Tag: Glenda Linscott

REVIEW: Manilla Street Productions Presents BLOOD BROTHERS

Tragic tale impeccably told

By Bradley Storer

Blood Brothers, the award-winning West End musical about a tale of twin brothers separated at birth, has come to Chapel off Chapel in a strong new production by Manilla Street Productions. This modern tragedy, directed by Chris Parker, explores the classic ‘nature versus nurture’ debate and the great divide between the English upper and middle class.

Blood Brothers

Chelsea Plumley in the crucial role of Mrs Johnstone is the emotional touchstone of the entire piece, producing a portrait of a flawed, poverty-stricken woman of fierce maternal love and indomitable spirit, slowly bowed down under the tragic consequences of an impulsive decision. Her expressive and earthy singing voice perfectly captures the essence of the character, and she is to be applauded especially for flawlessly maintaining the extremely challenging Liverpool accent for the entire show. Glenda Linscott as Mrs Lyons, the rich housewife whose adoption scheme sets the plot in motion, turns in a compelling and complex performance that travels the gamut from heart-warming to bone-chilling as the character’s initial sweetness and good nature crumbles frighteningly under the pressures of anxiety and guilt.

The central triangle of the piece, the two brothers Mickey (Gareth Keegan) and Eddie (Matthew Bradford), and Linda (Lisa-Marie Parker), the woman who comes between them, are a powerhouse trio – their chemistry is palpable, and they perfectly embody each stage of their character’s respective journey from child to adulthood (kudos to them for avoiding cringe-inducing caricature while playing children). The second act, where the harsh realities of life begin to take their toll on the three and their relationships, is wrenching to watch after the honest simplicity of the actors has won our love. They are ably supported by a small but talented ensemble who swap between multiple roles. Simon Wilton as the Narrator does his best with a role that is essentially one-note and continuously repetitive, but the fault lies with the character rather than the actor in this case.

This dark, tragic tale is engrossing theatre, and the catastrophic finale which ties together all the themes of class division and destiny proves the overall success of the production, leaving the audience with a gut-wrenching sense of loss that won’t fail to bring tears to the eyes of anyone who sees it.

Venue: Chapel off Chapel, 12 Little Chapel St, Prahran.

Dates: 20 March – 6 April (Preview 19 March)

Times: Tues-Sat 8pm, Sat (5 April) 3pm, Sat (29 March) 3pm,  Sun (30 March) 3pm, Sun (6 April) 2pm

Price: $49 Full, $45 Concession, $40 Group 10+, $40 Preview (19 March), $40 Tuesday Performances, $60 Opening Night (20 March)

Tickets: www.chapeloffchapel.com.au, Phone: 03 8290 700003 8290 700003 8290 700003 8290 7000, Email: chapel@stonnington.vic.gov.au, at the venue.

REVIEW: Melbourne Writers’ Theatre Presents HOW TO SURVIVE AN EARTHQUAKE

Traumatic tale powerfully realised

By Darcy Whitsed

How To Survive An Earthquake could easily be named How To Affect Your Audience With An Incredibly Sad And Harrowing Narrative. It is written by Christine Croyden and details the relationship of two estranged sisters, Stephanie (Jessica Gerger) and Jane (Sarah Plummer) after the death of their mother.

How to Survive an Earthquake

The difference in the sisters’ lives and attitudes is immediately apparent, with Stephanie returning from her duties as a UN peacekeeper to be met by Jane, a Melbournian who has given up the past few years of her life to be a full-time carer for their mother.

The actors relish in the challenge of the show, being required to transform characters, ages and places within split seconds and they achieve this with impressive ease. I did however feel as though the emotional range of the characters was only from sad to sadder to distraught. This is likely due to the content of the play but I personally would have loved to have seen some upbeat moments to contrast with and heighten the tragic ones, especially during the scenes when the sisters where reflecting nostalgically.

How To Survive An Earthquake’s director Glenda Linscott flexes her directorial muscle in the realisation of the story, utilizing lots of non-naturalistic theatrical elements and conventions.  The narrative jumps back and forth in time, displaying the sisters’ often painful memories. These transitions are effectively marked with a repeated line or moment that has a visible effect on the characters. This is extremely effective in segueing between scenes and also showing how the memories still affect the characters emotionally and physically.

The technical elements of How To Survive An Earthquake are also superbly integrated into the action. With a combination of live and pre-recorded music composed for the show, the soundscape is gorgeous. Sound designers Dom Buckham and Millie O’Sullivan both perform live from behind the audience: an extremely effective addition, with drums, guitars and other instruments being used with impeccable timing to enhance the dramatic moments of the show and cater perfectly to the audience.

The lighting designed by Jason Bouvaird is also stunning. It utilizes symbolic colours and gobo effects perfectly to mark varying time frames, flashbacks and memories throughout the story’s disjointed narrative.

Overall, this production of How To Survive An Earthquake is a technically well-rounded piece of theatre that tackles how emotional pain can stand between redemption – and forgiveness.

Location: La Mama Courthouse, 349 Drummond Street Carlton

Dates: Aug 14 to Sept 1, Wed to Sat 8pm, Sun 5pm.

Tickets: $30/conc $20.

Bookings: 03 9347 6948 or lamama.com.au

Review: COGITO at La Mama

You think, therefore you’ll like…

By Anastasia Russell-Head

This play is intriguing. Two women, dressed almost identically, stand on a minimalist white stage and declare:

“My name is Katherine Lee.”

“My name is Katherine Lee.”

Which one is Katherine Lee? Are they both Katherine Lee? And what is that heart doing in a clear perspex box suspended above?

Originally written for the Singapore Arts Festival, the themes and scope of Huzir Sulaiman’s play Cogito are reminiscent of a short story.

There is an element of sci-fi in exploring the concept of artificial intelligence, but it is essentially a human story about loss, grief and reconcilliation.

Kristin Keam and Suzy Cato-Gashler were both strong as the two on-stage Katherines, with Cato-Gashler being particularly convincing in the role. Newcomer Frank Handrum was excellent as the dour, efficient lawyer, Lex.

It was unfortunate that the excellent cast and script were let down by the spacing of the production.

The audience were situated “in the round”, with the result that much of the play was spent looking at the back of the actors’ heads and trying to decipher what they were saying when it was directed at the other side of the room. I

n addition, the superb voice-over provided by Glenda Linscott was compromised by poor EQ-ing, and was often too boomy to be able to understand clearly.

Visually the production was quite successful, despite the spacing issues. The lighting was very effective, and the special effect moment towards the end (I won’t spoil the plot for you!) was quite stunning and unexpected.

Sit on the side next to the entrance door, prepare to be intrigued and slightly confused (in a good way), and enjoy the talents of some excellent seasoned actors in this little futuristic “short story” of a play.


Cogito by Huzir Sulaiman

La Mama Courthouse

February 9 – 19

Wed, Fri, Sun 8:30pm

Thur, Sat 6:30pm