“An Idea Takes Flight” – NIDA Graduate Showcase
The National Institute of Dramatic Arts (NIDA) is often touted as the foremost theatre school in the country, and one only needed to attend their Graduate Showcase at Gorman House on the first weekend in April to understand why. The Graduate Showcase was made up of three 40-minute productions directed by 2012 NIDA graduates, and also featured guest artists.
The first production, Play House, was written by Martin Crimp and directed by Luke Rogers. It follows a young couple from the time they move in together—very much in love—through the pitfalls of life as cracks in the relationship develop and multiply. Their discordant relationship is accentuated by unknown time intervals between the play’s thirteen scenes, that carry the audience to different stages in the relationship. The intimacy of the theatre that Rogers constructs—a stage fenced in by audience members seated either side of a long apartment consisting only of a couch, a fridge, and a double bed—heightens the familiarity of the scenes. The two actors, Sam O’Sullivan and Kate Skinner, provide an emotionally and physically intense performance. As they struggle to deal with the realities of life colliding with the difficulties of love, their changing tone and body language fill in the gaps between the scenes, hinting at the changing emotional stages of the actors. Ultimately, this production was a great demonstration of how set, lighting and sound can be used to compliment and intensify performances.
After an atmospheric interval in the Gorman House courtyard came Derek Walker’s production of the musical I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change by Joe Dipietro and Jimmy Roberts. The musical explores dating, romance and love from the awkwardness of a first date, eager to impress, through to the ups and downs of marriage across the years. Walker has a clear eye for musical theatre (which hasn’t gone unnoticed, with Walker absent from the showcase and instead in Melbourne working on the musical King Kong). A simple set of four wardrobes (which doubled as screens for stylish illustrated backdrops) was complemented by a limited number of props that allowed for sharp transitions, maintaining the pace of this hilarious comedy. I loved it; it was perfect; it shouldn’t change.
The final performance of the night was truly one of the finest pieces of theatre I have ever witnessed. Lucas Jervis (who also trained in Dance at VCA and the Australian Ballet School) directed Guy Edmonds in a one-man show of Roald Dahl’s The Witches. Edmonds, who made a name for himself starring over a number of years in Holding the Man, was captivating in every sense of the word. Jervis called on his background in dance and movement to skillfully choreograph Edmonds’ movements across the stage as he transitioned from one character to another. The audience laughed and occasionally squealed with delight, entranced by Edmonds’ performance. This was an example of what theatre can achieve that no other medium can replicate; it was entrancing, entertaining and fun. Absolutely superb.