Reviews

Priscilla – Queen of the Desert

By by Allan Scott and Stephan Elliott. Directed by Simon Phillips. Capitol Theatre, Sydney. Opening Night May 17, and touring.

Priscilla has accelerated her way back into Sydney in a blaze of pink LED and a cast that had the opening night audience on its feet applauding and cheering even before the curtain calls began. The energy and pizazz that begins with It’s Raining Men doesn’t let up for the entire show. The costumes, the colour, the choreography, the chemistry all come together in a spectacle that is a celebration of co-ordinated talent and vitality… and a bright rainbow ‘thumbs up’ to liberation and equity.

Blackie Blackie Brown

By Nakkiah Lui. Sydney Theatre Company. Directed by Declan Greene. Wharf 2 Theatre. May 12 - June 30, 2018

The set for this premiere play is like a blank canvas: a white floor and wall made up of equal-sized boxes on which something can be drawn. In this case, it’s a rollicking comic-book animation, which drives a thrilling work that touches at the heart of black and white relations in modern Australia.

Shrek the Musical

Music by Jeanine Tesori, with book and lyrics by David Lindsay-Abaire. Stray Cats Theatre Company. Directed by Karen Francis. Mandurah Performing Arts Centre, WA. 17 - 20 May, 2018

Stray Cats Theatre Company and Mandurah Performing Arts Centre have teamed together to bring this fabulous, fractured fairy-tale to life in a big, bold production. At rough count, over 130 people were part of this mammoth production featuring flying dragons, a fifteen piece orchestra, a cast of 66 and a few ogres.

Nicholas Gaynor is great fun and navigates the title role with a great presence and lovely voice. He is nicely paired with Lisa Taylor, who dances up a storm as Fiona - perhaps unsurprisingly, given she also shares choreographic duties with Ashleigh Riley.

Blythe Spirit

By Sir Noël Coward. Tugun Theatre Co., Gold Coast. Director: Jillian Rawlings. May 10th – 26th, 2018

Noël Coward makes a welcome return to the Gold Coast with Tugun’s production of Blythe Spirit. Director Jillian Rawlings has assembled a stellar cast for this popular classic.

Billy Buckett

Story, Music & Lyrics: Jay Turner. Book: Peter Cann, Jay Turner, Cath Mundy. Footlights Theatrical Inc. Director: Roslyn Johnson. Musical Directors: Jay Turner & Cath Mundy. Choreographer: Hannah Crowther. Logan Entertainment Centre (Qld). 16-19 May 2018

Billy Buckett plays like a Cliff Richard movie of the sixties – a simple teenage love story, a score of original rock ‘n’ roll songs, and a fresh-faced cast continually bursting into energetic song-and-dance. It’s a recipe for success and this company, mostly holdovers from Beenleigh Theatre Group’s 2013 production of the show, had fun once again recreating the suede shoes and peddle-pusher era.

De Stroyed

Based on books and writings by Simone de Beauvoir including La Femme rompue/The Woman Destroyed.. 45 Downstairs, Melbourne. 16 – 27th May 2018

Jillian Murray and Suzanne Chaundy have created a beautifully refined work based on their personal responses to some of the acute realizations of Simone de Beauvoir as expressed through her writing.  The themes seem, most pertinently, about the deep pain of betrayal in a marriage and some shifts in sense of personal power and vulnerability experienced through aging.   

Society

Devised by After Dark Theatre Company. Melba Spiegeltent, Johnston Street, Collingwood VIC. 10 – 26 May 2018

Society is more circus than cabaret, but it’s great fun and an hour of amazement and gasp-inducing feats of skill.  A spiegeltent is the perfect setting, with its big top roof and the audience arrayed on three sides of the thrust stage.  Ebullient MC Francesco Minniti (who also directs the show and later does some magic tricks) has some patter about New Orleans and the dark arts, but this gloss on proceedings turns out to be really neither here nor there – except maybe as a justification for the show’s great, funky music, chosen by Music Director Kara Ci

The Shifting Heart

By Richard Beynon. Centenary Theatre Group. Director: Janine Francis. Community Centre, Chelmer, Qld. 18 May – 2 Jun 2018

Richard Beynon’s The Shifting Heart was the first play to deal with Australia’s xenophobic attitude to immigrants. It followed Summer of the Seventeenth Doll in the renaissance of Australian playwriting in the late fifties and had a healthy production life during the era and even a London stint at the Duke of York’sTheatre at a time when the West End was in the full-flight of “kitchen-sink drama”.

Ironbound

By Martyna Majok. Q44 Theatre. Abbottsford Convent, Sacred Heart Building, Abbottsford VIC. 16 May – 3 June 2018

A bus shelter in New Jersey, USA, is where five key incidents play out in the life of a worn but fiery Polish immigrant woman, Darja (pronounced ‘Daria’ – Gabrielle Rose-Carter).  As indifferent traffic passes in the night and buses come and go, Darja plays out her encounters – in the present, with lover Tommy (Alex Tsitsopoulos), with a Good Samaritan teenage drug dealer, Vic (Will Atkinson), and in the past with husband Maks (Anthony Scudi).  Via the dense, hyper-naturalistic, punchy dialogue, we piece together Darja’s story.

One Man, Two Guvnors

By Richard Bean. Papakura Theatre Company. Directed by Bob Lack & Patty Reid. Off Broadway Theatre Papakura Auckland. May 11th to 26th, 2018

Papakura Theatre Company are well known for producing plays. They have a foyer full of theatre awards for them. Their forte is for comedy.

One Man, Two Guvnors is based on The Servant of Two Master, a comedy by the Italian playwright Carlo Goldoni written in 1746.