~ FOUR ROGUES ~
'Thus we see four rogues and their deeds. Thus we see four strange planted seeds'
'They perform as if broadcasting from their own special world or some elaborate nightmare... Powerful stories in a powerful setting driven by powerful songs.' - Thomas Madden
A giant ‘Heatproof Man’ shovels the contents of the entire world into the furnace… a housebound middle-aged man delivers his tirade to a young innocent about the dangers of the world outside the lounge room… a disheveled hermit of a man develops an obsessive relationship with the ghost of his dead wife… two sodden sailors battle the terrors of the deep, whilst grappling with each other over the affections of the long since drowned maiden, Maree…
Four Rogues is a series of vignettes, merging live storytelling, music and highly expressive visual theatre, creating an atmospherically rich performance experience. It explores characters detached and alienated by the power of their own illusions. They are alienated from the things they believe themselves to be closest to. All live music and aural atmosphere is provided by Melbourne music group ‘Pete Reid and the Tar Gang’.
Four Rogues was presented as Pete's debut full-scale theatrical project at Arts House for Melbourne's 2008 Next Wave Festival. It featured the bulk of the 'Songs Of The Hollow Bone Moon' Tar Gang lineup playing a live musical score, and utilized a team of actors and performers in a series of theatrical vignettes depicting pivotal moments in the lives of ‘four rogues’.
Writer/maker, director/ core designer, performer/narrator: Pete Reid
Producer with Next Wave: Laura Sheedy
Actors: Bernard Nolan, Alex McQueen, Pablo Calero, Simoncee Page Jones,
Tar Gang: Jean Brown on junk percussion, Will Tait on piano, Kirri Buchler on violin, Carla Ori on drums, Sean Louth on singing saw.
Co Designers: Carmen Reid on King Beats Vignette Design and making, Renato Vacirca and Pablo Boot as co designers on Sunk Down Vignette
Lighting Design: Cat Scobie
Sound Design: Kirri Buchler
Four Rogues sold out its theatrical run, but recieved few reviews in official publications, instead managing several unofficial ones from audience via email, as well as having a definite impact upon Melbourne's independent theatre and music scene through it's unique and atmospheric take on how storytelling could be combined with live music.
'Pete and The Tar Gang, an experimental music group, team up with several actors to give us Four Rogues, a series of four vignettes of physical theatre, music and straight theatre following four 'rogues and their deeds.'
…The most impressive part of the performance is the music, with a blend of experimental percussion and more traditional violin and piano to produce an interestingly organic and esoteric sound. Creator and vocalist Pete was alternately intriguing and shocking as the narrator, his brash vocals booming over the crowd as he sang the tales of the rogues…
The Son (Don't) and The Queen (King Beats) first making us laugh and then cry, with their brilliantly vibrant characters.
As a whole, the show teetered between farce and serious theatre, with the nearly comedic 'Sank Down' (a tale of two sailors so consumed by bickering that they barely notice as their ship sinks) contrasting with King Beats, a dark musical piece with an awesome sense of loneliness and despair.
Four Rogues takes a fresh look at the indelibly human emotions of loneliness and despair, working well with music and stage performance to create an eerie piece of art destined to leave you thinking - 'Am I a rogue?' ' - Artshub
'Pete Reid and The Tar Gang are storytellers. Their songs simmer in ghost-town ghosts, sailors, carny folk, opium-den dreams, angelic maidens and characters pushed to various extremes. They perform as if broadcasting from their own special world or some elaborate nightmare. Or like escapees from a Dickensian orphanage.
The ‘Four Rogues’ performances held at the Meat Market as part of the New Wave festival takes their themes and aesthetics one step further. What lies within are carnival-esque, spook-house aesthetics, complete characters and performances that revolve around the supernatural, madness, absurdity and obsession.
The stage is set with four curtains, revealed in turn by narrator Pete Reid. Behind the first is an eerie lounge room containing what looks like an evil granny and an ominous grandfather clock. As counterpoint a ruddy-cheeked youth enters, gushing and optimistic about leaving for the outside world. The message from the old to the young? Simply - "DON’T!".
Next up is two sailors on a cleverly constructed moving set that mimics a hulking ship. They battle an off-stage sea monster and as the story emerges, themselves. Here the use of intermittent song becomes most effective ala the intermittent refrain - "she went DOWN INTO THE SEA!! She went DOWN INTO THE SEA!!..". You can almost hear the evil laughter "muharharhar!"
The third story is a duet set in a barnyard haunted by a wailing ghost-woman. As the story unfolds you get the idea that each character is completely absorbed in some sublime state of delusion. Does lack of human understanding make a rogue? Behind the final curtain we find a silver-suited ‘Heat Proof Man’ who shovels his and our existence into a furnace before a fatal submissionto his vocation.
The Gang have gone to great lengths to achieve a dream-like atmosphere, even using scent to involve the audience further. Despite the historical context it’s difficult to refer to any one period historical reference point. Capt Mayne Reid, Poe, Dickens, Shakespere, DeQuincy, Zola, even Anne Rice (think the Theatre dus Vampires) and many others would fit in their own fashion. Personally the The Black Rider is as good a comparison as any. Powerful stories in a powerful setting driven by powerful songs. The effect is achieved to no end by Reid’s powerful sense of melody and commanding baritone. Minimalist, bones-orchestra style accompaniment from The Tar Gang strips each song down to its bare element.
It’s enocouraging that, by all accounts each of the Four Rogues performance was either sold out or close to it and further successes are surely not far off. For fans of any of the names listed above or just a good old spooky story, be sure to experience the next entry to the Tar Gang legend.'
Thomas Madden, 2008