‘TWO MAN TARANTINO’ AND ‘CLAIRE HEALEY’ REVIEWS AVAILABLE ON SCENESTR

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Friday night and I saw my two final shows at Wonderland for 2018 on assignment with Scenestr, one I was eagerly anticipating Two Man Tarantino and the other Claire Healy: (Get A) Real Job interested me with its subject matter.

The week was one of those weeks that you dream about as a freelance writer, Wednesday night I was on assignment for a preview screening of a movie with one publication and then I was due to see three shows at Wonderland on Thursday and Friday night. They were good shows, all with something to offer it is true but there are criticisms I have. One thing that struck me about both shows that concluded my attendance at the festival this year was how they got better as they went along and finished strongly. I walked out of Claire Healy’s one-woman show late Friday night and felt a little bit better about the movie I’d seen Wednesday, a little bit better about the shows I’d seen at Wonderland that week and a little bit better about life in general. Not bad.

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You can read my review for Two Man Tarantino here http://scenestr.com.au/arts/two-man-tarantino-brisbane-review-wonderland-festival-2018-20181203 and Claire Healy here http://scenestr.com.au/arts/claire-healy-get-a-real-job-brisbane-review-wonderland-festival-2018-20181203

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The five shows I saw at Wonderland 2017 I enjoyed more but I felt with a lot of the shows this year I was seeing artists earlier in their careers taking it to the next level, doing more with less, refining their art and figuring out what they want to achieve. I can’t wait to see what they do next.

At Wonderland 2017 I felt like seeing Nath Valvo gave me an insight into what Melbourne already knew, that here was a comedian about to go national. Love/Hate Actually in 2018 returned triumphantly to Wonderland following a tour that took in amongst other places Ipswich, the Gold Coast, Perth, Melbourne and Fiji. Michelle Zahner has taken A Modern Guide to Heroism and Sidekickery to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Who knows where we will see Claire Healy, Anisa Nandaula, Adam Koudi, Kayne Falkiner, Vashti Hughes, Matt Abell-King, Emily Kristopher, Stephen Hirst and Sam Bowden next.

Produced by Eyeball Media Enterprises Scenestr is an online national magazine with local offices around Australia. Celebrating 25 years in 2018 of publishing history 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, Queensland and now Victoria! every month too.

-Lloyd Marken

 

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LARRY’S ODYSSEY REVIEW AVAILABLE ON SCENESTR

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I am in my current second year as a freelance writer with Scenestr magazine and starting to enjoy a second ride on some wonderful Merry-Go-Rounds. This is true of the Wonderland Festival which a year ago I was completely unaware of. A heady mix of cabaret, music, comedy and burlesque acts from around the country all performing for two weeks at the Brisbane Powerhouse (an old 1920s powerstation, closed in 1971 and renovated and re-purposed in 2000 as a cultural hub). Last year I considered myself very lucky to cover five acts for Scenestr who were just tremendous – Randy Writes A Novel, Wasteland, Love/Hate ActuallyNath Valvo and Heroism and Sidekickery. I also went and saw There’s Something About Mary(s) after interviewing star Cassie George for Scenestr. This year in another stroke of luck I get to cover five shows again which I really don’t take for granted. I’m really looking forward to Two Man Tarantino and going to see Love/Hate Actually again with my friends.

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Outside the Graffiti Room. Copyright Lloyd Marken.

On opening night though of Wonderland 2018 I went to see Larry’s Odyssey, a brave type of performance with lots of audience interaction. The performance was in the Graffitti Room, a space I hadn’t attended before and proved perfect for this show. You can read my review here http://scenestr.com.au/arts/larry-s-odyssey-brisbane-review-wonderland-festival-2018-20181123

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Produced by Eyeball Media Enterprises Scenestr is an online national magazine with local offices around Australia. Celebrating 25 years in 2018 of publishing history 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, Queensland and now Victoria! every month too.

-Lloyd Marken

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KISS OF THE VAMPIRE SQUID REVIEW AVAILABLE ON SCENESTR

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The Anywhere Theatre Festival is currently running throughout my hometown of Brisbane. Act/React Theatre were doing their new show Kiss of the Vampire Squid as part of it at the Queensland Maritime Museum onboard HMAS Diamantina. HMAS Diamantina was the last World War II era ship to leave RAN service in 1980. The quarterdeck where the show was performed is where high ranking Japanese officers took part in surrender ceremonies of islands in the Pacific. This was such a unique setting for a venue from a group of performers I respect so much that I was really hoping I would get a chance to see the show.

I was even luckier than that, I got a chance to review it for Scenestr magazine attending the night of the final performance. I have seen shows from Act/React before including Love/Hate Actually and earlier this year one of the Convince Me comedy debates. I have also attended two shows by ImproMafia who share a lot of their same talent. In fact Kiss of the Vampire Squid was more similar to the comedy improv performances of Lord of the Thrones and Animated! from ImproMafia than say the thoughtfully prepared brilliance of Love/Hate Actually.

However you define it though, the show was excellent and Karen and I really enjoyed ourselves. You can read more of my thoughts here  http://scenestr.com.au/arts/kiss-of-the-vampire-squid-brisbane-review-anywhere-theatre-festival-20180521

I don’t want to belabour the point, some performances are better than others when it comes to improv but I really do marvel at what these people do and how well they consistently pull it off. To have them part of the Brisbane cultural scene means a lot and they travel too so keep your eye out for them appearing in your neck of the woods.

Produced by Eyeball Media Enterprises Scenestr is an online national magazine with local offices around Australia. Celebrating 25 years in 2018 of publishing history they’ve excelled at moving into the digital realm but they remain at heart from the streets. They still publish magazines in print for Perth, Adelaide, Sydney and Brisbane every month. If you’re into music they’re a great read but they do cover all of the arts including festivals, stand-up comics, fashion, theatre and film. I feel very fortunate to get to write for them.

-Lloyd Marken

‘ANIMATED!’ BY IMPROMAFIA REVIEW AVAILABLE ON SCENESTR

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Impromafia have to be one of the hottest tickets in town when they come up with a new show. An Improv Comedy Sketch Troupe they’re now firmly established in my hometown and still touring around the country and competing in International Comedy Sketch competitions. I was lucky enough to review their latest show Animated! at the Brisbane Comedy Festival for Scenestr Magazine. I had previously seen them last year at the Metro Arts Theatre with their Game of Thrones parody Lord of the Thrones. Some members have also formed Act/React Theatre Group whom I saw perform Love/Hate Actually at the Wonderland Festival in December. In fact some of the performers were different this time but just as good. You can read my review here http://scenestr.com.au/comedy/animated-an-improvised-musical-fairytale-review-brisbane-comedy-festival-2018-20180316 I believe Metro Arts is a better venue for sketch comedy than the Brisbane City Hall and a Saturday night a better time but these guy and gals never fail to put on a first rate show that makes you laugh. All the more impressive for the fact that they come up with the entire thing on the night and no performance is ever the same. I look forward to their next show.

Produced by Eyeball Media Enterprises Scenestr. is an online national magazine with local offices around Australia. Celebrating 25 years in 2018 of publishing history they’ve excelled at moving into the digital realm but they remain at heart from the streets. They still publish magazines in print for Perth, Adelaide, Sydney and Brisbane every month. If you’re into music they’re a great read but they do cover all of the arts including festivals, stand-up comics, fashion, theatre and film. I feel very fortunate to get to write for them.

-Lloyd Marken

ALEX WILLIAMSON, NATH VALVO AND HEROISM AND SIDEKICKERY REVIEWS AVAILABLE ON SCENESTR

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The second and final weekend of the Wonderland Festival was a rollercoaster ride of up and downs. Having seen Love/Hate Actually on Thursday night I set off to attend a concert by stand-up comedian Alex Williamson at the Old Museum before returning to Wonderland for the rest of the weekend.

I love going to see stand-ups, in fact a lot of the shows I saw at Wonderland were comedies or comedian shows. The Old Museum in Brisbane is not far from where I used to work as hospital wardsman many years ago. I’ve been there over the years when they had the French Festival there, to see my sister in law perform as a member of Queensland Wind and Brass, it is the home of the Queensland Symphony Orchestra. There were no elderly volunteers serving homemade scones with tea this night though. Karen and I approached two young women at the canteen who told us no food was available but would we like a drink. No peanuts, no chips, nothing, nada. They kindly told me where the nearest eating venue was and we ended up getting some nice truffle chips before racing back to the venue.

We found a good spot with twenty minutes to go until the allotted time of 7:30pm. I whispered to Karen that the show would most likely start at 7:45pm. As time went on I began to notice most of the audience was younger than us and Karen did not approve of all the baseball caps being worn indoors. I’ve never really cared for that absurd protocol and enjoyed the lively atmosphere of people kicking back after a hard week at work ready to laugh. A few dared each other to race out and grab another drink having already finished the one they had by 7:35pm. Sure enough the show kicked off at 7:45pm and within a minute Karen had gone stone faced. I leaned in and told her I had to stay to review the show but if she wanted to leave -she could but she didn’t.

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I was faced with a conundrum, this was the first time I had really seen a show for Scenestr and not enjoyed it. I wanted to express that but I also wanted to be fair to the comedian who had allowed us to attend his show to give an honest and fair review. Alex Williamson is extremely popular, engages with his fan base, commands attention on stage and give his all. Most of his comedy for me though lacked depth and rarely made me laugh. You can read more of my thoughts here http://scenestr.com.au/comedy/alex-williamson-brisbane-review-the-old-museum-20171206 I actually believe Williamson is very talented and could mature into a comedian who makes me laugh one day.

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Which brings us to Nath Valvo, a stand-up we saw at Wonderland Festival the next night. Like the puppet Randy the week before I laughed quite a lot through Nath’s routine. Valvo’s audience was full of people of all different ages, backgrounds, etc. We all laughed together in recognition of so many truths that felt familiar to all of us. Of course the key was wit, timing, delivery, pacing not just insight. Comedy is a tricky thing to review, repeat some of the jokes and you’ll spoilt them with your delivery and lack of context, over analyse too much and anything ceases to be funny. Its hard to explain what is funny but you know it because people laugh and if it isn’t funny they don’t. To that end wasn’t Alex Williamson just as funny then. Well not to me and therein lies the rub. Given I saw them one night after the other and had such different reactions it was fascinating to compare the two but in the end that’s just coincidence. I found Nath Valvo really funny and you can read more of my thoughts here http://scenestr.com.au/comedy/nath-valvo-brisbane-review-wonderland-festival-20171204

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The next day we saw Nath again on a sunday afternoon before going to see the final show I was to attend at WonderlandA Modern Guide to Heroism and Sidekickery. Conceived and performed by Michelle Zahner with some help from the audience it was a humble intimate piece that poked fun at comic book tropes while delivering a heartfelt message of the little ways we can be heroic in our own lives. I’m curious to see how the show could expand without spoiling what makes it so special. Zahner has such a likeable engaging stage presence that I think no matter what the piece will remain charming and smart. You can read more of my thoughts here http://scenestr.com.au/arts/the-modern-guide-to-heroism-and-sidekickery-brisbane-review-wonderland-festival-20171205

I felt really lucky to attend all the shows I got to see and review and/or review at Wonderland and hope to get more opportunities in the future.

Produced by Eyeball Media Enterprises Scenestr. is an online national magazine with local offices around Australia. With over twenty years of publishing history they’ve excelled at moving into the digital realm but they remain at heart from the streets. They still publish magazines in print for Perth, Adelaide, Sydney and Brisbane every month. If you’re into music they’re a great read but they do cover all of the arts including festivals, stand-up comics, fashion, theatre and film. I feel very fortunate to get to write for them.

-Lloyd Marken

LOVE/HATE ACTUALLY REVIEW AVAILABLE ON SCENESTR

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My attendance at Wonderland Festival continued last Thursday evening where I was fortunate enough to attend Love/Hate Actually put on by the Act/React theatre group. The show starred two friends arguing the merits of the classic Richard Curtis film Love Actually which has become a perennial Christmas tradition. Something I couldn’t see in 2003 but completely makes sense in hindsight. It’s a film that is relatively light, moves fast, has a lot going on and a stellar cast. As long time readers may know, I’m a huge fan of Richard Curtis, the first post made on this blog was about his film About Time. So it was impressive to find that a critical dissection of the film had a wealth of good points to be made. You can read my review here http://scenestr.com.au/arts/love-hate-actually-brisbane-review-wonderland-festival-20171201

The two stars Amy and Natalie are also fixtures in the group ImproMafia whom do Improvised Comedy Sketches. I was fortunate enough to review a show of theirs’ earlier in the year lampooning Games of Thrones, called Lord of the Thrones at Metro Arts. I attended Love/Hate Actually with an old friend and afterwards we went out for chips and a drink post-show. As I relayed this information to her and how great ImproMafia was I came to notice that the group seated at a table behind her were ImproMafia. As we got up to leave the two stars of Love/Hate Actually arrived to celebrate with their friends a successful opening night.

Lord of the Thrones featured the danger and joy of live improvised performing. Love/Hate Actually was a more meticulously constructed performance that still feed off the energy of the crowd. I found it funny and whip-smart and enjoyed every second. Not for the first time did it occur to me what incredibly talented people work in the arts around my city and maybe not always with it being their primary job. I am so grateful for such people.

Produced by Eyeball Media Enterprises Scenestr. is an online national magazine with local offices around Australia. With over twenty years of publishing history they’ve excelled at moving into the digital realm but they remain at heart from the streets. They still publish magazines in print for Perth, Adelaide, Sydney and Brisbane every month. If you’re into music they’re a great read but they do cover all of the arts including festivals, stand-up comics, fashion, theatre and film. I feel very fortunate to get to write for them.

-Lloyd Marken