LIVE ACTS ON STAGE
Whitireia Performance Centre, 25-27 Vivian Street, Wellington
15/07/2015 - 18/07/2015
Written by Michael Gow, one of Australia’s most well-known and successful playwrights, Live Acts on Stage is a contemporary re-telling of some of the most well known Greek myths.
Sixteen actors play over forty roles in this raunchy, funny and moving play.
The play follows the story of Orpheus, a musician, poet and prophet who has attracted the ire of Hera the Queen of heaven through his teachings. “Love whatever draws you”, “we are all a bit divine”, “we are all separate but part of one”.
These ideas threaten the power of the gods and Hera will stop at nothing to stop Orpheus. Along the way we meet dragons, sirens, dryads, heroes, spirits and gods. This play teaches us about the power of art to transform and uplift. It is a battle between the forces of conservatism, hate and oppression and the ideas of liberalism, acceptance and individuality.
Bring your pyjamas and snuggle under the covers for an evening of magical theatrical story telling by one of Wellington’s most innovative companies of young performers.
Performed by Long Cloud Youth Theatre
Directed by Brett Adam
7pm, 15-18 July
Second late night performance Friday 17 July
Whitireia Performance Centre, 25-27 Vivian St
$10 groups 10+
$10 Friday late night 10pm performance
$10 when you wear pyjamas to the show
Brett Adam – Director
Lily della Porta – Assistant Director
Jason Longstaff – Production Manager/Lighting Designer
Clever and funny
Review by Maraea Rakuraku 16th Jul 2015
On entering Whitireia Theatre for Live Acts on Stage by Michael Gow and performed by Long Cloud Youth Theatre, upon seeing the stage strewn with all paraphernalia you’d associate with a huge sleepover, I utter: “Love it.” There are bunkbeds, sleeping bags, various toys and multiple bodies spread from one end to the other. On the walls hang childlike drawings of what is about to unfold for the next 90 or so minutes.
It opens with a rather stroppy princess type being awakened from her slumber by another. Now I miss a bit of what’s going on here. The action is very much centered in the middle of the stage, I’m still soaking up the set and some of the dialogue is getting a little swallowed. But it doesn’t take much to get drawn into the story, via an over-exuberant, high-pitched shepherd.
And what unfolds is a telling of Greek classics. Admittedly my knowledge of the classics is pretty skinny to nothing, based solely on a 16 year old’s fascination with Percy and the Olympians series by Rick Riordan. But even I recognise the main culprits: Hera, Zeus, Orpheus … And then there’s the ones I have no idea about: Ixion, Ganymeade, Peleus …
But back to the Princess type, who turns out to be Hera (Bella Guarrera), who surprisingly given the trauma of her ancestry and everything that eventuated, is as stable as she is. This really is about her desire to humble man. Ok, maybe just one man. And in that telling, many stories contribute to it.
There’s Jason and the Argonauts and his journeys. Some pretty hilarious Sirens, a formidable Dragon, a fantastically camp Lucifer (Drew Brown), the stand-out Fates (Lydia Buckley, Alex Taylor, Ashleigh Williams) and a plethora of characters that hold interest throughout. Even if I don’t catch most of their names I can follow because of the strength of their respective stories.
Having most of the 15-strong ensemble double up roles – in some cases triple up, except for Alex Tunui (Hera) – does get a little confusing as to who’s who. The change in accents helps. There’s a very OTT American accented Jason (Keegan Bragg) and is that an Irish accent I hear?
There is a fine crop of actors here. I hope to see them hone their craft, “Get-some huruhuru on their bolos,” as some of my relations would say, and see where they wash up.
Sure, I get lost with some of the monologues, particularly those delivered by Eris (Bella Guarrera), which is no reflection on the actor, but rather my attention span.
It feels current. Sure, it’s based in ancient as legends but there’s none of that labouring (or maybe its expectation) that I associate with, say, Shakespeare.
There is great movement in this, both individually and collectively. How one manages to negotiate all those bodies on stage, some obscured by sleeping gear, is admirable.
The dialogue is, at times, laugh-out-loud hilarious and informative. I never knew Hercules means ‘Hera’s glory’, although after some research it’s not as benign in its context as it’s delivered here.
It is clever and funny. There are a couple of stand-out scenes (The Fates) that call for no-demands audience participation. Go on. Do it.
A couple of times I look at the audience and I’m not the only one sitting riveted watching the action progress. Who needs True Detective and Wayward Pines when you have these original tales of lust, betrayal and vengeance?
There’s substance to this production and once it settles in and the ensemble relaxes into it can only get stronger.
As one of the characters says, “Amen, man.”
Copyright © belongs to the reviewer
Editor July 17th, 2015
Thank you Keegan - I trust they are now correctly attributed.
Keegan Bragg July 17th, 2015
Quick detail that the names on the programme were out of order. Bella Guarrera plays Eris and Alex Tunui plays Hera.
John Smythe July 16th, 2015
For me Bella Guarrera's strongly centred Eris anchors everything in her quest to gain her freedom by fulfilling just one more task for Hera. On researching Eris further I am surprised to discover she is the goddess of Chaos. Is this Michael Gow’s take on it, then: that chaos arises from the subjugated doing what they believe they must in order to earn release from their subjugation? A fascinating thesis.
Director Brett Adam has helmed a thoroughly intriguing production here and it’s clear the large cast is fully enrolled. Apart from the engrossing tangle of myths and legends, the staging is ingenious. Everything is already on stage but only surfaces when relevant. As for the way the music of Orpheus (George Fenn) is manifested … Live Acts on Stage is a treat to be savoured.