Review: The Whale (Red Line Productions)

redlineVenue: Old Fitzroy Theatre (Woolloomooloo NSW), Feb 12 – Mar 4, 2016
Playwright: Samuel D. Hunter
Director: Shane Anthony
Cast: Keith Agius, Chloe Bayliss, Alex Beauman, Meredith Penman, Hannah Waterman

Theatre review
There is no question more fundamental than to consider why it is that we choose to live. In Samuel D. Hunter’s The Whale, a kind of suicidal impulse is explored, but the dramatic gesture is not a sudden one. Alan and Charlie let themselves waste away by withdrawing from the very living of life, allowing their bodies to approach certain and hastened death. The writing is powerful, poignant and sensitive, with a clever plot structure to fascinate and to provide plentiful food for thought.

Direction of the work by Shane Anthony is replete with tenderness and compassion, eager for us to find points of identification with its quirky characters. The show needs a more pronounced sense of humour for its overall emotional arc to make a greater impact, but its effect is nonetheless strong. Anthony’s use of space is dynamic and thoughtful, beautifully aided by Charlie Davis’ very accomplished and evocative set design.

Performances are well-rehearsed, with excellent chemistry to be found, but character interpretations can at times tend to be too straightforward. Keith Agius brings a valuable vibrancy to Charlie’s sad story, and although his portrayal of the role’s profound sorrow is not always convincing, we achieve a thorough understanding of his mind and spirit, and it is the actor’s work that provides his audience with many of the show’s reflective and meaningful moments. Also moving is Hannah Waterman as Mary, whose life struggles are immediately evident in spite of her brief stage time. Waterman’s approach brings a surprising complexity that makes her part the most authentic and empathetic of the group.

In The Whale, Charlie is crippled by regret and heartache. We watch him go through immense suffering, and although we appreciate the difficulties he faces, the play allows us to see the possibilities of a better life that is only a hair away. It is a lesson that we can all learn; about choice, strength and hope. Charlie might be an abomination to many, especially to himself, but to those of us who know his parable, he will serve as a reminder on our darker days, for a long time to come.

www.oldfitztheatre.com

5 Questions with Prudence Holloway and Billie Scott

Prudence Holloway

Prudence Holloway

Billie Scott: What drew you to ‘The Girlie Show’?
Prudence Holloway: Definitely the subject matter, my character (Natalie) goes through such a universal journey to find out how much she’s willing to compromise her integrity for her dreams.

Do you believe there is still an element of homophobia in the performing arts?
Yes, I do think there is but the more characters like these that are portrayed on the stage and screen the more we widen the breadth of representation of sexuality out there to relate to.

How has working with this cast been?
The cast have been great; it’s been so much fun working on such an ensemble piece and getting re-obsessed with Madonna together. Also, who doesn’t love an opportunity to rock out in 90’s fashion!

In terms of the show, what has been the biggest challenge?
I got the opportunity to co-write a song for my character to sing in the show, which is something I’d never done before or thought I would be able to do. I’m also accompanying myself on guitar, which is a new thing for me, so not shaking whilst
playing is the biggest challenge.

Which three people (dead or alive) would you invite to a dinner party?
Bette Midler, Madonna (obviously) and Wayne Tunks(the director), because he would probably kill me if I didn’t.

Billie Scott

Billie Scott

Prudence Holloway: Why do you think people should see this show?
The universal feelings of rebellion and acceptance in our formative years most definitely but there is something quite fun in looking at those who we idolize while growing up and impact they have on us.

Favourite Madonna song and why.
Like A Prayer. No question. It’s one of my motivation songs, whether going to an audition, out, gym, whatever it is Like A Prayer will take you there.

Do you think we still have a problem with homophobia and accepting diversity in today’s society?
I definitely think we still have a problem, massively. However I believe the focus has changed, people are too concerned with calling out political correctness to see the actual harmful issues.

What do you do to relax?
To relax I watch films. I’m a massive film fanatic and nothing relaxes me more than cinema. That or I can be found sipping on a Prosecco in a linen shirt somewhere.

This show deals will some sensitive issues surrounding coming out. What advice would you give to someone struggling with that?
That’s a hard question to answer I think because every story is different. However I’ll say that I think unfortunately we live in a society that places so much judgement and expectation on who you are so early, based purely off ones nature or behaviour,
particularly on young effeminate males. So my advice would be to wait until you can make a decision yourself and try not to listen to how other people perceive your sexuality.

Prudence Holloway and Billie Scott can be seen in The Girlie Show by Wayne Tunks, part of Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras 2016 Festival.
Dates: 8 – 20 February, 2016
Venue: The Old 505 Theatre (Newtown)

5 Questions with Kyle Kazmarzik and Matt Minto

Kyle Kazmarzik

Kyle Kazmarzik

Matt Minto: If you could sit down with anyone in history and have a good chat, who would that be?
Kyle Kazmarzik: Fairly recently in history, but Robin Williams. A legend, my idol, a beautiful soul and bloody hilarious. A chat would be difficult from the laughing but I just would have loved to meet him.

Has it been difficult juggling multiple roles?
Not really. Each has their own difficulties and distinctive characteristics which make it easier to flip between them.

What is the one role you are dying to play in your career?
It changes from time to time. Maybe Macbeth. Or Jim Carey in a biopic. But I’d kill to play a role in Star Wars, a dark jedi like Darth Vader or Kylo Ren.

If you could live anywhere in the world where would that be?
New York City.

Name 3 of your favourite actors?
I’ve already mentioned Robin Williams. And Jim Carey. I mean the list goes on and on. But to name a third, I absolutely adore Amy Adams. And a sneaky fourth: Kristen Wiig.

Matt Minto

Matt Minto

Kyle Kazmarzik: If you weren’t an actor, what would you be doing?
Matt Minto: I’m quite interested in psychology, so something in that field.

What’s your favourite play that you reckon you’ll NEVER be in?
A Streetcar Named Desire.

Half the show is in 1958. If you could travel back in time, when would you go?
Late 1960’s, London.

Have you ever ‘corpsed’, or almost ‘corpsed’ during a show?
Yep, I’ve corpsed way too many times. The worst was in a production of Macbeth where I spent, what felt like 10 minutes, shaking with suppressed laughter.

Which do you find more challenging, 1958 Oliver or 2016 Oliver?
They both have their challenges but probably 1958 because of the fact it’s a time period I have no direct experience of.

Kyle Kazmarzik and Matt Minto can be seen in Darlinghurst Theatre’s The Pride by Alexi Kaye Campbell, part of Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras 2016 Festival.
Dates: 5 February – 6 March, 2016
Venue: Eternity Playhouse