Saturday, March 23, 2013

All Together Now's 'Oh the Humanity'

Emily & Dave Burton and Kate Murphy are All Together Now (Source: Empire Theatre).
For a bunch of reasons I jumped in a car with some friends to travel to Toowoomba to catch All Together Now's staging of Oh the Humanity, and for a bunch of reasons, I wanted to share a few thoughts on it. The collaborators and actors on this production are stars, this is a new theatre collective, but most importantly, their take on this show is best I've ever seen and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing it - and I love talking about things I love.

For those not familiar with the text, Oh the Humanity by Will Eno is a collection of five blisteringly sardonic short scenes which mix hilarity and tragedy behind the profound uncertainty experienced in life. Eno's writing is stylised with desolate humour and painful observations on things that you'd rather not discuss including loneliness, grief, and the involuntary passing of time. All Together Now's staging of Oh the Humanity is vivacious, inspired and unlike any staging I've ever seen before.

As a collective, All Together Now function with a wonderful balance and perfect chemistry. All three actors show a fantastic sense of comedic timing, while also being able to channel the hopeless anguish with such incredible sensitivity. All their character choices are so creative, my face hurt from laughing and smiling so much. There are moments of brilliance through out - there is an unfortunately strong accented, overly optimistic spokesperson, a defeated and demasculinsed coach whos failure is a mixture of awing and endearing, and an electric but slightly harrowing breakdown between a married couple who can't recall where they're heading to. MATILDA AWARD WINNING Emily Burton, David Burton and Kate Murphy are uniformly ravishing - their pacing and mannerisms give such colour to all characters and they radiate excellence through their energy.

There are a few elements of the production which are unavoidably difficult, but redeem themselves by their necessity. Transitions are clunky and a bit long, and music has little purpose other than to move transitions along - although, opening with the Universal Studios Fanfare is somehow hilarious, as is ending with an extract from Turandot. The lighting design is simplistic with only a few gobos to add effect and emphasis on the equally simplistic, but enchanting set. Chairs of various size hung from the ceiling doing not much other than looking fantastical but seem to draw the piece together in the final scene.

With only minor nitpicks on some very minor technical issues, I loved this production. It's a shame this gem is in Toowoomba so most people won't get to see it, and it's also a shame stuff like this is so hard to see in Brisbane - but I'm lucky and so glad that I did get to see it (I'd like to see The Country by Martin Crimp next team, okay?). With a wonderful ensemble of actors with great chemistry totally reinventing my perceptions of the roles, this staging has eclipsed every other production I've seen of Oh the Humanity. 

Tickets for All Together Now's Oh the Humanity are $18 - $24, and is showing at Empire Theatre until March 23rd. Duration of approximately 1 hour. Book by visiting Empire Theatre's website.