Reviews

Travelling North

By David Williamson. Directed by Andrew Upton. Sydney Theatre Company. Until March 22, 2014.

The Sydney Theatre Company must be hoping that bad luck does not come in threes for its season of Travelling North. First Greta Scacchi withdrew with a back injury in the last week of rehearsals.

Then the first re-scheduled media opening was called off, because a cloud of smoke was reported downstairs in the Sydney Dance Company’s wharf studio.

So we could forgive Brian Brown for appearing like he needed a few more performances under his belt to get fully into the swing of his character of Frank.

The Worst of Scottee

Directed by Chris Goode. Part of Midsumma 2014. Theatre Works, St Kilda, Melbourne. 20 – 25 January, 2014

Despite its opening number histrionics - a performance of ‘Cry Me a River’ accompanied by jets of ink shooting from underneath Scottee's sunnies to run down his face and onto his shirt, giving us a gruesomely goth approximation of tears - The Worst of Scottee is not so much cabaret as it is confessional. The Theatre Works blurb describes it as "wicked and hilarious", and certainly for the first fifteen minutes or so, performer Scottee beguiled many in the audience with lighthearted camp and occasionally bitchy anecdotes.

Black Diggers

By Tom Wright. Queensland Theatre Company & Sydney Festival. Director: Wesley Enoch. Drama Theatre, Sydney Opera House. 17-26 January, 2014

This is an Australian indigenous variation on Oh, What a Lovely War! — the groundbreaking 1960s theatrical critique of British upper class corruption and incompetence in World War I. Creator Joan Littlewood had plundered a rich back catalogue of bouncy popular songs and famously chose to dress her doomed combatants as end-of-the-pier pierrots.

Hotel Sorrento

By Hannie Rayson. Genesian Theatre (NSW). Director Shane Bates. Assistant Director Sandra Bass. January 18 – February 22, 2014.

In Hotel Sorrento Hannie Rayson reaches into the heart of family relationships to reveal, gradually, the multiplicity of factors that both bring family members together – and drive them apart. She also comments about ‘national’ stereotyping … and misogyny!  So, though some may consider the play to be a little dated, its underlying themes remain tellingly relevant.

The Wau Wau Sisters: Death Threats (and other forms of flattery)

Northcote Town Hall (Vic). January 18 – 22, 2014

This uninhibited and profane show is not for the easily offended. In this latest offering The Wau Wau Sisters have created a burlesque inspired by the real life death threat they received after their “Last Supper” show. Alert, but not alarmed, the Sisters vow to press on even though any show may be their last... 

A near capacity audience on opening night enjoyed ribald song and dance, punk trapeze, audience participation and cross dressing, satire, sex, religion and gymnastics. Puns, double entendre and ad-libs abound.

The Temperamentals

By Jon Marans. Directed by Chris Baldock. Mockingbird Theatre (Vic). Metanoia Theatre, Brunswick Mechanics Performing Arts Institute. 17th Jan – Feb 1st , 2014

There are flaws in Jon Marans play (which sometimes seems more like a social studies lecture than drama) and it needs a great cast to overcome them. Fortunately, the talented Chris Baldock has such a cast under his direction. Between them they could surely overcome anything.

Forklift

KAGE. Sydney Festival 2014. Carriageworks Bay 17. Jan 16 – 19, 2014. Arts Centre Melbourne Theatres Forcourt. Feb 12 – 16, 2014.

Having a forklift in the cast somehow makes you seek more strenuously the meaning of this dance work. Forklift is a key attraction in the About an Hour season of the Sydney Festival, staged by Melbourne’s dance/physical theatre troupe KAGE, and is well housed in the huge industrial Bay 17 of Carriageworks. It moves to outdoors of the Melbourne Arts Centre in February. 

A forklift centrestage conjures a workman’s world of common sense; a boy toy, it’s the stuff of childhood imaginings carved out in the dirt. So what’s the story here? 

Big Bad Wolf

By Matthew Gilbert Windmill Theatre Company / Melbourne Theatre Company. Director: Rosemary Myers. Designer: Jonathon Oxlade. Lighting designer: Chris Petridis. Sound designer: Harry Covill. Movement Consultant: Carol Wellman Kelly. Southbank Theatre, The Lawler. 10 to 25 January 2014

The set was recognisably the world of the wolf; dark forest, cute cottage and a small person, complete with red coat who might be eaten at any moment. But in this fairy tale, the wolf tends towards bowties and poetry and a challenging relationship with his mother. The play, developed for children, made and occasionally belaboured, the point that different doesn’t necessarily mean bad.  

Sweet Dreams: Songs by Annie Lennox & In Vogue: Songs by Madonna

Starring Michael Griffiths. Written & directed by Dean Bryant. fortyfivedownstairs, Melbourne. January 15 – 26, 2014.

As each of his two cabarets draws to a close, Michael Griffiths asks the audience to help spread the word. But, he adds cheekily, keep your mouth shut if you didn’t like it.

There’s little reason to shut up. The shows, paying homage to Annie Lennox and Madonna, are tight, clever and wonderfully intimate pieces that could work alone or as a pair. They’re being presented as a double bill at Melbourne’s gay and lesbian festival, Midsumma.

Alice In Wonderland

Adapted and Directed by Glenn Elston. Australian Shakespeare Company. Rippon Lea (Vic) Until January 24th 2014

Oh yes I did! Oh no you didn’t! Oh yes they did! Alice in Wonderland brings holiday pantomime to life in the glorious surrounds of Rippon Lea House and Gardens. In spite of Melbourne’s historic heat wave the show did go on. Somehow entering the gorgeous gardens of Rippon Lea did make you feel slightly cooler but on day three of 40+ degrees the difference was minimal.

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