Tag: Michaela Bedel

Review: Slut

Pertinent and permeating progressive perfection

By Owen James

Witnessing an ensemble of collaborators and performers so in tune with each other, as well as in tune with the message and tone of the work they are presenting, is a rarity. Slut is a powerful dissection of the tangible inner conflict imposed on women making their journey from childhood to adulthood; and this is a production that for me comes close to perfection.

Patricia Cornelius’ exemplary yet disconcerting script was first performed in 2007, and as director Rachel Baring notes in the programme, “it is really hard when you take a piece from 2007 and it is just as relevant now as when it was written”. Baring has taken the raw, exposing elements inherent in Cornelius’ work, and turned the flame to high. Presented in the insanely intimate Fitzroy space ‘The Burrow’ (journey down a laneway off Brunswick Street to find a very cozy black box seating only 25), these feminist depositions are brutally honest and grippingly confronting. Baring ensures the dialogue and impressively rapid-fire choreographed movement are always as perturbing as the claustrophobic space these oppressed performers are unnaturally confined within. Lighting and sound design by John Collopy and Daniella Esposito respectively is exquisite, enhancing the text and direction at every turn.

The majority of dialogue is shared by a narrative triad composed of Lauren Mass, Jessica Tanner and Michaela Bedel. So impeccable is the timing and communal commitment to concentration shared by these three that we are transfixed with every word and gesture. Laura Jane Turner plays social renegade Lolita (named for the connotative qualities title “Lolita” recalls), and fearlessly delivers much of her exposition with disturbing composure mere centimetres away from audience members. This perfectly-matched company of four are of such high calibre I could happily have sat there fully engaged for hours.

A 30-minute show for almost $30 is a hard sell in our relentless economy where getting bang for your backbreaking buck is not only expected but necessary. But I’m here to tell you your spent dollars will be bereft of regret thanks to the dedication and expertise of these creatives. Slut is everything great theatre should be – urgent, relevant, and a good story well told; and proves how access to only limited resources is no obstacle to talented theatre-makers.

Don’t miss Slut, a powerhouse rollercoaster that propels itself forward with turbulent momentum at every turn, and will leave you simultaneously thrilled and terrified.

Running until March 21: https://www.trybooking.com/book/event?eid=586996

Photograph courtesy of Michaela Bedel.

Boutique Theatre Presents MERRY CHRISTMAS, BITCHES!

Festive family gathering with grim but witty twists

By Joana Simmons

Tis’ the season to be jolly. Or so they say, as for many of us, Christmas can be a time of togetherness, tinsel, traffic, terrible gifts and tension. Boutique Theatre‘s production of Merry Christmas, Bitches! written by Samantha Hill captivatingly reveals all the sides of the silly season, as told by various female members of the McDoonie family on a sweltering Christmas day between the prawn cocktails and rum and cokes.


The Tuxedo Cat’s upstairs space was filled with presents of all sizes stacked amongst baubles, stars and reindeers. Breanna (Samantha Hill) held the audience in her hand as she set the scene with her colloquial monologue detailing the family dynamic, tense from Christmases gone by, which wasn’t to be bought up this year because ‘you don’t start shit at Christmas’… but they have discovered a dead body under the shed in the backyard and it’s all a bit weird. The one-liners are comical and the content is well thought-out. The writing throughout this show is extremely clever and maturely takes us down all kinds of deep paths, with great social, political, gender and satirical commentary sparkling through.

We meet Joanna (Ana Mitsikas) the divorcee, somewhat neurotic vegetarian, and outsider. Her individual story is as interesting as the last; it’s not so much about what has happened, but the details about the relationships that get us invested in each character’s story. Caitlin Mathieson’s portrayal of year 12 graduate Greyson was authentic and strong. In her Christmas pud earrings and kitschy green t-shirt, Sylvia (Emma Jo Makay) is the aunty who tries so hard to make everything perfect and doesn’t quite get it and pulls our heart strings as she cries for the 5th time that day – her first Christmas without her Dad. The matriarch, Bev (Jen Watkins) had fantastic and charming – or as Bev would probably say – “grouse” physicality. Truths come to light, some dark, some relatable, some shocking. The audience is captivated. It’s contrasted with eight year old Snow-White dressing scooter-riding Emma-Leigh (Lauren Mass) who is hilarious and dynamic.

There’s many wonderful things that hit home in this show. The structure is strong, with characters I can definitely compare to my family and who were played well. At 90mins with no interval, I did feel it was too long, as the whole time it was only one person speaking at a time. Director Michaela Bedel has done a stellar job keeping the pace through this massive melting-pot of stories, while the show was seamlessly stage-managed by Dylan Morgan. The set of presents by Nick Casey and Alicia Aulsebrook was bought to life by lighting designer Grace Marshall; before the show started I glanced around and couldn’t see a complex lighting rig but what she did with what she had was very effective.

I made it to this show only at the end of the run. I’m incredibly glad I did. It is a show for anyone who has had a not-so-festive family gathering, for anyone who doesn’t quite feel like they fit in the family mould, or feel the need to carry on with all the baubles and bull-shit. I heartily hope it comes around again next year, for Merry Christmas, Bitches! was witty, wise, and well worth watching.

Merry Christmas, Bitches! was performed at The Tuxedo Cat from 7th – 11th December, 2016.


A taste of a working Shakespearean reworking

By Myron My

The great thing about La Mama’s Explorations season is that it gives artists the opportunity to present works in various stages of development. It might be the first time it is staged to an audience or a scripted reading. In the case of True Love’s Sight, we see a number of segments from their upcoming immersive theatrical experience.

True Loves Sight

Taking place inside the walls of Athens, the work, created by Michaela Bedel and Nikki Brumen, is inspired by Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. We meet a number of characters from the play, including Theseus, Hermia, Helena, Lysander and Demetrius. William Ewing, Doug Lyons and  Tamzen Hayes do well with their characters and are confident enough in making their interactions with the audience seem genuine and spontaneous.

At one point, Helena grabs three audience members – including myself on the night in question – and takes us into a shed, where she professes her undying love for Demetrius. Helena dictates a poem for me to write, as Demetrius will not read it if it is in her handwriting. It’s an enjoyable few minutes that allows the three audience members to gain special insight into Helena and subsequently Demetrius. My attempt at passing the poem to Demetrius is quite an enjoyable one.

There is potential for True Love’s Sight to be quite a memorable show, however with only 25 minutes of the production’s current material being performed, it is difficult to get a real idea of what its creators’ intentions are or where it is headed. Even ten more minutes would probably have provided some more basic framework and understanding for the audience, for just as we were becoming more involved with the story, it abruptly comes to end.

The one thing that needs to be ensured for successful immersive theatre however is that no matter in what group the audience members end up or what story they experience, they must still be able to piece a general plot and appreciate its intersecting storylines and the motivations of its characters. From what was witnessed in this performance, True Love’s Sight seems to be going down the right path. 

True Love’s Sight was performed at La Mama Theatre between 4 – 6 December.