Tag: Melbourne Fringe Festival 2014

REVIEW: Speakeasy and MKA: Theatre of New Writing Present MKA: RICHARD II

Time doth waste him

By Narelle Wood

MKA: Richard II is a little hard to describe. Not being familiar with the Shakespearean work, it is a little hard to know how true to the original storyline this modern adaptation is. Regardless of accuracy, it is a highly entertaining and sometimes uncomfortable look at leadership.

Richard II

This tale of Richard II begins with 11 year-old Richard (Mark Wilson) and 10 year-old Henry (Olivia Monticciolo) already establishing their leadership rivalry, citing everything from age lineage and gender as reasons for their own superiority. Flash forward a few years, Richard is king and the bids for leadership takeovers, strip-teasers and political rants begin. Monticciolo is great, but there is something about Wilson that is hilarious.

Interspersed throughout the dialogue, which may be closely based on recent political events, there are excerpts from the Bard’s Richard II and what appears to be some ad-libbed political ranting. What Wilson and Monticciolo have created is a very funny link between Shakespeare’s world and the Australian world of politics; the parallels that are drawn are brilliant and the resulting commentary on leadership resonates as true.

The set is simple but effective, with a runway becoming the political platform whereby each leader assumes their position. It did seem a little long at times (it kept to the hour timeframe) but this was mostly during the Richard II soliloquies that remind you that Shakespeare, whilst brilliant, had some exceptionally verbose tendencies, especially when his characters are wallowing. The costumes were also really well done; Richard’s costume was amazing and certainly had all the embellishments one would expect from royal robes. It was interesting to see Wilson’s skill at putting on tights and Monticciolo’s ability to tastefully get changed while dancing to some good old-fashioned 80’s rock.

MKA: Richard II is a fun, but fairly intense show. It has certainly inspired me to read Shakespeare’s Richard II (and maybe a Henry or two). It would certainly be a good Fringe Festival choice for anyone interested in Shakespeare, politics or planning their own political upheaval.

Venue: Northcote Town Hall, 189 High St Northcote
Season: Saturday 20th September to Sunday 28th September, 9.30pm, Sundays 8.30pm
Tickets: Full $26| Conc $21
Bookings: www.melbournefringe.com.au/fringe-festival/show/ mka-richard-ii/


Willy Loman still has a dream

By Narelle Wood

I am an Arthur Miller fan, and while Death of a Salesman is a great play it is depressing and in need of a little humour. I was intrigued by the premise of this play as a comedy and what The Loman Empire: The Sitcom! – An unauthorised satire of Death of a Salesman accomplishes, is more than a little humour; it is non-stop laughing from start to finish.

The Loman Empire The Sitcom

The play has been reset as a 80’s sitcom and from the moment the audience enters they are onset for a live taping of The Loman Empire. True to the original script of the play, the taping of this episode of The Loman Empire follows Willy (Russell Fletcher), Biff (Jimmy James Eaton) and Happy (Danny McGinlay) on their pursuit for the American Dream and their experiences of falling just short of success. Of course Linda Loman (Lana Schwarz), Willy’s long-suffering wife, and Charlie (Damian Callinan), the long-suffering neighbour, also make an appearance.

The structure of The Loman Empire: The Sitcom! is a show within a show; the sitcom begins with the introduction of the stars and each act is broken up with a commercial break. So well put together is this production that they actually include opening and closing credits and commercials, some of which are so funny I’m still laughing.

The writing is exceptional. The writer Danny McGinlay has managed to intertwine large parts of Death of a Salesman with his dialogue, whilst keeping the integrity of all the characters. The director, Damian Callinan, uses the set really well with multiple transitions and the actors move seamlessly between characters, especially Dennis Manahan, who we first meet as the actor Chyp Wood. The personas of the off-screen actors are hilarious, but one of my personal favourites is the off-to-the-side-of-the-stage ‘Warm Up Guy’ (Lachlan Millsom) who keeps the audience applauding and laughing in all the right spots.

Even if you’re not a Miller fan or familiar with the original works, this is a hoot that had me laughing from the moment it started. But be warned; you may never read Death of a Salesman in quite the same way again.

Venue: Northcote Town Hall, 189 High St Northcote
Season: Saturday 20th September to Sunday 28th September, 8.15 pm, Sundays 7.15 pm
Tickets: Full $26| Conc $21
Bookings: www.melbournefringe.com.au/fringe-festival/show/loman-empire-the-sitcom-an-unauthorised-satire-of-death-of-a-salesman/