Review by Brandon Taylor
Folk rock, well-acted storytelling, and a history rooted in the London and Perth pub rock scenes circa 1970, Mahagonny – Behind Innocent Eyes combines these odd ingredients to create a musical somehow more entertaining than it is unique.
The winding tale of Mahagonny – an imaginary slum town – is told through a series of musical numbers following a beggar, a whore, a tyrant, and the tyrant’s son as they alternately fall in love with and backstab each other. The format is that of a 5 piece band backing the four actors in a ‘set’ that tells the story. The feel is that of watching a group of medieval bards bring an old legend to life.
Drama, comedy, romance, and political satire are all extraordinarily well delivered on both the musical and theatrical fronts, but there’s something beyond that. There is a certain tightness – a sense of history – between the artists onstage. It takes the performance to another level, to a place you feel lucky to watch the players go.
If you know the story of the story, this special feeling is no surprise. Behind Innocent Eyes was written by Tony Durant and Dave Warner (of Perth band Fuchsia and Dave Warner’s From the Suburbs) as a concept album back in the 70s. Yes, it’s been incubating for 40 years. It is Durant’s bandmate and lifelong friend Dick Haynes that plays the explosive tyrant, and it is Durant’s son Louis Durant that plays bass in the band. According to Louis, the rest of the group are “friends of the family” that have been “rehearsing the musical for 8 months.”
For Tony Durant and those who get to see the musical, the long wait – and long practice sessions – have been worth it. Behind Innocent Eyes stands up to its original inspiration (a libretto by German composer Bertolt Brecht) and the years since its conception by Durant.
The Band: Tony Durant and Bill Beare on guitar, Louis Durant on bass, Sarah Duhig on violin, and Emma Vanderwel on cello.
The Actors: Dick Haynes, Michael McStay, Maree Cole, and Sam Devenport. Tony Durant also plays a role as narrator.
When: 1st – 5th February 2017 | 9:00pm
Where: Hellenic Club of WA | Northbridge | PERTH
Tickets: $21 – $26
Info: Duration 65 mins | World Premiere | Suitable 15+