Melbourne Fringe 2015, Uncategorized

Knock ‘em dead: An interview with Jeremy Rice, director of Shoot from the Hip for the Melbourne Fringe Festival 2015

0 Comments 15 September 2015

A hardboiled detective, a femme fatale, jazz: some things never go out of style, and no one understands this better than Jeremy Rice, the director of a new play celebrating detective fiction. Rice’s company, Always Working Artists (AWA) has made theatre across Australia for fourteen years; their Melbourne Fringe Festival debut in 2014 with Royals: The True History of the Child Queen Isabelle and returning for the International Comedy Festival this year with Improvilicious: The Improvised Guide to High School. They are back for Fringe this year with Shoot from the Hip, a new play by Australian playwright Justin Cheek directed by Rice, which will premiere on Wednesday, September 16th at The Courthouse Hotel, Jury Room, in Northcote.

Shoot from Hip is a play about the detective genre, presented as a genre story. The protagonist is a 1940s-era American detective who is also a crime writer, a kind of detective genre platonic ideal, played by Charlie Sturgeon. Cassie Vagliviello (Improvilicious) appears as the femme fatale, while Ivy Latimer plays a number of roles, including the gangster Ace Diamind. These are familiar characters but a dose of surrealism throws the well-trodden genre plot line into unfamiliar territory.

The production serves up a heavy dose of nostalgia: the design, music and direction all have a distinct vintage flavour, an admiration for the classic style of the era. Designer Sarah Tulloch has kept the aesthetic and costuming post-war, and original jazz music has been composed by Ashleigh Southam, to be performed live on stage. Rice believes the play could be easily translated into radio, another popular media form in the mid-20th century that is less common now, though regaining popularity through the rise of podcasting.  Every detail in the production, even the actor’s American accents, hearkens back to another time, another world, one that only exists between the covers of detective novels.

The concept of the production was actually informed by Rice’s extensive collection of vintage paperback detective book covers: he has over 2000 of them. Some covers from his collection will appear as the backdrop for the play, projected onto the back wall, a new cover appearing to indicate each scene change.

Shoot from the Hip is an homage to a genre that remains perennially popular, maintaining a strange power over global audiences. Rice suggests that the genre remains relevant as ‘a response to an unfair world’. And while Shoot from the Hip highlights all the tropes and clichés of the genre, the production still treats it with respect; a hat tip to the impressive history and influence of detective fiction.

Shoot from the Hip (45min) will run Wednesday, September 16th - Friday 25th (6pm start; 5pm Sunday) at the The Courthouse Hotel, Jury Room, in Northcote. Tickets $20 full, $18 concession, $15 preview & Tuesday visit to book.

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