Friday, September 24, 2010

Every Single Saturday

Kissing Point Productions presents EVERY SINGLE SATURDAY by Joanna Weinberg (Book and Lyrics) at the Parade Space at the NIDA Theatres, Kensington.

EVERY SINGLE SATURDAY is a musical about every single Saturday when a collection of parents attend the soccer game that their children are playing in. We meet four of them: Liz (Melanie De Ferranti), Sandy (Sara Grenfell), Carlo (Geoff Sirmai) and Neil (Matt Young), at the climatic game of the season, the final match for the Trophy, that has the extra emotional weight of a visit by a selector for the state team, scouting for prospects.

In a bare black box space with four white chairs and a baby grand piano (Musical Director: Paul Geddes), nothing more, the performers in a hodge-podge of costume (No Designer is credited) we meet three of the regular sideline attendees and a first time visitor –parent.

Joanna Weinberg is the writer of the Book and the Lyrics of the show and also the Composer. On top of which she is also the Director. This is a labour of love for this artist and her resume in the program tells us of other credits in her creative history. Credit in reaching this stage of development and presentation must be acknowledged. It is no mean feat to present work in the theatre and the Musical Theatre genre is particularly labour intensive and fraught with many, many difficulties. It is a very vulnerable form. It is difficult to achieve – the history of the theatre, let alone the Australian theatre, is littered with the memories of tried adventures that failed, at all levels of the producing ‘angels’, from the Opera Company down, to our recent history, the Kookaburra Company.

“In the beginning was the WORD….”

The writer is the initiator and inspiration of any performance project. No other artist who is added to the project: musician, choreographer, dancer, actor can solve the difficulty of underdeveloped writing. The quality of the writing inspiration is crucial. Unfortunately, this project fails at this critical step –the first one. Nothing that follows can overcome the initial inspiration if it is not of quality. EVERY SINGLE SATURDAY does not achieve the necessary depth in concept of plot, character or integration of social comment ( e.g. weight and beauty issues, class and love issues, parent and child bonding issues, sport versus art issues). The world of this story is cursorily explored by the initiating artist. The musical scoring is, generally, uninspiring- perfunctory and ‘high-schoolishly’ dull. The direction of the piece demonstrates a pragmatic but untheatrical ability to get the actors on and off the stage.

The choreography by Daniella Lacob is illustrative and not very sophisticated in its invention.

The actors, generally, seemed to have had a secure preparation for the score. Ms Grenfell, De Ferranti and Mr Young particularly engaging vocally, but, even in this small space, wired up for sound! The characters as written, that they are required to solve, and have us believe in, are barely sketched clich├ęs. A difficult task for any actor. The acting by these performers, directed by Ms Weinberg, is barely impersonated dialogue, with mechanically conceived choices that add nothing to the humanistic experience of the work.

The ambition is admirable, but this Australian musical production needs more dramaturgical rigour in the writing to even to begin to succeed as quality entertainment or even as a good night out. Joanna Weinberg as Writer of Book and Lyrics, Composer and Director, has taken on a huge task and may need some other creative inputs to offer dramatic tensions to her conceptions, of the sideline behaviour of parents at a soccer match.

“ORDINARY’ is the title of one of the songs in the show. Against my own wishes for the experience, this production is ordinary, or even less than …!

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