THE HUMAN VOICE NEW website review by Anthony Wayne
Presented by Periscope Productions, The Human Voice brings together the forces of 6 exciting playwrights, on an exploration on the ways in which we communicate using the phone.
On entering the art-space at the Meat Market, the concept of the works is immediately introduced with a visual display around the foyer - a timeline of phone handsets from across the ages. Checking our tickets at the bar, the usher asked my guest and I if we wish to be split up or stay together for the performance. We opt to stay together, and are presented with blue phone coils to wrap around our wrists. The ushers split the audience into two groups, and guide us into separate spaces. Having attended a previous Periscope production, I was already aware of their unconventional style. I nudge my date and excitedly take my seat, wondering what other quirks we will encounter.
The show opens with the ringing of a phone, and a performer planted amongst the audience taking a phone call. A whirlwind of performers coming on and off the stage follows, with short snippets of phone calls. A mix of amusing communication challenges faced over the phone sets the tone – from difficulties hearing the other person on the line, the repeated “Hello? Hello?”, to interrupted network signals whilst going through tunnels. Progressing through the opening interlude of calls, a troupe of singers is blended into the mix and the talented Choral Edge choir are cast as the switchboard operators - their voices uniquely connecting each call.
We transition into the first of the six short plays, examining the experience of living away from your parents. I found the daughter’s behavior on the phone relatable, as she moves about and can’t stay still for too long, at one point lying on the floor while continuing to talk on the phone. Later when we see the phone conversation from the elderly parents’ perspective, the generational gap is noticeable, with the subtle way the parents hold their phone out on loud speaker.
The six pieces are woven together across two acts. We feel like a voyeur as we listen in on these strangers’ conversations, with the effect often disconcerting as we try to catch up on the action, piecing together the back story to work out the gist. In the first act, the other end of these phone calls are heard with off-stage voices. This clever direction allows the audience to experience the phone calls just like in real life, not being able to see the other person on the other end of the line. The voice exists in another dimension, without the visual communication clues of body language. I later realised that the voice was coming from a second performance space, where the other half of the audience were watching the play from the view of the other performer.
The concept of these two dimensions – the physical space surrounding you and this second intimate space over the phone, is playfully explored through these 6 pieces. Often the characters multi-task while on the phone – washing up the dishes, flicking through a book, and they are easily distracted by their physical surroundings like the birds outside the window. In one scene, a character simultaneously carries out two interactions, one with her girlfriend in the physical space, and another with her friend over the phone. Another scene involves a couple in a long-distance relationship awkwardly trying out phone sex, shows us just how easy it is to lie over the phone. The characters say they are doing one thing while in reality it’s far from the truth, unfolding with hilarious results.
During a quick 10 minute intermission, the performance spaces are combined, and the two audience groups join back together to return for act 2. Running at 2 hours, it does feel rather lengthy and the themes begin to get repetitive. The physical space of the theatre has been utilised well, and the minimal sets create an intimate atmosphere leaving the focus on the performers. The diverse cast delivers solid performances, and authentic dialogue that often feels quite relatable. While quite unconventional, this may not appeal to a large audience. However if you are looking for something unique, then The Human Voice offers a highly creative, conceptual theatre production.
Four out of five stars.
The Details The Human Voice will run from the 4th to the 13th March. All performances 7:30pm, except for Sunday 7 March 6:00pm. Tickets cost $30. Bookings at https://www.trybooking.com/BOCAY
The Venue Located at the Meat Market Stables, this heritage building has been reimagined into an interesting art-space. Entry is on the corner of Wrecklyn and Courtney Street North Melbourne. Free 2 hour parking is available nearby from 6:30pm. If you arrive a bit earlier, the Castle Hotel is just opposite and makes a great meeting place for a drink, and something to eat beforehand.
CLOUDEHILL GARDENS NEW website review: Natasha Marchev photos: Peter Elgar
Last week our media crew was lucky enough to visit and shoot at the lovely Cloudehill Gardens in Olinda. The garden has a variety of flowers, trees and plants that bloom all over the year with different most magnificent colors: so much to explore! It is the all season garden - a joy for the eyes to see - worth to visit with the whole family and friends. The place is cleverly divided into several "botanical sections". Each separate section has a beautiful and serene aspect to it. Cloudehill is situated at an altitude of 580 meters and its climate is considered to be perfect for many plants to grow. It is a must see location when you travel indeed in Dandenongs with its special "mountain" climate that distinguish the flowers and plants selection. The garden is proud for its European beech, magnolias, maples and a collection of fabulous Himalayan tree rhododendrons, all beautifully grown and a testament to the lush, moist soils of the unique location. The garden is highlighted by glorious herbaceous borders which focus on two of the finest and rare Japanese weeping maples to be seen anywhere in the world. The garden is perfect to the "artistic eye" as it has been looked so well after for many years now and has a certain design structure as well as so called, "informal planting" and garden beds.
The location is famous for its historical finest trees as well as the new plans. Usually there sculptures that you can notice featured by more than 15 different sculptors and artists situated on the garden grounds. Spring time is all covered in blue bell meadows there, autumn prizes the visitors with bright red colors of Japanese maples. Summer is surprising the visitors with the garden blooming borders and winter is famous for its garden perfect structures and what you call the "garden bones". So every season is significant and worth visiting throughout the year to observe the garden changing and turning to you with its different sides.
It was also so significant for us to see families playing in the garden with kids and happy faces everywhere we went. Nature relaxes us and makes us happy. There are little alcoves in the garden to help you feel that wonderful "privacy of the nature".
The paths are gravel and sometimes steep which makes it interesting to walk around. It is very "English style" but well planned and maintained. If you plan your visit take extra one hour to explore the corners of the garden. If you are a gardener yourself or just love gardening work this is a place for you to admire and get inspired.
It was very easy to get lost in this beauty while we were shooting but who would not love to disappear for a while from your day to day duties and your online hard work in such place?
We were looked after very well by Jeremy and his team so biggest thank you to the people who look after this cozy place so well and are so dedicated to their work.
There is a cafe also to enjoy after your visit and have a cup of coffee or tea with cake or even a good lunch. the cafe is famous for its fresh and yummy food.
Special thanks: Jeremy Francis
EUROPEAN WOMEN IN BUSINESS NEW website review by Max Davine photography: Asi Perera
Lumas Gallery European Women in Business
Lumas gallery is an enchanting art gallery on Church Street in Richmond, an on Thursday night it was host to a glamorous soiree celebrating European women in business. This afforded one reporter at least the chance to peruse the beautiful art on display. Art enthusiasts were in attendance and we marvelled at the captivating photography displayed under acrylic glass – special mention to the prevalence New York City played in the displays.
Our eye-shopping was periodically interrupted by talks from businesswomen like Michelle Cook, who stunned the room with awesome operatic performance – and if you like the way she sings, she teaches as well. Give her a call. MC Janine Lum also gave us a one-one-one interview with Lumas gallery director Eugenia Wilson and director of Helloworld Travel Deb Carr to discuss their trials through the Covid pandemic.
While the European seemed to be lacking the businesswomen were present, the correlation between art, opera, and business are obvious to all the world except in Australia and any moment taken to reflect on beautiful storytelling is direly needed all over this misguided little country. I’m glad we’ve got four businesswomen to set us straight. Power to them.
Just don’t hang around outside on Eugenia’s watch.
Come From Away recounts a story of empathy and compassion, highlighting the best of humanity following the aftermath of events orchestrated by the worst of humanity. Many tales of heroism emerged onsite ground zero on September 11, 2001, but one such act, unbeknownst to all but those directly involved, was unfolding many miles away, in the small Canadian town of Gander, Newfoundland.
With the entire United States airspace screeching to a halt, all air-traffic scurried to ground in the closest available runway. The small town of Gander, with a population just shy of 10,000, found itself nearly doubled as 7000 unsuspecting passengers were left stranding indefinitely, with little more than the hospitality of their interim destination to lean on.
Representing both the stranded souls, the towns-people, and a mixed bag of supporting characters is a cast of twelve, seamlessly switching between the various personas with the swiftest of wardrobe changes and accompanying set modifications. The performances themselves were all highly enjoyable, with little more than a few questionable accent discrepancies to critique. The dialogue was a little corny at times, injecting a consistent flurry of mediocre one-liners at least a handful land a decent comedic punch. The main issue is the blatant exposition told by each character throughout the show, often addressing the audience directly in order to progress the show’s narrative; as the saying goes, “show don’t tell”.
Despite the lack of creative storytelling, there is much to love about the show as a whole. The energy exuded throughout the show’s 1hr 45min runtime is undoubtedly infectious, matched perfectly by the backing instrumentals of the live band. The sheer wholesomeness of the story is incredibly heartwarming, so much so you’ll likely find yourself overlooking the narrative’s pitfalls, of which I would be remiss if I didn’t mention them for your consideration. For one, though all remarkable respectively, the large cast felt overwhelming at times, hindered by the equal focus put on each character in terms of both story and stage-time; the stage seldom left vacant, with only lighting and dialogue to guide the viewer’s attention. This also meant it was difficult to invest in any particular sub-plot, each given equally insufficient time to develop fully and thereby add to the emotional impact of the events portrayed. Likewise, any attempt at social commentary (e.g., the discrimination of Islamic people following 9/11) didn’t invoke any meaningful reflection.
I came away from Come From Away with mixed emotions. If you switch your brain off and bask merely in the exhilaration and joviality of it all, you’re in for a wonderful time, one that will undoubtedly leave you with that warm and fuzzy feeling we all so crave. BUT, if you go in expecting any deeper meaning or emboldened critique revolved around the darkness of its core subject, you’ll leave feeling rather empty and disappointed; it really comes down to personal expectation, and
Ultimately, the collective acts of pure selflessness told through the show’s medium leaves a lasting impression, much like the events themselves on all those affected, and it is their stories that continue to live on with each performance. Come From Away is currently running at Melbourne’s Comedy Theatre.