Thursday, November 8, 2012

Diva Sheila, the Eco Diva: Takin’ it to The Street by Kate Hosking

Diva Sheila, the Eco Diva: Takin’ it to The Street by Kate Hosking.  Lighting by Kelly McGannon.  At The Street 2, Canberra, November 8-10, 2012.

Reviewed by Frank McKone
November 8

Brave and honest are my keywords tonight: brave because she is honest.  In her story-telling sequences, Kate Hosking leaves herself with few of the protections (and none of the pretensions) of an actor playing a role defined by a script, since her words are her own about herself; while in singing her own songs and interpreting songs by others, her arrangements and accompaniment on double bass make her performance highly personal – and original.

Takin’ it to The Street is intimate theatre, chamber theatre, almost boudoir theatre.  The Street 2, small as it is, was rather too cavernous for this work.  So it took a little while for us to come to terms with the intimacy.  It was, I think, the quiet, angry-sad quality of her rendition of I was only 19 (by John Schumann) that drew us in to Hosking’s depth of feelings about the world she has grown up in – our world, of course.

I last reviewed Kate Hosking in The Jigsaw Company’s play for children Pearl Verses the World (May 19, 2012) where her performance was very effective within the conventional frame of acting.  As Diva Sheila, she has created a role which hovers on the tight-rope between acting and reality.  Her balance is impressive.  Her voice has a great range, in this show concentrated on a blues style which allows her feelings to play out through the lyrics.  There is a maturity in this work which augurs well for a continuing career already backed by a decade of international world music performances.

In her program, as a kind of subtitle to her work, she has written “Sometimes it takes a character bigger than yourself to say what’s on your mind”.  Diva Sheila is never too big for Kate Hosking’s high-heeled shoes.  They fit very well together. 

Diva Sheila is another success of The Hive, The Street Theatre’s writers’ development program.