The Shadow King – Theatre Review

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Malthouse Theatre, 11-27 October

From an idea conceived in Katherine between director Michael Kantor and director/actor Tom E Lewis, The Shadow King is a retelling of Shakespeare’s King Lear set in rural Australia. Lewis plays Lear, the king of his family, who divides his land between the two daughters who claim to love him most and casts out the daughter who cannot express her love solely for material gain. Meanwhile, the bastard son from another family in the area returns with revenge on his mind. Kantor and Lewis have taken the story and given it new life and new language, with the actors skipping between English and various traditional languages. Like watching a more traditional performance of Shakespeare, I couldn’t understand every word or even every phrase, but it didn’t matter.  The story was clear.

The Shadow King was marvelous. Tragic, and awful but beautiful and poetic. The staging was ambitious, with a huge, moving structure that took on different meaning and places depending on the way it was twisted and turned. A large screen hung from the ceiling onto which were displayed film footage representing the different locations. The entire floor of the very large space was covered in red sand, and a band (Lear’s merry band)sat to one side and played throughout the performance.

Circus Oz

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Circus Oz is the perfect show for the young and those with low attention spans. There are heaps of different acts, they move through the acts quickly. There are some great running jokes and the clowning is adorable. After 35 years of success, this is exactly what audiences expect. A solid and entertaining show.

Not only does Circus Oz put on excellent shows yearly in Melbourne and take them across the country (and indeed, the world). They also have various programs set up working with indigenous communities and rural communities, including running a workshop program for those affected by the Black Saturday fires. Check out their website for more info on how you can contribute to their awesome work. http://www.circusoz.com/

Circus Oz is playing in Melbourne until July 14. For tickets, visit:

http://www.circusoz.com/tickets-and-shows/book-tickets.html

No Child – Theatre Review

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Nilaja Sun has created a beautiful, funny, tragic, inspiring and devastating one-woman performance with No Child. The story is of a young and hopeful drama teacher-artiste who goes to a rough school in Brooklyn to put on a performance with a tough group of students. She plays multiple characters, from the elderly janitor to each of the students in the class. It is based on her own experiences and everything in the performance rings so true.

At first, I felt that the characters were such caricatures that the performance would be funny, but couldn’t possibly carry much weight. I was so wrong. Once the audience knew the characters, Nilaja jumped from one to another so quickly that it felt there had to be more than one person on the stage.

Anyone who knows me knows that I love to cry at film and theatre. I defy anyone to come away from this performance with dry eyes. Even thinking about it now is making me emotional. No Child is an amazing piece of theatre that shows exactly what one person can do on stage. Go and see it.

No Child is playing at Theatreworks in St Kilda until May 26. Really, go and see it.

Ovo – Cirque du Soleil – Theatre Review

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The circus has come such a long way since the days of Water for Elephants. Okay, so that was a fictional book (and film) set in the great depression, but it’s the most recent thinking I have had about circuses. I don’t even know that there are still many circuses going around that use animals – at least, not in Australia. I’m bound to be wrong there, but I’m one of those tree-hugging hippies that would rather see animals in good quality zoos with appropriately sized and created enclosures than having them doing tricks for my amusement. But watching humans doing tricks for my amusement? Sure, go ahead.

Ovo is the current manifestation of Cirque du Soleil to play in Melbourne, and it is beautiful. The theme is the world of insects and spiders which has inspired a totally amazing set and beautiful costumes. It was a little disappointing for me that much of the action is directed at the middle section – sitting on the side, there were even a few things that I couldn’t see at all. However, there were always a few insects running around and doing other things, so I had something to watch.

My favourite? I don’t want to give too much away, but I think without a doubt, the grasshoppers were my favourite. Most of the show looked impressive and incredibly hard, but this section looked impressive, incredibly hard AND a ridiculous amount of fun.

The Last Gig in Melbourne – Geraldine Quinn

Hey, what are you doing Friday night? Or next Friday? Or the one after? No plans? Good, then get your backside to Trades Hall (although enter through the door on Lygon St because otherwise things get confusing and your friends laugh at you in a most affable manner)

Geraldine Quinn’s voice kicks arse. I remember years ago hearing Jimeoin say that all comedians secretly want to be rock stars.I don’t know if that is true, but Geraldine Quinn could actually make that dream come true, with her magnificent voice and kick-arse attitude.

Working with an awesome band, featuring the Cheshire Cat smile of Casey Bennetto sneaking out from behind a speaker, Geraldine has a series of songs that capture the live scene Melbourne in so many different ways. My one little complaint (which I am hoping to hide mid-review here because I really enjoyed the night despite it) was that it wasn’t all that… funny. There were two songs which made me laugh, but the rest I simply enjoyed with a smile on my face and  a sense of familiar (at times disappointed in myself) recognition. I’d name the songs, but I don’t want to give away any of the punchlines – plus I have a terrible reputation for misquoting.

If you’re up for a rocking night of entertainment in a delightful venue, get yourself down to the marvellous Bella Union bar and catch The Last Gig in Melbourne – don’t miss it. It may be the last. (Well…)