Showing posts with label Wonderland. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Wonderland. Show all posts

Friday, 2 May 2014

Wonderland - Review

Review originally posted at
Venue: Seymour Centre (Chippendale NSW), Apr 8 – 12, 2014
Playwright: Alexandra Howard
Directors: Alexandra Howard, Kate Clark
Actors: Alexandra Howard, Samuel Doyle

Theatre review
Art should be created by anyone who has the desire to do so. Some would argue that the artistic process can sometimes be found in a vacuum, but performance, by definition, requires an audience, and this in turn implies that communication occurs, and the presence of that audience is often taken into consideration by the artist.

Wonderland is written, directed and performed by Alexandra Howard. It is a personal work by a very ambitious young woman about love and romance. She digs very deep for her creation, and there is a strong sense of catharsis about her expression, but its intensely introspective approach makes connection difficult. Howard is earnest, but she is also highly idiosyncratic. Without a greater effort to understand how her work is read, she often leaves us high and dry, and frankly quite uninterested in the show’s two characters or what they have to say.

Max is played by Samuel Doyle who shows surprising conviction and confidence. He works intelligently with the strengths and weaknesses of the script, and finds moments of drama to give the production some much needed variation in tone. There is no doubt that his potential is clearly on display, and would benefit from stronger direction and a more interesting story.

Memories of young love usually fades with time and maturity. It is easy to forget the range of emotions that comes only with youth, but they are represented in Wonderland. Sophistication and humour, however, are not often found in the young, and in the theatre, they are indispensable.

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Construction of the Human Heart - Review

Reviewed by Nathan Finger
Construction of the Human Heart (2007) is Australian playwright Ross Mueller’s exploration of grief. It features two playwrights who are trying to write a play about two playwrights who are trying to write a play. This description probably already has a lot of people rolling their eyes – ‘yet another self-aware play about theatre, like we need that.’ Mueller’s play starts out looking like it is going to be another extended navel-gazing exercise. But then something different happens.

This isn’t a play about theatre, per se. Yes, it is self-aware, but it’s about something much more genuine: it is a study of the grieving process. Actors Michael Cullen and Cat Martin play two characters who are only ever referred to as Him and Her. The couple are a playwriting duo who have recently lost their only son, Tom, to some unspecified disease or accident. The play they are attempting to write is their way of coping. ‘I make up stories about him’, she says, stories where he is still alive and well. This is all they have, this is their coping mechanism. Together they relive and rehash the past, recreating the moments when they were happy and whole. It’s the only thing that keeps them going, but it cannot block out the pain of the present, nor adequately substitute the past.

As far as plot goes this is pretty much it. But the draw card for this production is the performances. Cullen and Martin have a real chemistry on stage. They both manage to capture that ever so slightly pretentious, faux-intellectual quality of the would-be, brilliant playwright. But behind this front they both allow the gut-wrenching grief they carry to slowly leak out, and we witness their struggle and gradual collapse. Indeed the two have been brought to breaking point and we get to see the conflict that arises between them brought on by the pain. They are obviously a couple that love each other dearly, but the loss of their son has placed a tremendous strain on their relationship, and even at the close of the play we cannot tell if they will be able to weather the tragedy. To see two actors allowing themselves to be totally vulnerable on stage is rare and moving treat.

Construction of the Human Heart may not be a play for everybody. Director Dino Dimitriadis offers up an empty stage, two chairs and pages of typed script, made to resemble the most basic of rehearsal spaces. The dialogue can be a little overly flowery in places. But there is a genuine and tragic story about what grief does and how people struggle to live with it to be told. There may not be a lot of plot, but this play more than stands up on the strength of its performances, which are well worth the trip in to see.

Construction of the Human Heart is playing at the Tap Gallery until the 3rd of May. For more information see: