The true story of the whaling ship ‘Catalpa’, and her astonishing captain George Anthony has been described as one of the most extraordinary prison escapes of all time. It was a mission that spanned the globe and culminated in the rescue of six Irish political prisoners from Fremantle gaol in 1876.
Catalpa, the play, is a one person piece written by Donal O’Kelly and has been described as ‘the most stunningly innovative pieces of Irish theatre in recent years’. It is an ambitious actor’s dream role, providing the opportunity to play a huge number of characters, a vast range of emotions and make difficult transitions, while telling an epic tale as if it was happening in your lounge room. Des Fleming is the perfect candidate to play such a role (Irish heritage aside), as he embodies the spirit and characters, making the audience feel they are right there on the Catalpa with him.
From the moment Des jumped out of bed and transformed from frustrated screenwriter to high-flying sea bird, the audience felt they were in the hands of a talented director and performer. Des Fleming is a rare talent of an actor, versatile, understated and powerful all at once. Alice Bishop did a wonderful job with an objective eye, dictating the momentum and tempo of the piece and staging it seamlessly. The original music and sound performed live by Wally Gunn is perfectly suited to the production and adds power to the story being told. Itch Productions should be congratulated. There are many young companies in Melbourne trying to establish their place by producing quality, minimalist theatre, but it is rare to see one succeed to such a high standard as Itch Productions has done in its first attempt.
Go see Catalpa.
Itch Productions presents
By Donal O’Kelly
Venue: Mechanics Institute Performing Arts Centre | Cnr Sydney and Glenlyon Roads, Brunswick
Preview: Wed May 7th - Tickets $15
Season: May 8th -18th Tuesday to Saturday @ 8pm
Saturday Matinee @ 2pm, Sunday Matinee @ 5pm
Tickets: $25 full/$20 conc
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