatra, Pompey, Octavius and their retinues.

This modern perspective provides insight into the corporatised decision-making of war, but it leaves the production lacking a sense of danger, with the only bloodiness occurring at the death of Antony.

Dressed in a modern pants suit, Catherine McClements is engagingly mischievous and manipulative as the vain, powerful Queen Cleopatra, capturing her insecurity in love and her capricious rage when crossed.

Evans eliminates any sense of Cleopatra’s exoticism and beauty, and he also diminishes Cleopatra’s role as the sole powerful woman in this story by transforming the male Pompey into a woman far more powerful and glamorous than Cleopatra.

Johnny Carr effectively depicts Antony's dissolute behaviour and his later disillusionment, but his portrayal emphasises Antony's weakness, with no sense that he was ever powerful in the past. Carr seems miscast as Antony, looking more like a hipster barista rather than a powerful, ageing Roman General.

Ray Chong Nee is commanding as Enobarbus and the richness of his voice and his magnetic presence may well have suited the role of Antony.

There is little romantic chemistry between McClements and Carr, so the passion that is essential between this ardent couple is sadly missing.

Strangely, the most passionate scene in the production is the dying farewell between Cleopatra and her serving women, Charmian (Zindzi Okenyo) and Alexas (Janine Watson), capturing as it does their love and grief.

This contemporary interpretation of Antony and Cleopatra successfully depicts the backroom power plays but its modern interpretation lacks passion and coherence.

By Kate Herbert

Cast:
Catherine McClements, Johnny Carr, Ray Chong Nee, Joseph Del Re, Lucy Goleby., Ursula Mills,  Zindzi Okenyo, Gareth Reeves, Steve Rodgers, Jo Turner,Janine Watson 
  
Designer Anna Cordingley
Lighting Designer Ben Cisterne
Composer & Sound Designer Max Lyandvert
Movement & Fight Director Nigel Poulton




Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Right Now, April 22, 2018 ***


THEATRE 
Written by Catherine-Anne Toupin, translated by Chris Campbell, by Red Stitch Actors’ Theatre
At Red Stitch, until May 20, 2018 
Reviewer: Kate Herbert (on Sunday April 22, 2018) 
Stars:***

 Review also published in Herald Sun online on Mon April 23, 2018 and in print later. KH
Christina O’Neill, Joe Petruzzi

Reality can be slippery and elusive, and so it is in the world of Right Now, a play by Canadian writer, Catherine-Anne Toupin.


From the beginning of the play, it seems that all is not right between Alice (Christina O’Neill) and her husband, Ben (Dushan Phillips), but their apparently shaky relationship is tested to its limits when their peculiar neighbours start to intrude on their lives.

The three neighbours’ family name is ‘Gauche’, and their interfering, critical and rude behaviour soon proves them to be gauche not only by name but also by nature.

The production, directed by Katy Maudlin, has a creeping, portentous, horror movie feel that is sometimes too heavily underscored by its ominous soundscape.

The strange abstraction and unreality of this story sometimes seems overblown and the performances a little too clownish, but there is a pay off at the end when all becomes clear.

Juliette, played with relentless, intrusive cheerfulness by Olga Makeeva, is the first interloper to get her foot inside Alice and Ben’s apartment, then she hauls in her idiotic son, Francois, played by Mark Wilson as a gawky, grinning man-child.

Joe Petruzzi effectively plays Gilles, the last but most forbidding member of the Gauche family, as an older man who exerts a quietly menacing, seductive power over O’Neill’s timid, anxious Alice.

Ben and Alice seem to be rats in a laboratory experiment, being studied, analysed and tested by this weird and obnoxious family that seems to accept its own dysfunction and thrive on the discomfort of others.

Toupin’s short, episodic scenes are like snapshots of Alice and Ben’s life as it spirals out of their control, and it is difficult not to shout, ‘Get rid of them!’ to the couple to make them evict these neighbours who have inveigled their way into Ben and Alice’s lives.

Right Now is an unsettling play that succeeds in making its audience uncomfortable and blurring the lines between reality and – well, you’ll have to go and see it.

By Kate Herbert


Set & Costume Design Emily Barrie
Lighting Design Richard Vabre

Sound Design Daniel Nixon

Assistant Director Harvey Zielinski





Saturday, 14 April 2018

Fanny Bouffante in French Women Do Everything Better, April 12, 2018 ***


MELBOURNE INTERNATIONAL COMEDY FESTIVAL
Coopers Inn, 282 Exhibition St, Melbourne, until April 22, 2018
Stars: *** 
Australian act
Reviewer: Kate Herbert

Review also published in Herald Sun online on Fri April 13, 2018. KH
Fanny Bouffante believes totally, completely and modestly in the superiority of the French woman's innate and unquestionable ability to do everything better than, well, everyone else, particularly Australians.

Fanny, the alter ego of Kate Hanley Corley, is the mistress of style when she arrives prancing jauntily through the audience, wearing a chic mini dress under an elegant, little Chanel jacket.

On stage, she poses and pouts, wiggles saucily and dances provocatively, all the while instructing the Aussies in Fashion, Food and Sex. Fanny identifies as a style icon, and her style Bible is her own book, French Women Do Everything Better, with each chapter providing more bizarre advice to the hapless Aussie.

It is refreshing to see some character-based comedy instead of stand-up, and there are some very funny moments, and some sassy and outrageous advice in Fanny’s routine.

Fanny sings several goofy, original songs (composer Emma Hart) from her album, My Fanny Sings, each with the flavour of La Belle France, including accordions, lilting tunes and silly lyrics about – you guessed it – food, fashion and sex.

She accompanies her smart and sassy lecture with large screen projections of – you guessed it again – food, fashion and sex!

Evidently, Australian women fail on all counts of style and beauty, while our men need flirting lessons, which Fanny is only too willing to provide.

A few jokes get lost when the tag lines rush by too quickly, while others seem like filler that could be trimmed, but Fanny is at her liveliest and funniest when responding to the audience, and, when she loosens up and lets her material relax, the character comes to life.


By Kate Herbert

Monday, 9 April 2018

Judith Lucy & Denise Scott in Disappointments, April 8, 2018 ****1/2


MELBOURNE INTERNATIONAL COMEDY FESTIVAL

Comedy Theatre, 240 Exhibition St Melbourne until April 22, 2018 
(April 7, 8, 14, 20, 21, 22 only)
Star Review: ****1/2 
Reviewer: Kate Herbert
 Review also published in Herald Sun online April 9, 2018. KH

Never fear, die-hard but ageing and slightly weary fans of this wickedly funny comedy duo, you’ll be home in time for your favourite telly programs after these late arvo, weekend-only shows by Judith Lucy and Denise Scott.

Disappointments is laugh-out-loud funny, even for younger members of the mostly over-fortyish crowd who laugh their noggins off at every age-related ailment or life-related complaint that Lucy and Scott have experienced over their decades-long comedy careers.

They start as 'lie-down' comedians, propped up in beds, but graduate from flannelette nighties to sparkly, green and black dinner jackets when they transition to 'stand-up'. Later, they appear in something far more revealing, but no spoilers here.

Both are inclined to over-share, and there are gasps and roars of laughter as they trade routines about menopause and dry bits, bowel screening and IBS, and other bodily functions of the over 50s and 60s. It's identification comedy for the middle-ageing.

Scott's stories of her debilitating arthritis get howls of laughter from fellow sufferers in the crowd, and tales of successes and failures in their respective careers and relationships ring bells (or alarms, in the case of Lucy) for many.

Scott and Lucy trade gags and insults, playing off each other with ease, and shifting the focus from one to the other when they are not engaged in riotous dialogues.

They are wry and laconic, and their material is audacious and rude, but, strangely, never offensive, perhaps because of its outright, heart-on-sleeve honesty.

These two masterly comics spill their guts with no holds barred in this mischievous and outrageous testimony to being bloody resilient as we age. Testify sisters!

Saturday, 7 April 2018

Matt Okine in The Hat Game, April 5, 2018 ***


MELBOURNE INTERNATIONAL COMEDY FESTIVAL
Melbourne Town Hall, Supper Room, until April 22, 2018 
Star Review:*** 
Australian act 
Reviewer: Kate Herbert
Review also published in Herald Sun online on Friday April 6, 2018. KH

Matt Okine looks comfortably casual in his jeans, sneakers, black t-shirt and cap, and his attitude and physicality is just as casual and loose throughout his show, The Hat Game.


He strolls across the stage, riffing on iPhones, bus tickets, peanuts, and how you can use credit cards to buy just about anything, anywhere. He rants about social media, idiots that populate that online world, Facebook ads, and Big Data.

Okine identifies himself as 'brown' then sticks the boot into racism in general, and, specifically, Australian political racism exhibited by One Nation.

His running story about seeking dual citizenship with Ghana (his father’s Ghanaian) has a comic pay-off by the end. Another running story dates from 10 years ago when he was barely scraping a living as a novice comedian, and his visits to the casino at that time provide material about winning and losing – and losing again.

His routine includes some tightly structured gags with clever tag lines and pay-offs, but he also wanders into some long, slow and relatively unformed lead-ups to jokes that don't always generate laughs, and its all riddled with expletives.

One gag makes the entire audience simultaneously laugh and groan with disapproval (or disgust?), because it is essentially a bit offensive. He admits he loves this gag, then spends the next 5 minutes analysing its comedic value.

Okine often delivers his material to the ceiling, which disengages him from his audience, and he wastes his final minutes unnecessarily listing his performance resumé, from his past as a struggling stand-up to his recent TV success.

While Okine’s blokey casualness obviously appeals to his audience and he has comedic skill, his material and delivery can be uneven.