Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Theater: "The Magic Hour" - A Contemporary, Grim(m), One Woman Comedy & Storytelling Show That's Casting It's Spell Over Critics & Audiences Alike

If you follow the AFTS (Australian Fairy Tale Society) on Facebook, you will see I already sent word about this play there but I wanted to highlight it here too, so everyone is aware of it, as it sounds refreshingly different and quite gutsy (what we like to see!).

Not only that, every review I've read gives glowing praise, with only good things to say about both the production and Ms. Yovich, to the point that there are rumors about it being THE theatrical production of 2014.

First, a little intro so you have an idea of what all the raving is about:

From EventFinder:
Starring Helpmann Award-winning actress Ursula Yovich (Capricornia, The Secret River and ABC TV’s Gods of Wheat Street and Redfern Now), this celebrated evening of song and storytelling is a deliciously dark interpretation of classic Grimms’ fairy tales.
The Magic Hour is set in a contemporary urban landscape and tells the stories of fairy tales’ sidelined characters including Rapunzel’s captor, Red Riding Hood’s granny and Cinderella’s ugly stepsister.
A gutsy one-woman comedy, The Magic Hour reveals the rich social commentary embedded in these magical tales and reflects on the gritty lives of the women that inspired the characters with a haunting realism.
Written by award-winning Australian playwright Vanessa Bates (Chipper, Porn. Cake, Every Second), The Magic Hour is the swansong production for Deckchair Theatre and promises an evening of no sugar-coated children’s stories. 
Sounds really interesting, right? (If I were in Oz for the conference , I'd certainly be joining a bunch of AFTS folk to go see this at Riverside Paramatta (oh to be able to see a fairy tale event with fairy tale folk!) Take a look at the promo video:
The one woman who plays all the roles, engages the audience in storytelling and in song, is Ursula Yovich, a talented award winning indigenous actress and a brief interview discussing The Magic Hour can be found HERE.
To give you even more of a picture, here's some of the press release:
Thought you knew Grimm’s fairy tales? Think again.
Once upon a time…. 
Hidden in the crevices, drawn from the gutters and alleyways of life, comes a startling retelling of classic fairy tales. This deliciously wicked and dangerously funny one-woman show stars Helpmann Award winning actor and singer Ursula Yovich (Australia, Jindabyne, The Secret River). 
She expertly takes familiar aspects of Grimm’s tales and characters from stories of Rapunzel, Red Riding Hood, Cinderella and others and cleverly manipulates them into more modern versions and settings. Do not expect sugar-coated children’s stories here. The Magic Hour is gritty, with an air of dark comedy and haunting realism.  
From one of Australia’s most original contemporary playwrights, Vanessa Bates, The Magic Hour is a gutsy one-woman comedy told with dark humour and soulful song. 
This is story-telling for grown-ups at its very best. A night of stories told at twilight with werewolves and a touch of magic…

And there's a great summary review courtesy of The Blurb Magazine, which details more of the performance that only makes me want to see it all the more. Here's a taste:
It began with the set, a beautifully lit open space with a corrugated and wood gypsy-style caravan and the trappings of an Aboriginal outback camp site designed by Alicia Clements. Props and costumes were cleverly tucked away in various drawers, and windows and shutters opened and closed to add another dimension to the stories. Joe Lui’s lighting design shone brightly on the caravan and let the edges drift into darkness; a perfect setting for some dark tales. 
Ursula Yovich wandered onto the set, talked to the audience, and checked how her pumpkin soup was cooking on her bush stove. Then she began telling her stories and, with a variety of shawls, fur, wraps and coats, body language and a change of vocal tone she created many different and very real characters. The props were hung out on a washing line at the end of each story, which gave the show a neat continuity. 
She had the sell-out audience enthralled and proved what a brilliant storyteller she is. She weaved a spell as she retold six traditional fairytales penned by Vanessa Bates that were set well away from the original locations. 
... It truly was fairytales like you’ve not heard them before. Why: because they were told from angle of other characters in the story. The essence of the ancient tales remained while the people became modern and fractured; the sick, the dispossessed, druggies, the victims who had slipped through the cracks.
You can read the whole, much longer, review HERE.

And I want a full report from the AFTS conference attendees who are lucky enough to go see this please! (Pretty please..?)

1 comment:

  1. That sounds fantastic. But I'm a bit concerned that it says 'swansong production for Deckchair Theatre'. Surely we're not losing another theatre company?

    Wish I was also in Sydney so I could go to the conference and this show. I miss this kind of culture.