Reviews

Swing

By Steve Blount, Peter Daly, Gavin Kostick and Janet Moran. A Production by Fishamble. Australian tour produced by Merrigong Theatre Company. Directed by Peter Daly. The Street Theatre, Canberra – May 11 – 14, 2016, and touring

This is a show about dance – swing, of course! – and the marvellous range of people who learn swing in one studio in Ireland. With only two actors, Arthur Riordan who plays Joe and Gene Rooney who plays May, they also produce a veritable dance school of characters. The audience is taken on a learning journey with the characters who evolve, improve, or disappear as the play progresses.

Madama Butterfly

Composer: Giacomo Puccini. Libretto: Luigi Illica & Giuseppi Giacosa . Based on John Luther Long’s short story and the play by David Belasco. Opera Q with Housten Grand Opera, Grand Theatre de Geneve & Lyric Opera Chicago Production, with the Queensland Symphony Orchestra. Conductor: Johannes Fritzsch. Director: Michael Grandage. Revival Director: Louisa Muller. Lyric Theatre, QPAC. 12-19 May 2016

Opera Q’s first staging in Australia of Michael Grandage’s acclaimed production of Puccini’s masterpiece Madama Butterfly is exquisitely beautiful on many levels. Its production design by Christopher Oram is sparse, delicate and artful, his costumes detailed and stylish, Grandage’s direction is lean and true to the text, whilst the singing by the principals could not have been more assured.

Heathers

Book, Music & Lyrics: Laurence O’Keefe & Kevin Murphy. Director: Trevor Ashley. Musical Director: Bev Kennedy. Choreographer: Cameron Mitchell. QPAC & Showwork Production. Playhouse, QPAC, Brisbane, 9-17 January; Arts Centre Melbourne, May 11- 22, and touring during 2016.

Our reviews of the Brisbane and Melbourne seasons.

Peter Pinne reviewed the Brisbane season.

Away

By Michael Gow. Liverpool Performing Arts Ensemble. Directed by Tony Woollams. Casula Powerhouse. 11 – 14 May, 2016.

This was a solid and well-staged production.

Michael Gow’s drama is 30 years’ old this year and it’s easy to see why it’s a staple of HSC English: the cultural and social commentary, the “big” themes of loss and mortality (especially in one’s youth), and the subtext are all so thick that Russian playwrights would be jealous. And yet it’s written in such a down-to-earth manner.

The Tempest

By William Shakespeare. Director: Brenda White. New Farm Nash Theatre Inc. Merthyr Road Uniting Church, New Farm, Brisbane. 13 May – 4 June 2016

New Farm’s Nash Theatre are celebrating the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death by fittingly staging what is regarded as his last written solo play, The Tempest.

Stretching the resources of the small company, Brenda White has assembled a large cast (over 20) to espouse the Bard’s treaty on revenge and ultimate forgiveness in a production that is both comic and romantic.

The Events

By David Greig. Upstairs, Belvoir Street Theatre. May 12 – June 12, 2016.

The Events draws on that horrific killing of 69 young Norwegians on an island by a lone gunman, but Scottish writer David Greig speaks to other similar events. It’s a seemingly random, reflective play of short vignettes around the furious quest to understand by a priest who, locked in the music room, survived a school yard massacre. 

Singin’ In The Rain

Music and lyrics by Nacio Herb Brown and Arthur Freed. Script by Betty Comden and Adolph Green. Directed by Jonathan Church. Her Majesty’s Theatre, Melbourne – Opening Night May 14, 2016, then touring to Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth.

Boy, didn’t it rain…and didn’t we love it! There’s so much water on stage in the classic title number, that it might have been a Melbourne weather report, instead of the opening night of a much-loved musical. What it absolutely isn’t is the iconic 1952 Movie Musical, and that is both a good and a bad thing.

My Name is Asher Lev

By Aaron Posner. Adapted from the novel by Chaim Potok. Moira Blumenthal Productions and Encounters@Shalom. Eternity Theatre. May 8 – 29, 2016.

“You won’t succeed on Broadway if you don’t have any Jews”goes the song in the musical Spamalot. This month the same applies in Sydney.

The harbour city has more Jewish flavours than a buffet at a Bar Mitzvah  - hosting Fiddler on the Roof, Bad Jews, Disgraced and My Name is Asher Lev.

The (latter) play based on Chaim Potok’s novel, takes us into the world of Hasidic Judaism.  

The Shoe-Horn Sonata

By John Misto. Gold Coast Little Theatre, Southport. Director: Jim Dixon. May 14 – June 4, 2016

The horrors of war are the basis of this poignant tale: two women – one English and one Australian retell their experiences as Japanese Prisoners of War.

Aussie Eve Wheeler and Pom Marie Dixon are being interviewed, 50 years after the cessation of hostilities, for a TV documentary. The interviewer, Barry Gibson, is unseen throughout the proceedings and the scene switches between the TV studio and the ladies’ hotel room.

In Search of Owen Roe

Written and performed by Vanessa O’Neill. La Mama, 205 Faraday Street, Carlton. 11-28 May, 2016

The infinite talent of Vanessa O’Neill is the cohesive force behind this production. This is an extremely personal piece of theatre that allows the performer to share the stories and colourful ancestral figures that both inhabit and haunt O’Neill. Her performance often invokes the spectral presence of her predecessors and her natural affinity with these fascinating personas is uncovered via diligent archival research and anecdotal information. The staging is evocative and atmospheric, conveying all the cultural richness of the project.