Tag: Alex Rouse

La Mama Presents HANDS OVER EYES

Intelligent and engrossing new work

By Myron My

There were times while watching Hands Over Eyes that I felt like I was watching a live episode of Black Mirror, a TV series that looks at how our over-reliance on technology can have far darker consequences than we could have imagined. Presented as part of La Mama Theatre Explorations season for work in various stages of development, Peter Danastasio’s Hands Over Eyes raises discussion on perceptions of truth and honesty and how the impact this can have on people.

Hands Over Eyes.jpg

Danny Carroll plays Paul Havour, a conversationalist who works for a company that conducts simulated experience sessions to assist patients with their past traumas or phobic treatments. Through the course of the week he begins to question his beliefs and work ethics while attempting to assist his patients with treatments he finds troubling.

The issues being explored here do run the risk of making the audience feel as if they are drowning in information, especially given the clinically-themed dialogue. With the use of some well-timed breaks in speech, visual projections and subtle humour, Danastasio ensures that even though our utmost attention is required for its entirety, we still have time to process what is being said and the implications of what that means.

I do feel the relationships between the characters needed to be more strongly established, and the conversations between them – and how these conversations were had – to then be representative of that. There are scenes where Paul is speaking with his patient who seems to have an equal understanding of Paul’s specialist knowledge regarding the mind and human connection. The power dynamics within the company employees also needed to be more consistent.

The ensemble in Hands Over Eyes are extremely dedicated to their characters and for the most part, carry a firm sense of authority in what they say, further generating authenticity throughout the show. Carroll seems to be a natural in the highly demanding role of Paul, who is in virtually every minute of the 75-minute play. His ability to capture Paul’s initial suaveness and confidence and the subtle transformation to uncertainty and doubts that begin to creep into his own thoughts is well manifested. However, I would have liked the story to take his crisis further and create a much stronger impact on Paul’s life. The supporting cast of Ashton Sly, Ezekiel Day, Jim Coulson, Alex Rouse, Alex Rowe and Evangeline Stoios all bring depth and purpose to their characters and all have a motivation that is clear, even if they are only on stage for one scene.

The sound design by Ben Griffiths and the lighting and filmed components by Darcy Conlan are carefully constructed and further enhance the environment being portrayed. The active interactions the actors have with the visual projections are particularly great to watch as are Paul’s interactions with Karen.

It’s a comforting thought when independent theatre still in development can already be more thought-provoking and entertaining than some of the professional performances being produced. Hands Over Eyes is a rewarding watch that will have you questioning your own ideas based on your own reality and the repercussions of this.

Hands Over Eyes was performed between 16 – 18 November at La Mama Theatre.

REVIEW: Nice Productions Presents KING IN EXILE

Vaulting ambitions from young company

By Warwick Moffat

Nice Productions view themselves as a response to a banal entertainment scene. Their plays address the big issues and frequently contain low-level violence, sexual themes or profanity. They strive to offer different perspectives, with theatre that generates genuine feelings within the audience rather than merely entertains. In this sense, they are part of the absurdist theatre tradition. Their latest production King In Exile by Bradley Klendo seeks to provide that alternate view on the big issues of multiculturalism, racism and the tall-poppy syndrome.

King in Exile

In an attempt to express his frustration with a world full of prejudice and mediocrity, a playwright (Raj Joseph) falls into the chaos of his own rough draft as the divide between fiction, reality and dreams become blurred and then altogether disappear. His hero, an Intergalactic King (Thomas Kay) without a realm, is confronted by the Antagonist (Alex Rouse), three Shakespearean witches (Linda Zilinskas, Sarah Nathan-Truesdale, Gabriella Imrich), a sado-masochistic couple (Lisa Dallinger, Nicholas Politis) and a fellow migrant (Sahil Saluja).

Arguments, murderous threats and physical struggle abound; as do occasionally indulgent monologues. Amongst all this, there is a serious message worthy of telling but often lost in the hullabaloo. Many stories about racism place a halo around the victim, but King In Exile suggests some who complain about prejudice and mediocrity can themselves become guilty of a kind of elitism; an arrogant view that no-one can truly understand them. That is a very challenging idea with serious artistic depth.

The performances from the cast varied, but I suspect this was less a reflection on their talent and more on the difficult material. While lacklustre during some of the monologues, the stagecraft was often quite impressive when the play provided dramatic action to work with. Nicholas Politis gave a consistently strong performance in the tough role of an emotionally confused sexual submissive.

Fringe Festival is an opportunity for left-of-centre productions to get an airing, and this play is not out-of-place here. On a number of occasions, the director (Vlady T) achieved his aim of inciting audience response. In parts it was titillating, it sometimes surprised and amused.

The trick with absurdism is to both confront and engage. This is typically done by presenting absurd dialogue and action, but doing so with a storyline structure that is familiar enough to the audience. The true masters of surreal fiction can get away with having an absurd structure, but even they then accept the need to offer the audience familiar dialogue and action. This is an important trade-off. If your dialogue, action and structure is absurd you run the serious risk of losing your audience. With King In Exile, Nice Productions show promise, if they can master the rules before breaking them and embrace the theatre techniques that guide an audience through the absurdity.

Dates: Wed 24th to Sat 27th Sept
Time: 8pm
Location: The Clover Club, Gasworks Arts Park, 21 Graham St, Albert Park
Tickets: $26 Full, $21 Conc.
To book, visit melbournefringe.com.au/fringe-festival/show/king-in-exile or call (03) 9660 9666 OR visit gasworks.org.au or call (03) 9699 3253.