Category: Reviews


Track Review: Free Lunch by Isaiah Rashad

Since its initial slew of studio album releases in 2011, there’s no doubt that Top Dawg Entertainment (TDE) has established itself as one of the most formidable collectives in hip-hop today. The label, founded by current CEO Anthony ‘Top Dawg’ Griffith, boasts a roster as innovative as it is eclectic, featuring the likes of Schoolboy Q, Jay Rock, Ab-Soul and of course multi-Grammy award winner, Kendrick Lamar. The crew extends far deeper than the aforementioned Black Hippy clique however, with Chicago artist Lance Skiiiwalker joining fellow TDE signees SZA and Isaiah Rashad in the ranks this year.

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Over the course of two feature length reviews, Connor Johnston and Mike Riviere will be going head to head and sharing their own views on one of the most anticipated and divisive films of 2016: Suicide Squad

You can read Connor’s Review here:

Extract: “Suicide Squad” reminded me of what it felt like to go to a film simply for the sake of enjoying it. Following a group of antiheroes assembled by US Intelligence Officer Amanda Waller, the movie is one of the first of its kind to feature a group of villains as the main protagonists – with an approach that feels remarkably unique among an ever growing mass of superhero films, while still acknowledging its ties to the cinematic universe it builds upon. “Suicide Squad” is not without its flaws, however it benefits greatly from a contagious energy that offers audiences the chance to divulge in pure, unadulterated joy. (Read More) Read more …


The Kettering Incident: Australian Television at its Finest

Take two mysterious disappearances fifteen years apart and place them in the primeval Tasmanian forest. The result is The Kettering Incident, a brooding thriller set in the small fishing village of Kettering, an hour out of Hobart. Lovers of Twin Peaks and The X-Files will be instant fans of this genre-bending series, the first full television series produced entirely in Tasmania.

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HEAD TO HEAD REVIEW: Suicide Squad (P1 – Connor’s Verdict)

Over the course of two feature length reviews, Connor Johnston and Mike Riviere will be going head to head and sharing their own views on one of the most anticipated and divisive films of 2016: Suicide Squad

“The world changed when Superman flew across the sky. And it changed again when he didn’t.”

For the second time this year and the third time since 2013’s “Man of Steel”, Warner Brothers and DC Films have released an eagerly anticipated film – only to have it met with an outburst of mixed and negative reviews from critics labelling it as anything from ‘the best comic book movie ever made’ to (more popularly) ‘a chaotic, messy and bloated disappointment’. It is unclear if the DCEU will ever escape this perpetual cycle of poor press, but what is clear is that if its opening weekend is anything to go by, “Suicide Squad” has found victory where it counts, both financially and in the eyes of the vast majority of everyday movie-goers and comic book fans. I’m not going to engage in any debates today about the value of critics, nor speculate about a supposed conspiracy against the DCEU – but simply emphasise the importance of forming your own opinion free from pre-conceived biases, and stress how critics are only individuals trying to do the same. Read more …


HEAD TO HEAD REVIEW: Suicide Squad (P2 – Mike’s Verdict)

Over the course of two feature length reviews, Connor Johnston and Mike Riviere will be going head to head and sharing their own views on one of the most anticipated and divisive films of 2016: Suicide Squad

Warning: Light to mild spoilers, some plot details

Let me preface everything I’m about to say with this; I went into my screening of Suicide Squad with no knowledge of other people’s criticisms, any Rotten Tomatoes score or even any knowledge of the plot beyond what the, in retrospect, exceedingly well orchestrated trailers showed off. Thus, during the screening, I was pleasantly surprised. Then mildly entertained. Then confused. And then moderately angry. Walking out of the screening, I entered a fugue state of what I can only describe as being shell-shocked. Let me say this; I actually enjoyed this movie. Correction, I enjoyed exactly 50% of it. What happened after that golden moment can only be described as feelings of resentment, betrayal and despair. Read more …


REVIEW: Winterfall’s “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf”

Review written by Saskia Penn and Connor Johnston:

Edward Albee’s “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” is an iconic piece of 20th Century Americana, often considered one of the greatest scripts in theatrical history. Winterfall Theatre’s current season of the classic play presents a raw, realistic, and compelling interpretation of the complex material and its utter success is owed, in no small part to the miraculous performances presented by the accomplished cast.

The three hour-long study in the dynamics of marriage is strung with an incredible, palpable tension throughout, the claustrophobic atmosphere thick with bourbon. At times highly absurd, at times strangely funny, at times genuinely frightening and at times truly challenging, this post modern giant dances like the wind on the edge between reality and illusion. Through the violent throes of breakdown, the deepest, darkest freudian truths and fantasies of the characters are revealed, allowing the audience a rare opportunity for genuine intellectual stimulation. Read more …



As a pioneer of showcasing Australian talent both on stage and behind the scenes, it is no secret that Red Stitch Actor’s Theatre have built up a certain reputation amongst the Melbourne theatre scene to produce high-quality performances season after season. Following the success of “The Village Bike”, “Splendor”, and “The River” earlier this year, the world premiere of “The Honey Bees” has been developed through the INK program, working to encourage and give platform to works of Australian playwrights. Written by Caleb Lewis and Directed by Ella Cadwell, “The Honey Bees” is a story of empire, family and unspoken truths that threaten to destroy the already fractured bonds between a group of characters linked by both blood and ambition.  Read more …



Based on the 1998 Adam Sandler movie of the same name; “The Wedding Singer” follows the story of Robbie Hart, a charming and entertaining musician from Ridgefield, New Jersey. Left at the altar by his long-time fiancé and having developed feelings for his unhappily engaged co-worker Julia, Robbie’s story explores the confusion and temptations of a forbidden love with an incredibly humorous script and robust musical score. This week Oxagen Productions are staging the iconic musical at Genazzano College in Kew.

There’s no question that Ryan Purdy’s performance carries the show, bringing to life the charismatic and lovably naive ‘Robbie Hart’ by channeling the aspects of Adam Sandler’s original portrayal that made the story so iconic. Vocally Purdy excels, nailing each and every song thrown his way. Similarly impressive is Maddie Wooster’s ‘Holly’ who quickly becomes a crowd favourite due to both the sharpness of her character and her magnetic stage presence. Stefanie Fazzari’s ‘Julia’ fares quite well too, especially vocally. However, she struggles in some aspects of her character. Whether it be a fault of the sound mixing or a lack in Fazzari’s diction, her performance is quite difficult to understand and many sections of dialog sound quite muffled. Benito Veneziano and Johnathon White make up the other two thirds of “The Wedding Band”, and while both are responsible for a number of the show’s comedic highlights (George’s Prayer being suitably hilarious), there were moments in which they broke character and struggled with some of the material thrown their way. The remainder of the main cast unfortunately failed to make much of an impression – Alex Dehn as ‘Glen’ aced his character though struggled vocally, Kim Siemensma as ‘Grandma Rose’ was a casualty of poor direction, and Merryn Degnan as ‘Linda’ produced both one of the show’s highlights in “A Note From Linda” and one of the show’s most uncomfortable moments in “Let Me Come Home”. Read more …


REVIEW: PEP Productions’ “The Laramie Project”

“The Laramie Project” is a script I’ve read and studied many times before, but actually have never seen performed live on stage before. Constructed purely from interviews conducted by the the Tectonic Theatre Company with the locals of Laramie, the play details the life and death of Matthew Sheppard, who at the age of 21 fell victim to a vicious hate crime, tortured and murdered by local boys Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson on the outskirts of his home town. The play serves to translate to the audience the effect Sheppard’s murder had on the global debates regarding homophobia and hate crime legislation, as well as the impact it had on the small town in which it occurred, through the format of “Verbatim Theatre”. Due to both the abnormal nature of the play’s design as well as the confronting nature of its content, “The Laramie Project” remains one of the most difficult plays to perform and get right. However, due to an incredible amount of effort, talent and reverence, it is a play that PEP Productions absolutely nails. Read more …


REVIEW: Blue Saint’s “Songs for a New World”

“Songs for a New World” was without question one of the most unique and abstract theatre shows I’ve ever attended. Not as comprehensive as a musical, though not as clean cut as your standard song cycle, “Songs” was a show that was incredibly demanding on both its cast and creative team, requiring them to create a coherent experience and effectively translate an extensive number of stories and characters in a limited amount of time, with a total lack of dialogue. In the program, Director Luke Joslin talked of the difficulties associated with infusing the song cycle with a certain ‘theatricality’, which is no easy task. It is a challenge however that Joslin met with great effect, having linked these different characters not by narrative but by tone and style. Married with an incredibly effective set and lighting design that aided audiences in establishing themselves in the narrative, Joslin and Blue Saint have staged a show with more significance and meaning than most productions found even in Melbourne’s biggest theatres.

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“Proof” marks the second time this year where I’ve had the privilege of attending the debut performance of a brand new company and, to put it plainly, once again Melbourne has gained yet another strong platform upon which to promote and showcase groundbreaking theatre. The company, Artefact Theatre, derives its name from the idea that “powerful theatre leaves something behind with an audience, buried deep within their minds”. With “Proof”, Artefact have produced a deeply relevant, striking and moving piece of theatre that is sure to meet their goals and stay with their audience for a while yet.

The script itself by David Auburn has an incredible amount of appeal, and lends itself effortlessly to Artefact’s core philosophy. Dealing with the themes of family, loss, sacrifice, depression and ultimately survival, Proof’s greatest strength is that it quickly centres in on its characters. The show is quite cathartic in the way some of its themes are unapologetically confronting, but never dealt with in bad taste. Regardless of how serious the show sounds, make no mistake; it is very funny. Director Emily O’Brien-Brown has achieved the perfect balance of comedy and heartbreak to produce something very special indeed. Read more …