Tag: Peta Hanrahan

Melbourne Fringe 2016: FALLING APPLES

Powerful concept as lives traverse

By Leeor Adar

The concept of Lene Therese Teigan’s Falling Apples is vast and intimate – a Chekhovian-inspired world where the characters’ lives collide in uncertain times.

Falling Apples.jpg

As a fan of Chekhov’s work and Peta Hanrahan’s wonderful direction of A Room of One’s Own earlier this year, I had high hopes for this production presented by La Mama and Verve studios as part of the 2016 Melbourne Fringe Festival, but it was ultimately a cacophony of words, ideas and vibrations.

The Kensington Town Hall is undoubtedly a beautiful place to perform a production. The echo within the large chamber provided a beautiful and haunting introduction as the voices of the performers hummed a suitably melancholy sound – this is Chekhovian terrain after all.

The echo, however, did not bode well for the performers and their interactions. Unless the audience was seated directly opposite the vignette, much of the dialogue was lost within the space. Due to the length of the performance space, the audience was seated along some distance, exacerbating this issue. This had the unfortunate affect of alienating the stories before us. I expect a better choice of space or seating arrangement would have prevented this.

I appreciated the concept of the characters constantly moving within the space as one scene was explored. Undoubtedly the message is clear – we cross paths with other histories every day, and occasionally collide. On this occasion it was further distracting from the already difficult-to-follow dialogue of the active scene within the work.

There were silver linings of strong performances from some members of the cast, particularly Elizabeth Huey-Williams as the troubled sister, and Marissa O’Reilly as the foreign lover. Huey-Williams and O’Reilly gave a lovely depth to their performances that managed to pierce through the chaos surrounding them. Unfortunately, some of the performances were unconvincing and I do not doubt that staging issues contributed.

Ultimately this premiere work was conceptually strong, but weak in execution.

You can catch Falling Apples from Tuesday-Saturday until October 8, Kensington Town Hall: http://lamama.com.au/2016-winter-program/falling-apples

Image by Tommy Holt of T6 Photography


Dark visions powerfully portrayed

By Myron My

We are now living in a dystopian world of the named and the unnamed, where safety and comfort are a thing of the past and children are now brought up in a society where the only games they remember are guessing how many bombs are going to go off in the night. Adam J. A. Cass’ Fractured explores this frightening vision through five “broken” souls.


Danelle Wynne is the standout of the cast as Astrid, the almost feral child who is too afraid and suspicious of anyone to let her guard down. Her animal-like qualities and habits show how deeply she has been affected by her experiences and form a strong contrast to the rest of the people around her, such as Suzi Loo played by Nicole Morgan. Morgan is also strong in her character portrayal and her concluding scenes were completely and utterly engrossing. Rounding out the impressive cast are Natalie-Lynne Pillar, Josh Vasilev and Amy Firth.

I particularly enjoyed the lighting design with this show and the shadows that were beautifully created within the space. The scene of Rhodes (Firth) dragging in the screaming Astrid by the hair was particularly effective in utilising this, and thus heightening the powerful sense of unease early on in the show.

Peta Hanrahan‘s direction gives the actors (and their characters) plenty of opportunity to move and express themselves whilst not being too overwhelming for each other and the audience. Considering Cass wrote this work specifically for the performance space at Club Voltaire, the space is perfectly utilised and the stage design, while minimal, captures the overall mood of the show well.

However, there are a few scenes that confused me as to their purpose, especially in its attempts to be – as mentioned in the synopsis – immersive theatre. At one stage, members of the audience are handed sleeping pills only to have no real reason for this to occur, and the interaction is neither elaborated upon or discussed again.

Fractured explores the idea of having the courage to go on but also the need for compassion and humanity for people we don’t know but still need to care about and protect. The strongest, most effective moment of the performance for me happens before the show even started, and when you go to see it (as you should), you will understand what I am referring to. What endures then, is a profound sense of the responsibility we have to fellow humans who are less fortunate than us purely because of luck.

Venue: Club Voltaire, 14 Raglan St, North Melbourne, 3051

Season: Until 20 September | 7.30pm

Tickets: $25 Full | $20 Conc

Bookings: Melbourne Fringe Festival

REVIEW: Verve Studios Presents LOST & FOUND

Seeking a way into the heart of complex characters…

By Myron My

Having recently seen Daniel Keene’s brilliant Dreamers, I was looking forward to seeing more of his work in Verve Studios’ production Lost & Found. Performed by the second year Professional Actor’s Studio graduates and directed by Peta Hanrahan, the play looks at three short stories by Keene all dealing with loss or gain around life: “The Violin”, “Neither Lost nor Found” and “What Remains”.

Lost and Found

By far, the most powerful performances among the three were in “Neither Lost nor Found”, in which an estranged mother and daughter are reunited. The two actors Nicole Morgan and Danelle Wynne were able to connect emotionally with the characters and offer some significant insight into the minds of these people.

However, I felt the direction needed to be stronger throughout all three stories to guide these upcoming performers more, especially in “The Violin” and “What Remains” as the actors are still learning the skills needed to be able to carry such challenging roles, and particularly with Josh Vasilev’s demanding role in the latter. Despite Vasilev’s obvious dedication to the character, the performance overall felt too theatrical and repetitive in directed reactions and responses.

The most successful aspect of Lost & Found was the various ways in which the stories were told from a visual perspective. The use of the projection screen in “The Violin” was highly emotive, with images of Jewish people in concentration camps appearing as the story was told. Similarly, in “What Remains”, the slowly rising full-moon projection as Vasilev’s character spoke into a microphone to an unknown person about what life means to him and the things he will miss such as his wife and child gave a profound sense of foreboding and fear as the speech progressed.

Technically, Lost & Found was brave and rewarding and the stories themselves are incredibly engrossing but it would seem more direction was required for the promising actors to be able to develop and fully explore these characters and their lives.

Lost & Found was performed at Theatreworks on 14-15 November 2014.