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Tag Archives: Bruce Hoogendoorn

The Reluctant Shopper

reluctant shopperAn enthusiastic audience welcomed Bruce Hoogendoorn’s latest play to the Courtyard Theatre tonight. A simple but effective comedy, The Reluctant Shopper kept its audience engaged and the laughs rolling freely.

Faced with the grim news that consumers aren’t spending, the local business council engages the services of Barry to blackmail one of the city’s more wealthy citizens, Sam, to spend his ill-gotten but sizable nest egg in their members’ businesses. In the course of this task, Barry manages to set Sam up with shopaholic Lisa, and the two find they have complementary interests: Lisa likes spending money, and Sam has a lot of money…

The rest of this post is published on Australian Stage.

 

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Short+Sweet Canberra 2012 (Week 2)

Week 2 of the Short+Sweet Top 20 began in a very different fashion from the usual festival, with Joe Woodward sitting in a bath wearing a pair of angel’s wings and philosophising about the great question. It was a great start to a great evening of theatre, and I’ll admit I did get a little sentimental.

Short+Sweet really lends itself to great moments. The performance quality varies and the scripts are incredibly diverse, but even when the plays don’t live up to what you might hope for, there is often something that emerges statue-like from the stack. It puts me in mind of Patrick White’s metaphor of a squirming mass of eels from The Ham Funeral (if you haven’t read it, do yourself a favour).

Some moments are hilarious, and others are poignant, but in my mind they end up in a montage that makes me feel like I’ve witnessed a single, epic masterpiece. It’s those transcendent moments that make the trivial meaningful.

Ruth Pieloor’s caricature of the prime minister in For the Love of Their Country might have been the performance of the festival. Often I use the word caricature to denigrate sub-par performances, but Pieloor’s observance, emulation and emphasis of Julia Gillard’s mannerisms and very unique vocal qualities was identifiable, amusing and wonderfully distinct. It was caricature of the highest order, which is very difficult to achieve in live theatre.
I was similarly impressed by one of my former classmates from the ANU, Sam Hannan-Morrow, in The Brett I Haven’t Met. Simon Tolhurst could have directed his script in a very different way, with more direct action (as I understand it had been done in The Logues), but it would have lost the raw engagement with the audience that Hannon-Morrow was able to deliver.

There were a few moments, though, when I just wanted to get up and fix things. I loved Remy Coll and Sam Floyd’s concept for Insecurity Guard, and despite a couple of points where the dialogue didn’t quite carry the action, it has a pretty good script, but it really needed a director who wasn’t on stage. These two vey talented performers managed very well, but they needed that extra punch of clarity that an observing director provides.

There is no question that the final moment of the festival, the performance of Genevieve Kenneally’s Ah! was an inspired choice for that particular slot. The energy of Kiki Skountzos, Riley Bell and Elizabeth McRae was precisely what was needed at the end of such a varied night, but the highlight in my book was Smart Jimmy Slow Bob. Greg Gould’s great script was brilliantly delivered by a spectacular cast (Bradley Freeman as the unconscious boy was particularly impressive, I didn’t detect a breath!).

Everyone involved in this festival deserves a pat on the back, not just those I’ve tapped out some words about. Short+Sweet is a unique event in the annual calendar, and I hope it’s a permanent one. What impresses me is where the different people involved in the festival come from. Theatre folk whose paths don’t cross find themselves in the same dressing room for four nights in a row, and that can only be good for our theatre community. And of course with opportunities for those who prefer pure theatre to musical theatre dwindling, it is a particularly important event.

I have two scripts finished (at least to first draft stage) for the 2013 festival, and I hope the wonderful people who made this festival such a great success are around next year.

 

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The Clever Country

It is unusual, I think, to hear about a play inspired by a statistic. It is not encouraging, either. Nonetheless, Bruce Hoogendoorn‘s play, The Clever Country, currently playing at The Street Theatre, takes as its theme Australia’s falling science enrolments, and does so—perhaps surprisingly, considering its inspiration—with great humour and an intriguing plotline…

The rest of this post is published on Australian Stage.

 

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The Role Model

I was interested to see The Role Model not only because it was written by a fellow Canberran, but also because of the praise it had received from the great Edward Albee. It is usually a mistake to assume that you will enjoy something as much as you expect to when it gets such accolades. Who can live up to such expectations? The Role Model certainly didn’t.

That’s not to say it’s not a worthy production; it is a great story, deftly performed by a cohesive and talented cast. It’s just that the script didn’t deserve the praise I heard. Much of the dialogue is awkward, and it doesn’t help that the lead actor, Raoul Craemer, attempts to portray an elite Australian athlete without attempting an Australian accent. Don’t get me wrong, there were some fine and genuinely funny moments, but this talented cast were let down by often unconvincing dialogue, and a director who allowed them to pronounce every ‘T’ in the script, which lent the already awkward dialogue a foreign and unfamiliar tone, which is not conducive to comedic impact.

Overall, an entertaining show, but this story had the potential to move me to both laughter and tears, and it didn’t do either.

 

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