Wednesday, 22 May 2019

The Believers Are But Brothers - Theatre Review

What: The Believers Are But Brothers
When: 22 - 25 May 2019
Where: Main Hall, Arts House
Written by: Javaad Alipoor
Directed by: Javaad Alipoor and Kirsty Housley
Performed by: Javaad Alipoor and Luke Emery
Set and lighting by: Ben Pacey
Video by: Jack Offord
Sound by: Simon McCorry
Javaad Alipoor and Luke Emery
We don't get a lot of home grown modern multimedia theatre in Australia so we need organisations such as Arts House to import it sometimes and show us what is possible. One such example is The Believers Are But Brothers which forms part of the Melbourne Knowledge Week program.

The question of how terrorist group ISIS was able to radicalize the male population of so many Western nations has perplexed us for a decade and Alipoor, as a British Muslim youth himself, decided to try and delve into the on-line world of post-truth reality to help us understand what has been going on better. Originally his idea was to understand what was going on with the ISIS brides phenomenon but as a male he found no entree into that space so, as he admits at the start of the show, this show is a space for men and this story is about men. As a woman I was excited and intrigued to look closely at a space I am not allowed to be in...

One of the greatest tools used by ISIS for recruitment was social media and Alipoor takes us into a world of messaging apps, online chat rooms, gaming, and political campaigns. He makes no judgement on the use of these tools but in the end I think the strongest inference becomes anything is possible and truth is malleable so the experience of being online will be anything you choose to be a part of. It will be light and fluffy and fun if that is what you want, but be careful who you let into your friendship groups because anyone can be anything and the tone and direction can change in a heartbeat.

As an enlightened theatre maker of the 21st century Alipoor not only lets us keep our phones on, but he also requests we keep our ring tones on. The show uses What's App to interact with willing members of the audience and the cacophony of messages is meant to be a part of the soundscape of escalation layering over McCorry's urgent and dangerous compositions. It was interesting and frustrating to see Melbourne audiences have been so cowed and beaten by the traditionalist presenters most could not bring themselves to obey these requests or some significant others - particularly at the end - which are so vital to the composition of the entire production.

The What's App interaction was quite intrusive, even to avid users but this was one of the points of The Believers Are But Brothers. The incessant interruption of conversation, links, and commentary add to a sense of discomfort and disgruntlement which can easily be displaced and transferred depending on what messages you are constantly receiving and what doors are being opened for you.

In a non-linear approach and something resembling a lecture Alipoor shifts from a history of internet memes, the Trump election campaign and it's international resonance (Clive Palmer was not alone in wanting to 'Make The World Great' again), Gamer Gate, and the stories of three young men who were recruited to militancy. What did they have in common? In the end it seemed to be a sense of disempowerment, a non-belonging, a sense of persecution from within their social environment, and perhaps the need to disappear down a rabbit hole to find their mojo, their purpose, their community?

The Believers Are But Brothers is a painful show, a relentless show, and an exhausting show. It does have brief moments of humour but in the end it answers no questions just as it tells no lies. This is reality. Hyper-reality.

Designed by Pacey, the stage is set up with two men (Alipoor and Emery) with complex tech gaming set ups with multiple screens facing each other and playing 'Call Of Duty'. Between them is a large screen separating them theoretically in time and space. On a more meta level this screen also resembled the board for the game Battleship and war rooms and surveillance control stations, etc. We don't engage with Emery at all, and he doesn't engage with us - kind of. I suspect he was the one in control of the messages which at times arrive at a breakneck pace then suddenly silence to extended lulls before starting up again.

Alipoor, on the other hand, switches between speaking to us directly and intimately to proclaiming over a microphone and then turning his attention back to the computers and speaking to us through the large screen. All of this reinforces the multimedia barrage of messaging coming at youth and the impossibility for our minds and senses to find time to ponder and analyse and apply critical thought and reason to the ideas.

In many respects the information was too fast and furious to follow any one thread in the story too closely, but if you think this is what you are meant to be doing you are missing the point. You CAN'T do it. All you can do is sort through the bits that you can grab and piece a picture together that matches your understanding of the world and gives you a sense of meaning and control.

I suspect The Believers Are But Brothers is going to be a real challenge for audience members who do not engage with social media. It may come across as a meaningless barrage of everything they hate and don't understand. Perhaps this is an important point too?

For the majority I really suggest you download What's App for the show (it's free) and engage. You can always uninstall it after the show as I have.I also highly recommend following the instructions because if you don't, nobody in the room gets the experience the theatre making team have set out to create.

On the other hand, perhaps not complying is a statement in itself...? This very line of questioning is all part of the quandary Alipoor is commenting on and questioning and this is what makes the show so good - and so frustrating!

4.5 Stars

Return To Escape From Woomera - Live Art Review

What: Return To Escape From Woomera
When: 21 - 25 May 2019
Where: The Stables, Meat Market
Created and presented by: Appelspiel
Set and Lighting by: Emma Lockhart-Wilson
Simon Vaughan and Nathan Harrison
It is Melbourne Knowledge Week all over town this week and, as usual, Arts House are bringing two fascinating, challenging, and conversation challenging events which push the boundaries of what is art and why we make it. The first of these events, Return To Escape From Woomera, opened last night in The Stables as the Meat Market.

Return To Escape From Woomera was commissioned and presented by Performance Space last year in Sydney. The creative team behind it, Applespiel, created this event as a step along the way towards a project with much greater scope - an idea which combines esports with a stadium experience. As the team were working through ideas it was Jeff Khan who suggested they look back at what activist gaming has been created in the past and this led them to Escape From Woomera. "Playful is not trivial, and so we play."

Escape From Woomera was a video game prototype developed with an arts grant from the Australia Council and was created by a group of 15 game designers and programmers in 2003 as a response to mandatory detention of refugees, the Tampa affair, and the ongoing human rights abuses. It is sadly incredibly appropriate to bring out the game again now with our Sovereign Borders policy and the even worse conditions we inflict on already traumatised refugees (at least 97% of which have been proven to be legitimate asylum seekers!).

At the time, the game prototype caused quite a controversy with the 1st person player engaging in a series of quests to lead to his escape from the Woomera detention centre.  Escape From Woomera is a point and click game built on the GoldSrc engine and is from the era where conversations appeared as text at the bottom of the screen.

Instead of having lives or energy, the character's life is displayed in a hope meter. Once you (Mustafa) run out of hope the game ends and you have to start again. All of the details in the game were meticulously researched and are as authentic as possible whilst also creating an intriguing gaming experience (for it's time). This is a single player game although there are a plethora of non-player characters to be interacted with.

In Return To Escape From Woomera up to 6 lucky people have the opportunity to play the game live with the audience watching the game play and with a panel of experts discussing issues surrounding the game and refugeeism at the same time. Before each new player begins Roberts tells us some history and facts about the funding controversy surrounding the game and Australian refugee policies over time. This is followed by some questions to and from the audience. When each player finishes their turn they are interviewed about their gaming experience from the players perspective and how much awareness of the political content were they affected by or engaged in. "Playful is not trivial, and so we play."

At the same time as the game is being played Vaughan and Harrison lead a discussion with two guests which may vary every night. On opening night one of the guests was Katherine Neil who initiated the original 2003 project, and the other was a refugee and advocate, Norman. "Playful is not trivial, and so we play."

For the first part of the night I found myself more intrigued by the game - both the play, but also Neil's stories about the surrounding controversies such as Phillip Ruddock's condemnation of funding for this kind of project and also - less well-known - the secrecy with which the gamers had to work. All of them published under pseudonyms because it was a breach of their work contracts to be engaged in this kind of project. Neil also talked about how nascent the idea of games as political tools was back then although it is becoming more common now. As Neil says, they were before their time. "Playful is not trivial, and so we play."

Once I understood how the game worked I became far more interested in the conversation Norman was engaging us in. As I said, the game measures character 'life' on a hope meter and Norman kept talking about how important hope is and how strenuously our detention centres work to take it away. I interrogated him further on his understanding of the word hope and it seems all he was talking about was giving people a reason to believe tomorrow is worth sticking around for - some good food, shelter, a kind word... What makes your tomorrow worth being here for? "Playful is not trivial, and so we play."

The show blurb talks about the myth of Australia as 'the lucky country' but it is worth remembering white Australia was a penal colony long before it became a tourist attraction. It does not surprise me we do prisons well - it is in the very fabric of our DNA as a nation to lock people up and treat them cruelly. We are just getting better and better at it. First it was the POMEs, then it was our First Peoples, then it was the World War II immigrants, now it is the refugees. This is what we do and we do it so well some other countries are taking notes and emulating our horrid customs. "Playful is not trivial, and so we play."

One of the questions put to us last night was whether it is worth staging events such as Return To Escape From Woomera. I say yes. Even though not a peep was heard about our refugee national shame during the election campaign we have to keep the conversation going because once we stop questioning there stops being any reason for the Government to adhere to human values. Once the voices stop we lose our humanity. "Playful is not trivial, and so we play."

Many ideas and thoughts are covered across the evening of Return To Escape From Woomera and this will be influenced by the panelists. The one thing which can be guaranteed though is incredibly stimulating ideas and a lot of sticky questions to ask of ourselves and each other. Oh, and the gamers all seemed to have a good time! "Playful is not trivial, and so we play."

3.5 Stars

Monday, 20 May 2019

It's Not Me, It's Definitely You: Songs of Amy Winehouse and Lily Allen - Cabaret Review

What: It's Not Me, It's Definitely You: Songs of Amy Winehouse and Lily Allen
When: 20 - 25 May 2019
Where: Upstairs, The Butterfly Club
Performed by: Lisa Woodbrook and Josh (piano)
Lisa Woodbrook and Josh

Lisa Woodbrook is probably a name and a face you have heard before as the Channel 10 'Eye In The Sky' traffic reporter but her real skill is as a performer. With an impressive voice and more stage presence than anyone has the right to possess, Woodbrook is indulging us this week with her 2018 show It's Not Me, It's Definitely You: Songs of Amy Winehouse and Lily Allen at The Butterfly Club.

When she is not being a TV presenter, Woodbrook is gigging around town with her own jazz trio. Knowing this, it is no surprise she is attracted to the music of these two great English vocalists. Luckily for us, Woodbrook has the voice to match her ambitions and is accompanied superbly by Josh on the piano.

Pairing Allen and Winehouse is kind of obvious. Although Allen is more ska and Winehouse is more Jazz, there are similarities in sound and lyrics which Woodbrook demonstrates as she takes us through her dating traumas. Yes, the topic is a little banal but Woodbrook has a lively face and a hilarious insight to her behaviours which lifts the show above the ordinary.

This show is not just Woodbrook standing and singing great songs well. Woodbrook is energetic and animated and, as good as the singing is (and it is very, very good), I started to eagerly await the in-between commentary more than the music because she is just so funny and not afraid to hit below the belt.

This is of course aided by the clever lyrics of Allen, with the classic 'Not Fair' amongst others. Woodbrook covers a lot of the hits such as 'Smile' and 'Fuck You' and one of the great moments for me was being reintroduced to the clever and on point lyrics of Lily Allen. I had honestly forgotten how sharp and smart her songs were (are).

And yes, we all know how amazing Amy Winehouse was and Woodbrook treats us to great songs including 'Back To Black' and 'You Know I'm No Good'. I admit to being relieved she didn't sing 'Rehab'. It has been so overdone and would have ruined the intriguing freshness Woodbrook was bringing.

There is really nothing to fault about this show. Woodbrook keeps it stripped back and lean, focussing us on her personality and the songs which, when you are that talented is a safe bet indeed.

Oh alright, I did have one little bug bare. I do wish Woodbrook had polished her boots. There. I said it.  I also kind of felt myself wishing the venue was a more traditional table set up because there is something about this show which really yearns for the casual elegance and sexiness of round tables and a bar to go with the red velvet curtains and the red hot singer. Maybe next time...

Do you just want a lazy hour of sexy songs and fun to wind down from work or wind up to a big night of partying? I'ts Not Me, It's Definitely You: The Songs of Amy Winehouse and Lily Allen will get you there. (And I highly recommend this week's cocktail 'Trio of Sips').

4 Stars

Six Moments In Kingston - Public Art Review

What: Six Moments In Kingston
When: 18 - 26 May 2019
Where: Kingston Town Hall
Created by: Tal Fitzpatrick, Kingston Koorie Mob, Laresa Kosloff, Shane McGrath, Spiros Panigirakis, and Steven Rhall
Performed by: Filipino Community Choir, Shane McGrath, Steven Rhall, et al.
Filipino Community Choir
Every suburb in every city across the world is a secret little hotbed of history and fascinating stories and Six Moments in Kingston is a sneak peak of just what kind of exciting and surprisingly important historical moments have taken place in Kingston. Purporting to cover a period from 1976 - 1981 this bus tour and public art event covers a period much greater than that with roots all the way back to WWI at least, and with strong links into what the future could hold.

Curated by David Cross and Cameron Bishop, Six Moments in Kingston includes a joyful, painful and mysterious collection of people and moments brought to life in a variety of mediums by local artists. There are videos, performance art, museum tours, and craftivism filling the supposedly 1 hour bus tour although my tour ended up being about 2 hours long. Maybe we were all just having way to much fun?

What I will say is an event like this is really as much or as little fun as you want it to be. Those who know me know I really like to get involved and respond to what is happening around me and I really think that is the only way to enjoy something of this sort. You also have the ability to sit back and wait to be 'entertained' in which case you may not have the best time of your life. Just like all of life, it is your choice. What you bring to it is what you will get out of it.

One of the resounding themes throughout the piece, perhaps surprisingly, is the role of protest and resistance and its effect on communities. This is the focus of Rhall's 4 installations across the event. Rhall has sought out significant moments of civil resistance such as a protest at the old Morris smokes factory and a tent protest outside city hall to illustrate how change is activated in community. In his piece protest he creates a performance installation which takes a historic worker's strike and subtly insinuates modern concerns such as racial and gender stereotyping to give it a contemporary edge.

The bus tour is narrated by Michael Caton who tells us stories as we come up to sites of significance in his wonderfully local vernacular. You do have to listen to what he is saying though or you will miss important information because none of the installations give context in and of themselves as some people discovered to their disappointment on the tour I was on.

Panigirakis invites us to consider bureaucracy as a form of art as he takes us to some heritage sites such as the Great Wall of Hillston. Along the way we are give copies of planning documents in his piece 'Figures, Notes and Amendments' which we can read through and ponder and chuckle at on the way to his family home.

We visit Moorabbin Oval where Phil Carman famously headbutted an umpire one fateful footy game day. Kosloff has created a wonderful video installation investigating that moment and I couldn't stop laughing as it brought to mind the Italian soccer team scandal a couple of World Cup's ago. With a slightly naughty edge it is also a heart warming homage to a game which means so much to so many Melbournians.

I was delighted to discover Melbourne has its own UFO sighting theory and I also got to indulge my inner Biggles nerd as we were told the tale of Fred Valentich and the day his plane went missing on the way to King Island. Did you know Moorabbin Airport is so big it is its own suburb? Did you know it is the 2nd busiest airport in Australia? I had no idea! And did you know Kingston is the home of the Australian National Aviation Museum?

The aviation museum is the only one in the world where you are allowed to sit in nearly every plane in the collection and they have all sorts! They have 1 of only 5 Beaufighters left in the world and they have a Victor lawn mower next to the plane which has a Victor engine. The mind boggles!

'Delta Sierra Juliet' tells us the story, and shows us the plane Fred Valentich flew on his fateful flight. We also hear some of the search investigation documents, statements and findings. This one is a conspiracy theorist's dream and on the bus some women started talking about UFO sightings over suburban schools!

The highlight for me was McGrath's performance march to the Parkdale childhood home of Rick Springfield. As we marched we sang along to 'Jessie's Girl' and as we came across a figure with a guitar rockin' out on the tale of a ute I begged him to let me have his babies. Some of us just never grow up...

There was so much else to enjoy on this tour including Fitzpatrick's entree into craftivism. I think though, in quieter moments on the bus, one of the things I enjoyed most was just seeing the suburban streets and contemplating how they are the same everywhere but how each one has it's own little stamp of unique identity - be it the garden, the fence, the cars, the curtains, the toys, etc. It also had me thinking how rare it is for us to take the time to just walk around our own suburbs and really look at the place and people we share our little piece of the world with.

Personally, I really enjoyed this insight into Kingston. I enjoyed it for the stories it told, but I also enjoyed it for the prompt it gave me to look more closely at the stories which surround me. I am also on the hunt for my very own local Rick Springfield now. And remember - 'Don't Talk To Strangers'. Just a warning though, this is not really an accessible event. If you can't walk without a mobility device you will struggle as there is a lot of getting on and off the bus and some walking and stairs.

3.5 Stars

Saturday, 18 May 2019

Pinocchio - Theatre Review

What: Pinocchio
When: 5 - 26 May 2019
Where: La Mama Courthouse
Written by: Carlo Collodi
Directed by: Christian Bagin
Performed by: Jasper Foley
Design by: Eloise Kent
Masks by: Newmi Newman
Lighting by: Adelaide Harney
Sound by: Felix Watson
Jasper Foley
Pinocchio is a classic morality tale and fun adventure story written by Collodi in 1880 and it is one which has stood the test of time. Exciting imagination and bringing a whole new life to this favourite Rosa Campagnaro, Bagin, and Foley bring it back to life with an authentic, energetic and exciting remediation into the finest example of Commedia dell'Arte and it is at La Mama Courthouse this week.

Pinocchio is the story of a piece of wood originally intended to be a chair leg which, it is discovered, can speak. The lonely old wood carver, Geppetto, decides to carve him into a marionette and treats him like his son, including sending him off to school. Along the way Pinocchio gets distracted and goes on a whirlwind of adventures which lead to great misfortune brought about - just like the Greeks said - by his own flaws in character.

As he travels along and loses everything he learns to be kind and brave and eventually he is reunited with Geppetto and the Blue Fairy turns him into a real flesh and blood boy - a real son for the lonely old woodcarver. This story is so popular it has world wide translations and sales greater than all other non-religious texts!

The Make A Scene team have cleverly come up with the idea of pairing this funny, sad, scary and beautiful tale with the classic theatrical form Commedia dell'Art and have hit on perfection! Watching this production of Pinocchio it looks as if this is always how the story was meant to be told.

In many respects it should not be a surprise that this piece of classic Italian literature would meld so beautifully with Commedia - after all, they are cultural ancestors - but to see it before us is a marvel. What is also a marvel is the way the team have managed to make what could be dried up, outdated content and technique come across as so modern and fresh (and unutterably hilarious!).

Perhaps I shouldn't be surprised. Circus is experiencing a renaissance and the clowning tradition is strong in our industry. What is Commedia but the highest form of clowning? Make A Scene have perfectly allocated the classic Commedia characters of Arlecchino, Pantalone, and Il Capitano (Pinocchio, Geppetto, and la Volpe) and there is even a cameo for an audience member to come on stage as Colombina (il Gatto).

There is lots of audience participation as sound effects and ad hoc characters (although Jiminy Cricket doesn't appear and, perhaps more surprisingly, really isn't missed in this production). At it's heart though, this production is a celebration of puppetry. The show links the technique of theatrical mask to the art of puppetry. Pinocchio takes us across the realms of mask, stringless marionettes, hand puppets, finger puppets, and shadow puppets (sans silhouette...).

The techniques slip seamlessly from one to the other within the confines of a puppet booth (a la the Puncinella tradition which became the Punch and Judy show) and out in the open stage and even, at times, into the audience. There are walls and they are constantly broken and I couldn't help wondering if this is what Brecht was exploring with his ideas on gestus and alienation...?

Bagin's direction is flawless but it would all come to nothing if Foley wasn't so incredible at what he is doing. His mask work and transitions are perfection and keep the story moving along at a good pace. Perhaps my one criticism is with a running time of 80 minutes it feels a little long for younger audiences and I did detect a bit of restlessness at around the hour mark although it quickly settled back down as Foley weaved his magic and kept us all laughing and oohing and aahing.

Kent's design is a wonder and the puppet booth is a gift which keeps on giving. It is like a Sarah Lee dessert with "layer upon layer" of secrets to be revealed. Newman's masks are also a wonder to behold. So evocative and detailed and embodying the Commedia traditions whilst also telling the story of Pinocchio.

Make A Scene have chosen to follow the story of this little wooden boy according to Collodi's original writings so it has some moments which are darker than a modern aesthetic generally allows. Some people will not like this at all, but I think when you present history you should present it faithfully so as brave as it is, I loved it. The world is not a Disney movie.

I really cannot speak too highly of this fantastic version of Pinocchio. If you don't see it you will miss one of the greatest things ever staged. It is a children's story but there is so much in it for adults! Oh, and it is bilingual but don't worry, you will be fine if you don't speak Italian and you may even come away knowing a word or two yourself.

5 Stars

Friday, 17 May 2019

Arete: Epsilon - Performance Review

What: Arete - Epsilon
When: 17 - 18 May 2019
Where: Cube 37
Playwrights: Matt Allen, Hayley Lawson-Smith, Lenora Locatelli, Harry Patermoster, Jonathan Simpson, Emma Sproule, Mitchell Sholer, Helmut von Push and Emma Workman
Directors: Lenora Locatelli, Gabrielle Rando, Naomi Woodward, Jonathan Simpson, Emma Sproule, Mitchell Sholer, Jet Thomas
Performers: Paul Barry, Anthony Bradshaw, Sophie Daddo-Langlois, The eMs, Max Gettler, Olivia Gyulavary, Annie Laurenson, Jane Leckie, Rosa Leonardi, Lenora Locatelli, Cadi MacInnes, Leikny Middleton, Josiah Moah, The Pythia, Gillian Scott, Jonathan Simpson, Mitchell Sholer, Fabrizio Spada, and Helmut von Push
Set design by: Sally Curry
Lighting by: Brad De La Rue
Stage managed by: Steven Goranitis
Olivia Gyulavary and Paul Barry
If you think theatre is an inner city indulgence you are wrong. It is the life blood of community and it is as vibrant - if not more so - the further you go from the centre point and is the life blood from which the inner city blockbusters draw their material and talent (unless you are in Australia in which case most of the material will be drawn from Europe or the USA - just sayin'...). One thriving urban outpost is Dionysus Theatre on the Peninsula who put on an annual short play festival called Arete, of which it's Epsilon season is taking place right now.

These short play festivals are hugely popular in Melbourne - mainly because few producers are prepared to invest significant resources into long form local play writing. The result is, of course, that Australian writers are becoming masters of the short quip and have few skills to develop works of social and historical impact and significance... I will get off my soapbox now.

On the positive side, these types of festivals are great for young performers and directors to dip their fingers in the water of their potential long term craft and thus we have Arete. Arete is a great initiative by Dionysus because their raison d'etre is supposed to be innovative performance but looking at their production history their only full productions are dusty old European 'classics' which do little to sustain our cultural health. (Major companies are you listening?)

Having had my little rant, I will say I really enjoyed the shape and format of Arete. It is not just the usual array of 10 - 20 minute plays cobbled together. Artistic Director Melanie Thomas has really thought about the audience experience and between the plays winds several small vignette pieces which, to be honest, are the best parts of the show. As well, she has created foyer exhibitions by local artists who are also working to this year's Arete theme: "Happiness is beneficial for the body, but it is grief that develops the powers of the mind" - a quote from Marcel Proust.

Personally, I think this ideology is folderol. It is a very 20th century idea that what doesn't kill you makes you stronger but that century had to survive 2 world wars. I can forgive them for believing whatever they needed to believe to get through it. Unfortunately it has also become a free pass for painful and hurtful actions though so I would suggest in the 21st century we ought to be looking for a new standard. One where happiness is okay.

Speaking strongly to the old concepts of last century and the question of high art is the wonderful Helmut von Bush who weaves his stories and his teachings across the evening. From his work with Brecht to his break up with the Venga Boys, Bush montages images and ideas which defined the European aesthetic and psychology and in so doing smashes all of that rhetoric into dust clouds filling the air behind us. Haughty and hilarious, von Bush dares us to criticise what we see tonight as something less than art. I agree. Love it or hate it, rough or polished, what is presented is definitely art.

The true revelation and glory in Arete: Epsilon is the amazing Leikny Middleton who is the centre piece of Sproule's 'Growing Pain' collection of  vignettes across the program. Middleton is a young preteen and over the course of the evening we see her go from discovering the Where Did I Come From book, to learning the truth about Santa, and menstruating. Middleton is going to have a stellar career I suspect.

The most impactful play of the night for me was the first one, 'Happiness Is An Illusion' by Locatelli although I would have liked to see her hand the work to an experienced director. It has a lot of potential with an important story. A husband and wife together for decades. The wife realises she is unfulfilled and needs time out. The husband feels betrayed and resentful. "You chose this!" So much to be explored in this one small phrase...

'Second Chance' (Lawson-Smith) and 'Moving On' (Allen) are also intriguing scripts although the ideas need a bit more clarity, and 'Nothing Is Forever And Nothing Is Forever' (Workman) is stunningly directed. A big shout out to Laurenson who's depiction of Nan in 'Moving On' was full of depth and authenticity.

The skills and abilities of everyone were stretched in Arete, but I think young directors need mentorship on theatre craft. It is a bit rough for both the person and the audience to ask someone who knows nothing about the technical crafts of acting and staging to take on a leadership role. I don't think it helps anyone because bad habits can be formed and critical insight is unlikely to have been developed yet.

In a similar vein, some things should never be paid for to be seen and 'A Short Beautiful Moment: The Swan Story' (Sholer and Simpson) is one of those things. This piece of drivel is high school boy shenanigans and does not deserve time and resources - and a paying audience should not have to sit through such utter nonsense (it's not the good kind of nonsense...). Simpson does redeem himself at the end though with '"A Voice From The Past"; With Jeremy Hanson'.

Arete is a great version of the one act play festival and distinguishes itself with it's interconnections and holistic production. All of the scene transitions need to be sped up and choreographed more efficiently (the actors can help) and I did get tired of Curry's magnificent set piece being moved back and forth like a tennis ball. You know there are too many set changes when the audience have to sit through one for the curtain call as well!

Arete is a great local product and a part of the essential fabric of skill building and idea interrogation needed to create the great theatre of our future. I am really glad I got to see it and leave quite excited about a few of the participants.

2 Stars