Tag: Darius Kedros

Helen Yotis Patterson’s TAXITHI

Moving portayals of resilient Greek-Australian women

By Myron My

Inspired by her grandmothers, Helen Yotis Patterson has compiled a number of stories of Greek women who migrated to Australia in the 1950s and 60s. While the narratives and their characters are often filled with hope and excitement for a better life, they are sometimes met with disappointment and frustrations. Despite this, the women presented in Taxithi (Greek for ‘journey’) are fiercely strong and determined.

Taxithi

The impressive cast – Maria Mercedes, Artemis Ioannides and Helen Yotis Patterson – bring much honesty with their portrayals of these women. While some stories are taken directly from Yotis Patterson’s family history, the cast are clearly poignantly connected with all the experiences that are played out. There are well-crafted moments throughout, including Mercedes’ emotional lament at missing her mother’s final moments as she traveled back to Greece and Ioannides’ striking performance as a young bride who find herself in an arranged marriage.

The music is one of the strongest elements of Taxithi. Musical director, arranger and pianist Andrew Patterson has captured the era perfectly along with Jacob Papadopoulos‘ masterful bouzouki playing. During the musical moments, the three women’s voices elicited strong emotive responses from the audience, to the point where even my non-Greek speaking friends were able to feel what was being sung. John Ford and Rachel Burke‘s lighting design and Darius Kedros‘ sound design, while both minimal, are still highly effective, especially in the evocative opening moments with the sound of waves crashing in the ocean, making you feel as if you yourself are on the ship travelling to Australia.

Towards the end of the performance, I admit I did feel the stories started to become slightly repetitious, with quite a few revolving around young girls immigrating to get married. Had Yotis Patterson perhaps narrowed the quantity of stories and explored her powerful themes even further, this repetition would have been resolved and the emotional connection with the characters could have been even stronger.

However, at a time where we are denying people entry into our country who are trying to escape persecution from their own, Taxithi serves as a telling reminder that “letting people in” is not a bad thing and only allows our lives and culture to become richer. Furthermore, the journeying tales of Taxithi teach us to always remain resilient and to fight for what we want in life, and that is something everyone can strive towards, regardless of sex, gender or race.

Venue: fortyfive downstairs, 45 Flinders Lane, Melbourne
Season: Now until 24 March, then 5-10 April | Tue- Sat 7.30pm, Sun 5pm
Tickets: $45 Full | $35 Conc
Bookings: fortyfive downstairs

Image by Sarah Walker www.sarahwalkerphotos.com

REVIEW: La Mama Presents IN SEARCH OF OWN ROE

Engrossing quest in mysteries past

By Margaret Wieringa

When Vanessa O’Neill gave birth to her son, she wanted to be able to share her proud Irish heritage with him, but soon discovered there was a big hole in her family history; her great grandfather Owen Roe was buried in an unmarked grave with his thirteen-year old daughter, and the rest of the family were buried nearby. Who was he? What was his life like? How did he end up there?

Vanessa O'neill

This one-woman show is a culmination of O’Neill’s research, her experiences and many aspects of her life during this time, and it is absolutely captivating. From the moment she first addresses the audience to her departure up the La Mama staircase, we are on her side. We too want to know who Owen Roe was and to see the charming and endearing (and very funny) O’Neill bring closure to this chapter.

Through the show, she plays a wide range of characters, cites poetry, and sings songs. She could easily have gone through the show without props or costumes, but those that she chose were a delightful touch. There were two pieces of art, one on either side of the stage; a map of Ireland and a family tree. These were beautifully designed by Annie Edney, the Celtic background that is so significant to this piece was clearly displayed in both.

The sound for the performance is extremely important (not including the lounge singing from across the road which was an annoyance that was, through the engaging performance, easy to ignore). In the opening scene, which I felt ran a little long though, the soundscape established a sense of history, or ghosts from the past haunting the research, haunting O’Neill. At times, the sound lead the performance, and other times sound designer and composer Darius Kedros added to the final touches to well-created scenes.

There were questions left unanswered (as much for the performer as the audience) which left us wanting more at the end, but overall this was a funny, emotional and clever performance by a strong and confident performer, and I really enjoyed myself.

In Search of Owen Roe is playing at La Mama Theatre In Faraday St, Carlton until July 5. Tickets are $15 and $25 – visit www.lamama.com.au