theatARGH

thoughts and frustrations on Melbourne theatre through bright young eyes

Archive for declan greene

Quick Review of Moth, Malthouse Theatre

It’s an oft dished-out dictum: “your teenage years are the best years of your life”. For Claryssa (Sarah Ogden) and Sebastian (Dylan Young) of Declan Greene’s Moth, the response is a resounding: “fuck you”. Moth is a co-production between Arena Theatre Company and the Malthouse Theatre, and is also the much anticipated major stage debut of Greene, one of Melbourne’s most exciting young theatre artists. Worlds away from his work with Union House Theatre (Rageboy 2006) and his trash-camp company with Ash Flanders, Sisters Grimm, Moth is an intense and poetic exploration of isolation, insecurity and adolescence.  Rhythmic, tightly structured and then carefully unravelled (like the gloomy grey rolls of Jonathon Oxlade’s set), the real strength of Moth rests in Greene’s resistance to glorify or embellish not just teenagers, but ‘quirky teenagers’ too – Claryssa and Sebastian aren’t like Juno, the gang from Skins or the girls from Ghost World. They are complex, confused, charged and changing individuals who are also painfully, painfully alone. There is an honesty to the text, emphasised in the performances of Ogden and Young and the undercutting, haunting score of Jethro Woodward, that is affective, engaging and completely heartbreaking. The intelligent simplicity of Chris Kohn’s direction not only suits the work and the intimate Tower space, but allows for subtle moments of intense impact – stark sounds and bursts of light – to break through, even when apparently very little is ‘happening’. Moth is, much like a teenager, beautiful and uncompromising, challenging and disorienting, occasionally hilarious, raw and wild. It reaches to the margins of adolescence, the frustration and the fear, to tell a story that needs to be told.

May 13 – May 30, Tower Theatre, Malthouse.

Bookings at http://www.malthousetheatre.com.au

This review will be featured in Farrago, Melbourne University newspaper, edition 5 2010.

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Review of God of Carnage, MTC and A Black Joy, fortyfivedownstairs

It’s a very old question, and certainly one that theatre makers, producers and practitioners in Australia and abroad have been asking, and feeling nervous about, for decades: what is it that audiences want from theatre? Perhaps more accurately, what is it that audiences will pay for? Is it a story, a narrative which they can follow, laugh with, become immersed in and relate back to their own lives? Is it an experience, intellectual, emotional, visceral or otherwise? The big-name actors, the auteur directors? Is it a cultural and social event? Of course, in Australia, without same level of government support and general mainstream interest in theatre, it’s a more pertinent question than, say, in the United Kingdom; there’s only so much that can be catered for, for so many people, at the one time. But with less money, fewer venues, and smaller audiences, you could be forgiven for thinking that the richness and diversity of theatre in Melbourne was far less than it actually is. There’s reason to be optimistic: Melbourne Fringe Festival is upon us, the main-stage seasons of Malthouse and MTC are in full swing, and the International Arts Festival is around the corner. It is the theatre season and spectators, regardless of their theatrical dispositions, are being treated across the spectrum. No better is this illustrated, perhaps, than in the concurrent productions of Melbourne Theatre Company’s drawing-room dramedy God of Carnage and Declan Greene and Susie Dee’s seething satire A Black Joy.

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Review of Cellblock Booty, Sisters Grimm

The factory of Sisters Grimm (although I’ve always imagined it more like a dank, sweaty, suburban cinema glistening with faux-gold trimmings, condoms hanging from the chandeliers and globs of lube in the hairy velvet carpet) never stops churning. Fresh from last year’s trash extravaganza musical Bum Town and a season of Mommie and the Minister at the Adelaide Fringe, Ash Flanders and Declan Greene have regrouped with a new cast, as well as some familiar faces, in the Collingwood Underground Arts Space for Cellblock Booty. It’s a furiously energetic, high-camp homage to the women in prison sexploitation films of the seventies and easily represents some of the most painfully, painfully, devastatingly funny work of the company to date.

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