anon., Evoke and CATHEXIS featured in the Herald Sun today! See online article here
See article in its original context here by Chelsea Clugston for Onya Magazine.
For God’s sake… Why?
I have to admit that, sitting in the audience and hearing this opening, I wasn’t sure what to expect with Larrikin Ensemble Theatre’s ‘Boy out of the Country’.
I wouldn’t have been surprised had someone burst out with “Stella!” at that point, wrenching the audience from pre-show whispering to emotional turmoil. But if there’s one thing I’ve taken away from this experience, it’s to leave the expectations at home.
‘Boy out of the Country’, written by award winning poet and playwright Felix Nobis, is currently premiering at Melbourne’s fortyfivedownstairs. On the surface, it follows the story of a brother returning to his country town after seven years absence, to find the home he remembers nearly gone and his family embracing the change.
A combination of subtle humour and rough language showcases country-town Australia in a highly entertaining light. However, the play is no carefree comedy. Its clever use of humour paves the way for a confronting, at times poignant exploration into what it means to be family, to own land – and to lose it.
See article in its original context here by Elizabeth Quinn for Weekend Notes.
Heading down to the basement space of fortyfivedownstairs is like entering a subterranean nether world. What happens down there is a reflection of what’s new and interesting in Melbourne theatre and cabaret. The current production makes the leap from the Cold War cabaret of Miss Jugoslavia and the Barefoot Orchestra to something a bit closer to home.
Boy Out of the Country takes place in a small town on the rural fringes of an unnamed sprawling Australian city. Property values are being inflated by the rezoning of large tracts of land into residential areas to make room for housing estates. And where there’s the whiff of money in the air, family bonds are placed under threat.
See article in its original context here by Dina Ross for the Australian Book Review.
It’s a story biblical in resonance: prodigal son Hunter returns after seven years in the wilderness, to find younger brother Gordon finalising a lucrative real estate deal; the homestead’s boarded up, ageing Mum has been moved to a tiny flat, and the Utopia they knew as boys is set for redevelopment. The brothers come to blows, family secrets are uncovered, and the stage is set for a ninety-minute meditation on belonging, loss, self-discovery and the relentless pace of progress.
In less skilful hands, Boy Out of the Country’s plot could seem well-worn, even trite. To playwright Felix Nobis’s credit, he takes an old story and reinvents it as fresh and relevant. Much of this is due to the play’s clever structure, written in taut, idiomatic verse that eschews the tum-ti-tum of Banjo Paterson and energetically replicates the flow of everyday speech. Touching, funny, raw, bittersweet, the play is at once uniquely Australian and thematically universal.
See article in its original context here by Nick Pilgrim for Theatre People.
Recent plays such as ‘Savages’ By Patricia Cornelius and Thérèse Radic’s ‘Café Scheherazade’ highlight both important political and personal journeys; these new works will surely become time capsules to absorb and dissect for years to come.
Presented by the Larrikin Ensemble Theatre, ‘Boy Out Of The Country’ by Felix Nobis is no exception.
Helmed by a veteran cast of five, regional Victoria’s desperate economic underbelly is sliced open for all to see. A humble family is divided by past indiscretions, clutching honor to their chests, yet possessing an unyielding drive for a better future.
See article in its original context here by Cameron Woodhead for The Age.
Larrikin Ensemble’s ‘Boy Out of the Country’ crackles with Aussie idiom and wit
Felix Nobis’ Boy Out of the Country is a tale of sibling rivalry and family secrets, of nostalgia for the lost world of childhood and confronting the reality of rapid social change. It’s a play infused with the vitality of Aussie idiom and melodrama that crackles with understatement and wit, and has been brought to life by a talented cast of actors. There’s a lot to admire.
See article in its original context here by Sarah Adams for artsHub.
A play that welds together the theatrical with the literary, leaving you lost in your own imagination.
While most theatre engages you in the moment, drawing you into what is happening right in front of you, literature leaves you to fill in the blanks, allowing you to create imagery of your own by drawing on your own memories and reference points. Felix Nobis’ Boy Out of the Country manages to bridge the divide between these two art forms, creating real-time engaging theatre, but also allowing the audience to drift off into the world of the characters’ stories, picturing many things for themselves.
The script starts off simply enough and the story structure is not unfamiliar. Hunter (Martin Blum) returns to his small country town after seven years away to find his childhood home boarded up, his mother gone, and the utopia he used to play in prepped for a new housing development.
Sibling rivalry reaches fever pitch when he discovers his brother Gordon (Matt Dyktynski) is set to benefit from the sale of the home. Conflict between brothers and over filial obligation ensues, leading both down a path of self discovery about who they once were and what they have become. The heated dialogue between the two is offset nicely by the character of Sgt. Walker (Christopher Bunworth), who mediates when the pair end up at the police station.
See article in its original context here by Jane Canaway for Australian Stage.
Boy Out of the Country | Larrikin Ensemble Theatre
Tightly written for the most part, with only a couple of flat spots, Nobis explores the multifaceted issues of family, belonging, acceptance and growth in this true-blue Aussie tale of two brothers.
Nobis opens by laying his cards on the table and presents a simple scenario that would be familiar to all Australians: Bad-boy Hunter returns to his small-town home after an unexplained seven-year absence to find his elderly mum moved into a nursing home, his rundown childhood home about to be bulldozed to make way for a new housing development, and his former flame married to his clean-living brother, Gordon.
See article in its original context here by Elizabeth Quinn for Weekend Notes.
A little bit country, a little bit Banjo, a lot of soul
Dr Felix Nobis is a multi-tasker if ever there was one. Before embarking on an academic career at the Centre for Theatre and Performance at Monash University, he worked as a professional actor both on stage and (small) screen. As a writer / performer,he has created two one-person shows which have toured Australia, Europe and America, and as a playwright he has had several works produced and held positions as Writer in Residence with the Q Theatre (1989), and Affiliate Writer with Melbourne Theatre Company (2008). How he managed to find time to answer Weekend Notes’ questions we’ll never know. Here he shines a light on his latest creation Boy out of the Country, soon to debut at fortyfivedownstairs:
The script for Boy out of the Country has won a number of awards along the way to the premiere at fortyfivedownstairs on November 21. What was its gestation period?
The play emerged out of the MTC Affiliate Writers Program under Julian Meyrick. It is written in a kind of Australian vernacular verse and it took a long time to get the balance right in the dialogue. For a while it went ‘on ice’ while I followed up with other projects but when it won the R. E. Ross Script Development Award, it gave me the boost I needed to finish it.
See article in its original context here by John Bailey for The Age.
Stage: Treading the Boards
Keene to catch up
The Keene/Taylor Theatre Project was one of those sit-up-and-listen moments in Melbourne’s theatre history: from 1997, writer Daniel Keene and director Ariette Taylor spent five years in an intense collaboration that produced seasons of work marked by a rare clarity of vision and execution. The project came to a close in 2002, but they’re getting the band back together for a special one-off performance on December 2. Titled Three Graces, the night will feature the Australian premiere of Keene’s Marie and Marguerite as well as his older work The Rain, both directed by Taylor and performed by Helen Morse and Marta Kaczmarek. The event is in tribute to the late Patricia Kennedy. Bookings: fortyfivedownstairs.com
Playwright Daniel Keene. Photo: Roger Cummins
See article in its original context here by Charlene Macaulay for the Footscray Star.
Footscray actor Chris Bunworth will take to the stage for Boy out of the Country.
FOOTSCRAY actor Chris Bunworth is heading back to the stage for his latest role. Mr Bunworth, who has held a range of roles on the stage, TV and film, including Underbelly, Winners and Losers, Neighbours and Beaconsfield the movie, will don the navy blue to play Sergeant Alfred Walker in the world premiere of Boy out of the Country. The show, which premieres tomorrow, is based on a property stoush between two brothers over who inherits the family farm.
The entire play is in verse and is written in a similar style to Banjo Paterson. In addition to his role, Mr Bunworth is also the show’s producer. “We’ve all been working very hard. It’s a fantastic cast,” he said.
See article in its original context here by Elizabeth Quinn for Weekend Notes.
Cold War served hot hot hot
There are some forms of entertainment that allow the audience to sit back and let it all wash over them. And then there’s Miss Jugoslavia and the Barefoot Orchestra.
There is nothing passive about being in the audience at fortyfivedownstairs when Tania Bosak is stalking the boards. Her unique brand of Slavic cabaret is confronting, discordant, chaotic, but never ever boring.
With the help of lighting and shadow and some good old-fashioned wall projection, the audience takes a journey into the Cold War experiences of Tania Bosak’s father Rudy. A talented musician of Croatian descent, he played in an orchestra where fellow band members were informers, in the atmosphere of mistrust that prevailed behind the Iron Curtain in the late 50s and early 60s.
See article in its original context here by Liza Dezfouli for Australian Stage.
Spectacle and orchestra, a mash-up of punk, jazz, Balkan gypsy folk and big brassy carnival scores – it’s all here in a show touting itself as ‘Cold War served warm.’ Tania Bosak shares family stories, mainly that of her father’s defection from the former Yugoslavia, in a theatrical performance of original music, her first score and an astonishing night of sound compelling you to witness all the pain, drama, secrecy and longing of displacement.
In the late 1950s, Bosak’s father, a musician travelling with a large group (which included a few informers) from behind the Iron Curtain on a trip to Belgium, defected at great risk to himself and eventually made his way to Australia. Tania Bosak’s Barefoot Orchestra – musicians Phil Byswater (sax), John Delanyer (guitar),Aviva Endean (clarinets), Anita Hustas (bass), Justin Marshall (drums), Kynan Robinson (trombone), Dan Witton (tuba and bass) – presents the essence of this dramatic saga in a show which doesn’t use narrative but rather invites us to make our own meaning out of what we hear: the effect is a musical romp through the history of twentieth century Eastern Europe. The radiant Bosak(who was actually a ‘Miss Yugoslavia’ runner-up, in a contest held in Melbourne when she was only 15) identified as a ‘Yugoslav,’ but when war broke out and fractured Yugoslavia in 1991, she was told she was actually Croatian; a moment which formed the beginnings of this concert. Bosak’s an accomplished musician, singer, comedian and stage performer; here she assumes the persona of an intense, slightly mad gothic noir/dominatrix/circus master/conductor to the band, leading the musicians in an ‘art music’ extravaganza.
See article in its original context here by Tony Reck for Real Time Arts.
The wrath of Plath
In staging Barry Dickins’ fantastical script about Sylvia Plath’s suicide, director Laurence Strangio, contracts the expansive 45 Downstairs warehouse space into an intimate pocket; one situated before a foreboding barred window. Imaginatively transposed to London, England, February 11, 1963, the audience is further seduced by an attention to detail that often characterises Strangio’s directorial efforts.
Mattea Davies’ design is a microcosm of Sylvia Plath’s mental duress: punitive order set amongst emotional chaos, and accentuated by a Shakespearean storm that, apparently, was the worst ever recorded at that time in England. Thankfully, centre-stage is not consistently occupied by a self-gratifying human presence; instead there is a gas oven inside which a luminous pilot light reminds the audience that this appliance is both heater and exterminator. Plath was arguably of Jewish descent and, as in history, her grasp on life is as tenuous as the arbitrary decision that underpinned the Holocaust. Sylvia Plath will die tonight: this will be the celebrated poet’s last night on earth.
See article in its original context here by Kathy Evans for The Sydney Morning Herald.
George Bernard Shaw defined patriotism as ”a conviction that a particular country is the best in the world, because you were born in it”, but musician Tania Bosak has always suspected there is much more to it than that.
Growing up in Australia, she believed she was the daughter of Yugoslav immigrants. All that changed on an ordinary day in 1991 when she came home to be told by her parents that she was, in fact, Croatian. The Yugoslav wars had broken out with bitter conflicts erupting between different ethnicities and feelings of nationalism were running high.
It came as a shock to Bosak, then 24, though she had some awareness of a secrecy that shrouded the family’s past.
Gradually stories began to emerge. Her musician father, she learnt, had defected from the former Yugoslavia to Belgium in 1958 along with two other men, while on tour with his folk band. Dispirited by the poverty and lack of opportunities under communist rule; dazzled by the freedom they witnessed in other countries, shortly before they were due to return, they went into hiding for three months.
See article in its original context here by Anna Snoekstra for The Melbourne Review.
Cold war served warm: a chaotic and personal performance told beyond words.
“We didn’t hear about why they left, we didn’t hear their stories. This was like an uncovering,” Tania Bosak, musician and performer, tells me. Miss Jugoslavia & The Barefoot Orchestra was performed to rave reviews at Mona Foma earlier this year; however, the conception of this production was in 1991 when civil war broke out in Yugoslavia and Bosak’s nationality literally changed overnight.
After Bosak began asking her musician father questions about his life, he revealed the story of his defection from the former Yugoslavia to Belgium. She began retelling the story in her concerts and it started to take on a life of its own.
See article in its original context here by Valentina Ilievska for Aussie Theatre.
Tania Bosak’s bio reads like someone who has managed to pack two lifetimes into one. Miss Jugoslavia and The Barefoot Orchestra – part concert, part theatre, and part film score for a film that will never be made – is her first major work. Aussie Theatre’s Valentina Ilievska had the opportunity to chat with Bosak about her career to date and her new work.
A self-taught inter-disciplinary musician, performer, composer, actor and comedian, not to mention TaKeTiNa (rhythm teacher) Master, this former Miss Yugoslavia runner-up is also a Churchill Fellowship recipient, an award given to Australians who are “innovative, filled with a spirit of determination and possess a strong desire to benefit their community”.
Born and bred in Melbourne, Bosak has lived and travelled all over the world, but says she cut her teeth as a musician and performer in Hobart, after she moved there in the early 90’s and kick-started the band Rektengo, whose eclectic mix of Gypsy Jazz, Latin and Cumbia swing established the troupe as Tasmanian music royalty.
For Bosak, whose musician father is the inspiration behind Miss Jugoslavia and The Barefoot Orchestra, music was in the blood.
Image: Jeff Busby
See article in its original context here by Elizabeth Quinn for Weekend Notes.
Family secrets exposed, unruly Balkan-jazz and a bit of cutting edge theatre – what’s not to love about the latest offering from Melbourne’s own Miss Jugoslavia Runner Up Tania Bosak?
Miss Jugoslavia and The Barefoot Orchestra is a composed theatre work that made waves when it premièred at MONA FOMA in January this year, and now it will debut in Melbourne at Fortyfive Downstairs from October 29 to November 10.
Tania Bosak is a Churchill Fellow, diverse percussionist, stand-up comedian, great vocalist, band leader for the Shljivovitz Orchestra and this work follows on from the success of her Melbourne Fringe Festival sell-out hit Supper at Stanley’s. It is inspired by Tania Bosak’s father’s decision to defect from the former Jugoslavia to Belgium in 1958, and tackles themes of escape, displacement and resettlement that will resonate strongly with an Australian audience in today’s political climate.
See article in its original context here in the Sydney Morning Herald by John Bailey.
An intimate story
Miss Jugoslavia and The Barefoot Orchestra drew acclaim when it premiered at Tasmania’s MONA FOMA this year (curator Brian Ritchie said the show would ”kick you in your musical solar plexus”) and is now set for a Melbourne season at fortyfivedownstairs. The work is created by Tania Bosak, a Churchill Fellow, musician and comedian whose status as a Miss Yugoslavia runner-up was made more problematic when her parents’ homeland began to erupt with internal tensions. Probing into her family’s history unearthed secrets, and the show itself follows her father’s defection to Belgium in 1958 and subsequent experience of migration and dislocation. Billed as ”composed theatre”, it features unruly Balkan-jazz on a large scale to tell a most intimate story. From October 30.
See article in its original context here by Nick Jones for Pop Culture Y.
“Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned”
- William Congreve
Which is certainly true of classical Greek mythology; a typical tale (I think about 98% of them) begins with Zeus committing a dalliance (to put it mildly) much to the chagrin (to again put it mildly) of his wife Hera, who will then seek to bring about some sort of appropriate revenge (“appropriate” in the sense that revenge is owed, but frequently inappropriate in terms of proportion). While a sane couple might seek counseling or a divorce, their exploits make for what I’m pretty sure was the time-period’s equivalent of Jerry Springer.
Live Acts On Stage from Michael Gow, presented by Four Letter Word Theatre and directed bySarah Tabitha Catchpole, is the story of the journey of Orpheus, legendary musician, poet and prophet, who famously tried to bring his wife back from the underworld. Also, Zeus and Hera having a fight, but so is every one of those stories.
See article in its original context here for Time Out.
Mike Nicholls’ only concern about his show at fortyfivedownstairs? Getting his work down the titular stairs. But that’s an occupational hazard when your sculptures can be as high as four metres. “I’m not getting any younger!” he laughs.
Contemplation offers a rare chance to see Nicholls exhibit his recent timber sculptures, paintings and drawing in the CBD. Back in the early ’80s, Nicholls was one of a bunch of Melbourne art-school graduates who set themselves up on pre-gentrification Brunswick St as the now-famed ROAR Studios collective. These days, he divides his time between Williamstown and the family farm at Narre Warren North, south-east of Melbourne, where he has set up a studio, gallery space and sculpture walk. The farm is also where his sculptures begin.
“I basically do a drawing straight onto the log, and once I’ve got a drawing that works with the frame of the log then I start out blocking out with a chainsaw. But not too much… Then I start with a chisel, then move down on smaller chainsaw. It’s just a whittling-down process.”
Michael Gow’s LIVE ACTS ON STAGE
Revised for Four Letter Word Theatre
Over forty roles.
Part of the Melbourne Fringe Festival, Four Letter Word Theatre presents Australian Playwright Michael Gow’s bawdy, irreverent and comic take on the activities of ancient Greco-Roman Gods.
Pulling from contemporary and ancient text, director Sara Tabitha Catchpole weaves together a host of infamous characters, movement based ensemble, and design by herself, Robert Alexander Smith, Caityln Staples and Leech King. The result being an orgy of ancient myths that are sure to leave you confronted and astounded. Amazed and aghast. Surprised, and just a little sick…
Orpheus is teaching mortals and Gods alike that they aren’t that different from each other, he says “Love whatever you are drawn to” and that “We are all a bit divine”. That’s what started Hera’s rage regarding her husband, Zeus’, lust for a human goatherd, Ganymede. She visits Eris, in her “little corner of hell” and the two embark on detangling the events which led to Orpheus’ teachings and Hera’s unhappiness.
Despite it being an imagining of the ancient world, it offers sharp insight into our contemporary political landscape – the Trojan War is set in the present, but it could just as easily be Afghanistan or Syria today. This is a play that has retained stunning relevance since its first production.
Book your tickets here
A Kind of Fabulous Hatred featured in The Age today. See online article here.
See article in its original context here by Simon Eales for Themusic.com.au
As a 20-something male, Patricia Cornelius’ new play Savages hits me right in the moralities. Not that it speaks directly to my demographic; the four-handed, one-act play is populated by middle-aged blokes with kids and mortgages and wives. But there is horror here, steeped in the fact that they’re acting like men my age.
The play imagines the mental states of four friends in the lead-up to a Dianne Brimble-esque scenario aboard a cruise the men have taken. They’re there on the cheap, pumped with booze, bad cologne and desperation. Like Saturday night on Swan Street on shore leave. Cornelius’ rhyming blank verse dialogue furnishes the actors and Susie Dee’s direction with the capacity for minute control over pace, and the actors open pockets of understanding with their relish of it.
The R E Ross Trust Playwrights’ Script Development Awards are designed to foster Victoria’s theatre industry by providing support to Victorian-based writers to develop their play scripts. Over the past 7 years the R E Ross Trust have produced some wonderful new plays – and they have all had their first public reading at fortyfivedownstairs.
Wednesday 11 December
Soft Soap by Trudy Hellier
In the light of a shocking discovery, a woman recreates her past, searching for clues she didn’t see, or chose not to.
Soft Soap, inspired by real-life events surrounding the murder of a Melbourne businessman with a secret life as a swinger, is an intimate journey of love, betrayal, and the subjective nature of memory.
Writer: Trudy Hellier
Director: Susie Dee
Actor: Caroline Lee
Made possible with generous support from La Mama.
See article in its original context here by Seanna van Helten for Milk Bar.
Patricia Cornelius’s Savages opens with four prowling male bodies, hungry and raging in the semi-darkness. What are these beasts in human form?
Then just as quickly they disappear and we’re brought to a harbour in daylight, where four middle-aged mates are about to board a cruise liner for a “trip of a lifetime.”
Before they do, ringleader Craze (Mark Tregonning) insists that they each declare what miseries they hope to leave behind. Craze himself is escaping a painful divorce and a child custody dispute. For mechanic Rabbit (James O’Connell) it’s work troubles, for lovesick George (Lyall Brooks) it’s a complicated new relationship, while for Runt (Luke Elliot) it is any mention of his diminutive stature. The men are here for to have a good time, to let loose, to let boys be boys.
Aboard ship, however, these hopes proves illusory. Cornelius’s script, with its subtle rhymes, free-verse repetitions and a broad “ocker” staccato, both highlights and masks the men’s hang-ups, as beneath their superficial banter and macho posturing lie growing resentments about their daily lives. They are adrift, unsteady; set designer Marg Horwell’s sloping stage provides no sure footing, resembling the upended deck of the sinking Titanic.
See article in its original context here by Suzanne Sandow for Stage Whispers.
Savages is a rich, rewarding powerful theatrical investigation of the type of masculine reality, relationships and circumstances that support, what is ultimately, predatory anti-social behavior.
It is based on the Dianne Brimble case and explores events leading up to the discovery of her body in the small cabin on a P&O Cruse Ship that was occupied by the men who drugged and assaulted her.
There is a strong sense of ensemble and all actors excel in their roles working with courageous commitment to the text, that moves smoothly from the heightened poetic to simple naturalism, in an incisively complimentary staging by director Susie Dee.
The work is cleverly placed on an abstracted stylized set (Marg Horwell) – inferring a number of environments including; underneath a bridge, a drawbridge, a ships hull, a ships deck and a disco whilst lights (Andy Turner) greatly assist in creating atmosphere. Sound created by Kelly Ryall is used to powerful effect both naturalistically and symbolically. It infers, cruelty, harsh alienation and, at times, expresses a dark foreboding.
Fueled by alcohol and years of disappointing miss-communication with the ‘fair sex,’ these blokes affirm each other’s sense of failure. They nurture a lustful misogyny through the deeply binding bond, and knowing intimacy, of the type of impaired mateship that ‘others’ women. They are all needy and craving love but heinous and destructive in their hostile desperation.
Alienation, limited communication skills and possibly intelligence, thwarted expectations, harsh treatment of one another; dishonesty and manipulation all come into play. In almost all cases the men lack adequate nurturing love in their lives and have some difficulties relating comfortably and appropriately to their Mothers. They also lack basic lack skills for constructive introspection and the emotional intelligence that we are beginning to understand is so important to teach children and particularly boys at school.
See article in its original context here by Australian Arts Review.
Poignant, powerful, emotive and menacing are words that can easily describe Patricia Cornelius’ latest offering for the stage, Savages.
A disturbing exposition of reported events in real-life, Savages is a confronting observational drama about four mates who set out on a cruise of a life time. Once the initial excitement subsides and the bittersweet reality of their lives and surrounds set in, insecurities are soon revealed and a menacing underbelly of masculinity and misogyny emerges.
Savages is a well-structured blend of raw, gritty and rhythmic phases, peppered with short and sharp bites that packs a punch. Cornelius’ writing is the more powerful for what it doesn’t say.
Each of the four characters are easily recognisable. Distinctly flawed and morally deficient in some form, they are convincingly played by Lyall Brooks (George), Luke Elliott (Runt), James O’Connell (Rabbit) and Mark Tregonning (Craze).
Director Susie Dee delivers a well-rounded production set on Marg Howell’s imposing raked stage that resembles a ship’s deck complete with multi-coloured streamers, augmented by Andy Turner’s, at times, menacing but effective lighting and Kelly Ryall’s pulsating sound.
While many may find the subject matter of Savages and the events leading up to the foreboding, yet unseen act unpleasant, credit must be given to Cornelius and forty-five downstairs for their un-wavering commitment to the exploration of real Australian stories.
Article published in the Melbourne Observer by Cheryl Threadgold.
fortyfivedownstairs presents the premiere of Patricia Cornelius’s powerful new play, Savages, until September 8, under the skilled direction of Susie Dee.
Four seemingly nice, everyday guys board a cruise liner for their trip of a lifetime.
However, behind the facade of gaily coloured streamers, a luxurious shipboard lifestyle and pleasant chit-chat between mates, a foreboding discontent simmers between these fortyish men in mid-life crisis. The reality is that none can escape from their individual issues left behind, no matter how hard they try.
In masterly style, Cornelius uses rhythmic, at times poetic, dialogue to shift the men’s behaviour from pleasantly playful to predatory, then savage, while pulsating sound effects effectively create animalistic tension.
Each man recounts personal negative experiences with women and maybe this contributes to their horrid objectivity towards female passengers. Alternatively, we are left to wonder if a pack-like mentality is unavoidable when a group of males spends time bonding together.
The great cast includes Lyall Brooks (George), Luke Elliott (Runt), James O’Connell (Rabbit) and Mark Tregonning (Craze), who all beautifully capture the twists and turns in their characters’ behaviour from upbeat and chatty to ugly and predatory.
See article in its original context here by Jess Sykes for Onya Magazine.
I could not have imagined a more powerful opening to a play. Through dim lighting and music that made Radiohead sound like upbeat cheerleaders, the shadows of the four men climbed animalistically over the back railing of the stage. They proceeded to challenge and snarl at each other until there was one remaining, howling his victory.
As I frantically Googled ‘aneurism’ to see if I’d just had one, the play started in with its light hearted banter as the men met up to board their cruise trip together.
There were times, and this initial meeting was one, where the play felt less like how men talk, and more like how women think they talk when they’re alone. Repeating the words ‘heeeey’ and ‘maaaate’ for at least four rounds each, although effectively building a rhythm to their speech, also carved a special place in my brain where it will forever hurt to hear those words spoken again.
And then they started to rhyme. My survival instincts kicked in at this point, and I visibly checked for the exits.
Somehow, though, despite all my resistance to the powers of rhyme (and excluding some angsty teenage poetry, I’ve been quite committed) Patricia Cornelius used it like voodoo throughout the play to build a steady, growing pace that cast its sick spell on me.
The direction of Susie Dee choreographed these men into what was essentially a 90 minute dance, dripping with barely restrained masculinity and misogyny. Even through mundane things like boarding the ship, sitting on the ship’s deck, and working out, you could feel them working as a pack, and tensions building through the rhythm it created.
This tension gained strength along with their disturbing attitudes to women. Initial conversations covered how much they visited and loved their mothers. Tellingly, the most respect was reserved for the one who was still ‘hot’ at 60, her greatest quality seemingly the absence of body fat. The complicated relationship these men had to women was built from this early stage, with the conversation devolving to show resentment and dependence.
See article in its original context here by Nick Spunde for Concrete Playground.
Stark lighting and shadow fall upon the stage, which is tilted at a crazed angle like a skate ramp or the deck of a listing ship. Four men, shirtless, leap onto it like hunting predators. They seem like werewolves or some other supernatural beast, human in form only.
With this arresting image, Savages starts. Shortly after, the men will appear toting suitcases and garbed in holiday attire, exchanging merry greetings, but the image of them as monsters is stuck with you. While on the outside, this is a story about a group of 40-ish mates sharing a holiday, there is always a pulse of horror beating beneath the surface.
The latest play from Patricia Cornelius (Do Not Go Gentle, 2011) is a story about a group-assisted descent into darkness. A gang of old friends go on a cruise together, a long-awaited boys’ holiday, swearing to leave their troubles, responsibilities and concerns behind them. Once at sea, a tension starts to build within the group and the savagery we caught a glimpse of at the start begins to peep out through the cracks.
From the beginning, there is a feeling of unreality. The dialogue frequently uses poetic devices, including frequent rhymed exchanges, and is often delivered in a declamatory style. While it feels unnatural, it is purposeful: the camaraderie among the men is depicted as a forced and not entirely convincing ritual that binds a group riven with tension, insecurity and unease.
On the steeply angled stage, there is a constant sense of things askew. The men engage in a constant game of competitive hypermasculinity — sweaty chest beating fuelled by lust and anger. No other actors are ever seen, making the men seem shut off from the world, not just by the sea, but locked within their interactions with each other. The group dynamic overpowers them as individuals.
See article in its original context here by Nick Jones for Pop Culture-Y.
On Friday night I headed to fortyfivedownstairs for Patricia Cornelius‘ new piece, Savages, a play about the notion of gender. Cornelius explains that, “…there have been so many dire incidents in the news about groups of men in teams and clubs on tours and trips that I wanted to take them on.”
And dire the incident is, but we’ll come to that in a second.
Savages is the story of four best mates setting out on a two week cruise; estranged ex-husband Craze (Mark Tregonning), affable everyman George (Lyall Brooks), sex-obsessed Rabbit (James O’Connell), and lovable innocent Runt (Luke Elliot). They bring with them both literal and emotional baggage, excitement, and expectations that will not be met. Each vows to step on board a free man, freed from one of the pressures of their life back on shore, for two weeks of surf, sun, a sex (wahey!).
This is a story about men. The open is of the four animalistically stalking across the main deck as the titular savages, but the play quickly falls back into more familiar territory; our first dialogue scene portrays that conversation I’ve had hundreds of times with some of my friends, the one that basically consists of saying “hey!” and “you know?” with different inflections.
See article in its original context here by Anne-Marie Peard for Aussie Theatre.
At the end of Savages, I had to joke about hoping that no one sees it on a first date because it was too uncomfortable to talk about its content.
Walking into 45downstairs, a sea of paper streamers and an imposing slanting deck beg for sunshine and a party, but I felt a heaviness in my belly the moment that George, Runt, Rabbit and Craze boarded their trip-of-a-lifetime cruise because I thought of Dianne Brimble. I didn’t know that Savages was based on this case.
In 2002, 42-year-old Brimble took her daughter on their trip of a lifetime where she died from a combination of alcohol and the drug GHB, known as the date rape drug. There were eight men from Adelaide involved. There have been trials, but none have served gaol time for the death of the fat, old “ugly dog”. One judge said that their suffering since her death is as bad as time incarcerated. I wonder if it would be the same if it had been one of the pretty young things the men had playfully harassed who had ended up face down and naked in the tiny cabin.
I struggle to find sympathy or understanding for these men and the people who support them
This is what’s so remarkable about Patricia Cornelius’s new play; she tells a similar story from the men’s point view. She doesn’t justify, judge or even confront their behaviour, but tries to understand how men behave in a group; how nice-enough guys follow the pack and behave in ways they might never consider if they were alone.
This four (Lyall Brooks, Luke Elliot, James O’Connell and Mark Tregonning) are 40ish and have been mates for years. Before boarding they abandon their usual baggage of the women, exes and kids so that for a few days they can be the men they are meant to be. On board, there’s nothing unusual about how they compete, share and exaggerate and each might easily pick up if they didn’t expect to attract the attention of the gorgeous young or fear being judged by their mates.
See article in its original context here by Andrew Fuhrmann for Australian Book Review.
‘If men are masters of their fate,’ asks the American feminist Susan Faludi, ‘what do they do about the unspoken sense that they are being mastered, in the marketplace and at home, by forces that seem to be sweeping away the soil beneath their feet?’
Perhaps they go on a cruise. That, at least, is what Runt, Craze, Rabbit, and George do. Four middle-aged men, past their prime but still willing to take on any young buck, they are about to set sail on the ‘trip of a lifetime’. It is goodbye to inadequacy, shame, and frustration; to the sense of always treading water; to a society with no place for ‘real men’ anymore. As they cross the gangplank, they jettison their miseries and declare their old selves dead: ‘The salt water spray is going to take everything away and leave me like a new born babe.’ This is a delusion, of course. The old insecurities remain. What actually happens is a loosening of the moral ties that restrain their misogynistic desire for revenge, their savage indignation.
George: Is that us in the distance?
Rabbit: It is.
George: Almost gone.
George: It is.
Rabbit: I feel let loose.
This is Savages, Patricia Cornelius’s remarkable new play, currently in its première season at Melbourne’s fortyfivedownstairs. It is an outstanding example of polemic theatre, written in a kind of bubbling, scalding, idiomatic verse that amazes even as it accuses: it is one of the best – if most unsettling– pieces of new writing for the stage going around.
It takes as its immediate inspiration the case of Dianne Brimble, the 42-year-old mother of three who died on the Pacific Sky cruise liner after being given an over-dose of gamma hydroxybutyrate, also known as the date-rape drug ‘fantasy’. Her naked, lifeless body was discovered on the floor of a cabin belonging to a group of four middle-aged men from Adelaide, later described by police investigators as ‘persons of interest’.
In Cornelius’s reshaping of this grim scenario, she focuses exclusively on her four men, from a morning spent lounging on deck discussing love and scars, to their increasingly desperate efforts to pick-up at the all-night disco. This is not a closely observed character study as in, say, Gordon Graham’sThe Boys (1991), a play that explores a similar subject and theme. Cornelius draws her men as broad types, and never allows the particularities of the case to obscure her larger point about the ‘masculinity crisis’.