Review: Noise Complaint (The Imperial Hotel)

sarahgaul1Venue: The Imperial Hotel (Erskineville NSW), Sep 9 – 14, 2014
Playwright: Sarah Gaul
Director: Sarah Gaul
Cast: Sarah Gaul

Theatre review
Sarah Gaul writes clever songs, and sings with charming bravado. She talks about things she knows, and reveals the concerns of young adults in Australia. Her themes tend to be more whimsical than sobering, but it is on occasions when she touches briefly on more intimate and sadder disclosures that she shines.

Her original material is strong, more memorable songs include Bad, A.V.O., Streetlights and Homesick. The irony Gaul introduces into her song writing does not always translate with enough edge, but the melancholic quality to her world view is endearing. She does renditions of popular tunes by Leonard Cohen and Iggy Azalea, which showcases her impressive keyboard skills and accomplished use of voice. Her connection with the audience however, requires further development. She seems to shy away from eye contact, choosing to be watched instead of finding a way to engage more closely within the relaxed and cozy setting.

It is encouraging to see a young woman taking on the reins to create a career for herself. Like every independent and courageous artist working against the tides of an increasingly capitalistic economy, Gaul should be admired for making her own dreams come true. Time is on her side, and it is with enthusiasm that one looks forward to new songs and new manifestations from a talent full of ambition and promise.

Review: Beauty! Glamour! Fame! (The Cafe Debris Company / Merrill Pye Productions)


Venue: The Imperial Hotel (Erskineville NSW), Thursdays Jun 5 – Jul 3, 2014
Playwright: Brent Thorpe
Director: Brent Thorpe
Cast: Brent Thorpe, Zan Cross
Image by Brett Boardman

Theatre review
Saying that Brenda Trollope is larger than life is an understatement. She is rambunctious to the extreme and fervently demented, with a penchant for sharing too much, and at too much detail. She is a creation of Brent Thorpe, who is a performer with a keen sense of subversive humour, and an even keener urge to entertain.

In Beauty! Glamour! Fame!, Trollope addresses her audience directly, divulging tales of debauchery, and enacting outrageous highlights from her colourful existence. References to Australian culture of the last forty years abound. There is no question that the lady has been around the block more than once or twice. Thorpe’s performance is energetic and frenzied, owing more to vaudeville than to Stanislavski. His approach focuses on timing and presence, without letting the idea of emotional truth get in the way of a good tall tale. There is one scene, however, where Thorpe speaks on a “talkback radio” program as a secondary character Deirdre Flick, and an authenticity in his convictions shines through. In the space of several minutes, he encapsulates all that is disturbing about Australian media and politics today. Deirdre needs her own show.

Zac Cross plays various male characters, providing sturdy support as the reliable sidekick. Thorpe’s nerves can at times be apparent, but Cross seems to take everything in his stride. They are an odd coupling, but nothing in the show is averse to strangeness. It is an eccentric work about an eccentric mind. Trollope is not interested in the deep and meaningful, but she enjoys herself. She does not invest in poignancy, but pulls out all the stops for laughter. There may not be very much love or compassion here, but Trollope’s valour is certainly a thing to behold.

5 Questions with Brent Thorpe

rsz_brent2-webWhat is your favourite swear word?
Shithouse. You don’t hear it much these days.

What are you wearing?
An electric blue and black leopard-print caftan with powder-blue mules and I’m wrapped in a white cashmere pashmina. It’s a bit chilly this arvo. No jewelry. No make-up. When I’m at home I like to tone things down a bit.

What is love?
Some people have said that the exotic juices and sauces that flow my very being are the essence of love. But in all seriousness you should come to my show because my young co-star, Nathan, and myself demonstrate what love is live on stage! You’ve probably never seen anything so beautiful before in your life. Seriously.

What was the last show you saw, and how many stars do you give it?
It was John Waters at the Opera House. Is that a show? He always gets at least seventeen stars from me. He made my distant, distant, distant, distant, distant, distant cousin, Divine into a legendary movie star and household name. I love him for that and I’m patiently waiting for him to do the same for me.

Is your new show going to be any good?
Good? Are you kidding? I work my clacker off in this thing! For two minutes and forty five seconds I sing and dance up a storm. The rest of the time we’re doing the greatest acting you will ever see on a public stage. I mean it. Better than Cate Blanchett and Joel Edgerton in ‘Streetcar.’ We promise to astound you and transport you to places you can’t imagine. Have you got goosebumps yet?

Brent Thorpe is writer and star of Beauty! Glamour! Fame!
Show dates: 5 Jun – 3 Jul, 2014 (Thursdays only)
Show venue: The Imperial Hotel