TWIN PEAKS @ Astor Theatre gets 8/10

Twin Peaks A Conversation With The Stars @ Astor Theatre
w/ David Lynch, Sheryl Lee, Dana Ashbrook, Kimmy Robertson, Michael Horse
Sunday, September 2, 2018


Laura Palmer is alive and well and was seen in Perth! It’s something Twin Peaks fans never thought they’d witness, but Sunday night was an amazing, unique event for fans of the legendary, seminal 90s TV series, with stars of the classic show in Australia for a touring Q&A panel discussion about their defining work. The night also promised an appearance from the show’s renowned director David Lynch, albeit via Skype.

The little over half full Astor was testament to the niche appeal of such a venture, but for the show’s notoriously obsessive, cultish fanbase, it was a must see experience, and a rare unexpected opportunity to gain some ‘behind the scenes’ insights into the weird and wonderful world, from the original cast and crew. While it was hard to know exactly what to expect – it ended up being a genuinely entertaining evening.

All the panel members were humble, engaging and had interesting anecdotes to share. They enthused about the mad genius of Lynch, his vision and method, and confessed that we all knew way more than they did about the show. It turns out the actors are fans as much as we are, who feel blessed to have been touched by the creative force of Lynch and the lasting impact his work has had on their lives.

Created by the visionary auteur Lynch along with co-writer Mark Frost, the first two series of Twin Peaks blazed a trail across network television in 1990 and 1991. Then, last year, out of nowhere, it was announced a third series would return us to that strange world, picking up the story (loosely) 25 years on. Many think Lynch had planned this, as in the final episode of season two, Palmer says to Cooper in the Red Room “I’ll see you in 25 years”. No one knew what to expect, and no one could have expected what it was. A challenging, uncompromising, nightmarish, rollercoaster ride that offered no real answers, only more questions with an incredibly surreal story arc that was ‘full blown’ Lynch – the director given total creative freedom to explore his most vivid imagination, seemingly relishing the indulgence.

As the panel commented, the resonance and influence of Twin Peaks throughout television can be seen, in many shows across the board, from The X-Files and The Sopranos, to True Detective and Fargo.

The great ensemble cast was a huge part of what made it great. A montage of whom was shown on the big screen before the show, including a few who sadly passed away after the filming of the new series – the infamous Log Lady, and celebrated actors Miguel Ferrer and Harry Dean Stanton.

Our host for the evening Zak Hepburn took the stage, sat on a stool and introduced us to four fan favourites – Sheryl Lee (Laura Palmer herself), Dana Ashbrook (bad boy Bobby Briggs), Kimmy Robertson (the lovable, kooky secretary Lucy Moran) and Michael Horse (the astute and stoic Deputy Hawk). It was something quite special to see these people in the flesh, who brought these amazing characters to life. They all brought a different perspective and energy to the discussion and seemed genuinely grateful to be there and enjoying themselves.

Sadly Al Strobel (The one armed man) suffered a minor heart attack after the show in Melbourne – and was taken to hospital for treatment. He is apparently recovering well, but didn’t make it to Perth. Nevertheless, the four cast members alongside Producer, Sabrina Sutherland – had plenty to say.

Hepburn did a good job asking questions, taking turns to probe each guest and giving them the opportunity to speak. Robertson is simply hilarious – every time she spoke she had the audience and fellow cast in stitches with quirky voice and mannerisms. She along with Hawk seem to be the two most like their onscreen characters.

Ashbrook is more mellow, but still full of NYC attitude and cool. At the end he was the only one to do a lap of the venue – loving the interaction and chance to genuinely thank fans and shake hands. Lee seems a peaceful, kind and wise soul, and offered some touching commentary on the impact of the deeply affecting, abused and traumatised addict character.

Lynch’s Skype was held for late in the piece. As the great man’s larger-than-life image was cast upon the big screen, with his trademark silver quiff appeared on the big screen eliciting a massive cheer from the crowd.

They didn’t waste time with pleasantries, and got stuck straight into the questions for Lynch. VIP ticket holders were the only ones granted the right and were taken to the stage, taking turns to stand in front of the laptop and ask the iconic director a question.

Somewhat starstuck, they got through their questions, seeking answers, though in most part, in typical Lynch fashion, he provided only brief, cryptic, elusive answers. But still for most of them, the chance to stand in front of Lynch, look him in the eyes and have his undivided attention was enough. “Hello!” he politely greeted them in his unique voice. At times he struggled to hear, evoking his hearing-aid assisted character Gordon Cole.

The two Aussie guys responsible for the tour hopped up at the end to thank him and he seemed genuinely appreciative of tribute. One of the most touching moments of the evening was when the cast gathered together in front of the laptop to wave to Lynch. He beamed a big smile, greeting them all like a proud parent who hasn’t seen his children in some time.

One unfortunate emission from the night was a musical component. Angelo Badalamenti’s iconic score was as big a part of the series as anything, and the event page had posted about a six piece ensemble that would be performing some of the music from the series during the night. It seems this had to be cut, probably due to lack of sales, which is a pity as a musical interlude would have been a nice touch and been the icing on the cake.

However it was still a great evening, with the cast being very generous with their time and sharing many amusing tales and fascinating stories that really gave you a deeper glimpse at how the show was made, and how Lynch works. For instance Sutherland mentioned how everything Lynch directed, he had a part in writing – even if he didn’t fully write or co-write, and wasn’t credited – he always worked on the script. Even for season two which was more Mark Frost’s work, Lynch rewrote a lot of it.

He also personally chose all the musical acts that performed in the Bang Bang Bar in the new series, displaying his great taste. Lynch also revealed he had nothing to do with and hasn’t even read the two Twin Peaks books that Frost has released which elaborate on the story.

You can see everyone truly treasured their time working on Twin Peaks with Lynch and it was an important part of their lives – as the wise Horse said, Lynch made them part of his human experience. The mild mannered Native American is a fan favourite and he clearly relishes the part that is not far removed from himself. He seemed genuinely moved by the love for his character. A thoughtful and deeply spiritual soul, he also paid respect to the indigenous people of our land.

The night finished with the cast making their way off the stage to mingle with adoring fans, posing for photos and signing things. While it’s widely thought series three would be the final series, Ashbrook sparked some hope as he moved through the crowd, roused by all the love and support, enthusing about a potential Season Four “Let’s make it happen!”. It was a truly unique night and an amazing experience for any true Twin Peaks fan, reaffirming their love for the show and its worthy legend.

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