Tag: Angelique Malcolm

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.

REVIEW: Bitten By Productions’ THE LUCAS CONUNDRUM

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

REVIEW: Moreland Theatre Company Presents THE BACCHAE

Classic Greek tragedy dramatically reimagined

By Michael Olsen

Moreland Theatre Company’s The Bacchae by Euripides concerns the arrival in the city of Thebes of the god Dionysus (in human form), and the inevitable clash that arises between this god of merriment and chaos and the patrician leader of the city, Pentheus. While Dionysus represents the emotional wellspring of life and offers an escape from life’s hardships through drunken revelry on Mt Citharon (which lies outside the city), Pentheus stands for order and control, and this dichotomy is enhanced by having Dionysus in this instance played by a woman (Kate Barford in a challenging role which she pulled off magnificently.)

The Bacchae

Director Sam Browne has taken an updated text of the play (translated by Ian Johnston and adapted by John Kelly and Matt O’Reilly) and has clearly presented the gripping conflict not only between Dionysus and Pentheus, but also the contradictions within Dionysus herself (god of merriment vs avenging god). Whilst the formality of the play distances us somewhat from the characters, the conclusion is devastating and an uneasy catharsis is reached. The heart of the production which Browne handles so well is to present the fatal imbalance that can occur when the masculine and feminine sides of our personality are in conflict, and the horrors that a vengeful god can unleash.

Karl Sarsfield stood out as the commanding and unbending Pentheus, while Angelique Malcolm as his mother, Agave, transfixed with the play’s climactic moment when she slowly realises what she’s done in a moment of utter madness. Special mention should be made of Victoria Haslam‘s costume design for the Bacchae, which helped to energise and bring vivid colour to the production.

After more than 2000 years The Bacchae speaks to us of the results of disobedience, unbending rationality, and the terrors of unbridled passion. Is Dionysus right to take the revenge she takes? Who knows. Euripides seems to be saying for better or worse: “That’s life.”

The Bacchae runs till the 13th of June at 8pm at the Metanoia Theatre at The Mechanics Institute
270 Sydney Road, Brunswick.

Tickets: Book online or cash at the door. For more details go to www.moreland.org.au

Image by Teresa Noble