Reviews

Queen Bette

By Peter Mountford. The Old 505 Theatre, Newtown. March 22 – April 8, 2016.

Jeanette Cronin may not be well-known but I’ve always admired her acting, so often brash or droll, with that outsider quality to cut through.  In this return of her solo show, co-written with and directed by Peter Mountford, she is perfectly cast to give us 80 absorbing minutes of Bette Davis.   And it’s not just her uncannily similar appearance.

What Would Spock Do?

Written and directed by Jon Brittain. Seabright Productions (UK). Melbourne International Comedy Festival (Vic). The Cube, ACMI Federation Square. 23 March – 17 April, 2016

Sam Donnelly brightly portrays no fewer than seven larger-than-life characters in this celebration of the quirky secrets hidden, and not so hidden, in all of us.

There is a lot to like about this intimate, look-straight-in-your-eyes comedic monologue. Star Trek fans will relish the detailed references to the original series, movies, memorabilia, and social-suicide moments, not to mention the topical, undisguised barbs made about Star Wars.

Marco Polo

Written & performed by Laura Davis. Melbourne International Comedy Festival. ACMI Games Room, Federation Square. 24 – 27 March & 2, 3, 9,10, 16, 17 April 2016.

‘Marco Polo’?  No, not the explorer.  Laura Davis clears this up right off.  Here, ‘Marco Polo’ is a game of tag, usually played in a swimming pool.  One player is blindfolded and calls out ‘Marco’.  Other players respond ‘Polo’ and the blindfolded player tries to catch them.  There is no known connection between the explorer and the game.  That fact – or non-fact – and the game itself, launches the mode and tone for 50 minutes of disconnected bits and bobs.  Ms Davis stands before us in a sw

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

By Edward Albee. Gold Coast Little Theatre, Southport.Director: Noella Johnson. Mar 19th – Apr 9th, 2016.

This timeless classic (written in 1962) is probably best remembered for the “gutsy” performances of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton in the 1966 film version.

Noella Johnson, once again, has brought out the best (or worst?) in her cast in this memorable play.

Cast in the Taylor and Burton roles are feisty Kate McNair as Martha and Noel Thompson as her academic husband, George and the younger couple, Honey and Nick, are Carmen Trevino and Nathan Wright - the unwitting pawns in this game of “cat and mouse”. All deliver strong performances.

Dolly Diamond. Alive, Intimate and Up Late.

Melbourne Town Hall. Melbourne International Comedy Festival. 24 March - 16 April, 2016.

Bigger than life and sequined to showcase it, armed with a voice that's powerful enough to strip paint at 50 yards and buckets of bawdy wit, drag performer par excellence Dolly Diamond barraged onto a tiny stage at the Melbourne Town Hall's Metro Room to provide an hour’s worth of solid late-night entertainment.

Wuthering Heights

By Emily Brontë, adapted by shake & stir. shake & stir and QPAC production. Riverside Theatre Parramatta. Mar 22 & 23, 2016, and touring.

shake and stircontinues its acclaimed ‘classic’ series with this bleak but beautifully staged adaptation of Emily Brontë’s very grim story of love and loveless-ness  set on the windy Yorkshire moors. Gloom is the dominant mood of the novel and this production does not try to soften the cruelty and jealousy that drove Bronte’s eccentric characters.

Still Alive

Devised by Louise O’Dwyer and Tim Ratcliffe. Directed by Tim Ratcliffe. Melbourne International Comedy Festival. La Mama, Carlton. 23-27 March, 2016

The Greek myth Psyche and Eros is the inspiration for this play; in particular the trials of Psyche in her quest to ascertain the secret mystery of eternal youth. The temptation to be distracted from a quest is particularly elicited through the abstract text in this production. The performance highlights the idiosyncratic nature of a journey characterised by wandering and easily wafts into unexpected psychological territories. Words are used like brittle sound, and they are accompanied by enticing visuals.

Yeah Absolutely

By Anna McCarthy. 30th Melbourne International Comedy Festival. La Mama, Carlton (VIC). 23-27 March 2016.

Two women (Anna McCarthy and Jem Nicholas), in leggings and T-shirts, sit at a theatre dressing room mirror.  One obsessively flosses.  The other worries about her eyebrows.  They are preparing for a show – or in this case a ‘performance’ since that is what the program notes say this show is about. 

Coriolanus

By William Shakespeare. Directed by Michael Jenn. Roundhouse Theatre, WAAPA, My Lawley, WA. 11-17 Mar, 2016

WAAPA's Third Year Students brought this less-often-performed Shakespearian tragedy to life with passion, creating a performance that was highly energised, fascinating and moving.

Set on an almost bare set, a beautiful veneer of marble is peeling away to reveal that not all is right in Rome. Chris Brain's set marked the tone for the play as the actors burst onto the stage.

Title character Caius Martius, later Coriolanus, is given great depth by Angus McLarun, who plays this role with determination in a thoughtfully portrayed downfall.

Brain Dump

Written and performed by Ross Noble. Frankston Arts Centre, 18th March, 2016; Her Majesty’s Theatre, Melbourne, 24th-25th March; Hamer Hall Arts Centre Melbourne, 27th -28th March, and touring – dates at end of review.

After a filmed start of two 1930s style Chorines, on film, imploring us to turn our mobiles off and don’t take pictures, he hits the stage, set with huge light bulbs, like a whirling dervish. Actually he strolls on casually, but he generates so much electricity that he gives the impression of whirling - or maybe that’s our brains once he starts speaking. “He” is, of course, the world’s best randomist – the Terror of Tyneside, Ross Noble.

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