....We will be original both off and on the page!
The planet shifts... The moon howls...
...1919 Saint Moritz Switzerland, Vaslav Nijinsky dances for the last time he announces to his audience I will dance the war and by the light of a hundred candelabras he does, spinning on golden wings he leaves the earth and his soul opens and he breaks apart and he flies right through that paper window and out into the stars...(excerpt from Mirrors by Eduardo Galeano)
Theatre Review: Eve
DAVID ZAMPATTI, The West Australian
October 26, 2012, 11:39 am
By Margi Brown Ash
The starting point for Margi Brown Ash's tour de force of writing and performance is the sad story of Eve Langley, a little- known and largely forgotten novelist and poet who worked from the 1930s until her lonely death in a shack outside Katoomba, New South Wales, in 1974.
This is no mere biographical drama, though. Ash combines some of Langley's writing with those of her self-appointed literary Siamese twins, Flaubert, Dickinson, Keats, Shakespeare and, especially, her beloved Oscar Wilde, in a poetic, combustible interior monologue of reminiscence, longing and heartache. Her own writing fits seamlessly into that high company. It's thrilling, gorgeously imaginative and physically potent.
She gives a performance to match. She makes you feel Eve's bitter disappointments and personal anguish but, above all, she captures the rapture of Eve's communion with her muses, the beautiful minds she worships and emulates in her writing and inside her head. Ash crams so much into the hour-plus play and yet it seemed to go by in a flash.
Ash is ably supported by the larger-than-life Phil Miolin's readings from Wilde's The Selfish Giant and Roland Adeney, whose violin anchors Travis Ash's tense, shuddering sound design (played, I'm happy to report for once, appropriately loudly). Tessa Darcey's set of a broken-down hut and a star-filled firmament works perfectly, as does Chris Donnelly's tough-minded lighting design. Leah Mercer, who devised the piece with Ash and Daniel Evans, directs with easy skill and a deep understanding of her actor and the text.
The play's genesis dates back a couple of decades and there is something of an earlier, more direct and visceral time in Australian theatre about it. I imagined it being performed at John Milson’s Southport Street Hole in the Wall Theatre and it would have fitted that great era like a glove. I hope he gets to see it — and I hope you do, too.
I recall, years ago, jumping to my feet to applaud Peter Carroll and Ron Blair's The Christian Brother. I did it again, for many of the same reasons, for Margi Brown Ash and Eve.
Eve runs until November 10.
By Nerida Dickinson | Wednesday November 7 2012
Margi Brown Ash in Eve.
Inspired by the life and creations of a fascinating Australian author, Eve Langley, Brisbane-based company the nest ensemble explore an intriguing character through her own perceptions of her conflicted life and times.
Opening in Eve’s later days, scribbling in her hut, one’s attention is grabbed immediately by the dramatic silhouette behind a light curtain. Pausing only for extravagant declamations before literally tearing away the veil, Eve’s recollected life unfolds in a dreamlike fashion, meandering through her experiences and thoughts, interacting with her alter-ego, Oscar Wilde, and occasionally disrupted by the demands of her husband, infant children or a nurse ‘bearing a lamington’. The opening and closing episodes do not shy away from the macabre circumstances of Eve’s death, with its rat-nibbled, decaying features, and entailed rejection of domestic tranquillity.
Interwoven through the story of Eve’s life is the narrative of Wilde’s short story, ‘The Selfish Giant’, punctuated by Eve’s loss of confidence in her self-identity and her recurrent measured questioning of the audience: ‘If I were alive today, would you consider me mad?’ While not linear, the presentation highlights the logic of her choices as she makes them, while simultaneously discussing her diagnosis of schizophrenia and various literary obsessions. Eve’s life is that of a person out of her time, unable to reconcile her grand dreams with the banality of marital expectations – quietly making cups of tea, like the other wives do.
Displaying an astounding emotional range, Margi Brown Ash plays an Eve full of joyous energy, with a twinkle in her eye and a mischievous grin, making it impossible not to sympathise with the woman who found deliverance through her fertile imagination while incarcerated as a ‘defective person’. Latter, she takes us through Eve’s self-doubt upon release, and her dismayed inability to re-connect with the dapper, resilient Wilde within.
Philip Miolin as The Storyteller brings his mellifluous, resonant voice and expressive eyes to the stage, and is an enthusiastic participation in Eve’s whims and fancies. Roland Adeney participates as the stand in for The Husband and his symbolic representation of a rejected, mundane life. He also provides live musical accompaniment. The symbolism does not end with his silent Husband part, with his adaptable violin work moving from long bowed notes to fiddle-style agitation, and from a conventionally static musician to frenetic zest as he chases Eve about the stage.
The sumptuous set abounds in quirky details, using a lever system to produce a cascade of leaves and the dread thump of a returned manuscript hitting the floor. Tessa Darcey, the designer, is to be commended for the multiplicity of uses found for a patched together curtain, torn down to commence the action, then further torn and deployed as infant characters, bed linen, and Emily Dickinson’s posthumously discovered poems.
Eve is a deeply considered, richly constructed celebration of a determinedly extravagant life, and questions our perceptions of degrees of madness, eccentricity, and the creative spirit.
Review: Eve - Metro Arts Independents by David Burton on l2May,20l2
I knew very little about Eve Langley before I saw this production. Eve was an enigmatic, deeply troubled Australian poet, seen as mad in her time. She's often compared to Virginia V/oolf. Eve's poems frequently reflected a struggle between the domestic life that was expected of her and the call to divine artistry that she was no doubt destined for. She was funny, eccentric, and desperate to be acknowledged as a serious artist. At times she took on other names, including 'Oscar Wilde', as a way of surviving through the disappointment she had in herself.
Margi Brown Ash brings the life of Eve Langley to the Metro Arts stage. It's a free adaptation -part memoir, part fiction, part poetry, and quite a significant tribute to a very remarkable woman. Margi devised the work with Leah Mercer (who also directed) and Daniel Evans. The script is beautiful and stylistic, and moves much like poetry itself. This is less of a story and more of an exploration of a life. However, it's a theatrical journey that's not for the faint of heart. The stylistic liberties mean that the piece is in danger of being inaccessible for some. Nevertheless, for those who love literature, who know of Eve Langley, or who enjoy brilliant independent theatre, this production is an absolute gem.
The highlight of the entire evening is to see Margi Brown Ash return to the stage. This is almost a one-woman show, with Margi only occasionally interrupted by fellow performer Stace Callaghan, and assisted on stage by a silent husband character, played by Moshio. But this is absolutely Margi's show. She is comic, tragic, heart-warming, terrifying and beautiful.
Ms Brown Ash's collaboration with director Leah Mercer has obviously been a fruitful one. It is an absolute pleasure to see a highly trained and experienced actor on stage. Margi's voice is a marvel. She crafts moments of beautiful intimacy in a near-whisper, and blows the audience away with a guttural screaming. No word is ever lost or confused. Actors, go and see this as an example of what the human theatrical voice should be.
Margi's assisted by the occasional narration from Stace Callaghan, who plays off Margi beautifully, especially in the closing moments of the play. Moshio's silent husband is perhaps under-used, but his true gift is the live violin soundtrack he provides. Its solo voice manages to convey full textures and colours that aid Margi's 'Eve.'
Frequent visitors to indie theatre will know that the budget often falls short of a truly comprehensive design. Not so here. Eye's set is a beautifully constructed hut set in the middle of the Australian bush. Finely crafted candelabras made from branches crown the space and further close it in. It's a triumph from the team at Backwoods Original, helped along by design consultant Bev Jensen. Equally skilled are the costumes by Kate \ilhite and the lighting by Genevieve Trace. The music, composed by Travis Ash, is absolutely fantastic. The sound of a 20's jazzband, distorted and twisted, gives life and energy to the piece, and serves as another beautiful reflection of Eve Langley's inner-mind. To see all ofthese elements working together so well is the result of a seamless production team.
Eve is not for everyone, but if you frequent independent theatre then it should absolutely be on your to-see list. I went with a group of people, and one friend left in tears, substantially moved. Another left with some indifference, marvelling at the performance and skill, but not feeling tenibly affecte-d. I was somewhere in between. While occasionally inaccessible, Eve is never pretentious. This is totally thanks to Ms Brown Ash's charrring and compelling performance. Go see Eve if you love literature, theatre, or Australian history.
UPDATE: Receivedfrom tke producer. 'There was ... ø change to the team after the mørketíng materials were released, and so Bev Jensen wasn't merely the design cansultant, but actually creøted the costume design, not Kate Whíte.
Eve I The Nest Ensemble
Written by Kelli Rogers Saturday, 19 May 2012
Every year Metro Arts hosts a tantalising line up of independent theatre. Although 2012 isn't quite half way through, I feel I can say, without any hesitation, that The Nest Ensemble's production of Eve will be one of the finest examples of independent theatre you'd be likely to see anywhere in Australia this year.
This stunning piece of theatre is the collaborative work of Writer & Co-deviser Margi Brown Ash, Director & Co-deviser Leah Mercer and Co-deviser Daniel Evans. However, the project's origins date back to '1994 and included Douglas Leonard and Anna Fairley. Despite the inherent hurdles this production faced after Doug Leonard sadly passed away in2011, and the seemingly canyon-like gap between inception and realisation, Eve is an exquisite and intricate work. (The cliché I want to use is pure poetry in motion.) lt will hold you captive and captivate you from the moment you walk into the theatre and right through to the curtain call.
What is Eve about? ln short, it's a cocktail of memoir and fiction that pays homage lo Eve Langly (1904-1 974), an Australian writer whose literary work was acclaimed. The tragedy was she lived a tormented life, caught between the confines of family and motherhood and her need to be a free, creative individual unbound by social constructs, such as gender roles.
This is not a depressing search into the soul of this misunderstood artist (while this territory is covered) but more a dark, brilliant and creative post mortem deep into the heart, mind and varying personas oÍ Eve. Margi Brown Ash plays Eve and is riveting to watch. The play's prose drips from her tongue, every movement and breath is enthralling. Margi holds the audience's gaze commandingly and with a delicacy superb to watch. She embodies Eve and manages to magically summon the souls of literary giants and the heavens themselves into the theatre. Sharing the stage with Margi are performers Stace Gallaghan, whose sophisticated vocals soothingly relate Oscar Wilde's 'The Selfish Giant' at intervals throughout the piece, and Moshlo, whose violin and physical performance works in beautiful harmony and discord opposite Eve lor the entire show.
Every aspect of Eve is a refined sensory experience. The set design by Blackwoods Original, which heavily incorporates organic material (wood mostly), is enchanted Australian bush, meets dilapidated hut, meets bespoke rural design. I longed to explore the set after the performance and see it and touch it up close, like some fascinating artefact. Lighting design by Genevieve Trace was visually exacting and the use of shadow and shadow play was exceptional. Sound design by Travis Ash was wonderfully intense and acted to enhance the emotive edge of the performance, pushing the audience's auditory experience to the brink of uncomfortable and back again.
The Nest Ensemble's Eve is a strong and compelling piece of independent theatre. lt is a sublime, evocative, rich, disturbing and tightly woven piece that will leave you intellectually reeling and profoundly inspired by its complexity and the beautiful, mad brilliance that manifested in the life and work of Eve Langley.
Metro Arts and The Nest Ensemble present
Eve written by Margi Brown Ash I devised by Margi Brown Ash, Leah Mercer and Daniel Evans
Director Leah Mercer
Venue: Sue Benner Theatre, Metro Arts | 109 Edward Street, Brisbane
Eve - Metro Arts Independents 2012
Reviewed Sonn Clarke on Saturday 19 May 2012
Margi Brown Ash - Eve - Metro Arts lndependents 2012
Eve Langley, the subject matter of the semi-biographical Eve was a mid-twentieth century Australian writer who struggled against the shackles of the "feminine function". She was eccentric by today's standards but rnsane by the standards of her day; she took to dressing as a man and changed her name to Oscar Wilde; she was committed to an institution by her husband and finally ended up dying alone and unfound for three weeks Sound vaguely familiar? I wish I had known Eve Langley's story as intimately as I know Virginia Woolf's before I went to see the third instalment of Metro Arts
lndependents series. The exquisite Margi Brown Ash gifts her audience an introduction with a beautiful and sensitive portrayal of Langley and the drive of the artist to create and to be free to do so
An eerie jazztrack mixes with the air, and a small hut is presented to the audience on entry, with the frozen form of Moshio seated outside, back-facing the audience. The garden is strewn with fossil like candelabras made out of old wood, an old bathtub, a discarded pram - all relics of real life - a life that is not for Eve. Eve is silhouetted behind the papered side of the hut, madly scribbling and muttering. ln an interview Langley described herself as one who chatters and embroiders literature all the time, endlessly - and the fanatic, never still silhouette immediately recalls this
Margi Brown Ash and Director / Co-deviser Leah Mercer have collaborated to stitch together parts of Langley's life with parts of her fiction and her poetry to realise a fluid portrayal that is more like a dreaming trip through Langley's delusions and disillusions rather than a straight forward biographical play, the latter would not have done justice to her story or her frame of mind.
Moshio - an enigmatic performer in his own right - appears as the 'husband' character, a kind of minstrel, a detached witness to Langley's turmoil- he doesn't speak, instead plays a violin. he doesn't speak, instead plays a violin that at times empathises and at others, attacks Eve's various wandering states. This, the most agonising of instruments beautifully enhances Margi's monologue, although it abruptly disappears toward the end of the show as if Moshio had just decided that he had played along
times empathises and at others, attacks Eve's various wandering states. This, the most agonising of instruments beautifully enhances Margi's monologue, although it abruptly disappears toward the end of the show as if Moshio had just decided that he had played along long enough. times empathises and at others, attacks Eve's various wandering states. This, the most agonising of instruments beautifully enhances Margi's monologue, although it abruptly disappears toward the end of the show as if Moshio had just decided that he had played along long enough.
Stace Callaghan, perched above the stage, is a small boy reading a fairy tale. The presence of this character felt a little contrived and disruptive but perhaps this is due to the power of Margi's solo performance and the interruption of the childish voice proves too distracting.
Ere conveys the overuvhelming loneliness of place - physical place, place in society and place in one's own mind and one's own condition. I can't say I left this show feeling upbeat, rather reflecting on the suffering of those pioneering women who were made to be mad because they didn't fit the mould that was given them. lf someone tells you something often enough, eventually you start to believe and even become it. Eve poses the question... do you think I'm mad or just eccentric? ls there a difference between the two?
Margi Brown Ash does not perform but rather evokes Langley to the stage and for the entire duration of the piece does not once break the momentum or give a glimpse at the actor beneath the surface. lt truly is a stunning performance and perhaps more than that, proof of Margi's fascination and empathy for a misunderstood woman who was "ahead of her time".
Eye is poetically stylised which might limit the audiences it will connect with. To some, this production might feel slow or out of reach, even a bit old fashioned, but the audience it was devised for will be delighted by the play and thoroughly inspired by Margi's performance. lf you make it to the show, do read up on Langley before you go - it will certainly give you more perspective on the work.
By XS Entertainment
the nest ensemble & Metro Arts lndependents
Metro Arts' Sue Benner Theatre
the nest ensemble's EVE opened last night at Metro Arts and today the social media is all a- flutter over it!
EVE is a work of incredible passion, delving into the notions of obsession, genius and madness. lt's a fascinating, devastating story about an Australian writer who we like to call our own Virginia Woolf, one Eve Lanqlev (1908 - 1974). lt's intense and even, at times, a little bit delightful. A rare show, it induces more than most, the magic of genuinely mixed emotions and a sense of bewilderment. Margi Brown Ash, who plays Eve as if she were never anybody other than she, is a tour de force. Allow me to put that term into context a little bit later.
As the five year old and I walked away from the theatre and up Edward Street, she told me that the play we'd just seen was, "strange and very frightening." When I asked her if she thought Margi (Brown Ash) did a good job showing us how the writer, Eve Langley, went mad she replied, "Do I have to answer that? Of course she did! That's what was so frightening!"
... I would recommend you book a babysitter. I'm gratefulthat Poppy's favourite part turned out to be the re-telling by the enigmatic Stace Callaghan, of Oscar Wilde's, The Selfish Giant, which was interwoven beautifully, helping the nightmarish outbursts from Margi and Moshlo (via voice and violin respectively) melt away that much more quickly.
Stace Callaghan - a beautiful, whimsical storyteller - gives generously, youth and all of its magical belief, innocence and hope. Moshlo, with his violin (and a broken string 20 minutes in) plays the devil incarnate, the husband, though his role is more musicalthan literal and I cannot imagine the soundscape (Design by Travis Ash) existing without his often-jarring compositions and superb execution. The play benefits enormously from his energy on stage.
Eve, like Wilde, was a brilliant writer. Norman Lindsay praised her debut novel, The Pea- Pickers (published in 1942), which won The Bulletin award. Even so, unlike Wilde, she attained comparatively little notoriety and died alone in her bush hut near Katoomba in 1974, after an upheaval rather than a life, during which she spent seven years in Auckland Mental Hospital (she had followed her mother there in 1932), was removed from her children and abandoned by her husband, an artist, Hilary Clark, who had committed her after he failed to continue coping with, among other things, her hermaphroditic ways and refusal to make his tea. As she observes during the final moments of the play, if she were alive today, no one would consider her mad, eccentric perhaps but not mad.
Co-devised by Margi Brown-Ash, Dan Evans and Leah Mercer, who stepped into the director's shoes after original director, Doug Leonard sadly passed away late last year, the story is largely projection, inspired by Eve's fiction and letters, of which we hear fragments. It's nicely put together so that even knowing nothing about Eve Langley, you'll feel like you know her before the conclusion of the play. And you will feel for her. Poor Eve. Her words are hard and sharp and, for the most part, completely unforgiving. Her warmth comes through only at the thought of stars and planets (until they fill her mouth and become the stuff of nightmares). She was a woman trapped in her own skin, unable to care for her own children and out of touch with "reality". Eve's reality consisted of days and nights of babies screaming and a husband who had to be told to shut up so she could write! Artists (and mothers) particularly, will relate to Eve's pain and endless frustration. However, the chasm between normal disparities of roles (becoming the domestic help and wife and not the career woman) and entering into an actual state of madness is played out nicely so that only some of us (the writers!) are actually worried about suffering a similar fate in the end.
Genevieve Trace has gone straight to the top of my watch list with this show. I won't give away the opening, which is a complete creative team accomplishment and a full assault on the senses (be ready!), but I will tell you that Gen's evocative lighting design, working inherently with chunky intricate (l'm coining the phrase) set design by Backwoods Original and costumes by Bev Jensen, is something out of the pages of Frankie, inspired by some random European style magazine, with its perfectly placed subtle colours, underpinned (or overlaid) by the stunning effect of lit twig orbs and chandeliers. A simple but effective focus allows us to share Eve's torment inside the confines of the mental institution. An interesting warning appears on the material outside the theatre, to let you know that "organic matted' will be used in the production. Obviously, this is in case of allergies, however; I thought that perhaps other, more sterile productions should probably come with the warning that no organic matter will be used. Perhaps this is a trick the state theatre company can keep in mind for future productions. lt's sensory theatre and we're craving more of it. The team at Metro Arts has no qualms about letting the outside in and, just like the set of The Raven, EVE boasts more organic material than you will have seen used by local council workers to top up suburban roundabouts (the money is better spent in The Arts IMHO. Who really appreciates the bark as they're driving by? Be honest!).
This is a show not to be missed. ln particular, there is something so bold and fearless about Margi's performance as Eve Langley that it almost defies description. But there it is. She is bold and fearless, powerful and vulnerable, passionate and selfish, determined and defiant and absolutely bloody marvelous. She's the closest thing this town has to Robyn Nevin when Robyn Nevin is not in town.
Now. That term. What about it? Well, the term tour de force is bandied about quite often these days. Not until this intense and incredibly emotional performance by Margi Brown Ash, has it been applied appropriately thus far this year to describe a leading lady in Brisbane. I know. lt's a big call. Go see her become Eve and watch the transformation, as Eve becomes Wilde. Acting students and theatre lovers must not miss this opportunity to watch one of the masters at work in what will surely be one of the most memorable productions of the year.