Photograph by Sam Goh

Monday, 6th of May 2019

Monash Performing Arts Club (MPAC) had decided that this semester, they’ll grace the Monash audience with a new theatre style, showcasing productions mainly by the MPAC committee and ex-committees. It was something new, something fresh and expectations were high about it.

The order of the plays on that day went a little something like this:

 

You Have a Voicemail
written by Michelle

In the Distance of You
written by Roshan

La Folie
written by Rachel

Betrayal
written by Harold Pinter, adapted by Alyssa

Awesome Squad 2
written by Narnia

 

Photograph by Sam Goh

The entire night began with the two emcees, Ben and Mason welcoming the audience into the room. The atmosphere was full of curiosity and high expectations. This was something that was never done before. NOD and YEP were something that MPAC had always put on for the Monash audience, but never a Black Box before.

Black Box, for those who are unaware, is technically a new form of theatre, where it is a small space surrounded by the audience with black walls and a flat floor to give flexibility in the performance and to garner audience interaction.

This is what MPAC had decided to bring to the table this semester.

And soon, the first play of the night began!

•YOU HAVE A VOICEMAIL•
written by Michelle

This play focuses on the story of a married woman, cheating on her husband with another guy. They went on a vacation and she had her phone switched off. When she turned her phone on, she was bombarded with voicemails, frantic voices trying to reach to her, revealing pieces of information of an unfortunate story of her husband dying in the hospital.

Photograph by Sam Goh

This story was heartfelt and it touched on many themes, one mainly regret. This story unraveled delicately and enticed many feelings from anger at the act of cheating to hearts breaking to watch the main actress fall apart at the voice of her husband.

You Have a Voicemail is unique in the storytelling as the voicemails play a major role. The voicemails were played from the most recent to the oldest one. Because of this kind of layout, the story is revealed layer by layer in a way that reveals what happened before breaking your heart at the final voicemail.

It’s a marvelous story that moved the hearts of many.

•IN THE DISTANCE OF YOU•
written by Roshan

In the Distance of You is a romantic comedy that started off with a park scene, two friends talking about love and girls before the main character met with the literal girl of his dreams.

Photograph by Sam Goh

He asked her out on a date. This couple went on a date where the heroine revealed of her cheating ex-boyfriend. There, the hero advised her about the problem followed by a cute talent singing show by the heroine. In between the scenes, we get preaches about love and the effects of a long-term relationships.

At the end of the play, the heroine revealed she had to go away soon and she could not really be with the hero. The final scene of the play showcased the hero getting drunk, before bumping into a new girl and falling in love again.

This play was brilliantly done with clever light tricks. In between of the scenes, to keep the momentum of the play going, we get hilarious preaching and not going to lie, useful advice. The writing and acting was beautifully executed as well. It was crafted in a way that there’s always humour inserted in between followed by Gaviota’s wonderful singing for the talent show scene.

Overall, it was an enjoyable play with a cute romantic comedy twist.

 

•La Folie•
written by Rachel 

 

To those who don’t know, La Folie is French for Descend to Madness. And that is what this play portrayed with its beautifully dark, heavy writing and screenplay. The play starts off with a child named Lily playing in the attic before finding a journal. The next few scenes then talks about the content of the diary where her deceased mother, Layla, had a child before her, a stillborn named Leon. Edward, her father, had cremated the child which broke apart the family when Layla believed Leon was alive and Edward had murdered him.

Photograph by Sam Goh

The story continues to progress to showcase how deranged Layla has started to become when Leon showed up, poking at his mother to take revenge over his death. When Edward could no longer get into Layla’s head about why he cremated Leon, he forced himself onto her and that was when she conceived Lily. Only, this time, her life was at risk if she gives birth to Lily. Even through Edward’s warning, she carried Lily and died.

The play ends when Edward who had gone missing for years after Lily’s birth came back to see her. That was where, switching back to present, we see Leon standing next to her and urging her to murder the man, Edward, who had murdered him. The play ends with Lily laughing at the dead body of her father, stabbed by her, blood covering him and covering Lily.

Photograph by Sam Goh

It was a dark play, taken to new heights with lighting tricks and stage blood. The acting were on point and did not fail to capture the attention and heart strings of the audience. The emotions portrayed in the play were great. The scriptwriting and plot progression was successful in building the tension until it reached the climax of the play.

As an avid fan of dark themes in a story, this play certainly captured my heart with the depth of the plot as well as the brilliant acting.

 

•Betrayal•
written by Harold Pinter, adapted by Alyssa

Betrayal is a play adapted from Harold Pinter’s 1978 play talking about an extramarital affair. This play adapted scene 5 of the original play, where the husband in the original play finds out about the affair his wife had with his best friend.

Photograph by Sam Goh

In this play, however, the scene was adapted in a way the content of it remains the same, it was the order of who cheated on who that changed. The wife finds a letter where she recognises the handwriting belonging to her best friend, addressed to her husband. It was then she started connecting the dots and subtly interrogated her husband until her husband finally admitted to the affair.

The dialogues and the tension of the scene was brilliantly executed. Every little jab by the wife could be felt even as an audience and the nonchalance at first shown by the husband before he began to realise what was truly happening was interesting to watch. The actors, Alyssa and Brandon portrayed their versions beautifully.

For those who would like to know how to original one turns out, here’s one adaptation of it that I watched before watching the Black Box play.

•Awesome Squad 2•
written by Narnia

Awesome Squad was a successful semester 2, 2018 Night of Drama play where its sequel was then brought to Black Box in semester 1 of 2019. The play continues from the moment Awesome Squad ended last year and goes on to expand Awesome Squad universe in more detail with new villains and twists.

The play begins with a ‘Previously on Awesome Squad…’ sequence which spoke of what happened in NOD briefly. The story then continues with a narrator announcing each scene’s title. The first scene started with a heist gone wrong where Household and Captain Awesome started to get into a quarrel about a bank robbery gone wrong and unable to stop the Henchmen.

Photograph by Sam Goh

This was the start of the tension. Moving onto scene 2, it was when Captain Awesome started doubting himself as a leader and Household was in his own dilemma, wanting to talk to Captain Awesome about something that was bothering him only for Captain Awesome at the end to announce that there would be an audition to recruit more people into the team.

There, Awesome Squad gathered more additions to team such as Rainbow Girl, Dick Justice, Herr Bosewicht and Mummy Man. All the while, Household was carrying this mystery around him. Soon, the new team found themselves against the Henchmen again only once more, failing miserably. There, Household and Captain Awesome had a falling out to which Household accused Captain Awesome of knowing the truth behind his dead parents only for the clues to lead to Captain Awesome’s dad killing them. But Dick Justice counters and says that it was someone else who killed Household’s parents and not Captain Awesome’s father.

The team then gets divided into half, Herr following Household to make a new team. Towards the end of the play, we discover through Dick Justice that Herr is the real bad guy here. That was when Takahashi came in and said that Herr was shooting everyone down with his gun.

Photograph by Sam Goh

The final part of the play appears then and we see a showdown between Herr and everyone in Awesome Squad before Herr managed to aim a gun at Mummy Man, who had forced Captain Awesome to leave. Mummy Man dies at the end, getting shot in the head and Household returns to tackle Herr down, killing him as well before the play ends.

Overall, Black Box was a brilliant production by MPAC with amazing plays performed for the Monash audience. It was well written, the lighting tricks were clever and the added music and sound effects added a new depth to the wonderful acting. To those who have missed Black Box, I hope this gives you a little insight on what went down that day and make sure you don’t miss out on anymore events organised by MPAC! It was a night to remember.


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