Review of The Bull, The Moon & The Coronet of Stars
Theatre is back in full force 2021 and there are numerous productions on at the moment, but one that stands out it is The Bull, The Moon & The Coronet of Stars at Metro Arts by Australian playwright Van Badham. There has been a lot written about this play, but to put it simply, it is about love, sex, attraction, and the universal themes that echo in everyday life and from mythology. The result is a funny, sexy and intense theatrical experience.
The story is centred around Marion, played beautifully by Sarah Ogden, and tells the tale of two romances. Her love interests, Michael and Mark are both played by Rob Pensalfini. You may be familiar with his work as the Artistic Director at The Queensland Shakespeare Ensemble. He brings the necessary gravitas to roles that intersect with the mythical and divine, as well as his ability to play transformative characters, which is needed as he transitions between the characters and between their natures. Let's not forget Rob is a performer who is as comfortable with mischievous and comic roles as well as more serious roles.
The Bull, the moon & the coronet of stars in the New Benner Theatre
The story is told in two acts, each one around a love interest for Marion. In each romance, the relationship transcends the earthly world and brings in Greek mythology with all its power and sometimes its tragedy. In the play, love, sex and desire are what moves the characters from the mundane to something more.
The style of the play involves the main characters narrating the story. While this might seem odd at first, it operates in this play as a duet of prose, with some poetic elements, and a musical accompaniment. The result is a very intense storytelling process.
With a story that is written by a woman and told from a woman's perspective, the reactions of the audience between men and women are very marked, with the jokes getting much bigger laughs from the feminine part of the audience. That is not to say that this isn't a play that men will enjoy, as it doesn't attack or belittle men at all, but raises them to the status of mythical creatures and gods. But basically, women leave the theatre with a smile and men walk out with a lot to think about.
About the production
The play is produced through The Hive Collective, which brings together independent theatre in a cooperative environment. Heidi Manche's production is simple, clean and contemporary in style. The key feature is music is provided by an on stage performer, essentially being the heartbeat of the drama, comedy and romance.
After 40 years in what was essentially a grungy space in the city, they have moved to West End to their new location hidden behind the subtropical garden and cafes of the Laneway West Village. Located in a renovated building that maintains a lot of its traditional charm, the space gives Metro Arts a whole new feel, and maybe a whole new vibe moving forward.
Entrance to Metro Arts is through the Laneway West Village Park off Boundary Road
Located in West End, there is a lot of options for food and drinks in the area. Remember, on Friday and Saturday nights, many of the best restaurants in the area book out, so make reservations ahead of time if you want to be seated before the play. Even so, you will still find somewhere to eat in the area even if your preferred option is full. After the show, most cafes close around 10 pm to 10:30 pm, so there should be time to get some cake, and pubs of course remain open much later.
With the themes of Greek mythology forming part of the play, Metro Arts has done a deal with The Greek Club for a set menu of $45 per person. This includes a glass or wine or beer.
Here is a play about ordinary, love, sex and desire but tells it in an intense manner, bringing in the mythic and divine to lift the story up and truly represent the feelings of its characters. In one sense, it is a play for women and can make a great date night or girl's night out play. But there is much more to it, and all the audience can leave with something.
I want to add one slight criticism here at the end. I feel that it should have been a three-act play because by the end of the second act, the audience are wanting more. The author could easily have included another romance in Marion's journey to find love.