Saturday, May 6, 2017

Good grief. Another day. Another two plays

Fifty-five minutes is not a lot of time (unless you are in a staff meeting when it can be an eternity). But normally you can't get through much in under an hour (And in a staff meeting often nothing at all). And yet that is all it took for The even Stages of Grieving to explore not just grief at the death of a elder but family, connection to the land, customs, racism, politics, the Stolen Generation and reconciliation. It did so in ways that made your eyes leak at times and your bladder threaten to leak at others. There was Indigenous language, multimedia projections and a stunning lighting and sound design. It's what it described as an episodic play which tells a story through snippets rather than a one line narrative. Pulling it all together on stage is just Chenoa Deemal whose performance was real, powerful and captivating. This version directed by Jason Jason Klarwein is the 20th anniversary production of the play written by Wesley Enoch and Deborah Mailman and performed by Deborah. Events since it was written such as the apology and the reconciliation march have been included. But despite the updates it does show that not all that much has changed or at very least there is still a long way to go. It's part of Queensland Theatre's touring season and was in Brisbane for just two days before heading to Victoria, The Sydney Opera House, regional New South Wales and finally to London
Lead actress Chenoa Deemal after the production
Producer Jason Klarwein

The Seven Stages of Grieving by Queensland Theatre

Seven Stages of Grief Q and A

The Play That Goes Wrong at the Concert Hall, QPAC

Community theatre, a place where big ambitions and big personalities meet small budgets and a small band of volunteers. It can be a case of necessity is the mother of invention and the end product is incredibly satisfying. It can be a recipe for disaster and just plain wrong. I've seen a character on stage with a script in hand because the lead broke a leg in the matinee. I've been in a theatre where the smoke machine went so crazy they had to evacuate the auditorium. I've seen a curtain that failed to open and the cast delivering its lines behind a wall of red velvet (the curtain eventually had to be cut open). There was the now infamous play where so many of the cast weren't line perfect that a prompt was listed in the program. Spotlights in the wrong place or not at all, props forgotten, phones ringing after they've been answered, wooden performers, seriously miscast actors playing characters the wrong age, the wrong ethnicity, the wrong body type. There's been costuming and wigs falling off, seriously dogdy microphones, stage directions accidentally broadcast to the audience, mics left on so you hear what's happening off stage, things falling off walls and sets that wobble when a door is opened or closed.  I watched my gluten intolerant son eat flour laden biscuits because the special ones weren't put on the tray carried on to the stage. The role required eating so he ate. There was even a time someone crawled on to stage to retrieve a piece of dropped costuming. Apparently we weren't supposed to notice. In short, I feel like I've already seen The Play That Goes Wrong. The difference is that each of those other mishaps I cringed a little. The Play That Goes Wrong actually hurts. It hurts because your sides split from laughing. It hurts because you feel every door that is slammed into a face, every finger that is accidentally trodden on, every bit of set that falls and crashes into an actor. It hurts because it is achingly familiar. This is British farce at its best. It won the Olivier Award for best new comedy in London and is Tony nominated. The comic timing is spot on and the set designers can take a bow. It's like Humpty Dumpty falling off the wall and yet they manage to put it together again every day and twice a day on Wednesdays and Saturdays. All the elements of The Play That Goes Wrong are right but I've deducted 0.25 marks from a perfect 5/5 because there were times I thought the suspense might actually kill me.
Review of The Play That Goes Wrong 

 The Play That Goes Wrong continues at The Concert Hall, QPAC until May 14

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