Caliban (Where do the spirits go when the water rises?)

Caliban (Where do the spirits go when the water rises?)
Written by Georgia Symons, Achai Deng, Abraham Herasan, Piper Huynh, Natalie Lucic, Rexson Pelman, Oti Willoughby, and Dave Kelman. Western Edge Youth Arts. The Becket – Malthouse. 24 – 26 November 2016

Caliban is pertinent worthwhile theatre presented by a great group of very skilled young people who do a marvelous job of getting a multi-layered message across to the audience.  Through using the framework of Shakespeare’s The Tempest they are able to utilize established characters and remodel them to serve the purpose of developing a story that correlates to our global warming crisis.

 

This work is underscored by the original musical composition of Callum Watson, who plays the piano as the audience settles and through the show. 

Direction by Tariro Mavondo and Dave Kelman has engendered a glorious sense of balance, respect and inclusion.  All players appear to have equal agency.  Voices of all actors are strong and clear and physicalization solidly established. 

Most performers also have stories or aspects of their cultural backgrounds melded in with the narrative.  For instance Rexson Pelman, although born in Australia, has Samoan heritage and one of the storylines is about the swallowing up of islands by the oceans.  Rexson energetically engages his audience with a splendid bold performance.  

Piper Huynh plays an android with a marvelous, acutely realized, fluid machinelike physicality. 

Natalie Lucic creates an excellent strong and self-serving Prospera, with the clearest ennunciation and lovely swift movement.

Achai Deng, who fits the bill as Prospera’s protected daughter, is a fine actor to watch.  As a sensitive singer, I think, she could afford to belt the songs out with just a bit more commitment.

Paradoxically through Abraham Herasan’s presentation of billionaire character Ferdinand we are encouraged to better relate to what it feel like to live as a Muslim in Australian suburbs.   

It is Oti Willoughby’s stunningly keen natural comic timing that elicits the most laughs.  He is just great fun to watch when he is portraying ‘the last swordfish.’  Although hysterically funny, this is actually a very poignant moment indicating just how concerned we should be for the future of the endangered creatures of the seas.

On opening night Western Edge were playing to a responsive audience compromised predominantly of people who know and hold this troupe in high regard.  The mix of cultures represented in the work is heartening and satisfying.  And the number of cultures represented in the audience was truly something marvelous to behold.

Go Western Edge!

Suzanne Sandow

Credits

Directed by Tariro Mavondo and Dave Kelman

Dramaturgy: Dave Kelman

The Edge Ensemble

Caliban – Oti Willoughby

Prospera – Natalie Lucic

Miranda – Achai Deng

Ariel – Piper Huynh

Ferdinand – Abraham Herasan

Phano – Rexson Pelman

Music Composition and Performance: Callum Watson

Movement Director: Amy MacPherson

Design: Lara Week

Lighting Design: Matt Fabris

Images: (top) Oti Wiloughby (Photographer - Nicola Dracoulis) and (lower) Rex Pelman, Natalie Lucic, Achai Deng, Abraham Herasan, Piper Huynh and Oti Wiloughby (Photographer - Nico Keenan).

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