Reviews

The Last of the Red Hot Mamas

Marika Aubrey. Neil Gooding Productions. Hayes Theatre Co. Sundays Feb 16 – Mar 2, 2014.

Audience members of my generation will remember 1960s black and white TV broadcasts of older, amply-proportioned American singer Sophie Tucker, whose life and career are now joyously celebrated in Marika Aubrey’s cabaret The Last of the Red Hot Mamas.

Fewer will know of her early career struggles, blacking her face with burnt cork, though maybe they’ll recall similar Black and White Minstrel variety shows which lingered on the Tivoli circuit into the 1960s, and beyond that on TV.

Below Babylon

Directed by Ashley Tardy and Finn Gilfedder Cooney. Bitten By Productions. Revolt Theatre, Kensington Vic. February 18 – March 1.

Below Babylon, a new play from Bitten By Productions, is a piece that’s full of potential. Set in a dystopian world of gun-wielding “enforcers”, it concerns Lincoln, a former member of this mysterious profession, who’s waiting for his past to catch up with him, ie for his nemesis to track him down and finish him off.

Embroidery Girl

China Wuxi Dance Group. State Theatre, Sydney, February 18 & 19, Palais Theatre, Melbourne, February 22 & 23, 2014.

Last Wednesday night, the State Theatre was packed seat for seat by Sydney’s Chinese-Australian community, who all rocked up in high anticipation for the China Wuxi Group’s much acclaimed production of Embroidery Girl.

SUMMER OF BLOOD

By Robert Armstrong. Blancmange Productions / Adelaide Fringe. The Bakehouse Theatre. February 24-March 1, 2014

Summer of Blood has its tongue firmly in its cheek, which is probably a good thing because tongues are amongst only a few parts of various bodies not ripe for slashing or shooting in this slick and funny spoof on horror movies.

Movies about serial killers are always gory, but there’s just as much gore in the creation of them in Blancmange Productions’ screwball comedy.

Inheritance

By Hannie Rayson. The Stirling Players (SA). Stirling Community Theatre. February 21-March 8, 2014.

Adelaide’s Stirling Players’ production of Hannie Rayson’s confronting and provocative play Inheritance is innovative in its staging, while the interpretation is graphic in presenting the story’s family issues, endemic prejudice and the stark realities of farming life in rural Australia.

Atlantis: In Concert

Written by Matthew Robinson. Directed by Chris Parker. Chapel off Chapel (Vic) World Premiere 23rd Feb, 2014.

One of the greatest thrills for any theatre lover is to be there at the birth of something truly special. Last night a packed house (you couldn’t move for the extra chairs) witnessed the birth (and death) of Atlantis, a remarkable piece of work sired by the extraordinary Matthew Robinson, whose talent is, quite simply, mind-blowing. Musically, it is epic in scope with sophisticated and witty lyrics. Robinson himself says it has been described as AIDA mated with Children of Eden (Stephen Schwartz’s epic musical). The analogy is not far from the truth.

East

By Steven Berkoff. Directed by Peta Hanrahan. Lighting and Set Design by Kate Kelly. AV design by Matt Croft. Presented by Black Water Theatre Productions. At Revolt Artspace, Kensington (Vic). Until 9 March, 2014.

As theatrical endurance tests go, they don’t come much more loaded than this first play by Steven Berkoff, which premiered at the 1975 Edinburgh Festival. As impossible as it is to believe that this was Mr Berkoff’s first play, it signaled the arrival of one of the most game-changing and controversial theatre artists of his time.

Luminous

Presented by Art Kinetica. Adelaide Fringe. Gluttony – La Petite Grande. February 14 – March 2, 2014.

Human bodies are remarkable things. How easily we take them for granted when putting them to the familiar uses of everyday life! At its best, Luminous reminds its viewers what kind of a spectacle can be made of the physical form when it is placed into an unusual context, and particularly when combined with the unique artistry that colour and music can provide.

MANON

Ballet by Sir Kenneth MacMillan, after the novel Manon Lescaut by Abbe Prevost. Music by Jules Massenet. Australian Ballet. Guest Repititeurs: Patricia Ruanne and Mark Kay. Music Director & Chief Conductor: Nicolette Frailion. With the Queensland Symphony Orchestra. Lyric Theatre, QPAC, Brisbane. 21 February - 1 March, 2014

In the twenty years since the Australian Ballet danced Manon in Brisbane the company has gone from strength to strength, evidenced by the talent on display in this remounting of one of the most popular ballets in their repertoire.

The story of the virginal Manon who becomes a courtesan in 17th Century France has enough drama and passion to fill any Mills and Boon novel, and with its debauchery, fetishism, and hints of incest, it could almost be accused of melodrama overkill.

Tosca

By Giacomo Puccini. Directed by Stuart Maunder. Supreme Court Gardens, Perth (WA). Feb 15.

The City of Perth's Opera in the Park played to a capacity crowd at the Supreme Court Gardens and was simulcast to ten venues throughout Western Australia.

This free event, supported by Lotterywest, was an excellent taster for trying opera as a genre and to experience the beautiful voices of the West Australian Opera and the excellence of the West Australian Symphony Orchestra.

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