Reviews

The Lady in The Van: SA Premiere for The Stirling Players

By Alan Bennett. The Stirling Players (SA). The Stirling Community Theatre. 4th- 19th October, 2013

The Stirling Players have continued their reputation for staging quirky and challenging plays, with their October production of Alan Bennett’s funny yet poignant work, The Lady in The Van.

The story is based on the well-known playwright’s own real-life experience.Charity well and truly began at home when, in the 1970’s, Bennett allowed an elderly itinerant woman to park her smelly, live-in van in his driveway. Little did he know he had started a turbulent fifteen-year relationship with the mysterious and cantankerous Miss Shepherd.

Fame The Musical

Conceived and Developed by David De Silva. Book by Jose Fernandez. Lyrics by Jacques Levy. Music by Steve Margoshes. Title Song ‘Fame’ by Dean Pitchford and Michael Gore. Chatswood Musical Society. Gillian Moore Centre for Performing Arts, Pymble Ladies’ College. October 2-5, 2013.

Vibrant youthful energy and smart production values meet in Chatswood Musical Society’s enjoyable production of Fame The Musical.

Inspired by the movie, Fame tells the story of a group of students at New York’s High School of the Performing Arts.

The Book Club

By Roger Hall. Performed by Amanda Muggleton. Directed by Rodney Fisher. Queanbeyan Performing Arts Centre from 3–5 October 2013 and touring nationally

Rodney Fisher’s version of The Book Club refreshes Roger Hall’s 1999 original script by using references to recently published novels in a tale of suburban intrigue arising from housewife Deborah’s inclusion in the local book club.  The intrigue begins as a mere frisson amongst club members at an author’s acceptance of their invitation to speak at their meeting—and becomes something more for one particularly enamoured club member.

He Died with a Felafel in His Hand

Adapted from John Birmingham’s book by Simon Bedak, Steve le Marquand and Michael Neaylon. Act/React. Visy Theatre, Brisbane Powerhouse. 1 – 5 October 2013.

Stage adaptations of this cult book are still as rambunctious and rebellious as the original.

Based on his share-house experiences as a struggling journalist in the late 1980s, John Birmingham (JB) wrote his book a decade later. A great storyteller, he didn’t let facts get in the way of a good story. It’s not surprising the play is still enjoying a runaway success.

Papillon

Creative Producers: Elena Kirschbaum and Idris Stanton. Performed by Idris Stanton, Elena Kirschbaum, Amy Nightingale-Olsen, Joshua Phillips, Minni Andrews and Vincent van Berkel. Wonderland Spiegeltent, Harbour Town, Docklands for Melbourne Fringe Festival. 1 - 5 October, 2013.

I first had the honour of reviewing National Institute of Circus Arts (NICA) students Idris Stanton and Joshua Phillips when they were performing in NICA’s 2009 Graduates Circus Showcase. At the time, I wrote that their ‘Circus Firemen’ routine was “wonderfully entertaining, even if their vocal dialogue, as opposed to their shared physical vocabulary, seems to not yet be adequately incorporated into their routine.”

Singled Out

By Vanessa Bates, Wayne Blair, Luke Carson, Sarah Carradine, Grace De Morgan, Emma Magenta, Alli Sebastian-Wolf and Tim Spencer. Reginald Season, Seymour Centre, Sydney. October 2 – 12, 2013.

Credit to director Augusta Supple and the Seymour Centre for developing such a great idea – pulling together a dozen short “playlettes” about living a single life today in Sydney.  The opening tableau of each character snapped alone at home promised an inventive theatrical tapestry.

Kids Killing Kids

A play about plays and the Piony people. Devised, written and performed by David Finnigan, Georgie McAuley, Jordan Prosser and Sam Burns-Warr. MKA and Q Theatre Company in association with Melbourne Fringe Festival and Crack Theatre Festival. Fringe Hub – the Warehouse - 20 September to 3 October, 2013. Newcastle – 5 October. Penrith – Q Theatre – 17 - 19 October.

Kids Killing Kids is one out of the bag and not to be missed due to questions of ethics and Theatre Making it broaches, particularly in regard to unwitting appropriation.  This work sits right on a cultural pulse, albeit, seemingly inadvertently. Hey sometimes, creative choices have a strange way of emerging from the ether, don’t they?

Suor Angelica

By Puccini. Harbour City Opera. Paddington Uniting Church. September 25 & 26, 2013.

It’s not very often that you’re privileged with the opportunity to sit within metres of (whathave to be) some of Australia’s finest voices. Harbour City Opera utilised the rustic and intimate setting of Paddington Uniting Church to let the story of Suor Angelica, a sister who has lived seven years in a convent without word from the family who banished her, thrive. Before seeing the show I was not familiar with Suor Angelica and so read a synopsis which, I admit, had me fearing the story was very flat and rather unexciting.

The (very) sad fish lady

Conceived, written and directed by Joy McDonald. World Premiere. The Street Theatre, Canberra. 28 September to 5 October, 2013.

This fantastical tale of migration and magic is suitable for all ages. Children will be delighted with the puppeteers Ruth Pieloor and James Scott, their amusing voices, and the almost magical way they can connect with the audience. Adults will enjoy the gentle tale (with a twist in the tail) and all will find something admirable in the music composed by David Pereira.

The Pirates of Penzance

Music: Arthur Sullivan. Libretto: W.S. Gilbert. Savoyards Production, Iona Performing Arts Centre, Wynnum, Qld. Director: Alex Raymond. Musical Director: Geoff Secomb. 28 September – 12 October 2013.

W.S. Gilbert’s felicitous wordplay was sparkling in Savoyards production of The Pirates of Penzance. His verbal wit is half the fun of any G&S comic opera and this company did him proud. Using the 1980 Broadway adaptation of the work, a cast top-heavy with professional experience delivered a fun and effervescent version of this classic piece under Alex Raymond’s direction.

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