Tag: Alicia Beckhurst

Bitten By Productions Presents THE CRITIC

Reviewing the play about reviewing

By Margaret Wieringa

Imagine this: you are attending a theatrical performance written, directed and starring a close friend… and you hate it. What can you tell them? Be honest, or be polite? Now, raise the stakes: you are a theatre critic writing for a well-respected newspaper. Ouch. This is the situation that Jamie finds herself in, having begged to be allowed to review a friend’s performance only to discover it is appalling.

The Critic.jpg

Gabriel Bergmoser hits the spot with his script, challenging the characters to look into themselves and search for their truth. The dialogue had a level of awareness and blunt honesty that made for deliberately uncomfortable moments for both the characters and the audience. The opening scene, with Susan reading a scathing and horrible review must have had creative folk in the audience cringing with familiarity, or perhaps just enjoying that it is about a fictional performance.

Director Ashley Tardy has gathered a strong cast who work well to capture the warring personalities onstage. Jamie, played by Louise Cocks, talks her thought process out while balancing on the edge of self-confidence and anxiety. Her high-energy performance captures the stress of Jamie fighting her way through this dilemma, and is beautifully countered by the hardened, cut-throat attitude of her boss. In this role, Angelique Malcolm struts the stage, owning it and everyone on it. She can own another character with a single glance – and knows it. Then there is Emma: as cocksure and self-centred as any performer putting on a solo piece, but also overly sensitive and self-deluding. Alicia Beckhurst captures the intense emotional state of Emma, from post-performance high to the anger of feeling betrayed. Thank goodness for Ellie, Jamie’s housemate who has seen the performance and been along for the ride.  She provides much needed humour to break up the tension (or sometimes, to add a whole extra level of stress). Rosie Flanagan delivers her hilarious dialogue with great timing, punctuating the piece.

My only real issue with the performance was that it felt rushed. As a very dialogue-heavy piece, much of it needed to slow down and allow the audience to keep up. My favourite moment of the performance was watching Jamie and Ellie react to the magnificently strange noises being created off-stage by Emma as she performs her terrible show – beautiful teamwork and absolutely hilarious.

Where: Club Voltaire, 14 Raglan St, North Melbourne

When: October 6-15, 7pm

Tickets: $18-$20

Book: www.trybooking.com or acopa.com.au/voltaire.


Moral issues churn against artistic integrity

By Margaret Weiringa

How can you argue against a dying child? In The Lucas Conundrum, playwright Gabriel Bergmoser has created a script that seeks to explore the complexities of this infamous issue: the protagonist Robert Stone is one of Hollywood’s most successful directors, an innovator whose fantasy films changed the way movies are made, and his soon-to-be-released film is his first return to his hugely successful franchise in over thirty years. Then an internet petition with millions of signatures begs him to let a dying child watch his film before the kid passes away, and Stone don’t want to – not until it is ready by his high standards.

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Unfortunately, this promising plot about the changing power of the auteur, the modern film industry and social influence is presented mostly as a series of cocaine-fueled arguments that gradually lost my attention. The arguments built, but somehow the tension onstage didn’t seem to. Perhaps it was that the stakes did not seem high enough – the set-up was that Stone would lose everything if he did not bow to the studio’s pressure. In this production, Greg Caine offered a solid presentation of Stone as a man who was arrogantly confident that his decisions were the right ones, but I didn’t feel that this interpretation fully supported this situation as something that would destroy his career and, therefore, his life.

Chris Grant played Freddie, the man who was trying to force Stone’s hand. His character started as a believable, albeit over-the-top Hollywood-type, but as the arguments intensified, he became more and more comical, even to the point of slapstick. Despite the description “funny, (and) incisive”, the play generally seemed to be going for a more realistic feel, which made his valiant performance feel rather out of genre.

The two women in the cast, Alicia Beckhurst as Stone’s girlfriend and Angelique Malcolm as his ex-wife, both gave good performances in their roles, but disappointingly neither character was given a lot for the actors to really bite into. The female roles were quite functional and stereotyped, although there was certainly the opportunity to create characters who are more than just the relationship that they have with a man.

Essentially, The Lucas Conundrum is a good, promising production that has just missed the chance to be great. I think that the work would have benefited from further script and character development to explore an interesting premise and a complex real-world situation: who owns the art?

Where: Club Voltaire, 14 Raglan St, North Melbourne
When: Feb 17 – February 27, Tues-Sat, 7pm
Tickets: Full $20 Conc $15 through www.trybooking.com


A sea of possibilities with some exciting breaking waves

By Myron My

Palais Theatre is celebrating 85 years by presenting ReAction Theatre’s production of At the Water’s Edge: a collection of seven short plays celebrating life by the water.

On preview night, I thoroughly enjoyed this theme of water and its relationship to people, and it seemed even more fitting to be performed in St Kilda, right next to the beach. In all the stories, the water wasn’t just present, but was a character, always there and affecting these people’s lives, whether it be in a frivolous, philosophical or a deeply emotional way.

However, I felt rather disappointed with the three opening performances. They seemed to lack a clear plot and I was left wondering who these characters were to one another, and what were their wants, needs, desires and so on. They were stories that didn’t feel authentic and at times it seemed as if the actors were just delivering their lines and not believing what they were saying although this may simply have been some preview night nerves.

However, the stories after interval raised the bar and at times exceeded my expectations. There were particularly strong performances by Lee McClenaghan in Sausages by Rebecca Lister and the wonderfully comedic The Sunburnt Country by Camilla Maxwell. In the latter, McClenaghan and Danelle Lee play two British backpackers having an Aussie beach holiday with some interesting revelations and some sharp, authentic “British” dialogue to play with. The two actors had great comedic timing and a strong rapport on stage.

The highlight of the evening would have to go to Alex Broun’s The First Fireworks. The well-told story of a terminally ill woman, who wants to see the New Year’s Eve fireworks with her daughter for one last time, pulls at the heart strings until its sad conclusion. This is in no doubt indebted to the commitment and honesty that Josie Eberhard puts in as the mother and the wonderful support that Alicia Beckhurst provides as her daughter.

Set designer Kate Ferguson has done well in creating distinctive settings whilst being limited to a relatively small space. The use of a projected backdrop of various “water” settings is a great aid in allowing the audience to visualize these various locations.

Overall, At the Water’s Edge is a collaborative thoughtful piece on the ways environment can affect our lives, and there were strong performances by most of the cast but perhaps better care could have been taken in choosing which stories to tell here, and how to tell them.

Venue: Palais Theatre’s grand foyer, Lower Esplanade, St Kilda

Season: Until 20 November | 8:00pm and Sat 5:00pm

Tickets: $32 General Admission

Bookings: 136 100 or www.palaistheatre.net.au