Review of That's Twice
The explosion of noise, energy and colour is barely contained in Van Gogh’s upstairs space, where a cast of fools bashes out a 90-minute political satire at a volume more suited to a street rally. Which, apparently, is their more usual venue.
That’s Twice premiered at Parliament House late in 1993, and Taking Liberties, based in Darwin for 10 years, have now made Brisbane their headquarters.
With their high quotient of musical skills and satirical ear for the hot air gusting from the top of our society, they should prove a stimulating addition to the Brisbane theatre scene, which hasn’t had a radical touring company since the Popular Theatre Troupe socked it to us during the headily repressive Joh years.
Meanwhile, they could adjust this show somewhat. Its initial random jibes at the politically correct lack clarity of focus, with too many repetitions and attention-getting devices scripted in. While functional in an unstructured outdoor performance space, these slow things down in more formal venues.
The energy level never varies - again, a big plus in rough performance circumstances but counterproductive in venues where there’s nothing competing for the audience’s attention.
Once the show finds its target, it inventiveness is enhanced by terrific catchy songs delivered by the talent-plus Margaret Marchant and ensemble. Its object of satire is the mess pollies have made of Australia, a black-market theme park where no one owns anything and everything’s for sale, but with Stone Age spirituality.
A grotesque Murray Paul Torso (Mick Earnshaw in a piss-elegant costume) combines the rancid charisma of the TV evangelist with the commercial ethics of a street tout, flogging off the real estate to a ripe gallery of shady foreign personages.
His henchman Keith (Steve Hyde), in the best fat suit ever, resembles a former Queensland political figure. Fun is made of the workshop-led economic recovery, where the workforce is all productively employed in an endless succession of training schemes with never an actual job in sight.
The show is a two-fingered riposte from Australia’s forgotten people delivered with enough cartoonish energy to fuel our manufacturing industries for a year, if we had any.
The Australian, March 17, 1995, by Veronica Kelly
Review of That's Twice headlined 'Naughty, funny poke at politicians pretensions'.
Sex, religion and politics are all grist to the mill of the Australian Theatre as Education team, but most particularly politics. On the internal lawns of Parliament House, in the tradition of Italian Commedia dell' arte, they lambasted the political power-brokers in their own den. Dressed in the exaggerated costumes of the cornmedia characters but definitely planted in Australian soil, the satirists pressed the proposition that all politicians should lock themselves up. They argued that the sale of Australia's assets to the highest bidder would solve the country's economic problems. A pouie by the name of Murray Torso (Mick Eamshaw), aided by a grotesque Keith (Steve Hyde) and Bronwyn (Heather Brechin) led the true believers in their drive to impose a sexual neutrality decree. The name Theatre as Education gives the misleading impression of a performance for schools. Don't be mistaken. This is an adult show. At times it goes close to the edge of actually doing what it sets out to condemn - I found the jokes about ethnic groups, Arabs, Jews and Chinese, a little close to the bone. However, overall the show is a naughty but funny poke at politicians' pretensions.
Canberra Times, November 26, 1993 by Ann Nugent
Review of Gulls
Taking their cue from necessity as the mother of invention, Taking Liberties is one of the growing number of unfunded Brisbane theatre groups making their own work. That quality of survival against the odds is a theme reflected in their current production, an original work intertwining text and song. We enter the world of the quintessential Aussie battler a.nd meet a tight-knit group railing against "progress" swallowing their home. They're a band of colourful personalities, though disparate each with their own quality of strength, unified by passion for life - their life - regardless of whether it fits anyone else's notion of a good one.
The title's analogy - the inhabitants are "seagulls scratching for a living" - is apt, because at the same time we perceive these birds as free. The story unfolds episodically painted in broad brushstrokes. Interspersing the scenes are the observational songs of engaging singer/guitarist Andrea Farmer, some bittersweet ballads, some rousing catchcries, such as "She"ll be right mate" in which she's joined by the characters to form a spirited ensemble.
However, the songs' frequency initially inhibited me from forming a connection with the characters and a strong sense of their situation. Rather than detailing this community's hardship narratively, which would have made a more sombre theatrical experience, Taking Liberties has concentrated on capturing th sence of these survivors.
Brisbane Courier Mail, September 29, 1996, by Olivia Stewart
Audience/venue feedback for popular theatre (theatre restaurant) shows 1994-2000
Loved it! We were so impressed, we are planning to have future theatre restaurants. It was a great boost to the Club itself, because we got so many new faces in. We have wanted to bring more people to the club. By having this theatre restaurant, we got nothing but good reports. The stage show itself was professional, extremely funny. One of the best parts was the participation of the audience, the way the players got the audience involved in the show. When it was first said the show was Shakespeare (Taming Of The Shrew) nobody knew what to expect. But the audience warmed to it straight away...
- Steve MacGuire, Vice President, Westem Suburbs Leagues Club, Bundaberg.
I enjoyed it. It was fantastic. The first time I'd been to any thing like that - I didn't know what I was in for but it was fantastic. The play was so great. Really tops they were. The wife enjoyed it too.
- Don Forrest
...spontaneous fun, audience participation of a high standard, lots of impromptu craziness, value for money, professionally performed..I had a ball..We started off with a group of 8, then 14, or 16, for the next one and 24 in the last restaurant. Every body keeps asking when is the next one? Next time I'm looking at booking the whole night.
- Paul Reeves, Reeves Soft Fumishings.
We thoroughly enjoyed them ... French, Indian, The Taming of the Shrew. We thoroughly enjoyed all of them. The service is terrific ... the people are lovely. The audience participation is great.
- Mr. & Mrs. Elliott
I must congratulate the group on a fantastically funny show. From the time they arrived, until the time they left, the crowd did not stop laughing. The blending in of the group between all tables meant nobody missed out on any of the action. TAKING LIBERTIES is a professionally run group and worth every cent.
- David Giles, President, Gladstone Port Authority Sports & Recreational Club.
On behalf of the members of the Deception Bay Sports Club, I must congratulate your company on such a fine performance. By holding this show we were able to entice extra patrons to our club, and those who did attend have said they would have no hesitation in returning for future shows. The show was very professional and the audience participation was excellent We hope that your group goes on to be one of the talked about shows on the club circuit.
- J. Baggaley, Secretary, Deception Bay Sporting Association Inc.
On behalf of the Board and in particular the President of the Bribie Island RSL and Citizens Memorial Club Inc. We would like to congratulate you and your cast on their magnificent performance of the Shakespearian Tale "'Will You Won't You"' here at our Club to Celebrate our Presidents Dinner. Since the performance we have had Rave reviews from all that attended stating that it was night to remember. People have also stated that the performance had "Zest and Life" the characters were portrayed so well by the cast and thecostumes were something to behold. Congragulations one and all.
- Michael T. Effting,Secretary/Manager.
This correspondence is confirmation that "Taking Liberties Theatre Restaurant Company" are truly a professional and well organised Theatre Company with excellent performers, lighting and sound equipment, great costumes, spectacular back-drops and a well choreographed performance. I have no hesitation in recommending "Taking Liberties Theatre Company" to any organisations seeking truly professional entertainment at its best.
- B.N. Clynch, Manager, Moreton Bay Boat Club
- I would like to take the opportunity to thank you and your group for an excellent show on Saturday night. I received a very positive response.
- Robert Kerridge, Manager, Pine Rivers RSL.
Just a note of appreciation for the great show put on by you and your theatre company performers. I can asssure you that the whole night was thoroughly enjoyed by one and all. You were all Superb! Comments I received both on the night and since then have been great to say the least. They want to know when you'll be on again. We will talk about that. Again my hearty congratulations.
- J. I. Bullock, Club Manager, Runaway Bay Junior Leagues Club
A night FULL of Fun, Laughter, Music and Excitement!
The unique form of entertainment provided by these truly professional and highly talented people will be the topic of conversation for weeks after the show.
You'll have people asking when the next one is going to be held before the end of the night.
Laugh at them, laugh with them and let yourself be thoroughly entertained!
I have no hesitation in recommending Taking Liberties Theatre Company to you and assure you that your night will be a huge success.
- Nell Hertrick, Entertainment Coordinator, Ipswich Golf Club