Tag: 45downstairs

Vic Theatre Company Presents THE LAST FIVE YEARS

A performance to fall in love with

By Bradley Storer

A woman enters her apartment after a long day of work, placing her bag on the table and letting her hair down before spotting a letter left on her bed, along with a set of keys. With this heart-breakingly simple image, the complex narrative of Jason Robert Brown’s off-Broadway classic The Last Five Years begins to unwind in this production by Vic Theatre Company.

The Last Five Years (James Terry Photography)-9670.jpg

The Last Five Years is a musical that presents many challenges – along with balancing the audience’s sympathy for two people shown at their respective worsts, the concept of each character’s story unfurling in opposite directions (his forwards, hers backwards) means there is normally no direct interaction between the two characters, eliminating the chemistry needed to make the central love story work. Director Chris Parker has chosen to have both characters present in relevant scenes, which is effective in some scenes (‘See I’m Smiling’ and ‘If I Didn’t Believe In You’ in particular) but less so in others where the apparent silence of one character for the entire time doesn’t always work. Brown’s wonderful score however remains entrancing throughout, beautifully played by the band under Daniel Puckey, with the simple but intricate set by Daniel Harvey unfolding in a multitude of ways to enhance the action.

Verity Hunt-Ballard is nothing short of brilliant in the role of Cathy. She wrenches the heart in her opening song, ‘Still Hurting’, manages to make the character sympathetic and delivers pure musical comedy gold in her ‘A Summer in Ohio’ and ‘Climbing Uphill’ – even in the scenes where she doesn’t speak, Hunt-Ballard conveys powerful emotion with just a look and a cheeky smile. Her performance alone is more than worth the price of admission.

Josh Piterman as the charismatic wunderkind writer Jamie ably handles the early parts of his character’s journey, his whirlwind romance with Cathy blossoming alongside his literary career, and sensitively performs the emotionally ambivalent ‘If I Didn’t Believe in You’ before losing his footing towards the end. The character’s final songs don’t have quite the impact they could (despite a nice symbolic touch involving a memento from earlier in the piece), and the last few moments of the show lose their full weight.

A problem with the musical itself is that it never seems to fully suggest what conclusion or meaning we should draw from watching Cathy and Jamie’s relationship disintegrate – but the final image of Cathy, her face lit up by the elation of newfound love as she retreats into darkness, remains haunting nevertheless.

Venue: 45downstairs, 45 Flinders Lane, Melbourne VIC 3000

Dates & Times: Nov 25, 27, 29, Dec 1, 4, 7, 9, 7.30pm / Nov 26, 8.30pm / Dec 11, 3pm / Dec 3, 10 4pm

Prices: Preview $43, Full $50, Concession $45, Group 8+ $43, Double Bill $80 (with The Gathering)

Tickets: www.fortyfivedownstairs.com , (03) 9662 9966

Image by James Terry Photography

REVIEW: Between the Cracks with YANA ALANA

Simply scintillating

By Kate Boston Smith

Yana Alana’s much anticipated new show Between the Cracks for this year’s Melbourne Cabaret Festival grabs you by the soul and cradles you deep in her blue-clad bosom for the best part of an hour.

The diva within the diva is Sarah Ward: a woman who has a wicked smile with a wit you could set your watch to, and whose delectable use of language is only surpassed by her tremendous voice.

Yana Alana

Self proclaimed ‘feather-ruffler’, Yana Alana bares all and is unafraid to speak her mind about the failings of others and society around her.  She has the uncanny knack of twisting all of her ego foibles around, to the point where you would apologize to her, should she step on your toe in one of her many sojourns into her adoring audience.

An entirely original show, Yana’s fantastical poetry, vocal power and dominance of the room has you on the edge of your seat and soaking up every precious moment.  For it can be in the blink of a heavily fake-lashed eyelid that Yana will spin the show in a new direction, and can possibly and suddenly be sitting in your lap.

“Not a role model, but a model with rolls” – this is not a show for the faint-hearted.  Reading from her personally penned self-help book, Yana slaps you in the face with the realities of her world as an underappreciated performance artist/ writer/songstress and of course model citizen.  Songs such as ‘Box me In’ and ‘Some of the Queerest people I know are Straight” highlight our obsession with classification and how this passion for exclusion can cut us off from understanding one another more deeply.

As with most of Yana Alana’s shows, some of the favourite moments are those unscripted when things come slightly off the track.  An accidental breast in an unsuspecting face or microphone failure do not curtail this seasoned performer, but merely add to the internal rage that we so love to see played out before us.

Her spontaneous and pre-determined comedy moments and meltdowns are both hilarious and colourful, highlighting Ward’s impeccable understanding of timing and the beauty of self-deprecation.

With incredible direction by Annie Davey and a prolific support team, Between the Cracks could easily be lifted from our beloved 45downstairs and placed in the cabaret heart of New York or Berlin and received with respect and admiration without missing a beat.

If you are looking for a show to inspire and delight, or to show off to your friends your edgy taste in art, then Yana Alana’s Between the Cracks is the show for you.

Venue: 45downstairs, 45 Flinders Lane, Melbourne

Dates: 3 -7 July 2013

Times: 9.30pm Wed – Sat, 5.30pm Sun

Tickets: Full $35, Conc $30, Group 8+ $30