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Review: Godot: The Wait is Over

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As the title suggests, Godot: The Wait is Over is an ambitious sequel 65 years after Beckett’s inimitable Waiting for Godot. In light of this, the play tries to do the impossible: adding to, and remaking, the absurdist masterpiece. Playwright Ian Robinson’s script is obviously a love letter; as much is said in the program. But it also stands on its own two legs as a rich dramatic work.

As soon as the lights go up (as the La Mama courthouse theatre doesn’t have a curtain), it’s clear the play will not attempt to revolutionise Gogo (Cherian Jacob) and Didi’s (Ezekiel Day) tale – a smart move. The Beckettian hallmarks are all present: the minimalist, sparse set; the fractured, confounding linguistic flourish; and the destitute Gogo and Didi, who wait patiently for Godot anew. Except this time, Godot comes.

Didi and Gogo. Photo by Madhulika Basu.

Godot’s appearance is one of the most anticipated arrivals in all of theatre. In Waiting for Godot, like God himself, Godot is never to be seen. Though Godot (Rebecca Morton) materialises here, one cannot help but feel letdown. Where Beckett postulated that God is an elusive, likely non-existent figure, Robinson posits that God isn’t the benevolent figure He is purported to be. Or perhaps it is something different, that God has been replaced by the all-consuming relationship we have to technology; oppressing us and stultifying our humanness. Godot struts imperiously across the stage, ordering and controlling Gogo and Didi’s behaviour. They pathetically obey his every command. When Godot says stand, they stand. When Godot says sit, they sit.

As with all of theatre, absurdist productions depend especially on good performances, for timing, communication of ideas, and chemistry can define the quality of a play. Ezekiel Day, and Cherian Jacob are excellent as Didi and Gogo respectively. Their contrasting approach to the characters – Day is dim-witted, foolish, and Jacob unanchored and hysterical – produces a dramatic dynamism that is hard to come by in Melbourne theatre. Their performances are probably the thing that’ll remain with you once the play has concluded. Rebecca Morton and Suhasini Seelin both deliver versatile performances in multi-character roles, haphazardly appearing across the course of the play. Morton’s performance as Godot, is particularly assured, and it seems she takes great pleasure in playing Godot as maliciously authoritarian.

Certainly, the title Godot: The Wait is Over might be a modicum melodramatic. It is fair to say there hasn’t been a frenzied anticipation for a sequel to Beckett’s original. The whole idea of Waiting for Godot was that the wait would never conclude. Robinson has contrarily decided that the wait must end, and from which a tight, fascinating play has been born.

Godot: The Wait is Over is at the La Mama Theatre until September 17.

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Anime, taikos and Werner Herzog with Black Cab

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For as long as Black Cab have been creating music, the Melbourne electronic outfit have routinely modified their sound. Speaking to one-third of the band, Andrew Coates iterates that their latest album 明 (Akira) is not merely an ode to the 1988 anime classic but really the creation of a score to “some movie that possibly doesn’t exist”.

Perhaps, that is fitting given the minimal feel Coates et al. have engineered for this album. Their latest release was borne out of a project the band undertook to perform an original live score to Akira (1988) with ‘Hear My Eyes’ back in January at The Astor Theatre. Performance partner Toshi Sakamoto, who Coates cheers as “the bee’s knees of taiko drumming in Melbourne” will be performing with Black Cab at their upcoming Howler show in Brunswick. Sakamoto was a central figure in guiding the sound of the project. His traditional Japanese drumming is at the core of Cab’s latest offering and they were quick to “use program taikos, and loops and other bits and pieces to get that wall of taiko drums”.

Listening to the album, the idea of this wall is almost too modest a description. The sound is imposing and foreboding as a militaristic threat; the taikos are an aural assault and are crucial in evoking the state that pervades Katsuhiro Otomo’s film. Yet, indulging in, or exploring, new sounds and avenues is hardly novel for the Melbourne stalwarts. Coates muses that “a few years ago we supported Tangerine Dream at the Melbourne Town Hall and James [Lee] played Cab tracks on the grand organ”. Their ability, and desire, to create new sounds is clearly discernible looking over their discography. Yet, unifying themes are evident. When pressed on the similarities of evoking dark, totalitarian regimes as Cab did on 2009’s Call Signs which took inspiration from Stasi controlled East Germany, a conscious effort had not been made on 明. Coates states, however, “that those are certainly themes that I’m interested in and we will probably return back to”. Noting that “there’s probably a dystopian theme that runs through all our work because we can’t really do happy, shiny pop [as] it’s not really in our DNA”. In spite of this “the next Cab album we’re working on is quite upbeat,” he says “but no matter what we do whether we are trying to make a pop song it usually ends up being quite dark and miserable”.

Perhaps, this reinvention is what keeps their hometown crowd so interested. “We have a very loyal following in Melbourne and it’s interesting because we will probably perform to a hundred-odd people in Sydney, or one-fifty if we’re lucky but we’ll probably come close to selling out Howler”. Coates credits their fans’ loyalty because “we try to do interesting things, we don’t just do the same thing again and again”. Yet, despite the love from Melbourne audiences, Coates does resign to the fact that performing for so long has naturally evolved their sound so “the people who loved us ten years ago are now seeing a very different band” and “some of the hairy rock guys might’ve fallen off but we’ve attracted a bunch of people who like to dance to dark music”.

With , Cab have created their own take on the sci-fi, anime genre. Joking that “secretly we’re hoping someone from Hollywood makes us an offer we can’t refuse” Coates is also quick to note “it’s not like we were trying to improve on something that wasn’t already good”. Comparing the two efforts, Cab’s interpretation of the film does not read as a copy, or really even a reimagining of Geinoh Yamashirogumi’s original score. Where the 1988 soundtrack had intentionally grand, cinematic moments like ‘Kaneda’ with heavy tribal influences that ferociously palpitate, Cab’s take is reverently understated in comparison. In constructing the music to the film Coates states “we basically didn’t listen to [the original soundtrack], and certainly didn’t sample it” and that “everything was simply constructed from scratch”.

Yet, it’s hard not to ponder the influences at work on. The sound does not strictly resign itself to the anime genre, instead elements of a diverse array of films are present. Credited as referencing the soundtracks of other iconic anime works such as Ghost in the Shell (1995), Coates notes his inspirations as rather wide-ranging owing to “minimal electronic scores like Apocalypse Now!, Blade Runner, the [Jean-Michel] Jarre stuff from any number of movies where you’ve got those kinds of very simple electronic lead lines”. Interestingly, he pays homage to “an amazing electronic soundtrack from a band called Popul Vuh”, who scored Werner Herzog’s 1972 film Aguirre, the Wrath of God, which he lavishes as “an unbelievable movie but a really incredible soundtrack”.

Despite leading to the creation of their next album, Coates states that the ‘Hear My Eyes’ project, which has also seen Melbourne duo GL score Xavier Dolan’s Heartbeats (2010), “was actually a nightmare”. Strict timing constraints, synchronicity and periods of silence where the dialogue would run “was quite awkward and frankly we’re quite glad we’re never going to do it again”. With an upcoming string of shows in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane Coates is looking forward to getting back to “the usual Cab thing”. This time around “where people can go see some dark electronic music with some crazy Japanese drums”.

 

is out now and tickets are available online for their Howler show on Friday 18th August.

 

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Culture

Review: Dunkirk

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Christopher Nolan, the writer & director of some of the most inventive blockbusters, has reproduced that same success with Dunkirk.
Culture

Why the Must Cabaret Festival 2017 is Unmissable

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What is Cabaret? If you were to punch that question into Google you might get some generic result such as, ‘a form of entertainment featuring song and dance set in a distinguishable performance venue’, yet this would not do the theatrical genre justice. To try and define cabaret is like trying to figure out what the hell ‘Grease’ means. In many ways, it’s similar, it might not be the word, but one could easily say that “Cabaret is the time, is the place, is the motion. Cabaret is the way we are feeling.”

 

Speaking to the curators of this years Monash Uni Student Theatre run Cabaret Festival, Lucy Rosenblum and Kathryn Yates, they agreed with this sentiment. Not only did they want to put the spotlight on a variety of up and coming performers, but they also wanted the two-week showcase to reflect our own Monash ethos in the way only student theatre could.

 

A celebration of student perspective, talent and all forms of cabaret, the festival takes place over the next two weeks from the 1st to the 12th of August, and no two nights are the same. Each dazzling evening will offer up a differing array of talented, dynamic and innovative performers premiering their new songs, dances, sketches and even original musicals. One can see many of these mediums on the stage in as few nights as possible due to the curated nature of the festival. Improving the quality of each night, the work of Yates and Rosenblum also constructs a platform for younger performers to refine their craft and take another step towards a larger spotlight.

 

Some of the performers include, the Monash Jazz Orchestra, Melbourne Comedy Festival veterans Tara Dowler, from Pink Flappy Bits, and Patrick Sargant Collins, with Channel 10’s The Project writer Michael Shafar and internationally renowned juggler Joe Fisher. There are also over 30 other different performers to catch over the two week extravaganza, all offering a variety of exceptional music, magic, theatre, dance, drag, burlesque, comedy and other such delights.

 

The not to be missed event is set within the dazzling, playful atmosphere of the MUST Cabaret Club (in the MUST space, located on the bottom floor of the Campus Centre), featuring a well stocked bar, comfortable table seating and cheap cocktails to fuel the festive spirit. With doors opening and pre-show entertainment starting at 6:30pm and the performance commencing soon after at 7, the MUST Cabaret Festival is a late night treat to be experienced by the well-versed thespian and the casual pedestrian alike.

 

Tickets are available at:

MUST: Cabaret Festival

 

Prices:
$12 – MSA
$14 – Concession
$18 – Full

Enquiries via MUST: 9905 8173

 

 

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