I'm a beginning writer with a Brisbane Bucket-list and a desire to see it all and report back.
Sven Swenson Retrospective
I am lucky enough to have been witness to three of Sven Swenson's previous plays with Pentimento Productions, so of course I jumped at the opportunity to see the Timekeeper's Opus, a celebration of the songs from his plays. I actually didn't know that the, often haunting, music, which accompanied each play, was written by not only some brilliant composers but also the man himself.
I must admit, that because I have only seen plays before, I actually didn't really know what to expect of this Pentimento Productions performance, but I definitely wasn't expecting it to be so hilarious. The lyrics themselves were so clever (and a little naughty at times). But I also enjoyed all the scripted jokes, as well as a few other unscripted ones. There weren't many unscripted ones but when you are performing in the back of an in-use bowls club and not a professional theatre as normal, there are bound to be the occasional technical issues. During the only real (and ver minor) hiccup of the performance, the obviously skilled singers also dusted off their improvisation skills, which saw the audience erupt in laughter.
I will mention this a few times over the next few paragraphs but if I had to describe the performance in one word, it would be "honest." Within the first few moments, it was explained to us that this performance was never supposed to be The Timekeeper's Opus and was in fact originally a totally different musical named Raconteurs & Balladeers. Unfortunately in the last throws of rehearsal two of the performers had to leave, reducing the cast's size by 33% and causing those left behind to design a completely new performance. Wanting to honour their commitment to the Anywhere Festival they powered ahead, recruiting some very talented singers, to create this fabulous retrospective.
Photography by Gavin Field with Geena Schwartz - Photography by Gavin Field
When the cast first entered I was met with a number of familiar faces, many new faces and even, surprisingly enough, an old friend. The voices of each singer were stunning, and I thoroughly enjoyed the solo moments, but when they joined together the sound was simply sublime. I was surprised that in another honest moment, Swenson explained that two of the cast, from the original play, were previously only car and shower singers, but I have to admit, I was unable to figure out which two he was talking about, as there wasn't a single weak voice in the bunch.
It did have a deep masculine tone to most of the musical items, however Geena Schwarts and Jessica Kate Ryan bought a beautiful quality as well. In fact, I found myself especially captivated by Ryan who looked, sounded and performed as if she was made to sing on stage. I was not surprised to have learnt that she has completed a Bachelor of Music (Musical Theatre), as it is clearly very much her calling. It would have been easy to close my eyes and just listen to her voice fill the space, but there were too many other interesting things to take in on stage. I was further impressed by her incredible focus, even when the other actors were being a little risquι in their actions; we laughed but she just kept on singing.
If you have seen any of Swenson's plays before or have even the most basic appreciation for song you will enjoy this wonderful performance. But do be quick because it is only in season until the 20th of May. Purchase tickets for The Timekeeper's Opus from the Anywhere Festival's website.
Musical Director: Peter Crees Producer: James Trigg
Featuring: Peter Crees, Anthony De Marco, Chiara Lagana, Tom McCosker, Julianne Norris, Jess Kate Ryan, Geena Schwartz, James Trigg, Matthew Yates, Scott Youngman and Sven Swenson
Toni Rynne was invited to review The Timekeeper's Opus as a guest.