14 April 2012

Culture vulture: Comedy. Food. Beyond the Neck

These past few nights have been culture packed. I have seen comedy shows, eaten wonderful (and some junk) food, and seen a play. I've also been on a food tour. I feel very educated.

Wednesday night was Francesca Martinez with Phin and Jess - review and interview to come. Don't forget my giveaway for tickets to her show!

Thursday night was Contact The Netball Musical at the Arts Centre. I went with Mitch. We had Lord of the Fries and hot drinks, then cake, then chocolate. We sat near the tram bar, which was nice. Here is Mitch with chips. Chap and chips, as he said.

Contact the Netball Musical was lots of fun. It was my first netball 'match' and opera. The whole show was opera, with references to social media and "whatever' sung in operatic harmonies. It did take a lot of concentration though! Very funny, and I recommend it. I met the lovely winner of my ticket giveaway there too, we all had drinks after the show. After the show, Mitch took this photo of me near the Yarra river. Melbourne is so beautiful.
Friday night I went to Chapel Street Windsor for a play. Before the play I went for dinner, at the first placethat looked good. The cafe was Ghin Kopi - a cute Thai place with great prices. The waiter placed a funny glass on my table - which spun me out - literally! This glass has a pointed bottom and spins on its own axis. 
For entree, I had Son-in-law eggs. I've started to be more adventurous with eggs, and now eat boiled eggs occasionally. The eggs were deep fried, covered in prawn mince and a sauce which was a touch too salty, and served atop greens. I enjoyed them. I don't think I have a photo though.

Next up was chicken and bean shoot salad in egg net. Beautifully presented, and tasted fantastic. It was a bit like papaya salad - fresh and tangy with a bite of chilli. I couldn't eat it all, so I got a takeaway, which I had for breakfast this morning.

I couldn't eat all the salad because I had ordered dessert! Priorities! This is warm coconut black sticky rice pudding with lychees. So delicious. I loved the palm sugar. It would make a great winter dessert.
All up my meal was just over $30. I told the waitress that I was so pleased I stumbled across Ghin Kopi - it was tasty, light and easy on the wallet.
Ghin Kopi

After dinner, I headed to Red Stitch Theatre where I saw a play - Beyond the Neck. Beyond the Neck, directed by Suzanne Chaundy and written by Tom Holloway, explores the community reaction to the 1996 Port Arthur Massacre, 10 years on. It features four characters (who tell their stories in a quartet) - the "young wife and mother" - Emmaline Carrol, the "teenage girl" - Phillipa Spicer, the "old man" - Roger Oakley and the "boy" - Marcus McKenzie - coming together at the Port Arthur site 10 years on, sharing their stories with each other.
Beyond the Neck is a play about loss and post traumatic stress syndrome. The play explores both the present and the past, and at times, it was hard to tell how the characters had come together, and what their experience of the massacre was. The play is based on actual experiences of the victims, survivors and family members of the massacre, though I suspect while the situations are real, they may not match their exact characters to protect privacy. The young wife and mother felt the presence of her husband and daughter that were killed that day. The teenage girl remembers her father in his coffin, and subscribes to conspiracy theories about the massacre. The old man was there on the day, still works at the site and every day he runs a tour, he experiences flashbacks of gunshots. And the boy, a curious, complex character, with behavioural problems and violent tendencies is suggestive of turning out like Martin Bryant.

The concept of the quartet is covered by voices speaking over each other, sometimes interrupting, sometimes stopping the dialogue - conveying flashbacks. Despite the dark nature of the subject matter, there were laugh-out-loud funny moments. By sharing their stories, it helps them acknowledge their grief and come to terms with the reality that the effects of the massacre will stick with them for life.
I've always been curious about Port Arthur - I remember watching it on TV as it was unfolding, and reading the newspapers the next days, I've completed two assignments about the media surrounding the massacre, visited the site, and read a lot of literature about it. As shown in the play, it's the event that happened during our lifetime, but rarely spoken about. And I think the idea of being able to feel the eeriness at Port Arthur - of both the convict history and the massacre - was conveyed really well. When I visited, it was indeed very pretty, but a sadness hung in the air.

Beyond the Neck is compelling and moving. It's not an easy watch - it's deeply emotional. I felt incredible sympathy for the characters as they told their stories. The season ends tonight in Melbourne, but I recommend seeing it if it plays in other places in Australia. It's a beautiful and compassionate account of our modern history.


  1. Very nice, went to Melbourne last year and loved it. Unfortunately I live in cultural and financial waste land at the moment but I love to read review to keep up to date. Thank you.

  2. Hi carly, if you can read this it means I have successfully posted a comment on your blog! That Ghin Kopi restaurant sounds delicious, I must go there. Today I ate an amazing laksa at a place called Coconut House at 449 Elizabeth St, past all the motorbikes. I think you would love it, it had chicken, prawns, eggplant, bean shoots, chillis and big puffy puffs of tofu in a massive bowl of curry soupy noodles, all for $8.60. We felt very Asia-minded! Thanks, Lou

  3. Sounds like a good few nights for you! That play sounds absolutely amazing. I visited Port Arthur way back in Grade Eight, and I was struck by both how beautiful it was & how melancholy it felt.


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