Review: All About Medea (Montague Basement)

montagueVenue: Old 505 Theatre (Surry Hills NSW), Sep 15 – 19, 2015
Playwright: Saro Lusty-Cavallari
Director: Saro Lusty-Cavallari
Cast: Christian Byers, Lulu Howes
Image by Patrick Morrow

Theatre review
In Saro Lusty-Cavallari’s All About Medea, the ancient Greek mythological characters of Medea and Jason are transformed into generic versions of modern day “girl and boy”. We know little about them, except for their time together; their initial meeting, their pregnancy and marriage, and the eventual devastation that befalls their story. The breakdown of this relationship is the main focus of the play, but it occurs with little explanation. Jason is painted as the villain, but his infidelity is too convenient and his transformation to apathy unconvincing. It might appear that Lusty-Cavallari’s eagerness to portray Medea’s innocence in this sad state of affairs has guided him to a narrative that is far too simplistic.

Medea is an intriguing and dynamic character, but her legend’s value in feminist terms is debatable. It is doubtless that she possesses immense strength, but the sacrifice of her children is made, ultimately to punish the man who abandons her. Her vengeful obsession gives her her power, but in All About Medea, her implied purpose is to cause suffering to Jason, and then to win him back by her delusional attempt to turn back time. Her happiness depends squarely on the manipulations she can effect on her husband’s life.

Nevertheless, the production is an engaging one, with short and sharp scenes that manage to surprise within its purposefully conventional plot structure. Performances by Christian Byers and Lulu Howes are uneven, but the team’s easy and confident chemistry is an outstanding feature. There are some refreshing and subversive approaches to the portrayal of sexuality that will leave an impression, including its liberal amount of nudity at a particularly conservative time in our civilisation. Also, the play provides insightful commentary on youth culture in Australia, and on the trend for the formation of families at a significantly younger age than had been the norm in recent decades.

When imagining Medea as a modern woman, one would hope that society can afford her greater freedom to establish a life in accordance with her desires, but with much smaller reliance on her husband and children. The concluding moment of All About Medea is a controversial one that pushes its audience to reach for their own vision of alternatives that we wish for our heroine, and luckily, that task is not a difficult one.

Review: Tender Indifference‏ (Arrive Devise Repeat)

arrivedeviserepeatVenue: PACT Theatre (Erskineville NSW), Sep 8 – 12, 2015
Playwright: Arrive Devise Repeat (after Albert Camus)
Director: Alexis Hammerton, Victor Kalka
Cast: Joanne Coleman, Ryan Devlin, Alexis Hammerton, Patrick Howard, Victor Kalka, Troy Kent
Image by Jack Gorman

Theatre review
Through the absurd, we can examine what it is that gives life a sense of coherence. Albert Camus’ L’Étranger tells of a man who does not grieve his mother’s death. In Tender Indifference, he is distanced from the world, floating through scenarios almost like an apparition, never involving his emotions with all that occurs in the environment. His alienation is ubiquitous in the play, and we struggle to find a point of connection with his story. It brushes us off, pushes us away, and only the extremely persistent can afford attention for its entirety.

Direction of the work is adventurous but lacking in maturity. Scenes are created for superficial effect, without offering enough innovation to affect fascination, and with characters and narratives that fail to engross. The cast is well rehearsed, but quality of performance is uneven. Stand-out players include Alexis Hammerton whose presence is strongest in the group, and who displays a confidence that addresses our need to be entertained. Patrick Howard takes on the more daring parts, with a flamboyance that keeps us amused. His comedy in the piece is simple and coarse, but refreshing nonetheless, in an atmosphere that aims to be comprehensively dark.

It is challenging to find value in alienation if what follows is emptiness. A work of art can have the best intentions, but if it falters with its communication, the theatrical event represents a missed opportunity. The viewer gains little from Tender Indifference, but its participants probably are conversely enriched by its process. The nature of performance however, requires a kind of partnership between those on and off stage, and both must benefit from that shared experience, no matter what the message therein may be.

Review: Unend‏ (Never Never Theatre Co)

neverneverVenue: PACT Theatre (Erskineville NSW), Sep 10 – 12, 2015
Playwright: Harry Black
Director: Jess Arthur
Cast: Emma Harvie, Eliza J Scott

Theatre review
Abstraction in theatre can bring tremendous pleasure or great boredom, depending on the kinds of communication that do or do not happen between the stage and its audience. Unlike media such as paintings and sculpture, one is trapped in a seat, unable to simply walk away to a different work. Harry Black’s Unend is entirely abstract, and although elements of reality and points of reference are peppered through, it persists with its sublime incoherence, unafraid to cause alienation. The themes are broad, and characteristically open to interpretation. The work talks about the creative process, and the obstacles to progress. It might also be concerned with the relationship between artist and muse, and the self-jeopardising nature of humanity. Many things can be read into Black’s writing, and it is that vagueness that allows an appreciation of Unend to be a dynamic and involving one.

Adding to the sophistication of the script is Jess Arthur’s direction, which delights in manufacturing a sensual and ghostly beauty (ably materialised by Jeremy Allen’s set and lights, and Gayda de Mesa’s sound) to accompany the free-flowing ideas that occur in the text. Dialogue is relayed with impressive detail, and even though its ephemeral quality evades our instinctive need to rationalise every sentence, we never doubt the truth that is being explored on stage. A solid and palpable chemistry is established early on and stays for the entirety of this two-hander. Emma Harvie’s work is thorough and complex, with motivations that feel powerfully honest. The actor balances an inner authenticity with a robust physical portrayal, to create a character that encourages identification in spite of her many ambiguities. Similarly buoyant is Eliza J Scott’s depiction of an earthy angel, reverberating with conviction and enthusiasm. Her vibrant energy gives grounding to a show that can easily turn impenetrable, and the playfulness she introduces reflects a passion to entertain.

This production of Unend speaks differently to each viewer. It requires intellectual investment on our part, so it follows that passive consumption of the work may not gratify, but if one is able to connect with some of its assertions, a rewarding theatrical experience will emerge. The world is full of mystery, but its participants must find ways to understand their very existence. Like an author with a blank screen, meaning begins with that singular leap of faith.

Review: Everything I Learned At NIDA‏ (Pact Centre For Emerging Artists)

kylewalmsleyVenue: PACT Theatre (Erskineville NSW), Sep 8 – 12, 2015
Playwright: Kyle Walmsley
Director: Kyle Walmsley
Cast: Kyle Walmsley

Theatre review
The beauty of youth cannot be divorced from its anxieties, frustrations and arrogance. Kyle Walmsley’s Everything I Learned At NIDA is about a young man’s experiences with acting teachers, and his struggles at balancing his ego with the acquisition of skills that promise fame and glory. It is also extremely funny and outstandingly detailed in its observations of clichés in that particular field of education. Walmsley performs the show not as a student, but as the condescending and self-absorbed instructor who treats his crowd as though we are desperate and ignorant parish at his church. His style ranges from very subtle to ridiculously bombastic, and the show’s comedic effectiveness keeps growing through the duration. It is a caustic tone that drives the production, and although the approach can seem juvenile, the material is substantial enough for rumination after the laughter subsides.

Walmsley’s abilities as comedian, writer and director are all impressively showcased. It is a highly idiosyncratic presentation, but with finely tuned nuances that engage us in often clever and unexpected ways. There is a bold and crass sensibility to his brand of humour, but Walmsley does not rely on cheap or vulgar laughs. His punchlines are genuinely hilarious. In many ways similar to a stand-up format, his very acute sensitivity to our responses and his hunger for attention, creates a level of engagement that is immediate and thrilling. His fondness of audience participation certainly keeps us on edge.

The work is cagey when it comes to the artist’s own feelings and beliefs about his time at NIDA, but a lot is revealed through his portrayal of the culture he had experienced. The tension between talent and effort, and the conundrum of being true to oneself while abandoning the ego, are questions about art education that come into focus. Institutions can provide answers, but the student has to choose whether to learn. Places and personalities hold valuable opportunities for development, and the individual must decide how best to make their dreams come true.

Review: Moondance – Isotopic Reflections‏ (De Quincey Co)

Venue: Erskineville Village Anglican Church (Erskineville NSW), September 4 – 19, 2015
Choreography: Tess de Quincey
Video Animation: Samuel James
Photography: Vsevolod Vlaskine
Sound: Vic McEwan
Cast: Tess de Quincey
Images by Vsevolod Vlaskine

Theatre review
We face the far end of the church. There are two narrow stained glass windows, and the central double doors are painted white, as is the wall on which it sits. A video is projected onto the entirety of that surface, composed of photography created from the moon’s light, the beautiful images we see are completely abstract, monochromatic blobs and scribbles that could mean nothing or everything, with sound that is more cinematic than musical, atmospheric and visceral in its transmission. A person emerges in a long, white hooded raincoat, devoid of gender, ethnicity and age, Tess de Quincey performs the majority of the piece with her back to us. She responds and reacts, attempting to understand her relationship with the imagery before her, and we ponder the connection between dancer and photography, human and moon.

Our appreciation of the work does not occur immediately. It is all too strange and silent, and we feel lost in the bareness of its audacious start. Every visual and aural element conspires to move our awareness away from everyday mundanity, and in time, we are unknowingly hypnotised. A meditative quality sets in, captivating our senses, but perhaps more importantly, our minds. We go through periods of thought, trying to create meaning in the sight of dancer against photographic patterns, and we go through periods of release, allowing our senses to experience things as they are, without the interference of logic. It is an unusual pleasure, emerging from the idiosyncrasy of de Quincey’s presence, drawing us in to share in her perspective of the world. In the show’s best moments, time stands still, and we fear for it to end. We want the indulgence to go on, and we want to luxuriate in the sense of elevation it provides, lulled away from our usual petty concerns, into a space of hallucinatory ethereality and eternal bliss.

Lunar tributes have existed since time immemorial. Life on earth is meaningful only when we reach beyond, for the stars and moon. We cannot understand ourselves only from within; humanity requires that we look outside to make sense of what we go through on this planet. Whether sending rockets to Mars or dancing our bodies, art must think of infinity, in order to locate significance, value, or magic. To be human, is to move beyond corporeality, sometimes towards the far reaches of the ether, even if only in our heads.

5 Questions with William Erimya and Patrick Magee

William Erimya

William Erimya

Patrick Magee: Have you ever solved a crime in real life?
Will Erimya: I haven’t solved any major crimes, though I am so close to solving who the Zodiac Killer is. I like solving mysteries around the house, like the case of the misplaced keys, why are all these lights on and who ate all the food.

You have the finest beard and moustache the world has ever seen. Who is your facial hair hero?
I’m very hairy and it just grows with out any warning. I admire Super Mario and Craig David’s facial hairs.

Do you prefer doing scripted or improvised shows?
I like both, but I tend to prefer improvised shows. There’s no greater thrill than doing a wholly improvised show. You get such a great adrenaline rush.

What is your comedy secret?
There’s no secret. But, just in case every month I perform a sacred blood ritual at the altar of Kalgar the Everliving. Just in case.

Lastly, shag-marry-kill with Sherlock, Watson and Moriarty?
Shag: Sherlock – you can’t tie him down to a long term relationship, plus you’d always be second fiddle to solving crimes. Marry: Watson – he’s a doctor, so he’s a bit more stable and probably very well off. Kill: Moriarty – he’s a bad guy. So I’d kill him, without a doubt, no questions asked, shoot first still won’t ask questions.

Patrick Magee

Patrick Magee

Will Erimya: In real life who do you identify with more, Sherlock or Watson?
Patrick Magee: Probably Sherlock, because like him I am an arrogant genius with a crippling cocaine habit.

What is your favorite Sherlock Holmes book/mystery?
Out of the Conan Doyle stories I have a soft spot for A Scandal In Bohemia and The Problem Of Thor Bridge, although you can’t go past The Adventure Of The Lion’s Mane, where the murderer is (spoiler alert) a jellyfish that Holmes bashes to death with a rock. I also really like Nicholas Meyer’s The Seven-Per-Cent Solution, which is all about Holmes kicking his cocaine habit with the help of Sigmund Freud.

What made you want to do comedy?
I got tricked into it by an old gypsy woman and I’ve been looking for an out ever since. I’m doing The Game Is Afoot so I can pretend to be a cool action hero instead of a dumb comedian.

How would you get away with a crime?
I’d probably just confess to it in a kind of sarcastic voice so people wouldn’t take me seriously.

Have you ever committed a crime?
Not really. I’m the Zodiac Killer, but that was ages ago so I don’t know if it still counts.

William Erimya and Patrick Magee will be appearing in The Game is Afoot: An Improvised Sherlock Holmes Mystery, part of Sydney Fringe 2015.
Dates: 9 – 13 September, 2015
Venue: The Factory Theatre

Review: Dark Vanilla Jungle (Mad March Hare Theatre Company)

madmarchVenue: Old 505 Theatre (Surry Hills NSW), Sep 1 -12, 2015
Playwright: Philip Ridley
Directors: Fiona Hallenan-Barker & Emma Louise
Cast: Claudia Barrie
Image by Daina Marie Photography

Theatre review
Finding a way to accurately articulate the problems that our societies face is never easy. We can come up with convenient sound bites that attempt to encapsulate what it is that we mean, but we risk trivialising issues through the abstractions that inevitably come with semantic abbreviations. Philip Ridley’s Dark Vanilla Jungle does the opposite. In his deeply harrowing one-woman play, teenager Andrea is the lightning rod at which our failures as a modern community converge. In its oppressive 90 minute duration, we are presented a life experienced through endless days of horror, none of which are due to any fault of Andrea’s own. Her innocence is the target of every evil that walks the planet, while all that is good lays comatose and unable to provide any protection. The story is about sexism, capitalism and poverty, the disintegration of community, and the dissolution of humanity that is occurring in our contemporary lives. It is raw, unflinchingly cruel, and devastating, but it is important.

Under the direction of Fiona Hallenan-Barker and Emma Louise, the production becomes an exercise in the depiction of pain. We are an audience numbed by the 24-hour news cycle, calloused by images of dead children appearing alongside idiot billionaires running for office. The need to communicate trauma is urgent in Dark Vanilla Jungle, and its persistence overwhelms our natural impulse to evade its barrage of very dark emotions. The long script is subtly broken up into sections presented with astute tonal variations that keep us engaged, and the gradual revelations in its narrative are handled with a finesse that provide just enough shock value so that their gravity is communicated without being unduly sensationalist or distracting. The use of a clear plastic curtain separating us from the action builds a sentimental and cerebral distance that may encourage more analysis in the viewing experience, but the sacrifice in terms of an opportunity for more emotional involvement is perhaps too great. The show is an undeniably intense one, but the plot structure requires greater care in its second half to sustain its power. After some unbelievably harsh details are divulged, the play falls into a disappointing slump, which it eventually does recover from, but the flaw is an apparent one in an otherwise extremely accomplished rendition of a very difficult text.

Claudia Barrie’s astounding performance as Andrea impresses with a savage depth that is rarely encountered. Her fearlessness in embodying such a degree of gruesome atrocity gives us nowhere to hide, and we can only respond with compassion. The earthly complexity she manufactures, together with the portrayal of her character’s fundamental pureness, gives Andrea a palpable authenticity that we connect closely and immediately with. We are angered by her torment and wish to protect her, and this instinct makes us examine stories like hers, and other injustices of our world, with renewed resolve and passion. Even in the darkest winters of the Antarctica, flowers are poised to bloom. Life is resilient beyond our conception, but our neglect of the disadvantaged is a transgression that needs to be rescinded at this moment.

Review: 6 Degrees Of Ned Kelly (Melita Rowston’s Shit Tourism)

melitarowstonVenue: Erskineville Town Hall (Erskineville NSW), Sep 2 – 6, 2015
Playwright: Melita Rowston
Director: Melita Rowston
Cast: Melita Rowston

Theatre review
The persistence of Ned Kelly’s legend in the consciousness of many Australians is symptomatic of the anti-authoritarian culture that we have inherited, since the dawn of European settlement. We are highly suspicious of governments and law enforcers, so it follows that myths about outlaws bear an eternal appeal. Melita Rowston’s 6 Degrees Of Ned Kelly is an exploration of her ties to that distinguished history, and an exercise in defining and aligning herself with an underdog characterised by his famed qualities of integrity and struggle. Rowston’s presentation takes the form of a relatively straightforward talk, with the support of a very well assembled slideshow. Her research is incredibly extensive, and the tales that she spins are surprising and fascinating, with fresh approaches to the Ned Kelly mystique that reveal how he remains relevant today.

Rowston’s presence is often tentative and nervous, but she relies on a warm enthusiasm to attain a comfortable connection with her audience, and the environment she creates is unquestionably inviting and accessible. We are not required to be aficionados, or indeed fans, of the Kelly gang, for we can all relate to the stories about family, and to that intuitive longing for a meaningful affiliation with the land on which we reside. Modernity has a propensity to keep people apart, and Rowston’s preoccupation with finding personal links that converge at a point of unity, is an admirable one. Fashion comes and goes, but the stuff that inspires us to be true and good, will resist annihilation.

5 Questions with Claudia Coy and Tina Jackson

Claudia Coy

Claudia Coy

Tina Jackson: You’re a bit of a screen personality, what’s the difference between film and theatre acting?
Claudia Coy: For me, it’s all about the audience interaction, especially in comedy. When I’m performing for the camera I have no idea if I’m hitting the right comedic notes until the preview screening, whether as in theatre you’ll know straight away whether or not you’re playing up to your audience and subtly adjust your performance accordingly. For more intense scenes, film sets are safer places because you have time to get to the emotional place that you need to, but that’ll never compare to the fun you can have interacting with your audience live.

The character of Jenny, do you resonate with her at all?
I had a bit of a rough time empathising with Jenny in the first few read throughs. There are similarities in that we’re both young, blonde, students but unlike me, she finds it really difficult to stand up for herself and lets people continually underestimate her without feeling the need to prove them wrong. She’s stronger than she comes across but in the same respect she has a heart of gold so would rather keep the peace than address the real issue. The one thing that really resonated with me, was Jennys territorial nature – she’s happily engaged and planning a wedding but there’s still someone from her past that she considers ‘hers’ and seeing him with someone else completely shakes her world up. I had a very similar experience last year and so I hope that I deliver Jenny in a way that justifies her action.

How has it been revisiting the text and the character after a year?
There’s always a huge low that comes with finishing any production, so when I was asked to reprise my role I absolutely jumped at the opportunity. Having James reprise his role as my fiance meant that I had an immediate source of comfort and familiarity, but having two new actors in the cast brought a lot of new energy and perspective. I’ve found that Tina and Luke’s interpretations of Evelyn and Adam, has dramatically effected the way I perceive Jenny and her role in their friendship group and so my performance has evolved as well.

How do you prepare for roles?
When I auditioned for The Shape Of Things the first time around, a friend suggested I watch the film before I go in. I feel like the worst thing an actor can do is purposely base their own performance on someone else’s artistic choices. To prepare for an audition, I just sit down and get as familiar with the script that I can while thinking of key characteristics and ticks that make my character who they are. To prepare for the actual performance nights, I need to have at least 15 minutes by myself before we go, especially when the rest of the cast have become good friends – you almost need time to shake those friendships off so that you can see them as their characters and interact accordingly.

What can audiences take away from The Shape Of Things?
The Shape Of Things is so multifaceted. The main plot line is incredibly engaging and the big twist always shocks the audience but before that even happens you get a really unique insight into friendship, insecurities, attraction and power. The Shape Of Things has the ability to make an audience empathise with even the nastiest of actions.

Tina Jackson

Tina Jackson

Claudia Coy: This is your first ‘straight’ piece, how different is it to say, a cabaret or musical?
Tina Jackson: Well, for me I’ve always found straight theatre less emotionally accessible – it’s so easy with musical theatre to let the music carry you away before you even delve any deeper to the characters or story. I find this kind of theatre much more intellectual. I go home from rehearsals mentally drained!

You lived in London for a couple of years. What’s the biggest difference to the industry here, and the industry there?
The industry over there is just SO BIG. There are more professional shows being performed at any given time than Australia could hope to produce in years. The fringe scene is also huge over there – there are plenty of fringe festivals and plenty of amazing fringe theatres constantly putting on new work. There also isn’t as much of a divide between “music theatre” and “straight actors” over there – here I’ve found if you come from a music theatre background it is very difficult to get a foot in the casting room for film and tv.

Do you have any dream roles? Regardless of gender and age?
I would love to play Maureen in Rent. Or Bruce Bogtrotter in Hairspray.

What’s your biggest fear as an actor?
I think it’s the same for everyone. Being able to make a sustainable living doing what we do is almost impossible and not being able to set yourself up for the future is pretty scary.

What are your thoughts on the vastly growing musical scene in Sydney?
It was pretty exciting to come back from London and see so much was going on. Companies like the Hayes and Squabbalogic are doing the most beautiful small productions and it’s nice to see hugely successful overseas shows like Matilda and The Book Of Mormon are finally coming here as well.

Claudia Coy and Tina Jackson will be appearing in The Shape Of Things by Neil Labute (part of Sydney Fringe 2015).
Dates: 15 – 20 September, 2015
Venue: Kings Cross Hotel

5 Questions with Fiona Hallenan-Barker and Benjamin Brockman

Fiona Hallenan-Barker

Fiona Hallenan-Barker

Benjamin Brockman: Tell me a bit about yourself?
Fiona Hallenan-Barker: My name is Fiona and I’m a theatre-holic… I am a freelance theatre director, part-time theatre programmer, graduate of Theatre Nepean and Victorian College of Arts, dramaturg, producer, teacher, photographer, arts advocate, wife to a classical archaeologist and co-owner of a cavoodle named Kubrick.

How did you come to be here?
I had worked with Mad March Hare a couple of years ago on fantastic project at The Old 505 Theatre called Still by Jane Bodie. My co-director Emma Louise and I have worked together many times before; the latest was when I directed Philip Ridley’s Piranha Heights for the Spare Room. Ridley is a brilliant writer and a very generous artist. Meeting him in London, seeing his work there and talking about his aesthetic, I became an even bigger fan. He has a tremendous body of work: The Pitchfork Disney, The Fastest Clock in the Universe, Vincent River, Mercury Fur, Radiant Vermin, Shivered and so many more plays and films. His kids’ books are tremendous too. So, of course I jumped at the chance to come on-board this beautiful, one-woman show.

In every show that you have done is there a reoccurring item, why?
Oh, the bed thing. Yes, I always seem to work with beds – I also never work with black-outs or clocks on stage (for obvious reasons). Beds are fantastic to work with as they are so meaningful in a range of contexts from domestic, to clinical, to public anonymous spaces. Of the 20 or so productions I have directed, only one or two haven’t had a bed; in the laboratory with actors they provide a safe area for violent, physical exploration as well. When Emma and I started delving into Dark Vanilla Jungle, one of the first things we talked about was having a bed; so, yes, we can guarantee that it will feature in this production too.

If you could pick one song that would form the soundtrack of your life, what would it be, and why?
That’s a good one, like most theatre makers my soundtrack to life is very much about the music used in each show, so it’s a very eclectic mix. In Dark Vanilla Jungle Philip Ridley wrote the lyrics to a beautiful song by Dreamskin Candle called Ladybird Fist. It is a beautiful, gentle Laura Marling-esque type melody with some amazing lyrics that are pure Ridley:

My lovers hands hold me close at night.
….His warm embrace fills my dark with light.
…But I have seen his fist sometimes and that fist is speckled in red
For red is the colour of love he said
Now kiss my ladybird fist, sweet love…

Have a listen on iTunes. Or – even better – come along to the show.

On a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being the lowest 10 being the highest) how awesomely easy are you to work with?
Obviously a 10 out of 10, hang on, we haven’t even gone into tech week yet so maybe a 7 at this point. But my dog did eat your shoes in one of our design meetings so that’s at least an 8. Okay, how about 10 out of 10 for the overall project. You know Ben, we have the potential to go all the way to 11 if you will reconsider a revolve, live animals, and some pyro….

Benjamin Brockman

Benjamin Brockman

Fiona Hallenan-Barker: As one of Sydney’s most prolific designers, what have you been working on recently?
Benjamin Brockman: Prolific? Ha, in other words ‘a whore’! To answer this question I had to look at my website ( shameless plug) and I counted that so far I have done 17 shows this year and so it is hard to remember what was when. But recently I lit Great Island at 107 Project on 24 hours’ notice; that was a blast (when in doubt add strobe lights). I then lit Detroit at Darlinghurst Theatre Company which I really enjoyed as I got to play with projection as a light source. Finally, Space Cats about a week ago was a showing of a new cabaret/musical about sexually depraved cats from outer space. Coming up I have The Aliens at the Old Fitz (August), Dark Vanilla Jungle and a tour of Vampire Lesbians Of Sodom to Melbourne.

What is your signature item (and no, it can’t be a gel colour)
What! I can’t pick a colour? Well if I could pick a colour it would be Lee 139 which is Primary Green. I am notorious for trying to sneak green into my shows whereever I can. But since I cannot pick a colour, I have to say I am a really big user and collector of gobos – which are a mixture of metal or glass discs that go in to lights to create texture or images with light. Not many can understand my love of gobos but they just add some much texture to light, giving a heightened sense of movement and a really easy way to give a sense of location. You have an outside scene? Just add cloud gobos!

How do you translate yours and the creative team’s vision of the play into the physical space in Philip Ridley’s world?
This is a hard one. When reading a play often I come up with one image that speaks to me the most and through discussion with other people it helps me to develop the ideas. We then settle on something after hours of arguing and scrunched up paper. I am much better when taking about ideas with others because it helps me to come up with new ones and I also like working with people and directors who are open to discussion from all departments rather than being dictated to on what someone wants. If you have more than one brilliant mind in the room – use them. That then leads to references and then it is just a case of starting to research and start sourcing materials to fill the design that we have come up with. Within budget, of course.

Favourite line from Dark Vanilla Jungle and why?
Page 15 “Where am I now?…The light is so bright. I… I am laying on something cold.” Basically this line inspired me to come up with the design we have created.

What is your Concert of Shame? (ie are you going to shock us all by revealing you have seen Justin Bieber live three times?)
I am a religious watcher of Dance Moms. Each week I tune in to watch little girls get yelled at by Abby Lee Miller – and I love it! I have no shame…

Fiona Hallenan-Barker and Benjamin Brockman’s next show is Dark Vanilla Jungle by Philip Ridley, presenting as part of Sydney Fringe 2015.
Dates: 1 – 12 Sep, 2015
Venue: The Old 505 Theatre