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Heavenly Bodies and Beautiful Souls - Review

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by Toni Megan (subscribe)
I'm a beginning writer with a Brisbane Bucket-list and a desire to see it all and report back.
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Sven Swenson's next brilliant production
Sven Swenson's newest theatrical creations, Heavenly Bodies and Beautiful Souls, opened on Wednesday night at the Brisbane Powerhouse to an audience in both awe and shock at the themes and the conversations which occur in these two interconnect works. Both moving productions are currently in season until the 28th of November in the Powerhouse's Visy Theatre, and are definitely worth a trip to Brisbane iconic building to experience.

Heavenly Bodies, Beautiful Souls, Sven Swenson, Theatre, Production, Powerhouse
Sam Ryan and Regan Lynch. Credit: CG Photography Brisbane

Heavenly Bodies
When the stage lit up on Heavenly Bodies I was first thrilled to see the way the set had progressed from the sketches I saw during rehearsal months ago. The room was pure Asian decadence but around the edge of the set lay rocks, rubble and broken furniture and, like the bombs exploding in the background, these didn't seem to fit at first with the glamour of the room. It quickly becomes clear however that this pretty room inside a Singaporean brothel, is there to serve one purpose, as entertainment for the soldiers of World War II.

On this gorgeous setting sat a statuesque lady in a stunning gown and very fluffy shoes. She was silent whilst Cutty, a nervous solider, who had never fired a gun, walked into her room. He seemed tense and very uncomfortable about his current surroundings and instead of engaging in the expected, the two indulge in honest and frank conversations about belonging. And as the bombs fall alongside the fireworks of their imaginations, the two find a perfect comfort in each other's arms.

All five performers did a brilliant job at portraying the fragility of the human condition but for me it was Sam Ryan who played Cutty, the nervous solider, who really captured my attention. From the moment he stepped on stage he exuded a perfect awkwardness by constantly making inappropriate jokes and jamming his foot inside his mouth. Ryan showed his skill as a performer with the timing of his gags, as each one caused bursts of giggles, which is exactly what an audience needs when tough topics are being tackled on stage. I saw Ryan in Swenson's Tiptoe earlier this year and now, after watching him shine in Heavenly Bodies, I am looking forward to his next performance.

Heavenly Bodies, Beautiful Souls, Sven Swenson, Theatre, Production, Powerhouse
Regan Lynch as Laide. Credit: CG Photography Brisbane

Beautiful Souls
Heavenly Bodies is perfectly entwined with the second performance as the characters appear to be distantly related. The latter however is set well after the first and occurs in the cells of a Thai prison where brothers, David and Justin, and friend, Beth, await to hear whether their execution will go ahead for drug smuggling.

I had already seen both performances during rehearsals, so I knew what was coming with Beautiful Souls. However even with this insider knowledge, I still found the conversation that occurred on stage to be rather chilling and was unable to stop myself from shedding a few tears whilst these three young people came to terms with their impending death. By the end of the performance I was very moved regarding the unfair punishment that is handed down to drug smuggles in Thailand and my heart hurt for those that had seen the error of their ways, but were unable to life their lives with this new knowledge. I think the anguish that I felt and the passionate conversation that occurred in the car on the way home, highlights the brilliance of Beautiful Souls.

Heavenly Bodies, Beautiful Souls, Sven Swenson, Theatre, Production, Powerhouse
Peter Norton & Zac Boulton. Credit: CG Photography Brisbane

Before you rush out and buy your tickets, please note that as with any of Swenson's plays, Heavenly Bodies and Beautiful Souls have been created to entertain, shock and push boundaries, and for this reason both productions are only available to those aged 13 years and above.

Heavenly Bodies, Beautiful Souls, Sven Swenson, Theatre, Production, Powerhouse
Casey Woods. Credit: CG Photography Brisbane

Cast: Regan Lynch, Sam Ryan, Peter Norton, Casey Woods, Zachary Boulton.
Directed by James Trigg & Sven Swenson

Produced by Ro Taylor

Designed by Ray Milner
Lighting Design by Matt Milne

Sound Design by Ryan Mahony
Music by Peter Crees & Sven Swenson

The author was invited as a guest of Pentimento Productions
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Why? To experience theatre that pushes boundaries.
When: Tue—Fri 7pm. Sat 21 Nov 2pm & 7pm. Sat 28 Nov 7pm
Phone: 61 7 3358 8600
Where: The Brisbane Powerhouse
Cost: From $25
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