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September 21, 2009 | by  | in Theatre | [ssba]



Aftermaths was the second season of three short plays to be directed by 300 level students of the Victoria University Theatre Programme this year.

Neil LaBute’s Helter Skelter, directed by Ailsa Krefft, was a strong start to the evening. Allan Henry and Louise Burston give enigmatic performances as a husband and wife, dining in a smart restaurant, where their already fraught relationship completely collapses, climaxing in the most awful event imaginable: she stabs the baby inside her and we are left watching the blood trickle down between her legs. Krefft has stylised the staging of certain sequences in the text, with choreography that spotlights a particular character and draws him or her out of the setting of the restaurant and into a dream or memory-like monolgue. It’s a decision that plays against the text, symbolising the characters’ detachment from one another, but this isolation does not allow the engagement between characters required to develop their relationship. As per usual with LaBute, Helter Skelter has an uneasy and sometimes problematic relationship with its female character, requiring much attention to the central relationship so that her actions aren’t dismissed as female hysteria. Despite compelling performances this production did not search to solve this.

Caryl Churchill’s Seven Jewish Children, directed by Nicole Harvey, boasted the most impressive set piece I’ve ever seen in a 304 piece—a large hunk of wall, that had beautifully subtle projections, which changed throughout the show. This was a very still piece, which was effective, but it was the more dynamic moments of choreographed movement and stage pictures that started to reach further into the text. Where risks were taken, they worked. With such an open text, some bold decisions need to be made to really engage the audience with the amount that is going on underneath, and this piece was on its way, it just needed the confidence to go a little further.

After Kafka was a delightfully bizarre piece of theatre, directed by Samantha Woodward. Kafka was seated on a raised platform, as he struggled to write The Metamorphosis. Below, his characters performed to him and brazenly interacted with the audience. The chorus work was entertaining, if a little unfinished, but some individual performances needed a little more attention. In this piece, costumes were particularly effective in creating characters and the final image of all the actors using their bodies to create a giant insect, with the veins that were painted on their costumes glowing under a UV light being a beautiful and lasting picture.

Design-wise this season showed off some great set pieces and costumes (Dan Brown), a creative lighting design (Laura Velvin) and a sweet poster design (Nick Sturgess-Monk), but the decision to stage all three pieces on the same end stage, although allowing time for the big sets to be brought in, didn’t particularly work for any of the pieces.

Three plays produced by Victoria Universoity Theatre Department and the students of THEA 304
Written by Neil LaBute, Caryl Churchill and Angie Farrow
Directed by Ailsa Krefft, Nicole Harvey and Samantha Woodward
Studio 77, 77 Fairlie Tce
7pm, 9–12 September 2009


About the Author ()

Fiona was named "Recessionista" in the ASPA Fashion Awards 2009 for her Takaka op-shop frock and spray painted shoes. She co-edits the arts section and also likes to write about women and other stuff.

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  1. Alana Harvey says:

    Well done Nicole! Im so proud of ya sis xxx

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