Archive | October, 2015

A Flower of the Lips

16 Oct

Theatre’s greatness as an art form derives from its acknowledgement of Time.

Time means flux. Characters change. Theatre suggests the fluidity, and hence the ineffability, of Life. (How easy it would have been in the last sentence to use the word ‘captures’ rather than ‘suggests’; how easy, and how false.)

Our relationship with the past is like our relationship with other people – often crucial but never concrete. (To say to another ‘I know you entirely’ is not the language of love but rather of control.)

In Valentino Musico’s play A Flower of the Lips the playwright explores his relationship with a chapter of his family history. In Calabria, post World War One, Musico’s great grandfather was in the unenviable position of chasing down deserters.

It’s tense, intriguing and true…….if ‘true’ is the right word.

How does Musico ‘capture’ the past? He’s done the research and so the play is part-documentary. There is even a character representing the playwright, narrating the proceedings.

But Musico knows this attempt at objectivity is not enough. The past must be allowed its wildness, so Musico creates a theatrical world imbued with elements of both magical realism and commedia dell’arte. Poetry plays with supposed actuality.  Director Ira Seidenstein does terrific work with this engaging script, using simple staging and eliciting fascinating performances from the cast: Michelle De Rosa, Marcella Franco, Jamila Hall, Yiss Mill and Kiki Skountzos. The decision to cast female actors in all the roles other than the narrator is powerfully subversive.

Sometimes it can feel as though our past presses down upon us, dominating our present. To be reminded that the past is a story we tell ourselves, that omniscience is beyond us, is a beautiful acknowledgement of Time and its gift of Hope.

Veronica Kaye

A Flower of the Lips by Valentino Musico

King Street Theatre til 24 October

What is the role of the reviewer?

15 Oct

I like that this question is being asked. It gives me the opportunity to point out that it’s a question that panders to elements in our society that support repression.

(Fireworks being far easier than thought, I’m being deliberately provocative and downright simplistic.)

If the question was rephrased as “What can a reviewer achieve?” it would be more indicative of an open society.

Choose the view

                       Choose the view

But the question “What is the role of the reviewer?” presupposes a concrete answer. It implies that there is something definite reviewers are supposed to do and if you don’t do it you are somehow doing something wrong. I missed that memo.

The question also implies that writing about theatre somehow needs a justification – as if there were something inherently suspicious about sharing ideas about art.

I know that reviewers sometimes do use the word role. They use it in sentences like ‘I see my role as educating both the public and artists.’ Being an annoying pedant, I like to point out it is not their role, it is their aim. And it’s a laudable aim, and one I might share if I thought I had any knowledge worth passing on.

But I am troubled with an aim being described as a role. There’s an assertion of authority behind that word role. It suggests that a personal aim is somehow sanctioned. But by who? By society? By the God of Theatre? By your editor?

If it’s merely the last of these, it might be better described, not as a role, but as a job description.

Veronica Kaye

Theatre Red is Reopen for Business

13 Oct

Except, of course, it’s not a business. The whole purpose of this blog is to treat art as something other than a commodity.

I’m back in Sydney and looking forward to writing again about theatre – but I’m not particularly interested in evaluating it.

I’ll continue with my usual (some may say) self-indulgent approach. I will not grade theatre. I’ll write about what theatre makes me think about and feel.

Yes, I know, what an outrageously inappropriate response to art.

And a point of clarification: Veronica Kaye is not a pseudonym. My creator, Paul Gilchrist, doesn’t hide behind my name so he can write nasty reviews. I don’t write nasty reviews. Don’t believe me? Read everything I write and see. Please.

I am a character. I am not my author. For starters, I’m far wiser than him.

Paul being less wise than me.

Paul being less wise than me

But can an ‘imagined’ character write about ‘real’ events?

Of course! What’s stopping me? (I mean apart from some really disturbing elements in our culture, like our love affair with authority, our fear of diversity and our deep, deadly conservatism.)

So here we go again………

Veronica Kaye