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Shadow of Angels (TBC Theatre) - Review

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Image of Actors courtesy of TBC THEATRE, superimposed onto the image of the gateway we exited from at the end of the night. www.tbctheatre.com/shadows-of-angels.html

Thinking I would catch the 'City Loop' at Richmond, it seems getting off there was the wrong decision as Metro does not do 'the loop' in the timeframe I was there. This made me arrive at the Melbourne City Watch House (next to the old Melbourne Gaol at 345 – 355 Russell Street, Melbourne) a little later than I wanted. Along with my friend who escorted me all the way from the station, I was quickly shuffled along and told to join in and stand in line with the others, face forward. I found myself looking into several pairs of eyes belonging to Coppers in uniform looking back at me sternly as they reprimanded us for being late. We were told there would be consequences. A couple of things we learnt that night was to do as you're told and that the correct way to respond to authority was to answer 'Yes Sergeant or No Sergeant' when addressed. Don't you dare giggle either, or you will be dealt with or taken away!

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We were lining up in these corridors facing the stern faces of the Coppers.

From the moment of arrival to the time we left, everyone was unwaveringly in character. A couple of times I let myself forget I was part of the audience as everything was so realistic that I even found myself a little concerned at the uncertainty of what may happen if I misbehaved and suffered the giggles. Walking the corridors and entering the cells and perhaps an interrogation room; sitting in there as the play unfolded, put me in the moment. I looked up at the walls, the windows oh so high, the heavy doors that locked the doorways, it was all very real. It was a bit cool being in there, but nothing I couldn't handle. The silence made one want to shuffle and shift and bring on a bout of coughing. Don't you dare, because it's so quiet and the acoustics so good, the sound of any bodily function will reverberate and amplify ten fold.

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L to R, top to bottom. Trudi Boatwright, Female Copper Kathryn Tohill talking to a member of the audience, Playwright Fleur Murphy with a friend, Nurse Emily Rowe with drink in hand, Kathryn Tohill again and Sergeant Myles Tankle and Damien Harrison. I missed out on taking a pic of the handsome copper Vaughan Rae.

I was holding off telling you about the play till this third paragraph because it was so special, I didn't want to just rush and blurt it out straight away. I wanted to savour the memory of the whole experience in my being before I recounted it for you and rolled it off my tongue, or is that my fingers? First and foremost, I want to be completely unprofessional and go 'OOOOOO MYYYYYYY GAAWWWWDD!!!'. Everything was so perfect, faultless, mesmerising and riveting, it engaged me completely and everyone else as far as I could see. As I watched every movement and expression of the Actors closely and listened to every expressive word, at times forgetting to breathe, I could tell from the word go this was going to be a good play. My chest and mind just swelled with an inner primal scream as above as it always does in anticipation when I know I'm about to experience something really good, and that I did!

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Heading into the cells you will meet each character and hear their gripping tales

First up I'd like to say the 'acting' or performance of all the actors was just top notch! Being up close and personal, each one told you their story and drew you in by directing their recollections right at you, looking you in the eye, unflinching. At times you may even think they required you to respond, because their story telling was just so heartfelt and engaging, their eyes searching your face, making you feel as if they were talking directly to you. We were shifted and walked to different rooms or cell blocks of the City Watch House as each of the four actors occupied their own particular space to tell us their tale. There was the female copper who recounted her stake-out of the abortion clinic; the abortionist who told her tale of woe while she plans on using her age to get her way; the young woman who tells us about her time in the house of ill repute and the young man who is completely mesmerising and engaging. All four actors' performances were a 10/10 and the experience of the whole evening was signature TBC all the way, just like their other recent debut production, Loveplay. They thrive on unusual choices of venues beyond the traditional bounds of theatre to immerse you into the atmosphere and have you experience the play in a whole different way. At the end of the night as I came tumbling towards Trudi Boatwright, a member of the TBC ensemble who was manning the refreshments on this Opening Night, exhilarated, all I could say was 'Whats next ?? I can't wait!!' and she answered that they were planning a 'whole season'. I await in bated breath!

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Some sustenance after the opening night show as the actors mingle with the crowd. Here are the actors of the TBC ensemble, Trudi Boatwright manning the food and drinks, Jacob Pruden playing waiter, and Director Chris Saxton talking to a couple of patrons

This production is brought to us by TBC Theatre in partnership with The National Trust. TBC has gone to great lengths to bring us this amazing play by getting funded through the Pozible program. If there are any of you out there that want to be patrons and supporters of this young up and coming theatre company, I completely believe you will be fostering amazing talent that will bring many more amazing shows to the table for us to enjoy. Shadow of Angels is the perfect example of what TBC can offer. Playwright Fleur Murphy has penned a story that captures us completely and Director Chris Saxton has skilfully drawn the best out of the actors and boldly put it on display for our scrutiny. With powerhouse actors and supporting cast consisting of Kathryn Tohill, Jennie Dibley, H. Clare Callow, Michelle Myers, Vaughn Rae, Damien Harrison, Myles Tankle and Emily Rowe, this is a play not to be missed!

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We got off lightly and were allowed to leave, to breathe the fresh night air of freedom.

The play continues till the 2nd of November 2014 at the Melbourne City Watch House at 345 – 355 Russell Street, Melbourne. Tickets are - Full $30. Conc $25. National Trust Members $20. Group bookings of 6 or more in one transaction $25 each, and runs from Tues – Thurs 7.30pm, Sat 5.30pm & 7.30pm and Sun 5.30pm.

If you're like me and my friend who are slightly claustrophobic and worried about being in a cell, we really had nothing to fear as they had thought about it already and leave the doors to the cells open. Being a majestic iconic old building, it also has very tall ceilings and is spacious enough not to feel locked in.

In getting there, travelling by train to Melbourne Central station is the closest and about a 10 minute walk up to the venue, or you can catch Tram: 24, 30, 35 & City Circle. Please note that Shadows Of Angels is suitable for mature audiences and contains adult themes. Please ensure you arrive at the venue 15 minutes prior to the event start time. Due to the nature of the performance there will be a lock out and LATE COMERS WILL NOT BE PERMITTED. It is recommended you dress warmly if it's a cool night as the Watch House can be chilly. Now rush out in droves to see this amazing play!
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Why? Amazing production of Shadow of Angels
When: 12 Oct to 2 Nov 2014
Phone: info@tbctheatre.com or fill out an online form on the website
Where: Melbourne City Watch House, 345 – 355 Russell Street, Melbourne, VIC
Cost: $20 to $30
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