Ambiguity’s absorption

Blackrock (La Boite Theatre Company and QUT Creative Industries)

La Boite Theatre Company, Roundhouse Theatre

July 22 – August 12

Since premiering in 1995, Nick Enright’s “Blackrock” has found a place in both the Australian drama cannon and on high school drama syllabuses nationwide. And, 20 years after its first presentation of the play, La Boite Theatre Company’s 2017 production shows just how sadly still relevant its social themes of mateship, misogyny and violence are.

La Boite Theatre Company's Blackrock. Pictured Karl Stuifzand, Bianca Saul, Ryan Hodson. Image by Dylan Evans.jpg

From the show’s opening scene, the production explodes with energy as teens in the (fictional) Australian beachside working-class suburb of Blackrock welcome home the prodigal, dangerous, local surfing legend Ricko (Karl Stuifzand). After an unsupervised beach party soon afterwards, 15-year-old Tracy Warner is found dead, raped by three boys, her head bashed in with a rock. Having seen the incident and done nothing, proverbial good bloke Jared (Ryan Hodson) is filled with guilt yet remains silent, which leads to the breakdown of his relationships with both his girlfriend Rachel (Jessica Potts) and his mother Diane (Christen O’Leary). Events are made even more shocking by knowledge of the narrative’s origins, based as it is on the real-life rape and murder of a 14-year-old Newcastle girl, Leigh Leigh which occurred during teenage birthday party celebrations at Stockton Surf Club in November 1989.

La Boite Theatre Company's Blackrock. Pictured Ryan Hodson, Karl Stuifzand, Tom Wilson. Image by Dylan Evans.jpg

In a unique collaboration between La Boite and QUT Creative Industries, the play presents the impact of a violent crime on a close-knit community as an engrossing and moving experience thanks to powerful performances from a talented cast of established actors and QUT near-graduates alike. The script is action packed in its initial scenes as the talented cast brings Enright’s characters to vivid life, even if the deliberate colloquial language of g-dropping initially jars in its over-emphasis.

La Boite Theatre Company's Blackrock. Pictured Jessica Potts, Ryan Hodson. Image by Dylan Evans.jpg

Powerful performances from across the large cast make for a moving experience of a story in which everyone is a victim, with the third year QUT actors allows for fresh audience responses. Thomas Cossettini gives a considered performance as Toby, torn in his determination of the difference between a friend and a mate. So too, as the victim’s friend Cherie, Ebony Nave shows compassion and emotion, especially in an initial, absorbing monologue. And Christen O’Leary and Amy Ingram show their experience as Toby’s fraught mother Diane and Cherie’s well-meaning, bordering on overbearing, mother Glenys.

La Boite Theatre Company's Blackrock. Pictured Christen O'Leary, Amy Ingram. Image by Dylan Evans.jpg

Given its morally-ambiguous and thus compelling story, “Blackrock” is a demanding play to present and Director Todd Macdonald meets the challenge by giving the work plenty of pace. Transitions are swift and effective, and digital projections add much to the initial party atmosphere, however, while staging some scenes upon a raised wooden platform works well for those seated high in the theatre-in-the-round stalls, at other times it compromises vision and thus detracts from immersion in the play’s moments.

Sadly, twenty years after “Blackrock” was first published, its themes remain relevant, cementing its worth as a modern Australian classic, as shocking, emotional and confronting as ever and not in need to overt attempts to emphasise relevance with incorporation of deliberate Queensland references. In its exploration of the impact of the story’s brutal crime on a small community and, in particular, on the only witness as he wrestles with his conscience and the laws of loyalty considered sacred among male teenagers, the show offers audiences a gripping theatrical experience but also much to talk about afterwards regarding youth culture, cyclical violence, peer pressure and the objectification of women.

Photos c/o – Dylan Evans

Lady Beatle love

Lady Beatle (La Boite & The Little Red Company)

La Boite Theatre, Roundhouse Theatre

May 25 – June 3

With a spotlight cabaret seating section and shadowed stage, the preshow aesthetic of “Lady Beatle” is of Liverpoolian grey, like through the eyes of a ladybird. This is the Lonely Hearts Club, soon to be coloured with the music of the Beatles as Naomi Price bursts forth with the penultimate ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’, and its hope that we will enjoy the show. It’s a particularly appropriate initial number given that opening night marks the 50th anniversary of the band’s innovative, ground-breaking album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

Over the following 70 minutes, UK-born star Naomi Price proceeds to tell a story, but probably not the one you think you are going to hear, a story that includes tell of the lucky Lady Beetle and so much more, in nod to her personal Liverpoolian roots. Her assumed Scouse accent certainly adds to the authenticity of the experience, however, what makes the show truly engaging is her banter with the audience that is so central to a quality cabaret experience. There is a lot of comedy, much of it at George Harrison’s expense, but also surprising poignancy. However, it’s not Naomi guiding audiences through this Beatles story, but their number one fan, an ultimate outsider who loves the Beatles (even George) more than anyone.

Naomi Price in Lady Beatle at La Boite Theatre - image by Dylan Evans

The kaleidoscopic soundtrack is full of highlights, thanks to the show’s incredible live music and new song arrangements, like a stripped back and absolutely beautiful, nostalgic ‘Penny Lane’, allowing the song’s story of a street near John Lennon’s childhood home, to take centre stage. The comprehensive coverage of the group’s extensive catalogue ensures that the show is packed full of favourites and there is even a rocking medley to end the night on the highest of highs.

Andrew Johnson, Mik Easterman, Naomi Price, Michael Manikus, Jason McGregor in Lady Beatle at La Boite Theatre - image by Dylan Evans

In support of Price, the virtuosic band is uniformly excellent, and it is wonderful to see drummer Mick Easterman, bass guitarist Andrew Johnson, pianist Michael Manikus and guitarist Jason McGregor given their own moments to shine, such when ‘the band begins to play’ in ‘Yellow Submarine’ and in a rocking medley mix of ‘Helter Skelter’ and ‘Revolution’ with ‘Love Me Do’, ‘She Loves You’ and ‘Let It Be’. On paper, mixes like this shouldn’t probably blend, but in this show’s hands they do, meaning that ‘Strawberry Fields’ sits comfortably alongside a clap-along ‘Hey Jude’. And the result is a superb soundtrack, befitting the dynamic performer leading the stage.

Naomi Price, Michael Manikus in Lady Beatle at La Boite Theatre - image by Dylan Evans

It is easy to appreciate why Brisbane loves Naomi Price. Like the fab four themselves, she is effortlessly cool and charismatic, and her voice has never been better, showing full technical and emotional range from a melodic, fantastical ‘Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds’ to the lyrical linger of the experimental ‘Eleanor Rigby’ and yearning plea of ‘Don’t Let Me Down’.

Michael Manikus, Naomi Price, Jason McGregor in Lady Beatle at La Boite Theatre - image by Dylan Evans

In its celebration of song nuance and detail, “Lady Beatle” also becomes so much more, in examination of the peace and harmony of the messages of numbers like ‘Come Together’, ‘Yellow Submarine’ (including an organic sing-along), a hauntingly honest ‘With a Little Help from my Friends’ and finally a hopeful ‘Here Comes the Sun’, which sees Price return to the stage in a rocking pants suit courtesy of costume designer Leigh Buchanan. Every aspect of the show is on-point in contribution to its overall message and appealing aesthesis. Jason Glenwright’s lighting design, for example, is everything it needs to be: bold, beautiful and perfect in accompaniment of the show’s changing musical moods.

Mik Easterman, Naomi Price and Michael Manikus in Lady Beatle at La Boite Theatre - image by Dylan Evans

“Lady Beatle” shows how, as a creatives, Adam Brunes and Naomi Price can do no wrong. Although unlike their earlier “Rumour Has It” and “Wrecking Ball”, this third and final show in their pop culture cabaret trilogy, isn’t a biopic, the modern memory play’s explosion of musical colours is just a rewarding. Given The Beatles’ recognition as the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed act in popular music history, audience members are sure to come with expectations, all of which will be exceeded in what will be an infectious rediscovery of the band’s iconic, diverse catalogue anew, channelled through a sole female voice. Indeed, its song curation and story craftedness combine to make “Lady Beatle” an example of cabaret at its very best, to make you laugh, cry and smile in hope for peace, equality and love.

Photos c/o – Dylan Evans

Superlative social politics

Single Asian Female (La Boite Theatre Company)

La Boite, Roundhouse Theatre

February 11 – March 4

A show with limited flaws is always difficult to review without resort to a thesaurus list of superlatives as alternative to just saying ‘it’s so good’. With “Single Asian Female”, however, there is almost an immediate recognition not only of its greatness but of the reason for it. This debut play from Michelle Law is absolutely absorbing in its authenticity, making for a fresh, fantastic work, to which audiences should be flocking.

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The story follows a family of Asian women as they navigate the intricacies of race associated with life in everytown Nambour. It begins with Pearl (Hsiao-Liang Tang), owner/manager of the The Golden Phoenix Chinese Restaurant, rejoicing in the finalisation of her divorce with delivery of a table-top karaoke ‘I Will Survive’ (who needs disco strobes when you can having flashing Chinese lantern lights?) Pearl is clearly a strong woman, as are her daughters Zoe (Alex Lee) and Mei (Courtney Stewart).

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Classical musician Zoe, the eldest, resents having to move back to the Sunshine Coast after the loss of her Brisbane apartment, but is buoyed by a hook-up with Paul (Patrick Jhanur), a local immigration lawyer.

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Mei, meanwhile, as an about-to-graduate secondary student is anxious to get away, especially from the mean girl pressure of her peers (embodied in Emily Vascotto’s Lana). Sick of being seen regarded as a stereotype, she struggles to reconcile her Chinese heritage and Australian upbringing, with empathetic support from her best friend Katie (Emily Burton).

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It is a bold and punchy script that sees witty humour easily transition into poignancy as there is alluded-to revelation of the reasoning behind what has led Pearl to overhaul the restaurant, revel in charitable crusades and stop going to ‘the university’. It is these layers that combine to create such an emotionally compelling and gripping production.

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Although there is much intimacy as audiences glimpse into the women’s lives, this is also a play about bigger concepts of culture, family and regard for others. As such, it is packed with political references and nuanced social commentary that contribute to, but never contrive the narrative. Indeed, although it centres around many difficult-to-dissect issues, it also conveys a real sense of fun within the social politics.

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Although not ‘in the round’, the staging is wonderful in its creation of a rich aesthetic. The multi-level space of the back-of-restaurant’s living area is functional but also detailed in its decoration, while the restaurant area is adorned with red and gold, lanterns and tables at which audience members can sit.

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The most memorable aspect of the work, however, is the performances of the stellar cast. Hsiao-Liang Tang is perfect as Pearl, inhabiting the role with equal parts feisty sass, fierce strength and tragic torment.

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And Alex Lee and Courtney Stewart are both attuned to their every relationship dynamic detail as siblings, as evidenced by their committed verbal taunting and seize of every opportunity for exasperated eye-roll.

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The authenticity of their interactions is a joy to watch and contributes significantly to Act One’s engagement. And by Act Two, it is clear exactly how much alike the Wong family women are in their assertiveness and resilience.

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In support, Patrick Jhanur is a solid potential partner for the overly-anxious Zoe and Emily Vascotto, in her mainstage debut, shows great promise as the passively-aggressive Ms Popular, Lana. However, it is Emily Burton who steals every scene. There are few actresses who can play a teen as well (as “A Tribute of Sorts” showed), and as Mei’s best friend, she is simply superb, not just in comic timing but in perfect emphasis and nuanced looks that can make even a Lazy Susan turn thing of hilarity.

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Initially, the episodic narrative flies by, however, Act Two, drags a little with the inclusions of some superfluous and overly-length scenes. The opening night audience at its world premiere still responded with immediate standing ovation, so this can perhaps be forgiven.

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While “Single Asian Female” is sure to have a long life in this country, audiences should see it as soon as possible before the specifics of its narrative are revealed, because there is nothing more rewarding than the anticipatory interval discussion and shared experience of realisation that really engaging theatre can bring. It is a brilliant new, challenging and exciting work that not only serves as an entertaining expose of the seemingly simple lives of others, but also a reminder that we really have no idea of what might be going on behind others’ closed doors. Like the smell of oil that lingers in the skin of those in the family living above The Golden Phoenix, it is a work that will stay with you in memory of its essential messages about family and resilience, as much for its laughter.

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Photos c/o – Dylan Evans

The delight and unite of theatre

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Theatre-going may beget theatre-going, but the end of year does provide welcome respite to relax and reflect upon the bevy of brilliant shows that Brisbane audiences have be privileged to experience in 2016. As for me, from 150 shows seen, there have been many favourites, including:

  1. The Tragedy of King Richard III (La Boite Theatre Company) – The fast and furious story of rampant revenge that we thought we knew is an evocation of the play, the man and ourselves thanks to the hard questions asked by Daniel Evans and Marcel Dorney.
  1. Disgraced (Queensland Theatre presenting a Melbourne Theatre Company Production) – Ayad Akhtar’s Pulitzer Prize-winning intense and absorbing drama which fearlessly puts contemporary attitudes towards politics, race and religion under the microscope in exploration of freedom of speech, political correctness and the prejudices towards Islam, even in the most progressive cultural circles.
  1. True West (Brisbane Powerhouse, Troy Armstrong Management, Thomas Larkin and Annette Box) – Sam Shepperd’s modern classic which sees two desert-dwelling brothers go head-to-head, kicking and thrusting towards physical and psychological showdown in desperate pursuit of the American Dream.
  1. The Secret River (Queensland Theatre presenting a Sydney Theatre Company production) – Kate Grenville’s story of two families divided by culture and land on the banks of the frontier Hawkesbury River in the early nineteenth century.
  1. Bastard Territory (Queensland Theatre) – A complex, beautiful story about people that transports audiences back in time to the swinging ‘60s PNG and the bohemian days of 1975 NT, before settling in 2001, as Darwin sits poised for political progress.
  • Best performance – Thomas Larkin as Lee in True West (Brisbane Powerhouse), Ngoc Phan in as Stella in A Streetcar Named Desire (La Boite)
  • Best staging – Madama Butterfly (Opera Q)
  • Best lighting – Snow White (La Boite, Brisbane Festival)
  • Best AV – The Wider Earth (Queensland Theatre)
  • Most interesting – Disgraced (Queensland Theatre, QPAC)
  • Best New Work – The Tragedy of King Richard III (La Boite)
  • Best Shakespeare – Twelfth Night (Queensland Shakespeare Ensemble)
  • Best musical – The Sound of Music (Andrew Lloyd Webber, David Ian, John Frost and The Really Useful Group)
  • Best cabaret – California Crooners Club (Parker + Mr French, Brisbane Festival)
  • Best dance – Huang Up & Kuka (Brisbane Powerhouse, WTF)
  • Funniest – A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Lyric Hammersmith and Filter Theatre – UK, Brisbane Festival)
  • Most fun – Titanic The Movie The Play (Act/React, Brisbane Comedy Festival)
  • Most moving – The Secret River (Queensland Theatre)

Although many of my personal highlights have been international acts, often featuring as part of festivals, these cultural feasts have also delivered some excellent locally-themed theatre amid the internationalisation on offer. It is the delight of theatre that events such as these can not only inspire creativity, but also unity in cultural participation. Hopefully 2017 will see more people realising theatre’s accessibility, because it is not about a specialist language or privileged perspective but rather just people telling a story or sharing a way of looking at the world… things that are at the core of our essential humanity.

Streetcar satisfaction

A Streetcar Named Desire (La Boite Theatre Company)

La Boite Theatre, Roundhouse Theatre

October 15 – November 12

Tennessee William’s “A Streetcar Named Desire” is an epic work. With the addition of musical accompaniment and interludes, La Boite’s version of the classic pushes out to almost three hours, which becomes a big ask as Act One languishes towards its 90 minute conclusion. Although it competes with opening scene dialogue, the music (featuring vocals by Crystal West) adds to the sultry atmosphere of Louisiana featuring as it does original songs composed by Guy Webster, mixed with more well-known numbers, such as (like in the 2014 London revival) a perfectly placed ‘Wicked Game’…. But it seems like an unnecessary addition to a work that already sizzles with laden dialogue and a tension-filled Act Two in which its performances ultimately prevail in ensuring audience absorption.

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The Pultizer Prize winning story begins with the unannounced arrival of faded and damaged but well-put-together southern belle Blanche Du Boise (Bridie Carter) from Mississippi to stay with her younger sister Stella (Ngoc Phan) and Stella’s thuggish husband Stanley (Travis McMahon) in their claustrophobic two bedroom New Orleans flat. Uncomfortable in the surrounds of her sister’s low-rent address, delicately-mannered English teacher Blanche talks feverishly, self-obsessively and insensitively about Stella’s circumstance. ‘I’m not going to be hypocritical, I’m going to be honestly critical about it!’ she says, along with explanation that she has left her employment mid-term, at the suggestion of her school superintendent, due to exhaustion induced by her nerves. From the outset, however, Stanley suspects that there is more to Blanche’s story and sets upon a quest to cruelly expose her genteel façade.

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The sense of a stifling New Orleans abounds. The raked stage is canvas to the rhythmic shadow of a languidly rotating ceiling fan and Guy Webster’s sound design regularly sends streetcars clattering past, even during intermission, which is a nice touch. Ben Hughes’ lighting design adds an initial warm to the two basic rooms of the Kowalski home, but also later lyricism to Blanche’s dreamy-blue, attempted seduction of an uncomfortable young man who comes to the door to collect money for the paper, turning the text’s evocative stage directions into a distinct experience.

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All of this play’s iconic characters have their flaws and the diverse, talented cast brings them all to well-formed life, even down to their distinctly Southern accents, thanks to accent and dialect coach Melissa Agnew. La Boite newcomer Phan is excellent as a Stella torn between her diametrically opposed husband and sister, but ultimately in love an loyal to Stanley and his coarse behaviour. And her anguish in the final scenes is heartbreaking.

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Self-delusional and highly-strung Blanche is one of the great tragic figures of the modern stage and Carter certainly does her justice in a portrayal that captures both her breezy pretension and desperate loneliness and hurt. Under Todd Macdonald’s direction, this increasingly unkept Blanche is both fragile creature and feisty fighter, and Carter conveys each layer perfectly, especially in her doomed monologue to sensitive suitor Mitch (Colin Smith) about her desperate desire for magic.

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McMahon brings a rough primitivism to the (by his own admission) unrefined, simple and straightforward Stanley, both in his rowdy poker game participation and by bellowing ‘Stella’ into the night after striking his wife and causing her to flee upstairs to apartment building owner Eunice (Parmis Rose). Although initially more bogan than brutish, he brings personality and clarity to the text to illustrate Stanley’s contrast to Blanche’s demure demeanour, making some early lines feel as fresh as if they are being said for the first time.

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And from his first brief line in Scene One, Smith is simply lovely as the gentlemanly Mitch, more sensitive than Stanley’s other poker friends, obliging to Blanche’s every vain whim, despite never having gotten more than a goodnight kiss in return.

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“A Streetcar Named Desire” is a tough play of complex relationships and almost 70 years after it was first written, it still leaves audiences with much to consider in assessment of whether it is Stanley or Blanche herself who is more to blame for Blanche’s ultimate ruin. In addition, the relevance of its themes of domestic violence and mental health issues, so problematic in our modern society, makes it resonate strongly. By adding a little humour to its ultimate despair, this production makes it an accessible, albeit lengthy show, sure to leave audiences satisfied.

Photos c/o – Dylan Evans Photography

Killer collaboration

Snow White (La Boite, Opera Queensland & Brisbane Festival)

La Boite Theatre, Roundhouse Theatre

September 3 – 24

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Below a chaotic forest of mirrors and musical instruments aloft La Boite’s Rounhouse Theatre stage is an intimate place of beautiful song and mesmerising music. Mirrors are cleverly used to help bounce rays around the space as audiences are dropped in to the dark fairy-tale world of a potently-reimagined “Snow White”.

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Using Suzie Miller’s poetic text and Zulya Kamalova’s eclectic musical score, the part opera, part musical, part play not only retells the familiar story but, under Lindy Hume’s direction, upends fairy-tale expectations from the outset. As the corseted and quite fantastic The Mirror, Kanen Breen tangos in temptation by the Queen one minute and sexualises Snow White the next.

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Clearly The Mirror (and its associations with vanity in society) has a significant role in the text’s darkness and destruction. More musical than operatic in his stage presence, as emcee of sorts interacting with the audience in beguiling voice and brightening the stage with his every appearance, Breen is the villain the audience hates to love; his voice in song is exquisite and his characterisation is fabulous.

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The story of “Snow White” is certainly suited to operatic treatment given its intensity and larger-than-life scale, despite centring on the complexity of the mother-daughter relationship. And Italian-born mezzo soprano Silvia Colloca is a wonderful Queen, initially powerful and vain, but later of broken-down fragility. Stephanie Pickett is similarly strong as Snow White.

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Together their voices harmonise beautifully in the poison apple scene climax. And Colloca’s vocals of guttural-like mourning soon-after are almost palpable with emotion. Baritone Michael Tuahine is similarly a multi-faceted and morally-conflicted Huntsman who literally chases Snow White as prey around the theatre’s stalls.

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The four character narrative (sans dwarves) is musically driven, expressed succinctly through singing, which is all excellent. The music is like-wise impressive, evocative and eclectically bright, but also brutal as it memorably journeys the audience from the foreboding of the Huntsman’s chase of Snow White to an almost jaunty number as he sets in for her slaughter to Ben Hughes’ sinister steely-blue lighting.

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This is, indeed, a lush and lavish production down to its every little detail of Sarah Winter’s set design, like the apples that line the stage edge. And its sophisticated lighting adds significantly to its experience in the aftermath of the poison apple scene, for example, where it supports the haunting cello sounds that hang in the air.

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Seeing the two Brisbane Festival Snow Whites within the same week may have brought anticipatory expectations of comparison, but La Boite Theatre’s contemporary reimagining of Grimm’s fairy tale really is beyond compare. This is an at-once enticing and confronting theatrical experience. It’s sex, violence and swearing ensure that it is very adults only, despite the array of stuffed animals that appear at intermission to populate the forest.

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While its second act slows comparative to the measured pace of Act One, and therefore seems to fall flatter, as years later Snow White’s beauty blossoms her into womanhood as her mother withers, there is still much to rave about with regards to the production. Its years of collaborative planning have paid off significantly with a killer show of great things as its juxtapositions of genre merge in vision to become a truly memorable night of theatre.

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Photos c/o – Dylan Evans

Not so straight forward

Straight White Men (La Boite & State Theatre Company)

La Boite Theatre, Roundhouse Theatre

July 27 – August 13

“Straight White Men” is a difficult show to review. From the initial moments of its experience it subverts expectations by blasting the awaiting audience with an uncomfortably loud, rattling pre-show soundtrack of female hip-hop music, complete with explicit lyrics, before beginning with a stage manager (nominated by its Korean-American playwright Young Jean Lee to be a non-gender-conforming female of colour), greeting the audience.

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In contrast, the story itself begins simply enough with initial scenes that appear to emulate family sitcom conventions. What seems to be constructed as a classic American family drama (set somewhere in its Midwest), however, emerges as so much more as it probes the construct of masculine identity. The work, brought to Queensland by La Boite Theatre Company in collaboration with State Theatre Company of South Australia, explores what could be perceived as the oldest birth privilege around – to be a straight white man.

When recently-widowed Ed (Roger Newcombe) welcomes his middle-aged sons home for Christmas, their exuberant celebration and sibling hijinks are but a veneer to the question of privilege. All of the men are successful; the youngest, Drew (Lucas Stibbard) is an award-winning writer, middle-brother Jake (Chris Pitman) is a hotshot banker who refuses to apologise for his success and eldest sibling Matt (Hugh Parker) has been working a series of temp jobs at social organisations, but is living with his Dad as he attempts to repay his student loans. Harvard graduate Matt, traditionally acknowledged as the brightest of the three, has a long history of championing minorities, yet questions what he is meant to do with his life, which leads to his sudden breakdown in tears, without apparent reason or explanation, during a night of Chinese food and foolery.

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Although the switch from parody to provocation is subtle, more recognisable in retrospect than experience, the distinct chapters to the show’s tone sometimes labour its rhythm. For example, after teasing and mocking each other in brotherly banter and having too much to drink, characters engage in a dance off, which, although fabulously funny, drags long beyond its natural endpoint.

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As the rowdiest of the brothers, Pitman gives an engaging performance as the least likeable of the siblings. And Stibbard is similarly solid as the put-upon youngest brother Drew. But appropriately for a play that is primarily about Matt’s experience in just trying to stay out of the way of life, Parker gives a layered performance that hints at his inner sorrow well before his character’s tearful breakdown, proving what an asset he is to any production.

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Rounding out the cast is Newcombe as their loveable dad, adorable in his insistence that they adhere to traditions like Christmas pyjamas and attempt to join in their dance party, and Stagehand-In-Charge Merlynn Tong who, through the simplest of smiles and nods, brings a humour to the role to make it more than just a meta-theatrical device.

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Appropriately, the one-room middle-class family drama takes place in a white living room (designed by Victoria Lamb), naturalistic in aesthetic thanks also to Ben Hughes’ lighting. Further bringing Lee’s script to life is the music composed by Kim ‘Busty Beatz’ Bowers, La Boite Artist-in-Resident and musical director of Black Honey Company. Still, holistically, the work seems unsatisfying, particularly in its conclusion and it is its cast that ultimately carries its success.

Although relatively simple, the plot’s universal appeal suffers from the playwright’s requirement for there to be no alterations, meaning that the character’s jarring American accents and the narrative’s US references, alienate rather than appeal. Still, the show’s examination of the notions of ambition, activism and the value of capitalist ideas of success provide valuable consideration in any western culture. And as a satire and show of social consideration, “Straight White Men” represents the deep and diverse theatre at the core of La Boite’s artistic vision and thus Brisbane’s dynamic theatre culture.

Photos c/o – https://www.facebook.com/LaBoiteTheatreCompany