JOHN BIRMINGHAM: ON FATHER IN CONVERSATION WITH PAUL BARCLAY REVIEW AVAILABLE ON SCENESTR

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My father is the greatest man I know, strong, dependable and smart. He is the rock of our family and a giant I stand in awe of. Long ago I came of age and saw that he was just a man like us all but he remains someone I deeply admire and cherish. He will turn 75 this December and as a family we savour the time left together, it gives me some peace to know that my parents became grandparents last October, they have earned that milestone and time was running out.

Time ran out for author John Birmingham and his family a little while back and the result for John was six months of depression. When he came out of it he wrote On Father and knowing him by reputation I sought a chance to see him talk about On Father at the Brisbane Powerhouse as part of the series Writers+IdeasScenestr made it possible and you can read my review of what I saw here http://scenestr.com.au/arts/john-birmingham-on-father-in-conversation-with-paul-barclay-review-brisbane-powerhouse-20190417

Produced by Eyeball Media Enterprises Scenestr is an online national magazine with local offices around Australia. Having started in 1993 they’ve excelled at moving into the digital realm but they remain at heart from the streets. They still publish magazines in print for Western Australia, South Australia, New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland every month.

-Lloyd Marken

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HELLBOY REVIEW AVAILABLE ON SCENESTR

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It was a privilege to be on assignment for Scenestr again to review a movie. This time Karen and I went to a critic’s screening in Gold Class at Chermside cinemas. We were given complimentary drinks and popcorn as well and I got to write a film review.

I saw the original in 2004 with Ron Perlman and was fairly blasé about it, having enjoyed the previous film from Guillermo del Toro – Blade II. I’ve heard good things but never got around to the sequel The Golden Army or reading any of the comics but they’re quite admired. I suspect true fans will be elated and disappointed in equal measure by this reboot. You can read my review here http://scenestr.com.au/movies-and-tv/hellboy-review-20190411

Produced by Eyeball Media Enterprises Scenestr. is an online national magazine with local offices around Australia. Having started in 1993 they’ve excelled at moving into the digital realm but they remain at heart from the streets. They still publish magazines in print for Western Australia, South Australia, New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland every month.

-Lloyd Marken

 

 

 

 

INTERVIEW WITH DR KEVIN LARKIN AVAILABLE AT QUEENSLAND COLLEGE OF TEACHERS

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Where I currently work, I have been given the occasional opportunity to interview some remarkable people. During the middle of March I spoke to Dr Kevin Larkin who was recently awarded the 2018 Australian University Teacher of the Year. Dr Larkin has a passion for teaching, even at a young age he has always sought out new challenges and considered the bigger picture. Yet no matter how far reaching his work becomes, it remains centred around the individual relationship between teacher and student and how to get the best out of that.

It was privilege to speak to him and you can find the published interview here. Getting to do this work at the Queensland College of Teachers affords me the opportunity to learn from experienced and talented writers.

Teacher stories highlight the profession and promote the achievements of some great individuals. In their individual experiences are examples we can all learn from.

You can read many more inspiring stories on the QCT website.

-Lloyd Marken

DANGEROUS LIAISONS AIN’T YOUR GRANDMA’S BALLET

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Queensland Ballet’s Dangerous Liaisons is sexy and not for the brief simulations of fornication on stage although that certainly proves inspiring, nor is it the sensual costumes made out of rich fabrics in royal colours, and nor is it the finely toned physiques of the dancers present some of them wearing pants so tight you would see less definition if their legs had been painted instead. All these things are sexy as hell but the sexiest thing of all is the attitude present in this text and those who have adapted it.

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Queensland Ballet‘s mantra for the 2019 Season is “Move Boldly” and in this production they have. In the first five minutes we are introduced to widow Marquise Isabelle de Merteuil getting busy with a lover on the coffin of her late husband. From there we meet a wealth of characters from the French aristocracy of the late 1700s living in decadence and luxury. It seems there’s not a lot to do except have your way with people one way or another as per the original novel by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos.

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The text has been adapted previously most famously in 1988 with Glenn Close, John Malkovich and Michelle Pfeiffer a film I’ve seen but can’t remember a lot about. My memories of the modern day set Cruel Intentions of 1999 (one of the best years of my life) which moved the setting to New York and high school served me far better although there seemed to be some extra characters I couldn’t recall here.

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Knowing the plot will serve you well in order to keep track of things, after all there’s no dialogue in ballet but the important stuff is clear. Isabelle challenges Vicomete Sebastien de Valmount to win over virginal Cecile Volanges as revenge for the fact that coffin boy Comte de Gercourt is now engaged to her. Well actually that might not be so clear but you get a good sense of who is a decent type, who’s in love, who’s innocent and who’s depraved and how that might change. There’s some sneaky humour and a tragic outcome. You might even surprise yourself with where your sympathies lie.

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Artistic Associate of the Royal Ballet continues his association with Queensland Ballet in choreographing this ballet. Beyond all the bold statements and sexy themes is some first rate dancing. I won’t pretend to know I’m an expert on such things but Cecille’s solo was breathtaking of a fragile unjaded soul expressing the joy of first love. Two couplings in particular were very evocative and on the night we went, Laura Hidalgo as Isabelle utterly owned the world as she strutted across stage in her underwear completely beating down the will of Valmount. Some of the lifts in the partnerships were breathtaking in their fluidity and strength.

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Under the stewardship of Artistic Director Li Cunxin continues to go from strength to strength with the entire team he has with him. If I was not as moved as I was two years earlier with their program Raw the sexiness of their Dangerous Liaisons certainly left me stirred.

-Lloyd Marken

TIM FERGUSON’S ‘A FAST LIFE ON WHEELS’ REVIEW AVAILABLE ON SCENESTR

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Following ImproMafia‘s Heartfelt High on Tuesday night we next made plans to catch up with some friends on Saturday for the last round of After Hours and of course if we were going to do that then we decided we would attend Queensland Theatresports Championships the same night at 7:45pm. So on Saturday 23MAR2019 that’s exactly what we did. There were no pepperoni pizzas or chips with aioli though beloved they remain. We went up to the balcony and chatted with an airline employee from Hong Kong before the show began. I still marvel that this show is for free and it adds so much to the festival. One team, BCF, we’d seen compete two weeks earlier once again they were great as was everyone.

 

Afterwards I got some lemon, lime & bitters and sat down with Karen killing time. I ran into the talented sketch comedian Mark Lombard who confirmed with me that I had written the review of Brisburned@Work for Scenestr. He thanked me for the review and I congratulated him on the show. I enjoyed the exchange. You see performers around all the time at the Festival and I never quite know what to do but Mark did.

As we got closer to the time for After Hours our friends arrived and we went outside to the river to meet them. I talked up the highlight reel aspect of the first After Hours we saw but noted it could be different tonight and boy am I glad I added that disclaimer. We descended to the Turbine Studio that night and saw something more akin to what I was expecting the first time. Some comedian came out snorting and rubbing his nose before referencing he’d been drinking. Another felt he was dying and referenced that a fellow comedian Demi Lardner was laughing at him backstage while this happened. I don’t know if anybody was trying out rawer or edgier material for this particular show but if not, they were hardly conservative acts. Also with the festival wrapping up there were no cabaret shows trying to sell last show tickets, just comedians plying their trade. We saw Demi Lardner (energetic and brash – totally owning her set), Matt Stewart (the nicest and one of the funnier people on the night), Tom Ballard (the biggest name probably there that night and a solid closer although even he seemed to note there was a lot of anger in his bit). Blake Freeman (who does the kind of gross awkward humour that makes you nervous but kind of gets away with it because there’s something so likeable there). There were two more and I liked them but their names escape me. Dusty Rich was of course on hand to compere and came away the winner of the night doing some audience interaction with a big unit named Cammo. The only thing funnier for me was Ballard explaining where smashed avo comes from.  We stole off into the night again certainly having experienced an After Hours not as good as the first one we saw but still remaining a show we would be eager to see next year. In fact a strong had been made to see if more than once every year!

That left my assignment for Scenestr magazine the next day over at the Ithaca Auditorium in Brisbane City Hall at 5pm. If you’re of a certain age you know of the Doug Anthony All Stars, they were just before my time but I saw some old The Big Gig episodes on Foxtel in the 90s and heard them whispered about in awe. One member Paul McDermott became a big deal to me with a little show called Good News Week which was of my time.

A relative of mine had MS and I saw her fight it for two decades. I took part in the fundraising Moonlight Walks for MS along my city’s river in 2007, 2009 and 2010  thinking about her and many like her. Some of them taking part in the walk.

You see Tim Ferguson has MS, he’s 55 and he’s in a wheelchair. He was diagnosed in 1996 and went public in 2010. That was nine years ago when he walked with a cane. Diagnosis means one thing in terms of how things are going to end but that one thing is coming for us all. There was something deep and shared in Tim’s show. There was a little boy talking about his Dad, a rebel apologising, an young man passing on wise counsel, a sick man proving his virility, an old man looking forward to the future. I told Mark Lombard on Saturday night that Brisburned@Work was Karen’s favourite show at the festival and I was telling the truth. On Sunday night we left the auditorium and Karen turned to me and said “I have a new favourite.”

You can read my review here http://scenestr.com.au/comedy/tim-ferguson-review-brisbane-comedy-festival-2019-20190326

Produced by Eyeball Media Enterprises Scenestr. is an online national magazine with local offices around Australia. Having started in 1993 they’ve excelled at moving into the digital realm but they remain at heart from the streets. They still publish magazines in print for Western Australia, South Australia, New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland every month.

That concluded Brisbane Comedy Festival 2019, I had been on assignment 4 times with Scenestr, once for Weekend Notes and seen all up 11 shows. It has been quite a month and I feel really blessed and I thank you for coming along for the ride.

-Lloyd Marken

 

HEARTFELT HIGH REVIEW AVAILABLE ON WEEKEND NOTES

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I have certainly been in full festival mode at this year’s Brisbane Comedy Festival.

Karen and I with her best friend saw Raven On Thursday night 14MAR2019 at the Brisbane Room in Brisbane City Hall. Raven On was a one woman production from Act/React starring Natalie Bochenski making peace with the impending end of the Game of Thrones. As a fan of Love/Hate Actually and Bochenski I eagerly awaited attending. Yet I found the show a little padded out and indulgent, missing the interplay and contrast with a fellow performer. Yet Bochenski remains one of the most entertaining and likeable presences you can find on stage. There were definitely highlights for me including a video of her Nan, a rap recap of the series that I hope goes viral , a gif involving David Bowie and an epic sword fight. Not to mention Bochenski herself, she’s kind of amazing. So I enjoyed it but thought it could have been even better yet despite my misgivings Karen and her friend were adamant it was a great show so there you go. Maybe there was something in the fact that I got excited when a poster for Independence Day appeared whereas they were more moved when Colin Firth’s performance in Pride and Prejudice got covered.

From there that Sunday we saw Queensland Theatresports Championships again at the Brisbane Powerhouse which was even better than last time if that is possible.

Then on Tuesday night I was on assignment for the first time for Weekend Notes to attend ImproMafia‘s latest show Heartfelt High a lampoon of all teen shows form the 1990s. It was a thrill to get to review the show for Weekend Notes and keen readers will observe I’ve seen some shows from those involved with ImproMafia. Lord of the Thrones, Animated! at Brisbane Comedy Festival 2018 and they present Queensland Theatresports Championships. Performers involved are also part of Act/React and The Shadow Collective. It’s fair to say I’m familiar with their work and I’m a fan. Opening night of Heartfelt High did not disappoint but I do hope for larger more boisterous crowds to be in attendance at subsequent shows. You can read my review here https://www.weekendnotes.com/heartfelt-high-impromafia-brisbane-comedy-festival/

Weekend Notes are a growing online magazine with a wealth of contributors based out of several cities across the United Kingdom, Australia and New York. Articles are leisure related and can include a wide variety of subjects from rainforest hikes to cultural festivals, from what hot new play is on at your underground theatre to a ultra trendy eatery. Writers are paid for their work based partly on how many views their articles get so please feel free to stop by and show some love.

-Lloyd Marken

 

LEGO MOVE 2: THE SECOND PART REVIEW AVAILABLE ON SCENESTR

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I was fortunate enough to be on assignment for Scenestr again to review an upcoming release. I attended last Sunday a morning preview screening of The Lego Movie sequel along with lots of young people who could be heard dropping some truth bombs and giggling away throughout. The law of diminishing returns with sequels may apply here but the film was still more than entertaining and should prove very popular with families over the upcoming Easter holidays. You can read my review here http://scenestr.com.au/movies-and-tv/the-lego-movie-2-the-second-part-review-20190320

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Produced by Eyeball Media Enterprises Scenestr. is an online national magazine with local offices around Australia. Having started in 1993 they’ve excelled at moving into the digital realm but they remain at heart from the streets. They still publish magazines in print for Western Australia, South Australia, New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland every month

-Lloyd Marken