Thursday, February 19, 2004

Hello Purvis. Hello Richard, how was your day? Purvis, it was moderately fucked by ten.

Anni reviews Philip Dean's Zigzag Street, adapted from the novel by Nick Earls.

I can't help but feel a tad like an animated Nick Earls voice over in one of Brisbane Marketing's advertisements about the city's vibrant hotspots when I speak about the utter brilliance that is the La Boite Theatre Company's performance of Zigzag Street.

Hearing about the Australian-wide tour of the show from the official Nick Earls website in early January, I was quick to snap up a ticket for the second preview performance on Wednesday the 18th of February at the new (and very impressive) Roundhouse Theatre Complex.

The last time that I had been in the vicinity of Kelvin Grove's new (QUT) Creative Industries Precinct was in late October (when I was thrown into the desperate throngs of (almost) late assignment delivery...a disastrous tale which shall probably keep for another time). At this time, the new facilities were underdeveloped and I couldn't help but think to myself, where do they keep the giant triceratops crane during smokos? Yes, the new 'Urban Village'was nothing more than a few bits of metal and rock. I was starting to worry about what the New Year was to bring to my university days.

However, I was pleasantly surprised with what I saw yesterday. The new precinct is a very large, aesthetically pleasing array of buildings, which only add to the Queensland University of Technology's upbeat image revamp in the last few years. To those who attend the Kelvin Grove campus, it also appears that there are now more car stop creating pileups on various grassy knolls!

Situated in the heart of the precinct is the Roundhouse Theatre, the new home of La Boite, one of Australia's oldest and continually operating theatre companies. To celebrate the company's relocation from now heritage listed box-like house on Sexton Street, La Boite has commenced a complete season of new plays by Queensland resident writers.

Zigzag Street is the story of twenty-eight year old Richard Derrington, who is currently single and living in the house that his grandparent's built on Zigzag Street, in the Brisbane suburb of Red Hill.

Richard is more single then he'd like to be. More single that he expected to be. Since Anna trashed him six months ago he's been trying to get his life together, despite the fact that chaos reigns supreme.

In between receiving bad but well-meaning advice from his friend Jeff, taking the toaster apart to find out exactly what is giving the toast a slightly odd taste, and explaining his girlfriend's absence to the local Thai takeaway store, Richard's life takes a number of twists and turns as he ambles back on track.

Zigzag Street is a story about rumination, chaos, poor judgment, interpersonal clumsiness and Richard's discovery that hope isn't such an overly-optimistic emotion after all.

Dean's adaptation is impressive, as the plot remains true to Earl's critically acclaimed novel. Little of the original narrative is altered, with a clever use of combining events into character tete-a-tete and witty monologues by the loveable protagonist Richard, who is portrayed superbly by La Boite newcomer Mark Conaghan. Conaghan's performance starts as a slow and pitiful lament to single life, yet he manages to capture the audience's imaginations and heartstrings well before the second act. I will no doubt picture Mark Conaghan's Richard the next time that I am reading the novel.

Another performance of note would have to be the efforts of Yalin Ozucelik (who also appeared in Dean's adaptation of Earl's After January), who plays Jeff, Richard's mate and fellow gossiper over coffee. Ozucelik also plays Greg, the red-headed eccentric animal veterinarian who was loved by Richard's deceased grandmother (she named her temperamental cat after him). Ozucelik and Conaghan bounce off each other like a couple of mates who have known each other since they were knee high to a grasshopper.

Performances by Melissa McMahon (Rachel) and Cara McIlveen (Deb/Girl/Renee) are also impressive. McMahon hits the nail on the head for the characterisation of Rachel, a twenty-five year old artist who believes that the search for the perfect bagel never ends. McIlveen plays each character well and slips into each effortlessly with little more than a costume change. Caroline Dunphy (Hillary/Sal) could take a few notes whilst watching her co-star (McIlveen) work her magic.

Director Jean-Marc Russ delivers the goods with Zigzag Street and Bill Haycock (designer), David Walters (lighting designer) and Owen Jolly (sound designer) forcefully grab the audience and make them forget that they are watching actors on a flat floor surrounded by boxes and Tim Tam wrappers. I was especially impressed by the play's opening sequence, which I shall not spoil, because I think that everyone should see it for themselves.

Five stars out of five stars.

Friday, February 13, 2004

sleepy city

Images of the bits of Brisbane that don't match the shiny postmodern marketing at sleepy city: downside-054.jpg
Through the decaying doorframe or that unnoticed metal hole wait adventure and sights few will ever see. All it takes to step across into this parallel world is a torch and a curious spirit. No joining fees, no ridiculous contracts and nobody looking over your shoulder. You might be surprised how little of your city you have ever appreciated.

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

Valentines Day from Chicken Soup

Hello fellow BrisBloggers
I was tempted to write something funny for my very first entry here, but my humour is just really not that funny. So I have actually stolen completely (copyright comes with it) the following from a Chicken Soup email my wife sent me today. I don't know whether this is a hint or not - I being male am just as confused as the author. Is she saying (subliminally) that she wants a new blender (I know hers recently broke and has not yet been replaced) or is she saying don't you dare buy me a blender. Either way I will be wrong I am sure. Anyway now that you are completely confused I will post the story that will (hopefully) shed some light on this rambling prologue.
Enjoy the rain because it wont last; Brisbane - Beautiful one day perfect the next!

A Mistake I Will Not Repeat
By Michael Seale
Ah! Valentine's Day...a day for lovers, romance and flowers. A day for hearts, candy and jewelry, but apparently not a day for appliances.

I give up. I will never be able to figure out the unspoken language between men and women. And to think I got married two months ago secure in the knowledge that I had finally figured out how to play the game. I was wrong.

You see, I proudly presented to my new wife, on our very first Valentine's Day as young newlyweds, a food processor for her St. Valentine's Day gift. She gazed upon this appliance - one she had mentioned week after week that she desperately needed - and said, "Oh. A food processor."

I have always heard that when someone says what the gift is upon receiving it, it's not a good gift (i.e., "Oh. A Chia pet"). Did I mention that my wife has repeatedly said how much she wanted a food processor?

See, I am of the school of thought that says when I ask, "What's wrong?" and my wife answers, "Nothing," I assume nothing is wrong. And when my wife tells me she wants something, I want to get it for her. She wanted a food processor. She got it. So why did I have to sleep on the couch Wednesday night?

My coworkers laughed at me when I pleaded my case to them. I guess they all attended Gift-Giving 101. I must have missed that class. My boss asked me, and I quote, "Are you an idiot?" I suppose I am.

To make matters worse, my wife's coworkers scoffed at my gift, wondering why she would even consider marrying a heathen like me. How dare I? A food processor, indeed! I'm not a complete idiot. It's not like I gave her a lawn mower or a subscription to Sports Illustrated. I didn't even get her that certificate for a free oil change I was tempted to buy. I gave her what she wanted. And she didn't want it.

I was informed by a female friend of mine that the proper action to take was to buy my wife the food processor on Arbor Day or Flag Day or some random Monday. Never on Valentine's Day.

Another friend said gifts like mine conjure images of housework and stuff that has absolutely nothing to do with romance. What happened to "It's the thought that counts"?

I had no idea there were guidelines for which days to give what. The food processor, I am told, was not personal enough for Valentine's Day. How personal do I need to get? I'm not buying underwear, or anything else she would have to wear, for that matter. If you knew anything of my fashion acumen, you'd agree with me.

I was probably the only person in the world who knew she wanted a food processor. Everyone else got flowers and candy. She got a major appliance. That's pretty personalized, don't you think?

I think my gift blunder has less to do with outright stupidity on my part and more to do with a general communication breakdown between the sexes. I have recently discovered that "Watch whatever you want" does not include SportsCenter. I just learned that "Whatever you want to do" does not mean that I can play golf with my friends on Saturday afternoons. I used to think that females found the stereotypical male behaviors cute, even charming. You know, hanging my ties on the doorknob, never making my bed, cold pizza for breakfast, memorizing Caddyshack, cleaning out my refrigerator maybe once every time Neptune orbits the sun.

It's all so guy-ish and adorable.

I was wrong on all counts. And I obviously didn't know that "I really wish I had a food processor" meant "Don't you dare give me anything with a cord and a plug for Valentine's Day!" I know now. And I promise to spread the word to all males who are considering shopping at Sears or Home Depot for Valentine's gifts.

For now, I guess I'd better start thinking of a way to make this up to my wife. I should probably start by returning the sewing machine I was going to give her for her birthday next week.