Tuesday, May 15, 2012

new REVIEW: House of Cards- Anywhere Theatre Festival - Turnstyle; Brisbane


House of Cards at Turnstyle

It's an ambitious project with Mikhala Hawken it's creator saying it,
"will leave audience members reflecting on the paths they have led and
the people who have touched their lives." Astoundingly, it actually
does just this! The style of the venue, the lighting which is
evocative of makeshift share house lamps and even the books on shelves
take you into some rememberances both of the characters and yourself.
House of Cards is the debut performance of Synestheatre.

Mikey Bailey sets the scene by laying out the cards and this
deliberateness seems to reverberate with his character who seeks
constant control. The serious and sometimes dark aspects of this
character are a long way from his usual roles as a physical comic. He
rose to the challenge delightfully in this more dramatic role, which
was informed by his physicality.

We are then introduced to Mikhala Hawken and Benjamin Jacksons'
characters who interact in two parallel stories of an old man meeting
a young girl and a couple of lovers; both pairs meeting on a park
bench. The cards are used as a playful vehicle with the love story
represented as the Queen of Hearts. The third being (Bailey) keeps
trying to steal this card and a little of his circus background is
displayed in his clever and acrobatic thefts.

This piece is hypnotic and beautiful with the shadow play, film and
live elements working together almost seamlessly. The accurracy of
the choreography in the film to live transition was wonderful. It's
not so much a straight story as a journey through the feelings
elicited in relationships. Radiohead's music drives both the movement
and the narrative in delightful ways.

Mikhala Hawken and Benjamin Jackson move together fluidly with Bailey
menacing as a third presence. This piece of theatre and movement
really is a thrilling achievement as it draws the audience into their
own experiences, by allowing just the right amount of space in the
story to allow this. The movement really worked as did the use of
film which was almost as if it was live. One problem with this
vehicle was that the costumes did not match the characters on screen,
but it was not a major problem as the characters "walked onto the
screen" so cleverly; that gimmick really worked well!

Turnstyle is a non-profit, community run space; The Theatre Anywhere
Festival uses everywhere from city lanes to parks to showcase new
theatre. House of Cards was
performed in a space that looks like a rumpus room with old books
lining bookshelves along the back walls.

This challenge to what is normal from the venue, disarmed the audience
just enough to open their minds up to what was about to transpire on
the makeshift stage. And this non-linear, journey through
relationships is as much about the experiences the audience brings to
it as the performers.

Look out for the next piece by Synestheatre; it is bound to be a great
show too!

4 stars

Nim Jayawardhana for Artshub in Brisbane


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