Tag: Zoe Boesen

Red Stitch Presents THE MOORS

A brilliant, absurdist Brontesque thriller

By Tania Herbert

Haze cascades down from the ceiling, and the severe form of a Victorian woman is lit to look like a cameo brooch. Thus opens The Moors at Red Stitch Theatre, and I already have a little thrill of expectation.

The Moors

Wandering into the tiny, immaculate theatre of Red Stitch is always an expected delight. What was less expected though, was this gothic surrealist gem of a play by Jen Silverman.

Governess Emilie (Zoe Boesen) is lured to a new job at a manor on the moors, after an exchange of sultry emails with the lord of the manor. She arrives to find that there appears to be no child, her bedroom looks suspiciously like the parlour, and her benefactor is nowhere to be found.

Instead she quickly finds herself embroiled in the mysteries of the household, with the multiple personalities of the housemaid (Grace Lowry), melancholies of tortured writer Hudley (Anna McCarthy) and the chilling powers of Agatha (Alex Aldrich), the formidable sister of the missing lord.

The gothic thriller set-up is counterpointed by the parallel story of the depressed family hound who forms an implausible relationship with a damaged moor-hen unable to fly away (played by ensemble actors Dion Mills and Olga Makeeva).

The set-up and absurdist nature of the play could have easily ended up out of hand, but was held in place by extremely tight direction under Stephen Nicolazzo, and particularly the strength of characterisation by all cast members. For every performance, the simmering darkness within was captured, presenting a gripping two hours of theatre. With an almost all-female cast, the play pushed gender roles in particularly interesting ways – my feeling was that the play isn’t foregrounding a feminist message as such – but rather, is a story with an exceptionally strong cast of characters and actors – most of whom happen to be women.

It is difficult to highlight a particular standout performer, as every cast member was strong, convincing and compelling. Perhaps my personal favourite was Olga Makeeva mastering the challenge of playing both an anthropomorphised bird, but also the relative ‘everyman’ against the absurdities around her.

The accent variation grated on me a little, as Australian ocker just doesn’t seem congruent with the English moors, but given the surrealist nature of the work, this did not subtract overall. This play won’t be for everyone – it is dark in mood, appearance and humour with horror elements and a bit of lustiness.

Sinister, dark, and humorous, watching The Moors feels like peering into a gothic dollhouse of horrors.

The Moors is performing at Red Stitch Theatre, Rear 2 Chapel St, St Kilda East

 Dates: 6 June- 9 July, Tuesday-Saturday 8pm, Sunday 6.30pm (Post-show Q&A 22 June)

Tickets: $15-$49

Bookings: (03) 9533 8083 or www.redstitch.net

Image by Jodie Hutchinson

Melbourne Fringe 2016: SAVING SPIDERS

Not all is as it seems…

By Myron My

In Saving Spiders, presented by Darebin Arts Speakeasy and GRANITE for the 2016 Melbourne Fringe, Tina is a young woman who is living her life as if it is one big party. Between her boyfriend Grant and best friend Gracie, their shared existence consists solely of sex, drugs and good times. There is little responsibility in any of their lives, just a lot of fun – until the moment the fun stops, and things can never be the same again.

Saving Spiders.jpg

Saving Spiders relies on its cast to ensure its success, as it is very much a character-driven piece. Fortunately Zoe Boesen, Paul Blenheim, Ryan Jones and Leila Rodgers (who also wrote the show) all embrace their characters wholeheartedly and their resonant interactions with each other feel as If they have known each other for years.

The intriguing story develops organically and this is due to Rodgers’ ability to write strong fleshed-out characters where much is understood about their relationships without Rodgers’ needing to explicitly state it. It feels like Rodgers is writing about us, or people we know, so we can instantly relate to their lives and actions.

As the narrative continues, Rodgers takes a less linear path as we begin to go inside Tina’s mind and see how she is slowly unraveling for reasons that are initially a mystery to the audience. Brigid Gallagher’s skillful direction is a highlight here, particularly the scene where Grant and Gracie begin to clear out Tina’s bedroom, exposing the cold hard realities of Tina’s life in the present and how the party is well and truly over.

Everyone wants to be surrounded by their best friends, those they can trust implicitly and always know will be there for them. Saving Spiders explores what happens when that is no longer the case. Powerful theatre that is highly entertaining.

Venue: Northcote Town Hall, 189 High St, Northcote, 3070 

Season: until 24 September | Tue – Sat 9:15pm, Sun 8:15pm 

Length: 60 minutes

Tickets: $25 Full | $20 Conc/Cheap Tuesday/Groups 4+

Bookings: MelbourneFringe Festival


60s spoof cinema becomes Midsumma highlight

By Myron My

Psycho Beach Party is a glorious camp dive into the 60s surf as we follow Chicklet’s (Ash Flanders) journey to becoming a female surfer. Along the way we learn of a psycho who likes to shave women’s hair from top to bottom, witness some “unexpected” love, and meet an overbearing mother with a secret or two of her own.

Filmed as the 2000 queer cult classic of the same name, Little Ones Theatre have brought all the joy and hilarity of Charles Busch’s spoof horror beach flick script back to the stage where it all began.

Psycho Beach Party

The play’s set is adorned with leopard prints as far as the eye can see: umbrella, beach chairs, sand, backdrop and even the majority of the costumes are all decked in various shades and patterns of black and yellow. Despite scene changes, the set never altered and perhaps allowing the audience to cast their eyes on something different would have better distinguished between different locales. The gloriously campy musical numbers – and quirky choreography – were a joy to watch and I did wish there had been a few more of these.

All the performers did extremely well with their characters and they were clearly having fun playing these absurd beach-loving stereotypes. The standouts for me would have to be Flanders, Genevieve Giuffre as Berdine and Zoe Boesen as Marvel Ann. Despite having quite a few different stories with not much narrative direction, the various erratic plots do all get wrapped up quite nicely by the end of the show.

But you are not watching Psycho Beach Party for its storyline or the depth of its characters. It is – dare I say it – like a 60s beach version of The Rocky Horror Picture Show meets Friday the 13th Psycho Beach Party cranks it up to 11 with its over-the-top persona, some sharp (and sexually punning) dialogue and a few fabulous music interludes for good measure.

Playing as part of Midsumma Festival, Psycho Beach Party is as camp as the proverbial row of tents but this is definitely one beach where you’ll want to pitch yours (yes, I went there).

Venue: Theatreworks, 14 Acland St, St Kilda.

Season: Until 19 January | 7:30pm

Tickets: $32 Full | $22 Concession

Bookings:  9534 3388 or http://www.theatreworks.org.au