Thursday, September 24, 2015

As I Liked It

Full Disclosure: I attended this show free of charge in return for agreeing to write a review of the performance. The review has not been seen by the production prior to publishing, and all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Arden Production’s reimagined version of As You Like It is not your average faithful production. Characters are combined or compressed. Speeches are passed around and repurposed. Genders are changed, and sexual orientations updated accordingly. Little is left untouched or unrevised, and you leave with a very different experience than had you seen, say, the Bell Shakespeare Company cover the same work.

But this all fits well with the poetry of Shakespeare. Love is love no matter the identity of those who profess it, and a promise is a promise, whether you’re Phoebus or Phoebe. Arden have produced a radical but respectful adaptation, allowing it to explore new issues with letting his words ring as true as ever.

The opening night (after a preview performance) was a very solid start to a generous run for the play, the cast in top form, with impeccable live music and a tight technical ship that produced no visible errors.

Being played in a former church hall, the actors perform a stylised and abstract rendition of the play in the centre of the audience’s circle of chairs. An actor might leave in one direction before suddenly emerging from another, speaking lines in a way that clearly indicates they are not truly part of the scene but rather reflecting on it. Two performers finish their speeches before undertaking a serious of almost dance like movements as the music builds around them, before they and the guitar fall silent.

The actors are to be commended for their performance, some taking on wildly different characters as the play transitioned from A Duchess’ court in the first act to a forest in the second. No actual changes to the set occur apart from the addition of a couple of stumps, and yet the locations and mood are clear.

While I thought all the performers were equally skilled, I wanted to especially mention an actor who took over from another only a week before opening. The director informed us that he would be prompting if needed before the play began, and it is a credit to the actor that aside from one or two polite requests for his line, we otherwise could not tell that this was relatively new material for him.

The music is also a particular highlight, composed especially for this production and played live with the guitar on the composer’s lap, the stings and body of the guitar all serving as instrument for a surreal score that perfectly fits the non-naturalistic performance.

It must be mentioned that your experience of the play might be somewhat affected by where you choose to sit. Sitting in a circle around the stage does give you a wonderfully intimate and varied view of the proceedings, but by its very nature means you sometimes will have nothing to look at but the back of a performer’s head (or if you’re particularly unlucky, squinting to see through a light pointing right at you).

But as long as you choose your seat with care, (preferably somewhere where you can also spot the guitar playing, just don’t get too distracted watching it and miss the whole play) you can expect a thought-provoking play performed by a cast that quite clearly know what they’re saying and respect the play they’re doing. I definitely recommend it; you won’t be disappointed.


As You Like It Reimagined runs until October 4th at the Bluestone Church Arts Space in Footscray. Tickets and more information can be found at http://www.ardenproductions.com.au/as-you-like-it/ever-wanted-to-be-somebody-youre-not/ and https://www.melbournefringe.com.au/program/event/view/a700f9c0-1cb7-4ef9-a220-ca0ed75d513c

Saturday, December 3, 2011

New Initiative Shows Initiative


Two things happened this weekend.

Well that’s not true, a lot of things happened this weekend. Especially if you acknowledge the admittedly unlikely notion that there are more people in the universe than me. (crazy, I know!) Even if only two things happened to each of them this weekend, (and if so, the human race in general is quite boring, unless the two things were #1: Captured international Spy-Ring. #2: Ate pancakes. Best weekend ever!) that’s still a whopping 14 billion things that happened this weekend. And if you add in the possibility of life elsewhere in the universe, then that’s a simply mind boggling amount. But more on that in a moment.

The two things I was referring to specifically in this case where relating to this blog. I’ve decided that I’m really just not that interested in discussing my life on a daily basis. This is not to say that I have anything against people that do (Hi, other people! *waves*) It’s just that I don’t really have the cool exciting adventure filled life that justifies it. I don’t really have misadventures like “Today the car on the front of me on the freeway crashed into the car in front of him! And then a third guy drove up and he got out and mugged the first two drivers. Then they were all eaten by a tyrannosaur who did a little dance.”

That has yet to happen.

Neither do I have the self confidence to write about everydayness. “I went to the, like, Starbucks and asked for a gingerbread latte and instead they almost gave me a caramel latte because the G looked like a C on the cup!? OMG! And I didn’t get my free cookie. FML.”

That actually did happen today on the way home from church, just with less three letter acronyms. Or TLA’s, if you will. For the record I don’t really define the lack of a free cookie as a life is over moment. Although I really would like a cookie now. Damn it.

If I were to accurately write out my life it would follow some variation of “Went to work. Work went well. Went home. May or may not have done some side work. Played video games. Went to bed. Blogged in my sleep.” And you know what? I’m cool with that. I perfectly content to have a mostly routine lifestyle, it’s comforting and easy to manage. It also means I get to play video games, so you know, win/win.

But it’s not what I want to write about. What I want to write is stories. I absolutely adore stories. And given this whole writing every day thing is to encourage creativity, it would be really nice to actually be writing a story instead of “today I got the wrong coffee” entries.

“So, why not do that,” you ask? Well it’s funny you should mention that...

So, starting right now, I am happy to present the ongoing adventures of “Dear Space Diary.” There’ll be a new entry every day whenever real life doesn’t intervene, and much like Dickens and radio serials of old, will be an ongoing continuing narrative until an ending presents itself, or my hands drop off. You know, either/or.

In usual disclaimer I should mention that this will very much be a live, unedited and stream of consciousness type of story. I know how it starts and I know a few places it’s going, but part of the fun is I’ve no idea how it’s going to get there. I’m looking forward to finding out.

I just got into RSS feeds (I know, 15 years late to the party, shh), and thanks to the wonders of Google related projects being smart, this blog is subscribeable (officially not a real word) by going to Google Reader or pretty much most other RSS thingies and entering in the site http://dearspacediary.blogspot.com should get the entry subscribed, meaning you’ll be notified when new updates are published.

There’ll still be random personal stuff whenever the mood takes me, or if that dancing anti-mugging tyrannosaur ever turns up, but not on a regular basis. I figure I can talk about my life when I want to rather than a schedule, as let’s face it, it’s my life. Back off. Get your own life. Unless you’re Batman. In which case, want to swap? Actually, now I think about it, Batman’s life isn’t actually all that fun. Fun to watch sure, but I don’t really want to lose my parents, go a little crazy, and get beaten up. Just sayin’.

Have a good one,
-Sam.

P.S. The other thing that happened this weekend is that I got so excited about this idea yesterday that I completely forgot to write a blog entry. Whoops. Hence Double Entry.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Stuff About A Blog About A Blog About Stuff

5 days in and I‘m actually struggling on what to write about. While this could be taken as an ominous sign given that I’m attempting to write 400 words a day (not more, not less, exactly 400 words, title not included) and I’m already having trouble, it’s actually a pretty good sign that things are going well at the moment. Easiest thing to write about is hardship, or problems, or “man I’m so annoyed by what happened on the way to that thing!” and the fact that I have none of those is probably a good thing. Sure makes it hard to write a blog though.

So am I writing a blog about not writing blog? Yes I am. Either that’s selling out, or thrillingly post-modern and avant-gard.

The blog has been a bit patchwork this year, given I went a grand total of 51 weeks without updating (Very carefully jumping in before it was more than a year). On reflection as a friend pointed out I think that was because I was trying to write too much at a time. First world problems and all that (although that phrase somewhat annoys me. Yes they’re miniscule compared to real problems that less fortunate people have to deal with on a daily basis, but on a purely psychological point of view, being told you should feel guilty for worrying about your problems is a very slippery slope…), but nonetheless was a challenge.

Then I did my collection of movie rants, but really I want more out of keeping a blog than just reviewing movies. If I really wanted to review movies (and that could be cool) I should probably set up a movie review site. And then review movies.

Then, based on another friend’s rather neat idea to maintain productivity by writing something every day, I thought I would give it a shot myself. And so here we are, 4 days later, and I can’t think of anything to say. I’m not overly concerned, as I said, it means things are good, and that’s not to say a hilarious escapade won’t occur to provide fuel for tomorrow. My blog today eventually came about because, as I struggled to write my very first sentence, I suddenly got a text from my friend N3rd.Girl. It read “RANDOM INSPIRATIONAL TEXT”, and cheered my up immensely. And, you know, it worked!

…I totally sold out.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Bit of a Twitter Twit

I’ve been trying hard to get back into Twitter, though it’s kind of debatable if I ever was into Twitter in the first place. Still, first time for everything. The concept of Twitter does interest me greatly. Being required to say what you have to say in only 140 characters (which I’ve already exceeded in this post) is an intriguing challenge, but I’ve actually found it rather hard, though not for the reasons I expected. The issue is not trying to fit what I wanted to say into 140 characters, it was finding anything to say at all.

Allow me to elaborate.

It’s not that my life is bereft of interesting moments (my phone alone seems to account for a large proportion to them), but rather because, a) a lot of them don’t feel worth dedicating to a public space (probably should chalk that one up to self-esteem), and b) I’ve already said them.

See, although I’m hardly the most prolific of updaters, I’m already on Facebook, and recently joined Google+ as well. And as the bulk of my friends are on Facebook, that’s where my updates normally go. I generally double post to Google+ as well, but there’s only a few people there as it hasn’t really taken off yet, which is a shame because as a system I greatly prefer the way it functions. It’s got a slick and clean interface, and the ability to share specific posts with specific people quickly and easily is a major improvement over Facebook, its ticker, and its convoluted Top News algorithms. And Google’s privacy policy. That’s an improvement too. But in pure “The point of posting stuff is to have it read,” Facebook is definitely the winner currently, despite my reservations. By the time my thoughts trickle down to twitter I generally feel like I’ve already said it, which is a shame. I like twitter; it’s a really good way of sharing information. So I do need to try harder, because I want to be more involved. And if my dreams of company and business plans come to fruition, it’s an essential communication tool with customers (and, if you’re not very good at it, a hilarious one too).

I did also try MySpace, but only briefly. My experience can be summed up as follows. -Opened MySpace account. -Received 200 invites in 48 hours from bands I didn’t know. -Closed MySpace account.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

We're going to the zoo, zoo, zoo. Yes that's right, three zoos.

I haven’t been to the zoo in a very long time. Maybe I should do something about that.

I seem to remember being very fond of Melbourne Zoo as a child, we went an awful lot according to my memory. The exhibits were a little hit and miss, though this is not so much the fault of the zoo as the animal kingdom in general. Don’t get me wrong. Animals are incredible and do some pretty amazing things. Just look at, well, any David Attenborough documentary. But they also spend a very large amount of time just sitting around, eating, and the logical follow through of eating. Especially in a zoo, where – let’s be honest – they don’t really have much else to do.

Giraffe’s were pretty cool, as were elephants, but frankly they smelled and spent most of their time upwind, so I was always pretty glad when we moved on. The reptile house and nocturnal house featured some very interesting creatures but had the chief failing of being filled with creatures that a) spent a lot of time hiding, and b) were pretty damn good at it. So it was not so much “look at that lizard” as “look at that patch of dirt.” It was pretty exciting when we did see a snake or a jerboa, though (fortunately never in the same cage, that would end badly). Actually, even when it was “look at that lizard” it was engaging only in the short term. Ever a pragmatist even then, my internal response was generally “Ok, so I’ve looked at the lizard, now what?” Don’t get me wrong, I liked lizards, but I could only spend so long staring at one before I start wondering what’s in the next enclosure.

By far the most boring thing at the zoo was the monkeys though. They really weren’t doing anything interesting, and mainly just sat around looking depressed and giving off very strong vibes of “I don’t want to be here,” and generally the feeling was mutual. It probably sounds like I didn’t enjoy my zoo trips but I really did. They were great fun, I just honestly wanted to spend less time on each of the animals than my parents expected or hoped.

They say the average time a person visiting the Louvre spent looking at the Mona Lisa was 11 seconds. I feel roughly the same way about Chimpanzees.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Burn, baby, burn (do do doo doo)

It’s far too hot today. Actually that’s really not true, it’s a paltry 33 degrees, and it’s going to drop to 20 tomorrow. It’ll get much hotter in summer itself. In fact, people often remind me, many places around the world are regularly in the 40s all year around. This is nothing.

That’s perfectly valid, and an excellent point, though I did have 3 points in response.

1. What is happening elsewhere is mostly irrelevant to what is happening here. Just because boxers get punched in the fact on a daily basis, doesn’t make it any less painful if you punched me in the face right now. (Please don’t.)
2. I don’t live in those places, largely for those reasons.
3. Shut up.

While the heat does in fact bother me a great deal (my ideal weather is a clear 10 degree today), in an oddly paradoxical (or hypocritical depending on your cynicism) turn, I actually don’t notice it all that much, and regularly wear jumpers well into the high 20s. Theories have been put forward by my friends as to why. One is that I may have a lower internal body temperature than most, meaning it takes a hotter temperature to make an impact. The other theory is that I’m just weird.

No matter which theory floats your philosophical boat, the fact remains that for most of the year I am able to wear a jumper comfortably, sleep under a doona, and wear jeans or other long pants all year through. But when the heat does make an impact, it hits hard, leaving me feeling extremely uncomfortable and, (if I can speak candidly) sweating profusely. In all honesty I probably continue to wear a jumper for a little longer than I should after this point. Partly I feel a little self-conscious in only one layer, but mainly I just genuinely prefer and feel more comfortable wearing multiple layers. On an overseas holiday I had to wander dressed in jumper, scarf, gloves, overcoat and hat, and have never felt more properly dressed in my life. So when it comes to Summer’s eventual 45 degree days, when I am reduced to a t-shirt and jeans and still end up feeling way, way too warm, it’s a particularly unpleasant experience for me.

Throw in bushfires, floods (often at the same time), and dead pets, and you’ll hopefully understand why I hate summer.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Well, you could be having a heart attack… but you’re not.

I was sick last week for the first time in about three months (which is a bit of a record. Take THAT, immune system) and ended up having to take three days off to recover. I was fairly confident it was only a cold and so bed rest was all that was needed, but packed myself off to the doctor anyway, partially to compensate from the massive guilt I feel whenever I have to take time off work, and partially because as a non-medical person I couldn’t rule out the possibility that I was about to drop dead. The former was adequately dealt with, but the latter was spun out for longer than it had to be thanks to my Doctor, who I have taking to call “Worst Case Scenario Doctor.”

For the record, and to avoid the same thing happening to anyone reading this, I am entirely fine, and my doctor is, in fact, very good at what he does, which is why I keep going to him. He will inevitably correctly diagnose the problem, offer a few suggested solutions, and has been very helpful in suggesting supplements such as probiotics and fish oil capsules, which, while clinically unproven, have seen a massive improvement to my overall wellbeing and immune system. What he does first though is list every single possible and terrible thing that could be wrong with me, but isn’t.

Previously, when seeing him due to a family history of a particular gene causing higher probability of blood clots, decided it was best to test me for EVERY possible cause of blood clots. The resultant 6 vials of blood they took caused me to faint and go into shock. Incidentally, I have no increased chance of blood clots.

Last week’s particular example involved him giving me a small lecture about heart attacks, key symptoms to watch out for, and crucial steps to take if I ever thought I was having a heart attack. After a short and worrisome pause he then added that I wasn’t having a heart attack, wasn’t showing any signs of having a heart attack apart from some mild chest pain (which was in the wrong spot for it to be a heart attack) and, given my age and recent improvements to weight, was extremely unlikely to get a heart attack.

He then took my blood pressure and wondered why it was rather high…