Hamilton gardens, Victorian Garden Conservatory, Hamilton

27/02/2016 - 28/02/2016

Hamilton Gardens Arts Festival 2016

Production Details

Fusing spoken-word poetry, live drawing, video and music, this theatrical collaboration explores a terrifying topic with beauty, wit and intensity.

After full houses at the 2015 Hamilton Fringe Festival, an updated Storm Warning returns.

How do we face a climate crisis too big to imagine?

Climate change, habit and capitalism meet the chance for evolution.

Victorian Garden Conservatory
Saturday 27 – Sunday 28 Feb
8:15 pm
$10.00 Adult

Theatre , Performance Poetry , Musical ,

Good elements usurped by others

Review by Jan-Maree Franicevic 28th Feb 2016

The heavens have burst and despite brollies at full mast, it is a moist trudge to the Victoria Gardens Greenhouse. It’s not much less moist once Laura, my review buddy tonight, and I arrive at the venue. “Watch your step, it’s slippery,” says the usher. “Try to find a seat where it isn’t dripping.”

The programmes are lying soggy on plastic chairs covered in rainwater and it is HOT (it’s a greenhouse: who’d have thought?).

The show begins. Storm Warning claims to be a fusion of live drawing and video, spoken word and acting, collaboratively assembled to creatively address what is, quote, “Our biggest threat, but hardly makes it to daily conversation.” Climate change. 

Now, I don’t want to sound condescending, but I have spent plenty of years actively involved in Friends of The Earth, and have been an advocate of ‘think global, act local’ since my teenage years. So I am okay with the subject matter here, and I am fully expecting explosive multi-media rhetoric tonight. But jeez folks, bring something to the party! 

Paul Bradley does a sensational job of drawing the opening of the show over audio of interviews done with interviewees (my guess is that they are family and friends going by the names in the printed programme). His drawing throughout the show is not only beautiful but also choreographed to the sounds underneath it, and to the video. He portrays the lode of earth, the plight of man, with sensitivity and depth. I could watch him for an hour!  

At one stage during a children’s story being woven seamlessly and ‘told’ by actor David Sutcliffe, Bradley uses shadow puppets which really takes me to childhood and adds power to the story so simply. That kind of innovation really turns me on to a piece. I get it. I am lost in the moment. I get the metaphor of the children’s story; I think it is quite smart. 

David Sutcliffe’s two monologues are both fantastic, his portrayals are quite real, and comfortable. He presents the everyday voice of general ignorance, which I understand is the one thing this show seeks to rail against. 

What leaves me cold is the stilted spoken word performance of poet Stephanie Christie. At times I am lost completely and at others I am incensed. Having come from a background of poetry (though stylistically much different to hers) I like to think that I have a wide palate and read/ listen to/ enjoy a variety of spoken word.

This is too hard to follow and it is not made easier by the apparent discomfort that Christie has with being on the stage. When I get home I look her up and she states on her website ( that she has been actively trying to learn how to enjoy performing. Well, from where I sit, that’s not going so well, thus far. The shame of it is that her performance makes up a large part of the show, and usurps some of the lovely power of the acting and the pictures, which are just so good. 

Overall, I get it. I get the message, the drawing and the acting are great… but this trio is not walking the talk enough for me to throw down my notes and applaud with vigour. 

Yes, the projection on to an assortment of brown cartons is effective and makes a statement BUT, if you really want to do something small and impactful to give power to your message, then perhaps this group needs to rethink laying printed programmes on each seat. With the weather, and the leaks in the ceiling, many of the programmes are destroyed by the wet, and my suspicion is that they will end up in the bin at the end of the night. Surely it would be more prudent to the cause to have programmes distributed by an usher, who might suggest that one per party is the rule. 

Nowhere on the programme does it suggest disposing of the paper responsibly, no recycling triangle in sight! Or perhaps there could have been a printed suggestion to the audience that if one intends to bin their copy, kindly return it to the usher at the end of the show for use another time. 

Better still, given that we all (or for argument’s sake I shall say most of us, and surely at least one per party) have smart phones, have the usher give a web address where the programme can be viewed. Simple really, and would eliminate the need to print even one single piece of what will become waste paper. 


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