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Tabu

tabuSo now I’ve seen two films in a row that have mucked around with conventional plot structures and I’m starting to wonder if it’s something to do with me! Am I a little too conventional? Or should I just pull my head in and remember that a sequence of two maketh not a pattern.

Tabu is the heart-warming story of a woman born in Portuguese Africa before a struggle for independence, but it begins by introducing her in her declining years. As the film began, in its rather confusing state, and focused on this poor woman’s dementia, I wondered if it would meander as pointlessly as The Place Beyond the Pines. It didn’t. In fact, the story completely snuck up on me, and though the tension was built slowly, I found myself completely drawn into it. I had to know how this story would play out.

The characters were beautifully drawn, pawns in a political game over which they had neither any control nor any desire to exert control. It is set in modern Portugal and in the foothills of a fictitious Mount Tabu in an unidentified African colony. I could try to draw some significance by suggesting the location as Guinea-Bissau, since it is the only tropical candidate for a Portuguese African colony, but clearly the creators did not intend to make a direct correlation. The story concerns the lives of individuals in a colonial context, and though it centres on themes of colonialism, it is refreshing to engage from the perspective of the powerless colonists, rather than the powerless colonised.

Ana Moreira is particularly noteworthy, and she is supported by a strong cast. Henrique Espírito Santo gives the narration for a long part, and although it was not necessary to have narration and it felt occasionally forced, it did mark the film throughout and prevent us from getting too bogged down in the emotion. This is, after all, a film for provoking thought.

Themes of impotence are becoming somewhat de rigeur, perhaps, but there is something quite unique in the perspective of this film and it should be considered one of the better of them.

 
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Posted by on Friday, 24 May 2013 in Film, Portuguese Film

 

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Two Gentlemen of Verona and Kupenga Kwa Hamlet

Two GentsThe Street Theatre has brought to Canberra two of the cleverest interpreters of Shakespeare’s work who ever trotted the globe. Two Gents Productions hails from London, and are being hailed the world over for their intense physical rendering of The Two Gentlemen of Verona and Hamlet, which play in repertory this week at The Street Theatre.

For The Two Gentlemen of Verona the two performers, Denton Chikura and Tonderai Munyebvu, change between characters using the convention of a single costume piece to indicate each character. In the early stages they also call the name of the character as they take on this piece, and the custom is charming, and breaks down some of the nervousness about being able to follow such a pared down rendering…

The rest of this post is published on Australian Stage.

 
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Posted by on Wednesday, 20 March 2013 in British Theatre, Theatre, Two Gents Productions

 

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The Piano Diaries

I’m a sucker for an immigration story, and Joanna Weinberg’s latest offering, The Piano Diaries, starts with one, so I was engaged from the get go with both her story, and her intoxicating voice.

I know I commented on a recent post that I might not be a particular fan of cabaret, but this was marvellous. While The Piano Diaries doesn’t have a plot in the conventional sense, Weinberg’s autobiographical stories are wonderfully full of the froth and bubble of life, flowing from the joys of a child’s fascination with her parents’ happiness to the darkness of witnessing racial vilification. These stories, fragments of a life story, provide a backdrop for the seemingly-effortless grace with which Joanna engages her audience.

London-born Weinberg grew up in South Africa (yet another reason for my interest; stories of South Africa fascinate me) and much of the material for this show is inspired by her childhood and youth in South Africa, with much of the remainder relating to her migration experience in coming to Australia. The Winds of Fear explores this, with its humble reference to the South African migrant as the “privileged of the refugees”. The unique perspective of South African Australians on this topic is refreshing, and Weinberg’s stories really speak to the immense value of a diverse society.

Weinberg took joy in complimenting Tuggeranong, even likening its Town Centre to Florence, repeatedly! No compliment was received with anything less than a hearty laugh by Tuggeranongians, who apparently take much less delight in the simple beauties of a well laid-out urban entity. It is Weinberg’s simple delight in the varied experiences of her life that make this show so charming, though. It is wonderful to just hear stories gleaned from life experience that then translate so beautifully into song, and the articulation between story-telling and song is what makes this show really special.

If nothing else, I’m finally sold on cabaret.

 
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Posted by on Saturday, 30 June 2012 in Cabaret, Canberra Theatre, Theatre, Tuggeranong Arts Centre

 

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