Review: A PROMENADE OF SHORTS at Holden Street Theatres

A smorgasbord of theatrical titbits.

By: Oct. 23, 2020
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Review: A PROMENADE OF SHORTS at Holden Street Theatres Reviewed by Barry Lenny, Thursday 22nd October 2020.

A few efforts have recently been made to get the Performing Arts back into action in South Australia and Red Phoenix is one of those companies, presenting A Promenade of Shorts. It is a mixed bag of goodies, a smorgasbord of theatrical titbits, performed in three spaces.

People in this Australian state were smart enough to follow all of the safety measures advised by medical authorities and the State Government and so we were quick to bring the effects of COVID-19 under control. Although we are not yet completely back to normal, we are in a far better situation than many places around the world, but there is still a range of restrictions in place.

Realising that limited seating rules made it economically unviable to stage a play to an audience of twenty, the Red Phoenix folk, in a stroke of sheer genius, thought, what if they had three audiences of twenty, with performances in three spaces, giving a similar number of patrons overall as a full house in the main theatre?

This was an intriguing evening, with the three audience groups promenading between the three venues, The Arch, The Studio, and the Box Bar, to see three miniature plays in each venue. Each set of three plays takes only around 30 minutes, with a brief interval between each sitting.

But wait, there's more. There were roaming performances and tour guides to fill the intervals as groups meander from one venue to another and, as the main bar/foyer is being used as a performance space, extra bars have been set up near the entrances to the other two spaces. As the publicity said, "The performances will feature comedy, drama, a puppet, a nymphomaniac librarian, free trial COVID vaccines, and the occasional death."

This event, in spite of the small size of each individual piece, is a major undertaking, with works directed variously by Libby Drake, Brant Eustice, Michael Eustice, and Nick Fagan. It ranged from the black comedy of Christopher Durang's The Book of Leviticus Show, to the broad comedy of Mandy Bannon's Driving Mr. Diddy, and John Moorhouse's Attack of the Killer Banana Spider, to the drama of Murphy Guyer's Loyalties. Martin Luther King's, "I have a dream", Robert Kennedy's breaking the news of King's death, and Julia Gillard's Misogyny speech are juxtaposed in a powerful presentation. King and Kennedy, in particular, remind us, tragically, that the current president is diametrically opposite to all for which they stood.

A host of Adelaide's finest are involved in the performances and acting as roving players, with Wayne Anthoney, Laura Antoniazzi, Kyla Booth, Anita Zamberlan Canala, Josh Coldwell, Pete Davies, Brant Eustice, Nick Fagan, Ruby Faith, Fahad Farooque, James Fazzalari, Tom Filsell, Brian Godfrey, Therese Hornby, Rebecca Kemp, Jasmine Leech, Sharon Malujlo, John Rosen, Nicole Rutty, Petra Schulenburg, Joanne St Clair, Tom Tassone, Stephen Tongun, Kate van der Horst, Anthony Vawser, Jean Walker, Tim Williams, and Jamie Wright.

With nine plays, across a variety of genres, there is something for everybody in this theatrical festival, and those attending on the opening night were certainly very appreciative. Bookings, apparently, have been heavy, so don't delay, book your tickets quickly, before they all go.


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