Thursday, October 22, 2015

Darryl Rogers reviewed in Brisbane Show

Article written by Sophie Rose (first published on
On entering numinous- i, one is invited into a space of sanctified quietness. A series of large, busy, Primitive-esque paintings by David Howard encircle a suspended black box, containing Darryl Roger’s hologram piece, Sehnsucht; and so, pagan visions surround the tabernacle. A sense of ritual undoubtedly informs both sets of work, yet is manifested quite differently in each. Howard gives a wild, uncontained spilling-forward of figures: as if spirits have seeped from the canvas into the gallery space. The shapes seem to balloon before one’s eyes: the image is full of gaseous intensity. Rogers provides a far more internal experience. One must enter his space; the art becomes a kind of confession-box and, as such, the surrounding area of the gallery begins to concave in on the box. The coupling of these two artists is something like the coming together of the voodoo and the sacramental, to create a meta-spiritualism.

Upcoming Exhibition by Marisa Molin

Essay by Gillian Marsden
Fragments of King sees artist Marisa Molin again traipsing the periphery. This time, the shores of the other leader of islands laid out in the Bass Strait like a game of solitaire: King.

Years prior to Marisa’s visit, the debris of a biological phenomena (interestingly, more commonly associated with Flinders Island of the last Fragment series), had swung wide and swept up on the shores of King Island, mirroring the many ships that had gone crooked and drowned against the island throughout the nautical-dependent years of the 19th and early 20th century. This echo of doomed passage continues through nomenclature and mythology for in fact, in both intact and shattered form, the biological phenomena was that of another kind of ship; the discarded shells of the Paper Nautilus or Argonaut nodosa*.
Nautilus Ring
There is something wonderfully paradoxical about the Paper Nautilus. We are predominantly acquainted with their exterior remnants and by the time such remnants drift ashore (somewhat mysteriously every few years and in their thousands), their soft interiors are long rotted out. In our minds, we hold the name, ‘paper nautilus’, and in our hands, exquisite pressed-tin shells of la mer: no wonder we imagine ethereal creatures that glide through the water like elegant ships and yet, the Internet outs the Paper Nautilus as actually, a jaunty, dinghy kind of vessel and the animal itself, as having a vertically flattened face and a feature that can only be described as a proboscis or snout. I think this is a paradox that is emblematic of the dualism of imprinted surfaces: where one side is raised, the other is depressed. Where one side is intended for appearances, the other is utilitarian and circumspect.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Red Racing Hood

Red Racing Hood
Terrapin Puppet Theatre
Backspace Theatre, Hobart .
September 16th 2015.
Reviewed by Gai Anderson

There was a palpable excitement in the Backspace on Saturday afternoon as I took my seat amongst the groups of primary school aged children and their parents for the latest show from Terrapin Puppet Theatre - Red Racing Hood. Some it seemed were back for a second time! It was great listening to the thrill in their voices as they discussed how the complex action we were apparently about to see, could possibly have been animated by just 3 puppeteers on the curious retro-looking domestic set waiting in front of us.

Written by Sean Monro and directed By Sam Routledge, Red racing Hood is a simple story writ-large, about a girl called Red and her Gran. Quite cartoon like in feel, with miniature racetrack and a heightened performance style, it uses the archetype of the dangerous wolf in the woods as a foreboding threat hanging over their small country town of Grinalong. The twist is that Gran and the young Red are racing car enthusiasts, and their lives are soon turned upside down by the arrival of a new mayor with big ideas for the restaging of the Grinalong Classic car race.

Reliant on design as much as story and character, the quirky, cleverly designed set allows the 3 talented performer/puppeteers to inhabit and animate this action-packed show as it jumps between scales and atmospheres, between racing action and domestic drama. And so, the domestic scene of Red and Nans home cleverly transforms to become a miniaturized 3 D model of the town, complete with racing track and dangerous woods. And their breadbox becomes the garage for Nans tiny model retro racing car and the toaster becomes the town hall. A tracking video camera and large screen allow the audience to jump between scales, for close ups of the racing action as Red transforms to become the driver of Grans tiny racing car.

The performances of Maeve Mhairi McGregor as the vivacious young Red and Thomas Pidd as the vaudevillian-like Mayor (and dorky policemen) drive the fun and action- filled parts of the show, with their heightened energy and clownish verve in synch with the shows cartoonish style. The more realistic style of Grans character in contrast seemed lack lustre at times and I wondered about this choice. The potential of the central human drama is also less developed than the action which left the story a bit thin for me.
But it is hard sometimes as an adult to appreciate a child’s-eye view of theatre such as this. So as I sat there wanting the beautifully animated wolf to be bigger and to actually scare me, the screams of fear and delight from the front row of the children as it got closer to them, quickly changed my opinion on that.
Overall this is a great children’s show, perhaps perfectly pitched for a primary school audience, and the audience I sat amongst certainly loved it.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Sex with Strangers reviewed by Danielle Wood

Imagine the person you lost your virginity with ended up being not the one you married, but the one with whom you have an ongoing, if intermittent, affair – sometimes exhilarating, sometimes disappointing. Well, that’s how it is for me and the theatre.
I’m talking about real theatre, live theatre, the sort that I fell in love with as a teenager, back in that phase of life when too much was never enough. Although we’ve drifted apart, the theatre and me, still there are moments when we reconnect. We sometimes see each other here in Hobart, but not as often as I’d like. Mostly it’s when I’m off the leash and travelling that I make the effort to get in touch. Sometimes, I worry that we’ve permanently lost the magic, but then I’ll see a play good enough to set off a bunch of well-rehearsed chemical reactions in the brain and there it is: love all over again.
I’m guessing no-one at the Tasmanian Theatre Company knew that when they asked me along to their show Sex With Strangers, and to write something about it, the invitation was, for me, a little like getting a phone call from an old flame.
So, Sex with Strangers. The title alone is a come-on, and it’s worked for Ethan (Samuel Johnson), who’s made the New York Times bestseller list with a blog-turned-book that chronicles the outcome of his boast that for a whole year he could, each week, pick up a girl in a bar and get her to have sex with him. Ethan’s now rich and successful, with a powerful internet reach. But his dirty secret is that even he holds the vehicle of his success in contempt, and would rather be a literary novelist, like Olivia (Tottie Goldsmith).

Friday, September 18, 2015

SDS1 reviewed by Stephenie Cahalan


Creator and performer: Ahilan Ratnamohan
Presented by Mobile States and Salamanca Arts Centre
at Moonah Arts Centre, September 17-19, 2015 

Watching soccer will never be the same. Until now I have viewed the game as a fast and spontaneous series of reactions to a ball, with opponents to dodge and goals to score.

But after seeing Ahilan Ratnamohan in SDS1, I will always wonder how much is attack and defence, and how much is choreographed play.  

Ratnamohan is a dancer with a background in professional soccer that he has crafted into his dance performance. The 55-minute piece was part-movement, part display of prowess that left the audience agape at the extreme physicality of the performance; showing just how small the gap between sport and dance is.

The exertion, skill and precision required by the player/performer to execute the perfect move, and most of all the stamina, is almost identical. And, done well, both players and performers enjoy the same roar of approval from the crowd.

The SDS1 soundtrack matched the pace and energy of the movement, articulating the mounting heartbeat and Ratnamohan’s gasping breathing which also became part of the soundscape of the piece. ‘Quarter time’, where Ratnamohan sucked back air and water, invited the audience to the sidelines of the game and to the intimate space of the player as he regrouped, taped up pains and strains and swiped away the litres of sweat pouring off his body. It was all there and it was really great insight into the very private physical world of a person who employs their body at an elite level and expects it to perform to the extreme.

A defining part of the success of this show was the engagement of Ratnamohan with the crowd. Unlike so much contemporary dance that is necessarily removed from the audience, bordering on introspection, this player/performer connected with every audience member – at times psyching us out like a challenging opponent, sometimes greeting the crowd like the victorious goal kicker soaking up adulation. 

The new Moonah Arts Centre is a great venue for this kind of performance piece; intimate but generous, with plenty of space for ‘the game’ to play out. The crowd was an assembly of curious adults and young soccer players, all incredibly impressed by the endurance and ball skills Ratnamohan showed off. My son and his mates counted the number of headers and juggles, breathing ‘64’ or ‘58’ in awe each time.

This show is original, utterly engaging and a really neat introduction to contemporary dance for a young audience who might otherwise find it a bit obscure and remote. I hope it comes back to Hobart and the word goes out on every junior soccer mailing list in the state so that  all those players and onlookers could get a look at look at soccer from a different angle.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Your Book Reviews...

Do you have a favourite book? 

Well now is your chance to tell everyone about it. Give us a book review in less than 500 words; include title, author, basic story line & why you love it. 

To coincide with the Tasmanian Writers & Readers Festival at Hadley's Orient Hotel Sept 11-13th, the best book reviews will receive $25 vouchers from a Tasmanian book shop. 

Send your Book Reviews to...

(One of) My favourite books...

It is tough to say exactly what is my favourite book. But definitely The Bear Went over the Mountain by William Kotzwinkle is teetering on the top.

This is a funny, ridiculous but believable story about a writer who buries his second version of a book in a forest, after a house fire destroys the first original manuscript. As he drives into town to celebrate, a hungry bear sniffs out the suitcase full of pages and upon determining its potential value wanders off towards the city to buy a suit.

This is a story about the superficial world of publishing and the wisdom of a simple but hungry bear.

William Kotzwinkle is a relatively unknown author, even though he was responsible for writing ET and a range of other well known book. I also liked Fata Morgana and Dr Rat; although Dr Rat is pretty confronting in it's depiction of animal testing.
In recent years he has written for children with the infamous...Walter the Farting Dog. 

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Grounded by George Brant

Blue Cow Theatre Inc
Directed by Annette Downs, starring Jane Longhurst

Review by Anica Boulanger-Mashberg

Technology may have changed the methods of war yet perhaps not, Brant suggests, the human experience of it.
Image from Blue Cow Theatre Inc Website
‘Grounded’ after briefly favouring love and family over her military career, the Pilot (Jane Longhurst) returns to work where instead of guiding her craft in the great ‘blue’ of which she still dreams, she finds herself dropping her daughter at daycare and reluctantly driving across the desert to the strange daily mundanity that is war at a distance. Now a drone pilot, she fights and kills remotely, but she suffers and struggles here and now. Her actions might be distant but the trauma of them is very present.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Sawtooth Ari Writing Prize...

A number of writers submitted reviews, poetry and prose as part of Sawtooth's inaugural writing prize.
It was fantastic to be one of the three judges. Read all about it at the Sawtooth Ari site.