Reviews

DOWNTOWN – The Mod Musical

Created by Phillip George, David Lowenstein, Peter Charles Morris. Auckland Music Theatre, Westpoint Performing Arts Centre, Pt Chevalier, Auckland, New Zealand. November 17th – December 1st 2012.

DOWNTOWN flips through the years like a musical magazine and takes you back to the music, the fashion and the freedom of the 60's. This smashing revue tracks five groovy gals as they come of age during those liberating days that made England swing, using the infectious and soulful pop anthems and ballads that made household names of stars like Petula Clark, Dusty Springfield and Lulu.

Beautiful One Day

Devised and produced by Belvoir, ILBIJERRI Theatre Company and version 1.0. Belvoir St. Theatre, Sydney. 17 November – 23 December, 2012

The nine co-devisors of this heartfelt theatre documentary about Palm Island proudly tell us in a program note that “there has been no writer or director... the work has been led at different times by each member of the company”. It’s a fine social process, maybe, but rarely the begetter of focussed, passionate art. As challenging as it is, Beautiful One Day could have done with a good writer’s vision, a good director’s single-mindedness.

Into the Mirror

By Shelley Wall. Damshell Productions. King Street Theatre (Newtown NSW). November 21 – December 15, 2012.

It is Damshel Productions' aim to “produce theatre that addresses social issues and the complexities of the human condition”. This play certainly does that. Without being at all confronting, it uses theatre to raise awareness of the complexities of gender transition – for the individuals and for those they love.

All Shook Up

Inspired by and featuring the songs of Elvis Presley. Book by Joe DiPietro. Harlequin Musical Theatre. Director/Choreographer: Susanne Dell Musical Director: Lynnette Leggett. Harlequin Theatre, Pakuranga, Auckland, NZ. November 17 – December 1, 2012.

Inspired by and featuring the songs of Elvis Presley with book by Joe DiPietro (I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change) All Shook Up,with a story line close to Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, with its employment of star-crossed lovers, mistaken sexual identity and such is setin Smalltown, USA circa 1955. The townsfolk’s  humdrum existence is rocked when Chad “a rolling roustabout with a song in his soul and an eye for the ladies” rambles into town on his motorcycle, wearing his leather jacket wit

Margaret Fulton: Queen of the Dessert.

Book and lyrics by Doug MacLeod. Music by Yuri Worontschak. Directed by Bryce Ives and Nathan Gilkes. Theatreworks (Vic). Nov 21 – Dec 1, 2012.

The entrée was as kitsch as a pumpkin scone at a nouvelle cuisine bistro:- the cast handing out Anzac biscuits and plastic Australian flags as the audience took their seats, whilst the very excellent band and back-up singers repeated energetically a 4 bar riff of a song called 1988. (The Anzac biscuits would not have passed Margaret’s test….she insists they should be crispy, but they were soft….and delicious!) It’s Bi-Centennial year and we’re discovering who we really are.

The Greening of Grace

By William Zappa. Wildie Creative. Theatre 19 (formerly The Darlinghurst Theatre). Nov 16 – Dec 9, 2012

After performing his own solo play, Winter’s Discontent, about an actor preparing, actor William Zappa picks up his keyboard again to put a grandmother centre stage.  Grace is a knitting, cardy-clad granny who is fondly eye-rolling about her class warrior husband, an angry Labor man, and his battles with their only child, Jane; she’s found new life and new marriage with a banker and the brittle certainties of Christian capitalism.

I, Animal

World Premiere. The Border Project. Zoos Victoria. Melbourne Zoo. Directors: Sam Haren and Daniel Koerner. Producers: Nichola Miles and Katherine Fyffe. Technology by Art Processors. Nightly at 6.30pm from 23rd November, 2012.

Don’t bring the children to this adults-only experience at Melbourne Zoo. Seriously, don’t. I, Animal is an irresistible piece of interactive performance art, utilising patrons and zoo creatures as cast, and the environs of Melbourne Zoo as stage and set. 

Following the success of I Am Not An Animal (Ruby Award for Innovation 2012), Adelaide company The Border Project was commissioned by Zoos Victoria to create what is a unique interactive experience.

Wild Surmise

Based on the verse novel by Dorothy Porter. Devised by Jane Montogomery Griffiths. Malthouse Theatre. Director: Marion Potts. Set and Costume Design: Anna Tregloan. Composition and Sound Design: Jethro Woodward. Lighting Design: Paul Jackson. Malthouse Beckett Theatre. Nov 9 – Dec 2, 2012.

Wild Surmise is a testament to how poetry and heightened poetic images and metaphors can encompass, and when delivered with insight, express emotions with a visceral impact.  Jane Montgomery Griffiths has the power and mastery, as an actor, to deliver deeply felt longing and yearning that is capable of truly touching an audience, as does Humphrey Bower.

THE BURLESQUE HOUR Glory Box Edition

Creator & Directors: Moira Finucane & Jackie Smith. The Street Theatre, Canberra. November 28 - December 8, 2012

Finucane & Smith’s Glory Box is a bejeweled treasure of entertainment, set with scarlet Chinese lanterns, sumptuous drapes upon drapes and promises of hidden delights.  This is not some meek fluttering of fans, or sweet simpering among feather boas. This is burlesque that sticks its tongue out at seriousness, subverts tropes, sings with its heart and pulls art into the world.  

Over My Dead Body

By Derek Benfield. Directed by Joe Tuppenney. The Basin Theatre (Vic). Nov 9th – Dec 1st, 2012

The Basin Theatre Company have presented some terrific productions of a very high standard over the years (I still smile at the memory of their last production), so it’s a pity that this latest offering is something of a disappointment, and not of their usual standard.

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