Friday, November 16, 2012

The Colony; a new play in Cairns; see it now!!

The Colony

JUTE Theatre Company's Indie Season in collaboration with Cairns
Centre of Contemporary Art (COCA) reaches a thrilling conclusion for
2012 with The Colony by the Centre of Australaisan Theatre (CfAT).
This truly multicultural company brings us an ensemble cast from many
different countries including Japan and Indigenous Australia. With a
fusion of live theatre, dance, movement, music, film and visual art
the work comes to a life of its own!

Audiences immediately are brought out of where we are now into this
mysterious and strangely beautiful world of "the island" by a backdrop
created by two celebrated Aurukun Artists, Mavis Ngallametta and Craig
Koomeeta, collaborating with Guy & Gina Allain of Moulin Rouge, Rabbit
Proof Fence and The Matrix fame. Their vision to create an island for
Hamlet (the main character and our guide) and company from ghost net
materials and other marine debris, is realised beautifully in the
cleverly designed space. Renowned Australian Fashion Designer Linda
Jackson's costumes blend wonderfully both with the ghost nets and the
set which not so much looks like an island as becomes an island with
us on and in it!

The play begins with the performers stumbling around in a kind of
mysterious limbo. The audience begins to feel disoriented and we are
not sure where we are and what we are doing. This is an intentional
construct, exacibated by the entrance of Catherine Hassall's
mysterious ghostly singing and macabre figure. Like Ariel in
Shakespeare's "The Tempest", Hassall's character seems to be pulling
strings somehow and gently stringing us and Hamlet (the protagonist
{perhaps no relation}) through the journey through this
discombobulating island. A fascinating effect this has is of a
cohesion and an inclusiveness where audience and players alike are
drawn together in this mysterious longing for something or someone
lost. Where the story begins with feelings of disconnectedness we all
soon realise that we are in this together and the performers begin to
move together and draw us into this camaraderie.

The live music of Jeremiah Johnson blends delightfully with the
haunting and powerful singing of Hassall, whose voice is matched only
by her fluid, magical and puissant movement. Warren Clements is an
utter joy to behold with his likable and bawdy antics; add to this mix
the disciplined and measured eloquence of Miyako Masaki's dance and
you have a piece of Multicultural theatre of a very high level indeed!

Often in these kind of multimedia experiences the film occurs as an
incongruous parallel, but not in this one! Savannah Productions' film
scenes blend charmingly with the live action and add another dimension
to the performance. At times they blend with the backdrop while at
other times they become another face of particular characters allowing
greater depth of expression and coherence.

This play puts Cairns on the map of Multicultural Theatre in Australia
and I hope CfAT can tour it Nationally. Guillaume 'Willem' Brugman's
vision for Graham Henderson's text comes to life magically with this
ensemble cast from many corners of the world. This group is certainly
one to watch out for in the future and if you are in or anywhere near
Cairns, go see this now!

RATED 4/5 stars

by Nim Jayawardhana for Artshub!


The Colony by Graham Henderson

WRITTEN BY Graham Henderson // DIRECTED BY Guillaume 'Willem' Brugman
// COSTUMES Linda Jackson // SOUND Jeremiah Johnson & Nigel Pegrum /
/ SCENOGRAPHY Guy & Gina Allain // FILM BY Savannah Productions // ART
Ensemble: Warren Clements, Piers Freeman, Srianjali Gunasena, Catherine Hassall,
Sue Hayes, Jeremiah Johnson, Miyako Masaki, Kara Ross

November 16-17, 20-23 November
JUTE Theatre, Centre of Contemporary Arts, 96 Abbott St. Cairns
$20-$25 - on sale from
rated M