Tag: Explorations


Fancy a drink?

By Myron My

When Madame Nightshade appears in her garden and welcomes the audience in her own unique style, you quickly realise that all bets are off and anything can happen in this absurdist clowning show and that, no matter where you sit, you are not safe. Performed as part of La Mama’s Explorations season for work in various stages of development, Madame Nightshade’s Poison Garden is a show that will leave you stunned and flabbergasted with plenty of laughs.


Madame Nightshade’s Poison Garden is like watching two shows. The first half has a twisted, macabre and imaginative whimsy to it. Vegetables are manipulated into hilarious firearms and grenades, and while there is a scene with liquids and test tubes that could cause some anxiety in audience members, there is a sadness and a disturbing sweetness to Madame Nightshade’s actions and behaviour. However, upon drinking her “poison” Madame Nightshade transforms into a creature that is difficult to describe, but one that closely resembles a Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde situation.

Unfortunately, this is where the magic and charm of Madame Nightshade’s Poison Garden begins to wane for me. The time and effort that was spent in creating the picturesque garden environment is no longer relevant as this new world is created, and the latter is less thoughtful and more crude and obvious. Now we are dealing with sight gags that so many American comedies seem to rely on, with stories that seems to come from nowhere with no real purpose, and literal toilet humour. While there are some entertaining parts in the second half, it is the first half I so desperately wanted to see more of.

The show is conceived, devised and performed by Anna Lehmann Thomson who clearly has a knack for clowning and finding humour in the small things. She thinks well on her feet throughout the show and even when props are not where they should be, her improvisation is fast and clever.

Independents artists are very fortunate to be given the opportunity to perform new ideas and shows to an audience with La Mama’s Explorations season. While there is definitely a place for Madame Nightshade’s Poison Garden to exist in the theatre world, I feel Thomson needs to determine what kind of story and character Madame Nightshade is to be if it is to find an audience to stay with her for the whole adventure.

Madame Nightshade’s Poison Garden was performed between 19 – 21 November at La Mama Theatre.

Image by Mikey J White


Private words for personal grief

By Myron My

Presented as part of La Mama Theatre’s Explorations season presenting new works in various stages of development, I Sat And Waited But You Were Gone Too Long is a look at how you move on with your life when you are struggling to just get through the day. Written and directed by Olivia Satchell, it follows two women (played by Rosie Clynes and Emily Tomlins) who are unable to release themselves from the grief that has taken them over.

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Tomlins in particular is captivating as the nameless woman still coping with her own personal grief. The heartbreak she feels is clearly shown beyond Satchell’s words, and through Tomlins’ posture, facial expressions and manner of speech. Clynes is also great to watch as the motherless girl, however I found her harder to relate to and sympathise with and this might be due more with the writing and sound difficulties than with the actual performance.

The individual stories created by Satchell are intriguing, however the interactions between the two women seem forced, with some awkward dialogue that takes away from the emotions being explored. Satchell’s direction however is a strength of this production, particularly the plays with silence that are used to further highlight the anguish that these women feel.

While acknowledging that this is the first time that I Sat And Waited is being staged, there were some severe technical difficulties with the sound that prevented me from being able not only to engage with the story but also to follow it. Each audience member is provided with wireless headphones through which to hear Russell Goldsmiths well-suited soundscape and the characters’ dialogue. Despite being advised of the sound issues before the show began, the constant static coming through made it difficult to hear the dialogue, and in the last fifteen minutes I gave up and had to take the headphones off so I could hear what was being said directly from the actors. I’m unsure as to Satchell’s intention in using this technology in this show, as the environment could just as simply and effectively have been set up without the wireless headphones.

There is promise with I Sat And Waited But You Were Gone Too Long, and I am eager to see how this work develops beyond its Explorations season at La Mama.

I Sat And Waited was performed between 23 – 25 October at La Mama Theatre.