Reviews

Faster

The Australian Ballet. Arts Centre Melbourne, State Theatre. 17 to 27 March, 2017

The Australian Ballet presents its programme of three contemporary ballets under the banner Faster and shows us both the strengths and weaknesses of the company in sharp silhouette.

It’s a long while since I have seen the company so full of vitality and energy. The core physical strength of the dancers is the greatest asset of this programme, juxtaposed with the infuriating inability to dance in unison as an ensemble.

Chimerica

By Lucy Kirkwood. Sydney Theatre Company. Roslyn Packer Theatre. February 29 – April 1, 2017

Just when old talk of human rights in China is being upstaged by what fake news Trump is tweeting, comes this chilling epic returning us to the brutal putdown of the Tiananmen Square student protests. 

Lucy Kirkwood’s play follows an American photojournalist trying decades later to find what happened to the young Chinese man who, with his plastic bags of shopping, defiantly stood down those tanks in 1989.

Richard 3

By William Shakespeare. Bell Shakespeare. Sydney Opera House, 25 February – 1 April: Canberra Theatre Centre, 6 – 15 April, Arts Centre Melbourne, 20 April – 7 May, 2017

There’s only one meaty role to speak of in Richard III.  It’s all about him – or rather her – as it is in this Bell Shakespeare production which stars Kate Mulvany as the crooked monarch.

The four female roles of dispossessed queens and widows must be content with endless lines of rage and grieving, while the men play a quick parade of miscalculating nobles and henchmen doomed to a bloody end.

My Fair Lady

By Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe. John Frost / Opera Australia. QPAC Lyric Theatre, Brisbane. 19 March - 30 April, 2017, t.hen on tour.

Ever since I was a child I enjoyed theatrical visual extravaganzas and thanks to dedicated, passionate producers like John Frost we are lucky we're still able to view some of these timeless classics of musical theatre. Coupled with the spectacle of this stunning revival of the original 1956 production is of course a superb memorable score and adaptation of Shaw's Pygmalion, and it's inspiring to see how this musical version brought the play to life despite Shaw's chagrin at musical transformations of his plays and his subsequent prevention.

Rules For Living

By Sam Holcroft. Red Stitch. Directed by Kim Farrant. 14th March – 16th April, 2017

A superb cast of fine actors manages to breathe life into a predictable farce that hangs by its fingernails on a writer’s device. Take that novelty away, and the play is more Ray Cooney than Alan Ayckbourn.

Some new playwrights make one long for the days of Harold Pinter, Joe Orton and the great Ayckbourn. All of these esteemed playwrights understood that comedy comes from the tragedy of the human condition and is bedded in truth.

An Evening of Jazz

Presented by Adelaide High School. Adelaide Fringe Festival. Spiegel Zelt at Gluttony, Rymill Park/Murlawirrapurka. 17 March, 2017.

It was an intriguing surprise to find the Adelaide High School Jazz Band performing as part of the Adelaide Fringe cabaret program; an opportunity too good for a reviewer to pass up. How would this music fare when experienced as part of a festival that is simply bustling and bursting with sights and sounds?

Aeon

By Lz Dunn. Presented by Arts House as part of Dance Massive. 17 – 19 March, 2017

Conceptualised and lead by Lz Dunn in collaboration with sound artist Lawrence English, choreographer Shian Law and dramaturg Lara Thoms, over an 18-month period the team worked across Australia, engaging local artists as co-performers. Dance Massive 2017 brought the show to Melbourne for three days from 17 to 19 March.

Rufus Wainwright

Prima Donna - a symphonic visual concert and Rufus does Judy. Festival Theatre. Adelaide Festival. 18th March 2017

As a novice to the talents of Rufus Wainwright, I arrived at the Festival Theatre not sure what to expect. On seeing a full house of excited attendees, my curiosity was piqued. What a joyous surprise was in store! Not only is Rufus Wainwright a talented and versatile artist, but he is a composer of modern contemporary music and of classical opera. The juxtaposition of presenting his opera Prima Donna, followed by excerpts from his Rufus does Judy show, was stark but uplifting, and reinforced that music as a language is universal in its many forms.

The Vicar Of Dibley

By Ian Gower and Paul Carpenter adapted from the original TV series by Richard Curtis and Paul Mayhew-Archer. Wyong Drama Group. Directed by Madeline Parker and Alexandra Travers. The Art House, Wyong. March 17-25, 2017

In one of those bizarre twists of nature, this reviewer somehow managed to completely miss the Dibley Train when it pulled into the ABC station all those years ago. While a lot of English Sitcoms rate very highly in my top 40 TV shows of all time, quite a few cult hits are missing. There seems to be no rhyme or reason for it really. So this review comes from the freshest of perspectives on the piece.

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee

Script: Rachel Sheinkin. Music and Lyrics: William Finn. Midnite Youth Theatre Company. Directed by Gregory Jones. Subiaco Arts Centre, Subiaco, WA. 15-18 March, 2017.

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, as presented by Midnite Youth Theatre Company, is a feel good, rollicking good time.

Six competitors, and four audience members, compete to be the best speller in Putnam County. A lovely insight into some truly quirky middle school kids, who despite this being a ‘youth’ company are played by adults.