Tag: Sarah Plummer

REVIEW: Melbourne Writers’ Theatre Presents HOW TO SURVIVE AN EARTHQUAKE

Traumatic tale powerfully realised

By Darcy Whitsed

How To Survive An Earthquake could easily be named How To Affect Your Audience With An Incredibly Sad And Harrowing Narrative. It is written by Christine Croyden and details the relationship of two estranged sisters, Stephanie (Jessica Gerger) and Jane (Sarah Plummer) after the death of their mother.

How to Survive an Earthquake

The difference in the sisters’ lives and attitudes is immediately apparent, with Stephanie returning from her duties as a UN peacekeeper to be met by Jane, a Melbournian who has given up the past few years of her life to be a full-time carer for their mother.

The actors relish in the challenge of the show, being required to transform characters, ages and places within split seconds and they achieve this with impressive ease. I did however feel as though the emotional range of the characters was only from sad to sadder to distraught. This is likely due to the content of the play but I personally would have loved to have seen some upbeat moments to contrast with and heighten the tragic ones, especially during the scenes when the sisters where reflecting nostalgically.

How To Survive An Earthquake’s director Glenda Linscott flexes her directorial muscle in the realisation of the story, utilizing lots of non-naturalistic theatrical elements and conventions.  The narrative jumps back and forth in time, displaying the sisters’ often painful memories. These transitions are effectively marked with a repeated line or moment that has a visible effect on the characters. This is extremely effective in segueing between scenes and also showing how the memories still affect the characters emotionally and physically.

The technical elements of How To Survive An Earthquake are also superbly integrated into the action. With a combination of live and pre-recorded music composed for the show, the soundscape is gorgeous. Sound designers Dom Buckham and Millie O’Sullivan both perform live from behind the audience: an extremely effective addition, with drums, guitars and other instruments being used with impeccable timing to enhance the dramatic moments of the show and cater perfectly to the audience.

The lighting designed by Jason Bouvaird is also stunning. It utilizes symbolic colours and gobo effects perfectly to mark varying time frames, flashbacks and memories throughout the story’s disjointed narrative.

Overall, this production of How To Survive An Earthquake is a technically well-rounded piece of theatre that tackles how emotional pain can stand between redemption – and forgiveness.

Location: La Mama Courthouse, 349 Drummond Street Carlton

Dates: Aug 14 to Sept 1, Wed to Sat 8pm, Sun 5pm.

Tickets: $30/conc $20.

Bookings: 03 9347 6948 or lamama.com.au

Review: THE STAIRS ARE MOVING by Neil Triffett

Promising new theatre and impressive performances

By Myron My

The Stairs Are Moving is a new play by writer and director Neil Triffett. Combining experimental techniques with traditional theatre, the story follows two siblings who reunite due to the passing of their Aunt Petunia.

Triffett has taken the unusual course of having minimal stage direction. For most of the show, the characters would use direct audience address to further the story. It was quite intriguing to hear these series of mainly monologues unfold, however it felt like a lot of the action disappeared, as it became more and more a series of “talking head” scenes. It got frustrating watching the actors say they were doing something when I just wanted them to physically do it.

Performer Charlotte Nicdao was the shining star of this production. Her ability to switch from not only calm and diligent Tulip to erratic and obsessive Tulip, but also to one of the crazy aunts was a joy to watch. Similarly, Carolyn Masson as the recently deceased Aunt Petunia provided great insight and emotion to a character that you therefore sympathise with despite the secrets she holds.

The scenes with lewd, crude and rude Aunt Olga and Aunt Tiffany (Nicdao and Masson) were definitely needed to lift the mood and the energy of the play. Having said that, there were moments of strong conviction from Sarah Plummer and Maurice Mammoliti as the two siblings. It was evident that there was a strained relationship between the characters but it would have been great to explore that more organically as revelations came quickly and out of the blue.

The lighting played an important part in the show, illuminating different spaces on stage to designate time, place and character, and setting the different moods and tones. There were moments where the wrong area was lit up and the actors began their scenes in the dark and the dark lighting sometimes detracted from the intensity of the scene, as we could not see the actors’ faces clearly.

The Stairs Are Moving is a highly original play with some very strong performances from its cast. Although not the easiest story to follow, Triffett should be congratulated on creating something very different for audiences to see.

Venue: La Mama Courthouse, 349 Drummond St, Carlton.

Season: Until 3 November | Wed – Sat 8:00pm, Sun 2:00pm

Tickets: $20 Full | $15 Concession

Bookings: www.trybooking.com/bvml