B-Movies Live: Frankenstein vs. the Space Monster
Presented by Kristian Fletcher, starring Kylie Stephenson, Trevor Holland, Willem Whitfield, Cecile Blackmore and Trevor McMillan
Shows @ 7:30pm 19-21 May
Padre Bar, 598 Stanley St Woolloongabba
Review by Josh Lyons
Underneath Woolloongabba’s Padre Bar, a group of 60’s b-list celebrities come together to retell a story that is sure to be lost to the sands of time. “Frankenstein vs. the Space Monster” is given new life as part of this year’s Anywhere Festival, and it’s about as weird as it sounds.
Below the Padre bar is an excellent setting for a show like this. It’s intimate, quirky, and contrasts well with the characteristic 60s sci-fi over-use of aluminium foil. When I made it downstairs, I have to say I was pretty damn keen for this show to start. A space monster dwells in the corner, and the space layout is super casual, if a little cramped. The walls are covered with alfoil, and more than a few normal household objects painted silver adorn the space to serve as alien technology.
The show begins when Kristian Fletcher, who will be serving tonight as stage manager, director and effects supervisor, gives us a quick spiel about the idea behind the show, and his role within, and lets us alone until the actors begin. For three levels of immersion, we meet them both as actors performing for this film, and the characters they are playing, which is interesting. We work our way through the plot of the film, with more than a few nods to B movie and Sci-fi tropes, audience interaction, evil aliens, “breeding stock” and robots.
I struggled with this show, quite a lot. I would describe myself as largely unfamiliar with the target genres, but more than culturally aware enough to understand and appreciate era and genre specific references as they were being made. Still, I often found myself extremely confused by jokes and devices, and uninvested in the product. Fundamentally, B-movies Live is a good idea. It’s interesting, unique and has a great deal of potential. To this end I heartily implore Fletcher and his team to continue to work towards the product, because they will likely end up with something extraordinary. Unfortunately, their debut just wasn’t that.
I think my main discernable issue was with most of the performers, which says to me that there were problems with direction for the piece. Because of how cramped the stage was, there was very little room for the physical comedy that the show tried to include. It was also staged very flatly, which didn’t help the cause of enabling what could have been an incredibly visually engaging piece. To that end I would recommend a significantly larger space for the next version of the show. Perhaps as a result of the space, the blocking was very undeliberate, which left our performers struggling to claim the space with the authority that is required.
The exception to these criticisms, in my opinion, is Kylie Stephenson, who played the unhinged actress Marilyn Hanold, and the evil alien monarch, Princess Marcuzan. The other performers could learn a great deal from Stephenson’s command of space, deliberateness of physicality and action, and commitment to the role. Her intensity and strength made her stand out in the space, something for which she deserves a great deal of credit. This was carried across both of her characters, and she was the most engaging to watch in both of the types of scenes (actors and characters).
I look forward to seeing their work again, and I hope that they continue to develop this idea into something extraordinary, because it definitely has the potential.
Tickets available at: https://anywherefest.com/event/b-movies-live-2/all/