Review by Jake Goodall
Looking for a modern take on an old story that puts women at the forefront? Look no further than the magical tale of Destiny Doomed!
Observatory Theatre’s Destiny Doomed is a brand new musical work written and produced right here in Australia. New musical works are very hard to come by, especially local ones, and it’s a true testament to Anina-Marie Van Wyk and Observatory Theatre’s commitment, drive and passion to create and produce original works.
The piece itself is fascinating. Inspired by the Irish legend of Deirdre of the Sorrows, Destiny Doomed braves the storm with an original acoustic folk pop score that puts the dam(n) in damsel in distress. A destined girl is born and the King wants her to himself, locked away, controlled, his rightful claim. But the prophecy comes with a price – the child will bring great suffering – and rebellion soon ignites. Is it destiny? Fate? All we know is she’s not going down without a fight!
Told from Deirdre’s own perspective, this feminist reimagining is staged in the heart of the Brisbane CBD at Musgrave Park. The park aids brilliantly in creating the woods that this story is set in. Perfectly juxtaposed against the concrete skyscrapers, this setting creates the wonderful aesthetic that brings this ancient story into the modern day. Anina-Marie Van Wyk is the powerhouse creative behind this production, taking on the roles of Director/Musical Director as well as Writer and Composer. Van Wyk is a talented young creative and Destiny Doomed is nothing short of fantastic.
Van Wyk’s beautiful folk pop score is wonderfully written, with memorable motifs throughout that draws the audience in more and more as the show progresses. The book, also written by Van Wyk, beautifully transitions through each scene highlighting the horrors of misogyny and the patriarchy and encouraging the audience to challenge and fight destiny.
Van Wyk’s direction, with assistance from Zarianna Chandler, is purposeful and succinct. It’s clear that each of the actors have worked closely with Van Wyk to build this wonderful, mythical world through their portrayals of their complex, layered characters.
Van Wyk, with assistance from vocal coach Georg Gleeson, has whipped the vocals of this show into shape. Each performer brings this jubilant folk pop score to life with skill!
The lighting and sound designed by Lachlan Driscoll conjures the perfect, mystical landscape of this show with ease. The lighting is simple but complements the setting of the park and really adds to the hard hitting moments of this production. The fantastic soundscape created by Driscoll is a real highlight of this show. In particular, in the moments when Deirdre and Naoise escape onboard a ship. The audience can feel themselves being swept away on the currents with them.
The music is performed with instrumental backing tracks and arrangements that have been created by Elliot Daniel Gough. Gough’s wonderful tracks bring Van Wyk’s story and score off the page. The arrangements are a spectacle to listen to, adding to the folklore of this story.
The movement direction by Sara Jane Aistrope is simple yet extremely effective. All aspects of Aistrope’s movement design is clearly choreographed and well executed. Her genius truly shines during the dream sequence in the woods. Deirdre and Naoise run through the wilderness with obstacles created by the actors’ bodies, a truly fantastic idea!
Kieran J. Evans as King Conchubar is a villain the audience loves to hate. Evans is terrifyingly spectacular; both funny and cruel at the same time. Their disgusting words and actions thrown at Deirdre throughout is spine chillingly haunting. Evans evokes the full terror and disgust this musical needs from its villain!
Equally as horrific is Jesse Blachut as Maigne. His portrayal is sinister and slimy. Spoiler alert: In the biggest turn of events, Maigne takes the crown and declares himself king at the end, perfectly showcasing that the cycle of misogyny may never end. Blachut creates the very picture of despair and frustration for Maigne when dealing with the incompetent King Conchubar. Excellently juxtaposed with his terrifying power trips during his scenes with Deirdre.
Blachut and Evans are a perfect duo; playing their sinister, horrid characters with gusto and delivering the finger curling lines with excellence.
Elliot Daniel Gough as Naoise is a man straight out of a hallmark Christmas movie; loving, caring
and besotted with Deidre. Gough’s vocal ability is incomparable and shines through in this
production. Gough shows true love through Naoise and it’s beautiful to watch the intimate interactions between Gough and Ooi (Deirdre). This beautiful love story is intricately woven into a harsh, horrific world. Gough portrays Naoise with the charm and the suave of a knight.
Laura Fois plays the dual roles of Blathnaid and Scathach with skill. Fois magnificently shows two extremes of feminism. Fois’s protrayal of Scathach, the brutal tribe leader (and man hater), is hard hitting. On the other side, her take on Blathnaid is softer, showcasing her love for Deridre and pushing for the equality of the sexes. One line from Blathnaid sticks out: “She is not your property”. It is baffling that some women are still treated like property for sale today. Destiny Doomed comments on this fantastically.
Rounding out this fantastic cast is Clarise Ooi as the lovely protagonist, Deirdre. Ooi is perfect for this role, she is feisty and strong-willed but also shows Deirdre’s softer side with Naoise. Ooi plays Deirdre with perfect nuance drawing the audience into her story and hooking them from start to finish. Ooi’s Deirdre shows that anyone can be anything that they want to, no matter what anyone says. Challenging the audience to consider that not even destiny can define them. This, I think is the crux of the important message in this production.
Overall, Destiny Doomed is a fantastic new, original Australian musical that touches on some poignant points and shows that, whilst we have modernised, misogyny is still extremely prevalent in today’s society.
Destiny Doomed runs until October 8, do not miss out! Tickets are on sale now.
All that’s left to say is BRAVO!