Month: October 2013

Love Field

Love Field; A Flight of Fantasy

From the 24th of October until the 2nd of November, The Tap Gallery in Darlinghurst hosts the world premiere of Ron Elisha’s Love Field; A Flight of Fantasy. In this very interesting account of experimental history, playwright Elisha explores a very tense flight on Air Force One to Washington just after the assassination of John J Kennedy. The play imagines a conversation between Lyndon Baines Johnson and Jackie Kennedy over the still-warm coffin of her husband, President Kennedy.

The play hinges on character dynamics and the play shifts in power very easily. In portraying character, we see a distraught Jackie Kennedy in her overwhelmed state of grief, still covered in the blood spatters from the assassination. We are drawn into her closeted world of being first lady, love of America and doting wife. From there, we see her demise as she realises all the hopes for her future and the future of America have gone down with her husband. Meanwhile, LBJ has just had greatness thrust upon him in a very untimely manner. We see his character development shift and change along the play, according to his interactions with Jackie; his apprehension towards this new role, his vulnerability and finally his newfound Presidential confidence.

Lizzie Schebesta and Ben Wood performed with so much power, conviction and passion as Jackie Kennedy and Lyndon Baines Johnson. Schebesta was feisty, like a live cracker and her performance seemed very akin to the characterisation of a grieving First Lady. Schebesta is very powerful on stage and has a lot of control, attention to gesture, detail and movement. Wood performed LBJ with such consistency. This man had stage presence and confidence and he was so easy to listen to.

In my opinion, the play was rather rushed to come to a conclusion. At times, I wasn’t sure where the plot was going because the audience was only peering in on an in-flight conversation between the two leads. Then the characters shifted and I felt the power seemed a little unbalanced. I think the ending was believable and the actors carried the play with their passionate performances, however I think had there been time for an interval, the final character twists may have seemed less rushed.

Apart from that, I was wholly impressed with the production. The set was perfect and the use of space was economical and rather clever. The sound and lighting was carefully managed, with interjections of multimedia. Actual archival footage from that fateful day in November, 1963, coupled with authentic sound bites really added to the play. I was very impressed. Furthermore, the Tap Gallery was a very amiable host for this event. Comfortable for an intimate audience, the Tap Gallery is a nice fusion of art and culture in the one centre.

I’d recommend catching Love Field in commemoration of the Kennedy assassination’s 50 year anniversary and I’d recommend it to people who are interested and curious at all things historical. It was a great experimental history.

 

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Source: http://www.tapgallery.org.au/2013/09/love-field-by-ron-elisha-wed-23-oct-sat-2-nov/

“Daisy Pulls If Off” at The Genesian

Just a short walk from Town Hall is a quaint little church, a late nineteenth century sandstone chapel which upon first appearance, is nothing less. That is, until you walk inside where lo and behold, you’ve stepped into the arms of a small but grand theatre. The stage is rustic, the auditorium seats are deep red and the whole theatre experience is intimate and homely. The Genesian Theatre has been so since 1954. From the 18th of October until the 16th of November, the Genesian Theatre hosts the play “Daisy Pulls It Off”.

When reading the synopsis, I gathered the preconception that this play would be not unlike “St Trinians”; the coming-of-age story following a middle class school girl in her plight to make a name and prove her worth as scholarship winner at Grangewood School for Girls. The play is archetypal in the sense that it’s set in a British boarding school, the plots are foreseeable and it covers Dickensian themes, like the importance of blood or good heritage. The story itself was not necessarily original.

In saying this, however, I was pleasantly surprised by the way The Genesian produced this play. I’d like to give credit to either the playwright, Denise Deegan, or the director, Mark Langham, for their excellent stage directions and comic timing. I believe it would be very difficult to script or direct helter-skelter comic timing. The play was very well choreographed and teetered on the edge of satire in sending itself up.

It did so only because each of the actors gave more than 100% effort to their roles, the passion really shone from each of them. It was because they played their characters with great conviction and overwhelming confidence that I began to laugh along with the outrageous shenanigans of the plot. Rather than taking themselves too seriously, the whole production was rather relaxed and this made me, as an audience member, quite comfortable.

I thoroughly enjoyed the production. The set design and props were highly appropriate. More so in the second half than the first, I found myself appreciating the clever and sparing use of such props. I’d like to commend all the cast members on their tremendous effort in holding together such a long play with quick wit, fast dialogue and effortless British-isms, as well as their ensemble performance as a whole.

Lastly, a quick side note of admiration for La Kutchina, a nearby café/restaurant. I had wandered up to The Genesian a little too early and needed somewhere to hide away out of the bitter wind for a while. La Kutchina opened its doors with warm hospitality, excellent coffee at a good price and complimentary homemade shortbread. Sitting in their deep arm chairs, I felt welcomed and not a pest at having to bide my time before the theatre opened. I would definitely return to try one of their main meals before a show at The Genesian.

The audience roared with laughter in all the appropriate times of “Daisy Pulls It Off” and I feel that audience enjoyment and engagement is paramount to the success of a performance. There weren’t as many in the audience as I hoped there’d be and I’d like to see more people appreciate this amateur theatre in their future productions.

 

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Image source: http://www.genesiantheatre.com.au/index.php?mode=view