Tag: Amy Macpherson

Western Edge Presents CALIBAN

Dynamic and captivating

By Leeor Adar

The culturally diverse Western Edge Youth Arts’ Edge Ensemble under the directorship of Dave Kelman and Tariro Mavondo delivers a spirited, vibrant and painfully accurate adaptation of William Shakespeare’s The Tempest with Caliban.


Who is Caliban in this tale?

We are not dealing with a deformed witch’s son, but a native of an island, which carries the spirit of his mother – all mothers – in the sand, air and water. The Edge Ensemble’s Caliban (Oti Willoughby) is every pure thing, every angry living thing that despises the poisons inflicted by civilisation on the natural world.

In this tale Prospero is Prospera (Natalie Lucic), and Ariel (Piper Huynh) is a machine, not spirit, that can think up realities to save the planet from global warming and other ills that contribute to the inevitable downfall of our world. But Prospera needs capital. Propera needs wealth. Prospera’s adopted daughter, Miranda (Achai Deng), is shipped off with billionaire Afghani, Ferdinand (Abraham Herasan) for a better life, a life of opulence, but little freedom and incredible isolation. It is ironically a lonely and uncertain life at the top of the world, but all is not lost.

Caliban tackles big ideas with humour and poignancy. This is a remarkable and highly physical performance delivered by an ensemble with differing physicality. The performers are excellent, emotive, funny and totally humane. So much of the story told is delivered by this troupe through their bodies, and they each deliver something unique. Credit must be given to movement director, Amy MacPherson, who has successfully conjured the best of the cast. The set design by Lara Week, who previously worked with Mavondo in Greg Ulfan’s 3 Sisters, provides yet another bright and adaptable space that works well for the performers. Turquoise cylinders serve as podiums, seats, towers, and the ever-present reminder of man-made waste.

There is at the heart of this story a great longing for a home that is being stolen by land erosion and war. On one hand our lovers, Ferdinand and Miranda, each long for their homes, Afghanistan and the Sudanese Abyei Area, each torn, each broken by the worst of human nature. On the other, Phano (Rexson Pelman) longs for a Samoa with an uncertain future, and Caliban for his island home – two examples of the fate rendered by the hands of global warming, another ongoing man-made calamity.

The tragedy of our characters is that they each seek to do well, but fail fundamentally on their quest. It is deeply Shakespearean, but simply a timeless tale of humanity. Prospera is blinded by her mind, Ferdinand by his desire for respect, and Caliban by his anger. Their undoing is deeply psychological and a result of the previous ills of man-made affliction. And so is the cycle of human nature…

Caliban will be showing for its final night tonight, November 26 at 7pm at the Coopers Malthouse Theatre. Bookings: http://malthousetheatre.com.au/whats-on/caliban

Image by Nicola Dracoulis

REVIEW: Phantom Limbs Presents DREAMLOGIC

A beguiling reverie

By Caitlin McGrane

The opening 20 minutes of Dreamlogic took me slightly by surprise, it was like being in a psychological experiment and I did for a moment think that there might be an element of audience participation. Thankfully, I was mistaken. The two performers, James Welsby and James Andrews, begin by blowing up balloons and moving them around their bodies without using their hands. It’s incredibly awkward and hilarious to watch, as simultaneously audio from a psychology experiment plays in the background. The focus of the performance is on the subconscious mind, so it’s fitting that the opening seemed to encourage the audience to relax and let themselves be carried through the performance.


As the performance built to a crescendo, the space between the dancers reduced until they started to move beautifully together. I particularly enjoyed the surprising yet creative use of balloons, but was slightly disappointed they didn’t move around them towards the end as the balloons filled up the space. Choreographed creatively by Welsby himself and Amy Macpherson, the 50-minute show was delightfully captivating. The rhythmic ebb and flow of the performance captured the audience’s attention and held us in a dream-like state that continued even as I left the theatre. My absorption was only briefly distracted by the slightly clumsy lifts in the final act.

The subconscious mind and the spaces between people, the subject matter that inspired the performance, never felt tired or insipid. Instead, I found myself asking questions about the way that people interact with each other and how we move collectively through spaces. Dreamlogic is a delightful performance that I would highly recommend to anyone who enjoys thinking critically about how we interact.

Dreamlogic is showing at the Northcote Town Hall at 7:30pm until Tuesday 10 March. For tickets visit http://www.darebinarts.com.au/whats-on/dreamlogic-phantom-limbs.


Femmes ex machina

By Tania Herbert

What to do on a summer’s night when Melbourne is covered in a haze of bushfire smoke? Clearly some rather disquieting contemporary performance art outside at the base of the Arts Centre.


The audience is ushered into a construction site set with a back drop of the Arts Centre spire, and tech crew are cleverly perched around the set in their construction worker fluros. A long lead-in of banter and set-exploration with some very light humour by the protagonist female forklift driver (Nicci Wilks) left a full house quizzically wondering what exactly they were in for.

When the forklift arrives complete with a pair of mannequin-esque women (Henna Kaikula and Amy Macpherson) sprawled across it, the show quickly shifts into gear. The obscure storyline appeared to be based around elements of the forklift driver’s simple worklife merging into a dream-like world the suggests a contemporary Alice-down-the-rabbit hole.

An intensely physical performance, the contortions, dance moves, circus stunts and incredible balancing were interwoven with the movements of the forklift in a mesmerising and terrifyingly dangerous spectacle of movement. The sound track, composed by Melbourne local Jethro Woodward, punctuated the ever-shifting world and gives an eerie, almost steam-punk feel.

As the performance continues, and people wandered past the outdoor stage, a ‘fishbowl’ effect added to the disquiet, with theatre-goers on their way home finding a perch on any place where they could catch glimpses of the performance.

The piece is all that is feminism, with strong, powerful, changeable women completely in control of their art. And yet, it is all that is not, as our rather stereotypically ‘butch’ female lead is gradually converted into a sexualized, scantily -lad lipstick-wearing version of her former self.

Unique, bizarre, and utterly enthralling, Forklift defies definition. It’s kind of circus, kind of contemporary theatre, kind of dance… and yet none of these things. Forklift is oh so very Melbourne, and for a very different kind of “pop up” art, KAGE is certainly a group to keep an eye on.

Forklift is playing at Arts Centre Melbourne at the Theatres Forecourt

Wed 12 – Sun 16 February – 6.30 and 9pm nightly

Bookings: www.kage.com.au/book-tickets