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Tag Archives: Raoul Craemer

Scandalous Boy

scandalous boyScandalous Boy is a brave piece of work with the ostensible objective of realigning western perspectives on homosexual love. It makes its point very clearly, and possibly succeeds as a polemic, but largely fails to deliver the pathos I yearn for from the stage.

It is principally the true story of the love between the emperor Hadrian, and Antinous, his Greek eromenos, but it is framed in a twenty-first century setting with the statue of Antinous coming to life in modern Australia to tell his story. He wants to assert for us that he is not the “shameless and scandalous boy” Christian historians have claimed he was, and assert the appropriateness of his choices and actions in a pre-Christian Roman Empire. He punctuates this by comparing modern and ancient attitudes to public nudity, but kindly dons a pair of sequined hotpants to relieve our discomfort.

Yes, it’s one of those history plays. Set in ancient Rome, but using the language of modern Australia, replete with references to Hollywood’s Golden Age and punctuated with the homo-pop vocals of Kylie Minogue and the like. Had I realised it was one of those, I may well have opted for Supa‘s production of La Cage aux Folles for my Golden Drink Voucher expenditure this week, but that’s just the way the marble crumbles I guess. It nonetheless delivers a striking story that is valuable for a modern audience and finely pointed as a polemic for an Australian government struggling to follow its people’s leadership.

David Atfield’s script unfortunately doesn’t deliver the emotional punch necessary to make this story fully relatable. The dialogue feels forced and its distinctive modern vernacular doesn’t help as much as I think Atfield hoped it would.

But I think the greatest fault lies in the narration. It leaves no space whatsoever for subtext. Every thought, every motivation, every thing the characters don’t say, is described to us, rather than shown to us. There is simply no space for intuition, and this, mounted so firmly in an Australian context, makes the play feel just too preachy.

Surprisingly, though, this doesn’t completely ruin the play. The characters retain some capacity for engagement and I really did care what happened to them, I just wanted to care more. I wanted to feel their pain rather than merely being aware of it.

Had Atfield followed the Golden Rule and shown us, rather than told us, I think perhaps this would be a very moving play that could, perhaps, just change a mind or two. As it is, it is simply affirming of the LGBTIQ polemic in an Australia that still discriminates between loves.

The character of the audience left no doubt in my mind that, on the night I went at least, Atfield was preaching to the choir (if you’ll pardon the Christian metaphor). The audience, well over 90% male, seemed to hurl itself outside at interval so they could all suck back a cancer stick; I have never seen The Street Theatre’s foyer so empty during interval with a full house! And on their return one of them was kind enough to call out “okay, quiet now” for us as the lights dimmed, because apparently none of us knew what that meant.

The unfortunate reality is that too much of the audience was probably attracted by the promise of the naked Ethan Gibson, and while they may be encouraged by this polemic to fight for the rights of the LGBTIQ community, I just think that the story deserves a more diverse audience than this is likely to attract.

Regardless of my misgivings, I am grateful to David Atfield, his cast and the creatives behind this brave production for staging it. Antinous’s story is one that should be told more often.

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What the critics are saying:

 
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Posted by on Friday, 21 November 2014 in Canberra Theatre, Street 1, The Street Theatre, Theatre

 

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Vale Naoné Carrel

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Naoné Carrel and Elaine Noon in Calendar Girls, along with that amazing smile

My Facebook feed is awash this morning with tributes to the very deserving Naoné Carrel. I didn’t have the pleasure of knowing her as well as most of these friends did, but hers has been one of the faces that I have associated most closely with great nights in foyers and great moments in auditoria.

I met Naoné when she was President of Canberra Rep, and I had turned up early to a meeting of the Network of Amateur Theatre Organisations feeling rather like a very small fish in a very big pond. Her face beamed as she welcomed me and suddenly I felt like the pond was much smaller.

I had seen her on stage, of course, much earlier than that. I first saw her last century in The Dresser. And also while I was an undergrad I recall being enthralled with her performance in Death of a Salesman at the ANU Arts Centre.

The theatre community here is the richer for having had not only a performer of her calibre, but also an individual whose smile would light up the room. She will be missed.

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Naoné Carrel and Raoul Craemer in a promo shot from To Silence

For the big picture, here’s a sampling of reviews of Naoné’s shows:

 

 
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Posted by on Friday, 7 March 2014 in Canberra Theatre

 

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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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