Paradise Lost – The Bloomshed (VIC)

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By Bloomshed after Milton

Reviewed by Martha ‘MJ’ Latham

If you want to see grandeur and a mastery of entertainment, you don’t need to go to the opera. You need to go to Northcote Town Hall.

Taking a funny spin on the divine is nothing new. From Good Omens to Moral Orel to Monty Python, we all love a good crack at the almighty. But while Bloomshed aren’t doing anything particularly new, they are doing something particularly funny. Paradise Lost was a damn racket, a damn good time and a masterclass in comedy.

To start with, the set and costumes are immaculate. Naarm has a lot of large hall and church style theater spaces, which can be difficult to fill. Some creators try to go small; tight sets, tight spotlights and intimate performances. The Bloomshed though? They go big! Designer Nahan Burmeister fills Northcote Town Hall with huge drapes of jungle patterned material that fill the space top to bottom, yet still leaves gaps to showcase the beauty of the space. Burmeister continues to succeed with impeccable costuming; flowy satin gowns in red and blue for the angels, velvet pink tracksuits for Adam and Eve, and God (or Milton) draped like a bishop in the same fabric that lined the set. You need to go for the design alone.

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Lighting Designer John Callopy, opens the show with a beautiful sequence of lighting tiny, stone cherub sculptures with tight spotlights. Justin Gardam, on sound, utilizes the echoing gospel-like nature of the hall to full effect, blasting either 80’s jazzercise classics or romantic era gospel hits.

The cast do spectacularly. Elizabeth Brennan somehow manages to keep her energy turned up to eleven from start to finish, mastering a gorgeous, quiet monologue, which seemed to genuinely bring tears to her eyes, before snapping back to humour almost instantaneously. The play is littered with incredible characterisation; a bureaucratic Lucifer to an interrupting Scribe to an Archangel of Marketing to a workaholic, well-stubbled Adam.

If you’re looking for a first play to introduce someone to the world of independent theater, or you’re a seasoned vet looking for something new to sink your teeth into, stop looking. There’s simply nothing 14th century, blind or protestant about this version of Paradise Lost, and The Bloomshed are not to be ignored.

Reviewer Rating

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Paradise Lost plays at the Northcoat Town Hall Arts Centre until July 30. Tickets can be bought here

THE CAST

Elizabeth Brennan as Eve

Edan Goodall as Adam

James Jackson as Archangel Lucifer

Emily O’Conner as Archangel Michael

James Malcher as The Lord God John Milton

Anna Louey as The Scribe

Laura Aldous as The Understudy

THE CREW

Sound Designer and Dramaturg | Justin Gardam

Lighting Designer and Dramaturg | John Collopy

Set and Costume Designer | Nathan Burmeister

Set and Costume Design Associates | Samantha Hastings and Harry Gill

Production Manager | Sophie Ashkanasy

Stage Manager | Sam Nix

Promotional Photographer | Gregory Lorenzutti

Production Photographer | Sarah Walker

Rehearsal Photographer | Tina Gelberidis

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