assassins

assassins... i did pick up a colour version of the poster, i might have to scan it and add it in laterTonight was the night of free tickets... tonight was Assassins...

And Adelaide being Adelaide I ran into Penguin and one of the girlies that used to work on the same floor as us. Actually I'd more than half expected to see Penguin, since he does like his theatre, and had been looking around while we were waiting to go in to see if I could see him.

You also have to love General Admission Seating... since it meant that we weren't up in the nosebleed seats due to the nature of free tickets... what we actually got were front row, left hand side (since the seating was arranged as an L and the stage went diagonally across... like a triangle kinda deal).

And of course, once the play started, Adelaide being Adelaide, out of the first four actors on stage, I recognised two of them, Geoff Revell (who's been in an ad for something recently, although I can't remember what) and Peter Michell (who's done quite a bit of stuff for Channel 9) on sight... okay, to be honest, they were the only two members of the cast I recognised...

As far as staging and set design goes, it's not exactly what you would call a "lavish" production... granted they are going for a kind of "Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show" kind of vibe... but the set decoration mainly consists of calico and canvas... that and wood. And there's a band on stage along with the actors.... but as weird as this sounds to say... I never noticed the band at all once the play got going... okay, maybe the piano player, because he was sort of out "in the light", but not really even then... it was possibly more the piano than the player. Which is either the mark of good lighting, good acting or just a good play. Or, you know, all of the above.

The whole subject matter of the play was interesting too... of the nine assassins in the play, there were only actually three that I'd heard of or knew anything about... John Wilkes Booth (who shot Lincoln), John Hinkley (who attempted to kill Reagan "for" Jodie Foster) and Lee Havey Oswald (who, of course, killed Kennedy)... but people like Leon Czolgosz, Charles Guiteau, Giuseppe Zangarra, Samuel Beck, Lynette Frome and Sarah Jane Moore weren't people I knew anything about. Possibly because the last four didn't succeed... and while the first two did, they shot their presidents in 1901 and 1881 respectively. I also think that the projection screen in the background helped in certain spots, because it filled in information or used actual footage or whathaveyou of the assassins and assassinations. Although it was a little haunting in the latter stages...

I also liked one or two of the other little touches... at one point all the assassins are sitting around together on chairs... and each of their chairs related to their era... Hinkley was sitting on a plastic chair... Frome was on one of those woven plastic 70's chairs... the 19th Century assassins all have wooden chairs, that kind of thing.

As far as the cast goes, I think everybody did an excellent job... and for the most part they were all really funny in those bits of the play that were funny (which is better than the alternatives). Special mention has to go to Stephen Sheehan as Charles Guiteau... who was both clearly nuts, and hilariously funny... as well as the two female assassins (and half of the female contingent of the play), Michaela Cantwell and Bronwen James as From and Moore respectively, who's scenes together were just damn funny.

Christopher Matters also gets an extra round of applause for just being able to keep up that Deep Fried Southern accent all night (actually all the accents were pretty good throughout the play, but Matters had the hardest one to do I think, being so location specific) he even managed to sing in said accent at times... whether he's just good with accents or he's been sitting around listening to Kenneth Branagh in Wild Wild West (since it's basically the same kind of accent) for days on end I don't know, but it was still impressive.

But I have to say that the standout of the night had to be Cameron Goodall as both the Balladeer and Lee Harvey Oswald. It's no wonder he was nominated for a Helpmann Award for his role in Hamlet earlier in the year... if he was half as good in that as he was in this. Actually, if he'd only played the part of the Balladeer I don't know that I would have been as impressed with him... sure the Balladeer was amusing and had good songs and was all cute with his hat and his waistcoat and his banjo and whatnot, but it was only really when he disappeared as that character and came back as Oswald that it was really obvious how good an actor he was. He'd changed his shirt and taken off his hat, but he just seemed to be a totally different person. The Balladeer was bright and sunny and happy and open... and Oswald was dark and angry and mean and confused. Goodall's face was just completely different... his whole demeanour had altered.

That whole JFK/Oswald section was so good that I actually got a little teary eyed. I'm not even sure exactly why... maybe it's because the play assigns "reason" to his assassination... with all the other assassins appearing to Oswald... I don't know (I think that the speech in Italian by Zangarra that is translated by all of the other assassins possibly had something to do with it too... creepy, yet moving)... but I do know that I totally welled up. Which has got to be the mark of both good writing and good acting... to have you laughing like crazy one minute and nearly in tears the next.

All in all though, it was a grand night out (actually it would have been a little more grand had the seats in the Space Theatre not been so damn uncomfortable)... a little rough around the edges, but I'm so very glad that I got tickets.

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