monster. : Unnervingly Hypnotic

Review

I think the best way to begin talking about monster. is to talk you through my posture. It’s a play that has to be experienced, lived through almost as you undergo a watching experience that is bodily. I experienced it hunched over, my head resting on my fists, my elbows on my knees, finding myself leaning further and further forward. Then back, suddenly, joining the audience in collective gasps and tight lungs, eased just as quickly and unexpectedly by laughter. When the curtains closed and the rapturous applause subsided, we all sat for a moment, letting our bodies calm.

Watching monster. felt like a sharp inhale after a strong peppermint. It takes you by surprise, hurts almost, but you still want to do it again.

monster., written and directed by James Huxtable, is played out by three plotlines, the most notable being the story of an elderly couple, Annie and Martin, who are harboring an unknown creature in their basement. Without spoiling the plot, Huxtable shows his merit as a writer by expertly weaves these storylines together, letting the audience like and dislike each character, making the finale even more intense as all the prior opinions and emotions are culminated and questioned. The ability to leave the audience completely in the dark until the final moments is a huge merit to the cast and Huxtable alike.

The promotion for the show was minimal and cryptic, leaving the plot largely unknown. But from the off-set it was clear that the minimalism of branding and promo, did not reflect in preparation. The work and development gone into characterisation was apparent, especially in the case of Emily Bowles, playing the elderly Annie. Bowles’ performance was in a word, show-stealing, due to her full body and mind characterisation. She appeared almost engulfed by the frail, anxious Annie, appearing to shrink more and more as the character falls deeper into her worry. Her performance, capturing the personal torture of trauma, pill abuse, and psychosis, is unnerving yet graceful, you can’t help but feel for Annie, desperate for her to find some ease in their isolated life. Credit in part is due to Charlotte Schofield for incredible make-up, managing to turn the 20-something into a 60-something, but my eyes were always on Bowles, twitching in the corner and spiraling into insanity.

Emily Bowles and Jack Hewitt’s anxiety-provoking performance as the couple try to live with the beastly secret, was perfectly aided by the shows clever use of sound and lighting. The most effectively used feature of the set was the door to the basement where the creature was kept, which glowed red as shrieks filled the theatre, sending us all shooting backward in our seats. It was the use of sound that brought me fully into Huxtable’s chaotic nightmare. When Bowles, Bevan and the shadows broke into a dance scene, disco dancing along to Sweet Jane, I thought I might be the one who had lost their mind.

From the hellishness of Annie and Martin’s beast, Lucy Bytheway and Jake Bastable’s performance as Angel and Lamb, a young married couple failing to conceive, moved me from fear to near tears. Jake Bastable’s performance was both vast and deep. His range of emotions from pure joy and love as we meet the enamoured couple, to deranged desperation as he tries but can’t make his wife happy, is astonishing, with each performed as fully and believably as the last. The chemistry between Bytheway and Bastable was natural, perfect casting for the volatile couple. While Annie and Martin’s plight is scarily unknown, the struggle of Angel and Lamb is upsetting due to the audience’s complete understanding. The woman, longing for a child, for something to give her love to, Bytheway brought that pain to life in a gut-wrenching performance, adding a real-world element to the seemingly otherworldly aspects of the play.
Lorna Dale’s performance at the young girl brings relief to the darkness. The character’s infectious naivety and joy is, as she says, ‘a nice thought’. However, Dale performance captures a sense of instability in the girl’s eyes, a frantic happiness on the edge of a cliff. The multi-layered performance managed to be both a relief and an unnerving warning. The character proves Huxtable’s talents for the highs and lows, showing his range in the switch between the young girl’s monologues on love, Angel and Lamb’s intense arguments, the comic relief of the nurse, and the pure darkness of Annie and Martin. Each of his characters moves in and out of good and bad, they’re complex and developed to the point that the audience isn’t quite sure what to make of them, as though who are we to judge these people?

monster. isn’t easy to discuss through free of revealing too much. It’s an intricate web of clues and links, coming together in the last moments and closing the curtains on a gasp. The merging of the complete unknown and conventionally scary ‘monster’, and the all too familiar problems haunting the characters, show the sophistication of Huxtable’s writing, tackling major issues in a plot that is as uncomfortable as it is gripping. It’s unnerving, but you find yourself leaning into the chaos. A real merit to all involved, monster. is student theatre at its finest, hypnotising, challenging, and new.

5 stars – intense, comic, and clever. Huxtable is one to watch.

monster. is playing at Sheffield University Drama Studio until 17/11/2018. Read more HERE

On Aesthetics : Elizabeth Corrall

visuals

 

When I took my most recent roll of film, the only thoughts that crossed my mind were ‘angelic’ and ‘aesthetic’. I often find in photography the idea of a photo as having a hidden meaning or element of performance can oversaturate my work, I take images to perform and portray emotion, evolving with what my photographic style is and what I want to say more than what the images themselves contain.

 

This over-saturation of ideas and meanings can clog the mind; so on this roll of film, I wanted to go back to why I started taking photos, aesthetics. I began taking photographs of things I found attractive, and that evolved more and more into making parts of myself attractive to perform them to the camera, creating surreal series’ of work. For the first time in a while, I elected to take images of things that were pretty, with no meaning other than their aesthetic value.

 

Aesthetics are frequently used on social media, using hashtags to gain likes on attractive images, taking the ideas of being an aesthete and turning it into a way to gain popularity. The idea of an aesthetic has evolved from a beautiful detail in a work of art, in a building, into a moodboard of ‘aesthetic outfits’ and ‘satisfying images’. Aesthetics have changed from something that is beautiful and the reaction to a beautiful object into an Instagram trend.

 

Going back to basics was important to me when I took these photos, testing what I find aesthetically pleasing, what I consider to be the beauty in every day life, even when that day is grey and rainy. Attractiveness is a very personal thing, we all see beauty in different walks of life, and that’s what makes aesthetics interesting; one person may see flowers as the most aesthetic object from mother nature, for others, it’s the clouds. Aesthetics and our personal view of what is aesthetic is fascinating, no two people see the world the same, we all see with different colours, different perspectives, different senses. My personal goal was to take images that I consider to be beautiful and have no deeper meaning, to show everyone around me what I personally find attractive.

 

I think aesthetics and the idea of simply using creativity to create beauty is fascinating. I want to create more for the sake of creating, with no emotional ties, just looking at everything we may overlook with the idea of placing it on a canvas. Beauty is in every walk of life, it is who documents it that makes it beautiful to the rest of the world. The idea of taking images that follow this soft, angelic and gentle aesthetic is a personal breath of fresh air, giving myself a chance to recharge from a constant internal pressure of giving all art a meaning.

 

Sometimes, it is nice to just look at a picture and enjoy its aesthetic – its texture, its contrasting colours, the small details that may be lost when you’re in the moment, rather than deciphering a meaning to every image. Beauty for the sake of beauty is a connection to the core of creativity, turning the world into a new aesthetic canvas every day.

Beaker’s Place : Dark, Strange, and Hilarious

Review

If I could save an art form, I would pick theatre. I would save the puzzlingly intimate relationship between actor and audience, the goosebumps of dimmed lights and carefully selected sounds, the aim to immerse; to engulf the watcher through dialogue, costume, setting, things explained and things understood. I would save theatre, for all the sensations you can’t get through a screen.

 
That’s why my heart lies with student theatre, and writers who choose to mould their words into lines in alternating voices. So when James Huxtable, a contributor for KILORAN, actor and writer, announced that his debut play; Beakers Place would be going to Edinburgh Fringe, taken there by the theatre company, Only Lucky Dogs, which he set up with his peers, I was immediately excited. But James revealed nothing, keeping the plot a mystery, revealing minimal clues or information about his characters, so I saw it fresh-eyed and free of expectation as they previewed the play ahead of the Fringe.

 
The first thing that struck me was the minimal set; only a table, shelves lightly decorated with an urn labelled ‘paul’, and two chairs with a noose hanging above one. There’s little to rely on, but when Matthew Bevan, playing the titular role Beaker, starts to speak, you quickly realise he needs nothing. Eloquently and with-ease, Bevan slips into mania, switching in seconds between humour and hysteria, each as believable as the other. Talking to himself in a tone that’s reminiscent of a modern-day Macbeth, the audience is introduced to the inner turmoil facing Beaker, as the confident and charming character lightly contemplates his suicide plans. Revealing the name on the urn, Paul, to be his dead cat, Beaker’s one-sided conversation with his lost companion opens up the challenge to the audience; you can’t help but like this psycho. Bevan’s faultless presentation of turmoil, moving seamlessly between fast-paced raving coated in dark humour to tears, builds dimension upon dimension, confronting the audience almost instantly with a character so intense and real, I wasn’t quite sure how to react except to let myself go. I laughed at Beaker’s mindless thoughts on Hitler’s art career and felt myself ache for him as he dusts his feet, before climbing onto the chair in front of the noose.

 
The one thing we know for certain about Beaker is that he disposes of bodies, knowledge that prompts the arrival of the not-dead Drew, played by Lorna Dale. Again, the audience isn’t sure what to do with this character, as Dale’s initial presentation is one of innocence with a sinister aftertaste. The two characters interactions start almost as weirdly as they end, with Beaker sharing too much and Drew stabbing back with brutal one-liners, asserting herself as an outright, no-bullshit presence in contrast to the frantic Beaker. Paul Simon’s Call Me Al makes it, providing the strangest soundtrack to the strangest meeting of two of the strangest characters, a sickly sweet backdrop to total mania as the characters yell at each other.

 
Strange is the perfect description. Huxtable’s characters are a constant conflict, both in the plot and in the mind of the audience. You should hate them; you should hate Beaker who talks pleasantly about Hitler and Drew who is unphased and unsympathetic to the signs of Beaker’s suicidal thoughts. While the play deals with difficult subjects like suicide, depression and loss, Huxtable’s character are insensitive, making them all the more captivating.

 
Lorna Dale as Drew was especially captivating as the character begins to unravelling, undoing all the earlier misconceptions of her innocence and naivety. I found myself unblinking during her monologue about Pandora’s box and the danger of curiosity, a moment that suddenly crescendos. It’s poetic, displaying Huxtable’s merits as a writer, and again is reminiscent of Shakespeare as Dale has the intensity of Lady Macbeth in her eyes. You can’t help but feel a little guilty as an audience member, undeniably curious about these two characters, secretly willing them to boil over and reveal the reasoning to their condition, to open the box and release it. The addition of sound effects, used sparingly in the rest of the show, heighten Drew’s sudden transformation, dragging the audience into whatever sinister trance the character is lost in. The goosebumps change to sweaty palms.

 

The only thing that I could criticise was the speed of the ending. The intensity deserves more, Huxtable’s talent for writing complete chaos deserves a longer time in its climax. I would’ve liked a slightly slower unravelling, and to hear more from Beaker during the finale and a pause to check in on his mental state since we first meet him in a suicidal state. However, Dale and Bevan carry the mania off perfectly, never slipping up and fully diving into the confusion and hysteria of the scene. Despite the sudden increase in pace in the final moments of the play, the quirks and personalities of the two characters remain, allowing them to stay complex and challenging even as the action picks up. Down to the last second, the audience is still left unsure whether to like or hate them, and whether to celebrate or mourn the outcome.

 

Without stumbling, Huxtable’s writing flows between these two states; humour and intensity, full of the honesty and uniqueness evident in his poetry too. The concept would be laughable if it wasn’t executed so well, circling serious topics around the focal point of a dead cat, with Paul’s ashes sitting centrally in the story. Peaks and troughs of mania and humour, comedy and tragedy, power shifts and moments of intimacy all sit around this centre point, rocking back and forth between the two like a lunatic in the corner. While the storyline is fiction and exaggerated, the anxieties that float between these two characters are real and reflective, confronting the audience again and again when we suddenly start to see ourselves in the carelessness of Drew or the obsession of Beaker. Beaker’s place is exactly what I love about theatre, it’s controlling, making me laugh, cry and gasp on cue. All the jokes land, all the twists are shocking, and the characters, with their complete lack of morals, make you question your own stability in this world. I won’t forget it in a while, I’m still contemplating whether the curiosity would get too much, whether I would open the box.

Rating: 4.5 Stars – Unique, unexpected, and captivating; add it to your Edinburgh Fringe itinerary immediately.

Cast & Crew

Beaker – Matthew Bevan
Drew – Lorna Dale

Writer – James Huxtable
Director – MichaelSalibaa
Technical Manager – Iz Potter
SX – Conal Gallagher

More information and tickets HERE

CALL OUT FOR DIVERSE CREATORS

promotion

Are you a passionate, driven, creative individual?

Do you want to take a stand, and make change for social justice and equality movements?

Do you have interest and/or experience with art, design, up-cycled clothing or social media?

We are in the process of creating a company, Take Pride, that will provide eco-friendly, screen-printed, up-cycled apparel for equality movements (such as Intersectional Feminism, Black Lives Matter, and LGBTQ+) as well as for individuals to express pride in their identity. Beyond this, we want to serve a greater purpose, by becoming a place to share relevant news, information and educational resources. When possible, we also want to donate a portion of the profits to charitable organisations.

Currently, this is a passion project. While there may be an opportunity for payment in the future – when we are selling items and can get an idea of what our profits will look like, what we will need to circulate back into the company to pay for materials, and what will be given to charities – we’re still at a very early stage.

What We’re Looking For

We’re specifically looking for:

  1. people who can create interesting and visually appealing designs that would look great on up-cycled clothes, and/or
  2. people who could help us run our social media, promoting the clothes as well as other information and resources.

We want people who are:

  • passionate, driven and creative
  • environmentally conscious
  • able to create artwork that will express the identities and/or movements they belong to, to create empowerment and raise awareness
  • savvy with social media
  • informed and up-to-date with social justice and equality movements/issues
  • wanting to bring about change

You don’t have to meet this full criterion – if you feel you are strong in certain areas, but not others, that’s fine! This is why we want to form a diverse team, so that we can bring different strengths and experiences together.

Why You Should Apply

This opportunity would allow you to meet and engage with new people, allow you to creatively collaborate in a diverse group, and give you the opportunity to bring your designs to life. You would have the opportunity to learn new skills – if you’re more interested in the design aspect, you could still give the social media coordinating a try, and vice versa.

If the above excites you, then whatever your race, (a)gender, (a)sexuality, age or ability, and wherever you live, we want to hear from you!

Follow this link to apply: https://www.curatorspace.com/opportunities/detail/creative-team-formation–diverse-creators-wanted/2261

ISSUE #7 “NAKED” : CALL FOR SUBMISSION

call for submissions

You can be naked while fully clothed.

Confidence and vulnerability are not switched up in the seams of what you choose to put or not put on your body. And so the theme of issue 7 is NAKED in all its forms and definitions; vulnerability, confidence, empowerment, fear, openness, beauty, acceptance, love, truth, brutal honesty, and the pure self. Whatever being naked is and means and represents to you, explore it.

What would you say to your body? Or to your best friends body? Your lovers body? Would you write long letters along the lengths of their arm, point out the sparkle of their untouched bed hair, hush their critical mouths with soft compliments to your own? Would you do the same for yourself?

When do you strip back and allow yourself no form of shield? Is it just in the mirror? Or when was the last time you were naked in plain sight, open, honest, vulnerable, and soft? Or are you jagged? A body of strong, sharp edges, stood up straight, regal and confident? Is your naked body your cry of empowerment? When did you learn to love it?

How are you? How do you feel? Tears, screaming fight, holding someone afterwards, waking up in love. Which version of you is the most truthful? How do you dig out your authentic self, who will you allow to be present for the welcoming of the pure you? Who do you want to tell your secrets to? Whose secrets would you keep? Whose skin do you mindlessly stroke with your thumb, sat in silence and at peace?

To be naked is not always to be nude, so how you do you, feel, talk, or turn to when you’re bare?

SUBMISSIONS OPEN NOW, DEADLINE 2ND APRIL

KILORANMAG@OUTLOOK.COM

Germination : Lucy Harbron

films, visuals

s p r i n g

Germination is a piece about taking time. It’s a self-affirming message of accepting rest after hurt, waiting and then getting back up. Not a rebirth, just a regrowth, a rejuvenation.

‘I will be still til spring.

I will be still til spring.

and I allowed myself the wait’

Poem by Lucy Harbron, film by Lucy Harbron, Penny Eastbury, Samara Sajid and S. J Zhu

Issue #6 ‘HOME’ : Call For Submissions

call for submissions

For issue #6 KILORAN wants to delve into the comforts, and noncomforts of places of belonging. Tackling issues of settling, confrontation of your past self, childhood, family, love, and your place. Where have you arrived when your stomach sinks into the sensation of coming home? Whose hand do you hold, whose back do you stroke during the embrace that follows ‘hello’? Did you even take your shoes off?

Where do you fit? Is it in that photo on the fireplace? A dip in the sofa carved out over time, or in a fist mark in a pillow, a crack in a wall? Which voices sound most comforting saying goodnight? Where do you hope to wake up? When you walk into your childhood bedroom, what does it say to you? Does it welcome you back with open arms and warm scent, or force you back, tell you straight all the things you’ve avoided?

How many times have you run away? Packed small bags with shaking hands, or not packed at all. Walking, or running, or not moving at all. Where did you run to? What opened the door and pushed you out? Or were you the hand? Did you scream and yell so loud that your home ran away from you? How did you ever make it back?

We’d like you to think about where you feel most you, or if you even know that at all? Who, what, where has the ability to centre you, or is there an external place at all? What is home? From universality, locality, and in, in, in to the self. Where is home?

We want your work. We want your photography, artwork, poetry, essays, films, arguments. Anything you want to provide, we want. We are looking for refined work with distinct voices and perspectives, and we believe you can do that.

Deadline for submission is December 30th.

Send your work along with at least 1 image, a picture of yourself, and a short bio to KILORANMAG@OUTLOOK.COM.

‘Lakehouse’ : The Rose Affair tackle loss

Interview, Music

With their unique mix of art and indie, The Rose Affair are back with a new video for the release of their newest single, ‘Lakehouse’.

Possibly more ambiguous than their other tracks, singer Lucas Jones dances his way through nuances lyrics of specific sensations and locations; soundtracking a sombre tale of love and loss, being in-between dependence and independence, with a track that is as catchy as ever. With jingly riffs, high production values, multiple levels and incredible vocals, we’ve come to expect nothing less from our favourite band. Lucas’ writing spills perfectly into song, creating tunes that are profound and poetic as they are ambient and sing-along worthy.

But the video raises the song, bringing it to life while also adding an entirely new perspective that you felt in the song but couldn’t quite put your finger on. Lakehouse is brought to life by the narrative of loss of childhood, solidified by the loss of the one thing that might symbol childhood more than anything, your home. The soft light surrounding the protagonist and her younger self is cut through and rudely interrupted by an ominous figure in a black suit, threatening her with the end of youth.

The Rose Affair never settle for anything less than cinematic, with even the shots of the band performing are dipped in aesthetically pleasing pink light, and aren’t removed from the narrative. The band are never at the forefront of the video, handing their work over to the higher power of a bigger, ongoing narrative weaving its way through all their releases and urging fans to connect the dots. In the video, they turn their crowd into a confrontation forcing the protagonist to face her final conclusion, a stack of moving boxes.

For Lucas, ‘The house is life. The place where all of the main character’s (Nikki) memories exist but in a non-linear sense. Basically how our minds are – it’s all happening and being remembered at once on an infinite loop consciously or subconsciously. The story focuses on the stage in our lives in which we (like it or not) have to face the reality of letting go of our childhood. The man in the suit is the estate agent who Nikki associates with ‘taking’ her childhood house from her. The people in black are Nikki’s subconscious, trying to attack her / defend themselves from being erased from her memory by time.’

But regardless of the intricacies, the video is beautiful. The light that switches from white, to pink, to blue, and the silky camera work makes for a product of envy, far superior from what you’d expect of an unsigned band and clearly a product of passion.

Ending with photos from our PAST issue, The Rose Affair sign off on the statement about loss with a stare that says ‘to be continued’, a hint that this video joins the rest in a yet unresolved story.

Refugee : Fred Ostrovskis

culture & society, head talks

Nobody else knew that the fountain was alive. He watched, spine pressed into the metal bench, as they walked past, blind. Tall men in woollen armour, brogues tapping over the cobbled street, phones pushed to ears, umbrellas tucked under arms like rifles; a steady stream went by. For a moment, he thought that one man was going to talk to him; he shuffled nervously as the strides closed in, recoiled as the arm outstretched, then heaved relief as it stubbed a cigarette on the bin beside him and joined the others as they marched.

He’d sat there for hours, staring, shivering. Burrowed hands in pockets of the jacket he’d been given, zipped so far up it threatened to close a clasp around his throat; I’d rather that than freeze. The fountain spat again. A different cycle, a change in bursts. He lost himself to the vision.

“Come here, quick, look at it!” A desperate whisper ripped towards him. He looked down from the tapestry of stars to see her hand grab his, and although he hated her for dragging him inside, the warmth of skin, velvet, silk, was apology enough. He followed.

“Stay quiet. Don’t you dare wake her.” She ordered, tiptoeing without elegance, crawling without sound. Soon, her hand left his and placed a palm upon the door. It crept open, aware of the necessity of stealth, and she turned to him and smiled.

“Look how fat she is.”

Their mother lay, propped against cushions, safe in slumber upon the floor. Faint moonlight shone onto her form, fell with the delicacy of whispers, and revealed that she had, indeed, become quite fat. They watched. Her belly was another being; a crescent, lifting, falling, stalling at the peak as if to try and reach the sky. She nudged him, pushed him forward so there was room to lie together, and propped her head upon his arm.

“That’s how we were made, you know. Dad told me.” She reported, proud of forbidden knowledge that she’d stowed away for weeks. He heard but did not listen. Look at it rise and fall!

It had stopped. The water collapsed, a drunkard, without a shadow of its grace. He looked around; even the men had left him now. He thought about standing, yet he knew as soon as he placed his weight onto weary feet, the fountain would roar again, mock him for his impatience or drench him in its wake. He paused. Seconds later, it was back, bored of elegance, of steadiness and calm. The rhythm took him, bellowed with laughter at his stillness and pulsed within his veins. He shone red with embarrassment. I can dance like that.

The sand was still hot under their feet. The sun had passed over like a tyrant, unforgiving, burning indiscriminately as they sheltered in the shade. He had got her a drink, shaking, nervous, trying not to drop it to the ground. They sat together, hiding, and he drank her words. Bathed in her presence. Soaked up her scent. She inched closer until her lips tickled the hairs upon his ear.

“Can we dance?”

Thoughts flew like arrows through his brain, it’s too hot, I can’t dance, I’ll look foolish, it’s too hot, I can’t dance, I’ll look foolish… She retracted, he composed himself and leapt up, held her waist, circled her feet, fingers entwined, moved with the energy of the moment without thought nor fear. They laughed, the sand burned, they went fast and hectic in the middle and slow and loving in the shade, a cycle, a pattern, I don’t want this to end.

It did. He grew jealous of the water. Angry at the past. He wanted to leave now, run toward the rabble from before, but he was jealous of them, too. He was stuck. Resentment grew within his chest and he didn’t care about the cold anymore; the fountain turned to fire.

It’s everywhere. He awoke to the smell of burning. Screams raped the divine silence of night, calls for help, for God, for mercy. A cacophony of suffering. A nightmare, surely. He ran, naked as the first man, muddled from the grip of sleep; movement, voices, the world sounded like a thousand horses raging into war, where are they? The rooms were empty aside from the thunderclouds of smoke. Where are they? He was outside now, facing the fury of the blaze, orange, red, warning of the danger it possessed. They were running. Neighbours, friends, lovers, handfuls of clothes, fleeing out towards the hills. His lungs drew plumes of sickly smog, eyes stung with heat and fear and tears. Where are they? A hand, not theirs, clawed at his skin. A mouth, not theirs, screamed echoes. He ran. He had no choice.

He closed his eyes, understanding now why the men ignored the fountain. His breathing had become shallow and sharp, and he fought to suck it deep. The bursts of flame had sunk and died; he embraced the cold once more. Just listen.

The waves slapped lazily against the boat, never-ending, a constant battery of sound that simultaneously reassured and nauseated. He was sick. Hanging over the metal frame he retched like an animal, spitting and frothing just like the ocean was below. He would have been ashamed if the others weren’t asleep, or pretended to be at least, huddled, drowning in their own way, a tsunami of despair.

It ended. It had all ended; the fountain swirled and groaned as if someone had pulled the plug, draining slowly away into a silence that was louder than the world. He could feel her hand, velvet, silk, even as he froze.

https://fredostrovskis.com