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'Don't Tell the Women' and 'Madame Bast' Double Feature at Metanoia Theatre - Review

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Boutique and bold theatre
boutique theatre, samantha cunningham, matthew sini, madame bast, don't tell the women, Brunswick Mechanics Institute, Sydney Road, Metanoia, contemporary, independent, plays, Women, social change
Two new works from Boutique Theatre

Don't miss a double feature of two new Australian plays Don't Tell the Women and Madame Bast presented by Boutique Theatre at Metanoia Theatre Brunswick from 23 March 2016 to 2 April 2016. Book your tickets here.

Metanoia Theatre lives in the Brunswick Mechanics Institute in the heart of Sydney Road and supports the development of independent theatre, and new work. Boutique Theatre's mission is to bring fresh new Australian work to the stage, with culturally diverse casting and support developing artists.

Written by Samantha Cunningham and codirected by Perri Cummings Don't Tell the Women is an exploration of men's inner dialogue and attitudes toward women in their intimate partner relationships.

boutique theatre, samantha cunningham, matthew sini, madame bast, don't tell the women, Brunswick Mechanics Institute, Sydney Road, Metanoia, contemporary, independent, plays, Women, social change
Sam Lavery and Mischa Grunenberg rehearse "Don't Tell the Women


Set in a bar, the focal point of the action takes place around a pool table where Morgan (Jason Schwab), Dean (Sam Lavery) and Matthew (Misha Grunenberg) divulge their frustrations about their relationships, witnessed by 'She'(Jess Stenglein) the barmaid. The play examines gender inequality by visiting the 'bear cave' of 'secret men's business'.

boutique theatre, samantha cunningham, matthew sini, madame bast, don't tell the women, Brunswick Mechanics Institute, Sydney Road, Metanoia, contemporary, independent, plays, Women, social change
Rehearsal


Morgan, Dean and Matthew are frustrated by their relationships, they cannot fix their women, and are at a loss of what to do. They revert to the stereotypical responses; walk away, use violence, or have an affair.

Matthew is an expert on women with a 'Master Plan' and formula for his relationship. His 'Stepford' wife with three children and a career apparently does not meet the mark anymore. 'She' has failed him.

boutique theatre, samantha cunningham, matthew sini, madame bast, don't tell the women, Brunswick Mechanics Institute, Sydney Road, Metanoia, contemporary, independent, plays, Women, social change
Jason Schwab plays Morgan


Morgan is angry that his four year relationship is over, despite his loyalty and devotion.

boutique theatre, samantha cunningham, matthew sini, madame bast, don't tell the women, Brunswick Mechanics Institute, Sydney Road, Metanoia, contemporary, independent, plays, Women, social change
Sam Lavery plays Dean


Dean is confused by an intimate one night stand with his best friend. 'She' refuses to continue their relationship despite their shared interest in having children.

boutique theatre, samantha cunningham, matthew sini, madame bast, don't tell the women, Brunswick Mechanics Institute, Sydney Road, Metanoia, contemporary, independent, plays, Women, social change
Jess Stenglein plays 'She'

"She' (Jess Stenglein) the barmaid represents all women; those loved, those abused, those used; those ignored and invisible. Stenglein magnificently inhabits the stereotypes of women described by the men; mother, lover, slut, tough bar chick, 'Stepford' wife and girlfriend. "She' like Wonder Woman's golden 'lasso of truth' extracts the essence of the conflict, weaves the three stories together, and challenges the men's perceptions about their relationships. Dare I say that Stenglein multitasking epitomizes that 'a woman's work is never done!'

Some strong and gutsy themes emerge in this play; control, power, servility, entitlement, and the status of women in servitude to men. The dialogue in this play is complemented by excellent direction, a rigorous understanding of relationship dynamics, the cycle of power and control, and strong acting with a simple and effective set design.

Don't Tell the Women
Rehearsal


It is evident that Don't Tell the Women has benefited from a previous development through The Long Walk Theatre. Don't Tell the Women is extremely topical with the prominence of domestic violence in the Australian community, and presents the core of the issue as men's responsibility to communicate their thoughts and feelings effectively. The play cleverly addresses gender inequality and the treatment of women in an Australian context, and provides a pathway to change. Australia needs more theatre about social change on our mainstream stages to challenge audiences to take ownership of this issue.

boutique theatre, samantha cunningham, matthew sini, madame bast, don't tell the women, Brunswick Mechanics Institute, Sydney Road, Metanoia, contemporary, independent, plays, Women, social change
Don't Tell the Women and Madame Bast


Madame Bast compares contemporary views about death and the afterlife with Egyptian mythology and Greek philosophy.

boutique theatre, samantha cunningham, matthew sini, madame bast, don't tell the women, Brunswick Mechanics Institute, Sydney Road, Metanoia, contemporary, independent, plays, Women, social change
Writer - Matthew Sini


Directed by Tim.P Driver the plot revolves around three university friends Jaz (Seon Williams),Sabina (Charlotte Fox) and Casey (Mathew Young) who visit a psychic "Madame Bast'. During this experience Jaz, a hard-core rationalist and sceptic, is challenged by a secret revealed from the grave. Confronted by the dire consequences of her past behaviour Jaz and her friends begin a journey of catharsis through ancient rituals guided by Madame Bast (Angelique Malcolm).
boutique theatre, samantha cunningham, matthew sini, madame bast, don't tell the women, Brunswick Mechanics Institute, Sydney Road, Metanoia, contemporary, independent, plays, Women, social change
Angelique Malcolm plays Madame Bast


The character of Madame Bast is built on a contemporary interpretation of Bast (or Bastet) the Egyptian Goddess of Cats. Madame Bast is obsessed with Osiris, the King of the Underworld, cats and all things Egyptian. Malcolm plays this role with utter conviction and is the central pillar of comedic action in the play.
boutique theatre, samantha cunningham, matthew sini, madame bast, don't tell the women, Brunswick Mechanics Institute, Sydney Road, Metanoia, contemporary, independent, plays, Women, social change
Rehearsal of Madame Bast

'Wayang' Indonesian shadow puppets tell the ancient stories of Egypt and portray the many gods that feature in rituals about death and the afterlife. Specifically the 'weighing of the heart' ceremony; where the hearts of the dead are weighed against the 'feather of truth'. If the heart is lighter than the feather, the soul receives eternal life and if it is heavier they are doomed to eternal damnation. It is fitting that the show runs during the Easter period; also based on ritualised beliefs about death and the afterlife.

boutique theatre, samantha cunningham, matthew sini, madame bast, don't tell the women, Brunswick Mechanics Institute, Sydney Road, Metanoia, contemporary, independent, plays, Women, social change
Seon Williams plays Jaz


Sini's writing is impressive as it connects ancient ritual and beliefs with contemporary culture and gives an opportunity for the direction and design of the production to harness the symbolism, without detraction from the dialogue.

boutique theatre, samantha cunningham, matthew sini, madame bast, don't tell the women, Brunswick Mechanics Institute, Sydney Road, Metanoia, contemporary, independent, plays, Women, social change
Charlotte Fox plays Sabina


However, the opening night performance was hindered by the set design which increased the dependency on stage management and scene changes. Unfortunately this disrupted the fluidity of the performance, put extra pressure on the cast and crew, and distracted the audience from the depth and complexity of the concepts in the play. Hopefully these technical issues will be ironed out as the season progresses.

boutique theatre, samantha cunningham, matthew sini, madame bast, don't tell the women, Brunswick Mechanics Institute, Sydney Road, Metanoia, contemporary, independent, plays, Women, social change
Mathew Young plays Casey


Despite these teething issues, the cast coped extremely well, and each delivered fantastic characterisation and worked well as an ensemble. This is great to see in new independent theatre work and I look forward to see further developments of this play.

Don't miss Don't Tell the Women and Madame Bast presented by Boutique Theatre at Metanoia Theatre Brunswick on now to 2 April 2016. Book your tickets here.
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Why? See new Australian plays written by local artists
When: 8:00 pm
Phone: 0393873376
Where: Metanoia Theatre, Brunswick Mechanics Institute
Cost: $ 20.00 to $ 28.50
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