Tag: Olivia Monticciolo

Poppy Seed Festival Presents BLESSED

Dark and dusty divinity

By Myron My

The Poppy Seed Festival returns to Melbourne for its second year, opening with Fleur Kilpatrick’s Blessed , a modern retelling of angel Gabriel’s visit to Mary informing her that she is to be the mother of Jesus presented by Attic Erratic. While her previous work, The City They Burned, successfully re-imagined the story of Lot and the fall of Sodom into contemporary times, in this production there is perhaps too much effort in pushing the religious undertones, whereupon I feel the authenticity of what Kilpatrick is attempting to create gets blurred.


The story follows Maggie and Grey (Olivia Monticciolo and Matt Hickey), who after years of no contact are reunited in Grey’s grimy and shabby home. These are people who are from the lower end of the socio-economic spectrum and living in community housing, who are struggling to make ends meet with low-paying jobs.

While the idea of these two characters being involved with The Annunciation is an interesting exploration of the above issues facing many today, the story never quite gets to making as much as an impact or statement as it should; and for me, if this is a love story, then Hickey and Monticciolo are also unsuccessful in finding it in their characters. While effort has clearly gone into developing Grey and Maggie, the relationship between them doesn’t seem to resonate convincingly on stage and the journey to get to the finale seemed to stagnate at times. Even some adroit direction by Danny Delahunty failed to ignite a spark in the performances or keep the momentum building.

The set design by Luc Favre is a highlight however, and clearly depicts the squalid environment in which Grey and Maggie find themselves in. The unkempt bedroom and the rubbish and clothes strewn across the room are a great visual extension of where Grey has found himself in life.

Kilpatrick may have a deeper message to impart with Blessed in terms of class, love and equality, but unfortunately this production feels as messy as Grey’s bedroom.

Venue: Malthouse Theatre, 113 Sturt Street, Southbank VIC 3006
Season: Until 20 November | Tues – Sat 8pm, Sun 4pm
Tickets: $38 Full | $28 Conc
Bookings: Malthouse Theatre

Image by Sarah Walker

REVIEW: Emilie Collyer’s DREAM HOME

Renovation nightmare comes true…

By Christine Young

What ‘sort of people’ are you? This is a question that dogs the central characters of Dream Home, a play about a suburban couple whose renovations become a manifestation of their fears and desires.

Dream Home

The play opens with protagonists Wendy and Brian front-of-stage explaining why they are ‘going up’: adding an upstairs retreat to their house, that is. Wendy is especially worried about what the neighbours think so they have been invited round for a BBQ. Have they become the kind of people who want a room with a view? And what’s that stench seeping through the crack in the wall?

So from the outset, Dream Home breaks down the imaginary fourth wall between players and audience. The characters represent the audience and connect with them while they struggle to bond with each other. They address the audience directly or with humourous asides throughout.

Playwright Emilie Collyer explores the Australian dream-nightmare with compassion and humour. The ordinariness ‘living the dream’ is set against the nightmarish bubbling of subconscious yearnings represented by the mysterious house extension.

At this intersection of reality and fantasy, the audience is challenged to suspend disbelief at the peculiar smells, sights and apparitions projected onto the wall.

There is a Shakespearean quality to the fantasy world reminiscent of Hamlet and Macbeth. The characters are haunted by the past, experiencing an internal struggle between who they are, who they want to be and how they want to live.

The performance is a culmination of an intelligent, carefully structured script brought to life by skilful direction from Luke Kerridge. Kerridge has a firm grasp on the scenes’ pace and transitions; and he understands who the characters are, where they have been and where they are going.

And the seven actors display a profound understanding of the characters they are playing. In particular, Emily Tomlins (Wendy) gives an intuitive performance imbued with empathy and wit. And Olivia Monticciolo stands out as Elise, a 20-something comedian who gate-crashes the BBQ and the play.

The current season of Dream Home presented by Darebin Arts Speakeasy is almost over so there’s not much time to catch this remarkable play which was shortlisted for two playwrights’ awards.

Venue: Northcote Town Hall, West Wing Studio 1, 189 High St, Northcote
Dates: Until June 3, 2015
Tickets: Adult $29, Concession $25 (Student, Health Care Card, Equity Members), Group 4 or more $25
Booking: www.northcotetownhall.com.au

Warning: Contains Strong Language, Partial Nudity, Simulated Sex, Not suitable for Children

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/