Review: Loch Ard
by Maddie Nixon
The Twig & Berry
Backyard Theatre Collective’s second ever production, Loch Ard, delivers what it promises. Sea shanties and mysteries a plenty, the show jumps between multiple locations as the protagonist, Edmond, tells his story of finding love on the nineteenth century ship doomed to wreckage on the coast of Victoria.
The star of the show is Kristen Maloney’s writing. The use of song within the piece bridges the jumping locations, along with clever transitions that allow the actors to navigate multiple characters almost seamlessly. Maloney has created convincing and engaging dialogue that underpins a fast moving narrative. You spend the show wanting to know how it will end and guessing what will happen next.
The performance is situated in Newstead bar The Twig & Berry, adding to the bar-like atmosphere of the show itself, as you are invited into the narrative as one of the establishment’s patrons. The space aims to replicate a non-descript time and place. However this is at times hard to believe with the inclusion of very specifically modern Australian props such as Smiths chips and Zoo Magazine. But the intention, at least, is clear.
The performers do a good job, and can only grow as the season progresses. The three barmen (Joshua Bell-McNee, Mathew Caban and George Goldfeder) are a comedic highlight, and successfully work well as an ensemble. The lead, Harry Jensen, is at times a touch over-dramatic rather than realistic. But he is extremely likeable and definitely engaging. Sophie Banister’s vocals add to the show’s atmosphere and are a delight. There are also some nice movement sequences towards the end of the show replicating the demise of the Loch Ard ship, but I won’t spoil too much.
My only major critique of the performance is that the ending, again without spoiling too much, gets a little bit preachy and caught up with conveying meaning, rather than telling story and allowing the audience to draw their own meaning. But this is a small thorn among a successful and engaging show.
Maloney and Backyard Theatre Collective are to be commended for their second production, and I look forward to seeing what they create in the future.
Loch Ard is playing at the Twig & Berry from the 7th-14th May.
Tickets are available here: SOLD OUT!