REVIEW: Blue Room Summer Nights Week 2: Part 1

Fake it Til You Make It – PICA, 3 Feb 2015

 

Bryony Kimmings and her fiance Tim Grayburn are opening up about male depression. Grayburn has suffered from chronic depression all his life, and after the death of Robin Williams they were inspired to create a piece that explored its effects on their relationship. Kimmings is a seasoned performer, Grayburn is not, but that is part of the charm; he wears a sheepish self-conscious smile, while Kimmings bubbles over with energy and self-assurance.

 

One of the provisos of Grayburn performing this piece, they tell us, is that he never makes eye contact with the audience; this means that throughout the show, his eyes are covered by various handmade headpieces, like a cap of cotton clouds or a paper bag. He can see well enough to maneuver around the stage and even do some interpretive dance, but it’s recordings of Grayburn describing his illness and Kimmings’s narration that move the story along.

 

Kimmings is a natural comedian, but she can be soft and sweet too, and shows great tenderness and empathy towards Grayburn and his struggles. The story became slightly muddled in the middle, and there were a few odd moments of, “what exactly is happening here?” when some botched sound cues may have thrown a spanner in the works, but Grayburn and Kimmings brought it all back home again when they sat down front to have Grayburn perform a sweet song about having an “Under the Duvet Day.”

 

This show has struck a chord with a lot of audiences for its honest, sensitive and loving perspective on an often all too silent killer.

 

Become a Functional Adult in 45 Minutes – The Blue Room, 4 Feb 2015

 

Sophie Joske has come to The Blue Room to demonstrate how she became a functional adult, and how we can too in just 45 minutes. As a successful student of the Mature Learning Institute, Joske must demonstrate her ability to make the right decisions when faced with adult situations. This show is part lecture, part final exam, and by the end we are all left with the knowledge that being an adult isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, as she deconstructs every aspect of just what being an adult means in the 21st century.

 

She takes aim at social mores, dating, sex, and careers, giving us charts on various things such as how long to respond to text messages, and the appropriate timeline for all the milestones of adulthood. Joske takes a faux-instructional tone, and delivers each joke with precision which is often punctuated by a well-timed sound cue. Joske, despite being young and probably just beginning her adult life proper, makes astute observations with authority. And as I watch her, I think, she’ll probably make a far better adult than I have or ever will.

 

This is one of the stand-out pieces in the Summer Nights season so far, it’s too bad it didn’t get a longer run so that more people could get in to see this sold out knock-out.

The Mercy Seat – The Blue Room, 4 Feb 2015

 

Big Budgie Productions tackled Neil Labute’s post-9/11 play about two adulterers who contemplate using the 9/11 disaster as an excuse to make a clean getaway and start a new life together. Director Hermione Gehle has adapted the play slightly to be set in Perth after a fictional disaster, and has gathered a team of creatives to produce fake footage of the aftermath that’s played in the background during the show.

 

Ben (Christopher Sansoni), a worker at the disaster site, has been having an affair with his boss Abby (Russya Connor) and neither of them were in the building when it was attacked. They hunker down in Abby’s apartment and settle into an hour and a half of argument about whether or not Ben should answer his wife’s call on his mobile, or whether he should just let her think he died in the incident, thus enabling Abby and him to be together.

 

Although the updates bring the context close to home, perhaps some of the gruesome impact of Labute’s work is taken away by setting it against a fictional backdrop. Sansoni and Connor had some decent chemistry, but Sansoni’s character felt a bit shallow and displayed little nuance. The production picked up some momentum in the middle, but the characters repeat themselves ad nauseam without much resolution, which led to some flagging attention spans in the audience. If nothing else, Labute shows us how inappropriate and selfish humans can be.

 

CONCRETE:Heartbeat – PICA, 4 Feb 2015

 

Just upstairs in one of the side-galleries of PICA, kdmindustries and Mark Haslam invite us into an urban landscape made of milkcrates, projected images, and carefully chosen words. Performer Mark Haslam paints a cool picture of life in our world’s concrete jungles, walking us through 24 hours from 8 different perspectives, including a nurse, an office worker, a tourist and even one cockroach. Haslam pulls us in with a gently rhythmic delivery that reminds us that beneath the surface, between the walls, and in the cracks there is a heartbeat that pulses through every city, and common threads that link them all. This piece is a change of pace and headspace to much of the other Summer Nights programming, so if you enjoy a little slam poetry storytelling and don’t mind sitting on a milk crate for about an hour, this unique piece will hit the spot.

 

CICELY BINFORD

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