IMAGE OF HEDONISM AFTER A GOOD NIGHT OUT
Reviews are interesting documents. Some theatre makers regard them as not worth reading, others hold them in good stead. I find them interesting in that they direct my reflective practice: what is it that the reviewer saw? What did they expect to see? What is it about the play that is challenging them?
I read reviews: as a performer I avoid them until the end of the season (Bill reads them for me). I do not like the practice of printing them out and sticking them on the noticeboard back stage. Thats all very well if it is a glowing review (though even then, one can slip into complacence, which is anathema to theatre), but if it is good for some and not for others it can create tension in the dressing room and can sometimes be taken onto the stage, which is not good.
As a record of what one is trying to do and how well it has been done, it is a worthwhile exercise to gather them and see what is similar and what is different. The one review that i do miss very much is my old friend and colleague, Doug Leonard’s review. He wrote for Real Time, and died a couple of years ago. His way of reflection was so lateral, so detailed, and allowed the artists who created the work to dig even deeper into what I call the “landscape of the hidden” (those things that are not in the dialogue but most certainly in the structure of the piece, the part of the play that I adore).
I have cut and pasted all the Hedonism reviews below, and have put them into Wordle, a fun program that analyses how many times a word has been spoken. The words that emerged from all of these reviews are viewable on this link:
title=”Wordle: Hedonism’s Second Album”>
alt=”Wordle: Hedonism’s Second Album”
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Words that stood out for me in the word cloud that seem to sum up the landscape of the production include: energy, enjoyable, entertaining, exciting, expectations, fun, emotional, group, humour, life, masculinity and personal.
FULL REVIEW OF HEDONISMS SECOND ALBUM IN CRIKEY:
Here’s another stunner from La Boite’s Indie season, which is again presenting some of the most exciting theatre in Brisbane. The budget is minimal, the venue tiny (the upstairs Loft theatre space seats fewer than 100 people), and cast and crew in all the shows are independents who wouldn’t have a forum anywhere else. This year we’ve already had Niz Jabour’s spell-binding Sufi story-telling in Mullah Nasrudin, and Richard Jordan’s Machina, with two new plays from award-winning playwright Sven Swenson coming up.
Over the years, many of the plays in the Indie seasons have gone on to perform in main-house theatres in Australia and overseas, thus fulfilling the stated aims of La Boite to nurture an independent theatre culture and new audiences in Brisbane.
The success of Hedonism begins with an obvious but topical idea –the disempowerment of young men in Western society. Whether this is due to the rise of feminism, the disintegration of family, the effects of the drug culture, or the imminent collapse of society as we know it doesn’t really matter — the point is that here are four members of an indie rock band from Brisbane who can no longer get it together.
Their first album was a huge success, and they’ve become rock stars with all the privileges and freedom that entails. But testosterone is no longer enough to sustain their hedonistic lifestyle, and they have to come up with a second album to ensure their future.
Writers David Burton and Claire Christian examine their dilemma in a fast, furious and totally engaging way. Over the years the four guys Gareth (Thomas Hutchins), Chimney (Gavin Edwards), Michael (Patrick Dwyer) and Sumo (Nicholas Gell) have progressed (I won’t say grown up or matured) differently, and somehow the old glue that held them together has dissolved. One is married with a baby on the way, one is having issues with his homosexuality, one has lost faith in himself, and one just wants out.
Four young men at a crossroads, but why should we care? They’re the kind of selfish aimless half-hour-of-fame characters who could be seen as contributing nothing to society, because their music (suggested rather than played) is probably no better or worse than anything else in the genre. It’s a clever move not to include it in the script, so that we don’t have to judge it, but must take the reason for their success on trust.
it’s impossible not to love these characters in spite of their misogyny, violence, selfishness and casual racism. The uneasy relationship the audience has with them is not just in the script, but in the assured performances of the four actors, who have captured the essence of these young men with their personal and social dyslexia. They are a perfect team, playing off and against each other, in naturalistic dialogue that captures their true personality, with a profundity that belies its superficial incoherence.
Bursting into and disrupting the selfish disorientation of this quartet comes Phil, their manager, played by Ngoc Phan as a kind of Madame Lash, who begins to beat into them some kind of structured approach. She’s seriously scary, but even she has her secrets and her weaknesses, and just when it seems as if Hedonism are beginning to get it together, all their secrets are revealed and things fall apart again.
Margi Brown Ash, who is surely one of the most exciting and boundary-pushing directors in Queensland, holds this explosive team and script together so that it doesn’t descend into chaos, but forms an amazingly coherent whole. She lets the humour of the situation share prominence with the more sombre reality, and it’s a foot-stomping experience all night, as the audience swing from shocked recognition to pure enjoyment, in one of the most exciting nights of theatre in Brisbane all year.
The vocabulary the characters use is as robust as you’re likely to hear on stage, so it might offend some people, and although it catches the modern idiom perfectly, old-fashioned feminists will regret that the word cunt is still in use as a term of abuse in popular idiom.
Hedonism’s Second Album is at The Loft, La Boite, Kelvin Grove, Brisbane until August 30. Tickets at qtix.Main image by Simon Hall of Sumo (Nicholas Gell,left) and Gareth (Thomas Hutchins).
FULL REVIEW THE BLURB:
Hedonism’s Second Album
Editor August 17, 2014
This has to be the most entertaining Indie show I have seen in years. It was so refreshing to see young writers and young actors providing a show that hit home with a young audience as well as hardened critics like me. I loved the freshness and life in the work.
It has great characters, a tight script, witty lines, action, drama and comedy – and best of all; no giving in to self indulgence. Another clever thing is that the play is about musicians and yet the writers refrained from putting in songs!
Hedonism, a four-piece rock band with a successful first album is now poised for fame and fortune with the recording of the all-important follow up. The musicians meet in a music studio in suburban Brisbane. There’s front man Gareth, newly clean of a drug habit; lead guitarist Chimney; Bass player Michael the gay muso; and Sumo, the drummer. Into the mix comes hard headed A and R man – or woman I should say – who calls herself Phil.
It’s taken 10 years for the musicians to pay their dues and move from pub gigs to rock heaven – stardom. After a weekend bender involving under-age girls, bikies, racial slurs on YouTube and a wombat from Australia Zoo, the boys turn up to start recording while Phil is there in to pull the boys into line and keep their bad behaviour out of the news.
There is a mass of bad language; there was probably more cursing than speaking, but it was in character and the roles were interpreted with such energy and belief that they became real. It was odd how, despite the apparent basic communication skills, so much of the inner man was revealed.
In my years in showbiz journalism I’ve mixed with rockers from the Beatles to Ritchie Blackmore, Meatloaf, the Bee Gees, and Robert Plant and I truly believed the guys on stage were newly crowned rock stars. Watching those four characters took me back in time. It was just like it was in the dressing room with the Beatles when their first record made it to Number One.
The sheer exuberance mixed with the fear of the follow-up; the brashness and insecurity and the feeling of immortality; it was all there on stage with Hedonism. I tell you, I knew those musicians, they were so real.
The script ran for just 75 minutes on opening night, but it was an intriguing and emotion-packed script.
Director Margi Brown Ash did a brilliant job and the set was another piece of magic from Josh McIntosh. The lighting fitted the mood of the play, top stuff from Ben Hunt and the sound track mixed by Riley Schleinstein was highly effective.
As we filed into the theatre, Gareth was squatting on a cushion doing his yoga while Chimney wandered in and out checking microphones, furniture, and his guitar. Then the houselights went down and the actors’ pace hotted up as the blasé stars blasted onto the stage in an absolute frenzy of talk and movement. From then it never looked back as the boys joked, fought, cursed in earnest and in good nature like a bunch of brothers. They laughed at each others’ drunken or drug-soaked revels. Laws meant nothing.
Thomas Hutchings was Gareth, who seemed to be the organiser the one who pulled the group together. He swung between dedication to the music and success and the battle against his addiction; it was a beautifully drawn character. Sumo, played by Nicholas Gell was a loud and abrasive drummer. Again he was so real as he slowly revealed all facets of his complex soul. The quietly introspective Chimney, who was soon to be a father, was played well by Gavin Edwards and Michael, played by Patrick Dwyer played a subtly written character. Finally was the dynamite girl Phil, a tough cookie who mixed it easily with the men. Ngoc Phan was terrific; sexy and tough at the same time – a perfect mistress of discipline.
It is rare to see such real people in a modern play who are disreputable, unlikeable and yet loveable at the same time.
Company: La Boite Indie
Venue: Roundhouse Theatre, Kelvin Grove, Brisbane
Dates: to 30 August 2014
FULL REVIEW AUSSIE THEATRE:
Hedonisms Second Album
Reviewed by: Bobbi-Lea Dionysius on 13-08-2014
After ten years of working their way up from the pub circuit to opening acts, Hedonism has struck fame and fortune after the release of their first album. But now they have hit a snag. They need to follow it up with a successful second album.
Presented by La Boite at The Loft theatre, Hedonism’s Second Album is a new Australian comedy from David Burton and Claire Christian.
The play opens the morning of Hedonism’s all-important recording session for their second album. The problem – it’s the morning after the weekend before. Enter balls of steel, record label exec Phil, and she’s pissed. In crisis management mode, Phil lists the very public, not to mention illegal and expensive, path of destruction the boys have left in their wake. Adding to the expensive clicking of the studio clock, the drummer (and a wombat from Australia Zoo) is nowhere to be seen.
Director Margi Brown Ash’s special brand of creatively controlled chaos was obvious in guiding this production. The action was hyperactive and story unpredictable, keeping the audience engaged for the full seventy-five or so minutes.
The play set in the greenroom of the recording studio, complete with random acts of furniture like a beanbag and a mini-tramp, gave that bachelor pad feeling, which then easily converted to one of the band’s living room later in the play. Josh McIntosh’s clever set design included a set of stairs leading up to the recording studio door off-stage, which were fully utilised by the cast adding levels and visual interest to the blocking.
Ben Hunt’s lighting design and Riley Schleinstein’s sound track helped create the party-boy atmosphere. In a play about musicians, it was great to hear even a few snippets of singing and guitar playing which helped to sell them as a band and gave the boys extra cred as actors – nicely done.
The -man band consists of front-man Gareth, (played by Thomas Hutchings), who has become overbearingly serious and unfashionably boring since he got clean; Chimney (Gavin Edwards), the quiet creative genius behind the group who has problems closer to home with a new bub on the way; Michael (Patrick Dwyer), the closet gay musician living under the public spotlight; and Sumo (Nicholas Gell), the loud but lovable, touch of chaos, drummer who keeps the dream alive for the band.
The chemistry of the actors in the cast was strong and their character’s were fully drawn living beings, but Gell stood out as especially thrilling to watch. His acting was idiosyncratic and impulsive which injected an electrical charge into each scene he was in. Edwards as the laid back Chimney also had an organic acting style, which helped balance out the energy onstage. It was also great to see Ngoc Phan tread the boards as the strong and sassy recording exec, Phil.
There are so many talented under-utilised actors (and script writers) in Brisbane, I can’t even begin to put into words how totally awesome, the Indie Theatre platform is, and on behalf of the theatre community, we give a whole hearted thanks and shout-out to La Boite (and QTC) for sheparding such needed programs.
Hedonism’s Second Album is not just about an Aussie band living the Rock n Roll lifestyle, but a bunch of mates trying to keep it together on the edge between fame, family, and oblivion.
Hedonism’s Second Album is a highly entertaining ride and is the perfect play to convert your non-theatre friends. Playing at The Loft in the Kelvin Grove Cultural Precinct, Hedonism’s Second Album runs until August 30.
XS ENTERTAINMENT REVIEW
Hedonism’s Second Album
La Boite Indie, David Burton & Claire Christian
With the support of QPAC
August 13-30 2014
Reviewed by Guy Frawley
Presented as a part of this year’s La Boîte Indie schedule, Hedonism’s Second Album is a thoroughly enjoyable show that explores with humour, the meaning of modern masculinity, growing up and friendship.
The show poster’s attempt at replicating an actual album launch poster was so successful that I felt quite the fool arriving at La Boîte last Thursday to discover that I was indeed reviewing a play and not covering (as I had originally wondered, perplexed) an album launch. Once the initial confusion was erased I settled into my seat with anticipation to view a piece with absolutely no preconceptions or expectations.
Hedonism’s Second Album tells the tale of a young Brisbane based indie rock band, the eponymous Hedonism, who after the success of their first album are about to begin recording their anticipated sophomore recording. Due to their hard partying, questionable work ethic and laissez-faire attitude a series of Hangover style escapades ensue that guarantee this won’t be a smooth recording process.
The cast of five fill their roles with well crafted personalities that under the direction of Margi Brown Ash evoke both depth and pathos.
Patrick Dwyer, Gavin Edwards, Nicholas Gell and Thomas Hutchings are the bandmates who are all struggling with their own demons, some more obvious than others but all revolving around the reoccurring themes of masculinity and growth. Hedonism’s Second Album spends the majority of its dramatic arc exploring what it truly means to grow up and how young men are adjusting to these changes in the modern world. The excesses offered by celebrity and the microscope of the public eye add further to this tumultuous time and kickstart a week of drama as the boys question their roles as friends, bandmates, husbands, lovers and men.
The script by David Burton and Claire Christian is crackling with energy and humour but in the wrong directorial hands Hedonism’s Second Album could have easily been clunky and inauthentic. This is a play that relies heavily upon the tone set by the director and the charisma of the cast and it was a pleasure to see both so perfectly on point.
Dwyer, Edwards, Gell and Hutchings deliver delightful performances both individually and as a unit. Each oscillating through a range of conflicting emotions and responses, convincingly portraying fully fleshed out individuals that convince us these guys have known each other for years. The emotional core of this play is to be found when we see how this group reacts to the changes in their own lives and within the band. What happens when you don’t live up to your close one’s expectations? How do you handle not living up to your own expectations? When the group are together and able to ignore all adult responsibility these problems seemingly cease to matter, but outside of the vacuum of the recording studio real life will always eventually catch up with our protagonists.
Ngoc Phan rounds out the cast as the iron willed studio representative who is tasked with the Herculean job of keeping the boys under heel and on schedule and delivers a fiery performance. Phan plays the role with the confidence and fire required but displays enough emotional depth of character to avoid becoming a stereotype.
The soundtrack curation by Riley Schleinstein presents an atmospheric mix of indie tracks and audio soundscapes that help to both set the scene and heighten the moments of drama.
Hedonism’s Second Album is a thoroughly enjoyable 80-minute journey through the inner workings of a band as they battle with themselves, their success and each other. It’s thought provoking, entertaining and at some moments incredibly touching. See it at the Loft Theatre until August 30 and, for one night only, at Nambour Civic Centre on September .
FULL REVIEW: CONCRETE PLAYGROUND
HEDONISM’S SECOND ALBUM REVIEW
When: Wednesday, 13 August – Saturday, 30 August
Where: La Boite Theatre , Musk Avenue, Kelvin Grove
How much: $$22 – $$28
Hedonism’s Second Album is the latest show to grace the La Boite stage as a part of the theatre’s independent season. In the last few years La Boite’s indie season has gained quite a bit of prestige, and Hedonism’s Second Album is an an artistic testament of how far this program has come. Under the direction of Margi Brown Ash, Claire Christian and Dave Burton’s wonderful show has taken shape into one of the best pieces of theatre you might see this year.
Hedonism’s Second Album is first and foremost fun. Naturally. Anyone familiar with Christian or Burton’s writing won’t be surprised at the play’s vamped up showcase of humour and thrills. It’s all dick jokes and swears, and the crazy life we imagine Rock’n’Rollers to live; from pub gigs to international record deals, crazy parties and crazier tension. But, of course, there is a downside to fun. In the words of writer, Claire Christian, “It’s a tragicomedy about men who’ve been given permission to live hedonistically and never grow up… but should they?”
Director Margi Brown Ash has done wonderful things with this multi-layered, humour-packed script, in order to explore the concept of masculinity, and life without responsibilities. And the cast seem to be having almost as much fun as the audience.
Hedonism’s Second Album is a just as much a must see for those who rarely frequent the theatre, as well-versed veterans. The show runs from the August 13 to 30, and tickets start at $22. And it’s pronounced Hedonism.
By Molly Glassey