October 01, 1995



Murray Bramwell

Over the past six weeks or so  there has been  a profusion of new work and interesting ventures – more than this reviewer could keep up with. I am sorry to report that, despite repeatedly surrendering the X Files, I failed to get to everything on offer. Among my regrets is the Oddbodies Theatre Co-op’s production of Kafka Dances, the well-regarded new play written by Timothy Daly and directed by Sean Riley.  By all accounts this was a night I shouldn’t have missed.

I did catch up with the Theatre Guild’s Rawkus season at Little Theatre. A trifecta of short works, it opened with Bruce Shearer’s Good Sometime, a Beckettian monologue performed by Jo Zealand with some on-stage steering from Penny Griggs. Confined to a spangled orgone box on wheels the narrator provides Endgame in mono. Zealand gives a vigorous performance with lots of diverting facial grimaces. But the text, with its puns and Joni Mitchell rhymes -“dancers, romancers, necromancers” started to make everyone else grimace as well.

Criticism, a three-hander about a writer who invites two rough traders home for coffee and a bit of the other, is an ambitious work by Gary O’Casey. Brant Eustice and Patrick Ruthven provide the menace and Robert Elliott, the fear, loathing and masochistic fascination. It is a promising work with good performances but needed more pegging back  from director Michael Eustice.  The Armed Exhibitionist by Susan Rogers, an absurdist fantasy about a dysfuctional family and their son named Progeny, although the major production piece, was the least successful. Too over-wrought to be fun, it quickly palled.

Junction Theatre’s Threesome program is an admirable initiative. Bringing together productions by Not So Straight, Ambush and Living Voice. I missed both NSS’s One Plus One by Stephen House and local writer David Ross’s Blokes but, in their final week, saw Living Voice’s When I was a Girl I Used to Scream and Shout. Written by Sharman McDonald and directed by Catherine Fitzgerald it is not hard to see why it picked up the First Site award during Come Out.

Not only is it a strong play but Living Voice, under Fitzgerald’s assured direction, has produced very creditable work. Set on a Scottish beach, Fiona, a woman in her thirties is holidaying with her mother and re-experiencing the sieges of her adolescence. The performances are evenly good. Lisa Hughes finds complexity in the rigid mother, Fiona Seccombe is memorable as Vari, the childhood friend who stays on in the home town and Stephen Sheehan’s Ewan is an understated portrait of the boyfriend as a brash young man. Eliza Lovell is excellent as Fiona, a courageous and well-judged performance.

La Mama has also been busy. The recent version of Buchner’s Woyzeck, directed by Bill Magee, augurs well for more. With a design inspired by the drawings of Kathe Kollwitz it is a conscientious  production  of a remarkable play. Tommy Darwin convincingly captures the pent-up energy of the luckless Woyzeck and Ksenja Logos is impressive as Marie.

At the Red Shed, Blueprint’s production of Storm from Paradise is particularly noteworthy. A dialogue by Claire MacDonald, it is not only an intriguing text but, with Benedict Andrews’ intelligent direction  and  smart design by Imogen Thomas, it is distinctly original work. Ably performed by Ingrid Hearne and Richard Kelly as an unidentified couple , Storm From Paradise is their  elaborately fantasised conversation about a sophisticate named Adele and Bishop, her gardener. Through their speculations about the motivations of their creations the man and woman stalk each other in Imogen Thomas’s sparely arranged bedroom set.

Brightly lit with minimal, oddly hyper-real props the play has a mesmerising effect. Located on two sides of the action the audience views the exchanges through venetian blinds. Our unquenched voyeurism is controlled by the players who fidget almost tauntingly with the blinds. It is a powerful concept, filmic in perspective and evocatively ambiguous. I look forward to what the very talented Blueprint company will build next.

“Sightings” The Adelaide Review, No.144, October, 1995, p.34.

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