Tag: Cazz Bainbridge

Review: The Hitmen

Get hired or get fired (at)

By Owen James

The latest black comedy from Baker’s Dozen Theatre Company riffs on the relentless job-hunting struggle facing 5.3% of Australians today. So desperate are six jobless hopefuls that working as a hired killer for professional assassination syndicate KOC (Killing On Command) is deemed a legitimate possibility. The Hitmen depicts a group-job-interview-cum-survival-of-the-fittest for these six employees, where only one will prevail with both the job and their life.

Writer Mish Wittrup and director Blake Barnard have created a world of unadulterated absurdity, where regular social constructs are often demolished or ignored, and we see normal people become wild animals ala Battle Royale. The pressure-cooker setting mixed with classic “only one can survive” setup is a strong premise which ensures the exposition is, for the most part, pleasantly swift and snappy. Wittrup craftily weaves individual backstories and motivations for most characters into the narrative with asides and soliloquys spattered throughout, which immediately makes each ‘John’ far more fascinating once we know why they’re there.

These six Johns (giving real names leads to execution) portray rising desperation with feverish realism, allowing the many moments of violence to feel deserved and authentic. Two audience favourites are undoubtedly Eidann Glover and Raymond Martini, who both give dedicated and extremely humorous performances. Glover finds comedic flare in her character’s unwavering unlikability but also genuine warmth in her affection for partner John (Harry Borland), and Martini plays the gamer nerd out of his depth to perfection. Cazz Bainbridge as tyrannical head honcho Gwendoline sometimes moves too fast through moments of potential comedic gold, but successfully creates a dominating and minacious persona who is always one step ahead of the game.

Amidst characters’ wavering integrity and blood splatters galore is a subversive and gratifying (but extremely dark) comedy, with meaningful comments about the societal juncture desperate job seekers face in contemporary Australia – what lengths may some go to just for a paycheque? Though tempting, can we live with an unethical choice? It is the abandonment of solidarity when in the face of disparity that these corrupt individuals barely question as they undergo the world’s most erratic and stressful job interview that provokes many fascinating questions, and may also force you to consider how strong your own moral compass would be were you in this environment. When it’s a world of every man for himself, is it possible to unify against our unethical leaders? Or, as Wittrup and co perhaps suggest, do we willingly accept our fate and the sniper’s headshot.

The Hitmen plays until March 14 at Theatre Works, St Kilda: http://www.theatreworks.org.au/program/the-hitmen/

Photography by Justine McArthur

Melbourne Fringe 2016: DION

Compelling ‘drive-by’ theatre

By Myron My

Dion. Oh Dion. Why’d you go and break my heart? That’s what writer/director Davina Wright explores in the new immersive piece by Gold Satino for Melbourne Fringe Festival, aptly titled Dion. It’s business as usual here, as three audience members jump in the back of the Honda Jazz and are driven around the outskirts of North Melbourne in what can be called an epic “fuck off” homage to exes.


What I really enjoyed throughout Dion is the juxtaposition of being connected with the show yet witnessing distant and detached vignettes. The performers (Tamiah Bantum, Ross de Winter, Lachlan McColl, Cazz Bainbridge, Xavier O’Shanessy and Wright) all exude this feeling that they are living in their own world and generally void of any emotion but the connectivity felt with the subject and the scenes that play out paint a completely different picture. The exploration of first kisses, last kisses, fleeting moments, broken hearts and heartache; they are all experiences we’ve had and something we can all relate to.

The beauty of Gold Satino productions is that all scenes are open to interpretation: you give meaning and value to what you are seeing. Who these people are, where they have come from, where will they go? – it all depends on what you want to happen and how you choose to seen it.

As you keep an eye out for what is part of the show, you begin to notice a lot more people out in the streets that could easily be in the world of Dion. One particular example in last night’s drive is the elderly couple out walking their two dogs, which formed a comforting contrast to the sadness Dion is exploring.

The show runs on a very tight schedule, timed to the second no doubt, and from an audience perspective, there is not a single glitch. Speculating on the logistics of how the performers manage to get around so quickly and be in the scene before the Jazz even approaches is like guessing how David Copperfield made the Statue of Liberty disappear.

The sound design by Tom Davies is a balanced mix of love anthems such as Billy Ocean’s “Love Really Hurts Without You”, and a poignant soundscape that captures the moods of scenes perfectly, such as the ocean sounds we hear as we witness one performer crying alone in their car.

It’s a shame that the opportunity of seeing Dion is limited to three people per show (and is now a sold-out season at that) as Gold Satino is a company producing performance works that more people should be seeing. But perhaps that’s part of the plan. If everyone got to see what happens behind the closed doors or in the dark alleys, would the emotive and evocative insight that Dion offers be as effective?

Fringe Hub steps – Arts House, 521 Queensberry Street, North Melbourne, 3051
Season: Until 1 October | Tues – Sat 7pm, 8pm, 9pm, 10pm
Length: 60 minutes
Tickets: $31 Full | $25 Conc | $21 Cheap Tuesday
Bookings: MelbourneFringe Festival

REVIEW: Melbourne Fringe Presents SUBURBIA

Driving out into the dark streets for immersive theatre experience

By Myron My

Most people dream of having their own little slice of the suburban dream; a loving family, a dog and a place to call home. What could be better than that? However, if you look under the surface, you’ll find that things are not always what they seem. Playing as part of the 2015 Melbourne Fringe FestivalSuburbia offers a glimpse into these lives we know little about.


My fellow two passengers and I meet at the steps of the North Melbourne Town Hall and are led to a parked car and the driver takes us through the streets of North Melbourne, stopping intermittently at various locations where we get to witness our neighbourhood in a very different light. We don’t stay at any location more than a couple of minutes and there is barely any dialogue exchanged. The soundtrack composition by Simone Gustafsson that plays in the car is perfectly suited to the theme of the night, provoking feelings of uncertainty and curiosity.

It is up to us to determine the scene, relationships and mood purely by what we see. There’s the couple having a heated argument in their car and the woman who is crossing the roundabout with determination. Suburbia is about showing us these snippets into the lives of those around us: those we don’t know and those we don’t see. The most striking moment of all was something that lasted just mere seconds but is the creepiest thing I have seen in “real life” in a very long time and I wonder what would have happened had someone from the public just happened to walk by.

Timing is of the essence with this show. As we drive from one vignette to another, there is no doubt that the rest of the cast (Cazz Bainbridge, Xavier O’ShannessyRoss De Winter, Anneli Bjorasen, Claudia NugentDavina Wright and Carolyn Butler) is frantically racing to get to their next location on time (not that this haste is ever obvious, however).

As we are driven around, my voyeuristic urges begin to slowly take over and I begin to look through other people’s windows and watch as local people walk past or cycle by or take their dog out for a late-night walk. I wonder if they’re aware of what is also happening right in front of their eyes.

Suburbia is an enjoyable immersive experience that will linger in your mind long after the car pulls back up to the North Melbourne Town Hall. The shared experiences with your fellow passengers can be varied (ours were), but the performance is a reminder that just because we don’t see these people in our own neighbourhoods doesn’t mean they don’t exist.

*Playing at Arts House, North Melbourne Town Hall until Oct 3, the current 2015 Melbourne Fringe season of Suburbia is completely sold out*

Image by Rebekah Kamsky, featuring Davina Wright and Xavier O’Shannessy


Mythology unleashed

By Myron My

Orpheus is in love with Eurydice and with teaching mortals and God that we are the same. Zeus is having an affair with Ganymede. Hera wants to exact her revenge and Eris just wants her freedom.

Welcome to the world of the Gods or Four Letter Word Theatre’s production of Michael Gow’s Live Acts on Stage for Melbourne Fringe.

Live Acots On Stage

It is clear that everyone involved in the show has put much thought into its creation: the costuming by Emilija Tanner has an ethereal feel with the light, flowing fabrics on display and is complemented well by hair and make-up. Robert Alexander Smith’s set design is intelligently divided into four spaces and despite being in close proximity to each other, the distinction between each one is clear. Felicia King’s sound composition and Caitlyn Staples’ lighting design further enhance the story and are very effective in conveying the mood and tone throughout.

There are thirteen actors playing thirty-three different roles, some of these Gods appearing for a brief scene or two.  With such comings and goings on stage and along with my limited knowledge about the mythology, there were a few moments I was a little confused. However, this is fundamentally a story of the oldest themes in life and fiction: love, death, revenge and power, so it’s ultimately quite easy to fill in the blanks.

Of the thirteen actors, I was mesmerized by the flawless performances by Madaline R. Ryan and Cazz Bainbridge as Eris and Hera respectively. Even though I was not completely convinced with some of the other casting choices, these two definitely excelled. The power-play scenes between them and their taut dialogue were highlights of the show. The ensemble consisting of Danika Ray, Melissa Gardner, Kira Odling and Ingrid Taylor-Moss were also standout performances with the physical demands of their roles. It was interesting to see how they were incorporated into and utilised in various scenes, including the one in hell.

Live Acts on Stage is an intense ninety-minute journey to another time. The ancient mythology and contemporary text are perfectly blended to create a memorable evening of theatre. This is definitely a highlight of this year’s Melbourne Fringe Festival and one that needs to be experienced – here’s hoping for a second season.

Venue: fortyfivedownstairs, 45 Flinders Lane, Melbourne

Season: Until 05 October | 8:00pm

Tickets: $40 Full | $35 Conc

Bookings: http://www.fortyfivedownstairs.com/events/ or http://www.melbournefringe.com.au, 9660 9666


Spy thriller hits the bullseye

By Myron My

SNAFU Theatre is back with their eighth production Ten Months in a Cold Town. In it, a man (James Gand-Hunt) enters a woman’s (Samantha Hill) house. They are both spies and he is there to receive some important documents. We watch as they wait for a fax transmission to come through before the documents are handed over…

Who is telling the truth? Is everyone who they say they are?

Ten Months In a Cold Town

Sam Wilson and May Jasper have written an intriguing and captivating script. I particularly enjoyed watching as scenes went from comedic and light-hearted to dark and serious quite fluidly and unexpectedly. The further we progress with the play, the more extreme the pendulum swung between these two contrasting genres and moods. It’s not until we are introduced to Irina (Cazz Bainbridge) that the story comes full-circle.

The scenes in Russian are intriguing to watch as you are left to your own devices to translate what is being said. Despite the fact I speak no Russian, the actors seemed quite comfortable with the language and apparently spoke fluently, and should be congratulated on their efforts.

This is predominantly a character piece rather than a narrative piece and with Gand-Hunt and Hill on stage from beginning to end, there is a lot riding on them being able to pull these characters off and they do exceptionally well.

There are touches of Waiting for Godot during the lighter moments in which the actors both appeared most comfortable, as the two spies discuss their time at “spy school” and their experience of marriage. However, during the more intense moments, I felt there could have been a push to explore their darker natures through emotions and reactions.

Overall, Ten Months in a Cold Town has a strong script and strong performances. It doesn’t answer all your questions but this is not a bad thing as it’s nice to not always be spoon-fed a story, and my friend and I spent some time discussing what we believe had happened – and was going to happen…

Venue: Industrial School, Abbotsford Convent, 1 St Heliers St, Abbotsford

Season: Until 4 May | Thurs-Sat 7:30pm

Tickets: $25 Full | $20 Conc