Tag: Syd Brisbane

REVIEW: Louris Van De Geer’s TRIUMPH

Real stories of problematic victims

By Myron My

In defiance of its title, Louris Van De Geer’s Triumph is a trilogy of thematically linked and emotionally disturbing stories that explore people’s desire to connect with others. With Triumph, Van De Geer confirms why she was named as one of Melbourne Writers Festival’s ’30 under 30’ best young writers. Bringing her words to life are a talented and dedicated cast of five – Aljin Abella, Syd Brisbane, Anouk Gleeson-Mead, Emma Hall and Leone White – who irrespective of being the main character of one story or the supporting role with thirty seconds of stage time in another, ensure that their characters consistently retain depth, authenticity and real humanity to them.


The first story takes inspiration from Tania Head, a woman who revealed she survived the Twin Towers from the 78th floor of the World Trade Centre. Head went on to become president of the World Trade Centre Survivors’ Network support group and spent countless years helping survivors heal. However, in 2007, it was revealed that Head wasn’t even in America at the time of the attacks but had fabricated her entire story. White convincingly brings out the conflicting nature of this woman who on the one hand is compassionate and empathetic, but on the other, is duplicitous and manipulative. Director Mark Pritchard does a great job with utilising the entire space available and ensuring that everything that happens on stage has the audience’s attention, to the point where I was so transfixed by what was going on centre stage that I almost missed a pivotal scene occurring simultaneously side of stage.

The second piece has Hall and Gleeson-Mead playing a mother and daughter, with the daughter sick in hospital, unknowingly a victim of Munchausen by Proxy. As with the first piece, Van De Geer’s writing style ensure that we are drip-fed pieces of intriguing information that keeps us constantly wondering what exactly is going on, until suddenly it is made clear. The complexity of the desire to be needed is explored quite effectively to the point where you’re not quite sure how to feel by the time this story concludes. There are some strongly nuanced performances by Hall and fourteen-year-old Gleeson-Mead, as they explore this unique mother-daughter relationship.

The third story, based on suicide pacts in Japan, shows two strangers meeting up who have decided to end their lives together. Abella and Brisbane are very relaxed with their characters and their interactions with each other feel quite natural given the circumstances they find themselves in. Romanie Harper‘s set design is at its best with this story, with a number of ominous-looking trees seemingly enveloping the two men. Amelia Lever-Davidson‘s lighting design further enhances the darkness and loneliness, which is brilliantly encapsulated with an evocative final scene.

Triumph is a dark look at how we are constantly looking for connections to other people, even if it is through tragedy or deceit. While the stories do not all have a neat resolution with everything explained, Van De Geer’s thought-provoking script allows you to come to your own conclusions as to how we should regard these people. When you get right down to it, we are all just looking for a purpose for existing, no matter how misguided we may be in finding that purpose.

Venue: fortyfive downstairs, 45 Flinders Lane, Melbourne
Season: Until 28 February | Tue- Sat 7.30pm, Sun 3pm
$35 Full | $28 Conc

Bookings: fortyfive downstairs

Image by Sarah Walker

REVIEW: One for the Ugly Girls at LA MAMA

Things get ugly

By Myron My

In One for the Ugly Girls by Tahli Corin, Alistair (Syd Brisbane) is an artist searching for a lookalike of his late wife so that he can bring her back to life on canvas.

One For The Ugly Girls

Jade (Lori Bell) responds to his request online and although she is not the ideal image of beauty and not exactly what Alistair has envisaged, he agrees to paint her – until a second Jade (Hannah Norris) arrives and things get a little complicated.

Most of the themes that One for the Ugly Girls deals with are skimmed through and not much closure or complexity is given to the characters. The intense themes of loss, holding on to the past and longing to be loved are all present but they are just glossed over.

Furthermore, there is a lot of raw emotion in the play and sadly, it is to its detriment. The scenes of excessive shouting and yelling seem unnecessary and moments of anger towards others appear without real motive or reason.

Unfortunately Brisbane fails to get the audience to empathise with Alistair as we never really get to know what he is thinking and who he really is. There are a few times when the choices he makes seem to be completely out of character. Furthermore, the motivations of the two Jades for doing what they have done are never explained and you are left with quite a few questions by the end.

In saying that, I would have liked to see more of the two Jades’ relationship. Even though this was predominantly a story revolving around Alistair, there was so much going on between the two girls that it warranted some form of exploration, and suggested a history to be expanded upon.  However, both Bell and Norris put in very strong performances and play their characters quite convincingly given the material they’ve got.

Overall, I felt stronger direction was needed by first-time director Adriana Bonaccurso for a play such as this, to allow the story to evolve in a more organic way. One for the Ugly Girls had the potential to be something special but lost its way in the process.

Venue: La Mama Theatre, 205 Faraday Street Carlton

Season: Until 19 May | Wed, Fri 8:30pm. Thurs, Sat-Sun 6:30pm

Tickets: $25 Full | $15 Conc

Bookings: http://lamama.com.au or 9347 6948