Studio Underground, State Theatre Centre of WA
November 6, 2018

Xenidesis the first work that artistic director Clare Watson has produced from scratch for Black Swan State Theatre. Watson is an enthusiastic promotor of wistful comedy, often working with casts to develop a script, as is the case with Xenides. Named after the 1970s Australian game-show host Adriana Xenides, the production is however in large part about the characters portrayed by cast members Laila Bano Rind, Adriane Daff, Harriet Marshall, and Katherine Tonkin. Xenides’ biography principally provides a pretext to riff off themes of gender and femininity. The band consists of bassist Djuna Lee and drummer/percussionist Holly Norman, led by composer-performer Xani Kolac, forcefully establishing female authorship as the position from which the production speaks.

Katherine Tonkin, Harriet Marshall, Adriane Daff and Laila Bano Rind. Photo © Dana Weeks

Given this, I expected Xenides to be an energetic romp, a high-octane cabaret of both mourning (Xenides died at fifty-four) and celebration, punctuated by snappy numbers. To some extent this is what you get. The performers are adept, and Kolac’s music is remarkably complex and stylistically eclectic, especially in the first few compositions....