Reviews

Review: Wide Open by Amy Bodossian

The ‘aperture’ of an ‘OCDiva’s’ ’appetite’ by Hamish Danks Brown

“Beauty beheld in solitude is even more lethal.” Witold Gombrowicz, Ferdydurke

(Poland/Argentina/France 1904-69)

In mid-December 2016, Amy Bodossian launched her debut collection wide open in the standing room confines of Ferdydurke, a venue located above Tattersalls Lane in the CBD.

It’s a slim ninety-page volume containing two dozen poems, plus illustrations by an Adelaide-born cabaret performer who usurps any stage with such panache escalating to frenzy that I’ve christened her ‘OCDiva’!

The poems hone in on personal matters: the author’s body, mind and soul; the whenever, wherever, with whoever that all comes with outbreaks of love and influxes of sex. This book is not for the prurient and prudish among us. It is intended for a ‘wide open’ readership in print and for a like-minded audience with similar gaping predilections shown when the ‘OCDiva’ herself is on stage.

The overriding theme of this book is that adults are overgrown kids dealing with the alternative facts and fantasies of love lives  and that none of us are getting any younger though we can tweak time and play depending on whose place we’re at, through the detouring routes of our boudoir behaviour patterns.

This collection goes full-cycle from a juvenile tryst in ‘Remember that Sunday Afternoon’, to a reflective ‘Reprise’ via a poetic cycle of remembered episodes and personal encounters such as ‘First Date’, ‘Coat Hanger Eyes’, ‘Summer Love’, ‘Phone Sex’ and ‘Over’:

I’m not into dominating / but I do like masturbating / over the thought of you telling me things / you’d never tell anyone else, / how you say you’d like to be punished / which I’m not really into, but I do get wet / over your wounded, he

Review: Hey Moon! by Lady Longdrop

Love, loss, and loneliness all pop up in Kendra Keller’s (aka Lady Longdrop) lively and tender first collection of poems Hey Moon! Lady Longdrop demands a conversation that leads us away from an elusive state. With an active, empowered voice, she uses the moon the way many of us use it – to connect to the hidden self from, the self that is terrified of being seen. Poetry to her is a form of meditation.

In the section ‘Moon Poems’, she takes the reader out to see the moon, and in the poem, ‘Full-of-it’ lies a powerfully vulnerable question that requires sight:

Great fat moon

Why do you look at me and ask

Whether I am as fully human as you are fully stone

What would it take for many of us to articulate the pain our mothers and fathers caused us? To articulate back, to them, their state, and ours, through a question? Lady Longdrop insists that we rest before this journey – to connect with our larger selves.

What would it feel like if we took our problems to the moon, then feasted on her light as the narrator of the book does? Would we perceive love in ways suggested in ‘Love Is’?

A silence

A forgotten dream

Would we then dig deeper into our memories, and say:

Love is some clothes I threw out cos they didn’t fit anymore

Love is some papers

Dusty with nostalgia

That I had to burn

Where would we go? The ocean?

If we are to find ourselves, to find where we belong, we must find the things that truly know themselves. In her poem ‘As Though it is OK’, Lady Longdrop poetically displays the human demise when we compare ourselves to others without the knowledge of our capacity to transcend our conditions.

Clouds

You hang there

As though it is ok

As though there are humans who can cope with your perfect

mirroring of yourself

Lady Longdrop consistently draws attention to the possibility of opening up

Review: Scott Wings' Whiplash

When experiencing a Scott Wings performance, whether it’s a one-off piece on an open mic or a full-blown show, you’re guaranteed two things: playful language, and playful use of the body. It’s all bound up together. Whiplash, Wings’ latest show, now on at The Butterfly Club provides all of that, and more.

We can’t say exactly define what ‘that more’ is because like many of his shows, his improvisation ensures that each show is unique. This show’s latest iteration, with one more performance tonight, at an iconic performance venue, indicates that it’s ready for a broader audience, as well as continuing to have artists there too.

I’ve had the pleasure of seeing it at various stages of its development – from parts being performed at Wings’ ‘Passionate Tongues’ feature, to a preview in his lounge room/performance venue, Cathaus. The changes made and charting its development is part of the joy, as an audience member, and also the closest analogue a live performance gets to having a ‘director’s cut’, albeit one that appears before the ‘final’ cut. Like a true follower of Scotty’s work, I find myself mentioning to a few people afterwards that I got to see earlier versions of the show, which I admit, feels like the kind of brag you’d expect from The Simpsons comic book guy character.

Whiplash continues to explore themes of mental health that he’s touched on in his previous shows and work (Icarus Falling, Colossi) and touches on some particulars of his own life that connects with other artists facing similar, envisioned struggles. To parallel the way the show is produced, the physicality of the body is used as a central motif to navigate travel to his physical heart, and what we understand ‘hearts’ do, on an emotional level.

His narrative mixes and blends several elements – at times, there is stark poetic imagery, mixed with dynamic bodily movement to music, neither fully theatrical nor d

One-man spoken word or theatre? Black T-Shirt Collection

Is the one-man show an example of theatre or spoken word? Is it both? Does the question even matter? Even if it doesn’t matter, I always find myself asking these perhaps insular questions, like last night when poet Inua Ellams opened Black T-Shirt Collection at The Arts Centre Melbourne. He essentially tells a story of two Nigerian brothers who set up an international designer t-shirt business, and the complications with leaving their home. Themes of identity and sexuality shine through. The story is compelling enough, the delivery provokes something more in the audience.

He is a lone actor (or poet) on stage. Minimal set. One box he sometimes holds or moves around, and a subtle soundscape with intermittent sound effects. The most haunting sounds are what you think is a predatory bird flapping its wings.

But the rhythm and cadence of his voice make me think he’s essentially performing one very long narrative poem. It’s a testament to his delivery that he can hold our attention for that long, the important details sticking in. All the important details are in his words, in his speaking, never fully acted out on stage, except for a couple of mimed actions. There are singular lines that stand as poetic. I found myself reacting those, but I couldn’t click in a theatre! I suppose those lines shine through in all kinds of writing, be it poetry, prose, theatre, even film. If I closed my eyes for the whole show, would I still understand it all? I suspect I would’ve without discounting the effectiveness of his minor movements.

Is that the difference between theatre and poetry? Theatre tries to recreate the physical sides of the story, the dialogue augmenting it and part of that recreation whereas the poet uses words and images to describe something somewhere else.

The show, the poetry, his delivery is all effective, evokes an investment in the characters over that hour or hour and a half.

I’ve seen sho

Review: Roshelle Fong's Virtual Reality Show

When I think of going to a spoken word event, what usually pops to mind is a mic, a voice, and some floral poetic language. This usually culminates in either an inspiring and uplifting call to action or a realisation of how insignificant human life really is at times. I also often imagine low lights, generally a spot, and a single, mystical looking figure dressed in black speaking at me (usually at me, sometimes to me, depending on the poet I guess). 

What I don’t imagine, is VR headsets, partial nudity and witnessing the uncomfortable yet strangely sexual act of someone forcibly deep throating a print out of the entirety of the Wikipedia on China. Welcome to Roshelle Fong. I have seen this woman perform three times now and each time has left me with a strange and yet wonderful feeling that all is somehow complete fucked and simultaneously perfect in this world. Roshelle’s performance for Girls on Key was no different. 

When I first arrived, I was disappointed to notice there was a cinema/bar happening in the room next door and we were squished into a tiny back room, enhancing my feelings that spoken word is often not given the stage it deserves in society. However, in honesty (and to the dismay of my ever eager critic), the sound didn’t overlap and the intimacy of that tiny room only worked to enhance the disturbing and yet alluring sensations I was about to experience.

Before Roshelle, Carmen Main shared a piece she had originally prepared for the Biscuits series set up by Ruckus. It set the tone up well with features such as the use of voice-over and props, in some way preparing us for what was to come. Carmen had mentioned it was something very different for her to try and I truly commend and respect her for stepping up and pushing boundaries into the world of performance art, and hope she continues to play with it further. 

After a break, we were back for Roshelle’s set. Something Roshelle does absolutely as

Review: Koraly's I say the wrong things all the time

Cyprus, that island in the eastern Mediterranean about which most of us know nothing. No time or space for a history lesson now. It’s complicated and stretches back several millennia with multiple invasions, occupations and division, the latest being between the Greek-Cypriots and Turkish-Cypriots after the British cleared out in the mid-C20th.

Yet many of us do know something of Aphrodite and Adonis and Pygmalion from ancient Greek mythology, and they are all purported to have been born on Cyprus.

Koraly Dimitriadis is a Melbourne-based performer and writer from the Greek-Cypriot immigrant community who has written and devised a challenging and often confronting show based on the experiences and predicaments of her own life so far.

She is an artist and a woman who has been driven to break out of the ‘good Greek girl’ stereotype of being a homebound wife and mother. It is this painful, singular and turbulent journey to express her real life passions, and to establish her creative credentials, that forms the basis of this self-revelatory production.

Koraly Dimitriadis offers up her all, her heart, mind, body, soul, faith and family history during an 80-minute procession of scenes that expose the raw reality of opting to make a new life for oneself. This is a moving and particularly personal performance which exerts a demand for empathetic attention to be shared between the performer and the audience.

This show succeeds because it doesn’t set out to answer the wider question that it poses to which we can all relate, put simply ‘What is my life all about?” How often does any of us get to really ask such a question of ourselves?

Koraly Dimitriadis deftly switches scenes that portray the overlapping and often clashing roles in her life as a daughter, grand-daughter, mother, divorcee, lover, writer and, above all, as a woman determined to rise above the confines of her background. In each of