Skip Miller’s Hit Songs – Adelaide Fringe 2011

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Presented by Brink Productions
Reviewed Wednesday 16th February 2011

http://www.adelaidefringe.com.au
http://www.brinkproductions.com

Venue: Odeon Theatre, Norwood
Season: 11am 23 Feb & 3 Mar; 7:30pm 12, 14, 15, 21 Feb; 2:30pm 19 Feb 2011
Duration: 110mins
Tickets: adult $40/conc $35/Fringe Benefits $25
Bookings: FringeTix 1300 FRINGE (374 643) or http://www.adelaidefringe.com.au

The performance opens with voices and instruments creating an ethereal sound which then rises to a crescendo as images of the faces of African refugees are projected onto the rough rear wall to be picked up on cards and carried by cast members. The music in this production is not merely additional; it is integral to the work. Composed by Quentin Grant and played by him, with Jerome Lyons and Lamine Nanky, it combines guitar with African instruments and plenty of percussion. Wendy Todd’s stark set is an earth floor, a mud wall and a few crates and chairs, and Geoff Cobham’s evocative lighting transforms the many locations extremely well. James Kallisch’s images further enhance the production with some stirring moments reflecting and amplifying the action.

Against this backdrop we meet a small group of people and discover their stories, often harrowing, traumatic, sad and dealing with disconnection and a need to belong. Embracing themes of immigration, refugees, persecution, war, dispossession, displacement and asylum seekers, this is a timely and highly relevant piece.

Skip Miller is a journalist who has returned to Australia having spent years photographing the war zones of Africa. Skip is suffering a breakdown, and so are his relationships with his brother, Neville, and his girlfriend, Alison Caldicott. Chris Pitman, as Skip, Rory Walker, as Neville, and Lizzy Falkland, as Alison, are all well-known to Adelaide audiences and offer three fully developed and believable characters.

The production also introduces three new faces, with Assina Ntawumenya, as Patience Lugor, Mondhli Makoba, as Augustus Forkay, and Adolphus Waylee, as Basel Mgembe. Three more fine performances from these actors complete the picture, as the characters all try to make sense of who they are and how they relate to one another, with their drastically changing circumstances and the effects on their personalities taking their toll.

The production uses monologues extensively, the actors addressing the audience directly, increasing the feeling of personal involvement. Each has numerous chances to shine, and shine they do, with some stunning performances filled with emotion, touching the audience deeply.

Sean Riley’s latest script, born of much collaboration over almost three years, becomes a very rich piece of theatre indeed: textually, visually and aurally. Riley’s play is filled with insight and understanding and is deftly handled by director, Chris Drummond, with his usual care and attention to detail.

This is yet another very fine piece of work from Brink that engages and challenges and should be on your Fringe list.

Reviewed by Barry Lenny, Arts Editor, Glam Adelaide.

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