Hit, not too hard, by the Covid and by a blackout in Leederville, my cultural month was somewhat impacted. However, here are the events that caught my attention.
The Glass Menagerie at His Majesty theater
A play about memories, those of Tenesse Williams: illness, love, family, nostalgia for a past from which we cannot extract ourselves because it fills in the gaps of a gloomy present.
Saint-Louis, in the south of the United States, the time of the American dream, Tom (Joel Jackson), the narrator, evokes the years spent between his mother and his sister Laura, united around the image of the father who brought them abandoned. He painfully earns his living, with a menial job in a warehouse, clinging to his dreams of departure and adventures. The mother, Amanda (Mandy McElhinney), former “Southern belle”, who lives on the memories of her former glory and her success with men not to see the fiasco that her life has become. So she stages herself, reinvents her life, but above all pragmatic, she worries about her daughter’s future. Laura (Acacia Daken), she too is trapped, she suffers from an infirmity and her isolation only grew until she became like a piece of her collection of glass animals, too fragile to leave its cocoon. Until the arrival of Jim, a childhood friend of Tom…
Jim O’Connor (Jake Fryer-Hornsby), now Tom’s workmate, his arrival is the catalyst for the play’s disaster. Another one who will escape.
The stage is modern, skillfully concocted so that we can see two rooms plus the entrance, plus the piano player who is reminiscent of the time of silent cinema. The superposition of the rectangular frames fits perfectly into the perspective of the framing of the stage of His Majesty’s. The games of shadows and light, the projections of images and the subtitles are subtle and take nothing away from the atmosphere of another time.
It is also faithful to this period by its furniture and costumes.
The four performers are glaringly truthful. Amanda flirtatious, unstable on the verge of despair, in this scene where she flirts with Jim, as in the days of her youth forgetting that he is there for her daughter, she shows us all the facets of this complex character. Laura, the discreet one is very gentle, she makes us live her inner world, a resigned despair. Jim, too, lives in his imagination, very different, he tries to convince himself of his potential or rather of a potential that he surely does not have, his monologue on how to achieve success is worthy of the greatest management gurus .
Tom is he in the reality of which he bears the guilt. He dreams of leaving but the memory of his father prevents him from doing so, he is the one who carries his family and the play, he skilfully oscillates between his role and that of the narrator
This superb piece speaks of the fragility of beings like no other, with a delicacy that challenges.
Last train to Freo at Victoria Hall
The return of a piece by Reg Cribb, at the time entitled “The return”, which is over 20 years old. It was also adapted to the cinema by its author in 2006 under the title that we know today.
Two thugs, Steve and Trev, catch the last train in Midland for Fremantle. When a young woman, Lisa, boards the train a few stops later, unaware that the train guards are on strike. She inevitably attracts their attention and they begin to engage in conversation, a bit borderline from the young woman’s point of view. After two other people, an older woman, Maureen, and a quiet man, Simon, board the train, the plot unravels in time with the stops, as the tension mounts.
The atmosphere is claustrophobic, a train carriage has been recreated in the middle of Victoria Hall. Reg Cribb’s staging exploits every centimeter of this transverse scene, a wagon whose occupants seem prisoners, unless it is their story that they cannot escape.
The actors negotiate the rising tension wonderfully with a few hints of humor and some current references. The character of Steve is a convincing and charismatic sociopath, he carries the piece with his dynamism. At his side, Trev prances, inconsistent and elusive. Chloe Hurst is rather discreet in the role of Lisa. As for Maureen and Simon, they suffer and sublimate the attacks of the two thugs.
Lights and live music contribute to the realism of this journey.
Along the way, the play generates some key questions that shook the social climate of Perth at the time. Adapted to today’s issues, it remains somewhat watered down but raises questions about the stereotypes of our society, cowardice, family and revenge.
Another piece that challenges but with more lightness than the previous one.
Torres Strait Masks at the Fremantle maritime museum
This exhibition is a traveling exhibit presented by the National Museum of Australia that offers visitors a glimpse into the vibrant art and culture of the Torres Strait region and the Northern Peninsula.
The exhibition aims to highlight the continued importance of Torres Strait masks, their evolution in the past, and their influence on current contemporary art forms.
For the First Nations of Zenadh Kes (Torres Strait Islands), masks are not just a representation of ancestral, supernatural and totemic beings, but a way to channel and connect with these spirits.
Although all of these works were made for the exhibition by Alick Tipoti and six other Torres Strait Islander artists, this is a unique opportunity to see a large sampling of masks from these regions.
Magnificent exhibition, linger and observe the details, they are really impressive. Beyond the aesthetic aspect, their history and meaning remains a little obscure and I must admit that I was a little unsatisfied.
Trust me, it’s the end of our world after all at the Blue room theater
The X virus is devastating the planet and the only salvation for the survivors is to take refuge in a bunker isolated from the outside, wear a gas mask to fetch rations, unappetizing canned goods or rummage through abandoned recycling bins. Insulation lasts for years.
We all went through the hatch of the bunker and are all inside, together…with the three survivors of a family. The missing father was the first affected by the virus, Holly (Bubble Maynard), the eldest manages the siblings, the sister Carrie (Bianca Roose) and the brother Marcus (Liam Longley). They don’t know what happened to their mother Rachel, a scientist who slipped away one morning to join Cure Z and they haven’t heard from her since.
Their terrible routine is turned upside down when Holly brings back an unconscious man, Rich (Joe Haworth) whom she knocked out outside the camouflaged entrance to their bunker.
Disturbingly, Rich wore a gas mask with their mother’s name on the tag, which raises a lot of questions. This will be the common thread of the piece.
Beneath the air of science fiction, living in a fabric of lies that they themselves have created, the limits of truth are blurred and it is a family drama that unravels.
It starts quite strong, the bar is suddenly a little too high, the twists have a little taste of not enough. And in this sinister context we would have liked a little more humor, even black, and derision.
Blue Orange at Burt Hall
In a London psychiatric hospital, an enigmatic, even elusive patient, Christopher, and a discrepancy in diagnosis between trainee psychiatrist Bruce and consultant Robert, we witness a debate of opinion within the medical profession. After 28 days in a mental institution, Christopher is set to be released but Bruce believes the patient has been misdiagnosed and insists he stay longer to provide him with proper treatment, while Robert, liberation so that he can take care of himself and rehabilitate himself in “his community”.
On a stage that could be likened to a boxing ring, we are the helpless voyeurs of a story where the truth wavers from one side to the other according to the verbal jousting of an incredible density, without ever establishing the victoire.
This diagnostic debate that will put Christopher’s future at stake immerses us in the dilemmas and ethics of the medical profession, the myths and their underlying racism and a health system that cannot cope with the request.
The characters are rather stereotyped, the trainee is naive, ambitious and a bit romantic while the consultant is authoritarian, imbued with his character and not very open to ideas other than his own. Christopher is as fast as an eel, impossible to know when he is playing a role or when he is sincere, he plays with these two experts by making them as pathetic and detestable as the other.
If this play is based on dialogues of an extreme power, it is also very physical, the characters move on stage as if to better avoid the blows, the anger explodes at times under an intense, very clinical light.
The second part of the play without offering any respite is a little disappointing because the debate bogs down in a petty argument which loses some of its interest and moves away from the intellectual complexities of the start.
We come out exhausted, the rhythm and the dialogues are dense and our brain constantly wonders which side to take, without really finding the answer. It is nonetheless a vast subject of reflection where everyone is entitled to feel vulnerable.
LightWaves at the Drill hall of Notre Dame university.
Presented as part of “10 Nights in Port”, participants are welcomed by a giant screen, and the sound of the sea. Before our eyes the waves are forming, the water is moving away and hollowing out to stand up better, roll up and finally roll back down in an explosion of foam and deafening noise. And the show starts again…
Curiously each wave is different, an ephemeral work of art where the light sculpts unexpected shapes and where the sound frightens before the vision of the mastodon takes on its true dimension.
Dazed but soothed, the repetition of these waves is hypnotic and provides a feeling of well-being, we are, of course, dry.