PERPETUAL WAKE_pictured_L-R_Jeffrey Jay Fowler_Arielle Gray_Charlotte Otton_Chris Isaacs_Photo Credit Dana Weeks
News, Performing arts, Reviews, Theatre

A hilarious exposé of human nature

Review: The Last Great Hunt, Perpetual Wake ·
Subiaco Arts Centre, 31 August ·
Review by Miranda Johnson ·

Presented by local outfit The Last Great Hunt and directed by Gita Bezard, Perpetual Wake takes the darkest elements of humanity – falseness, lies, abuse of power and the urge to destroy – and turns them into a richly layered farce that comments ironically on the nature of culture, art and the cult of personality.

Written by Bezard and Jeffrey Jay Fowler, the narrative is engaging without being overly complicated; a story of a young women who has written a debut novel (Perpetual Wake), the pretentious male author-turned-critic who becomes obsessed with her work, and his wife, a romance author whose books, although hugely popular, are not critically acclaimed and are constantly denigrated by her husband.

As the story unfolds, bad behaviour abounds, and it becomes clear that everyone is lying about something. Within this nexus of falsities, the narrative of the play becomes messily entangled with that of the novel, further compelling the audience as well as the characters themselves to question the nature of truth-telling and the impossibility of objective storytelling.

Jeffrey Jay Fowler and Arielle Gray. Photo: Dana Weeks.
Jeffrey Jay Fowler and Arielle Gray in The Last Great Hunt’s production of ‘Perpetual Wake’. Photo: Dana Weeks.

Combining a self-aware, melodramatic narrative with moments of contemplative physical theatre, the play’s visual language is persistently striking, with a simple set design and the recurrence of motifs – antlers, fur, plaid hunting jackets – echoing through the performance. This continuing switch between narrative, plot-driven scenes and dream-like moments of absurdity and unreality effectively pushes the story along, despite the occasionally predictable nature of the narrative. This predictability is not a weakness, rather it’s cleverly woven into the story itself; a comment on the impossibility of writing anything truly unique in contemporary culture, and the reliance upon tropes within “low-brow” genres such as romantic fiction.

The characters themselves are incredibly well realised and outstandingly performed; simultaneously unlikeable yet relatable. There’s a strong undercurrent of feminist reclamation within these characters, as the two female characters, Fiona (Charlotte Otton) and Bernice (Arielle Gray) are both clearly much more intelligent than they are given credit for. This is highlighted by the fact that their “fictional” alter egos, referred to in the women’s’ published works, Veronica and Molly are both deliberately portrayed as laughably shallow and one-note.

In contrast, the male critic Paul (Chris Isaacs) is instantly unlikeable, a stunningly accurate representation of every man I ever encountered in an undergraduate English tutorial, aged by a few decades but unfortunately only in body, not mind. For Paul, it is a personal insult for a woman to be able to write well, and when faced with this reality, he does everything he can to deny it. For him, the truth is more complicated than he can grasp.

In its complex unfolding of the characters’ deceptions to others as well as themselves, layered within a story we’ve heard before but that never fails to engage, Perpetual Wake deftly and hilariously exposes the inherent predictability of human nature.

Perpetual Wake plays Subiaco Arts Centre until September 7.

Pictured top: L-R_Jeffrey Jay Fowler, Arielle Gray, Charlotte Otton and Chris Isaacs in The Last Great Hunt’s production of ‘Perpetual Wake’. Photo: Dana Weeks.

PERPETUAL WAKE_pictured_L-R Chris Isaacs_Arielle Gray_Charlotte Otton_Jeffrey Jay Fowler_Photo Credit Annie Harvey
L-R Chris Isaacs, Arielle Gray, Charlotte Otton and Jeffrey Jay Fowler in ‘Perpetual Wake’. Photo: Annie Harvey.
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Multiple images of 2 men
Calendar, Music, October 19, Performing arts

Ice Land: A Hip h’Opera

15-26 October @ Subiaco Arts Centre ·
Presented by Yirra Yaakin Theatre Company ·

Fractured like shards, Cole, Carly and Joy must fight the demons of their past to reclaim their future, but it’s not easy to leave behind the crystal meth plains of Ice Land.

With the flow of jazz, the soul of blues, the energy of electro and the power of  funk, Ice Land: A Hip h’Opera uses the language of hip hop to tackle a tough issue currently affecting our society – the plague of methamphetamine use.

Alongside a team that boasts some of Western Australia’s best artists, including Australian hip hop kings Downsyde, WA hip hop queen Layla, multi-disciplinary performer, musician and singer Moana Mayatrix of MOANA, and solo hip hop maestro TROOTH, we explore a very timely subject and ultimately ask the question: if meth use continues to escalate within our communities, what is going to happen to our society as a whole?

Previews: 15 & 16 October
Opening night: 17 October

More info
W: yirrayaakin.com.au/production/ice-land/
E:  reception@yirrayaakin.com.au

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2 Profiles facing each other with words Layla Majnun inbetween
Calendar, October 19, Performing arts, Theatre

Theatre: Layla Majnun

2-5 October @ Subiaco Arts Centre ·
Presented by Performing Lines WA & illUMEnate ·

Often described as the Romeo and Juliet of the East, Layla Majnun is a powerful and enduring tale of love and separation. Now re-imagined into a solo performance featuring Farsi scholar and storyteller, Ustaadh Feraidoon Mojadedi, the show is created by a team of diverse artists from Western Australia and directed by James Berlyn.

Showcasing poems by Rumi and other poets, this hour-long performance integrates traditional Persian storytelling with contemporary visual projections and original music, bringing this tale to the 21st Century.

Each night, from 6:30pm onwards we will have entertainment and activities for all ages, as well as an exhibition by Muslim artists and food trucks serving halal food. A prayer room is also accessible to everyone and this is an alcohol free event.

More info:
www.performinglines.org.au/projects/laylamajnun/

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Man and woman shrowded in smoky haze
August 19, Calendar, Performing arts, September 19, Theatre

Theatre: Perpetual Wake

28 Aug – 7 Sep @ Subiaco Arts Centre ·
Presented by The Last Great Hunt ·

Our second work in The Last Great Hunt’s 2019 Perth season is Perpetual Wake, written by Jeffrey Jay Fowler and Gita Bezard and directed by Gita Bezard.

Fiona West has written a stunning debut novel: Perpetual Wake. When career maker and breaker Paul Creel reviews the manuscript, he finds his life represented inshocking detail. He finally feels understood.

The impressed Creel invites West for a casual ‘wine and chat’ two days before his review is to be published. But when they meet he discovers the book he considered an elegant insight into the human mind, was intended as a hysterical satire! Creel leaves the meeting determined to ensure that West’s book will be buried before  the year is out. But West is a tougher rival than he expects and so a war begins.

From Australia’s hottest theatrical outfit: The Last Great Hunt, comes Perpetual Wake, surreal dark comedy about the depths people sink in order to conceal their shame.

More info
W: www.thelastgreathunt.com/perpetual-wake
E:  admin@thelastgreathunt.com

 

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Head and shoulders of a woman
August 19, Calendar, Performing arts, Theatre

Theatre: 52 Hertz

1 – 3 August @ Subiaco Arts Centre ·
Presented by Beyond the Yard ·

This is a story about you, me and the loneliest whale in the world. Five people with five stories unravel the contemporary nature of isolation. Alone in an apartment, in a bustling bar, in the dial tone of a message bank and across the deep blue – waiting for a reply.

52 Hertz uses performance and movement to reach out and touch the empathetic soul of human existence.

Inspired by the true story of 52 Blue – the loneliest whale in the world. This whale first tracked in the late 80s calls out at the abnormal frequency of 52Hz and to this date continues to be tracked as it follows its solo journey across the ocean.

More info
W: www.ptt.wa.gov.au/venues/subiaco-arts-centre/whats-on/52-hertz/
E:  beyondtheyard@hotmail.com

Pictured: Rude Girl Creative

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Head shots of 6 actors set in hexagons
Calendar, July 19, Performing arts, Theatre

Theatre: Love and Information

17 – 27 July @ Subiaco Arts Centre ·
Presented by Hand in Hand Theatre Company ·

Secrets, Lies and Love. Everyone has a story…

Hand in Hand Theatre takes on literary genius, Caryl Churchill’s iconic play; Love and Information.  Through a series of vignettes, we pull back the curtains and give you a peek into several compelling stories of life, love and human nature. In this fast-moving kaleidoscope, more than a hundred characters try to make sense of what they know.

More info
W:  www.handinhandtheatreco.com/love-and-information
E:   handinhandtheatreco@gmail.com

Pictured: Love and Information: Graphic Designer: Tiffany Banner, Photographer: Perfectly Picturesque Photography

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One Heart One Voice
Calendar, June 19, Musical theatre, Performing arts

Musical Theatre: One Heart One Voice

28 & 29 June @ Subiaco Arts Centre ·
Presented by Voiceworks ·

‘One Heart One Voice’ is an original musical composed for three choirs, soloists, a band and a community radio station. It features the combined abilities of the Voiceworks and VoiceworksPLUS community choirs.

Witness their journey as they rehearse for their Big Sing Competition and deal with issues of young love, remembering their music, a lack of male singers and confidence, fundraising, childminding, old age and bad pianos. If you’ve ever sung in a choir or been part of any community group, then you’ll laugh and cry along with the progress of this wonderful community choir.

Written by Jackson Griggs and Maggie Wilde West

Friday June 28 – 8.00PM
Saturday June 29 – 3.00PM
Saturday June 29 – 8.00PM

Showcasing the talents of soloists Liam Ahul, Jackson Griggs, Kristina Lang, Peter Martis, Gavin Nicklette,  Julia Schwab and Maggie Wilde West. Performing on stage are the choirs Voiceworks, VoiceworksPLUS with an audio appearance by Strike a Chord. The performance features a very special guest, Perth entertainment  legend Jenny Seaton, Afternoons presenter on Curtin FM.

More info
W: www.voiceworks.org.au
E:  info@voiceworks.org.au

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Woman sitting at piano, with another woman's face in the background
Calendar, May 19, Music, Performing arts

Music: The Augmented Piano

15 May @ Subiaco Arts Centre ·
Presented by TURA ·

The Augmented Piano is an immersive, multi-layered event combining music, film, and electronics. Works by Gordon Monahan and Chiyoko Szlavnics reimagine the instrument, stretching the limits of how a piano can produce sound, while works by Nicole Lizée and Ann Southam bring in visual elements to augment the piano. Breathtaking explorations of the inside and outside of the piano, of overtone resonances, and the melding and bending of electronic tones coax the instrument into a new realm, inviting an entirely new perspective on sound and listening.

Subiaco Arts Centre is at 180 Hamersley Road, Subiaco.

More info
W: https://www.tura.com.au/tura-program/the-augmented-piano/
E:  info@tura.com.au

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News, Performing arts, Reviews, Theatre

Why a caged bird sings

Yirra Yaakin Theatre Company, Cracked ·
Subiaco Arts Centre, 11 May ·
Review by Xan Ashbury ·

Cracked is a play about a mother’s struggle for freedom. It opens and closes in song.

In mournful yet hauntingly beautiful song. And by the end of it, we know why a caged bird sings.

Frances (an outstanding portrayal by Bobbi Henry) is an Aboriginal woman, 15 months into a prison term. She misses her children, who’ve been put into foster care, and she sings in the prison choir. Her plight reminded me of the bird in Paul Laurence Dunbar’s classic poem, Sympathy. The poem describes the awful experience of a bird trapped in a cage. The bird flaps its wings and sings, not because it is happy but because it is desperate and sad. Dunbar used the bird to represent the oppression of his fellow African-Americans in the late nineteenth century.

Like that bird, Frances wants to be out with her flock. She wants to nest; she wants to fly. But her life has steered off course. Intergenerational trauma, poverty, insecure housing, lack of education and employment, domestic violence and methamphetamine use; these factors and more have led to Frances into crime and prison, and now threaten her prospects for parole and a new chapter with her kids. Frances speaks for Aboriginal Australians in similar circumstances.

Motifs of birds and flight are woven throughout the production, directed by Eva Grace Mullaley. They feature in the script, by Barbara Hostalek, and in the evocative soundscape by Mei Swan Lim and multimedia projections, by Mia Holton.

Bobbi Henry as Frances with (L-R) Luke Hewitt (John Rogers), Rayma Morrison (Aunty Pat) and Bruce Denny (Dwayne).

Despite help from her Aunty Pat (played to perfection by Rayma Morrison) and well-meaning community corrections officer Edwina (Holly Jones), Frances becomes frustrated and overwhelmed. At least behind bars she is assured of “three square meals a day, a roof over your head and no risk of getting smashed up.” So much for The Lucky Country.

The scenes charting Frances’s tentative freedom are gut-wrenching but skilfully executed. Sara Chirichilli’s clever set features a cell on a circular, revolving platform – as the plot nears the resolution, its symbolic value becomes apparent.

Holly Jones as Edwina and Matthew Cooper as Joel.

Hostalek’s characters are beautifully drawn, defying stereotypes and injecting energy and humour into what could otherwise have been a bleak play. Luke Hewitt is superb as an affable prison officer and Matthew Cooper is beautiful to watch as Edwina’s jaded colleague, Joel.

This is a memorable play with an important message. Perhaps Edwina best sums up that message, in her conversation with Joel about her clients: “They’re broken beyond all repair but I don’t want to give up on them.”

Cracked plays until May 18.

Pictured top is Bobbi Henry, as Frances, with (L-R) Bruce Denny (Dwayne), Luke Hewitt (John Rogers) and Holly Jones (Edwina).

All photo: Dana Weeks.

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Lady standing with arms opened out
Calendar, May 19, Performing arts, Theatre

Theatre: Cracked

7 – 18 May @ Subiaco Arts Centre ·
Presented by Yirra Yaakin Theatre Company ·

Frankie is in jail for serious offences of assault and drug possession. She’s bitter, disenfranchised and just wants to live life on her terms. But jail is a temporary escape for her – free from financial hardship, homelessness, and hunger. Cracked is the story of Frankie as she rages her way through the criminal justice system with the hope of being reunited with her kids. Weaving several narratives,  Cracked shows the complexity and disconnectedness of people that fall into a life of crime, and the trials faced by prisoners and others who are determined to help them find a better life. Written by Barbara Hostalek, whose first play Banned sold out two seasons at The Blue Room Theatre in 2018, Cracked is a powerful and thought-provoking look inside our criminal justice system from an exciting new voice.

More info
W: www.yirrayaakin.com.au/production/cracked/
E:  reception@yirrayaakin.com.au

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