Tag: Meat Market

Poppy Seed Festival Presents BREAD CRUMBS

Witty, self-aware, and with a definite Grimm streak…

By Lois Maskiell

A fresh take on an old tale, Bread Crumbs is a funny, yet cruel portrayal of relationships in modern life. Specially selected for this year’s Poppy Seed Festival, this one-hour show that questions the gendered tropes common to fairy tales is self-devised by a team of recent graduates of the Victorian College of the Arts.

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Ruby Johnston and Benjamin Nichol, along with a talented production team including set and costume designer Joseph Noonan, sound composer Sidney Millar and lighting designer Rachel Lee, have created this highly-stylised performance that traces the journey of brother and sister Hansel and Gretel in a magical landscape loosely set in Australian surburbia.

In the first scene, the lullaby-like music coupled with picture-book costumes of gaudy colour establishes an innocent tone that sharply contrasts the coarse language of Gretel (Johnston), the girl guide whose use of Australian vernacular hits a mature-audiences-only rating in exceptional style. It’s this stark contrast, between the genre of fairy tale and fantastically black humour that keeps this production fresh and quirky to the final scene.

When Gretel escapes her childhood home by running away with Hansel (Nicole), their only means of returning is the deliberately-left bread crumbs that she knows he will eat. This plot to never return home proves successful. Searching for a prince charming, she wanders in the woods, leading her highly-strung brother on an adventure that leads to a dark reality.

When Gretel enters into a relationship with Prince Charming (Nicole), he’s not quite the man she had in mind. The acting and narrative takes a turn towards realism, and an abusive relationship ensues. It’s here that the performance makes its strongest comment on the darker sides of young ‘love’: domestic violence in the suburbs.

Australian cultural references including quips about hard rubbish, vegemite on crumpets and dreams of a man who drinks Corona instead of Melbourne Bitter inject a load of mature humour into this generally playful fable to keep adult audiences engaged.

The acting is highly physical and vocally rich, creating a hyper-real world bursting with energy. Johnston’s driving performance as the bossy, big sister is outstanding and strong, powering the narrative along. Benjamin transitions with ease from the anxious younger brother to the hipster Prince Charming who uses love as an excuse for violence and abuse.

So what’s the moral of story? Perhaps that for a woman in today’s world to truly be free, she must become the narrator of her own life.

Bread Crumbs runs from the 21st of November until the 2nd of December at The Stables, Meat Market in North Melbourne.


Dance Massive Presents TINY SLOPES

Brave and brilliant

By Joana Simmons

Sometimes as we get older, we challenge ourselves less. We don’t always push ourselves to fail and fall. In Tiny Slopes for Dance Massive, director/choreographer Nat Cursio has pushed the cast of dancers to learn to skateboard, and learn about risk, failure, humility and little wins along the way. Set along to an eclectic soundtrack, this impressive and artistic work is a joy from beginning to end. One of Melbourne’s wonderfully-kept historical venues, The Meat Market, tucked just north of the CBD  is a perfect host to this production that has a range of well-thought-out theatrical elements that really spin my wheels.

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We enter the Meat Market and sit looking at an almost-tennis-court-sized tarquet set with four skateboards. One of the dancers balances, jumps and manouvers cautiously around the board as the other three speak about things that they use to do when they were little, like jump off the roof of the shed and ride a tricycle down the windshield of Dad’s car. The snippets of memories are honest, dry and witty about the things they are scared of, what they don’t know about and what they can do. I loved how cleverly these anecdotes were woven through: though there’s no real storyline, they keep the work interesting, truthful and accessible.

Meanwhile, the depth of the stage is as impressive as how the dancers cover it. They use the skateboards as mechanisms for movement, with smooth natural floorwork and rolls; effortlessly skilled and meticulously choreographed.  The skateboards have microphones to capture their clunks and the sound of the wheels spinning, and this is enhanced and reverberated to make a fully stirring experience.  Young teenage girls who can skateboard with much dexterity skim the floor and play the roles of mentors, or past selves, to the four main dancers. The full house applauded as they tackled the ramps and mini half-pipe.

There’s many highlights and wonderful things to learn and take away from this show. Cursio made it from her ongoing interest in vulnerability and resilience, two virtues that are widely explored in this work. It is exciting and empowering to see a group of strong girls form a gang and put a beautiful story onstage. It’s got the athleticism and production of Cirque Du Solei with the artistic quality of a documentary seasoned with a little comedy. I want to commend the cast (Alice Dixon, Melissa Jones, Caroline Meaden, Francesca Meale, Rae Franco, Amelie Mansfield, Pyper Prosen, Pixel Willison-Allen) for their completely honest and genuine performance. It was really refreshing to see movement and performance that wasn’t flashy or self-indulgent: quite simply, it was artistic and accessible.

Travis Hogan’s comprehensive lighting combined with sound by Byron Scullin and ‘everyday awesome’ costumes by Sarah Hall gives this show a sweet aestheic and aural edge. Tamara Salwick as the text/ voice consultant has tastefully put together elements of the show that bring Cursio’s direction and choreography to life.

With no “ta da” ending, it is the choreographic unison and connection between the performers made this a satisfying show. It makes me feel like I too can take up something I’m afraid of, like skateboarding. It’s a privilege to enjoy performances of this nature. If you have never seen contemporary dance and are worried it’s wishy washy writhing in nude leotards, this is a spectacle that defies all of that and exceeds expectations. It’s an absolute delight.

Tiny Slopes played as part of Dance Massive in March 2017.

Image by Gregory Lorenzutti

Melbourne Fringe 2016: 4+4=4

Power, poignance and peril when you’re at the end of your rope

By Myron My

Presented by The Flying Xamels as part of the Melbourne Fringe Festival, 4 + 4 = 4 is a surrealist circus experience looking at four different lives, how they co-exist together and individually, and are finding their way around. Four circus artists with four ropes perform as individuals and as an ensemble as a poignant metaphor for trying to fit in with life and following the right path.


There is much to take in and analyse in 4 + 4 = 4, as the way these themes are explored could take on different and personal meanings for everyone in the audience. Fortunately the cast are all too aware of this and ensure that the tricks we see on stage are performed in a meditative and dream-like state. When you consider the technical aspects to some of the tricks, being able to appear that calm actually requires great skill and confidence, which these artists possess to a high degree.

But it is not just the performers who keep us entertained or transfixed on stage. Included in the mix in the back right corner is an artist drawing on pieces of paper on an easel and a camel that is perched atop the performance space and dropping paper flowers down below. At numerous times, one of the circus performers jumps down from the railings and bounds head first through the artist’s drawing, destroying the creation and disappearing into the darkness. The drawings all seem quite pleasant with their cartoon -tyle presentation, but the images themselves evoke a feeling of manipulation and being overpowered. In one way, smashing through the drawing shows the quartet’s defiance at this and their efforts at remaining true to themselves and living their lives their own way.

Similarly, the action all taking place under the watchful gaze of the camel – representing focus, determination and travelling – is another symbolic example of the characters staying on task and on track while undertaking their own personal journeying.

4 + 4 = 4 is circus that makes you question the way you live your life, and consider your place in the world in relation to those around you. Some mesmerizing and captivating tricks – with a well-matched soundtrack and lighting design – ensure you’ll be contemplating this show for some time to come.

Venue: Meat Market, 5 Blackwood St, North Melbourne
Season: until 25 September | Sat 8pm, Sun 7pm
Length: 60 minutes
Tickets: $28 Full | $23 Conc
Bookings: Melbourne Fringe Festival


Addiction and art, sisterhood and circus

By Myron My

Greeted with offerings of tea and coffee, we are welcomed into our Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. We all have stories we want to share in this meeting (whether we know it or not), but before we begin, Jess Love has something she would like to share, and that is how performance piece Notorious Strumpet and Dangerous Girl begins.

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Throughout this deeply personal show, Love explores her struggles with alcoholism and drug addiction, and the effects it has had on her personal life and the disconnect she feels with her family. With a Christmas family photo projected on the screen – one that does not include Love – she informs us that while she is a self-confessed queer carnie who drinks too much, the rest of her family are involved in the teaching profession and have also been Christian missionaries.

There is one family member that Love shares a bond with however: the “notorious strumpet and dangerous girl” herself, Love’s great, great, great, great grandmother Julia Mullins. Mullins was sent to Australia as a convict in 1826 for prostitution where she led a life of drunkenness, theft and other crimes. Despite the centuries between between them, there is a connection that Love feels with Mullins as they both deal with their addictions. One of the most striking visuals of the evening occurs when Love dresses up to resemble what Mullins might have worn back in her time, and presents a cheeky but touching homage to her distant relative.

The self-destructiveness of Love’s addictions are executed brilliantly in her ‘drunken’ circus performances. Her intoxication is highly convincing and the sense of danger is heightened during these routines, even when it is a standard hula hoop routine. The use of circus, performance and spoken word to share her stories and express her thoughts and feelings is well thought-out, with great pacing and momentum that never lags.

Love knows how to get the audience onside and even when the alcohol gets the better of her character and her behavior turns chaotic and crass, it is done in a way where we want to reach out and help her. The final moments of Notorious Strumpet and Dangerous Girl offers hope and calm for Love, and for anyone who may be experiencing difficulties in their life. While Love’s life has not always been pretty, she has managed to create something beautiful and meaningful with this show.

Venue: Meat Market, 5 Blackwood St, North Melbourne
Season: until 2 October | Tues – Sat 8pm, Sun 7pm
Length: 50 minutes
Tickets: $25 Full | $20 Conc / Cheap Tuesday
Bookings: Melbourne Fringe Festival